Hermeneutics and Metaphysics11-15

Essays by Dr K.Loganathan

[ 11. The Metaphysics of Creativity; 12. Noting the presence of BEING; 13.
How do  I come to know BEING is, that God is?; 14. Being with BEING; 15. I am This and That and This ...: The "tat twam asi" ]

Hermeneutics and Metaphysics -11

The Metaphysics of Creativity

The body is that with which I WRITE both verbal and nonverbal TEXTS. I  create them, utilizing forces most often unconscious. Where the  TEXTS are  deep and profound , I touch upon   GROUNDS that normally  remain INACCESSIBLE. Accessing the distant and deep and putting the accessed into words and symbols constitute an act of CREATIVITY, an act that makes me  a genius in the eyes of the ordinary.  But only when I appropriate the  TEXTS thus produced , only when I  UNDERSTAND them  that I really  incorporate  them as part of myself.

My UNDERSTANDING gets transformed and through that I get transformed too. I am NO MORE the person I was.  Understanding the texts I produced is  actually  understanding myself, concretizing the POSSIBILITIES that I am ;SEEING myself as the one who has actualized some possibilities that hitherto were simply floating,  if at all.  That which I actualize,  is actualy transforming  the mere possibilities that float like the formless clouds in the sky  into concrete objects in the world---- poetry, scriptures, novels, monuments, institutions etc.,  and these    tell me what I am really capable of.  The purely caattiyam  , the possible becomes a 'mey', a truth, a reality.They become, through my agency PORUL- a thing of the world, a thing that is real  and no more simply  an idea.

 In thus  realizing   some possiblities as my own  now,   I also learn that they  reveal to me my Being- in- the -World which is always an issue with me , a painful issue for the philosophic mind.  My productions, things that acquire a reality solely because of me,  TELL something about me, to me as well as to the world that acquaints itself with my textual productions.   It becomes then part of the History, of a tradition.   They  give substance and shape to a tradition.

But what my texts  tell  can   be understood only painfully, the deeper the text, the more SYMBOLIC it is the more difficult the process of understanding.   And more PERMANENCE for the text!  The metaphysical understanding, the most profound understanding of Human Existence, is NOT easy to appropriate and therefore always those who venture are very few.  Not only that . Only the most profoundly DISTURBED  by an easiness born of recognition of  ignorance within , would venture into it as way of acquiring a cure for their existential anguish, mental disturbance , philosophical uneasiness of a profound kind.

A  man  quite happy and contented with ordinary gifts of life cannot be a metaphysical genious.

Self-understanding cannot issue forth  in detached and empty meditations.  When  metaphysical thinking is NOT  prompted  by deep  understanding-related disturbances, that make the person  withdraw from the world,  sit in solitude and wonder , there can be only a show of meditation but not real meditation.  In genuine mediations, there is an attempt to  UNDERSTAND texts, produced by oneself or otherwise, not the shallow chatter-like texts but those that are metaphysically enigmatic and challenging.

The first step is to SEE one's own productions -- both verbal and nonverbal-- as TEXTS, and for this  one has to lift up oneself from the naivety of everyday involvement, the existential involvement that drowns one in the mundane and earthly; the sensorial that entertains but does not inform. And this is NOT that easy. For the average  person there must be sensorial stimulations of all kinds and all the times.  He cannot stand the senses being numb and dull .  Only those who can do this effortlessly can   be genuinely meditative,  access the hitherto unaccessed depths and through that become genuinely creative.

The detaching of oneself from the imprisonment of everyday experience, , the natural, and as expounded by Thirumular,  is a precondition for gaining    a profound understanding , clear and certain, i.e. the axiomatic TRUTHS, the pirimaaNaas of Meykandar. The pre interrogative naive understanding is confused, cloudy    and full of painful uncertainties.  In contrast to this the post TEXT interrogative explorations that really  accesses Depths  are  clear , certain and well founded so that BELIEVE in them remains unsubverted.

In the West,   Descartes begins such TEXT-interrogations, the founding of Metaphysics as the most profound Hermeneutic Science.  However because he was NOT clear and subsequent Western history of Cartesian Meditations  obscured further the Hermeneutical orientations, the whole of Metaphysics becomes trivialized and empty of existential import. Even the heroic attempts of Husserl to rescue the   tradition of Cartesian meditations through phenomenology  ended up at a dead end because   of the ABSENCE of hermeneutic orientation.

This is where Dravidian philosophical tradition becomes something vital for world civilization, a tradition that has not been given the place it rightly deserves .  For at least from the days of Tolkaappiyam(3rd cent B.C)  despite being assailed by the positivisms of Buddhism, Janinism  and idealisms of Vedanta, it remained steadfastly Hermeneutical   whenever it asserted its originality. All the greatest books in Tamil philosophy: Tholkaappiyam, ThirukkuRaL, Thirumanthiram, Thiruvaymozi, Sivanjanaabotham  Sicanjana Siddhiyar etc.  more or less retain this hermeneutic orientation; the most rigorous and profound being undoubtedly  the Sivanjanabotham of Meykandar.

India became dravidianized at first through Nyaya  that was a development of  Tolkaappiyam  and later by Bakthi movement  that gave rise  to different  schools of Vedanta but now not acknowledged  by the historians of Indian Philosophy who appear not to be able to see beyond the Vedas and  Vedantas.



Hermeneutics and Metaphysics -12

Noting the presence of BEING

One of the most ridiculous  notions in Indian circles is that  divine knowledge is  only for the priviliged few especially the Brahmanah whose Dharma is  Brahmavidya or whatever and becuase of which  they deserve an  honourable place in the social hierarchy.  But is this ture?

I am  not a  Brhamanah at all but  rather the son of a small businessman   and many of whose relatives remain the poor  rubber tappers.  Because of this,  is divine wisdom Brahmavidya denied to me? Even if it not denied,  do I have to study the Vedas   sitting in front of  Vedic Rishi with folded arms?

Certainly not. Despite by birth and despite the fact  I don't study the Vedas I am NOT denied the Absolute Illuminations. But how is that possible?

When one tears  oneself  away from the naive and natural existence and manages to stand  OUTSIDE it  and manage to see it as  a whole,  an understanding of the world  constituted as for him emerges. Since it SEEN  as such , it becomes also a TEXT, with the duality of structure--- the Surface (appearance etc)  Deep (reality etc) Here nobody can help except myself : I have to DISCONSTRUCT the naivity in which I lived  and wrest out by Being   from being caught fiendishly by that naivity.

And this possiblity is something I have in my bosom and it has nothing to do at all either with my birth  or my familiarity with  Vedas Agamas and such other scriptures.  I can memorise the Vedas and other scriptures and  recite  with impeccable intonation contours  tones cadences and what not.   All these are useless unless I disconstruct  my naivity and liberate myself from the naive naturalness.  And certainly I  can do this without knowing a single word from the  Vedas as thousands have done in the world.

Now seeing the world as a TEXT  is an important departure in the metaphysical journey. For it is at this point that the Presence and Truth of  BEING  begins to be grasped. For if the world is a TEXT then there must the   WRITER, the Author as the Deep Structure element of the World as Text.  BEING is not just simply the Brahman, the resplent  principle from which emerges all and  into which everything is resolved back.

BEING as the Writer of the World as TEXT and  who continues to WRITE unfailingly  and because of which we have the vast  drama that we call the cosmos , that we call existence , is the Nimitta KaaraNan, the Agentive  Cause, THAT because of which the world is and is  as it is.

And because  of this we  also  understnad BEING as pancakrittiyan,  HE who  is the source of the Universal Praxis of production maintainance annihilation and all as a way   of Disclosing Himself  and which is opposed to Concealing.

Now this metaphysical understnading is also vital for understanding myself. For when I understand BEING as  the Agent of the Universal Praxis, it  also  follows that  I am NOT that BEING for I am toally incapable of this  Universal Praxis. I am a limited person,   a microscopic miscule  in the vast universe,    finite, imperfect delimited and so forth. I can approprite the Universal Praxis as  such  and excute various kinds actions  as for myself but  I am NOT the source of these praxis -- they are already there  as something beyond me and becausse of which I am what I am -- a miserable creature researching into this and that and exulting in the little lights  of illuminations that I occasionally  experience.

In the light of this how are to understnad the Mahavaakkiyas  such as " Aham Brahmam asmi" etc?

BEING plays a game with me : He leads me to think that I am Brahmam  itself inorder to  transfom my humble  and extremely delimited self  into  a radiant being, acquire a way of Being -in-the -World  in which my understanding is absolutely CLEAR and Universal , where I understnad everything  translucently, i.e without any opacity.

It is because of an ACT of BEING that I can articulate   "aham Brahman asmi" etc.

So has said Meykandar  in the 13th cent. itself, the greatest philosopher of India but hardly known even in India. Is it because he  was a nonbrahmin and wrote in Tamil?


Hermeneutics and Metaphysics -13

How do  I come to know BEING is, that God is?

Let us hold onto rather firmly firmly  to the disconstruction from my naivete engrossment  with the natural  and through that  gaining a vision of the world as a TEXT , the most inclusive one at that.  It  is a vision  that  has been lurking in my bosom and now  through hermeneutic efforts of my own I  have made it shine forth and determine my vision , how I see the world. It is NOT an invention or a construction of my  own.  I cannot simply invent or construct visions. I have not learned it from the Vedas or the Agamas  or any  other scripture, for visions cannot be learned this way.  It has been there all along within me as the cuukkumam,  the unrealized and now   become  a tuulam, the manifest.

In this I see that it is entirely out of my own efforts   that I accomplish this.   My  studies of  philosophical and religious literature and so forth  may just  help but do not by themselves bring it about.   I have  to REFLECT metaphysically  and spend tremendous amount of psychic energy  to gain this vision. It is a heroic effort  of  a kind .

In this I notice that I must have  a metaphysical courage, the courage  to continuously free myself   from  all fishing nets of traditional thinking that would like to capture myself and imprison me in their traditional lores and through that give me an  identity -- a man of  this gotra ,  of his caste, of this sect, of this religion,  of this idealogy, of this symbolic marks and thousands of  such others .   I can know them but must NOT allow  them trap myself  and imprison me.  I must FREE myself from them and become  PURE  in order to gain this vision and be in it. When i succumbe to their pulls I become dirtied, a man operating various kinds of prejudices.

They want  to cheat themselves by  the largeness  of the number of adherents as if that constitutes the criteria of TRUTH without realizing that TRUTH has nothing to do with number, there may be  TRUTH but  not owned even by  a single individual.

And when I can gain this vision and get engrossed in it, then I notice that its points   beyond itself to a DEEP STRUCTURE, just as the face of my beloved would go beyond itself and point towards her heart. There is the being of BEING as that which enpresents the World as such. The BEING here is not Heideggerian Being , the way of being of the  the humans, existence, the Da-Sein ( if I have understood it properly)  but rather the metaphysical substance   that remains the Causative Ground for all that is,  exists or has being, the Civam where " ci ' means being-there-as such, thrusting itself  out  as -there out of an absence of presence, being covered up  from showing  itself as there.

With this understanding firmly established, the WORLD ceases to be pure physical and becomes immensely spiritual. And along  with   it , I cease to  be a materialist or even a Marxist or  a secularist  of whatever kind. The BEING being-there is a TRUTH that I cannot deny   it.  I have not been deluded into it  as  I gained this understanding all by myself  through disconstructive efforts of my own.  The World as a TEXT is a vision that I can gain again and again , get engrossed in it and through that SEE the presence  of BEING, BEING  being-there as the world and  as responsible for all that transpires there.

And in  this  I notice that   I am NOT  the maker  of myself,  of what I am  ---  I am shaped constituted formed etc,  i.e there is an authorship for  my being in the world as such and such. My little authorship is itself   a miniscule of a large authorship; I am an author only because BEING is an AUTHOR. Thus in my being-there-in the -world  , there is already being-there of BEING but somehow concealed from me untill I  effect all these disconstructions and gain these visions!

Hence I am moved to say : I exist , therefore BEING is.  (Ta. naan vaazkinReen, athanaal iRaivan irukkinRaan)
But in saying thus,  am I reasoning something like Descartes: Cogito ergo sum?

No, it does not appeas to be so. I am NOT reasoning at all.  The presence of BEING slowly DAWNS in my understanding as I hold on o the vision that the WORLD is a TEXT. The presence of BEING is  adisclosure , a revelation, a showing up for me  to see and which may not  necessarily  happen.  Nevertheless when it happens, it happens and when I see this aspect  of it , I am moved to say it is an  aruL of BEING, a gift, a blessing that for some reason or other BEING sees I deserve.

And that is what I articulate  in a formulaic manner  : I exist , therefore BEING is.  In my existence and in the intricate dramas that unfold there , the presence of BEING is cognised.

I cannot from henceforth, be but a   THEIST, one who sees BEING  as God  in order to maintain myself forever in His presence,   wants to be continuosly a recipient of HIS Grace, the AruL.


Hermeneutics and Metaphysics -14

Being with BEING.

In my hermeneutic explorations of the metaphysical dimensions of my  own self , an odyssy of a sort, an  important  mile-stone is  my  understanding and formulation :

Hence I am moved to say : I exist , therefore BEING is.  (Ta. naan vaazkinReen, athanaal iRaivan irukkinRaan)

Hence with this accomplishment  I notice that I become the TWICE born, the true Brahmanah and NOT the brahmanah who has stolen this credit  just by virtue of being the scion of someone who has accomplished this in his gotra  deep in the past,  if at all,  but now  the only credit he has is just  being born in that lineage    but without the necessary disconstructive achievements that  would  put him in the vision of BEING. Such a brahmin fools himself and fools the world, he has only the external trappings of a Brahmanah but not the inner  substance.

If he has  it , he wouldn't  call himself a Brahmanah  any away.  In the face of that Vision it becomes supremely IRRELEVANT.

 But among the False Brahmins , I who have become the genuinely  twice born and hence the true Brahmanah  WILL NOT  be  recognised as such! My birth certificate  would  not qualify me  for that!

But however it does not worry me , I just laugh at their folly, the miserable games they play and the  twistings and turnings  they give to  history just to reinforce their  own ego for they LACK the  genuine metaphysical achievements that would provide an inner satiation that would not force them  to seek  out such vacuous enjoyments, the pleasures from the mithiyak njanam! From virtual realities!

But I have a problem : this vison  that BEING is   , that emerges on seeing the world as TEXT is so so slippery, so so difficult to retain and BE in it, immerse myself in it, become an aazvaar - one who dips in it and merges self  with BEING. The practical problems in life -- the bills I have to pay, the needs of  children that I have to attend, the funeral of a close relative, the wedding of my friends daughter,  wife's demand for this kind of expensive jewellery , a new model of a car to replace  the old and thousands and thousands of such demands  DISRUPT that vision and make  my life meaningless and empty. The vision of the World as TEXT and  seeing  even in a vague manner  BEING there , now I realise, provides me  a peace of mind that I cannot get elsewhere, it becomes a SANCTUARY of a peculiar sort, that   serves to accomplish the "citta virutti nirootha" :  it pulls me back away from the mundane, the naive natural , from the sensorial physical and grounds me in the Metaphysical.

So  I do a number of things to RECOVER that vision -- recover only because it is ALREADY in  my mind  but now put aside and hence in  a way lost.  To recover   this I      indulge in  a certain kind  PRAXIS, the Sariyai  --  that  of listening to the sacred hymns, the recital of mantras, the Buddhists chants from a Chinese temple,   the Theevaram songs sung with the appropriate  melodies and what not.  I put away my research interests and study some scriptures that are productions  of people who enjoyed this vision . I find that the hymns Appar Sambantar Sundarar and so forth move me tremendously   and all because  I UNDERSTAND what they are trying to say, I can transpose myself into their state of Being and through that recover also my lost vision.

But I find that even this is  very demanding -- intellectually . It is NOT always possible for me to reflect penetratingly into the subtle nuances  innuendos implicatures and the various other  semantic and semilogical birds that break through the linguistic cage.

So I trod down to the TEMPLE nearby, a  CONCRETE TEXT,  that which exibits BEING in so many plastic forms, all extremely symbolic .   The clangs of the bells,   the aromas of the flowers, the recital of the mantras, the so many colourful  out-of-the-world mythical figures  and what not, WORK on me , on my UNCONSCIOUS and driving away the mundane desires , intall the divine and hence transpose my Being into  the metaphysical ground.

Each archetypal presence  is NOT a different God but the SAME BEING presentating himself in so many different ways.

I feel the  same even when I sit silently in a vast mosque that encloses Pure Space , as the Sitambaram , as I did  in a famous Mosque  in  Lahore.

When   a irresponsible Muslim  tells me  that  I am a  Kafir because I worship the deities in the temple , and that too because Alcoran says so ,  that what I worship are Satanic forces , I again laugh at his folly

 I may laugh  at it away , but I notice that  there others who become VIOLENT in being told  as such and accused of being  a kafir.

But the phenomena is the same  as that which happens when  a miserable caste brahmin claims the  diginities of the twice born sloley by virtue of the fact that  he happens to be a scion of someone who might have accomplished this long long ago in his gotra (if at all)

And when such  arrogant brahmins and other high   caste nonbrahmins   in their metaphysical VACUITY deny  even ACCESS to the temple to me  so that  I can regerate that vision of BEING that has  slipped out ,  and all because  I am   a Dalit, then I protest against the whole society very vehemently.

I may chose to build my own temple away from the control of these miserable high caste idiots.

I may become a MARXIST just  to demand equal rights for all. I may even become a Muslim of a Christian or a Buddhist just  as a way of registering my protest  in the most ostentatious manner. I may even become a Naxalite and just simply exterminate these  venomous serpents of  society  who deny the rights  that are naturally mine.

But fortunately for me ,  no one has ever denied access to the temple, to the study of whatever scriptures I want .  So I continue as a scholar  but firm on OBJECTIVITY for the simple reason that  it makes one feel PURE, and happy.   This objectivity in research, the desire to be in TRUTH and NOT in fabricated virtual worlds, the various kinds of mythiyak njanam seems to be a GROUND of happiness itself.


Hermeneutics and Metaphysics  -15

I am This and That and This ...: The "tat twam asi"

So let me continue with my reflections undetered by    the noise of the False Brahmins, knowing well that I cannot expect more than these from them  and having also experienced something worse in the hands of others especially the religious fanatics of all shades for whom metaphysical reflections are monkey  tricks ,  useless mental acrobatics.  But in the History of Metaphysics  this is NOT new. The early Alwars and Nayanmars  were Pey 's and Buuthams ( ghosts and gobblings) . Perhaps I am  also  one  in the eyes  of the naive and the false Brahmins. So let it  be. Nothing is lost by this.

I exist therefore BEING is.

This is  a fundamental achievement of my own, an accomplishment through a massive  disconstructive effort , an act whereby   I have extricated myself from the purely physical and natural and allowed the metaphysical  and the supernatural open up itself  in the   horizon of my understanding.  And with it, I notice now, my understanding  as to  what EXISTENCE is also changes , and changes for the better.

The undiferentiated naive notion of existence becomes differentiated into   TWO basic types: Being-only-with-the -World  (BWW) and Being-only-with -BEING (BWB) . My existence can be purely physical with purely materialistic concerns and where I disallow , as a  crass  dialectic materialist  or the rationalist  of the recent Dravidian variety or the ancient Carvakas of a kind,      anything that smells nonphysical, anything beyond the reaches of the five  senses; or it can be purely mataphysical where  , I , like a Advaita Vedanti,  would consider the physical and natural world a dream-reality, somehow there  and about  which I cannot speak anything, anirvacana, and somehow there through a mayasakthi, a power that escapes my comprehension.

But I notice that I am BOTH, I am,  as Thirumular said long ago  "Cat-acat  Anma" a thinking being capable of BOTH.  I notice that  I background or foreground alternatively in my understanding  these possiblities to be. When   I push   BWW to the background then , only then, I foreground  BWB. And  I shuttle between these two  unable to be fully  in one of these  but always BWB pulling me unto itself as   if a magnet , the Kaantap Pasaasam of Meykandar. There is strange fascination for BWB within me  and I succumb to it even when  the world calls me crazy.

And now  I look at this  state of Being of myself and the fact that now I have  gained  a more differentiated  understanding of EXISTENCE.  I have been saying that  all these have become realities because of my own disconstructive efforts.   But how  then I disconstruct  in such a way that  I gain an understanding of existence that is true and more differentiated?

I could disconstruct only because  in my vision there is a THAT that I want to be, fuse with the THAT so that it ceases to   dangle in my mental horizon  provinding me a goal, calling unto itself and inviting me to be that.    And with this I notice that right from the beginning   my understanding has been PROJECTIVE  , in the Heidegerian sense,  future  oriented  with the three ektases of  time or   temporality -- the future  and hence the present   and hence the past. There  are  thousands and  thousands of  these  'thats ' and "thises"  that infect my understanding  and configure me  as one restless and always trying to be this or that, accomplish this and that.  Thus my understanding has  been structured  by Tat Twan Asi,  Thou art That. It is a result of such   'thats' in my understanding that I can be disconstructive at all.

Understanding is projective and here I agree with Heidegger  but  I find that I have  to part company with him when he says  that the Da-Sein moves  from itself to itself by itself.  For  if the dynamics of  my growth in understanding were to be this sort, I would understand only the Da-Sein (whatever it is ) and NOT  the presence  of BEING. My understanding MOVES but moves in the direction of  BEING, I am projective only because I am PULLED out  of my closedness , delimitedness , atomicity  etc by BEING. And this  I realise  and formulate it  in terms of the makavaakkiyam "tat twam asi", perhaps in a sense quite different from the  Upanisadic sense but somehow akin to that.

And when  I reflect further  I notice that I   am TEMPORAL when my state of Being is   of the sort "tat twam asi" and this temporality is INTENTIONAL-TEMPORALITY (IT),  the KuRippuk kaalam of Tolkaapiyar  and different from the   PHYSICAL-TEMPORALITY   (PT) of the astronomers.  And furthermore I notice that  I am purely in IT when  I exist as BWB and purely in PT when I exist  in BWW and hence because of  my inherent duality,  cat-acat anma nature of myself  I am both IT and PT , a being   oscillating between these two states of Being.

But because BWW can be discontructed and made to recede to the background but NOT BWB,  I also learn that IT is more fundamental and  that it is only because I am IT that I am PT. I cannot measure out TIME using the regular motions of the planets or the immensely regular photonic  expulsions of the subatomic particles unless I am already in IT. I am in essence INTENTIONAL, my understanding  is configured by Tat Twam  Asi and hence  something founded by  throwing me  into  IT.

 My existence  is founded by being thrown to be in TIME in the forms IT and PT in which  IT in more fundamental and   which  cannot be disconstructed   as  can PT be. There is something peculiar and fundamental about IT and the INTENSIONALITY that underlies it.

But does that mean I cannot disconstruct from IT also? That I cannot free myself from INTENTIONALITY as a fabrique of my understanding?

Now understanding that is  temporal in both  these senses  is acattu, as the Saivas are fond of saying, it is  nonabsolute in the sense that  it can be displaced sublated and backgrounded i.e disconstructed. This means  my fundamental intentional way of BEING  can also be discontructed.

At that point what happens to Tat Twam Asi? Does it still hold?

We shall attend to this next.