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A History of Indian Philosophy, Volume 1

Whereas the capacity of translucence


The

Buddhists had analysed knowledge into its diverse constituent parts, and had held that the coming together of these brought about the conscious states. This coming together was to them the point of the illusory notion of self, since this unity or coming together was not a permanent thing but a momentary collocation. With Sa@mkhya however the self, the pure _cit_, is neither illusory nor an abstraction; it is concrete but transcendent. Coming into touch with it gives unity to all the movements of the knowledge-composites of subtle stuff, which would otherwise have remained aimless and unintelligent. It is by coming into connection with this principle of intelligence that they are interpreted as the systematic and coherent experience of a person, and may thus be said to be intelligized. Intelligizing means the expression and interpretation of the events or the happenings of

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[Footnote 1: It is important to note that Sa@mkhya has two terms to denote the two aspects involved in knowledge, viz. the relating element of awareness as such (_cit_) and the content (_buddhi_) which is the form of the mind-stuff representing the sense-data and the image. Cognition takes place by the reflection of the former in the latter.]

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knowledge in connection with a person, so as to make them

a system of experience. This principle of intelligence is called puru@sa. There is a separate puru@sa in Sa@mkhya for each individual, and it is of the nature of pure intelligence. The Vedanta atman however is different from the Sa@mkhya puru@sa in this that it is one and is of the nature of pure intelligence, pure being, and pure bliss. It alone is the reality and by illusory maya it appears as many.

Thought and Matter.

A question naturally arises, that if the knowledge forms are made up of some sort of stuff as the objective forms of matter are, why then should the puru@sa illuminate it and not external material objects. The answer that Sa@mkhya gives is that the knowledge-complexes are certainly different from external objects in this, that they are far subtler and have a preponderance of a special quality of plasticity and translucence (_sattva_), which resembles the light of puru@sa, and is thus fit for reflecting and absorbing the light of the puru@sa. The two principal characteristics of external gross matter are mass and energy. But it has also the other characteristic of allowing itself to be photographed by our mind; this thought-photograph of matter has again the special privilege of being so translucent as to be able to catch the reflection of the _cit_--the super-translucent transcendent principle of intelligence. The fundamental characteristic of external gross matter is its mass; energy is common to both gross matter and the subtle thought-stuff. But mass is at its lowest minimum in thought-stuff, whereas the capacity of translucence, or what may be otherwise designated as the intelligence-stuff, is at its highest in thought-stuff. But if the gross matter had none of the characteristics of translucence that thought possesses, it could not have made itself an object of thought; for thought transforms itself into the shape, colour, and other characteristics of the thing which has been made its object. Thought could not have copied the matter, if the matter did not possess some of the essential substances of which the copy was made up. But this plastic entity (_sattva_) which is so predominant in thought is at its lowest limit of subordination in matter. Similarly mass is not noticed in thought, but some such notions as are associated with mass may be discernible in


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