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The Boundaries of Being

by Dr. Sushil Fotedar

Whenever I talk about my own Being, the reference loosely, more often than not, is to a dynamic,  pervasive ‘presence’ confined more or less to the limits of the body. Further analysis of this state of dynamic pervasiveness yields that it seems to be of the nature of infinitesimal quanta of Awareness which arise outside of Time but in their rapid ‘succession’ provide a kind of flow apparent as Time. This Awareness is apparently nothing in itself being only a negation of that which Is, which Exists--the world of Objects-- and which is thereby perceived in that very negation through the senses, the instruments of the body. That is why Awareness is always about something outside of itself, something that is not itself. This is true even when I become aware of my own body—I stand, as it were, outside of my body, ‘push’ it away and thereby become aware of it.

However, it is here that one has to tread cautiously. Is Being the same as Awareness and Consciousness or are they different though closely knit together under usual circumstances; and who am ‘I’ who is talking about all these? The older terminologies of the ‘Subject’ and the ‘Object’ may be of some help here. Being, Awareness
Consciousness and the ‘I’, all very clearly belong to the realm of the ‘Subject’ whereas whatever exists outside of these, is the domain of the ‘Object’. But then some more clarity is needed regarding this poor Subject! With so many terms used loosely, sometimes interchangeably, the whole issue becomes confusing. Whenever I refer to ‘Being’, it is in the context of pure ethereality stripped of everything and anything belonging to the Object--a pure dynamic state. Under normal conditions, this Being is understood only indirectly through a pointed Awareness of an object or as a stream of Consciousness of objects in general. Therein lies the definition of Awareness and Consciousness also, the former being pointed and the latter, a stream. More often than not or rather almost always, the ‘I’ refers to these two modes of Being--Consciousness and Awareness; it is only in very exceptional and extraordinary ‘moments’, in the so-called mystical communion,that the ‘I’ becomes synonymous with pure Being.

That brings us to the real issue at hand : What is the nature of Being ? In Ishavasya Upanishad it is said,” Purnamadah purnamidam, purnaat purnamudachyate
, purnasya purrnamaadaya, purnameva vashishyate”—fullness, fullness and fullness. Nothing but fullness. Being is a Plenum bursting at the seams, as it were. On the other hand, the Buddhists, particularly those of the Madhyamaka school of Nagarjuna, would like us to believe in the other extreme . Being is a void a ‘Nothingness’ that ‘defines’ the world, the way the insubstantiality of space ‘defines’ and thereby provides dimensions to things within itself. By its very power of negation, this ‘Shunyata’ creates the ‘illusion’ of the world by standing apart from apparent objects which are paradoxically within itself. That is the immanent aspect of Being the Shakti of Trika Shaivism or the Yin of Taoism .In its transcendental aspect, nothing can be said about Being because it is beyond language—‘Neti, Neti’—not this, not this; that is the Para-Bhairava for you, if names could help!!

Well then, where do the boundaries of Being lie ?

I began my essay with my own being, not general Being as such, and therefore wanted to know its boundaries as to whether it is confined to the limits of my body or not. It is by now clear that Being is never individual; it provides the soil in which individual Consciousnesses with their accompanying worlds flower. It is at once transcendent and immanent, permeating every bit of existence and at the same time synonymous with the ‘Para-Brahmn’ of the Advaitists and the ‘Shunyata’ of the Madhyamakas--the limitless Beyond . It is that from which the universes emerge and into which they ultimately merge. This is what we are supposed to realize in our state of Moksha or that of Nirvana, depending upon which end we stand at—the one of Fullness or that of Nothingness!!

Om Shanti, Shanti
, Shanti.

 

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