Mithya, Mythology, and Metaphysics – an exchange, ll


“All that now exists will die” (The goddess Erda, in Wagner’s opera Das Rheingold, 4th scene)

M: P, I have to commend you for the exacting work and research you have done on The Terrestrial Garden in such a short time. I am in substantial agreement, as you will see, with much of what you are saying, but take some exception with respect of part of the methodology (parallelisms mostly, rather than contrasts) you use, which has consequences to me either excessive or unwarranted. Also, agree that it is  “pointless to look for the single Truth in this story”. I start with some observations in the way of contrasts (rather than parallelisms or analogies): ‘unlike’, rather than ‘like’, realizing that I am not actually discovering anything new to you.
1. Mythology vs. Mithya

2. Monotheist exoterism (Moses, Old Testament) vs. Esoterism (Jesus,
New Testament)

3. Right and wrong (ethics & morality; or ‘moralism’) vs. sat-asat
(metaphysics or spiritual science)

4. (Christian) God vs. (Hindu) Ishvara

5.  a) Knowledge, empirical, religious, philosophical (‘categorial’) vs.
KNOWLEDGE (reality, realization)

5b) doctrine (theory) vs. method (practice)

1. We could consider, I think, The Garden of Eden, or Terrestrial
Garden, as a myth, like that of Prometheus, or the deeds of heroes –
as much in the East as in the West (puranas, sastras, sagas). They are
illustrative, imaginative stories applicable to man and society (or
collectivities). Not so mithya, which belongs to the spiritual or
metaphysical science of the Indian tradition exclusively, as you know
(that is, esoteric or sapiential: jñana). They (myth and mithya) are
quite different; though there is an overlap in the way we can make use
of them in order to bring out a deeper understanding of something
which may only be implicit in them. I think this is what phenomenological
analysis consists of (briefly, ‘the contents of consciousness’ – to be
elicited). Also, myth and mithya are in the same relationship as pratibhasika and vyavaharika – the first of each pair being merely illusory, subjective, imaginary. Continue reading

What is Death

“O grave, where is thy victory?” Paul of Tarsus

“There is no death nor birth. That which is born is only the body… If a man considers he is born he cannot avoid the fear of death. Let him find out if he has been born”. Ramana Maharshi

What is death? To begin with, we have the concept. What is the reality – if any – behind that particular concept, taken in general? Given that all concepts have a referent, is there a clear referent to the concept ‘death’? If so, is it an event, or a process – let us say in he case of a body? As soon as we start thinking or talking about it we are confronted with a series of difficulties, for there is not an unambiguous definition of that word or concept. Can it be defined in either positive or negative terms? What is its substratum, if any? As an adjective – ‘dead’ – that concept has a number of meanings or uses, not only a lack of vitality or function, and it frequently suggests certainty, assuredness and finality. In the New World Dictionary twenty different applications of the word are listed. Death, thus, whatever it is, is ubiquitous and multifarious, but what is it in its primary sense, as related to life? Continue reading