The Life Divine - The Pure Existent (A summary of Chapter IX)

The Pure Existent (A summary of Chapter IX)

The Pure Existent (A summary of Chapter IX)

Ordinarily our ego is self-centred and regards the whole universe as a field meant to subserve its interests.

But when we withdraw ourselves from the egoistic preoccupation, we find ourselves in the presence of a vast movement in comparison with which the highest magnitudes that we can conceive of are only petty swarms.

This vast movement seems to care nothing for our egoistic demands and desires. And it seems to have only an ironic smile at them.

And yet in the true account of things, we come to realise that nothing is unimportant in the design of the vast movement.

In a certain sense, we seem to be more important, even though quantitatively we are petty, than huge magnitudes of the world because qualitatively we possess consciousness which huge material bodies do not possess. An ant seems to be superior to the ant-hill.

But this again is the illusion of the quality. Big or small, superior or inferior, strong or weak, have all behind them the same force or energy. There is one, vast movement which is equal, 'Sammam brahman', in respect of everything in which it is at work.

Perception of this vast movement, without the illusion of quality and quantity is the first necessity, if we are to enquire into what really exists and what is really real.

It is here that we come to a further complication. Just as we find that ego is subordinate to the vastness of the movement, even so, the pure reason asserts that this vast movement is subordinate to the stable Reality. And this perception of the pure reason is further confirmed by the highest experience of the Vedanta which declares the unmoving stable base of the whole universe, the pure stability, 'stánu', the Pure Existence.

The Pure Existent (A summary of Chapter IX)

The Pure Existent (A summary of Chapter IX)

It has, however, been argued that there is no such thing as stability. There is only movement, and what we call stability, is a mere appearance, like the earth which seems to be stable even though it is constantly rotating or when we find our train in which we are travelling to be stationary in a rushing landscape.

But can it be argued that there can't be stability behind the movement?

If there is a stable existence behind the movement, it must be like the movement, infinite.

We need to be clear about the infinity of the movement. Infinity is imposed upon us because neither reason, nor intuition nor imagination nor experience bears witness to an absolute beginning or an absolute end. Every beginning presupposes anterior beginning, every end opens up to ulterior end.

This infinity is what we call the infinity of space and Time — beginningless and endless extension and beginningless and endless duration.

When we reflect on Space and Time, we are obliged to perceive successive extensions of space and successive movements of time. But succession cannot be sustained without a basis which is non-successive. For succession implies a divison and yet a continuity, and this strange combination can be supported only if succession is a psychological way of dividing an indivisible flow of extension and duration an all-containing point without magnitude and all-containing ever-new moment.

But even this is not the end of the matter. Even the non-successive extension and non-successive duration imply a stable ground or cause, and this cannot itself be of the nature of Space and Time. When we perceive existence-in-itself, space and time disappear.

Are we really sure? Could there not be a mere movement or a mere Nihil  — without a supporting base? The pure reason asserts that a pure movement without a stable ground or cause contradicts its perception and therefore cannot be. It is like a stair which is suspended in a void, which cannot be.

The Pure Existent (A summary of Chapter IX)

The Pure Existent (A summary of Chapter IX)

If such a Timeless and spaceless existence is, it must be not only infinite but absolute. It is something in which all the characteristics of the movements, — quantity and quality, name and form enter and which is itself self-existent, independent of all that has entered into it and from which it can again manifest as quantity, quality, name and form.

It may be argued that all this is true from the point of view of the pure reason, but we must judge existence not by what reason conceives but by what can be obtained in experience, and it can be again argued that what is experienced is only movement and nothing else.

As against this argument, it can be contended that apart from an ordinary experience, there is a higher and highest experience in which Reality is
experienced to be pure existent, stable, one without the second, absolute and infinite, in which the Universe is contained, an experience affirmed in ancient Vedanta.

But what is the relationship between the stable Reality and this movement? If the stable one is the only reality, movement cannot be other than that reality. The Indian answer that Shiva and Kali are one, that this stable reality and dynamic movement are one, is entirely rational because it will be contrary to reason that reality being one, movement could have entered into it from some where else.

We have thus seen what pure reason and highest experience have declared about the pure-existence, sat, we have still to see what the pure reason and the highest existence have to say about the movement and ask whether it is only an inert force like Samkhyan Prakriti or whether it is a conscious force, chit. All the rest will hinge on the answer that is obtained to this question.

The Pure Existent (A summary of Chapter IX)

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