QUOTATIONS AND PREFACE
Does not the chronological and historical remoteness of an utterance conceal in itself a historical nearness of what it leaves unsaid and which speaks, beyond the present, into a time to come? … May it not be that what is early outstrips the late, the earliest outstripping the latest most of all?”
…to begin with we see that Europe can only reproduce what in India, under the people of thinkers, had already accomplished several thousand years ago as a commandment of thinking.
Westerners are about to arrive at the crossroads that the Indian thinkers had
already reached about seven hundred years before the birth of Christ.
Martin Heidegger has … shaken the foundations on which the Occident builds.
Must not there be a different way of grasping things than the one, which was launched by the Greeks … not an alternate way which can be substituted for the Greek, but rather a foundational way which can provide the Greek and Western enterprise with the foundation of a more primordial awareness and thus break its appearance of absoluteness and independence?
Brahman … is not conceptual knowledge of Being, though wisdom about Being … or about Brahman as Being, is part of it. Brahman is SAT (Being), the ground of all that is, including my own being which is of the nature of sheer, pure CHIT (awareness, of which “knowing” is itself a derivative mode) …
Ordinary consciousness is ‘intentional’ or ‘focal’ awareness – awareness of something. Yet awareness as such (‘pure awareness’ in Indian terms) is essentially non-intentional - being that primordial spacious ‘field’ or ‘clearing’ (Lichtung) which is the pre-condition or ‘field condition’ for our awareness of things. Western ‘phenomenology’, ‘noetic science’ and ‘consciousness studies’ however, all still fail to acknowledge this non-intentional dimension of consciousness – that pure and spacious awareness field which, like empty space itself, both embraces and transcends everything we are or could be aware of within it, all possible ‘contents’ of consciousness.
Despite India being recognised as an economic ‘rising star’ of the East, the stubborn Eurocentrism of academic philosophy in the West continues to reveal a quite extraordinary ignorance of the richness and sophistication of Indian thought, which had not only long ago explored fundamental questions of a sort which only came to be recognised centuries later in European philosophy, but also continues to offer fundamentally distinct approaches to these questions - approaches rooted in foundational insights that remain unacknowledged in Western thought to this day. It is the purpose of this book to explore and explicate these foundational insights in order that their powerful implications for contemporary philosophical, religious and scientific thinking begin to be fully recognised.
It is in this context that the relation between ‘late’ Heideggerian thinking and Indian thought assumes a wholly new significance – a relation suggested by Medard Boss but ignored by those who prefer to concentrate on Heidegger’s relation to Buddhist or Taoist thinking. It is in this context also that both Heidegger’s relation to Husserlian phenomenology and its relation to Indian thought can be seen in a wholly new light. For the fact that both the ‘early’ and ‘late’ Heidegger sought to constantly steer away from the question of ‘consciousness’ and of any suggestion of ‘subjectivism’ in phenomenological thinking - emphasising instead the question of ‘Being’ and its relation to ‘beings’ - was rooted in the still wholly unquestioned Western assumption that ‘subjectivity’ is necessarily the private property of a ‘subject’, whether in the form of a finite ‘empirical’ subject or ‘being’, a supreme God-being, or a ‘transcendental’ ego or subject. In contrast, Indian Vedantic philosophy had already long recognised Heidegger’s famous ‘ontological difference’ between Being and beings, identifying Brahman with Being and understanding the human being, in like manner to Heidegger, as that being whose relation to Being – to Brahman – was the most primordial and decisive of questions.
Yet particularly in the Indian Advaitic tradition, Brahman was also understood in another way, not simply as pure Being (Sat) but also as ‘pure consciousness’ or ‘awareness’ (Chit). By this however was meant a universal consciousness or ‘absolute subjectivity’ – one not seen as the property of any being or subject, empirical or transcendental, human or divine - but rather as the very source of all things and of all beings, human and divine, both transcendent and immanent within them all. In the specific tradition of ‘Shiva-ist’ or Shaivist Advaita however, the compound term at the heart of Indian thought – Sat-Chit-Ananda or ‘Being-Awareness-Bliss’ does not make its three elements equi-primordial.
Instead we find an explicit recognition by Abhinavagupta, the great 10th century sage of Shaivist Advaita or Kashmir Shaivism that:
The Being of all things recognised in
in turn depends on Awareness.
It is not Brahman understood as Being ‘as such’ but a universal and primordial AWARENESS of Being (Shiva) that constitutes the most intimate and primordial essence of all beings – and that belongs to the very essence of ‘bliss’ (Ananda). Yet this awareness is an absolute awareness or ‘absolute subjectivity’ – one that cannot, in principle, be reduced to the private property of any being, self or subject we are consciously aware of - let alone to the product of any phenomenal or intentional object of consciousness, including the body and brain.
In Part 3 of this book I argue that only an onto-phenomenology and onto-theology rooted in absolute subjectivism – no mere form of idealism - can challenge the dogmatic quasi-religion of objectivist science and the unquestioned scientific equation of truth with objectivity on which it is based. In Part 2, I show how, unlike Indian thought, Husserlian phenomenology was led astray - both in principle and practice, by the false assumption that subjectivity is necessarily the property or intentional activity of an ego or subject. In contrast, the essence of yoga – itself a phenomenological practice of awareness - is to undo the delusion of an ego or subject of awareness with independent self-willed agency or intentionality. To begin with I seek in Part 1 to show how Heidegger’s discourse concerning a primordial ‘Openness’ or ‘Clearing’ – one that first lets things be and that first lets them come to light as phenomena - is wholly congruent with the thinking at the heart of Shaivist Tantric metaphysics, which identifies space and light as such with pure awareness. This congruence is made evident by the words of Abhinavagupta and of his most famous disciple, Kshemaraja:
Abhinava “…space is inherent in the soul as true subjectivity, which is at once empty of objects and which also provides a place in which objects may be known.”
Kshemaraja “Every appearance owes its existence to the light of awareness. Nothing can have its own being without the light of awareness.”
Finally, in Part 4, I draw on Heidegger’s interpretation of the Greek word theoria to show how it also bespeaks the tantric understanding of ‘the goddess’ (Greek thea) as the totality of all that appears or is brought to light by virtue of being worshipfully honoured (Greek ora) in awareness – the words ‘ora’, ‘worship’ and ‘awareness’ all deriving from meanings linked by the Proto-Indo-European root wer.
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