Samayasara - by Acharya Kundakunda: The Doctrine Of Multiple Aspects

Published: 07.06.2010
Updated: 25.06.2010


Reality, such as, the soul, is to be considered as a complex system composed of elements or constituents which are, themselves, quite complex. Moreover, just as the whole forms a single individual experience, its components also form in their turn, individual experiences. The whole system, for instance, a living organism which is, in fact, the worldly state of an individual soul, manifests itself in a special or peculiar way in each of its constituents, that is, each of them contributes its own peculiar content to the whole system. Now a change in any one of them would alter the character of the whole, so it is the nature of the whole which determines the character of each of its constituents. In other words, the whole and its constituent members are in complete interpénétration and form an perfect unity. Or Leibnitz might say that each part reflects the whole system from its special "point of view". Now if we call the complete system, the reality we may appropriately speak of the partial experiences in which its character is diversely, manifested as its appearance. To call them appearance is, however, not to brand them as illusions or unreal. They will be illusory only if we forget that they are one and all partial aspects of a whole (the Reality) of which none of them adequately exhausts the contents. And if we do not remember this and try to treat any partial experience as though it were the complete expression of the whole nature of Reality, say, if we try to apply to the 'soul' as a whole conceptions which are only valid for special aspects, of existence, e.g. treat the worldly existence as the ultimate eternal truth, we shall certainly come to contradictory and absurd results. Any attempt to treat a partial aspect in abstraction, as itself, a self-contained whole, is bound to result in contradiction. In other words, to treat the concepts with which we have to work in dealing with the worldly state of existence as ultimately valid in their application to all its states—worldly as well as emancipated—is not the right way to find the truth. Since our knowledge of the structure of the system of Reality as a whole, is so imperfect, our insight into the structure of its constituents is also limited. Hence, even within the limits of their applicability the special concepts of our various sciences are not totally free from internal contradiction. Thus we are sure to come to absurd results, if we try to interpret psycho-physical relations in terms of the concepts used in physics or physiology.

It is a fact that if our insight into any part of the whole and its connection with other parts is self-consistent, it does convey genuine, though imperfect, knowledge of the whole. In a systematic unity the whole can exist in its parts and the parts cannot exist except as the whole expresses itself through them. Thus Reality cannot exist apart from its aspects. And though no aspect is the whole of Reality, in none of them it fails to manifest itself as a whole.

The aspects or "points of view", though all true, need not be all equally true i.e., the whole need not be equally present in all. Thus, in a living organism, every organ need not manifest the soul with equal fullness. Indeed, it manifests itself with infinitely greater fullness and clearness in the working of the conscious mind than in even the vital processes of the physical body. That is, we can say our mental and emotional existence expresses the fundamental character of the soul much more fully than physical one.

This picture of Reality as capable of manifesting degrees of truth shows that there can be only one perfect and complete whole—the whole of Reality itself. The subordinate aspects or appearance can never depict whole truth in themselves. This is as much to say that every appearance must involve some element of truth as well as contradiction for our philosophical analysis. They are contradictory not because they are appearances but only if they are believed and declared as whole. The conclusion of the whole matter is, that because no single aspect is totally true, it would be wrong to declare that every aspect of Reality is completely true and real in its isolation. Thus truth is free from all absolutism. Therefore neither absolute monism nor absolute pluralism is free from fallacy.


Samayasara - by Acharya Kundakunda Publishers:
Jain Vishva Bharati University First Edition: 2009

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  1. Body
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