May (from The Philosophy of Life)
1. The Realm of the Infinite
An analysis of the nature of the world discloses its dependence on a reality higher than its own. It is subject to a teleological direction of its movements towards an end beyond itself. Dissatisfaction with the superficial experiences which one has in life is a tacit admission of a higher standard of reality. Every want, every wish and ambition, every type of wonder, surprise or mystery, every sense of a ‘beyond oneself’ suggests the existence of something outside the limitations which it indicates. ‘Something is wanting’ means that what is wanted exists. That we are miserable shows that there is an ideal of happiness. The consciousness of imperfection implies the possibility of perfection. To recognise the finitude of oneself is to step at once into the realm of the infinite. When finitude is known, the fact of the contingency of the knower’s transcending it is implied in it. The finite has no significance except in contradistinction to the infinite.
2. Universality of Vision
A philosophy of life has naturally to be inseparable from universality of vision. It has therefore to start from a study of the most basic fact of human perception, viz. nature in all its externality. The astronomical universe, with its mathematical laws, may be regarded as the extreme content of the extroverted consciousness. Things hang loosely in this scheme with apparently no connection with one another, except perhaps the pull of gravitation and a distant influence characteristic of physical bodies. It is physics which goes deeper into the structure and content of this diversified universe and discovers electromagnetic fields determining the nature and function of bodies and a closer relation among them than crass perception would permit. The physical laws working behind the universe seem to be uniform and the substance of things is seen ultimately to consist not of scattered particulars but a single force or energy permeating and constituting everything. The ‘locality’ of bodies fades and they coalesce and fuse into one another in an underlying universal continuum.
3. The Ascent of the Finite to the Infinite
Philosophy is a rational enquiry into the forms, contents and implications of experience. It is an attempt at a complete knowledge of being in all the phases of its manifestation in the various processes of consciousness. The discovery of the ultimate meaning and essence of existence is the central purpose of philosophy. It is the art of the perfect life, the science of reality, the foundation of the practice of righteousness, the law of the attainment of freedom and bliss, and provides a key to the meaning and appreciation of beauty. Swami Sivananda holds philosophy to be the Vedanta or the consummation of knowledge, Brahmavidya, or the sacred lore of the Eternal, which is inseparable from Yogasastra, or the methodology of the ascent of the finite to the infinite. It is the way to the knowledge of being as such, of that which is. “Philosophy is love of wisdom, or striving for wisdom. It is a moral and intellectual science which tries to explain the reality behind appearances by reducing the phenomena of the universe to ultimate causes, through the application of reason and law” (Questions and Answers).
4. Philosophy is an Intensely Practical Science
Philosophy is a necessary means for the possession of the higher knowledge of the Self. But, if it is defined as process of the function of the intellect, we have to note that it is not always the sole means; for philosophy in Swami Sivananda, as in Plato, Plotinus and Spinoza, makes its appeal not merely to the intellect of man, but to the heart and the feeling as well. It is not enough to understand the teachings of philosophy, it is necessary also to feel them in the depths of one’s heart. Feeling, at least in certain respects, surpasses understanding, albeit that feeling is often strengthened by understanding. Philosophy is an intensely practical science. “Philosophy has its roots in the practical needs of man. Man wants to know about transcendental matters when he is in a reflective state. There is an urge within him to know about the secret of death, the secret of immortality, the nature of the soul, the creator and the world.” “Philosophy is the self-expression of the growing spirit in man. Philosophers are its voice” (Philosophy and Teachings). The Vedanta is the general term applied in India to such a philosophy of wise adjustment of value based on an undeluded perception of Reality.
5. The Aim of Philosophy is Direct Experience
Philosophy is a general exposition of the ultimate concepts, meanings and values of the things of the universe, by a resort to their final causes which range beyond the reach of the senses. It becomes possible for philosophy to concern itself with metaphysical essences by resting on the strong foundation of the testimony given by sages to deep meditation and realisation. Hence, the source as well as the aim of philosophy is direct experience, non-mediate, super-sensory and super-logical. All knowledge that we ordinarily obtain in this world is mediate, for it requires the operation of the triune process of the knower, knowledge and the known. By this method of knowing, it is not possible for us to acquire an unshakable knowledge of reality, for mediacy in knowledge does not enjoy the characteristics of permanency. The transitory nature of mediate knowledge affects the whole world of science, for this latter is sense-bound. We need not point out here that science lays too must trust in the validity of sense perception and thus gets vitiated by the gross limitations to which the senses are obviously subject.
6. The World is Based on the Absolute
Philosophy soars above empiricality, though it takes the help of empirical concepts and categories for the sake of proclaiming to the world the truths declared by intuition. It speaks to the world in the language of the world, for the language of intuition is unintelligible to the world of experience. The form and shape of philosophy has necessarily to depend on the stuff out of which the world of experience is made, on account of its having to perform the function of transmitting the knowledge of the super-mundane ideal to the realm of mundane values. It has always within itself a living undercurrent of significance and implication which gives a vivid picture of the nature of the ultimate end to the understanding mind. Philosophy stands on the shoulders of the senses, but looks beyond them. Intuition is the soul of philosophy, and reason is its body. By intuition, again, we do not mean the sensory intuition of certain Western philosophers, but the integral intuition of Consciousness, which is non-different from the Absolute. The world is based on the Absolute; it is a manifestation of the Absolute. It is the Absolute flowing and moving that appears to the senses as the world.
7. The Reality that is Established in Philosophy
The Reality that is established in philosophy is to be experienced in the state of deep meditation. Here consciousness and being become one. There is no way of entering into communion with it except by being it. There is no such thing as subject-object relationship in regard to the consciousness of what is universal. Either one knows it fully in non-dualistic communion or does not know it at all. The senses, the understanding and the reason are powerless instruments in one’s attempt at perfectly comprehending its nature or realising it in experience. In the realisation of the Supreme Being the mind of the individual is completely transcended, together with all its dualistic categories. The mind does not partake of the characteristics of Reality. It is not conscious and also not universal in nature. The mind is a feeble objective insentient evolute acting as the individual’s instrument in the perception of the external world, which is physical in nature.
8. Philosophy is not to be Confused
Philosophy is not to be confused with intuition, with mystic or religious experience, though it is a very powerful aid in achieving this end. Philosophy in India is based on the revelations of the sages and provides the necessary strength to the future generation of mankind for realising this goal. In mystic or religious experience the intellect and the reason are completely transcended, while philosophy is all intellect and reason, though it is grounded ultimately in deep religious experience. While the intuitional truths are rationally explained by philosophy, it does not pretend to prove the nature of these truths through intellectual or scientific categories. Philosophy has a purely negative value—of offering an exhaustive criticism of sense experience and logical thought and indirectly arriving at the concept of Reality by demonstrating the limitations and inadequacies of the former. All philosophy really springs from an inward dissatisfaction with immediate empirical experience consequent upon the perception of the inadequacies inherent in its very nature.
9. Philosophy has No Quarrel with Science
Philosophy has no quarrel with science; it concedes that science is necessary and useful in reinforcing its own conclusions, but it strictly warns science that it is limited to physical phenomena. We study the physical, chemical and biological laws in science, the logical and metaphysical principles in philosophy and the moral and the spiritual verities in religion and higher mysticism. The senses, reason and intuition are our ways of knowledge in the progressive unfoldment of our nature. Science, philosophy and mysticism are true and useful in their own places and together constitute the highroad to a knowledge of life as a whole. Intuition, however, has the special advantage of being able to unfold all that the senses and reason can, and, in addition, also that which these cannot hope to know with all their power. The philosophy of Swami Sivananda is not any partial approach to Truth; it is that grand integral method which combines in itself the principles and laws discovered and established by science, metaphysics and the higher religion and which embraces in its vast bosom whatever is true, good or beautiful in the universe.
10. Questions are Usually Discussed under Metaphysics
Philosophy conceived as metaphysics deals with an extensive reasoned discussion of the natures and the relations of God, world and the individual soul. The latter two are either identical in essence with God, or are attributes or parts of God, or are different from God. The ultimate Reality is either God, or the world of perception alone, or only the individual mind. God either exists or not, and is necessary or unnecessary for an explanation of experience. The world is either material or mental in nature; and consciousness is independent of or is dependent on matter. The world is either pluralistic or a single whole, and is real, ideal or unreal, empirical, pragmatic or rational. The individual is either free or bound. Questions of this nature are usually discussed under metaphysics. It also delineates the process of cosmogony and cosmology, the concepts of space, time and causation, creation, evolution and involution, as well as the presuppositions of eschatology or the discourse on the nature of life after death. The philosophical basis of modern physics and biology also can be comprised under metaphysics. Under epistemology the various theories and processes of the acquisition of right knowledge, as well as the nature and possibility of wrong knowledge, are discussed in detail.
11. Beauty is the Vision of the Absolute
Though philosophy, in the system of Swami Sivananda, is mostly understood in the sense of metaphysics, ethics and mysticism, its other phases also receive in his writings due consideration, and are placed in a respectable position as honourable scions of the majestic metaphysics of his Vedanta. For him the basis of all knowledge is the existence of the Absolute Self, and perception and the other ways of knowing are meaningful on account of their being illumined by the light of this Self. Epistemological problems are, therefore, in the end, problems of the nature and the manner of the manifestation of the Absolute through the psychophysical organism. Beauty is the vision of the Absolute through the senses and the understanding. The main material of beauty is symmetry, rhythm, harmony, equilibrium, unity, manifest in consciousness. The perception of these characteristics is the neutralisation of want and one-sidedness in consciousness, the fulfilment of personality, the completion of being, and hence a manifestation of the Absolute, in some degree, in one’s consciousness.
12. Life Without a Philosophy is Unimaginable
Philosophy is generally defined as love of wisdom or the knowledge of things in general by their ultimate causes, so far as reason can attain to such knowledge. It is a comprehensive and critical study and analysis of experience as a whole. Whether it is consciously, deliberately and rationally adopted on conviction or consciously or unconsciously followed in life through faith or persuasion, every man constructs for himself a fundamental philosophy as the basis of life, a theory of the relation of the world and the individual, and this shapes his whole attitude to life. Aristotle called metaphysics the fundamental science, for, a correct comprehension of it is enough to give man a complete knowledge of every constituent or content of human experience. All persons live in accordance with the philosophy of life that they have framed for themselves, consciously or unconsciously. Even the uneducated and the uncultured have a rough-and-ready philosophy of their own. Life without a philosophy is unimaginable.
13. Teaching in an Appealing Way is the Task of Philosophy
Philosophy is a complete world-view, a Weltanschauung, a general attitude of intellect, will and feeling, to life. It gives an explanation of the universe at large, by appealing to what is discoverable as the deepest of known facts. It is not a mere description of the details or bits of physical observation. We call an explanation philosophical when it is broad enough to be harmoniously related to the other views of life and fulfils the needs of all the faculties of man to the highest degree of satisfaction, using ultimate principles, and not mere empirical facts, in establishing its validity. “Philosophy, indeed, in one sense of the term, is only a compendious name for the spirit in education,” says William James. It is only in this sense of the process of the education and unfoldment of the spiritual spark in man that philosophy is worth its name. To teach a doctrine in a dogmatic and forced way is one thing, and to do it in a rational and appealing way in its greatest fullness is another. The latter is the task and the way of philosophy.
14. The Prison of Misery
It is often said that philosophy is not as useful as science, that science has made much progress and that philosophy is lagging behind, that science has its great utility, while philosophy has none. This complaint comes mostly from partial observers of the strides of science in making inventions of instruments that save us labour and time and thus make for comfort in our daily life. But, this, of which man boasts so much, is applied science, and not science, as such. When we find man at a loss to know how to use the leisure provided to him by applied science, and how to find time to do what is really solacing to him in his life, where and of what use, we ask, is the great advance that science has made in knowledge, with all its herculean efforts? What about the morality of man today, and what civilisation and culture is he endowed with? Where comes the pride of mere applied science when selfishness, greed and jealousy are its masters, when it threatens to make an end of man himself, and when it tightens the knot that binds man to the prison of misery raised by himself on the basis of belief in things that only tantalise him and then perish?
15. Philosophy is not Dry Intellectual Gymnastics
Science can describe the how of fragments of sense-observation; but it is impotent to interpret and explain the meaning and value of what is thus observed—the why of visible phenomena. Philosophy is not dry intellectual gymnastics; it is the wisdom of life reached after careful reflection and investigation, without which life is but a dismal failure. It was Socrates who said that those who lack right knowledge deserve to be stigmatised as slaves. And Plato was emphatic when he pronounced the truth that, unless philosophers become kings or the existing kings acquire the genuine wisdom of philosophy, unless political power and philosophy are combined in the same person, there will be no deliverance for cities, nor yet for the human race. Plato here declares an eternal truth, a truth which holds good for all times and climes: administrators should first and foremost be philosophers, not merely lovers but possessors of wisdom.
16. The Question of an Ultimate Cause
The problem of causality has raised questions that stress the need for philosophy. Science believes that every event has a cause and resorts to a kind of linear argument, thinking that to be a cause means just to be antecedent in time. Our movement from effects to causes leads us nowhere, and we find ourselves landed in a hopeless pursuit. The question of an ultimate cause cannot be answered by science. The end or purpose of action is, to it, enveloped in darkness. If the order and method of events in the universe is determined, not by the way in which we are accustomed to observe cause-and-effect relation, but by the laws of a living organism directed by a unitary force, science cannot but find itself in a fool’s paradise. When there is mutual interaction among the constituents of the universe, the common sense view of causality falls to the ground. We require a reflective higher study, which is provided by philosophy, in order to come to a satisfactory conclusion regarding the true scheme of things. An enquiry into the nature of facts observed by science leads us to epistemology and metaphysics.
17. The Value of Philosophy
According to Swami Sivananda, philosophy is not merely a logical study of the conclusions of science or a synthesis of the different sciences. Its methods are different from those of science, though, for purposes of higher reflection and contemplation, it would accept the research of science and its accumulated material. Swami Sivananda, however, is not inclined to give too much importance to science, though, for purposes of instructing the modern man in the great truths of philosophy, he has no objection to taking illustrations from the limitations of science and from the necessity that modern science feels for accepting the existence of a reality beyond sense-perception. To Swami Sivananda, the value of philosophy rests mainly in its utility in reflective analysis and meditation on the Supreme Being. Philosophy in the sense of a mere play of reason he regards as useless in one’s search for spiritual knowledge. As a necessary condition of spiritual meditations on the path of Jnana Yoga, the value of philosophy is incalculable. It also provides the necessary prop for and gives the rationale behind the paths of Raja Yoga, Bhakti Yoga and Karma Yoga.
18. The Philosophy of the Absolute
The true philosophic method should not be lopsided, should not be biased to any particular or special dogma, but comprehend within itself the processes of reflection and speculation and at the same time be able to reconcile the deductive and inductive methods of reasoning. The philosophy of the Absolute rises above particulars to greater and greater universals, basing itself on facts of observation and experience by the method of induction and gradual generalisation of truths, without missing even a single link in the chain of logic and argumentation, reflection and contemplation, until it reaches the highest generalisation of the Absolute Truth, and then by the deductive method comes down to interpret and explain the facts of experience in the light of the nature of this Truth. This is a great example of the most satisfactory method of philosophical enquiry. Philosophy being the way of the knowledge of Truth, its method must be in agreement with the nature of Truth. In philosophy and religion the end always determines the nature of the means.
19. The Marvel of Creation
Philosophy is said to have begun with wonder. The marvel of creation evokes the admiration of man, and its mysteriousness excites his wonder; and this wonder naturally leads to a serious enquiry into the nature of things, for man is not content to rest in a state of awe based on ignorance, and is curious to know the truth behind the enthralling wonder of the world. He investigates, speculates, argues and discusses, and comes to a settled opinion of the nature of things in this wonderful world. This becomes his philosophy. Modern man, however, seems to have stepped into the region of philosophy through doubt and sceptical thinking. Man commenced doubting the validity of authority and dogma no less than that of accepted traditional beliefs. Descartes started with doubting everything, even the validity of thought itself. Later, Kant, too, followed the critical method of enquiry in philosophy. Bradley was of the opinion that the chief need of philosophy is “a sceptical study of first principles.”
20. The Vedanta Follows the Purely Spiritual Approach
The way of the Rigveda and the earlier Upanishads is purely intuitional. Seers entered into the heart of Reality in intense concentration of mind, in meditation, ecstasy, rapture and attunement, and proclaimed to the world in their simple language and powerful style that nature is, in truth, one. The Nyaya, Vaiseshika, Sankhya and Mimamsa philosophies bolstered up a thoroughly realistic method of the analysis of experience. The Yoga system pursued the psychological techniques of inner discipline, while the Vedanta followed the purely spiritual approach to life, backing it up with a rigorous logical scrutiny and examination of experience. But, all these Indian systems have one thing in common: to them all, philosophy is an intensely practical affair, the art of wise living, the way of the attainment of salvation and freedom of the self. The method of philosophy in general is not to study things piecemeal, as physical science does, but to make a comprehensive study of the totality of experience provided to us through all avenues of knowledge.
21. It is a Mistake made by Many Thinkers
The validity of genuine philosophical truths lies in their universality and necessity, and are not in need of any further verification of their tenability. They are illuminated by the torch of intuition, and hence any external verification of their validity is not only unnecessary but meaningless. They are always characterised by immediacy, universality and necessity and, consequently, by infallibility and perfect veracity. They hold good for all minds in all conditions, for they spring from the depths of knowledge. There are certain features of reality pervading even ordinary experience, recognisable through subtle contemplation and reflection. It is the purpose of philosophy to study these pervasive features of reality making themselves felt in experience, so that by means of these visible features man may be in a position to rise directly to an intuition of what they feebly indicate. It is a mistake made by many thinkers to reject all super-rational experience as irrational and to debar it from the field of philosophical studies.
22. A Faithful Follower of Sankara
Swami Sivananda’s method combines revelation, meditation and reason in one. To him, all methods of sense function and the mental approach to Truth have to be set aside as faulty for the reason that their deliverances are untrustworthy, being logically indefensible and psychologically warped by the defects of the instruments. Infallible knowledge is to be had only in the intuition of Reality, and all knowledge derived through the senses, understanding and reason falls short of it in an enormous degree. No other method of approach to Truth than communion with being as such can give us ultimately reliable knowledge. Unless the knower and the known are identified in knowledge, knowledge is not true, but gives us only a semblance of what we really seek to obtain. Swami Sivananda is a faithful follower of Sankara in his basic presuppositions, though he is equally friendly with Ramanuja, Madhva and the other dualistic and pluralistic philosophers. To Swami Sivananda, philosophy is the way of the attainment of Brahman, and his method includes all that is best in every school of philosophy. Empiricism, rationalism, transcendentalism and absolutism come to a loving embrace in his most catholic system.
23. The Aim of Life is the Attainment of Moksha
The central aim of the philosophy of Swami Sivananda is the living of the highest life, a life fixed in the knowledge of the principles which are the ultimate regulators of all things. An enlightened life of peace and joy is the goal of his sublime philosophy. And this blessedness can be attained only in the Divine Being. Dharma, the ethical value; artha, the material value; and kama, the vital value, are all based on moksha which is the supreme value of existence. The aim of life is the attainment of moksha. Swami Sivananda’s system is a specimen of a type of philosophy that arises on account of a necessity felt by all in life, and not because of any curiosity characteristic of thinkers who have only a speculative interest and no practical aspiration. The sight of evil and suffering, pain and death, directs one’s vision to the causes of these phenomena; and this, in its turn, necessitates an enquiry into the reality behind life as a whole. It is not an academic interest in theoretical pursuits, but a practical irresistible urge to contact Reality, that leads to the glorious enterprise of true philosophy.
24. Self-knowledge can be Attained even in this Very Life
Swami Sivananda teaches that the bondage of man consists in his ignorance of the true nature of his Self and that his freedom is in the knowledge of the Self. By bondage he means subjection to the process of birth and death and the consequent experience of suffering and pain. Self-knowledge can be attained even in this very life, provided one puts forth sufficient effort towards this end. True happiness can be had only in the Self, and it is futile to search for it in this temporal world, which does not partake of the nature of Reality. The knowledge that man has to strive for is not a theoretical understanding but is the consciousness of the Self. It is neither information gathered regarding the Self, nor a mere acquaintance with it through discursive reason, that can liberate man from his bondage. What is required is practical realisation, which is possible only through profound meditation on the nature of Brahman.
25. It is Really the Vedanta Applied to All Aspects of Life
The philosophy of Swami Sivananda is not any secret way capable of being trodden only by a select few. It is an all-inclusive method which comprises all existent means of communion with Reality. It is really the Vedanta applied to all aspects of life in order to live one’s life at its highest and best. It is the system of the perfect life, the rule of wisdom and the law of liberty. It is not a speculative system reserved for intellectual pleasantry during leisure hours, but is the food of the higher understanding and the light of the innermost Self of man. The Vedanta is as simple as life is; and also it is as complex as life is! Every citizen of the world can be taught this philosophy, provided the teacher knows well what it truly means and how it can be applied in practice to the different stages of life and to different individuals. It is ignorance and wrong understanding that make certain people think that the philosophy of the Atman or Brahman is an otherworldly theory concerning only a life which follows death.
26. The Consciousness of the Loving Brotherhood
The Vedanta of Swami Sivananda does not teach that one should detest the world or isolate oneself in some world other than this. It does not proclaim that anyone should forsake his duties in life or put on a grave face or behave in any conspicuous manner. His Vedanta declares that one should not be selfish or attached to any fleeting object, that one should live in the consciousness of the loving brotherhood and unity of the Self in the universe, that the truth of existence is one and indivisible, that division or separation, hatred, enmity, quarrel and selfishness are against the nature of the Self, that the pain of birth and death is caused by desire generated by the ignorance of the Self, that the highest state of experience is immortal life or the realisation of Brahman, that everyone is born for this supreme purpose, that this is the highest duty of man, that all other duties are only aids or auxiliaries to this paramount duty, that one should perform one’s prescribed duties with the spirit of non-attachment and dedication of oneself and one’s actions to the Supreme Being, and that every aspect of one’s life should get consummated in this Consciousness.
27. The Longing Appears to have No End
Man’s life on Earth is a continuous flow of events, and no event seems to be lasting. There is always a desire to grasp and hold something else, something different from and better than what is possessed at the present. This longing appears to have no end, and it does not seem to lead one to any definite goal. There are only anxiety, vexation, craving and dissatisfaction visible everywhere. Unrest and pain are seen riding over all things in the world. The drama of life is but a show of shifting scenes, and no amount of worldly satisfaction appears to save one from this ceaseless anguish which follows every failure in the achievement of one’s desired end. Youth fades like the evening flower, strength vanishes like the rent cloud, and the beauty of the body quickly gives way to the ugliness of death. All things are certain to pass away either today or tomorrow. Nothing will live. The man of now is not seen in the next moment. The pleasure-centres of the human being mock at him for his folly, and he realises that all that he enjoys is not worth the striving.
28. Human Life is a Process of Knowledge
Human life is a process of knowledge. All knowledge implies a subject or a knower, whose relation to an object manifests knowledge. The existence of the knower in an act of knowledge cannot be doubted, for without a knower there is no knowledge, and without knowledge there is no experience. The whole of one’s life is constituted of various forms of experience, and all experience is attended with consciousness. Consciousness has always to be in relation with the subject or the knower. Without a knowing self there is no objective knowledge. The experience of a world outside would become impossible if it is not to be given to a knowing subject. The fact of the known implies the truth of a knower. Even thinking would lose its meaning without our tacitly admitting the existence of our own self. This self reveals itself as the centre of all the knowledge which illumines every form of human activity. All activities can, ultimately, be reduced to a kind of knowledge. It is some form of knowledge that fulfils itself through external action.
29. The Self is not Momentary in Nature
The Self is of the nature of self-luminosity and intelligence. If the Self were something other than a self-illumined or self-conscious being, it would have to be known as an object by another being which ought to be self-luminous. But if the Self is not at all to be self-luminous, we would be led to an infinite regress of positing a self behind self, so that there would be no end of our search for the origin of knowledge. The Self is not momentary in nature, for what is momentary is destructible and cannot be the source of knowledge. The perception of momentariness is due to a succession of the appearance of objects at different instants of time. It is not the Self or the consciousness that is momentary, but the perception of objects determined by the nature of the appearance of objects to consciousness. Momentary elements are what are known by consciousness as its objects. The Self is not made manifest by external proofs as outward things are.
30. Consciousness is One
Though the objects that are known in consciousness are different and of various kinds, consciousness is one. It is what integrates all sensations and perceptions into a coherent whole. If consciousness were a changing phenomenon, such a synthesis of knowledge would be impossible, and there would arise the contingency of introducing different consciousnesses at different times. Such consciousnesses, in order that their existences might be justified, may have to be known by another consciousness, which, after all, we have to admit as the real Self. That the Self is one, and not more than one, need not be proved, for no one ever feels that one is divided, that one is two or more. Everyone knows that one’s self cannot be cut or divided into segments but always retains its unity. Even supposing that the Self can be manifold, we would be led to the necessity of asserting a unitary consciousness knowing the difference between the parts assumed in the Self.
31. The Absolute is Beyond Thought
Appearances have reality in them, but reality is different from appearances. Appearances do not exist in the Absolute even as its adjectives, for it can have no adjectives other than itself. Qualities have a meaning only in the sense world. There is no quality without relations, and all relations are empirical. A relational Absolute must be perishable, for, here, its very essence is said to include distinction, and all distinction presupposes individuality. The two terms of a relation are really separated by an unbridgeable gulf, and no stretch of imagination can intelligibly bring out their connection. If the two terms are identical, there is no relation, for there will then be no two things to be related. But if the two terms are different from each other, they can bear no relation. The Absolute has no qualities or relations, for it is beyond thought. The proof of its existence is itself.