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Integral Paradigm of Knowledge and the Vedic Epistemologies
Last Updated: April 7, 2008Adhibuta, adhidaiva and adhyatma.
In the ancient conception of the universe our material existence is formed from the five elemental states of Matter, the ethereal, aerial, fiery, liquid and solid; everything that has to do with our material existence is called the elemental, adhibhuta.
In this material there move non-material powers manifesting through the Mind-Force and Life-Force that work upon Matter, and these are called Gods or Devas; everything that has to do with the working of the non-material in us is called adhidaiva, that which pertains to the Gods.
But above the non-material powers, containing them, greater than they is the Self or Spirit, Atman, and everything that has to do with this highest existence in us is called the spiritual, adhyatma. (The Upanishads, p.114)
The central aim of Knowledge is the recovery of the Self, of our true self-existence (The Synthesis of Yoga, p.335)
So, adhidaivic education of the mind, life and body should work for and help to achieve the adhyatmic realization of Knowledge of the Self and our true self-existence.
The idea that everything exists outside man (adhibhuta) and is the object of studies (because the senses are turned outside) and that the truth is to be found outside is an occidental idea, where the mind is fully preoccupied with everything existing externally to it. It looks even at other members of consciousness objectively, as it were, excluding them from the process of knowing, making them finally the subject to its own opinion. But in the ancient oriental metaphysics such division was not made, for the cognitive consciousness (adhidaiva) included all the members into the process of knowing: mind, heart, senses, life and body, where every faculty had its own domain and its own knowledge to contribute to the One Knowledge. The Knowledge was a synthetic phenomenon, for behind all of these members there was one Spirit, one Self, which was the main target of the Vedic education. It is only when the Self is discovered that adhibhuta and adhidaiva levels of consciousness can be truly perceived and understood, because they are essentially of the same nature, only fallen unconscious.
This division on the three levels is fundamental in approach to reality and therefore to education. Learning about the world as such in all its aspects and varieties belongs to a particular mode or approach of consciousness, called adhibhuta; learning about the tools of learning: mind, vital and body as a part of an inner consciousness is radically different, it is another poise of consciousness called adhidaiva; and learning about consciousness as such in its own unmixed and mixed domains, as it were, is altogether another state of consciousness, called adhyatma.
So these three states or approaches to reality, three different epistemologies, constitute the whole spectrum of all possible relations of man with the world.
Adhibhuta approach is reflected in a materialistic approach of all Natural sciences, adhidaiva relates to the studies of the faculties of consciousness (speech, thought, feeling, perception of the senses) and the studies of the Humanities as the fields of its application; adhyatma deals with phenomenon of consciousness and self, it does not have its own field yet, for one cannot come to it without working out the first two and especially the adhidaiva in a specific way of turning senses within and discovering their cosmic domains and the Self beyond them.
We can say that the adhidaivic education of the senses, life, mind and body, when they are turned towards the recovery of the Self, belong partially to the adhyatmic education; and the adhibhuta, manifestation oriented education, when turned towards discovery of the subtle functions of consciousness inhabiting the material form, can be partially included into adhidaivic education, and when it deals with the phenomenon of Self, it can be seen even as adhyatmic. But the principle division of the three approaches remains, for they reflect something much deeper, what we may call the three stages of Creation.
1) Adhibhuta reflects something from the first stage of creation, in the terms of Vedic Vision, the fall of the Supreme Emanations of the Self, the birth of the Eternal Night, which became a layout representing all the worlds from the Supreme light to the Supreme darkness, the creation of matter and material Inconscient.
The aim of adhibhuta education, separately from adhidaiva and adhyatma, if at all it can be spoken about in this way, would be to get a scientific factual information of the processes in matter.
2) Adhidaiva is related to the Creation of secondary emanations of the Supreme, which were created for the sake of the recovery of the Self and its first fallen emanations. So, in order to bring them back to their own forgotten light of consciousness these emanations had to plunge into the darkness of the first ones and start the process of their redemption or evolution (Purusha Sacrifice). From this moment the two realities coexist in one manifestation, as it were, the external and internal, the object of sense and the sense, the body and the inhabitant of the body, the psychic being within and all other luminous principles above, devatas, supporting the work of the psychic being, senses, mind, life and body.
So the aim of adhidaivic education can be achieved in two steps. The first step would be to educate and to form the faculties of individual consciousness in the most global or universal way; and then to turn them within to reflect a deeper knowledge of the Spirit behind them; they should learn how to fix their gaze continuously on that Spirit and to learn to be simply the channels or a faithful mirror of it.
3) Adhyatma is related to (1) the transcendental Self before the fall, which itself was only a projection, a gradation from its highest expression to the lowest; (2) it also relates to the lower stations of the Self in the mind, vital and body, for the Self is present throughout. So, the aim of the adhyatmic education can be described as (a) the realization of the Self through the recovery of other lower selves of the mind, life and body, as manomaya, pranamaya, and annamaya atman; and with the help of the growing Psychic being within, the deputy of the Purusha, the Conscious Soul to illumine their faculties, bringing the presence of the universal principles which are behind the senses, downward into the mind, life and body; and thus the hidden Psychic being forward to the surface of consciousness, to the adhibuta, recovering it from ignorance, which is the final aim of the adhyatmic education: the recovery of the Self.
Having understood the main objective of education, we can try to build a clearly new strategy of education.
If the recovery of the Self is the aim of Knowledge and therefore of higher education, then it is possible to organize the educational activities on all the levels of mind, life and body, step by step for this purpose:
1) Developing and illumining our faculties of consciousness: thought, word, sight, hearing, feeling and being in the body.
2) Turning them within and learning to reflect or to channel the higher consciousness within their own domains.
3) Reaching beyond their domains into the pure Spirit, recovering the Self.
4) And finally bringing the influence of the Self from above and from within to the surface of consciousness, into manifestation, adhibhuta level.