by Nataraja Guru



1. Wisdom's Frame of Reference 3
2. Existence 29
3. Subsistence 43
4. Value Dynamics 53
5. The Absolute and the Relative 65
6. The Philosophy of Necessity 75
7. The Absolute is the Adorable 79

8. Science and Religion Unitively Approached 93
9. The Lord's Prayer for Man 111
10. The Lost Idiom of the Bible 119
11. Allah the Absolute 123
12. Temple Exoterics 125
13. The Androgynous God of South India 131
14. The Philosophy of the Divine Family of Shiva 135
15. The Spiritual Role of the Sikhs 143

16. The Glory of Guru-hood 155
17. A Guru Tradition above Time and Clime 159
18. The Role of the Guru Today 175

19. Science and Human Values 181
20. Science and Certitude 187
21. Mathematics and Mysticism 193
22. Can A Science be Sung? 209
23. Towards a Common Speech for Science and Vedanta 213
24. The Travesty of Verbosity 221

25. Patterns of Hindu Orthodoxy 233
26. Hindu Philosophical Orthodoxy 243
27. The Sociology and Psychology of Caste 257





Wisdom refers to finalized knowledge. Such knowledge could result when the mind is properly focused. The focusing involves a methodology, epistemology and theory of values (axiology) proper to it. Cosmology, psychology and theology are all implied together in wisdom. Physics and metaphysics, ethics and aesthetics, lie within its scope. In its applicability a vast range of subjects of higher study such as sociology, economics, or politics come naturally within its range. Besides the searchlight of introspection, the worlds revealed to the telescope, spectroscope or the microscope can clarify wisdom and determine its limits or possibilities. Wisdom knows no distinction of personal attitudes such as optimist or pessimist, liberal or conservative, orthodox or heterodox, contemplative or active, Eastern or Western. The a priori and the a posteriori, and analytic and synthetic tendencies harmonize in a central norm in the wisdom-seeker's way. Ends and means tally unitively and universally when wisdom is fully finalized in terms of a self-happiness which aims at general well-being at the same time.

Having covered certain specified aspects of wisdom, keeping in mind this unitive approach, it remains for us in the present article to sum up the subject-matter and object-matter of wisdom, taken together. A scheme of correlation or a frame of reference is here suggested, not to be looked upon as a fetish or magic key for all wisdom, but merely to serve as an aid for the guidance of seekers, so that thoughts may hang together coherently, comprehensively and completely. The apologetic hesitancy of the sceptic is here replaced by the confident hope in the highest possibilities of the Self in Man.

Wisdom, which covers both science and philosophy, has suffered from excess of departmentalisation and specialisation in recent years, especially in the West. There is, therefore, a legitimate cry for the unification and integration of the sciences.


Some, like Russell, who stand for such, limit themselves to an empirico-logical attitude. There are others who, like Niels Bohr and Schroedinger, wish to bring both a priori and a posteriori fields under the aegis of a unified science. Bohr wrote:

"…science is, according to its aims of enlarging human understanding, essentially a unity... above all it may help us to balance analysis and synthesis." 1

A formula to bring both these disciplines within the scope of one schema is still only vaguely understood at present. Even those who adhere to empirico-logical reason have their orthodoxy which stresses the pragmatic as against the dogmatic predilections of those who can afford to wait longer for results. These lurking rival orthodoxies have to be brought out and fitted into a common frame of reference. This hard task is what we set before us here.

There is no use in rival schools calling one another various names such as solipsists, syncretists or eclecticists. An easy lapse into any of these attitudes would be detrimental to the cause of unitive wisdom. Besides such labels as optimist, pessimist, hedonist or hylozoist, philosophers have been too easily open to attack by such expressions as pantheist, pluralist, animist, conceptualist, transcendentalist or personalist. These terms in their proper contexts need not necessarily be deprecatory. A unitive outlook would help to view the whole field without mutual mistrust.

When we remember that all wisdom is for man or even vice versa; and put the human personality in its proper central and neutral position without egocentric evil accruing to our modes of thinking; and when we begin to view the whole matter of wisdom from its proper perspective round the normative notion of the Absolute - wisdom can then attain to the open, dynamic and public status of a Science of sciences as against static closed random aggregates of esoteric doctrines - however old or respectable they may be in themselves. Such an absolutist outlook would reveal through wisdom that high value named Truth, the Truth which shall make us free. Existence, subsistence and values would meet in such a central Value in the name of common human happiness.




Wisdom concerns what humans feel, think or understand. Cognition, conation and affection come into its frame. An initial examination of the content of philosophy or contemplative wisdom shows that when completely reviewed in any methodological order it comprises the following items at least, in any attempted inventory.


We can take the list given by Prof. A.N. Whitehead for a basic consideration of the 'components of experience':

"In order to discover some of the major categories under which we can classify the infinitely various components of experience, we must appeal to evidence relating to every variety of occasion. Nothing can be omitted, experience drunk and experience sober, experience sleeping and experience waking, experience drowsy and experience wide awake, experience self-conscious and experience self-forgetful, experience intellectual and experience physical, experience religious and experience sceptical, experience anxious and experience care-free, experience anticipatory and experience retrospective, experience happy and experience grieving, experience dominated by emotion and experience under self-restraint, experience in the dark, experience normal and experience abnormal." 2

Sankaracharya's method is more thoroughgoing still in this matter of determining the content of consciousness. Anything not given to any of the three states of waking, dreaming or deep sleep has for that reason to be omitted from the true content of experience. If we should turn to another eastern source we find in the Bhagavad Gita an enumeration which is more realistically and less solipsistically conceived. Here the levels of personal life are touched in a graded order in two sets: in the second of which personal attitudes rather than conscious reason count. In all the three sources cited, contrasted states like waking or sleeping are brought in and we see that antinomian pairs of another order, such as fear and fearlessness, honour and dishonour, figure at least partially, in the Bhagavad-Gita and wholly as in the list of Whitehead above.

The scale of personal values from the positive head-end to the negative heart-end of consciousness conceived vertically, and in two sets, reads as follows in the Gita (Chapter X, verses 4, 5):

"Intelligence, awareness, unerring clarity, persistence, control, calmness, pleasure-pain, being-non-being, fear and fearlessness;
Non-hurting, equality, pleasantness, discipline, generosity, honour and dishonour too, Are the various states of living beings as they refer to Me".


Through a close scrutiny of the two lists enumerated, the one by a modern Western thinker, and the other by an ancient sage of the Orient like Vyasa, it should be possible at least to concede initially that consciousness is the meeting place of two sets of value-experiences. There are some that admit of conflict as between antinomies of the same order, and others more unitively understood. Pure awareness, which is identified with the Absolute Self in Sankaracharya, is more solipsist than the other two cases referred to above. As between the series of items of the modern Western philosopher and the Eastern sage we should also notice that Vyasa reduces antinomies to the minimum while Whitehead retains dual possibility of experience throughout the series, The Eastern analysis is more contemplatively conceived.



Even to justify such broad generalizations as the above, it is necessary that a frame of reference for the whole of wisdom should be visualised simply and even schematically to start with - hence its justification. The map helps a navigator; and geometry and graph, by designs, help to construct the symbolic world that mathematics builds up through actual counting or measuring things or movements. Second- or third-degree abstractions of different mathematical arguments, operations, functions and equations help relational coherence. Propositional calculus and syntactical analysis of language have also now entered the field to analyse the strange 'togetherness' of things or concepts in consciousness.

When we remember further that all the words of the dictionary of any language are capable of being arranged in two columns of synonyms and their antonyms, as has been so ably demonstrated for English in Roget's “Thesaurus”, we can generalize initially here with justice in saying that a polarity underlies thought generally.

Further, when specific and generic counterparts of a concept show the same dialectical or ambivalent inter-relatedness, the stage is set for us to think in terms of a frame of reference within which to fit all types of events, movements or tendencies in experience together, in what constitutes experience or consciousness which is none other than Wisdom itself.

When the mind is focused more clearly, it is possible to discover two sets of pairs, some that refer to pure antinomies and others belonging to the world of practical values.


The former may be said to refer to the vertical axis and the latter to the horizontal axis. There is a principle of contradiction with a possibility of unity which neutraliZes these pairs of antinomies where the two axes meet. The 'Being' of Parmenides and the 'Becoming' of Heraclitus may be said to have common ground at this core of experience.



Empirico-logical reasoning may lead us to the limits of scepticism which can perhaps have its own uses, like the uses of adversity which Shakespeare refers to. Bertrand Russell concludes his book on Human Knowledge 3 with a whole chapter devoted to "The Limits of Empiricism" wherein he admits finally:

"…it must be admitted, empiricism as a theory of knowledge has proved inadequate, though less so than any other previous theory of knowledge. Indeed, such inadequacies as we have seemed to find in empiricism have been discovered by strict adherence to a doctrine by which empiricist philosophy has been inspired: that all human knowledge is uncertain, inexact and partial. To this doctrine we have not found any limitation whatever." (p. 527)

In short, Russell here relies on a certain type of philosophical inspiration to deny the limits he himself admits. Empiricism failing by its strict standards justifies itself by a form of reasoning which resembles the problems such as that between being and becoming of Parmenides.



Plato treats of the implications of such a way of philosophising, bringing out its full dialectical implications through examination of paradoxes such as between the one and the many, motion and rest, "These are like yet unlike, in contact yet not in contact". The idea of the moment is postulated. It is defined as "something out of which change takes place into either of two states" of motion or rest, being or non-being.4

We know this same type of reasoning in the Tarka Sastra of India where non-being (abhava) itself is treated as a substance (padartha). The five other systems besides the Nyaya system to which this style belongs accept this way of reasoning overtly or tacitly. Without full recognition, this way of thinking has never been abandoned by man and even present-day philosophers lapse into it inadvertently, as it were.


Let us quote from Prof. Whitehead again to see how highly reminiscent of the tradition started by the paradoxes of Parmenides and Zeno it is.
It reads:

"A pure physical prehension is how an occasion in its immediacy of being absorbs another occasion which has passed into the objective immortality of its not-being. It is how the past lives in the present. It is causation. It is memory. It is perception of derivation. It is emotional conformation to a given situation, an emotional continuity of past with present. It is a basic element from which springs the self-creation of each temporal occasion. Thus perishing is the initiation of becoming. How the past perishes is how the future becomes."5



The same author admits the essentially dialectical nature of this kind of approach to wisdom which is both modern and ancient and common to the East as well as to the West when he writes:

"European philosophy is founded upon Plato's dialogues, which in their methods are mainly an endeavour to elicit philosophic categories from a dialectic discussion of the meanings of language taken in combination with shrewd observation of the actions of man and of the forces of nature. "6

The Yoga of the Bhagavad Gita and the dialectics of Plato, which later Whitehead himself comes to the verge of accepting, have thus their common ground in Wisdom which is the highest knowledge of homo sapiens.

Thus understood, Wisdom could be taught and should be taught in all universities of the present-day if the human heritage is not to perish. Unified Wisdom as a science could be formulated better when the general plan, scheme, pattern, structure or frame of reference which relates aspects of wisdom, conceived both subjectively and objectively, becomes better visualised globally or unitively. Empiricism and the scepticism it upholds need not be adhered to as a modern surrogate of religion for its own sake. Wisdom rises above mere orthodoxies and soars above all limitations of thought.



How the common-sense notion of the nature of the physical world has been rudely displaced by modern theories and totally distorted out of all shape is amply evidenced in a single paragraph from Eddington's work, “The Nature of the Physical World”:

"I am standing on the threshold about to enter a room. It is a complicated business. In the first place I must shove against an atmosphere pressing with a force of fourteen pounds on every square inch of my body. I must make sure of landing on a plank travelling at twenty miles a second round the sun - a fraction of a second too early or too late the plank would be miles away…the plank has no solidity of substance. To step on it is like stepping on a swarm of fleas…if unfortunately I should slip through the floor or be boosted too violently up to the ceiling the occurrence would be not a violation of the laws of Nature, but a rare coincidence. These are some of the minor difficulties. I ought really to look at the problem four-dimensionally as concerning the intersection of my world-line with that of the plank. Then again it is necessary to determine in which direction the entropy of the world is increasing in order to make sure that my passage over the threshold is an advance, not an exit."
Pp. 467-68

The man of common-sense is sure to feel bewildered, but if he is clever enough could still ask the scientist some very simple, seemingly silly, yet fully pertinent questions. Three of these could be put down as examples here at least to show how a revised scheme of reference where the expert scientist could converse with the man in the street may still be possible.

1. How could the Empire State Building of New York still stand if the Euclidean geometry and Newtonian physics on which it was built have been replaced by relativistic notions?

2. In the light of the abolition of even the theory of parity of particles in the atom, how is the stability of terra firma to be understood at all? Even the picture of the swarm of fleas of Eddington above (1926) has now (1959) to be modified completely.

3. If experimental psychology has displaced faculty psychology, why is it that a waking man cannot pacify a man who is talking in his sleep and who shouts for help during a nightmare?


Two men in a dark room who ask each other "Who are you there?" can both be equally satisfied with the common response of 'I' coming from either side, revealing the common content of the first person singular, which behaviourists and the experimental or empirico-pragmatic psychologists of the stimulus response school tend to deny: How is this possible?

Such questions could be multiplied with reference to other branches of science. Even Western philosophers like Prof. Whitehead feel the need for a new doctrine and a revised frame of reference when they go so far as to say:
"The field is now open for the introduction of some new doctrine of organism which may take the place of the materialism with which, since the seventeenth century, science has saddled philosophy. "10




The zigzag course of the history of philosophy in the West may be looked upon as the alternating swinging of the pendulum as between the truth understood by Plato and by his disciple Aristotle. They were both dialecticians, the former employing ascent into the intelligible world and the latter preferring descending dialectics entering into the Prime Mover behind both matter and form. The hylozoism of the Eleatic pre-Socratic philosophers was directly continued in Aristotle, and the paradoxes of Parmenides and Zeno entered into the subtle dialectics common to this teacher-disciple couple who, between them, may be said to have set the pattern for philosophical or theological thinking, with their influence reaching down to our own times. Academic, peripatetic, scholastic, and patristic traditions blended with the background of Dionysiac mysteries to shape and direct European thought.

On the Indian soil a corresponding phenomenon in the history of thought is in the six systems (sad-darsanas) which together constitute a winding staircase of thought divided between what is called jnana (reason) and karma (action). Their dualistic treatment was unitively revalued in the Bhagavad Gita which stated (V. 4-5) categorically that Samkhya rationalism and Yoga disciplines were one, and that those who saw them as two were "children, not pundits".


Once philosophy is properly related to its norm in the notion of the Absolute, and when it refers to self-realisation as a high value for man, a certain coherence and order becomes evident. Truth or Wisdom in general would then attain to a unitive status where subjectivity and mere objectivity are merged in the neutral core of the personality of man himself. If we could supply this central notion as a substance, a monad, or as a conscious experience holding together ambivalent polarities, the task of understanding together both Plato and Aristotle and all lesser philosophers would be easy. In fact such is the task that the schematic correlation suggested here is meant to accomplish.



In Book VI of Plato's “Republic” we read the following dialogue:

"SOCRATES: Now take a line which has been cut into two unequal parts and divide each of them again in the same proportion, and suppose the two main divisions answer one to the visible and the other to the intelligible, and then compare the subdivisions in respect of their clearness, and you will find that the first section in the sphere of the visible consists of images, and by images I mean in the first place shadows, and in the second place reflections in water and in solid, smooth and polished bodies and the like. Do you understand?

GLAUCON: Yes - I understand.

S.: Imagine now the other section of which this is only the resemblance, to include the animals which we see and every-thing that grows or is made.

G.: Very good.

S.: Would you not admit that both the sections of the division have different degrees of truth and that copy is to the original as the sphere of opinion is to the sphere of knowledge?

G.: Most undoubtedly.

S.: Next proceed to consider the manner in which the sphere of the intellectual is to be divided.

G.: In what manner?


S.: Thus there are two subdivisions: in the lower of which the soul uses the figures given by the former division as images; the enquiry can only be hypothetical and instead of going upwards to the principle, descends to the other end; in the higher of the two, the soul passes out of hypotheses, making no use of images as in the former case, but proceeding only in and through ideas themselves." 8

The vertical axis with the ascent of dialectical thought thus finds clear description in Plato, which he further finalises in a later section in the following significant words:

"You have quite conceived my meaning; I said, and now corresponding to these four divisions, let there be four faculties of the soul - reason answering to the highest; understanding to the second; faith or conviction to the third; and perception of shadows to the last - and let there be a scale of them, and let us suppose that the several faculties have clearness in the same degree as the objects have truth."9

Further, we read again:

"And so, Glaucon, I said, we have at last arrived at the hymn of dialectic which is that strain of the intellect only, but which the faculty of sight will nevertheless be found to imitate: for sight, as you may remember, was imagined by us after a while to behold the real animals and stars, and last of all the sun himself. And so with dialectic, when the person starts on the discovery of the Absolute by the light of reason only and without any assistance of the sense, and perseveres until by pure intelligence he arrives at the perception of Absolute Good, he at last finds himself at the end of the intellectual world, as in the case of sight at the end of the visible." 10

We have quoted Plato at length here, as by doing so we can cover what is represented by the vertical positive aspect of wisdom with as few additional remarks of our own. If the description could be made to correspond to subjective aspects of self-realisation and objective aspects of cosmology, avoiding prejudices arising out of what in India is referred to as triputi (tri-basic partiality) of objectivity, subjectivity or conceptualism, the notion of the vertical axis will have been fully described for the schema we have here in mind.



Prof. A.N. Whitehead, who has been described as "the latest and greatest of Cambridge Platonists", has a mathematically conceived version of the implications of what we have called the vertical positive of our suggested schema of correlation. Explaining that what he calls "eternal objects" are the “Universals” as understood in European philosophy generally, and that it is an abstraction, he says:

"By 'abstract' I mean that what an eternal object is in itself - that is to say, its essence - is comprehensible without reference to some one particular occasion of experience." 11

He goes on to say that an 'eternal object'

"is to be comprehended by acquaintance with (i) its particular individuality, (ii) its general relationships to other eternal objects as apt for realisation in actual occasions, and (iii) the general principle which expresses its ingression in particular actual occasions."12

Explaining the nature of the 'connexity' between grades of 'eternal objects', which form a hierarchy between themselves at different levels, the professor enters into mathematical speculations as follows:

"Any set of eternal objects belonging to the hierarchy, whether all of the same grade or whether differing among themselves as to grade, are jointly among the components or derivative components of at least one eternal object which also belongs to the hierarchy." 13

We quote below the full paragraph referring to the abstractive hierarchy of eternal objects, which is what we have tried to represent in the vertical positive of our schematic representation. The schema is capable of avoiding the poetic embellishments of Platonic language as well as the dry mechanistic logic- chopping of its mathematical version in a manner appealing to common sense. The mathematically conceived description of the vertical axis of values reads as follows:

"A finite abstractive hierarchy will, by definition, possess a grade of maximum complexity. It is characteristic of this grade that a member of it is a component of no other eternal object belonging to any grade of the hierarchy.


Also it is evident that this grade of maximum complexity must possess only one member: for otherwise the condition of connexity would not be satisfied. Conversely any complex eternal object defines a finite abstractive hierarchy to be discovered by a process of analysis. The complex eternal object from which we start will be called the 'vertex' of the abstractive hierarchy: it is the sole member of the grade of maximum complexity. In the first stage of the analysis we obtain the components of the vertex. These components may be of varying complexity; but there must be among them at least one member whose complexity is of a grade one lower than that of the vertex. A grade which is one lower than that of a given eternal object will be called the 'proximate grade' for that object. We take then these components of the vertex which belong to its proximate grade; and as the second stage we analyse them into their components. Among these components there must be some belonging to the proximate grade for the objects thus analysed. Add to them the components of the vertex which also belong to this grade of 'second proximation' from the vertex; and, at the third stage, analyse as before. We thus find objects belonging to the grade of third proximation from the vertex; and we add to them the components belonging to this grade, which have been left over from the preceding stages of the analysis. We proceed in this way through successive stages, till we reach the grade of simple objects. This grade forms the base of the hierarchy." 14

Here the 'ingression' into the 'particular' is a descent instead of the ascent in the method of Plato himself.



From hypothetical constructions reaching upward to the supreme good we descend into the realm of Plato. It is possible to descend by a process of inverse abstraction into the very heart of the specific prime mover of Aristotle, which would represent his God as the source of all things. What corresponds to the real in Platonic dialectic corresponds to the entelecheia in Aristotle. Here the real becomes an abstraction and a universal or unitive concept. Priority and specificity characterise the prime mover. What is anterior to all knowledge is referred to by Aristotle as the prius nobis.


Before we can attain to this final term of priority we have to pass through what Aristotle would call prius natura and prius natura intendente (priority of the perfect) where form passes into matter itself in its inmost essence and uniqueness. If we should start the abstractive hierarchy from the 'vertex' of this specific yet eternal object we can ascend through grades of lesser and lesser degrees of specificity to the point where, as entelecheia, specificity partakes of universality. Entelecheia may, therefore, be said to lie at the moment where the one and the many change over in terms of each other.

That such are some of the implications of the dialectics in Aristotle's philosophy can be corroborated by a brief quotation from Baldwin's “Dictionary of Philosophy”, which explains the notion of entelechy (entelecheia) as follows:

"By this conception of passive power the attempt is made to explain why a specific effect such as melting in the case of wax is produced by the same cause, heat, which produces an opposite effect upon other substances. This ground, we conceive, must lie in the thing acted upon. It is therefore not inappropriately named a power, since it is an intrinsic state which determines (in part) the effect. Power is opposed on the one hand to actual activity; on the other to the certainty of non-activity. It is therefore a mediating concept between non-action and action."

Between the prius nobis and the actualised principle of the entelechy thus understood there is therefore the possibility of a dialectical movement in thought similar to that between the real and the intelligibles of Plato. If the extreme points of abstraction in both are joined by a vertical line, entelecheia and the real may be understood as the point of intersection between the vertical and the horizontal axes.

Such a neutral core of consciousness is implied in the dialectics of "identity and non-identity" or of "one and the many" as explained in the “Parmenides” of Plato where we read:

"The One is neither other than itself nor the same with itself"15.

"The contradiction involved in ascribing any relation to unity leads to the denial of it".16


In terms of pure time this neutral core of consciousness corresponds to the concept of the moment as described by Plato in the same context as follows:

"… the moment seems to imply a something out of which change takes place into either of two states: for the change is not from the state of rest as such, nor from the state of motion as such; but there is this curious nature which we call the moment lying between rest and motion, being and non-being in any time; and into this and out of this what is motion changes into rest and what is at rest into motion." 17

The 'moment' is thus the meeting place of the real and the entelechy of which nothing can be predicated. In short, Western philosophy arrives at the position enunciated by Narayana Guru in the following simple verse:

"Of one thing there are many as in many objects
One single meaning reside: by such knowing we can know
In consciousness as inclusive of all differencelessly;
This secret ultimate is not given to all to know."18




The notion of the Absolute is the locus of all possible paradoxes. As the Upanishadic imagery would put it, the Absolute in itself is the hub of the wheel where all predications meet in the living moment at the pure core of life. This core is to be connected peripherally to actual practical aspects through successive concentric zones of concretion, virtual or actual, by means of what would correspond to the spokes of a wheel, each of which would have its counterpart on the opposite side of the hub. The primary function of the core of consciousness is to hold the spokes together centripetally, when they tend to be centrifugal. The thousands of possible syllogisms possible according to Aristotelian logic are movements of thought between the general and the particular in the pure and practical domains of life activities, innate or overt.
Such a wheel would be given in a cross-section view, while in a longitudinal section view the Absolute, though truly confined to what constitutes a 'moment' as defined above, would reveal a vertical scale of values, the most primary of them based on simple direct sensations where reflex actions and stimulus-response functions hold good. Here man feels rather than thinks. The second level of this vertical axis would contain the loci of all formally logical functions of thought. In the third or final level, mere relatedness to multiplicity of interests yields place to intense attraction or adoration to a unitive and pure value


The circulation of thought takes place as between the centre and the periphery, solving paradoxes of different degrees of interest. According to life interests there is a movement of the personal interests up or down the scale of general human interests till they find their term in full self-realisation. Each such unit of consciousness may be thought of on the lines of a 'monad' - with possible centrally unitive monads belonging to the three levels in the vertical scale.



The concept of the monad can be traced back in Western philosophy as far as Pythagoras. Through its successive use by Ecphantus, Aristotle, Euclid, Augustine and many others, it has a sufficiently general and recognised status as a philosophical concept of great antiquity and respectability. Plato himself referred to his ideas as monads. Cusanus and Bruno among later philosophers have led up to its legitimate founder in Leibniz whose monadology marks an important stage in the modern philosophical tradition. Its persistence as applicable to the human personality in Renouvier proves how hauntingly the notion persists.

When we read that, according to Leibnizian monadology, "God is the monad of monads whose being is in harmony with all other beings, whose pure activity only is the source of all activities, and whose sufficiency is the ultimate ground of reason" 19, and also such descriptions as:

"The monad is a simple substance, completely different from a material atom. It has neither extension, nor shape nor divisibility. Nor is it perishable. …They 'have no windows'…The universe is the aggregate, the ideal bond of the monads, constituting a harmonious unity, pre-established by God who is the highest in the hierarchy of monads. The bond of all things to each enables every simple substance to have relations which express all the others, every monad being a perpetual living mirror of the universe…The highest monad, God, appears to be both the creator and the unified totality and harmony of self--active and self-subsistent monads." 20


When we analyse the implications of monadology under items such as:
(1) continuity of monads,
(2) their dynamic substance,
(3) their consisting of infinitesimal petites perceptions which are subconscious,
(4) the inter-relatedness of monads,
(5) their life as non-spatial,
(6) that though finite they are infinite and belonging to a self-representative system,
(7) conservation of the energy of the monad, and
(8) as leading to perfection
- we are sure to feel the need of fitting all these into a coherent frame of reference such as the one we have been developing.

In appraising the validity or status of such an elaborate system, which is perhaps the most intuitively realistic picture to combine cosmology, psychology and theology with a dialectical method supported by the language of universal mathematics, of which Leibniz himself was the promoter in his day, the frame of reference we have employed would be of service. We could sum up our criticism with its aid by simply stating that monadology is stronger on the negative vertical aspects of the Absolute. By its omission of space it has no horizontal axis of reference. The vertical plus side is only vaguely touched upon by such terms as "pre-established harmony" or "self-representative system", which could be clarified further in the light of the dialectics of Plato.

In spite of these drawbacks, monadology, when supported by the universal mathematics of Leibniz, could be looked upon as the best pointer to an integrated or unified notion of reality compatible with notions of modern biology and radioactive matter. In the monad as the specific source of the universe; the monad as the universal goal or term of perfection; and at the same time, as Thilly puts it (above) "God as the monad of monads whose being is in harmony with all other beings" - we find three different concepts of God all lying in one and the same vertical scale. The first corresponds to the Prime Mover of Aristotle, the second to the Supreme Good of Plato and the third to where the real meets entelechy in the moment at the point of intersection of the two axes of our schema.

Leibniz himself refers to the three grades as "in esse, in intellectu, et in re" respectively. These technical terms of monadology would correspond to the terms sat, cit and ananda of the Indian philosophical context. The schema could thus be used for comparison of systems of thought as within themselves between rival types or sets. The overall plan and the most intimate structure of thought or wisdom generally conforms to the schema suggested here.
We shall pass on to examine this claim in a certain order as applied to different departments of thought.



The nature of the physical world has been the subject of theorisation and philosophical discussion from the most ancient times. From Pythagoras to Eddington in the West and through chapters corresponding to Genesis in the scriptures of the world, we have had various theories. If you believe in the Bible, some think you should not believe in the Darwinian theory of evolution. Creation of the cosmos at one stroke is opposed to gradual creation, and the co-existence of rival theories is ruled out as totally impossible. Newton and Einstein are popularly thought to be mutually exclusive; but then so also is the Cartesian theory of 'vortices' and 'occasionalism' which brings brute matter and subtle mind as dual entities together, giving us a picture of the universe which is supposed to be basically different from the monadology of Leibniz. The planetesimal hypothesis and the nebular theory are discredited, one in favour of the other. While the readers differ, it is strange to find that between those who put forward theories themselves there is willingness to allow each theory its freedom to exist by the side of the other. Einstein himself has his own two theories, the general and the particular theories of relativity, both valid together. The Hegelian principle itself is that when a new theory is formulated the truth of the anterior stage in thought is preserved in the posterior. The following quotation from Einstein would be of interest:

"No one must think that Newton's great creation can be overcome in any real sense by this or that theory. His clear and wide ideas will forever retain their significance as the foundation on which our modern conceptions of physics have been built."21

The possibility of a vertical scale of theories, one dialectically anterior to the other, is thus admitted as possible. Theories correctly formulated can co-exist and even contribute to the general overall epistemological scheme instead of disrupting it. Over-stress on horizontal applicability would tend to place one theory as the rival of the others - but vertically understood they can absorb one another unitively.

Thus from Pythagoras to Eddington we have had a string of theories through antiquity, each to be looked upon as a particular view of verity. 22


The latest position here can be surmised from the following pronouncement of Dr. A.C.B. Lowell who said in a BBC broadcast dated 15th December 1958:

"I do not believe that there exist any observational data which are decisively in favour of any particular contemporary cosmology".

The possibility of such co-existent and equally respectable theories without rivalry has been recognised in the Darsana Sastra of India, culminating in the “Darsana Mala” of Narayana Guru, where it has been shown that all facets of the vision of truth can be strung together so as to make a garland of visions which as an ornament can adorn the fully wise man. The harmony between the vertical and horizontal aspects involved is the secret by which the global relation of theories can be conceived.




The same dialectical revaluation and harmonising process among theories pertaining to the atom can be noticed in particle physics. Thus we read in Cajori:

"While physicists and mathematicians were busy celebrating the dynamics of the Bohr atom, another atomic model was invented by chemists, which was a 'static' atom in contrast to the 'kinetic atom of the physicists'. A compromise was effected between them."

Later in the history of modern physics we read:

"De Broglie's wave mechanics was made the starting point of new theoretical developments by Schroedinger (1926) who raised the question, what need is there in a group of waves, of the mass particle? Thus arose the theory of the 'wave' atom."

From the time the quantum theory came into the field the picture of the material atom has been revised. That a human being can still touch and directly experience something which is described, even though it may be superstitiously, as 'material', remains true. It is therefore necessary to conceive of particle physics as having an empirico-logical or practical (horizontal) principle and a non-empirical or pure (vertical) principle of reference within itself. The theories of Drs. Yang and Lee tend to support such a view.



The monad and the living cell conform in many respects to the schema here outlined. The space-time continuum could refer to the life history of an organism in terms of horizontal 'a-periodic' or 'periodic' bodies, the latter containing the principles of continuity. Salt crystals multiply a-periodically while chromosomes supply the factors of continuity of the species. Multiplication of cells and their growth have to be balanced to regulate the general harmony and individuality of the species. Erwin Schroedinger in his book “What is Life?” goes into the difference between periodic and a-periodic solids which multiply in different ways: one of which could be called horizontal (periodic) and the other vertical (a-periodic). The difference is described by the scientist as follows:

"A small particle might be called the' germ of the solid'. Starting from such a small solid germ, there seem to be two different ways of building up larger associations. One is the comparatively dull way of repeating the same structure in three directions again and again. That is the way followed in a growing crystal. Once the periodicity is established, there is no definite limit to the size of the aggregate. The other way is that of building up a more and more extended aggregate without the full device of repetition…We might quite properly call that an a-periodic crystal or solid and express our hypothesis by saying: "We believe a gene - or perhaps the whole chromosome fibre an a-periodic solid."23

We have already gone into other aspects of life in the light of our schema in the “Education Manifesto”. It is interesting to note further that Schroedinger was inclined to call De Vries' theory of mutation in biology figuratively as "the quantum theory of biology". The integration of life and matter is thus in the minds of scientists themselves. We have suggested also that the latest discoveries in particle physics tend to suggest a vertical axis in respect of the transformations of mass and energy aspects in right and left-handed particles.




When God has been called the “monad of monads”; and if the monad covers the common ground with the living unit and the basis of quantum pulsations, it should be easy to conceive of an overall frame of reference which would form the basis of comparative theology and reveal the structure of any single religious growth.


God is the central normative notion in theology and the problem here is to transcend the paradox as between God and Nature by means of the neutral principle of the Absolute underlying all science.

The theology of John Scotus Erigena lends itself admirably for treatment as an example here along the lines of our schema. The following four divisions relating to the subject-matter and the object-matter of theology have been presented by Erigena. As combining the best in the Dionysian tradition and that of St. Augustine, Erigena may be considered representative of theologians in general. The four divisions are:

(1) That which creates and is not created - God, the origin and principle of things;
(2) That which is created and create - Logos, Primordial causes or types of things existent in the matter of God and co-existent with God;
(3) That which is created and does not create - the Phenomenal world of space-time (Platonic “reals”);
(4) That which neither creates nor is created - God again - but as the end of all things (for Erigena held that just as creatures have emanated from God, so all will return to Him by an ascent).

The correlations will become clear at once if graphically represented as in the diagram on the next page.



Modern psychology, which claims to have abandoned the faculty psychology of classical times, is based on the primacy of the stimulus-response approach depending on various brass instrument measurements and statistical studies. The discovery of the cardio-encephalograph has pushed the possibilities of such a method to extreme limits, but beyond the reaches of such study it is being increasingly recognized that whole unexplored regions still remain to be investigated.

The cardio-encephalograph has revealed the astounding fact that there are two sets of mental activities, some of which show great expenditure of physical energy and others which are sharply different from them.


Educationists and philosophers like John Dewey have incessantly complained that "the whole man" has not yet been brought into cultivation or use by educators or psychologists. Dewey says:

"Particular S-R connections interpreted on the basis of isolated reflexes are viewed as static cross-sections, and the factor most important in education, namely, the longitudinal, the temporal span of growth and change, is neglected."24

More elaborate implications of psychological correlation along the lines implied in Dewey's complaint have been worked out in our “Education Manifesto”. 25





Where value-judgements in life are directly involved, as in ethics or aesthetics generally, the vertical and horizontal components of morality or art require a subtler insight to discern.

Generally speaking, tragedy has a movement along the vertical axis and plays on human feelings at their negative levels. To avoid tragedy would be the purpose of ethics, and in doing so we would have to avoid horizontal interests in life and cultivate vertical interests instead. Such are some of the ideas of the “Nichomachean Ethics” of Aristotle. The further implications of this statement can be found in Henri Bergson's epoch-making work, “The Two Sources of Morality and Religion”, in which the vertical world of open dynamic values is contrasted with the horizontal world of closed static or socialised values where obligations prevail.



Two volumes (“International Encyclopaedia of Unified Science”, Univ. of Chicago) of a branch of study which aims at the unification or integration of all sciences into a science of sciences, out of a large series of volumes contemplated, have been published. They contain interesting pointers in the direction of effectively correlating all branches of knowledge.

At present all that we can say about such efforts is that when the attitude of empirico-logical orthodoxy still persisting in most of them is discarded in favour of a bolder dialectical revaluation of the two positions round the common norm of all thinking, which could be none other than the Absolute, logistic and semiotics can be expected to usher in an era of truly united science instead of the ideal of a mosaic which its present sponsors including Carnap, Bohr, Russell, Morris, Northrop and others set before themselves as their goal for their International Encyclopaedia.

The structure of logical thought, however, is capable of being correlated to conform to our schematic pattern in the meantime on the following lines:
The four figures of logical modes, three recognised by Aristotle and the fourth by Galen, may be seen to conform to the four aspects of the axes of reference that we have suggested. The descriptions of the four figures are:

Figure I: Middle term is subject in major premise and predicate in the minor premise.
Figure II: Middle term is predicate in both premises.
Figure III: Middle term is subject in both premises. Figure IV: Middle term is predicate in major premises and subject in minor premise.

When we remember that the middle term is defined as "what occurs twice in the premises but is omitted in the conclusion, and that syllogistic logic is based on the laws of thought of which the excluded middle is a rule in judgements envisaged by this kind of logic, it is easy to see how it is meant for scientific reasoning of the empirico-pragmatic order. It works best in hypothetical and disjunctive forms of syllogistic reasoning.


When we come to categorical forms of the syllogism, the reasoning seems to serve no pragmatic end, but has the nature of a truism merely. The schema of correlation would present the plan shown on the next page.


"The last word on these matters has almost certainly not been said", concludes the article on Formal Logic by Alonzo Church in Runes' “Dictionary of Philosophy”.26 That new branches of study such as semantics, semiotics or even logical syntax do not lead us far enough for a bolder attempt at the unification of all science is evidenced by the controversy prevailing over the positions of two philosophers of modern times, Whitehead and Bradley, about which the former writes:

"There are various controversies about relations which need not be explicitly referred to. But there is one discussion which illustrates our immediate topic.
For example, New York lies between Boston and Philadelphia. But the connectedness of the three towns is a real particular fact on the earth's surface. It is not the universal 'between'. It is a complex actual fact which, among other things, exemplifies the abstract universal 'between-ness'.

This consideration is the basis of Bradley's objection that relations do not relate. Three towns and an abstract universal are not three connected towns. A doctrine of connectedness is wanted. Bradley (“Essays on Truth and Reality” Chapter VI, “On our Knowledge of Immediate Experience”, Appendix, p. 193) writes:

"Is there, in the end, such a thing as a relation which is merely between terms? Or, on the other hand, does not a relation imply an underlying unity and an inclusive whole?"27

Bradley himself answers:

"At every moment my stage of experience, whatever else it is, is a whole of which I am immediately aware. It is an experienced non-relational unity of many in one."28

The trouble here is that Western philosophy has not made the distinction sufficiently clear as between the actual and the perceptual aspects of reality.




FIG.1: Middle term is subject in major premise and predicate in the minor premise.

FIG.2: Middle term is predicate in both premises.

FIG.3: Middle term is subject in both premises

FIG.4: Middle term is predicate in major premises and subject in minor premise.


Prof. Whitehead sums up for us the position of modern philosophy.
"…each event, viewed in its separate individuality, is a passage between two ideal termini, namely, its components in their ideal disjunctive diversity passing into these same components in their concrete togetherness." 29

The line joining the two termini referred to above would come most near as can be to the acceptance of the vertical axis of reference in modern philosophy. The double reference required here and the unitive resolution implied is of the essence of dialectics, which is higher than mere logical thought. We have already dealt with its implications in our article on The Absolute and the Relative in this book.



Our consideration of possible applications of our schema for purposes of correlated factors in various aspects of wisdom would be incomplete without reference to its mystical or contemplative implications. In the following passage quoted from the Taittiriya Upanishad (l.iii.1- 4) we have evidently the foreshadowing of the four aspects of correlation which we have adopted throughout. This is but one of many passages suggestive of a scheme of correlation like our own which can be found throughout the Upanishads: 30


"Now next we expound the wisdom import (upanishad) of the togetherness (samhita) under five aspects: the world, the luminous, knowledge, progeny, self:
Regarding the world: The earth is the prior; the heaven the posterior; space their medium; wind the link.
Regarding the luminous; Fire is the prior; the sun is the posterior; water the medium; lightning the link.
Regarding knowledge; the teacher is the prior; the pupil the posterior; knowledge is the medium; teaching the link.
Regarding progeny; the mother is the prior; the father the posterior; progeny the medium; sex union the link.
Regarding the self; the lower palate is the prior; the upper palate the posterior; speech is the medium; the tongue is the link."
(Slightly adapted from Hume's translation.)

The principal findings of our discussion here could be set down tentatively and independently of topics, as follows:

1.That the wisdom-function in consciousness has two axes of reference, the vertical and the horizontal, and with reference to either or both of which thought circulates organically within its normal limits subjectively and objectively at once;

2.That each of these axes presents a polarity with plus and minus with a neutral point between each;

3.That a subtle reciprocity or ambivalence relates these with the common neutral point;

4.That wisdom as subject matter and wisdom as object-matter should tally to finalise a wisdom experience;

5.That units of wisdom given a priori or a posteriori have a dialectical relation between them.

6.That theories (physical, cosmological, theological, psychological or even mystical) can represent endless dialectical revaluations of aspects of Absolute Truth,

7.That endless serial inner or outer worlds can co-exist non-exclusively and non-conflictingly, but inclusively absorbing one another;

8.That the Self and the Absolute can be treated as interchangeable items; and

9.That human happiness, which is a worthy ideal even for a dispassion-ate scientist, is to be conceived in terms of unitive understanding which is none other than wisdom.



1. “International Encyclopaedia of United Science”, vol. I, Part I, p. 28. Univ. of Chicago

2. “Adventures of Ideas”, p.262. Pelican, London, 1948.

3. Unwin, 1948.

4. Cf. “Plato's Dialogues”, Vol.2, p. 126. Jowett, Random House, New York.

5. “Adventures of Ideas”, p. 276. Pelican, 1948.

6. Ibid. p. 265.

7. “Science and the Modern World”, p. 31. Pelican, 1938.

8. Jowett's translation, p. 771. Random Books, New York.

9 . Ibid., p. 773. . Ibid., p. 791.

10. Ibid., p. 791

11. “Science and the Modern World”, p. 186.

12. Ibid. p. 186

13. Ibid. p. 196.

14. Ibid. p. 197.

15. “Plato's Dialogues”, Vol. 11, pp. 102-03. Jowett, Random House, New York.

16. Ibid, pp. 112-13.

17. Ibid. p.126.

18. “One Hundred Verses of Self Instruction” (“Atmopadesa Satakam”), verse 73, p. 222. Narayana Gurukula, India, 695145.

19. “History of Philosophy”, p. 55. Thilly.

20. Joseph Maier in “Dictionary of Philosophy”, D.D.Runes.

21. Quoted by F. Cajori in “History of Physics”, Macmillan, 1938

22. For reference see “Le Système du Monde de Pythagore à Eddington”, Jules Sageret, Payot, Paris, 1931.

23. Erwin Schroedinger, “What is Life?”, p. 60. Macmillan, New York.

24. “The Sources of a Science of Education”, pp. 67-68. New York,

25. See “Values”, Vol. II, No. 12, and Vol. III, No.1

26. Jaico, Bombay.

27. Whitehead, “Adventures of Ideas”, pp. 267-68. Pelican, 1948.

28. Quoted from loc. cit. p. 175 by Whitehead, ibid. p. 270.

29. Ibid, p. 273.

30. Cf. under “Correlation” in “The Thirteen Principal Upanishads”, R.E. Hume, Oxford Press, 1971.



Existence (sat), Subsistence (cit) and Value Dynamics (ananda) mark three graded levels in the vertical axis of the frame of reference that we have developed stage by stage. They are both subjective and objective categories of consciousness understood in the unitive absolutist manner to which we have adhered in our discussions.

The mind of man is so constituted that it can enter into relation with something second to itself only under these three categories, of which the most primary and fundamental is that of existence.

Truth, belief, fact, reality and faith all refer to the factor of existence, which is itself a generalised abstraction. When we think of a particular object in the practical context of everyday usage, the relation has nothing to do with the philosophical notion of existence in a purely idealistic sense. Pure existence has its place in a vertical axis: while the practical reality of a thing, when referred to as existing, is the product of a horizontal movement in consciousness. The vague generic content of 'this' in a sentence such as 'This is a pot' underlies the more specific content of the word 'pot'. The movement from the generic to the specific t takes place within the world of virtuality-actuality.

A still deeper experience of existence as referring to purer factors in consciousness is possible, as when we think of the synthetic-analytic movement in thought implied in a sentence such as "This is knowledge".

To distinguish these two movements in consciousness is a very important matter in the methodology and epistemology of all scientific philosophising. The mixing up in the mind of the pure or vertical aspect of existence with its own horizontal aspect is the fecund cause of the metaphysical puzzlement or perplexity facing even logical positivists at the present-day. According to Morton White, Wittgenstein, the last of the so-called analysts, carried the cure for this 'puzzlement'.


Degrees of abstraction are possible and qualitative abstractions have to be kept apart from quantitative ones if our logic in philosophy is not to lose its way. Epistemological monism, realism and idealism, when they deal with essence or existence, have hitherto erred in this respect.

The Vedantic term for existence is sat. This refers to the ontological aspect of the Absolute, which has much in common with existence as understood by modern existentialists. Sat or existence in this sense should be understood as placed at the base of the vertical axis. It represents the calm, pure or eternal content of Absolute Consciousness both within as without; transcendent as immanent; in a context of Wisdom which is both psychological and cosmological at once.




Is the idea of existence to be given priority over the notion of essence? This has been an epistemological problem disturbing the favourite dreams of philosophers throughout the history of thought. However carefully one might read the literature of philosophers who might be classed as epistemological realists, idealists, or monists, there seems something elusive as between these two abstract notions.

The idea of essence, as related to the Latin term esse, has been much in favour with theologians of the so-called Dark Ages before the triumph of reason or science. God represented this principle of essence while creation itself with its material actuality was existence as God's creation.

Modern existentialists reverse the position between essence and existence, and give primacy to the notion of existence as against essence. Among existentialists themselves there are the believers and disbelievers in God. The believers who began to reverse the primacy of essence in God did not know that God would be dispensed with totally, by their own argument, by later existentialists such as Sartre. How the changeover from godly existentialism to godless existentialism took place can be gleaned from the following extracts from the writings of Jean-Paul Sartre who, according to the editor Morton White, "like Bergson has achieved popular fame that far exceeds anything possible for an English-speaking philosopher today. . . He may be criticised but he cannot be ignored".1


In Sartre's own words:

"What then, is this that we call Existentialism?…Indeed the word is now so loosely applied to so many things that it no longer means anything at all …All the same it can easily be defined. The question is only complicated because there are two kinds of existentialists. There are on the one hand the Christians among whom I shall name Jaspers and Gabriel Marcel, both professed Catholics; and on the other the existential atheists among whom we must place Heidegger as well as the French existentialists and myself. What they have in common is simply the fact that they believe that existence comes before essence- or, if you will, that we must begin from the subjective. What exactly do we mean by that?" 2

Our interest here is to see in this new philosophy, so popular at present in post-war Europe, the tendency to a new form of idealism and subjectivism in which the pendulum seems to swing away from Platonic ideas towards the ontological or real of the here-and-now world of values. What is taken away from the idea of God is given by another hand to the freedom of Man here, raising thus his dignity in the vertical scale of values.




That Existentialism stresses personal subjective values with a dynamism that may be said to move in the vertical rather than in a horizontal axis of relationships, will be amply evident to anyone who by this time has acquired the mental habit of referring all factors correctly to our frame of reference, which alone can save philosophers of even the most advanced type from that kind of 'puzzlement' to which we have already alluded. Sartre himself explains the nature of the subjectivism questioned in the previous quotation, and as implied in existentialist philosophy, as follows:

"Man simply is…Man is nothing else but that which he makes of himself. That is the first principle of Existentialism. And this is what people call its 'subjectivity' - using the word as a reproach against us. But what do we mean to say by this, but that man is of a greater dignity than a stone or a table? For we mean to say that man primarily exists - that man is before all else something which propels itself towards a future and is aware that it is doing so. Man is indeed, a project which possesses a subjective life, instead of being a kind of moss or a fungus or a cauliflower. Before that projection of the self nothing exists; not even in the heaven of intelligence. Man will only attain existence when he is what he proposes to be." 3


Man can thus wish to be like the essence implied in God, after his own existence has been first postulated without God. Such is the position of the Sartre school of modern existentialists.

From this school for our purposes it is important to note two things: one of which is that Existentialism has a contempt for things understood as simple utilities. The stone, the table, the cauliflower do not touch the subjective dynamism of the existentialist. Though in favour of ontology as against any religious teleology, the dynamism implied can be clearly seen to move in a vertical axis of pure values. In the words we have italicised above, "man is before all else something which propels itself towards a future and is aware that it is doing so": the subjective personal dynamism, not unlike that of Bergson, is clearly evident.
Existentialism asserts the dignity of man and his high destiny although it does so avoiding Platonic, Christian, or even Cartesian terminology. The existence here resembles rather that of Aristotle, who conceived it as something at the basis of matter and form. Existence as opposed to essence, and as consisting of essences subjected to accidents, are further clarifications of the notion of existence as defined in Rune´s “Dictionary of Philosophy” (p. 102).

We shall not be far wrong when we try to clear the puzzlement as between these terms when we say that existence in philosophy strictly refers to a horizontal factor and that essence is strictly a vertical one. In Sartre we have a notion of existence to be understood in verticalized yet negative terms. According to the stricter epistemological frame of reference we have tried to develop, we could sum up Sartrean Existentialism by saying that it is an attempt to rob godly essence by conferring it on free man here and now. Briefly, it refers to a vertical but negative value.




Modern philosophy tends to stress dynamic existence as against merely intellectual fixed concepts of existence. Bergson is well known as the philosopher of flux, change or becoming.


What he says in the following paragraph will help to show how great a family resemblance there is between Bergson' s notion of existence and that of Jean-Paul Sartre:

"Human intelligence as we represent it, is not at all what Plato taught in the allegory of the cave. Its function is not to look at passing shadows nor yet to turn itself round and contemplate the glaring sun. It has something else to do. Harnessed like yoked oxen to a heavy task, we feel the play of our muscles and joints, the weight of the plough and the resistance of the soil. To act and to know that we are acting; to come into touch with reality and even to live it, but only in the measure in which it concerns the work that is being accomplished and the furrow that is being ploughed: such is the function of human intelligence. Yet a beneficent fluid bathes us, whence we draw the very force to labour and to live. From this ocean of life in which we are immersed, we are continually drawing something, and we feel that our being, or at least the intellect that guides it, has been formed therein by a kind of local concentration. Philosophy can only be an effort to dissolve again into the whole. Intelligence…consists in an interchange of impressions which, correcting and adding to each other, will end by expanding the humanity in us and making us even transcend it."4

Bergson's objection to Plato's view arises from the fact that Platonism lives in a world raised above everyday living necessities, in the world of intelligible essences, like the attributes of a hypostatic entity such as a deity. When, however, Bergson himself refers to an entity called the 'Whole' with a capital letter, and refers in the last part of the above quotation to expanding the humanity within us even so as to transcend it, the dynamism that is in his mind is unmistakable.

In the earlier reference to the fluid that bathes us belonging to the 'ocean of life', the negative ontological idealism, not unlike that of the existentialist, is discernible to any but the most superficial philosopher. Being and becoming, as applied to something existent which philosophers postulate, are really complementary notions in the context of the Whole; which Whole itself can be nothing but the Absolute.

Platonic and Aristotelian realities are poles of an axis where dynamic consciousness can move. Consciousness can be viewed also as a kind of "local concentration" as Bergson puts it in the above quotation.


We could call such a static view of existence a cross-section of the whole, where being and becoming, existence and essence, come to a sort of equilibrium, cancelling each other out into a neutral personal state.

Such a hierarchy of states of existence was known to scholastic theologians, but other imaginative or poetic representations of the dynamism of progress in consciousness, in keeping with evolution, have largely displaced this notion. Reincarnation persisting in India contains essentially the same idea of stages of stable existence among beings of different grades. Prof. A. N. Whitehead has underlined for us the primacy given to 'becoming' rather than to 'static being' in the following unmistakable words:

"It is nonsense to conceive of nature as a static fact, even for an instant devoid of duration. There is no nature apart from transition, and there is no transition apart from temporal duration. This is the reason why the notion of an instant of time, conceived as a primary simple fact, is nonsense." 5




Being or static existence is generally spoken of as opposed to non-being or the void. Being and becoming are also sometimes referred to as counterparts in the dialectics of the Greek Eleatic school. The Eleatics gave being an absolute status. Plato tended to give primacy to ideological existence while his disciple and complementary philosopher Aristotle, while giving to the notion of being an eternal status, admitted 'ideas' and 'forms' as inseparable concomitants of essential being. Thus throughout the history of thought something elusive has persisted round this question of being and becoming, or between being and non-being. If we were asked to mediate, the position that we should take would be that of the dialecticians. In the Bhagavad Gita we have the famous verse which reads:

"Becoming cannot apply to the non-existing and non-becoming cannot be predicated of something that exists. The conclusive position with regard to both these together has been seen by the philosophers." (II.16)

The statement here bears a family resemblance to the position as stated by Parmenides who put the same problem in the following dialectical form as mentioned by W.S. Weeden in his article on “Being” in Runes' “Dictionary of Philosophy”:


"According to Parmenides and his disciples of the Eleatic school, everything real belongs to the category of Being, as the only possible object of thought. Essentially the same reasoning applies to material reality in which there is nothing but Being, one and continuous, all-inclusive and eternal. Consequently, he concluded, the coming into being and passing away, constituting change, are illusory: for that which is not, cannot be; and that which is, cannot cease to be."

The last sentence in the above quotation is a distinct echo of the thought in the Gita that we have just cited. A careful scrutiny of the rival theories on the subject will reveal the superiority of the dialectical approach, whether in the East or in the West. This approach has a methodology of its own which is different from the merely logical or rational. When this distinction is made clear, the 'puzzlement' here must vanish.

Even when dialectics is applied to the problem of existence, it is possible to have two answers, equally valid: one by which we have the notion of the Dialectical Moment; and the other which may be called the Eternal Present. The Dialectical Moment is Being, understood as the Void, and the Eternal Present has a conceptual content, which can only be the notion of the Absolute as the meeting point of contradictions.

According to Indian Vedanta texts we know the Absolute as Being, referred to as sat-asat (existing-non-existing), which should not be understood as a contradiction but as a unitive intuitive contemplative vision with a sufficient reason unto itself. Contradiction here is reabsorbed into the supreme unity of the Absolute, which stands for all existence. The sunya-vadins and the ksanika-vijnana-vadins of the later Buddhistic context confronted this very problem and solved it in their own ways by treating sunya (void) and vijnana (practical wisdom) as Absolute Norms, equally valid.



Anyone who has tried to follow carefully modern trends in philosophical thought will recognise that from the day Positivism was formulated by Auguste Comte there has been a persistent tendency to discredit all forms of abstract reasoning as baseless, non-factual or sentimental.


Darwin's theory of evolution became a natural starting point for a new variety of practical and realistic philosophising. Factual metaphysics as opposed to abstract doctrines became preferable. Kant, Descartes and Spinoza, leaving aside classical philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle, were boldly criticised and decried as living in their own ivory-tower abstractions.

The true representatives of the Age of Analysis, as writers like Morton White called them, include such names as Pierce, Whitehead, James, Dewey, Russell, Croce, Bergson, Sartre, Santayana and Wittgenstein. A practical common-sense view of the universe, as conducive to “progress” (whatever that meant exactly to these writers as each followed the footsteps of science), stressing clarity of a certain kind, represents something of the characteristics of the philosophy common to these moderns. The notion of the Absolute gave place to the admissibility of pluralistic belief. With the advent of the "Logical Positivists", the limits of analytical philosophy seemed somewhat extended so as to admit within its scope logic, mathematics, and linguistic studies for distinguishing what they called 'meaningful' from absurd assertions.

When one has reviewed all these philosophers, one notes that the latest of them, Wittgenstein, not only relied on logical syntax and semiotics, but began to question the very possibility of definitions. He is said to have been the most modern and the most puzzling of all analytical philosophers. We shall quote a paragraph from his “Philosophical Investigations” (section 77) to show the nature of the puzzle to which Wittgenstein directs his attention. Taking the case of two pictures, one sharply defined and a blurred one corresponding to it, he says:

"And if we carry this comparison still further it is clear that the degree to which the sharp picture can resemble the blurred one depends on the latter's degree of vagueness. For imagine having to sketch a sharply defined picture 'corresponding' to a blurred one. In the latter there is a blurred red rectangle: for it you put down a sharply defined one. Of course - several such sharply defined rectangles can be drawn to correspond to the indefinite one - but if the colours in the original merge without a hint of any outline won't it become a hopeless task to draw a sharp picture corresponding to the blurred one? Won't you then have to say: 'Here I might just as well draw a circle or heart as a rectangle, for all the colours merge. Anything - and nothing - is right.' And this is the position you are in if you look for definitions corresponding to our concepts in aesthetics or ethics."6


The impossibility of clear definitions when we follow the way of looking rather than thinking - i.e., when we conform to an objective discipline in philosophy, is what Wittgenstein labours to make clear. Morton White, the editor of the book, himself estimates Wittgenstein's contribution to modern philosophy in the following words:

"Wittgenstein's passionate interest in describing the use of language without metaphysical presuppositions is reminiscent of Husserl. His interest in describing the role, job and function of words is like the pragmatists'. His hostility to Cartesian dualism and his preoccupation with shared social linguistic activity sound more like John Dewey than Dewey or Wittgenstein would have dreamed. The notion that each word is embedded in a large linguistic context that swells into a 'form of life' is certainly not utterly removed from idealism… “The meaning is the use” was Wittgenstein's most famous slogan and it applied tenfold to his own words. To understand him one must read him and see the use of it."7

A philosopher who insists on seeing the use of words that cannot be defined clearly and depends on what he calls 'family resemblances', recognised by each person between instances of a concept such as 'game' or 'patch of colour', or even those notions such as 'good' etc. implying value, is in short a follower of Wittgensteinism as the latest expression of an idealistic positivism. "The vaguer the definition, the better the chances for the 'family resemblance' to operate in a useful or progressively scientific way" - such is the position - which takes us far beyond the strict limits of empiricism which a Carnap or a Russell would set for modern philosophy. We have every reason to believe that in this tendency there is a sly return to a new form of idealism, as Morton White hints at in the sentence we have italicised in the above quotation.

After stating that 'games' form a family, based on certain connecting fibres, as it were, of 'family resemblances' which elude precise definition, Wittgenstein concludes:


"…if someone wished to say: "There is something common to all these constructions - namely, the disjunction of all their common properties" - I should reply: now you are only playing with words. One might as well say: 'Something runs through the whole thread - namely, the continuous over-lapping of those fibres'." 8

The principle of 'continuity' referred to here, and the opposed principle of 'disjunction' referred to above, correspond to the vertical and horizontal aspects of existence as we have tried to distinguish them.



Philosophy as understood in our day tends to be based on common-sense utility. Pure rationalism and idealism, which were considered the true domain of philosophy in the era of Descartes, Spinoza, and Kant, have suffered a rude displacement in favour of something that 'works', or is 'provable' or demonstrable, as in a laboratory experiment.

This tendency has been pushed to its furthermost limits; and the die-hards of the empirico-utilitarian school are still maintaining the ground they invaded with the triumph of science, in whose wake they followed till now. But unfortunately for them, science itself is now turning speculatively philosophical. The material basis of matter is gone. A mathematical god is being visualised by disciplined scientists who lapse alternately into the language of mysticism or mathematics.

It looks as if the battle will be lost in favour of a new idealism. Such a prospect would be both good and bad. If all normative thinking should be lost, solipsism and sentimentalism would engender a crop of pseudo-scientific superstitions with dangerous consequences to civilisation. The opposite danger is equally serious, whereby in the name of scientific validity we might stand to lose our bearings in the world of worthwhile human values.

When the rigid experimental foundations of thought are failing on one side; and scientific thinking is invading the domains of pure thought on the other side, looking for new norms and meanings; it would be normal, for those who take neither the side of empiricism nor that of mere rationalism, to discover a way to open up the blind alleys leading from opposite directions by a revised and unitive methodology and epistemology. In this matter the Vedanta of India undoubtedly has some suggestive lines of thought to offer to the modern West.



Vedanta philosophy generally and Sankara's system in particular is built round the primary notion, of sat or existence. The given ontological real of here-and-now, although conceived as a unique abstraction along the lines of the 'prime matter' of Aristotle, rather than as a hypostatised entity as with Plato, is the basic starting point of all Vedanta philosophising. Prof. Lacombe of Paris, in a whole work devoted to the notion of the Absolute according to the Vedanta, starts his chapter on Sankara's notion of sat with the following bold generalisation:

"Vedanta is a philosophy of being - sat. It is in this that, taken as a whole, its most central point of insertion in the tradition of the Upanishads resides."9

In the Bhagavad Gita we find that this idea of sat as the basis of the existent in the strictly ontological sense is extended into notions of value and good or right action:

"In the sense of existence as well as in the sense of the good (the expression) sat is used. Likewise when speaking of worthy actions too this same term sat is pertinent, 0 Partha." (XVII. 26).

In the next and last chapter, the same vertical series of ontological levels from the most basic or generic to the most specific, expressing itself through possible activities in life, is again referred to as follows:

"The base, the actor, the instruments of action and activities of diverse kinds, with God as the fifth here”. (Gita, XVIII.14)

A vertical series of ontological factors attaining to supreme specificity in God, through intermediate stages in which activity is implied, gives us a living picture of the human personality or spirit, much after the manner of moderns such as Bergson, whose words quoted above bear a family resemblance to the ontological approach implied in Vedanta.

The inversion of the Vedanta approach vis-à-vis the traditional occidental approach to the problem of reality is further clearly explained by Lacombe in the following passage from his book:

"The metaphysical problem par excellence for occidental philosophy is to conquer the two paradoxes in passing from things finite and relative to the being infinite and absolute. Daughters of Plato, the one as well as other, but all the same turning their backs on one another, two great doctrines separate from each other here; Aristotelian Greek and Medieval of being and of the pure act; Cartesianism with all it was followed by, which will soon be a philosophy of action". (P.35).


After some additional paragraphs in which the course of Western philosophy is carefully traced from Descartes through Spinoza and Leibniz to Kant, Prof. Lacombe goes on to sum up the position of Sankara in respect of his existent reality of sat, which participates to some extent in the notion of substance as known to the West. He then says:

"Thus while all our (Western) philosophy is constructed upon the primacy of Ideas or of "formal causality", the philosophy of Sankara sets the pace deliberately for what we should call fundamental causality or substantial causality. It is not that it is unaware of the fecundity of being, nor would it underestimate such, if one would well understand its generosity. But if it is true of other metaphysics than his, and not Indian alone, that the movement of return from the finite to the infinite is more profound, charged with greater sense - even to the extent of setting on one side its saving orientation - than the movement of departure, involution more authentic than evolution, this seems particularly true of the Vedanta of Sankara, because for him the term of all evolution definitely coincides with its source: the final cause as well as the formal cause re-absorb themselves in the substance, and by way of consequence, the efficient cause also". 10

We can now clearly distinguish two distinct trends in philosophy. To use Prof. Lacombe's expression, they are turning their backs on each other. Plato's ascending dialectics led him into the thin air of the world of the intelligibles; while Aristotle, by an opposite tendency or trend in the progress of philosophic thought, went beyond matter and prior to it into another world of unique existential factors basic to matter and form.

The notion of substance was meant as an intermediate link between these two poles to which thought was drawn. Modern analytic or pragmatic philosophers who tended to discredit the idealism of Plato, did so because Plato's concept of Ideas, though sound from the point of view of abstract philosophy, could not lend itself as the foundation of a scientific or progressive civilisation which believes in action rather than in calm contemplation.


However, with the admission of logic, mathematics, and semantics into philosophy in recent times, a new phase in philosophic thought is being ushered in. This has at present the added support of a philosophy of science which itself is becoming more and more non-materialist. We have seen how Russell has long been convinced of the limits of empiricism and its inadequacy for philosophy in all its aspects. Carnap's position brings him to the verge of seeking worthwhile meanings in propositions which have to be demonstrable and useful. As we have just seen, Wittgenstein goes further into the mystery of meanings, even of words such as 'game' or 'yellow', and says that no distinct notions can be formed by the mind about these in pragmatic ontological terms when we 'look' and do not 'think'. To him meaning has also to be useful. It is clear that an ontological concept of existence is being formulated afresh in modern philosophy. In such a task human values should not be shut out. The primacy of man's existence has to be conceded. A fresh normative notion for philosophy seems almost ready for birth. In this the notion of sat or existence, as known to Vedanta, will have at least a certain 'family resemblance' in the Wittgensteinian sense. Further aspects of this question will be examined when we take up 'subsistence' for consideration.



1. “Age of Analysis”, p. 116. Mentor, New York, 1955

2. Quoted from Sartre's “Existentialism and Humanism”, p. 122, ibid.

3. Ibid. p. 124.

4. From “Creative Evolution”, pp. 74-75, ibid.

5. Quoted from “Modes of Thought”, p. 88, ibid.

6. Ibid, p. 235.

7. Ibid. p. 228.

8. Ibid. p. 231.

9. Trans. from “L'Absolu selon le Vedanta”, p. 3. Paris, 1937.

10. Ibid. pp. 37-38.



The visible world of positive or objective experience is the world of existence, which we have covered in the last chapter. Now we have to pass on to the next level of reality as we envisage it more subjectively through our minds or in terms of our consciousness.

Physical reality demands our attention when we are active and want to move about among the things or interests with which we are surrounded, but philosophy implies a more settled attitude. If in our everyday life we should fail to recognise the fact that things exist subject to the laws of mutual exclusion or contradiction, when viewed horizontally, we would be exposed to the danger of knocking against things and hurting ourselves. However, by treating things one after another in a certain intelligent order in time, we are able to circumvent this conflict of the rival claims of things at one and the same time. "One after another" in interests avoids conflict, while multiplicity of interests at the same time would confuse us. A well-ordered life of interests is one which can harmonise the vertical and horizontal values in life in a graded succession.

At the end of our last article we arrived at a point in critical philosophising, such as that of a Wittgenstein, where clear notions of things or ideas become impossible from the pragmatic angle. When we think of the meaning of such words as 'game' or even of 'a patch of colour', analytical and synthetic tendencies operate through our minds which make strict cut and dried classifications or definitions impossible. Analysis has to be arrested at a certain point, and synthesis established by the mind, for any useful, meaningful value to result from our attitude to even objective realities. Quality has to neutralise quantity. Human intelligence is ever selecting from a multiplicity of possible alternative interests. We balance between opposing factors. The order of interests in things depends on the unravelling of our instinctive dispositions from one stage of life to another.


Whether we picture this process as consisting of seven stages, as Shakespeare did, or of three, as with Sankara (in his verses on renunciation, Bhaja Govindam), meaningful life is an organic process of the matching of outer and inner interests into unitive values prevailing with each person at a given period of his life-span. From the choice of instruments to help our hands to work, to the choice of abstract philosophical values, is the range of this organic process of the harmonious unravelling of human interests. If science or philosophy is not to lose its way in the ramifications of by-paths of possible interests; and if it is to be natural, meaningful, or intelligent - then a series of vertical unitive values must be kept in mind, for the sake of methodical thinking within utilitarian as well as in purer idealistic philosophising. True philosophy must keep an open mind and not limit itself in advance to the confines of any '-ism', however laudable or legitimate such might be in itself.



As we have seen, existence, as understood in the context of the modern philosophy of Existentialism, is not concerned with mere things, but is treated as a rival notion to essence. It has thus already encroached somewhat into the domain of rational or subsistent entities.

An actual chair or table enters into our consciousness by necessary forces of circumstance. The passive, contemplative, or philosophical mind, which is not committed to pragmatism or to mere utilitarianism, seeks truth for its own sake in a spirit of idealism. When a mild form of subjectivism is implied in such a philosophical attitude, we usually name it rationalism as against vitalism, where activity and not thought is the starting point. As more and more of the mind is admitted into philosophy, we get various grades of idealism as represented in Europe between Descartes and Hegel, through Spinoza and Leibniz. The modern tendency is to discredit the rationalists and question the very starting point of methodic philosophising, as understood in Descartes. His cogito ergo sum has been subjected to various adverse comments in recent times. Some of the critics are in favour of greater idealism, while others want to take away the 'will' implied, in favour of necessary factors of a workaday life. The German idealists after Kant stressed the primacy of the will in various degrees, from the basis of a mere 'presentiment' through the 'will to live' to the 'will to power'.


William James and other pragmatists brought it lower down in the scale of human values as a 'will to believe', down to the notions applicable to the generality of working and striving human beings. By doing this they have brought true philosophising into a blind alley. When closely examined, Wittgenstein represents the cul-de-sac to which philosophising is heading at the present moment, as we have noticed at the end of our last chapter.

To set healthy philosophising on its course again, supported by common human wisdom, we have to put some order into the methodology and epistemology implied. It is here that existence is to be understood as passing correctly into subsistence. The former notion has been located by us as belonging to the base of the vertical axis of our scheme. As thought is not anything that stays put and stagnant within the mind of the philosophical investigator in his search for certitude about reality, it would be interesting to watch within ourselves the dynamism of the thought process which changes over from the levels of necessary existence, rising to the higher stage of subsistence, without any break in the continuity of the transition as it takes place within us. Thought rises and circulates within consciousness itself and there is a rhythm and an alternation implied here which, if we should miss it, would lead us into that characteristic puzzlement in philosophical thought to which we have already alluded.



If we imagine ourselves pressing our hands on a table, there are two ways in which this event could be regarded. We feel the resistance of the solidity of the table on our hand; and conversely we are ourselves exerting a pressure of which we are also conscious. The tendency among philosophers like Berkeley and Hume has been to give primacy to one or the other of these aspects. Dialectical methodology, however, demands that we show no partiality at all and treat both these aspects of sensation, which belong to the afferent and efferent impulses in the nervous system, as meeting and neutralising themselves as a central experience. Berkeley's idealism and Hume's scepticism could thus be reconciled as two sides of the same coin of central absolute reality.

The rationalist tradition of European philosophy, of which Descartes may be said to be one of the greatest of founders, was a bold attempt to put body and mind together into a unitive whole, through the linking bridge of interaction between bodily and mental aspects through the famous idea of 'occasionalism'.


This occasionalism was in the hands of a deity who matched inner and outer events. This bridge or link between the two aspects, mental and material, later became the 'substance' as understood in the philosophy of Spinoza. In his notion of the 'thinking substance', we arrive at something which is neither material nor mental, but which links both unitively. How Leibniz carried this idea further into his Monadology is a story which might lead us into an unnecessary digression here. God was the Monad of monads. In Kant's 'Free Will' and the 'Will as Presentiment', the 'Will to Live' and the 'Will to Power', we have further stages of later German idealism which attained full maturity with Hegel's full-fledged absolutism.

If we concede that existence or sat as understood in Vedanta marks the lowest point in a vertical axis of reality; subsistence may be said to mark the next higher level in the scale of vertical realities which come normally within the scope of a contemplative philosophy. When the last vestiges of Cartesian duality have been effaced from pure idealistic philosophy, we can see the dynamism implied in the transition of existence in terms of subsistence reflected in Hegel, whose principle of negation (negativität) is explained as follows:

"Negativität is a principle both of destruction and of production. That which Negativität produces on the positive and objective side of its work, is first precisely the world that at the outset the philosopher empirically finds as the realm of immediacy, the whole universe of experience…Negativität finally, as the 'negation of the negation', appears in a new constructive task, as the process whereby the rational unity of thought and the things of immediacy and mediation, of experience and reason, comes to light in the positive system of the philosopher." 1


The mechanism implied in Hegel's notion of the principle of Negativität bears a family resemblance to the principle of becoming which is implied as between the sat (existent) and the cit (subsistent) aspects of the Absolute, as understood in the context of Vedanta. Prof. Lacombe explains for us the method employed by the Vedantic teacher in dealing with the pupil who is initially only able to see the existent or empirical aspect of reality. The process of double negation, implied here as in Hegel above, belongs, as we can easily recognise, to the context of dialectical methodology.


"The Vedantic doctor is not yet in the Absolute, or rather, if he philosophises, it is for someone who is not yet in the Absolute; his whole task is to make it come, in relativistic terms of existence and of nature, so that in the end, one gets oriented towards it and finally discovers it. For the disciple there is but one reality: that of the empirical world; he has but the similar error of according to it that dignity which is too great: for the world is effectively, and in a certain sense, a complex of being and non-being; in any case it is from here that he should necessarily start. The second time will be from negation, negation of the negative of the things that are empirical, not of their positive…"2

The professor goes further to direct our attention more minutely into the implications of the transition of sat into cit when he writes again à propos the philosophical position of Sankara as follows:

"There is without doubt, in the empirical universe, duality of the subject and the object with a marked primacy, though not unconditioned, of the subject. But if the subject emerges from a depth which is indivisibly being and intellectual light - sat and cit - behind the object also, although the degradation may be more pronounced, there are again the aspects of being and of light which do not separate themselves from each other. In such a way it is that the profound identity of the subject and the object which is reality Absolute, translates itself into relativity by an osmosis and in the form of an exchange of substance as between the two orders, between the two 'attributes', to speak in the manner of Spinoza."3



The notions of existence and essence have a central coupling notion in the word "substance" as understood in Spinoza in the West and as cit in Vedanta. The word "substance" is derived from the Latin sub-stare 'to stand under', which has its corresponding term in Greek, hypostasis, which has the same significance. From both words it is clear how the classical mind thought of substance as something that remained as the ontological basis of reality in the axis which admitted of the higher and the lower.


The notion of substance or cit supplied a neutral point where ascending and descending dialectical processes in thought met and neutralised each other. Although ascending dialectical thought is what is at first sight implied in the notion of substance; in the light of the dialectical methodology that we have developed elsewhere, it would be permissible for us, especially after the scrutiny of the mechanism of thought implied in the paragraphs quoted from Hegel and from the Vedanta, to add that both hypostatic as well as hierophantic entities or realities are to be treated as blending into the central notion of the "substance" as it is to be understood here. As the process of double negation becomes asserted, substance begins to represent a positive value. When the notion of substance is understood without its positive or negative attributes, on neither of which it depends, we have the notion of substance corresponding to the notion of the Absolute itself which Vedantins describe as cin-matra, i.e., consisting purely of mind-stuff. Spinoza's definition of substance brings the notion as near to the Vedantic Absolute as the mind-stuff as could be imagined. Spinoza writes:

"By substance I understand that which is in itself and is conceived through itself; in other words, that the conception of which does not need the conception of another thing from which it must be formed." 4

Elsewhere he makes it clear that God alone is substance, and continues:

"Everything in which there resides immediately, as in a subject or by means of which there exists anything that we perceive, i.e., any property, quality or attribute, of which we have a real idea, is called a substance."

If existence refers to a factor that is not essence, but could be placed at the bottom of a vertical scale; while essence itself could occupy the top of the same scale: subsistence is undoubtedly a factor that, according to the best of rationalists like Spinoza, occupies the central position between the two extremes. Identified with the notion of God, and as a factor sufficient unto itself, it could be no other than the Absolute itself, understood realistically.



When the contemplative has been able to think of substance as the pure mind-stuff intermediate between its attributes of existence on the negative side, and of essence on the positive side, the ascending dialectics that become implied thereby must carry him to interests and values understood both objectively and subjectively. The human personality is where unitive or integral values of import reside.

Starting as we did objectively with existence and rising dialectically into the domain of subsistence, we could speak of the world of unique specific or positive essences belonging to the world of the intelligibles of Plato. These essences have nothing objective or substantial about them, but resemble pure ideas such as that of Beauty. Heavenly or celestial values consist of these essences. In the idea of God, when monistically conceived, we have the unitive meeting-point of all essences fused into one.

The Beautiful, the Good and the True are attributes of essence, together with omnipotence, etc. The luminaries of the sky, insofar as they represent light, which is dialectically nothing other than the faculty of sight or even intelligence, is the domain where essences reside. In Western philosophy the transition between existence and essence is not clearly understood as a continuous correlating factor that runs through the gamut of all legitimately human values. In the context of the Vedanta, however, there is a subtle vertical link between such notions as the sapidity of the waters and the specific attributes of manhood in human nature. The two aspects of reality: the one which belongs to the order of being; and the other which belongs to the order of the intelligibles - which in classical Western philosophy tend to be treated as an ambivalent pair of concepts, with a marked primacy in favour of the intelligible - tend to have a more unitive status conferred on them in the Vedanta. Existence and essence meet and merge their duality in a central notion of cit which is to be identified with atman (the Self), as also with the notion of the Absolute (brahman). We shall content ourselves with quoting one abstract from the pages devoted to this subject by Prof. Lacombe to bring out the nature of the vertical line of correlation that links, in a subtle implicit-explicit ambivalence, the two aspects of existence and essence in the context of non-dual Absolutism (advaita) as implied in Sankara:

"The Indian conception of essence (the gamut of terms: svarupa, svabhava, bhava, sara indicates this by itself) seeks to keep the two aspects together, by giving a philosophical value to the second, and for this, let us state it at once, it accords to the implicitness of being (and not surely to the sensible as such - it is not a question here of remaining in the empirical plane) a certain primacy over the explicit." 5


The vertical line that passes through existent, subsistent, and essential values, all with a unitive status, can be gathered from the verse of the Bhagavad Gita where the two ambivalent polarities of the factors are referred to, together with the intermediate linking factors, in the following manner. Krishna, who is the representative of the Absolute, understood in cosmological and psychological terms at once, describes himself to Arjuna, his disciple, in the following striking words:

"I am the savour of the waters, I am the light that shines in the moon and the sun; I am the mystic syllable AUM in all the Vedas; I am the (intelligible) sound in space and what constitutes (specific) human nature in mankind." (Gita, VIII.8).

Explicit and implicit human value-factors are thus treated without duality and with no primacy to one or the other in the epistemology and methodology of Advaita.


In existence, substance, and essence we have three grades of concepts lying in the vertical axis of pure or absolute being or becoming. However, we have to remember that they are still only philosophical concepts: sometimes understood subjectively and at other times objectively. They could also be understood semantically as a meaning common to subject and object. Even when understood in any one of these three possible ways, it does not become a living personal Value which would induce the unitive state of consciousness in its fullest sense. Existence, substance, and essence have to fuse into a whole as a central Value that knows no distinction of subjective or objective. Like the kingdom of God which is within, the pearl of great price, or the leaven that leavens the whole lump - this central experience has further to be felt and known as within oneself in the form of a consciousness that is neither within nor without, as a global core of both being and becoming at once.

The realities of Aristotle and Plato have to fuse non-dualistically into a global and central core of personal life with which alone one can establish the most intimate of relations. Thus it is that by a long philosophical detour we arrive at the study of Man, which is, as Pope put it, 'the proper study of mankind'. 'Know thyself', as the ultimate term of all philosophising, was also well known as a dictum marking the term of Socratic philosophy.


Atma-jnana (knowledge of the Self) and atma-labha (gaining the Self) and finally atma-arama (finding joy in the contemplation of the Self) are equally familiar notions of the Vedantic context. The cosmological Absolute and the psychological Absolute may be said to be transparent to each other. When the two transparent pictures or schemes are brought one over the other, as it were, under a normative notion of the Absolute common to both cosmology and psychology, we cancel the tribasic prejudice of triputi (subject-meaning-object). Such a notion then attains to the status of the highest of human values. The analysis of this notion of Absolute Value and the dynamism implied in it, we shall reserve for a future discussion. The point we have arrived at in the present discussion can be summed up as follows:

Existence, starting in the mind of ordinary men who are not given to philosophy or contemplation, refers to a multiplicity of empirical entities given a posteriori to consciousness. They are there by necessity and imply mutual exclusiveness, and they are subject to the principle of contradiction and conflict that goes with plurality of things or interests. Rival interests of men also complicate the situation from the psychological approach. The philosopher begins by negating multiplicity and tries to see existence in the form of a global guiding interest in life. To be able to do this he has to see reality divested of its multiplicity and diversity.

The savour of water is the subjective and conceptual version of the actual empirical entity. It is in the form of taste that water can find a place in our own subtler being or consciousness. This unitive hylozoic principle called "taste" in the water has its corresponding factors in the five elements (earth, air, etc.) when looked upon as conceptual principles lying in a vertical unitive scale of values linking the hierophanies of earth, air, and ether etc. till it comes out of the limits of existence and, by the process of an osmosis to which we have referred earlier, gets fused into the notion of subsistence or substance as more realistically understood. Substance itself, as we have seen, has its hypostatic attribute in the idea of essence.

Essence as a rasa (prime taste or essence) or bhava (state of being, existence) in Vedanta is treated non-differently as implicit in substance. Substance thus attains to a neutral and central position like a pearl of great price, and emerges as a precious human value. Value itself has to be understood without actual or perceptual prejudices and with a dynamism all its own. To the consideration of Value itself we shall devote another chapter.


1. Baldwin, “Dictionary of Philosophy”, p. 458

2. “L'Absolu selon le Vedanta”, translated, p. 58.

3. Ibid. p. 58 fn.

4. “Ethics”, I, Definition III.

5. “L'Absolu selon le Vedanta”, p. 51.




Existence and Subsistence between them have an osmotic interchange of aspects of reality. The notion of Substance that we have developed in the last chapter is itself the result of such an osmosis between the aspects of reality of existence and essence.

Now we have to understand how the two polarities involved lead to the emergence of the notion of Value, which regulates human behaviour or conduct. Happiness, with a capital H, is the highest of human values. It is neither wholly mental nor material. If refers to the core of consciousness. This core can enter into bipolar relations with existent or subsistent realities so as to make for the central experience which we feel as Happiness. Within the gold coin of absolute Happiness there are implicit all other items of value, corresponding to small change. Ranging from sense pleasures to the supreme peace of Self-realisation there is a series of values, important or negligible to the extent that bipolarity is implied in their interrelations. Now if we should reduce this scale of values in an orderly fashion as being neither transcendent nor immanent, neither perceptual nor actual, we can see that we, in ourselves, represent a golden ladder of values as given to our contemplative imagination.

From the simple relation with a piece of bread to the supreme happiness of Self-realisation we have within us a unitive principle which is neither within nor without. The various objects of interest with which we are surrounded enter into this self-consciousness in the form of value-factors, emergent and neutralised at various levels as they float, rise, change or circulate in a certain organic or living manner. It is to this aspect of contemplative life that we refer when we use the expression "Value Dynamics". In focusing our attention here on such an aspect of the Science of the Absolute we must admit we are treading on very speculative ground.


Within ourselves, however, we shall decide not to overdo this kind of theorisation. It requires the utmost mutual adoption between a guru and a disciple to be bold enough to tread most delicately on this contemplative ground. If at this stage we indulge in it here, it is by way of making it easy for the student of wisdom to be introduced to the spirit of the writings of the Guru. The present article is but a humble attempt to lead the seeker to the portals of that wisdom mansion where there are many apartments.


Lodged, as it were within man, personal consciousness relates itself to outside objects of interest through the windows of the sense organs. Afferent and efferent impulses meet and neutralise themselves while the personality gets related to one interest-system after another in a bipolar manner. When the innate or instinctive disposition goes out to meet its own objective counterpart, a fusion occurs between the inner and outer factors, and there emerge unitive entities representing values.

A football on a lawn may be said to represent an item of whole-hearted interest to a boy of ten or twelve whose limbs call for activity. The adolescent seeks the intimacy of companionship in a person of the opposite sex. The sick man might relate himself to food or to an ideology with the tenacity of a drowning man to a straw. The husband represents a value to the wife, and the wife to the husband. Their inseparability represents a value, which is none other than what is derived from the gold coin of absolute Self-happiness.

When natural interests in the world of actual relations become unavailable or when the interests attain to purer rungs of the ladder of interests normal to life, there is a sublimation of interests at a higher level where purer emergent values are involved. We can visualise a contemplative ascent into the world of hypostatic values, such as the grades of intelligible interests known to the philosophy of Plato. The inverse process of a descent into the Aristotelian worlds of prime or hierophantic realities cannot be ruled out, in principle at least.

Thus, within contemplative man there is a rise and fall of value factors which should be understood both realistically and idealistically at once. True philosophy has to take into its survey the whole of truth globally and not in fragments piecemeal. In doing so we have to visualise this rise and fall of value-worlds within ourselves - and this we share also at the same time with every other individual, whether we are conscious of this sharing or not.


The earth value, the water value, the wind value, the fire value; the value of the great ethereal void which leads on to the values of the ego, knowledge and mind by imperceptible gradations; as one level of value yields place to the next, from lower to higher, in a methodologically and epistemologically conceived succession - all must be brought within the focus of consciousness if we are to attain Self-realisation in the full light of the Absolute which is nowhere and everywhere. Such are some of the aspects of Value Dynamics.


Values are not just things or mere concepts, but are both. Contemplative methodology must necessarily think of any kind of spiritual progress in terms of the sublimation of values. In the contemplative consciousness there is a circulation of values. This has its phases of positive and negative, actual or virtual, vertical or horizontal. The spotlight of values turns round like a red-hot splinter of wood which one might spin round quickly in circles or figures-of-eight in darkness. Inner and outer aspects fuse together in such a highly dynamic spotlight within consciousness at a given time.

Now if we should bring this constant movement in the flux of consciousness under scrutiny and conceive of an umbra and penumbra and a focal point in consciousness - as psychologists such as William James have done, as fitting into a Bergsonian picture of absolute reality - we must postulate two value-worlds as overlapping and coalescing. These consist of cosmological entities which, unitively, will yield a vision of a scale of values. This scale of values is given to the contemplative mind which is interested in expressing philosophy in living terms. The proof of this is in the fact that great thinkers and artists from all over the world have referred figuratively to the higher and lower worlds. “Paradise Lost”, the “Divine Comedy”, Goethe's “Faust”, and Jacob's dream of the ladder on which angels ascend and descend, exchanging vessels of the elixir of life from which they drink, are all various ways of referring to the scale of values in life. We have further the important contributions of axiology and phenomenology which we must try to understand and fit into a unitive, globally living picture of what we call Value Dynamics. This, when formulated properly, would constitute an important branch of the wisdom of the Absolute as it refers to common human life.



We have seen in previous articles that the notion of existence as understood in modern Existentialism is of the nature of a philosophical abstraction. Just as the mathematical philosopher by his abstraction and generalisation can treat of many particular instances as comprised in a general and comprehensive notion, used as a symbol, so we have seen how terms such as Existence, Essence and Substance stand for perceptual, nominal or conceptual factors with which different writers are able to develop their inquiry into the nature of truth or the Absolute. We can profit by all of them as aspects of truth viewed from a particular point or angle. In fact, with the help of the scheme or frame of reference that we have been developing in these pages so far, we can put them all together into a global whole, so that Eastern and Western approaches to wisdom could meet on common ground.

Such an integration is possible without any patchwork eclecticism, unjustified syncretism or easy solipsism, but in a fully integrated scientific spirit. Existence and Subsistence have been examined by us already as verticalized factors in the scheme of the Absolute. We have just noted also that the emergence of the notion of value needs only the addition of personal interest to be brought to bear on the situation. When the osmosis between Existence and Essence is first accepted, and when the notion of a central Substance as a higher abstraction is understood, then the step to the emergence of a resulting value-factor where the consciousness of the seeker of truth is also included, follows in philosophical order.

Plato's idea of the Good and the scholastic version of this as the summum bonum, which is implied in all idealisation from Plato to Hegel and Fichte and perhaps culminates in the personalism of thinkers like Max Scheler (1874-1928), imply not only phenomenology conceived in the abstract as the interplay of values, but more particularly personal values.

In order to locate ourselves correctly in the dialectical revaluation which has been taking place down the ages around this notion of personal values, whether theologically located outside man or psychologically within him, we shall mark our latest position by referring to the contributions made by the last-named philosopher.


Writing in Runes' “Dictionary of Philosophy”, Paul A Schilpp says:

"In common with other phenomenologists, Scheler's doctrine begins with the assertion of an inherent correlation of the essences of objects with the essences of intentional experience. His unique contributions lie in the comprehensiveness of his vision; in his interpretation of the value-qualities of being; of emotional experience, especially love, as the key for the disclosure of being; of a hierarchy of concrete ('material' as against formal) values; of an analysis of 'resentment' as a thorough grudge, rancour, perverted emotional attitude towards the values of life; of his definition of 'person' as the concrete unity of acts; of this acknowledgement of total personality beyond individual persons; of his definition of 'ethos' as a preferential system of values determinative for the validity of any specific thought-forms; of his development of the sociology of knowledge as a distinct discipline within cultural sociology; and of his working out of a philosophical anthropology showing man's position in and towards the whole of being." (p. 279).

If we make certain reservations for the present in regard to the notion of the person (as italicised by us above) and the inclination to think of the person in the social context rather than as an isolated person finding satisfaction in himself (in the second phrase italicised), it is not difficult for the reader who goes through it carefully to discover a striking summary of what we ourselves have in mind in regard to Value Dynamics. Quotations from other phenomenologists, axiologists and personalists could be multiplied. However, we shall resist this temptation and content ourselves by stating here that modern thought does think in terms of the dynamism of value-factors; and that this enables the imaginative and intuitive seeker of wisdom to build up for himself a global picture of the detached Self within, as it enters into bipolar relation with its own non-Self, as it were, without.

The interaction of these two factors, understood as taking place along a mathematically postulated vertical axis of reference or correlation, is what we are at present interested in bringing to view. These poles of Self and non-Self could equally well be referred to as 'knowledge' and the 'known'.



From the terra firma on which we stand, our consciousness rises into the starry firmament and soars above it into the subtler worlds of ever-purer consciousness. We ascend thereafter still, from existent, subsistent or value-factors physically, mentally or intentionally. Our consciousness relates itself to different grades of worlds; some gross, some subtle, while the process of eternal change goes on cyclically like seasons within us. The outer seasons can also be reduced into psycho-physical terms when we become conscious of a world and not as living in a world.

Thus there is a nature inside and a nature outside, both of which are of interest to us, sometimes together, sometimes alternately and even separately. Action gains primacy at a given moment and then it is the outer world of horizontal values which occupies the centre of interest in our consciousness. At another moment the spirit relies on itself and rests within a world where there is also a vertical positive and negative polarity.

The phases of alternation and circulation of value-factors as between the inner and outer natures with which the personality is always related, implies a taking over or appraisal of subjective values in terms of objective values, or vice versa at a given moment. In the game the ball is passed now from the outside to the inside, and from the inside to the outside, and so the circulation goes on. To arrive at such a dynamic picture of the alternation and circulation of values according to a natural vital rhythm, we have only to read pages of the writings of Henri Bergson.

The phenomenology of personal values has to be put together in coherent vitalistic terms, giving credit to the various writers who in recent years have made valuable contributions to the subject. In axiology, which is the study of the theory of value; and in phenomenology, which starts from the study of what appears to pure intuition, wherein eminent modern writers have broken fresh philosophical ground with notions such as that of the principle called intentionalität (German word, from the Latin, intendere meaning 'to stretch' - the stretching out of consciousness beyond itself), built up after laborious groundwork of idealistic philosophising by writers such as Edmund Husserl (1859-1938) - we have a picture of Value Dynamics which is coming more and more in line with what has been tacitly accepted in the East for ages.

This new science of Value Dynamics must have the philosophy of personalism added to it to give it coherence and unity.


There is room in human nature for the whole of outer nature to be epitomised and contained in a concentrated or verticalized fashion. Theistic or cosmological personalism would also contain immanent and transcendental aspects of a world within, with its own levels of immanence and transcendence, which could finally coalesce in contemplative thought with the consciousness of the world around. In other words, our consciousness of a world outside would mean the same to us as our life in a world as understood in pure verticality. Pure consciousness, which lives and moves through personal values, intentions and the creative urges of life, would thus have full freedom to relate itself to its highest value in and through itself by Self-realisation.


Existence, Subsistence and Value in the phenomenology of a wholehearted and fully lived personal life have to be conceived in unitive terms without compartmental treatment. An integral personal life, which is that of a yogi in India or of a contemplative wise man as understood anywhere in the world, has to be conceived in pure or vertical terms before what we have called Value Dynamism can make any meaning.

Keeping in mind the gold coin of Absolute Value, the personality in man has its career of spiritual progress in and through the lowest of instinctive and mundane levels of small-change values right up to the highest value within its reach as an intellectual and conscious being. As man thus passes on in pure verticality of attitude from one life intention, interest or value to the next, living in a series of worlds represented symbolically by the five elements (earth, water, air, fire and ether) and then passing beyond them to that world of purer consciousness in a cosmological-cum-psychological sense, man rises from the values at the immanent pole to those at the transcendent pole. The course which is traced in this manner resembles that of a glacier which moves on its course, leaving behind it all the grades of stones that it rubbed into shape or which obstructed it in its inevitable and necessarily imperative forward movement of becoming.

In order to help us to enter intelligently into a sufficiently critical understanding of such a Value Dynamism we shall direct our attention to three of its component aspects taken in a methodical order. The emergence of Value from the interaction of Existence and Essence through the notion of Substance is the first step in the understanding of Value Dynamism. Value emergence then takes place.



After the emergence of the notion of Value, in order to be able to see the rise and fall of values which know no distinction of being, inside or outside of purified consciousness, we have to start with positive physical objectivity itself.

The earth conceived as an object is a symbol of all physical or material objects. Matter is a level in our consciousness which is capable of being taken into consciousness as a primary value. The very fact that it can thus enter consciousness is itself proof that it has the same status as consciousness. Otherwise, as a liquid cannot enter into a solid, there should have been no possibility of any osmosis or interchange between subjective consciousness and objective physical entities. The simple fact that we can be related interestingly to a stone or to the ground is evidence to show that some equality of status has been established between the two factors.

This relation becomes all the more evident when a person is able to say with conviction that he owns an object and can be sorry for its loss. We enter into everyday value relations with lands, furniture, or pet animals; not to speak of persons we love such as a child, a casual friend or a serious partner in life. The relation with coins goes without saying.

Modern axiology or the theory of values reaches back to the idea of the Good of the time of Plato. Its later exponents include his immediate disciple Aristotle who developed it in his “Organon”. Ethics, Poetics and Metaphysics. Stoicism and Epicureanism were philosophies based on the rejection or selection of right value in life. Theologians conceived of God as representing the highest of values as a summum bonum. Later, in Spinoza's “Ethics”, Kant's “Critique” and Hegel' s dialectical approach to the Ideal of the Absolute, we have implicitly, various aspects of the modern science of axiology.

R.H. Lotze (1817-81) may be said to be the last of the moderns who still treated axiology unitively. His dictum that "that which should be is the ground of that which is" really brought him to the position of the later phenomenologists like Husserl who, as we shall see presently, introduced the idea of the worlds of intentions in which we live. Lotze' s image of the world of values is contained in the following summary:


"Lotze's psycho-physically oriented medical psychology is an applied metaphysics in which the concept "soul" stands for the unity of experience. Science attempts the demonstration of a coherence in nature; being is that which is in relationship; 'thing' is not a conglomeration of qualities but a unity achieved through law; mutual effect or influence is as little explicable as being. It is the monistic Absolute working upon itself. The ultimate absolute substance, God, is the good and is personal: personality being the highest value, and the most valuable is also the most real" 1

The changing world of phenomenological intentions and the personalism that refers backward and forward to the self within and to God above, are all blended beautifully in the vision of this philosopher who is described as an empiricist in science; a teleological idealist in philosophy; a theist in religion; a poet and artist at heart. His view on the nature of beauty puts the crown, as it were, on his unitive approach to dynamic values in life:

"Unity of law, matter, force and all aspects of being produce beauty, while aesthetic experience consists in einfühlung (entering of one's consciousness into that of another - empathy)".

Franz Brentano (1838-1907) in his “Vom Ursprung Sittlicher Erkenntnis” (The Origin of Moral Knowledge), by identifying value with love, gave to axiology a touch of absolutism and unitive coherence.


If we should accept Lotze' s dictum that "what should be is the ground of what is" we have already accepted in principle the central notion of the phenomenology of Husserl which he called Intentionalität.

Modern axiology leads up to phenomenology, which takes over charge of the subject of Value Dynamics as we have tried to develop it here. The nature of the notion of Intentionality will make the contribution of philosophy in general, sufficiently clear to us, at least for immediate practical purposes. We quote here from Dorion Cairns, who writes under the subject "Phenomenology" as follows:


"Under the influence of Franz Brentano (1838-1917), Husserl coined the name intentionalität for what we saw as the fundamental character of subjective processes. The reflectively experienceable part of one's stream of consciousness is, on the one hand, consciousness of subjective processes as immanent in the stream itself and, on the other hand, consciousness of other objects as transcending the stream. The character of subjective processes as consciousness of - as processes in which something is intended - is a property they have intrinsically, regardless of whether what is intended in them exists." 2

A careful scrutiny of the above paragraph will make it sufficiently evident that the global image of Value Dynamism that we are trying to evoke in our mind in this article for purposes of understanding contemplative Self-realisation in a modern revised setting, independent of traditions whether Eastern or Western, is sufficiently justified by the trends in modern philosophical thought.

The expressions 'intention', 'subjective processes' and the corresponding 'consciousness of' such processes as referred to above, have to be put globally together into Self-consciousness as understood in a science of the Absolute. The last phrase in the above paragraph should be particularly remembered here. There is a type of contemplative abstraction here implied in the words "regardless of whether what is intended in them exists".

Phenomenology does not dismiss Existence but includes it in a revised form. We come close to a nominalist or conceptualist position here, but without its one-sidedness. Perhaps we could better call it 'perceptualist' to avoid suggesting too much abstraction. When the contemplative has been able to abstract himself correctly in this way, it will be seen that the processes in which intentions are involved as abstract value entities in life rise and fall and change over sides and circulate as in an eternal game. The very ground that is under our feet may be said itself to rise and become something higher in the flux within consciousness. Released from the cruel rigidity of horizontal factors and forces in consciousness itself, the gentle osmotic sublimation and circulation of value-factors in Self-consciousness requires intuitive imagination to visualise with all its implied flux of practical or pure dynamism. The contribution of modern phenomenology is thus of import to us here.



Placing the personality normatively at the centre of reality so as to view it in its proper perspective, proportion, unity and coherence, in order that values in life may fall into a healthy gradation, orderliness or purposefulness; and to regulate thus the Self with the non-Self, both in its cosmological and psychological aspects at once - is not something new in the history of thought.

From the days of the Socratic dictum “Know Thyself” and the corresponding “Thou Art That” in Vedanta, and many similar utterances in the West such as that of Protagoras (480-410 BCE) that "Man is the measure of all things": the tradition of putting together God, Man and the Universe in a single line of dialectical correlation has prevailed in human history. The recognition of the same principle in the context of theology is found masterfully stated in the beginning of St. John's Gospel in the New Testament which reads:

"In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God; so the Word was divine and was in the beginning with God, and by Him everything had being, and without Him nothing had being"3.

In modern thought empirical, positivist, and naturalistic tendencies asserted themselves: but from the time of Descartes we have had the same ancient tradition of personalism explicitly or implicitly contained in the various philosophers who followed the rationalistic leader. Bergson himself, who lived up to the year 1941, may be said to be its representative.

Personalism persists in more recent times in its various varieties of theistic or phenomenological personalism, with its many sub-varieties such as vitalistic personalism, down to the political personalism (Mounier) of our own times. Borden Parker Bowne (1847-1910) has analysed for us its implications with particular reference to theistic personalism (of which he himself was a representative) in the following terms, from which we can derive the main features of the personalistic attitude applicable to Value Dynamism.

According to Ralph Tyler Flewelling, Bowne's analysis of personalism implies:

"Metaphysically: the personal nature of the World Ground;
Epistemologically: a knowledge validated by the common source of thought and thing in the World Ground and mediated through personality;
Logically: the pragmatic assumption that life is superior to logical form;
Ethically: that values are real and based in the Cosmic Nature."4


The crystallisation of reality viewed in terms of Value, basing itself on the notions of Existence and Subsistence, thus occurs at a point where many branches of philosophy converge and focus themselves into a central notion of personality, which is a value to be understood with neither subjective nor objective prejudices. Absolute Self-knowledge, given its proper central place in the Science of the Absolute thus arrives at its final phase in terms of a personalistic approach to reality.

The heart may be said to be the seat of this Person which combines the Logos and the Nous in one. The final stage of actualisation or achievement of the still theoretical notion of the Person within each man would become clearer still if we avoid even the two Greek terms above, but simply look upon the Self as the personal entity who is capable of enjoying eating food. This eater of food within each man is a Person who is the same as the Supreme Self, the World Ground or the Absolute, when reduced to most practical and realistic terms. Thus the person is a simple everyday reality and the wonderful Absolute at one and the same time. In the constant interaction of the two aspects of the Absolute and their final absorption into sameness consists the essence of Value Dynamism.


1. Huri F. Leidecker, p. 184, Runes' “Dictionary of Philosophy”.

2. Ibid., p. 232, Italics ours.

3. “The Authentic New Testaments” tr. from original Greek by Hugh J. Schonfield p.451

4. Runes' “Dictionary of Philosophy”, p. 229.





The Absolute and the Relative are terms variable and indefinite in their connotation. They depend much on each other for whatever overtly precise meaning they might each have as distinct expressions taken individually. Usual realistic objectivity is alien to them. They are better thought of with the eyes shut than with any particular concept or object in the workaday sense.

Even when one of these terms is allowed to lend meaning to the other by contradiction, contrast, or reciprocal correlation, the resultant certainty about either one of them suffers to the extent that the meaning of one depends on or is derived from the other. The Relative with the capital letter is meant in contemplative language to be absolutely relative; and the Absolute likewise is to be so without any trace of the relative adhering to it even as a vestige of import.

They are in reality a dialectical pair of related terms or counterparts which have to be placed in the epistemology and methodology of the absolutist way of thinking, which is dialectical rather than rational. In other words they are dialectical counterparts which, by their very nature, have to be thought of both at once or as nearly together as possible, so that the mind can take in the neutral meaning between them at one stroke.


A trained dialectician could contemplate both these terms together as belonging to a common context of inward experience, Then there is a vague sense given to the 'inward eye', - to use the expression of Wordsworth (when he wrote about the after-imagery of the daffodils in his 'vacant' and 'pensive mood' after he had seen a group of those flowers dancing before his vision). The pale gleam of vague meaning which might float across the consciousness of a sensitive person when thinking of the meaning of these terms together, is in fact the result of a contemplative operation of the human mind or spirit.


To have such a contemplative intuition is the privilege of the human mind, and the true dignity and distinction of man depends on this gift of intuition.

This crowning gift of wisdom is what makes human life dignified and superior to the rest of vegetative or animal life, especially when such a gift or higher faculty could be consciously and purposefully employed in regulating human affairs, both in the individual and collective sense.

The Absolute, with the definite article prefixed to it, has assumed in language, especially in recent years, a definitely recognised, substantive and respectable status.

In ancient Greece it related to the cosmic matrix of the Ionians, the One of the Eleatics, the Being or the Good of Plato, the world of Reason of Stoicism, and the One of Neo-Platonism. In patristic and scholastic Christianity it referred to God, and the God of the mystics of Europe such as Erigena, Hugo de St. Victor, Nicolas of Cusa, and Boehme, was also the Absolute, as a singular and unique entity.


The recognition of the Absolute as an entity, notion or value factor, both in its cosmological and psychological setting and, generically, in various sciences like logic, ethics, aesthetics, etc., is therefore neither ancient nor modern. Mystics, seers and sages both in the East and in the West have relied and made use of the term from the most ancient times to the present day. After the dawn of the age of enlightenment in Europe, however, these terms - the Absolute and the Relative - went into disuse and disrepute with the spectacular progress of sciences such as mechanics. In recent years, after Hegel and Bergson, philosophy is again paying attention to these important concepts, without, however, attaining to any exactitude in regard to them.

In order to indicate roughly where modern knowledge stands in respect of these notions, we quote the following from the “Columbia Encyclopaedia” (II ed., 1951):

"Absolute: In philosophy the opposite of relative. The term has acquired various widely variant connotations in different philosophical systems. It means unlimited, unconditioned or free of any relation; perfect, complete or total; permanent, inherent or ultimate; independent or valid without reference to a perceiving subject.


In logic, “absolute” means “certain or indubitable as opposed to probable or hypothetical” As a substantive the absolute is the ultimate basis of reality, the principle underlying the universe. Theologically, it is synonymous with, or characteristic of, God. Philosophically, it may be considered as the unknowable, the thing-in-itself; as that ultimate non-relative which is the basis of all relation; as that ultimate all-comprehensive principle in which all differences and distinctions are merged. The concept of the absolute was present in Greek philosophy. In modern days both realists and idealists have used the term, but it is perhaps most intimately connected with Hegel's absolute idealism. For Hegel and his followers the absolute is the all-comprehensive mind."


It is to be doubted if anyone would be the wiser for reading such a description of the Absolute. The paradox implied in one of the clauses above must be striking even to the casual reader, for it is also said to be "that ultimate non-relative which is the basis of all relation", Whether paradoxes of this form are even permissible in modern definitions is also a pertinent question here. Since we find paradox being relied on by even the best of modern writers, it must be taken for granted that it is so, and the only sense in which we can justify it is when we admit that the dialectical way of thinking of two propositions, predications or logical terms at once, which is at the bottom of the dialectical method, is tacitly employed in all thought where pure reason is concerned.

We shall try to justify this in some of the sections that follow. Meanwhile, let us agree that both these vague terms refer to realities of a contemplative order and that they have to do with purposeful living. Further, they belong to the domain of the unitive and the universal contexts of inner life. The Relative is a given starting point which is natural to man. The Absolute is a target to be reached or a state of plenitude in Wisdom. In the latter case the Absolute is neutral between the extreme poles of the Relative and the Absolute unitively conceived as both belonging to an axis of reference, dialectically understood. The implied paradox above can only then be justified.


Contemplative, mystical or spiritual progress may be said to consist of the transition from the merely relative, first to the Relative of the absolutist context, and then to the ultimate Absolute of the same context.


There is an ascent and a descent involved here which have to be figured out clearly. The first part of the ascent is when the unreality of the multiple values in which life is caught is consciously denied by the subject. This is double negation. Simultaneous with this, the positive pole of the Absolute, which gets lost in its own specific attributes, descends reflexively into oneself by a process of double affirmation. Even in grammar we k