TAT tvam asi
THAT thou art
One the face1 of it the unconditional2 Upanishad3 statements: ‘This is THAT’, ‘This whole world is BRAHMAN/ATMAN’, ‘Life itself is THAT, ‘All this is BRAHMAN/ATMAN (i.e. THAT) and so on are pantheistic.4
If the deleted context in which the statements are embedded is added back then ‘This’ becomes conditional because taken to mean: ‘Not the whole of ‘This’ but merely the essence (as atman, i.e. self) of This is THAT. The above statements completed with their context reveals them as merely quasi pantheistic.5
What is not the essence of ‘this’, namely the body/matter as carrier or vehicle of the essence (i.e. the atman writ small), is deemed ‘neti-neti’,6 hence not-THAT.7
The ‘neti, neti’ view contradicts the basic notion that Brahman/Atman, i.e. ‘THAT’, is ‘one without a second.’ By differentiating between the (eternal = ultimate) essence and its carrier, i.e. the body (= matter), the above statements when completed with their context are actually henotheistic (dualistic = dvaita) and not monistic (advaita).8
The Upanishadic belief in the fundamental duality (i.e. dvaita) of ‘this’ and in its unpleasant self-sustaining means (i.e. samsara) provides the Brahmin with the false logic that supports the invention of the jivanmukta ideal, namely the ideal of liberating oneself from the not-essence, i.e. from the not-Brahman/not-Atman.9,10
If ‘This is truly THAT’, hence identical, i.e. one and the same, i.e. non-dual, then samsara is identical with BRAHMAN/ATMAN.11 Then does release, i.e. moksha result from the completion and thus perfection of one’s function within samsara rather than from escape therefrom.
© 2019 by Victor Langheld
1. i.e. as detail (or context) deleted abstraction that serves as user friendly, because immediate interface.
2. i.e. without conditions, meaning: without defining attributes (Sanskrit: gunas). Note that the unconditional (i.e. the ultimate Atman/Brahman presents neither difference nor the sense of realness (i.e. because unending sameness wherein difference has been compressed out). It is clearly stated in the Upanishads that ‘@ union with ’Brahman/Atman’ consciousness, and thus consciousness of realness, ceases, as it does on achievement of the turiya, the great 4th, (i.e. deepest sleep).
3. The Upanishads, compiled after the decay and collapse of the Veda, are a collection of ancient (i.e. ca. 800 BC to 500 AD) scriptures (i.e. anthologies) outlining highly innovative post Vedantic speculation (i.e. fantasies, fables) about the nature (i.e. as birth (i.e. nature) or emergence) of existence as aggregate of identifiable reality. They offer 4 seemingly different (though in essence identical = same) ‘causes’ of (fuzzy become fuzz words) sources of actual existence, namely Prajapati (as ‘father of creation’), Atman (as ‘breath of life’), Brahman (as ‘cause of ‘growth’’) and, rarely, Purusha (as possibly ‘transcendental awareness’).
4. The word pantheism was coined in 1697 by the English mathematician Joseph Raphson. It, i.e. Pan (Greek: all) + theos (Greek: god) was intended to mean: All, i.e. the whole universe as aggregate of identifiable realities is (i.e. is identical with) GOD. Pantheism is a pure monism (or monotheism) whereas most so called monotheistic religions, such as Christianity, are disguised dualisms (hence are henotheisms).
5. i.e. quasi pantheistic meaning: dualistic (Sanskrit: dvaita) presented for interface as single contact, hence as monistic (Sanskrit: advaita). This subtle observation was lost and the great Indian Brahmin scholiast Adi Shankara who, believing that the scriptures he commented were sruti, i.e. revealed and therefore self-evidently true, could not therefore seriously inquire into and doubt. Shankara was in fact a closet dualist. As priest (thus harbouring a conflict of interest) he chose unqualified ‘essence’ over qualified whole existence and proposed the reversion, indeed escape from qualified whole existence (i.e. material existence = samsara) to unqualified essence, i.e. the Brahman/Atman (as with the fundamentally ‘dead end’ cul-de-sac jivanmukta ideal) and so contributed significantly, albeit as learnéd fool (i.e. as idiot savant), to the ‘material’ stagnation and cultural decline of medieval and right up to modern India. Sadly India never produced a Voltaire who cried out: “Ecrasez l’infame (Brahmin)” and which would be done with the aid of Madame Guillotine (or, indeed, the Goddess Kali).
6. Neti, neti is usually translated as ‘not this, not this,’ meaning that the phenomenal world (i.e. matter, the body) apart from its essence (the atman writ small) is not Atman/Brahman. How this could be in an advaita (i.e. non-difference) universe is unclear. To eliminate the observed duality, indeed multiplicity of the universe (and of the Veda as sruti) Shankara arbitrarily declared the phenomenal universe of identifiable realities to be Maya, illusion. That was scholastic sleight of hand, i.e. a right con job.
7. This fundamentally dualistic Upanshadic viewing mode (i.e. darshan) though fundamentally flawed was of immense political importance, specifically to Brahmins pursuing their own interest. Only with the emergence of difference (thus, for instance, with the human superimpositions of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ and ‘right’ and wrong’) does political action emerge, to be managed and enforced by Brahmin priests.
8. The Upanishads differentiate between essence (as ultimate reality, to wit atman/brahman) and phenomenal appearance (i.e. the actual world). Radical pantheism does not differentiate, hence states that the universe as it fortuitously appears is identical with Atman/Brahman. In the Upanishads tattvamasi means; ‘Your (real) essence (hence without the ‘wart’ of matter/body) is not different from ultimate reality (i.e. Atman/Brahman)’. In radical pantheism tattvamasi means: ‘You are IT, warts and all.’ It means that you (me and every other identifiable reality in the universe) emerge (appear, are born) as ordered (by energy) whole application of Atman/Brahman.
9. The jivanmukta ideal, to wit, that of the ‘released soul/life monad’, is red herring because ‘this whole world is Atman/Brahman’ and that therefore there is nothing to be released from. In short, since ‘this whole world is Brahman’ eliminating what is allegedly not Brahman (hence neti, neti) is a Brahmin fantasy that serves Brahman need. The radical pantheist escapes the downside affects of samsara (= Brahman/Atman) by eliminating those downsides (i.e. the price of ‘lunch’) by making this world a less unpleasant, indeed ‘better’ place thereby upgrading Atman/Brahman = this whole world. The latter view was clearly expressed in the earlier Veda with the exhortation to (maximise) artha, kama and dharma.
10. As elsewhere elaborated, the exhortation to follow the jivanmukta path, indeed the way to brahmavidya, was a cul-de-sac that had disastrous consequences for Indian culture as a whole in that it stymied the ‘material’ evolution of India (as ‘this world = Atman/Brahman). The deep pessimism, indeed misanthropy that enveloped India (and much of Europe) happened when disenchantment with the apparent absurdity of life overcame the degenerate Brahmin elite, that is to say, when life was no longer experienced as fortunate, sweet (Sanskrit: sukkha) accident (as experienced by the young) but as unfortunate sour (Sanskrit: dukkha) misadventure (as experienced by the decrepit old). In other words, the yoga (as concentrative fantasy bubble) of jivanmukta was the geriatrics means of escape from his care home, i.e. his euthanasia, i.e. the joyous return to blissful ‘factory settings’ where, in fact, neither realness, consciousness or bliss (to wit, sat-cit-ananda) exist.
11. Meaning that the sacred is identical with, i.e. not different from the profane, the divine not different from the secular. If that is truly and clearly understood then the priest/Brahmin (as policeman) becomes redundant and has ‘to find a proper job (so the Beatles).