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The Quest For Truth: [13.02] Non-Dualism And Dualism - Two Streams Of Philosophy (2)

Published: 19.05.2007
Updated: 06.08.2008

Philosophy is ancient. In the history of the world two regions can be credited to be the founders of philosophy: India and Europe. Indian and European philosophers have influenced entire world philosophy.

Indian philosophers influenced the East while European philosophers influenced the Western world. All eastern philosophy is deeply influenced by Indian thought while all western philosophy is deeply influenced by European thought. Thus the philosophers of these two regions established their superiority over the whole world.

I am faced with many streams of philosophical thought. I prefer to categorise them as materialistic and/or spiritual. Initially man beheld the gross. I am standing. There is a tree before me. The ease with which I am able to see the tree, I am not able to see the ant that is crawling up its trunk from the ground. That is because the tree is gross and the ant small and my eyes are impressed by the larger image sooner than the smaller image. Man is able to understand the gross easily; it takes him much longer to reach the small. That which is gross before us is matter. Philosophers saw the gross world before all else. They saw that the world was made of earth, water, fire and air. They observed that all that they saw was a result of these factors. And these four elements constituted creation of the world.

Some philosophers moved ahead. They discovered space (akash). Space is also a principle, an existent. Indian philosophy fostered two streams of thought: those who based their philosophy on four elements and those who based it on five elements. There were diverse opinions on this matter amongst the western philosophers too. Some said the fundamental source of all creation is water, some others believed it was air and yet others thought it was fire. All these three are thinkers of the gross. After both these streams of thoughts, based on four and five elements developed, there arose yet again, more conflict in man's mind. He thought the material elements are devoid of consciousness. What then is consciousness? Who thinks? Who reflects? Who tries to know? Material elements do not possess the capacity to think, assimilate and acquire knowledge. He then looked towards consciousness. Consciousness cannot be found in material elements. Consciousness cannot be found in the earth,water, fire, air or space. As he kept thinking about this he came to the conclusion that consciousness is a transformation of these material elements, the resultant effect of these elements when they interact with each other. There is no reality other than these. If consciousness had an independent existence, separate from these material elements, then it would be visible somewhere. Like we can see drops of water, we cannot see drops of consciousness anywhere. So the materialists accepted the existence of consciousness but not as a separate entity. The second stream of thought belongs to those who did not stop at the gross world but moved further into the world of the subtle. They saw the gross and the subtle together. They based their thinking on the assumption that consciousness does not emanate from matter. Every particle of matter is bereft of it and so also is an integrated compound. If none of the material elements is the material cause of consciousness then the mass produced byall of them also can not be its material cause. Whatever is present as the material cause in each unit can only become manifest in the integrated form of all of them. The material cause of consciousness is neither the unit of any material cause nor the compound formed by them. Hence the origin of consciousness is based on something independent. After a lot of thinking and reflection they moved deeper into thoughts and perceived the origin of consciousness. They called it atma or soul which cannot be seen or experienced by the senses. It can be seen only when going deep into the consciousness and so the philosophers who believed in the soul developed the stream of spiritual philosophy.
  • 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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  1. Akash
  2. Atma
  3. Consciousness
  4. Soul
  5. Space
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