The synthesis between Vedanta and Buddhism has been attempted in this study on the ground that the former is the philosophy of 'being', whereas the latter happens to be the philosophy of becoming. The being and becoming, both are important for proper understanding of the Absolute Reality and its manifestation. In synthesizing, we have mainly concentrated on consciousness because of two reasons: (i) in consciousness, both being and becoming are involved, and (ii) pure consciousness happens to be the essence of human nature.
In Buddhism, the concepts like Cilia Nirvana, Bhauanga Cilia and Alaya-vijiiiina having bearing on pure-consciousness, which happens to be the Upanisadic A/man and the Vedantic Briihman. Since these concepts represent the essence of human beings, the similarities among the Upanisads, Vedanta and Buddhism have been established. However, the differences between Vedanta and Buddhism (Yogacara Vijiianavada) on several issues like momentariness, changing reality, etc. will continue because these are merely modes of manifestations or pearances.
It has also been shown that the concepts like One and Many, Time and Space of Buddhism and Vedanta have scientific support. Time and Space have no independent existence in Buddhism and Vedanta. In fact, both being the manifestations of consciousness, become the objects of consciousness. It means that Buddhism and Vedanta have treated time and space in relative framework. So is the case with science.
V.N. Misra, Ph.D. retired from Indian Economic Service, has worked as Economic Advisor in the Ministries such as Agriculture, Rural Development and Finance, Government of India. He also has the experience of working in various research centres: Agro-Economic Research Centre, ValIabh Vidya Nagar, Sardar Patel Institute of Economics and Social Research, Ahmedabad, Giri Institute of Development Studies, Lucknow and Shri Ram Centre of Industrial Relations and Human Resources, New Delhi. Or. Misra had several consultancy assignments with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) , Manila, the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), Rome; the World Bank, Washington and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), Washington. Or. Misra has also to his credit more than forty research papers published in reputed journals in the field of agricultural policy and development, labour, employment, rural poverty, etc. He has also co-authored (V.S. Vyas, D.S. Tyagi, V.N. Misra) a book, Significance of New Technology Jor Small Fanners, Agro-Economic Research Centre, ValIabh Vidya Nagar, Gujarat. Or. Misra's recent study on Terms of Trade, sponsored by Department of Agriculture and Cooperation, Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India as a part of Millennium Study, is published by Academic Foundation, New Delhi.
Siddhartha Gautama became the Buddha upon attaining the state of such enlightenment as would result in explaining the basic structure of existence in the world. The enlightenment that had resulted in the a priori assertion that existence, in its diverse forms and shapes, is characterized by the illness of pain. As to why this illness of pain exists is because of desire for things that basically are insubstantial, and so evidently impermanent. There is suffering because of clinging for that which is impermanent, and this doctrine of impermanence got as stretched out as to terminate in the assertion that there is nothing in the world that could be termed as being permanent. It is this viewpoint of not-self and impermanence that forms the heart of Buddha's enlightenment.
. For the Buddha, it is Becoming that is real. insofar as the reality of Being is concerned, it simply does not exist. The doctrine of becoming was so interpreted by the early Buddhists as would lead to the establishment of the view that everything is in flux. Since nothing lasts more than a moment, so accordingly there would be no abiding principle like the self that could be seen such an agent who knows and acts. It is this doctrine of not-self which ultimately terminated in the rise of Sunyavada of Nagarjuna. For him, everything is identical with Sunya. It is in the context of this extreme form of nihilism of Nagarjuna that there arose the school of Vijnanavada, which accepted the reality of consciousness as being real. Even though accepting the reality of consciousness, y the Vijnanavadins subscribed to the view that consciousness, though luminous in nature, is subject continuous becoming.
It is impossible to accept the Buddhist contention, the non-existence of the self in the context of knowledge and action. If everything is momentary and impermanent then there would be no possibility for knowledge to occur which would mean that we will have no cognition of anything, because it will not be possible to integrate awareness and the object into one identical relation. Even though our ideas may be changing with reference to the changing objects, there remains the fact that we do not change. All this proves the fact that, in the midst of change, we remain constantly connected with the changing objects. Thus, the existence of such an entity the self is established on the basis of the experience that we all have, which is that there persists within us a permanent entity through all the changing states' of consciousness. It is this very persisting principle within' us that remembers the object we had previously cognized. The Buddhists would say that the cognition of the previously perceived object is due to the impressions in the subconscious mind. This assertion of the Buddhists is unacceptable in the context of their view of mind being momentary. If the mind exists momentarily, it would mean that it could not receive as well as store the impressions. Also the impressions themselves are as momentary as would neither be received nor stored. In such a scenario, there is no possibility for cognition to occur. Thus, the only logical way is to postulate the existence of such self that is permanent, and due to which knowledge and action become possible.
The present work-Science oJ Consciousness by Dr. V. Misra – has competently dealt with such complex issues as, for example, the existence and non – existence of the self and the areas where Buddhism and Vedanta share a common ground for truth. It is expected that the publication of this treatise will prove to be illuminating to those who seek truth.
The Study Has established the similarities (i.e. the meeting points) among the Upanisads, Vedanta and Buddhism on the basis of the concepts like Citta Niroana, Bhauanga Citta and AZaya-vijiiiina having bearing on pure consciousness, which happens to be the Upanisadic Atman and Vedantic Brahman. Since these concepts represent the essence of human beings, the similarities among the Upanisads, Vedanta and Buddhism have been established. However, the difference between Vedanta and Buddhism (Yogacara Vijfianavada) on several issues like momentariness, changing reality, etc. will continue because these are merely modes of manifestations or appearances.
The main reason for establishing the similarity between Vedanta and Buddhism is that the former is philosophy of being, whereas the latter happens to be the philosophy of becoming. In terms of conscious episode, being is pure consciousness, whereas becoming happens to be differentiated or empirical consciousness. In the knowledge framework, being is internal perception and becoming would be external perception. So long both-being and becoming-are given due importance in a balanced approach, it would provide better understanding of not only reality but also its appearances. The problem becomes difficult when the isolated approach is adopted. The fact, however, remains that without being, becoming is not possible at all, and without becoming, being has no meaning in the sense that one cannot gain the experience without becoming. Therefore, both-being and becoming are- important for proper understanding of the Absolute Reality and its manifestation.
It may, however, be noted that the strong criticism like pure consciousness of Vedanta as fictitious entity and homogeneous series of Yogacara Vijfianavada in which it is recently observed that Karma will not arise because it is particularized job, have been reconciled in this study. It has also been shown that the concepts like One and Many, time and space of Buddhism and Vedanta have scientific support. It is observed that the matter at atomic level appears as particles and waves. In some situation, particle aspect becomes dominant; while in other particles behave like waves. This dual aspect is exhibited by light and electromagnetic radiations. In the total-wave function, the identity of individual electron is completely lost. In fact, the electrons have submerged themselves in one brotherhood of electrons. The Many have become One. The One is an abstract space, the Many is physical space. The two aspects are complementary.
Time and space have no independent existence in Buddhism and Vedan ta. In fact, both being the manifestations of consciousness, become the objects of consciousness. It means that Buddhism and Vedanta have treated time and space in relative framework. So is the case with science. Einstein by bringing in the role of consciousness as observer has revolutionized the earlier concept of absolute time into the relative framework. This supports the observation of Buddhism and Vedanta.
The comparative study of Vedanta and Buddhism dealing with fundamental problem of human existence should not be expected to be so easy. It requires patience and perseverance to examine the different concepts and their interlinkages mentioned in different chapters for comprehending their subtleties. In this process, it becomes easy to see the concepts in their functional forms in totality. However, it is also expected that the readers will not agree to all the views expressed in this work. Yet, if one finds something interesting on any of the issues, in my view the effort made in synthesising the subject of Vedanta and Buddhism would be useful for further study and research.
I am grateful to late Or. S.P. Pant for encouraging me to complete this study. Although he wanted that I should write it in Hindi, since most of the literature is easily available in English, I thought that it would be better first to write in English and then think of Hindi version later. I am also grateful to Sri S.K. Sharma for his critical comments. In fact, he has been source of constant encouragement in completing this work. I express my sincere thanks to my son Yash Prakash Mishra for support in compilation of the literature on the subject. It would have been difficult for me to complete this task without his help. Last but not least, I am grateful to Sri M.L. Pandit for writing the Foreword to this book, in spite of pre-occupations within his own academic pursuits.
I express my gratitude tothe authors from whose books, the passages have been quoted in different chapters.
This Study Is prompted by three recent observations: (i) "Citta is one pre-condition of religious experience in Indian thinking and as such, it is meeting point for Upanisadic and Buddhist soter iology";' (ii) "The knowledge of transcendental consciousness enables us to face the mystery of death. The survival of consciousness after death is the greatest challenge to science and the greatest support to religion;" and (iii) Human life is a product of the interaction of consciousness and matter." The above observations are examined with a view to establish the similarity among the Upanisads, Vedanta and Buddhism. Specifically, the study attempts:
(i) To examine the meeting points amongst the Upanisads, Vedanta and Buddhism. This aspect is examined on the basis of real nature of human being, which happens to be pure consciousness.
(ii) To know whether the observations of Vedanta and Buddhism are in conformity with the findings of the scientists.
(iii) To examine how the interaction between consciousness and matter has been established in dualistic philosophy of the West and the Indian philosophy of Sarnkhya-yoga.
It may be stated at the outset that this study is an attempt to review evidences from various sources that have a direct bearing on the subjects that are discussed within a logical and consistent framework in different chapters. The stud) does not claim to have originality, although some criticisms/ views which seem to be inappropriate on certain issues have been reconciled. Further, the references based on the religious discourses, which are beyond time and space have been avoided as for the human mind it is rather difficult to comprehend any phenomena beyond time and space However, time and space seem to be two concepts, but the fact remains that both are one in the sense that "one Conscious-Being viewing itself in extension subjectively as Time and objectively as Space.:" It is reassuringly to be told by another study in different words. ''Time and space are one. One cannot be without other .?" Further, time and space have no independent existence, because they are known by consciousness of the human observer. In fact, both are manifestations of consciousness." In other words, time and space both become the object of consciousness. Consciousness is indeed at the heart of everything. Time space, and the four great elements: earth, water, fire and air, are all displays of consciousness. "All have the nature of inter-being: if we look deeply into one, we find the other five. Looking into space, we see time and other elements a well."? Keeping these observations in view, this study has concentrated mainly on consciousness because it happen to be the theory of everything, in the sense that it perceive human being internally as well as externally, i.e. the entire universe.
In the above study, the Dhamma is compared with the Brahman of Upanisads. This comparison, however, does noseem to be appropriate for two reasons: (i) Brahman is pure consciousness itself, and (ii) Dhamma (object) and self (subject) are mere transformations of consciousness according to the Yogacara-Vijnanavada school of Buddhism. Therefore: Dhamma is treated merely as a false construction. This show that the concept of Dhamma has been completely changed for, the Buddha Dhamma was truth, now it has become false construction. Therefore, Citta-dhamma may not be an appropriate concept in the present context for comparison with Cit-iitman of the Upanisads.
The main reason for establishing the similarity between Vedanta and Buddhism is that the former is a philosophy of being, whereas the latter happens to be the philosophy of becoming. In terms of conscious episode, being is pure consciousness, whereas becoming happens to be differentiated or empirical consciousness. In the knowledge framework, being is internal perception and becoming would be external perception. So long both, being and becoming, are given due importance in a balanced approach, it would provide better understanding of not only reality but also its appearances. The problem becomes difficult when the isolated approach is adopted. This is evident from recent observation that "becoming' (in the psychological sense) is the central principle of fragmentation in the individual, and also the cause of all divisions within the society." The fact, however, remains that without being, becoming is not possible at all, and without becoming, being has no meaning in the sense that one cannot gain the experience without becoming. Therefore, both, being and becoming, are important aspects for proper understanding of the Absolute Reality and its manifestation. In consciousness, both, being and becoming, are involved. In other words, consciousness is not Being only but it is Becoming also." In Buddhism, Nirvana seems to be pure consciousness, or integrated consciousness, whereas Samsiira (physical world) is empirical consciousness or differentiated consciousness. In Vedanta, pure consciousness is Alman and its appearances (i.e. empirical consciousness) are physical worlds (Sarhsiira). This suggests that the concept of Atman of Vedanta seems to be identical to Niruana of Buddhism, because both, Alman and Niruana, happen to be pure consciousness.
The similarity among the Upanisads, Vedanta and Yogacara may be established mainly through pure consciousness, which in essence is the real nature of human beings. In other words, "I am pure consciousness in essence." Pure consciousness in a way is awareness of being aware. If one lives in such awareness, one is likely to experience the Absolute Reality. Apart from Nirvana, the concepts such as Bhauanga Citta of Theravada Buddhism, and Alaya-vijiiiina of Yogacara Vijrianavada school of Buddhism also have ontological orientations. These concepts are introduced in Buddhist's thought mainly because it was difficult to justify the discourses along with Aniitmaviida (no soul or self). The Buddha has denied self or soul in the sense that what is self is not referred to in his second sermon delivered to five monks at Isipatana near Benaras. Now this place is known as Sarnath near Varanasi (U.P.). If there is no self or entity which indures in human being after death and responsible for rebirth, Niroana has no meaning because one birth is complete in itself and there is no need for rebirth. In fact, Niroana has significance only in relation to the transmigration of soul or self. This fact has rather compelled to Buddhists to introduce the above concepts. Since in Buddhism, consciousness happens to be the medium of rebirth, it may be inferred that consciousness continues after death and responsible for rebirth. This consciousness is referred to as Alaya-vijiiiina according to Yogacara Vijiianavada school of Buddhism. In the case of Theravada Buddhism, it is Bhavanga Citta, which is responsible for death and rebirth.
In the context of second observation that the survival of consciousness after death is the greatest challenge to science, it may be stated that the role of consciousness as observer in the scientific studies initiated by Einstein has completely changed the concept of absolute time and space into the relative framework. This finding reassures earlier observations of Buddhism and Vedanta in which the time and space are treated as objects of consciousness, showing thereby that time and space have no independent existence, because both are the objects of consciousness. Time itself is an 'arrow' always moving onwards. It is zonsciousness of human being which makes time to move backward (past) and forward (future). Further, scientists by going deeper into examination of matter have shown that there is basic oneness in the universe. Now the dual aspects of electron: wave and particle aspects turn out to be complementary rather than contradictory. Many electrons have become one brotherhood of electrons. The concept of One and Many electrons are supported by both: Buddhism and Vedanta,
However, the Vedantic concept of oneness had helped German physicist Schrodinger to evolve the unified field theory for which he received the Nobel Prize in 1933. So far, science has mainly reinforced the various observations of the Upanisads, Vedanta and Buddhism.
As regards the third observation that human life depends on the interaction between consciousness and matter, it may be mentioned that this interaction has been explained in different ways in dualistic philosophies like Descartes in the West and Sarnkhya-yoga in the East. Both are, however, interesting in the sense that Descartes had to invoke the existence of God in explaining the relationship between consciousness and matter, whereas the Samkhya-yoga school of Indian philosophy has tried to explain the interaction between Purusa (consciousness) and Prakrti (matter) representing the external world without bringing the existence of God into the picture.
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