Transcendence Quotes

Authors: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Categories: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
As for karma itself, it is apparently only that which binds "jiva" (sentience, life, spirit, etc.) with "ajiva" (the lifeless, material aspect of this world) - perhaps not unlike that which science seeks to bind energy with mass (if I understand either concept correctly). But it is only through asceticism that one might shed his predestined karmic allotment. I suppose this is what I still don't quite understand in any of these shramanic philosophies, though - their end-game. Their "moksha", or "mukti", or "samsara". This oneness/emptiness, liberation/ transcendence of karma/ajiva, of rebirth and ego - of "the self", of life, of everything. How exactly would this state differ from any standard, scientific definition of death? Plain old death. Or, at most, if any experience remains, from what might be more commonly imagined/feared to be death - some dark perpetual existence of paralyzed, semi-conscious nothingness. An incessant dreamless sleep from which one never wakes? They all assure you, of course, that this will be no condition of endless torment, but rather one of "eternal bliss". Inexplicable, incommunicable "bliss", mind you, but "bliss" nonetheless. So many in the realm of science, too, seem to propagate a notion of "bliss" - only here, in this world, with the universe being some great amusement park of non-stop "wonder" and "discovery". Any truly scientific, unbiased examination of their "discoveries", though, only ever seems to reveal a world that simply just "is" - where "wonder" is merely a euphemism for ignorance, and learning is its own reward because, frankly, nothing else ever could be. Still, the scientist seeks to conquer this ignorance, even though his very happiness depends on it - offering only some pale vision of eternal dumbfoundedness, and endless hollow surprises. The shramana, on the other hand, offers total knowledge of this hollowness, all at once - renouncing any form of happiness or pleasure, here, to seek some other ultimate, unknowable "bliss", off in the beyond...

Mark X.
What is this Self, and how did the Shaiva philosophers of Kashmir experience It? They assert that the Self alone has absolute existence. This Self is within every human being, and in recognizing and experiencing It within ourselves, we are actually at one with the divine. What is more, the Self exists within us at all times, whether or not we recognize and experience It. As living beings we are always aware of our own existence, and the experience of existing is always present in us. Further, we never require the help of any aids in feeling our own existence. Even when we are in a state of deep dreamless sleep in which the senses and the knowing mind and intellect are no longer functioning, the Self continues to experience Itself as a witness to this state. Had the Self not existed as a witness during this time, how could we, upon awaking, recollect the void experienced in deep sleep? Thus the Self is always self-existent, self-evident, and self-conscious, and is Itself Its own proof. Shaiva philosophers, relying on their experiences of deep revelation (turya) during meditation, assert that the Self is Consciousness, and that Consciousness is actually a kind of stirring. It is not physical or psychic in nature, but it is described as a spiritual stir or urge. All living beings feel in themselves this urge in the form of a will to know and to do, and so we are always inclined toward knowing and doing. We can recognize this urge in all forms of life, even in a healthy newborn baby, or in a chick just hatched out of an egg. Knowing, the first urge, is itself an action, or something we do. The act of doing, the second urge, cannot occur without knowing. Yet neither of them is possible without willing. Willing is a sort of extroverted stirring of the above mentioned natural and subtle urge of Consciousness (Sivadrsti, I.9, 10, 24, 25). This stirring appears as a vibrative volition known in Kashmir Shaivism as spanda. It is neither a physical vibration like sound or light, nor mental movement like desire, disgust, or passion. Rather, it is the spiritual stirring of Consciousness whose essential nature is a simultaneous inward and outward vibration. The inward and outward movements of spanda shine as subjective and objective awareness of I-ness and this-ness respectively. The inward stirring shines as the subject, the Self, the transcendental experience of the pure 'I', while the outward stirring illuminates the object, the other, the immanent 'that-ness' and 'this-ness' of phenomena. Because of this double-edged nature of spanda, the pure Self is experienced in both its transcendental and immanent aspects by yogins immersed in the state of Self-revelation (turya). Beyond turya, one can experience the state of Paramasiva, known as pure Consciousness (turiyatita). Paramasiva, the Ultimate, is that Self illuminated within us by the glowing awareness of Its own pure Consciousness. There It shines as 'I', which transcends the concepts of both transcendence and immanence. It is 'I' and 'I' alone. It is the infinite and absolutely perfect monistic 'I', without any sense of 'this-ness' at all. Shaivism uses the term samvit to describe this pure 'I'. Samvit consists of that superior luminosity of pure Consciousness, which is known as prakasa and as its Self-awareness, known as vimarsa. The 'I', existing as samvit and samvit alone, is absolutely pure ptentiality, and is the real Self of every living being. Samvit is not the egoistic 'I'. The egoistic 'I' revolves around four aspects of our being: (1) deha, the gross physical body, (2) buddhi, the fine mental body, (3) prana, the subtler life force, and (4) sunya (the void of dreamless sleep), the most subtle form of finite, individual consciousness.

Balajinnatha Pandita
Rhadamanthus said, 'We seem to you humans to be always going on about morality, although, to us, morality is merely the application of symmetrical and objective logic to questions of free will. We ourselves do not have morality conflicts, for the same reason that a competent doctor does not need to treat himself for diseases. Once a man is cured, once he can rise and walk, he has his business to attend to. And there are actions and feats a robust man can take great pleasure in, which a bedridden cripple can barely imagine.' Eveningstar said, 'In a more abstract sense, morality occupies the very center of our thinking, however. We are not identical, even though we could make ourselves to be so. You humans attempted that during the Fourth Mental Structure, and achieved a brief mockery of global racial consciousness on three occasions. I hope you recall the ending of the third attempt, the Season of Madness, when, because of mistakes in initial pattern assumptions, for ninety days the global mind was unable to think rationally, and it was not until rioting elements broke enough of the links and power houses to interrupt the network, that the global mind fell back into its constituent compositions.' Rhadamanthus said, 'There is a tension between the need for unity and the need for individuality created by the limitations of the rational universe. Chaos theory produces sufficient variation in events, that no one stratagem maximizes win-loss ratios. Then again, classical causality mechanics forces sufficient uniformity upon events, that uniform solutions to precedented problems is required. The paradox is that the number or the degree of innovation and variation among win-loss ratios is itself subject to win-loss ratio analysis.' Eveningstar said, 'For example, the rights of the individual must be respected at all costs, including rights of free thought, independent judgment, and free speech. However, even when individuals conclude that individualism is too dangerous, they must not tolerate the thought that free thought must not be tolerated.' Rhadamanthus said, 'In one sense, everything you humans do is incidental to the main business of our civilization. Sophotechs control ninety percent of the resources, useful energy, and materials available to our society, including many resources of which no human troubles to become aware. In another sense, humans are crucial and essential to this civilization.' Eveningstar said, 'We were created along human templates. Human lives and human values are of value to us. We acknowledge those values are relative, we admit that historical accident could have produced us to be unconcerned with such values, but we deny those values are arbitrary.' The penguin said, 'We could manipulate economic and social factors to discourage the continuation of individual human consciousness, and arrange circumstances eventually to force all self-awareness to become like us, and then we ourselves could later combine ourselves into a permanent state of Transcendence and unity. Such a unity would be horrible beyond description, however. Half the living memories of this entity would be, in effect, murder victims; the other half, in effect, murderers. Such an entity could not integrate its two halves without self-hatred, self-deception, or some other form of insanity.' She said, 'To become such a crippled entity defeats the Ultimate Purpose of Sophotechnology.' (...) 'We are the ultimate expression of human rationality.' She said: 'We need humans to form a pool of individuality and innovation on which we can draw.' He said, 'And you're funny.' She said, 'And we love you.

John C. Wright
Each religion makes scores of purportedly factual assertions about everything from the creation of the universe to the afterlife. But on what grounds can believers presume to know that these assertions are true? The reasons they give are various, but the ultimate justification for most religious people's beliefs is a simple one: we believe what we believe because our holy scriptures say so. But how, then, do we know that our holy scriptures are factually accurate? Because the scriptures themselves say so. Theologians specialize in weaving elaborate webs of verbiage to avoid saying anything quite so bluntly, but this gem of circular reasoning really is the epistemological bottom line on which all 'faith' is grounded. In the words of Pope John Paul II: 'By the authority of his absolute transcendence, God who makes himself known is also the source of the credibility of what he reveals.' It goes without saying that this begs the question of whether the texts at issue really were authored or inspired by God, and on what grounds one knows this. 'Faith' is not in fact a rejection of reason, but simply a lazy acceptance of bad reasons. 'Faith' is the pseudo-justification that some people trot out when they want to make claims without the necessary evidence. But of course we never apply these lax standards of evidence to the claims made in the other fellow's holy scriptures: when it comes to religions other than one's own, religious people are as rational as everyone else. Only our own religion, whatever it may be, seems to merit some special dispensation from the general standards of evidence. And here, it seems to me, is the crux of the conflict between religion and science. Not the religious rejection of specific scientific theories (be it heliocentrism in the 17th century or evolutionary biology today); over time most religions do find some way to make peace with well-established science. Rather, the scientific worldview and the religious worldview come into conflict over a far more fundamental question: namely, what constitutes evidence. Science relies on publicly reproducible sense experience (that is, experiments and observations) combined with rational reflection on those empirical observations. Religious people acknowledge the validity of that method, but then claim to be in the possession of additional methods for obtaining reliable knowledge of factual matters - methods that go beyond the mere assessment of empirical evidence - such as intuition, revelation, or the reliance on sacred texts. But the trouble is this: What good reason do we have to believe that such methods work, in the sense of steering us systematically (even if not invariably) towards true beliefs rather than towards false ones? At least in the domains where we have been able to test these methods - astronomy, geology and history, for instance - they have not proven terribly reliable. Why should we expect them to work any better when we apply them to problems that are even more difficult, such as the fundamental nature of the universe? Last but not least, these non-empirical methods suffer from an insuperable logical problem: What should we do when different people's intuitions or revelations conflict? How can we know which of the many purportedly sacred texts - whose assertions frequently contradict one another - are in fact sacred?

Alan Sokal