Saturday, March 13, 2010

Passage from Essay on the Gita: The Three Purushas

The difficulty which baffles our intelligence is that these two seem to be irreconcilable opposites with no real nexus between them or any transition from one to the other except by an intolerant movement of separation. The Kshara acts, or at least motives action, seperately in the Akshara; the Akshara stands apart, self-centered, separate in its inactivity from the Kshara. At first sight it would almost seem better, more logical, more easy of comprehension, if we admitted with the Sankhyas an original and eternal duality of Purusha and Prakriti, if not even an eternal plurality of souls. Our experience of the Akshara would then be simply the withdrawal of each Purusha into himself, his turning away from Nature and therefore from all contact with other souls in the relations of existence; for each is self-sufficient and infinite and complete in his own essence. But after all the final experience is that of a unity of all beings which is not merely a community of experience, a common subjection to one force of Nature, but a oneness in the spirit, a vast identity of conscious being beyond all this endless variety of determination, behind all this apparent separativism of relative existence. The Gita takes its stand in that highest spiritual experience. It appears indeed to admit an eternal plurality of souls subject to and sustained by their eternal unity, for cosmos is for ever and manifestation goes on in unending cycles; nor does it affirm anywhere or use any expression that would indicate an absolute disappearance, laya, the annullation of the individual soul in the Infinite. But at the same time it affirms with a strong insistence that the Akshara is the one self of all these many souls, and it is therefore evident that these two spirits are a dual status of one eternal and universal existence. That is a very ancient doctrine; it is the whole basis of the largest vision of the Upanishads,- as when the Isha tells us that Brahman is both the mobile and the immobile, is the One and the Many, is the Self and all existences, atman sarvabhutami, is the Knowledge and the Ignorance, is the eternal unborn status and also the birth of existences, and that to dwell only on one of these things to the rejection of its eternal counterpart is a darkness of exclusive knowledge or a darkness of ignorance. It too insists like the Gita that man musk know and must embrace both and learn of the Supreme in his entirety- samagram
mam, as the Gita puts it- in order to enjoy immortality and live in the Eternal. The teaching of the Gita and this side of the teaching of the Upanishads are so far at one; for they loo at and admit both sides of the reality and still arrive at identity as the conclusion and the highest truth of existence.

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