Physical bodies are finite, corruptible, but are human beings just their bodies (and their finite minds)? There is a mysterious, undefinable, and unmeasurable entity called consciousness which appears to pervade all sentient beings and nature in general. Nature, all life, is conscious – dare we say? This entity – consciousness – is undeniable, for it is our most direct and unfalsifiable experience. Consciousness – by consensus of a majority of physicists – escapes all parameters of physics, neurophysiology, and brain studies. But not only consciousness, but so-called matter is also in the same category of the intrinsically unknowable, even if there are methods for measuring and experimenting with such entity as matter-energy.
Again, no one knows what eternity might be, such are the limitations of our means of understanding reality, even though physics and mathematics come to our aid in this and also with the phenomenon of space (space-time). What is more, philosophy and metaphysics have a better grasp of the extra-physical dimensions of reality aided and abetted as they are by (universal) intuition. For metaphysics time does not exist outside of our minds, and, rather than eternity-(duration), timelessness – or what is the same, that only the PRESENT exists – is what, as a concept, gives a semblance of reality to reality (all that is and ever has been) – incomprehensible to the unaided mind.
The original metaphor seems to come from the Taittiriya Upanishad. (It is also outlined in the Sarva-Sara Upanishad and the Paingala Upanishad.)
Here are some extracts from Swami Nikhilananda’s translation of the Taittiriya:
II.1.3.From the Atman was born AkAsha; from AkAsha, air; from air, fire; from fire, water; from water, earth; from earth, herbs; from herbs, food; from food, man. He, that man, verily consists of the essence of food. This indeed is his head, this right arm is the right wing, this left arm is the left wing, this trunk is his body, this support below the navel is his tail.
II.2.1.Verily, different from this, which consists of the essence of food, but within it, is another self, which consists of the vital breath. By this the former is filled. This too has the shape of a man. Like the human shape of the former is the human shape of the latter. prANa, indeed, is its head; vyAna is its right wing; apAna is its left wing; AkAsha is its trunk; the earth is its tail, its support.Continue reading →
Carpenter’s Malady and Cognitive Consonance – Rajarajeswari Srinivasan
I would like to start this discussion,with a Tamil verse ascribed to an ancient scripture called ‘Thirumanthiram’ attributed to ‘Thirumular’, considered a yogi who came from the north of India to the south. It is said that this work, consisting of more than 3000 verses formed the basis for the Saiva Siddhantha that developed in Tamilnadu. Only the verse has been taken from the text. A story has been added by me, for explanation.
There was a carpenter in a village, who specialized in making wooden toys. He had a son aged four. One day, the carpenter took his son to the temple. The little boy took a strong liking to the temple elephant and wanted to take it home. The carpenter convinced the adamant boy that it was not possible. But over the next few days he made a wooden elephant of reasonable size using a high quality wood and gifted it to his son. By this time, the child had forgotten his passion for the live elephant, and was very happy to possess a toy elephant and started playing with it, imagining it to be a real one. The carpenter’s father who was watching everything, said in Tamil, “marathai marraithathu maamadha yaanai” (“மரத்தை மறைத்தது மாமத யானை”), meaning, ‘the elephant (image) masks the wood’, i.e., “the elephant is perceived and not the wood”. Continue reading →