Integral Approach to Knowledge in Vedanta, Part 2
Last Updated: February 29, 2008
Some Explorations in the Integral Approach to Knowledge
So there was a question: What is University? It is that where we have to develop ourselves universally, where the universals of Consciousness will be educated in our individual frames. How do we find those universals, which are universals for all? What is common for carpenter and philosopher is sight, hearing, thought, word, life and body. These are common faculties for all of us and are the same for all creatures in this world. So the development of these faculties in the direction of their integral perception is what our University is to do. Once we have these keys everything else falls into its right place. I call my presentation a presentation on Adhidaivic Epistemology, for it is about these faculties. There is one more level beyond, which we did not mention here, and for those who were not present during our discussions about it before, I can say that it is Adhyatma level of consciousness, lit. it means regarding the Self. About which we did not even speak yet. But I must say that the levels of Psychic education, about which we will talk separately, with the twelve qualities, virtues or verities of the Mother, belong to this level. There is also a subject of the Studies of Consciousness as such, as it was presented by Sri Aurobindo in his Works, especially in regard to the fundamentals of Consciousness, which are called in the Upanishads: samj?na, ?j?na, vij?na, praj?na. We didnt even look into these profound issues.
We are still on the level where faculties are to be recognized and harmonized, balanced and educated, become luminous enough and connect with and bring the perception of their universal domains into the individual frame. Once this is done there will be another deeper look into the profundities of our consciousness.
There is also another look, which is called adhibh?ta, lit. regarding becomings, regarding the elemental level, that is to say about the matter and the universe in its material form. It is another view, which is turning consciousness away from itself to the surface, to the periphery, to the outside of itself, as it were, where we are seeking the answers and cannot find them there. Every time we do so we have to bring the light from the depth of consciousness to the surface and then only we can know something of the surface.
So in order to do that, we have to educate these faculties. Because these faculties bring us that light from within, from their universal domains to the surface, and have the capacity to enlighten it, the material world, that is how we can bring also the Higher Consciousness into Matter. There is no other way to do it. But there was a suggestion that there was another way, and I would like really to hear that, how by avoiding our faculties, such as sight, hearing, word, thought, life and body, the consciousness can come down. And if there is a way, then it would be interesting to know about it, and to see it, maybe it is on adhy?tmic level of direct touch of Consciousness. But even then it will come through its own means, because Purusha himself, according to the Vedanta, cannot be present without involving his own faculties of consciousness, through which he IS consciousness in us. So, when we experience him as Witness, this silent Witness observing the movements of Prakriti, observing or perceiving, what does it mean? There is something happening, and that something is translated in all these faculties.
Matthijs I never said that to bring the higher Consciousness you do not need them. I was saying whether you need them to get that higher Consciousness.
Vladimir They are that Consciousness.
Matthijs you have all the Scriptures on your side. Ha ha! There is a wonderful discussion between Agastya and Indra, where Agastya wants to come to the highest heaven ignoring Indra, but he is not allowed. But my great desire is to go straight.
Vladimir - Yes, in a way it is true, that you can disconnect yourself from manifestation and go into transcendental and disappear there. Theoretically it is there. This path is there.
Matthijs Even practically it is possible.
Vladimir and practically also. People did, they went into a deep Samadhi and disappeared. But I think that for the sake of manifestation of the Divine, it is altogether another path.
[Discussion about timings and views]
Actually I have a difficult task to finish it in front of you, but since we had already a sense of it, I would consider it to be possible. If you allow me to proceed and finish it
Aurelio - how much time do you need, half an hour? We will remind you in twenty minutes.
Vladimir yes twenty minutes, twenty divine minutes of Brahma, how many million years it will be? Alright, So I thoughtwhen I examined these faculties, I found a very interesting correspondence, that they are, being major accesses to reality, presented somehow in what we study in general. They are, how to say, representing the major faculties of our subjects of Humanities.
So I got a glimpse that for instance the overview of all the [ shapes, colors etc.], as chakshus, sight, does, overviewing all in one holistic movement, is presented in the Humanities as the faculty of Philosophy. To see, to see holistically all the bits and shapes and colors, all the mosaic, as it were, put together, how it constitutes one picture.
Do we really have a metaphysical picture of the world? It is a question! Are we metaphysically or, lets say, philosophically educated? Educated means that we have some picture: vision of the whole. Basically everyone has some picture of the world only it is deficient, partial, and unclear, but without it we would not be able to communicate or be together, if we would not have one ground on which we understand the reality as such. From the childhood we learned about the world and ourselves and built some picture of it, but it is not complete. It is not holistic, and we can see this deficiency in the West and its efficiency in the East, in the light of the Vedic paradigm at least, for they had the meaning of this world, the meaning was clear for them: why we are here, who we are and where we go. And how all these structures of the world correspond and what they actually do. This knowledge was there, it is still there, it has to be discovered again, and taken for our use.
So if Chakshus was for me a holistic overview reflected in the metaphysical picture of the world, then Vac was relating to the studies of the Word, Linguistics: How we speak. This knowledge we never had, we always speak, but we do not know how we do it. We did not study deeply this subject. There is much to learn about it from the Indian tradition, and not only in the Tantra and the Sphotavada of Vakyapadiya, but also in the Veda and Vedanta. The Linguistics as such started in the West only at the beginning of the 20th century, by F. Saussure, basically, after the discovery and the intense study of Sanskrit in the 19th century, which prepared the Western mind to approach language in linguistic terms, but before there were only the studies of Philology, in general, mixing linguistic with not linguistic content and methods. Of course there were Christian mystics who studied language, but it never led to any such clear subject as general linguistics: the science of how we speak. There were also Cabbalistic mystics, but they never came to the clearly defined view or learn the faculty of speech as such. Aristotelian Rhetorics is also there but it is altogether on another level, it is related to the logic rather to the faculty of speech, of what is happening when we speak.
So, we have Philosophy and Linguistics, which are the basic subjects of the Humanities, from which we can learn already half of what we actually are.
Then there is Shrotram, Hearing, which is more difficult to understand, for in my view it is the all pervading and all uniting space, Hearing. It puts all the units, all individual units into oneness. It pervades and sustains them.
When we did this beautiful exercise with Aurelio, where we were sounding together in the circle, and the sound pervaded all of us, one could hear this Harmony or Cacophony, and in that something one could loose ones voice; you didnt hear that it was you who was singing anymore, you heard that it singed there, it came back to you as a surprise, you heard your own voice from outside, as it were, from this Harmony. What is happening then in the perception of the whole is that harmonization of the collective becomes so dense and tangible that the body becomes one with other bodies, the Unity appears, and this is the best exercise for Human Unity ever: to sound together, to sing together, to join voices, vibrations of the being together and be one in that moment of time in that particular vibration. When we had this exercise it was a revelation for me, because I heard my voice as not mine anymore, it was singing its own melody in that Harmony of the whole, and everybody was signing exactly as it should be in that moment of time.
If we could recognise this faculty in this way, as uniting all the individual units and collective bodies into a greater union/unit, then what could be identified in the fields of the Humanities, as it came to me, is Sociology. Because Sociology deals on the mental level, conceptually, exactly with this issue of unity, actually there are two subjects included here: Sociology and History. History can be seen as Sociology on the scale of time, whereas Sociology as such can be seen on the scale of Space. These two scales introduce the study of the holistic movement of all the beings constituting one reality, which are not apparently relating with each other through the sight but through a deeper vibration between them, a deeper movement within them, which is not visible, but which is making and maintaining them as One.
I am going a little deeper to bring the essence of Sociology in unexpected way. In that sense the Sociology and the concept of Human Unity is the most difficult thing to know/to be, for there is something here which is uniting us all, in which and by which we all live, and also we are constantly growing, moving somewhere, and that is not seen or cognized by our other senses. Basically it was known as Brahman or Spirit as the all pervading Space.
Now when we take another faculty, Manas, Mind, we can define it as the power of consciousness which can dwell on the image of thing, formatting (shaping it with pictures) or formulating it (with words). It can concentrate on it, and that would be, according to me, a major approach of the subject of Psychology in the field of Humanities, not in the terms of the Western Psychology, but rather Indian Psychology as a capacity of Consciousness to to know, whether inside or outside of yourself or others: capacity to identify ones consciousness with it and thus to understand.
How then this capacity can be activated? By dwelling and concentrating our consciousness on the image of things which invites the light of knowledge: understanding. The light of knowledge comes, it follows automatically this concentration of consciousness. Because the Self by its power of being/dwelling is providing the stability of this concentration, it makes it present, fixed. So the longer we are able to keep our consciousness fixed on particular object of concentration the more the knowledge we can gather about it, it becomes clearer. The whole Yoga Sutras of Patanjali are exactly about this subject of fixing ones consciousness on the object of knowledge. From the Praty?h?ra level we come to Dhara?a, by withdrawing all our senses being scattered somewhere in the mind or outside, bringing them back, as it were, into our own individual frame of consciousness. Then we can hold the concentration of our Self on the topic we want to know, whether it is subjective or objective one, and the longer we hold, Dhara?a is lit. holding, the more light of knowledge comes, and finally it moves on to another level of concentration, which is called Dhy?na, where the effort to hold it is no more needed, for it is already held, it is already fixed, and thus the light of knowledge begins to shine. The consciousness in light appears around it and illumines it giving us an understanding of what it is. From this Dhy?na then we flip into the Samadhi, where there is no more distinction between the knower and the object of knowledge, we become the object, realizing the full knowledge of it by becoming it. This knowledge by identity is possible because of the mind, Manas as a formative instrument of Consciousness. I am using it here in the Vedic terms, not in the Sankhyaic sense of the word.
Now, we can clearly see that Psychology (with its major capacity to concentrate our consciousness) and Philosophy (with its major ability to overview the content and conceptualize it) are the twin sisters, whereas on the other hand the Linguistics (with its major capacity to express ones subjective state of consciousness: to communicate) and Sociology/History (with its major faculty of uniting, or communicating it in the objective terms) is another pair.
There is also another duality of Vital energy, Emotions and Feelings (Pr??a) and Touch (Matter, Anna): the twins which we have still to discover.
I would like to make a scheme here, to deconstruct it what I have been making here, and to bring it into another more integral language than what is already known to us.
So we have three levels of Knowledge:
Notice the gradation from the Self and Knowledge related to it, we move to the relation of that Self or its emanations towards manifestation and Manifestation itself. In Tantric language: Para (transcendental), par?para (transcendental-none-transcendental) and apara (lower, manifestation as such). In the paradigm of the Vedic Epistemology we could have Adhy?tmic, Adhidaivic and Adhibhautic levels, which can be seen as being projected here into this major division of our faculties.
Then all of these faculties have two major approaches: active and perceptive, or subjective and objective, if you like.
So the Perceptive Self-Knowledge as a direct evidence of the truth will be a faculty of Seeing. The active part of this Self-Knowledge is Mind, Thought, Thinking, which in the Vedic terms can be seen as the ability of the mind to formulate, to shape and to dwell on the chosen subject or object, which we choose to know. Mind cannot know it but it can dwell on and hold it for the sake of knowledge; it is only then that the light of knowledge comes. Mind is making a formation and holding it for us for the Consciousness to have time enough to illumine it, to give it a feedback, as it were.
Now in the second section of relation-knowledge, we will have again two faculties: perceptive Hearing and active Word. And we will see that it makes sense to put it here in this way, for it is an indirect supplier of knowledge; indirect means that it is not yet there, it wants to be there, but we cannot see it yet. We hear the word, we hear the action of consciousness but it is not yet fully there. We are speaking about University of HU, for instance, but it is not yet fully here, though we are already hearing about it, subjectively expressing it by the Word, relating or rather directing it towards manifestation.
There is a good image to compare hearing and seeing. Suppose you see a face in front of you - the person is there already, what else do you want to know? The face is looking straight into your eyes. And then you see it tries to say something to you, which you cannot hear. The face is trying to explain to you something and you do not understand. This image can explain the relation between seeing and hearing quite well.
So that which is not yet fully here, which wants to be here, which wants to be manifest is the movement of consciousness, we will attribute to this domain of Hearing-Speaking. It is something which has not yet been realized but which makes itself known to you, it wants to be here, it wants to take shape.
So the Word is the active part of the perceptive Hearing. And here we can see that relation-knowledge is the very definition of the faculty of language as such, which is defined even by modern linguistics as a device of communication. Communication happens through active relation-knowledge: from subject to object, from individual to collective and among individuals and so on.
So the last manifestation-knowledge has again two components: Prana and Apana (or Anna). Prana is Breathing, Vital Energy, Emotion and Feeling. And here all the Psychologists will immediately disagree with me, and I understand why; but in a way, though I should not put Feeling there, I will still put it there, because Feeling is another type of perception on the pranic level. It is another type of perception which appeared later in manifestation as the process of it. Sri Aurobindo describes it as Samjnana, a universal Sense. How does feeling appear? It appears through the separation in consciousness of knowledge from the object of knowledge. And with that separation and by in-bringing the image of thing back into the light of knowledge: perception, feeling comes into being. It looks like a device of consciousness manifesting itself. I can not explain to you better now, but you are interested to know more about it we can do it some other time, it is a very interesting subject. So I will put Feeling here,
Question: But is it really a perceptive column? It should be in a perceptive column.
Vladimir: Now we will look into it, and here is a Touch in a perceptive column. Touch and Feeling, here it is all debatable.
Peter: She thinks that it is opposite: Touch is active and Feeling is perceptive.
Yes, very good, let us put it other way round. You see I can readjust.
Though touch for me is perceptive and feeling is active, I am doing this adjustment for now, it does not matter. If we will look deeper into it and examine it we will find something else here. Because it is a manifestation-knowledge it is not in the same hierarchy anymore. It appears from these four previous faculties of consciousness and it bears already both - the perceptive and active capacities.
So when I saw this scheme where the Psychology and Philosophy are the two subjects of Self-knowledge in the widest sense, or in the essential sense, and the Linguistics and Sociology are the two subjects of relation-knowledge
Now I can put instead of Active and Perceptive the Subjective and Objective, which may be again objected, it was objected before, but I want us to see a little bit more from another perspective. Let us have a look. There are two movements within this consciousness, it is quite interesting: (1) subjective expression of oneself in the Word, which communicates subjectively oneself to the community (outside); and (2) Objective is Hearing, though it may be also a subjective hearing, it is still oriented other way round than the self-expression through the Word. It is as if turned from outside to inside, whereas the Word is turned from inside to the outside. The same here (in the section of Self-knowledge): (1) the subjective self-knowledge is Psychology, just think about! It is an interesting definition: the subjective self knowledge is Psychology, whereas objective Self-knowledge is Philosophy. There is some truth in it. Is it not? Subjective self-knowledge is the Psychology and objective self-knowledge is the Philosophy!
They are twins.
So while building this scheme, I understood that these major faculties have to be educated, not only in the Kindergarten but also in the University.
So we have to finalize our scheme: there are two more on the level of manifestation, which are Art and Culture and, that is why they cannot be swapped, and this is, what we call Physics, or Science.
Matthijs: Subjective is Science and Art is objective?
No it is other way round, thats why they cannot be swapped. The Art is subjective manifestation-knowledge and the science is objective manifestation-knowledge. You see here we come to another deeper look.
So the last discipline in our scheme is the knowledge of objective manifestation and that it science of Nature, where is subjective manifestation of the same knowledge is Art in the essential sense. Look at these beautiful definitions. Art is knowledge of subjective manifestation; that which is already conquered by the Spirit here, in any form: material or any other form of music (hearing), word (poetry), visual art (sight), etc.
[A few words about touch]. Though Touch is active it perceives. We are touching not to act, we are not pushing. We perceive by touch. One can be touched without touching, which is closer to feeling.
Neeltje: That is true! When you touch something but dont perceive, I have tried it out just now.
So, once these six were defined, I saw the whole realm behind each of them, the whole scope of subjects, which are falling into this or that particular domain by the virtue of this or that particular faculty of consciousness. It is not that within the Philosophy or Psychology there cannot be other approaches or considerations. It can be. In the realm of Psychology there can be philosophical, historical, and linguistic and other considerations and they are all happening, but they are not distinguished, as it were. Once they are distinguished within our own action of consciousness we can utilize them at will; and only then we can be considered to be educated, in my view. That is what I was defining for myself as to be educated: to know what is happening within us when we think, speak, see, hear, feel, act. And I was proposing this scheme to become as a general scheme for navigation in the self-learning processes, which may become helpful for anybody who wants to educate himself.
So what I saw was this particular scheme:
The map of major key-disciplines:
So the basic requirements for the development of human consciousness can be defined as follows, and here I will have to read to you one by one all the definitions of these domains in order for you to get the holistic perception of all of them in particular and in relation to one another, which may give us a glimpse of what integral consciousness may be, in terms of the subjects of the Humanities:
1) Philosophy. Everyone has to have a metaphysical picture of the world, as a system of mental views or beliefs - a metaphysical paradigm. It includes a hidden hierarchy of understanding of what is first and what is next, what is important and what is less important, and how it constitutes one reality, without which the reality cannot be approached in a rational manner.
2) Psychology. Everyone has to know oneself to a certain extent and to have a certain personal attitude towards the world. This knowledge of oneself is not in full accordance with ones own metaphysical paradigm. There is a constant ongoing interaction between the two, which correlates, corrects and even changes the mental picture of the world, and vice versa. Without it the reality cannot be approached in a truthful (sincere) manner.
3) Philology. Everyone has to use some language (outwardly and inwardly). To become conscious of ones speech (as an expression of oneself) and the language (as a system of mental categories by which we think), to know how they function is indispensable for building a metaphysical picture of the world and understanding ourselves psychologically: how our thoughts and feelings relate to our Speech-faculty and how it influences them. Without this knowledge no serious research is possible in any field, and the reality cannot be dealt with in a correct (precise) manner.
4) Sociology. One has to know ones roots: history, religion, social and national heredity: what state one belongs to, what nation, what community etc., - to know ones own past in order to understand ones present and future. This knowledge is wider than our individual psychology or even philosophical paradigm. It introduces knowledge about relations between individuals and groups in time and space, beyond our reach. It draws our consciousness to a larger reality of community, country, earth, and finally to the universal and cosmic existence. It brings the aspect of the Spirit into picture, - a larger reality inside and outside of ourselves. It indicates to us a unifying phenomenon of Space and Time, in which we all live. Without this knowledge man will not be able to understand fully the growth and the purpose of his life.
5) Art and Culture. Cultural phenomenon can be defined as a refinement of all our activities in life in its aspect of Beauty, Harmony, and Perfection. It is what the Spirit has already manifested, conquered, so to say, in Life as a result of a long period of evolution. It is what makes us cultured, without which we will be simply barbarians. It is the aim of creation and it is its path. To develop ourselves fully individually and collectively, we have to learn to manifest Beauty and Harmony, to seek after it, to be it.
6) Science of Nature. To have the knowledge of matter is indispensable for the understanding of Manifestation. All the changes: philosophical, psychological, philological, social, cultural are possible only in matter. Matter is a foundation and embodiment of any change. It is fixing everything to certain stability, so that another change can take place. If matter would not be able to fix it, the next step would have no meaning, for it would have no ground to manifest a new change.
Such an approach to knowledge, where all major cognitive faculties and capacities of our consciousness could be integrally studied and exercised, is needed for modern education. Having identified the nature of different studies with their cognitive faculties of consciousness, the scholars themselves in their subjective approach could become a field of research. The self-education then would become direct and effective. The division on subjective and objective approach to knowledge would have only a classifying value within the field of studies and the disciplines of the Humanities would become a means for self-education, necessary to develop Metaphysical, Psychological, Social (Historical), Artistic, Linguistic and Scientific modes of Consciousness, tuning them to the One Consciousness behind them. Such an integral approach might prepare a wider ground for a truer perception of our life, and lead us eventually to a globalisation of our faculties, opening them up to higher possibilities.
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