TAT ASMI PRABHU – FIFTH MAHAVAKYA – EXISTENCE PRECEDES ESSENCE
The particular entity(“TAT”) claiming ‘Unity'( through attribute named “ASMI” which means always present or ever-lasting) with “Prabhu” or LORD God Creator has to maintain his existence, a precondition for giving expression to his essence. I can describe my essence(What I am) if and only if it is preceded by my existence(What I do). While existing in the earthly realm, my claims about my true essence, that which makes what I am, true substance underlying my physical manifestation, most important quality of my human form, may exist only in the language it is expressed, or in the mind in which it is conceived. My claims about my essence will be valid if it has correspondence with external reality. If I claim that my essence is always present, or ever-existing, imperishable, indestructible, immutable, immortal, eternal, and even unborn or uncreated, that characteristic must have correspondence with facts of the world in which I exist; correspondence with the place, and the time of my utterance.
In Indian tradition, it is held that man cannot enter ‘heavenly’ or supernatural realm with his mortal, or physical form used during earthly existence. The physical form that is recognized as a man cannot cross the barrier between earthly and supernatural realms. As of today, millions of people travel across the sky and yet their existence is governed or ruled by conditions of earthly existence. A man may visit Moon or even Mars, his existence at any given place in entire Cosmos will still operate on rules set for earthly creatures. For a man, there is no ‘Second Home’.
My interest in Soul or Spirit is because of its association with my created, physical being that exists as Individual with Individuality. Apart from its function as a vital, animating principle of Life, Soul or Spirit gets attention for it gives the Individual the experience of his Individuality.
For every phenomenon in Nature, there is an underlying, unchanging Principle that makes possible to observe the phenomenon of change. For example, man’s physical form or appearance experiences constant change under influence of time called aging phenomenon. This experience called aging is possible because it is supported by an underlying, unchanging principle which is always present or ever-existing. Spirit or Soul maintains ‘Individuality’ of specific Individual while his physical identity undergoes changes due to the aging process. In other words, it will be rational to claim Spirit or Soul as my true essence while I keep my physical existence in the world as specific Individual with unvarying Individuality.
I do not want to speculate as to what happens to Spirit or Soul at the end of man’s mortal existence. Man, as I mentioned before, is eternally separated from the heavenly or supernatural realm as his physical being is conditioned to experience only earthly existence. If Soul or Spirit enters heavenly or supernatural realm as “immaterial” or incorporeal principle, it will not be able to maintain its nature associated with Individuality of that specific Individual with which it existed before. For purposes of Individuality, the Individual thing has to separate itself from all other material or immaterial things. If several, Individual Souls or Spirits enter the heavenly or supernatural realm, each has to separate itself from all other things and occupy designated space of that realm or domain.
In Indian tradition, the concept of ‘NIRVANA’, blowing out, or extinction of the ‘flame of life’ involves a reunion with Unmanifested, Ultimate Reality called ‘Brahman’. In Buddhism, the concept of ‘NIRVANA’ may not always demand extinction of life; it may mean state of perfect blessedness achieved by the extinction of individual existence by the extinction of all desires and passions. The concepts of ‘Afterlife’ or Life after Death have to attach meaning to words such as “MOKSH”, Liberation, or Salvation by explaining as to how Individual things are separated from other material or immaterial things to maintain their Individuality while they exist in any extraterrestrial realm or domain.
TRANSFORMING “I” INTO “I AM”
I am not aware of the universal soul(other than God viewed as Unmanifest) that may pervade all creation. In the context of earthly living creatures, the soul is concerned with giving ‘individuality’ to individual living things. The concept of the soul helps me to make a distinction between inanimate and animate, or nonliving and living. What we recognize as inert matter consists of chemical elements which always retain certain characteristics as if they are immutable, indestructible, immortal, eternal and even unborn. The animate matter is conscious whereas the inanimate lacks that functional ability. We use the term death or dying in respect of living creatures. It does not mean living matter is perishable. Living matter has same chemicals like carbon and nitrogen which we find in inert matter. None of the chemical elements of living matter experience any decay or deterioration; as such they are eternal. New life forms always need these nutrient chemical elements and death helps the birth of new life. The term death or dying simply explains the loss of morphological appearance of individual lifeforms. When the soul departs, the living thing loses life supporting connection with Supersoul, the connection to access an external source of energy. Without God Connection, a living organism can no longer build, repair or breakdown molecules of life.
Life on this planet had a creative beginning and man just arrived as a newly created object.
In my view, Shankara gave no explanation as to how “SELF” or “I” gets transformed into a living being that recognizes its own fact of existence and speaks as “I am.” I like Shankara’s concept of “MAYA” but I account for it in a different way. I do not think Shankara had any insight about gravitational force.
The Problem of Body-Soul Dichotomy. Kshetra – Kshetrajna Vibhaga Yoga, Bhagavad Gita, Chapter XIII
While Shankara described perfect identity between Soul (Atma) and Supersoul (Paramatma), I am not able to support that view. I do not strictly adhere to the doctrine of ‘Monism’ which makes no distinction between the Individual Soul and Supersoul or God. I describe unity between Atma and Paramatma while they are distinct or separate. I do not totally embrace the doctrine of ‘Dualism’ for I have to account for the yoking, the coming together, the joining, the pairing, the relationship, the partnership, and the association between two entities named soul and Supersoul. The result of this unity or the consequence of this connection is that of the singular effect that an observer can recognize as the mortal entity called Man. When you taste Salt, the sensation imparted is the most important singular effect. A proponent of Dualism may prove that Salt consists of two entirely different chemical elements but that reality cannot account for the effect caused by their coming together. Man can never discern the taste of Sodium or Chlorine while tasting Salt. In terms of human existence, this pairing or yoking is the most significant effect and there is no entity called Man when the two become unstuck. I can separate Salt into Sodium and Chlorine, but I cannot separate Man into soul and Supersoul. They have to remain together; there is no reality called the Man without that unity.
Verse 14, Chapter XIII, Bhagavad Gita describes the complex nature of relationships between senses and material nature. Supersoul is completely ‘unattached'(“asaktam”, or ‘Udasin’), yet the Sustainer of everything; transcendental to material nature yet the Maintainer of material nature.
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