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The Quest For Truth: [13.05] Non-Dualism And Dualism - Definition Of The World And Co-Existence (5)

Published: 25.05.2007
Updated: 06.08.2008

One branch of the neem tree has infinite properties. It is not the fundamental substance. It is the mode of a substance. The root substance is matter and the root substance is also the soul. When soul and pudgal came together, neem was created and so also the branch. In that branch both pudgal and soul exist together. Soul, the sentient and pudgal, the insentient are in mutual conflict. It cannot be a substance if infinite attributes are not in conflict within it. Even within one atom there are infinite pairs of opposing attributes. That is why every substance, according to Jain philosophy is real and yet not real, eternal and non-eternal. Sankaracarya said that philosophers should first learn to differentiate between the eternal and non-eternal. The one who has not learnt this definition cannot be a philosopher. Without actually having seen it, truth cannot be defined. Maharishi Patanjali said: "To think of the eternal as the non-eternal and vice versa is ignorance". Sankaracarya said that Brahman is eternal and the world non-eternal, defined both the eternal and the non-eternal, but according to him there is no substance which is both eternal and non-eternal. Brahman is eternal. It is not non-eternal. The world is non-eternal, it is not eternal. Jain philosophy looks at it from another perspective. The essence of its philosophy is that Brahman is also non-eternal and the world is also eternal. The co-existence of the eternal and the non-eternal is thought to be contradictory by some philosophers and so they tried to prove that Jain philosophy itself is an illusion. But Jain philosophers do not accept this allegation. According to them there is great scope for reconciliation in the nature of a substance - there is no contradiction here. The contradiction lies in our vyavaharik perspective. A substance is defined both through the naischik and the vyavaharik perspective. Acharya Hemchandra wrote in praise of Bhagavan Mahavira that; those who do not know your thoughts think of the space as eternal and the lamp as non-eternal. The space remains the same and so it is eternal. Every moment the flame of the lamp flickers, that is the old dies out and the new is born. With a puff of the wind the lamp is extinguished and so it is non-eternal. Mahavira's philosophy is different. According to it just as space is eternal so is the lamp; and as the lamp is non-eternal, so is space. This is the principle of relativity. No substance can violate this principle. The lamp is only a mode. It may be extinguished but its basic substance that is pudgal does not perish. Space is also a basic substance and so it also does not perish, but space in the form of a pot, cloth, houses are all only its modes. They keep originating and perishing. When we see space as only the basic substance then it seems to be only eternal. When we see the lamp only in its present mode we think of it as non-eternal. But nothing is completely bereft of the basic substance. So, to say space is also non-eternal and that the lamp is eternal is not an illusory perspective but reality.

With the acceptance of the co-existence of opposing pairs, Jain Philosophy has acquired a holistic perspective. It does not look at any stream of thought as false but as relative truth. All thoughts are modes and modes cannot be absolute truths. Only the fundamental substances can be absolute truths. Jain philosophy does not negate materialistic philosophy but alongside, also accepts spiritualistic philosophy. When the two philosophies come together it becomes Jain Philosophy.

Once I was reading Acharya Kundakund's 'Samaysar'. As I was totally drowned in naischyik nay I began to wonder if I too had become monistic. Truly I had begun to believe that in comparison to dualism, monism was more noteworthy. My dual vision was blinded. As we go along the path of non-dualism we reach a point where there is only existence. Existence has no differentiation. Only modes are different. In Jain epistemology we have two terms - darshan or intuition which is only perceiving the object in general and gyan or cognition which is comprehension of an object in particular. I could experience only the non-dual as the real. Intuition is always bereft of differences. It only perceives the object as a substance; therefore there cannot be any differentiation in its comprehension. Only the general remains, not the particular. When I used my gyan I saw the modes. The moment I began to know the modes I became a believer in dualism. Every mode has a definite form and knowledge seeks to identify that. Whenever we see the formless then we become idealists, monistic. Modes merge into substance and substance into existence. What remains is only existence, where there is no distinction between the sentient and the insentient, between the perceptible and the imperceptible. No differences, no form, all that remains is existence. In the language of anekanta this is the truth of collective perspective. In the discipline of anekanta, only one perspective is not valid. Only when you accept the truth of all other perspectives can you accept the truth in any one perspective. Collective perspective is the truth, monism is the truth but vyavahar nay and dualism are also equally true. Reality is divided into substance and modes. Substances are divided into five astikayas. Modes are divided into infinite forms. This dualism is as true as monism. After accepting this we cannot call Jain philosophy only dualistic or only monistic. It is dualistic and monistic.

The existence of substance is eternal. It can never be destroyed. Modes keep changing. The cycle of the destruction of the existent mode and the origination of the non-existent mode is continuously going on. That is Jain Philosophy is neither realistic nor unrealistic, it is both realistic and unrealistic.

End of Chapter

End of Book
  • The Quest For Truth: In the context of Anekanta by Acharya Mahaprajna
  • Edited by Muni Dulahraj
  • Translated by Sudhamahi Regunathan
  • under the guidance of Revered Munishree Mahendra Kumar.
  • Published 2003 by Jain Vishva Bharati Institute (Deemed University), Ladnun, Rajasthan, India

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Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Acharya
  2. Acharya Hemchandra
  3. Anekanta
  4. Brahman
  5. Darshan
  6. Discipline
  7. Gyan
  8. Jain Philosophy
  9. Mahavira
  10. Monism
  11. Neem
  12. Patanjali
  13. Pudgal
  14. Soul
  15. Space
  16. Vyavaharik
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