by Swami Krishnananda
The Universe, as the word itself suggests, is an inclusiveness of operation, in which everything, whether living or non-living, is included. The inclusiveness, which is an inviolable character of the universe, raises a question which cannot easily be answered by any attitude of life which is empirically oriented, sensorily conditioned or even psychologically delimited in any manner. The perceptional procedure of human beings, to take an example, invokes, spontaneously, a principle of exclusiveness by which it becomes necessary for the universe of observation or perception to stand outside the location of the observing intelligence, or the perceiving individual. This would imply that the universe, in order that it may become an object of perception by the mind and the senses, should shed its inclusiveness, that is, its intrinsic nature. What would follow from this predicament is that whatever is observed by the individual is, then, not a universe but an abstraction of certain features from the original nature of the universe. But there is something which is interesting about all this. The attempt of the individual to look at the universe and then make any meaning or sense out of it would be like the attempt of one to study a part of a living organism, such as a human body, by segmenting it and wrenching it out from the organism of the body of which it is an integral and vitally involved part. That is to say, a part of an organism ceases to have any character of the organism, it is no more living, when it is placed out of the context of its vital involvement in the organism. All this would be tantamount to reducing the attempts of classical scientific projects and psychological systems based thereon to studies of a corpse in the endeavour to study a human being.
By way of a slight digression from the point at issue, it would be pertinent to mention here that, in fact, a human being cannot be studied objectively, since no living being can be considered as an object of externalised perception. It is possible to observe the body of a person or even, perhaps gather indications of the prevailing mental operations of the person concerned, but it would not be difficult to accept that the status or the value of a person is not exhausted by the anatomical or physiological structure of the person, or even the mental condition in any given situation. There is a sort of uniqueness, unity and indivisibility about living entities, and thus, it would be clear that a person is certainly more than what the body is or the present condition of the mind is. Then what is a person? What do we call a human being, if neither the physical body nor the transitions of mental process suggest anything at all about the true person? It would appear, then, that a person is more an outlook of consciousness, a centralisation of attitude, a force, an energy, than anything that could be perceived or conceived in an objectivised manner.
The above analysis of the human personality also suggests a wholeness about the person, a wholeness that precludes any attempt at a study of it by means which would convert it into an external object, that is, external to the mind, senses or the consciousness that studies it or even knows it. This non-exclusive and non-objective nature of the basic essence of a human being would, further, reject any effort to convert it into a means leading to some other end, inasmuch as the whole that it is would cease to be such, the moment it becomes an instrument to something else, for an instrument is a tendency moving and rising beyond itself, that is to say, it cannot be a whole. Whatever is an integrality or a wholeness cannot, then, be a means to any thing else.
The above study of the essential nature of things in general would bring out two important truths of life as a whole: One, the universe as an inclusiveness and a wholeness in itself cannot be encountered as an external object; two, a living being also, having the essential characteristic of wholeness, cannot be looked upon as an external object for purpose of study, experiment and observation. If all well-known processes of life in the world, whether scientific, psychological, social or political, require that the world and people in the world are invariably externally perceived and objectively conceived things, then, the natural conclusion is obvious: The entire life process is an erroneous operation of consciousness, and no one can know anything as it is in itself. The world of perception is an appearance, not a reality.
There is a necessary and insistent urge within everyone towards what is usually known as righteousness and justice. It would be hard to find any person in the world who would regard righteousness or justice as a mere appearance: This great requirement of life is always held to be a necessity and a reality. It is known to everyone that life would annihilate itself if it is bereft of the nobility that is attached to and the imperativeness involved in the ideal of righteousness and justice. But how could this be, if the available means of human knowledge and the conditions to which the human mind is subject reduce all life as it is lived to an appearance not related to reality.
It would be impossible to be righteous or just, under the above analysis, unless and until the personal outlook and the empirical approach of the common life of the world rises above itself to a super-personal outlook and metempirical attitude which grasps life as a whole and a totality and ceases to look upon the world or the people in the world as objects of external perception. That is, in entertaining the spirit of righteousness and justice, neither the world nor people remain as outwardly located objects of perception, but integrally involved totalities, and no judgment of any kind would be righteous or justifiable unless the source of judgment stands above both itself and that which is judged. Judgment is a transcendent operation and not something pronounced by someone on someone else or something outside. Law is an operation which is inclusive and not merely a thought or a whim that is exclusive. Law is not a person; it is a field of operation in which are included both the person that dispenses law and the one in regard to whom it is so dispensed. This also applies to scientific observation, which, in order to be correct, should include and at once transcend the location and predicament of both the observer and the observed, the seer and the seen, the judge and what is judged.
In ancient India, great masters who conceived everything in a holistic attitude, regarded human life as a whole within the universe which is the largest dimension of wholeness. Every application or duty in life was envisaged as a movement of a lesser whole towards a larger whole, and not the movement of a fraction, since not even an isolated part, for all practical purposes, is without a self-identity in itself, a personal status it maintains, forming thereby a complete entity by itself. Not only this. Even the so-called individualised operations or activities are not fractions, but emanations of a wholesome character, and every thought, feeling or attitude is a whole by itself, since it is an emanation from the individual which is a whole. In this connection it would also be necessary to state that every organisation that a 'holistic' individual forms is also a whole, invested with a soul, keeping it intact, the soul meaning what acts as the cohesive force that keeps the organisation as an integrated entity, whether social, legal, national or international. While the human being as an individual is certainly a whole, a fact which needs no further explanation, a family of individuals is also a whole, without which feature the members of the family would get dismembered and the unit called the family would cease to exist. A community is an organisation of several families, a district an organisation of several communities, a province an organisation of several districts, the national state an organisation of several provinces, and the world set-up an organisation of the entire comity of nations. In each of these levels of the organisational procedure, right from the individual to the concept of a world state, a unity is maintained by each concerned level, each level has a soul of its own, each one forming a self-identical integrated individuality by itself and yet simultaneously forming a facet of the larger self of the next higher level of organisation, until a general universality of what we may call the cosmic organisation is attained as the state of utter perfection.
If we could carefully bear in mind the several implications of the above analysis of human situation in general, we would also realise that even the smallest of individual units, we may call them living or non-living, from the point of view of our observational capacity, and every movement, effort and attitude of such units, have in them potentially and implicitly the resources and powers, the facts and purposes, of the largest and highest organisation – the universe. If this is so, every individual is a whole, every organisation is a whole, and every impulse of every organisation, including the individual, is a wholesome endeavour to reach out to a wholesome experience in every way. This will explain why no one would tolerate oneself being regarded as an unimportant person, even second to someone, and every desire of everyone and everything is actually an asking for everything, inasmuch as what emanates from a whole cannot but be whole.
This vital fact was borne in mind by the ancient adepts in India, who brought about such a transformation in their outlook of life that they felt a necessity to introduce a system of living according to which the whole of life becomes a religious movement, a spiritual aspiration: Religion becomes all life. This system is embodied in the concept of what is known as the Purusharthas, namely, the aims of human existence. The fourfold concept, which includes the four facets of human longing, i.e., human desire, human aspiration, human enterprise, is an attempt to bring together into a single focus of attention the aspirations of the individual towards the totality of being. Life may be defined as a kind of reaction of the individual to the whole atmosphere and environment – an environment which is at once personal, physical, social and supernatural. All the aspects of life, which are the concerns of man, would then be regarded as logical needs to be transformed into the spiritual endeavour. Whatever be one's occupation in life, that becomes a spiritual movement, it gets transformed into a worship of the universal reality. This is so because religion, spirituality, is the encounter of the total individual in regard to the total cosmos. The whole of life gets thus harnessed into the spiritual enterprise. The Purusharthas, the aims of human life, are broadly classified in terms of a fourfold asking of the individual for a fourfold fulfilment of being: These are Artha (material need), Kama (emotional and aesthetic need), Dharma (the impulse for righteousness), and Moksha (the ultimate spiritual requirement of all things).