You have raised some fundamental questions that many have asked or perhaps intend to ask. In view of that I have decided to write a short series in which I want to describe as simple as possible some ideas that I have already expressed in many of my books perhaps in a language rather abstruse and rather difficult to understand. I shall take up the issues you have raised one by one and I hope other members of the group will also join in with their own observations and comments.
Q1: This comment about the psyche's potential for countless births
and Nirvana -- how do you conclude that??
There are two questions here : one about the substantial and indestructible reality of the psyche and because of which it assumes a countless number of births and deaths. And another about the meaning of Moksa or Nirvana , a notion that is central to all Asian religions. Both are linked of course.
I shall deal with the first question and touch upon the second towards the end.
First it must be noted that the question is metaphysical and within that more specifically that pertaining to Fundamental Ontology(Ta. anaathip potuLiyal). And the notion that the psychical entity is a substantial reality indestructible and everlasting just like BEING itself was first mooted in world history by Thirumular in his celebrated Thirumanthiram dated around the 7th cent. AD., a massive book of three thousand verses that is actively studied to this day. He expressed it in the words: pathiyinaip pool pasu paasam anathi: the pasu, the psyche and pasam the various bondage are just as uncreated and eternal as BEING itself , the Pathi that which is the source of the ways of Being of the universe and everything in it and because of which I call it BEING, all in capital. For several centuries it remained simply a well founded intuition till Meykandar came to the seen about the 13th cent and through capturing metaphysics as belonging to the most fundamental Hermeneutic Science established it as an AXIOMATIC TRUTH, a pramaaNa that has served as the foundational notion of Saiva Siddhanta to this day.
His arguments are available in the third Sutra of SivanjanaBotham that
I have translated and now published and freely available in the Dravidian
Philosophy Campus. Among the several arguments he gives, that which
stands unassailable is the last one where he brings in the Temporality
of Time consciousness, much like recent German philosophers like
Heidegger and Gadamer. But Meykandar goes further and points out
that psychic entity in its Being in the world is temporal and it is so
only because there is a metaphysical IGNORANCE as intrinsic to it its constitution.
Now you may wonder what is this temporality of time consciousness? Now when you reckon time with respect to the movements of the planetary bodies or even the photons emitted by some atoms, the time consciousness is PHYSICAL as it depends upon the physical processes. The time that you reckon with your watch is this kind of time. But now forget all these physical elements and just look at yourself in relation to your own existence, your way of Being in the world. Isn't there always an AWAITING FOR SOMETHING, a phone call from your friend, the cosmetics you have ordered the wedding that you have decide to attend? This awaiting for something that is NOT YET but which will a REALITY sometime in the FUTURE throws you into a TIME consciousness by casting your way of Being as waiting for something. This time conscious is TEMPORALITY or subjective time and it is because of this TEMPORALITY that you can reckon physical TIME itself! Take a deep breath and assimilate this idea first. Forget the world, get into yourself as you are and realize this temporality as a fabric of your mind.
This temporality was called kuRippuk kaalam by Tholkaappiyar more than 2000 years ago .!Now let us push further. Why should you await for this and that and because of which there is this temporality? Certainly there is something standing there as a possibility for yourself to be and that you WANT to be like being in the wedding etc. As long as existence is conditioned by such wanting to be this and that, you cannot escape from temporality of time consciousness. But then why you want to be this and that? If you reflect deeply now, you will realize that there is a metaphysical IGNORANCE and because of which you want this and that IN ORDER TO DESTROY that ignorance. Suppose you have successfully destroyed. Will you await for anything as a future possibility peculiarly your own? Certainly not. And if so will be temporality of Time consciousness? Certainly not. And therefore there will be no physical time consciousness also.
With this we are able to answer the question we started out with: that which exists with temporality of time consciousness cannot be anything non-psychical as it involves consciousness and understanding. It cannot be BEING that you call GOD because there cannot be metaphysical ignorance in BEING. Hence it follows it is the psyche that is temporal and which is so because of the metaphysical ignorance in its understanding.
Now suppose it dies half way, ie. before it destroys the metaphysical ignorance in its bosom. Will it enter Heaven or Hell never to assume earthly existence again to continue the process of destroying the metaphysical ignorance? Will BEING who is LOVE and KINDNESS supreme, pack off the poor psyche to eternal Heaven or Hell while it is still full of IGNORANCE contradicting the very purpose for which existence is granted in the first place?
I believe that it will be granted a continuous series of births where each birth is an opportunity to destroy further the metaphysical ignorance that makes its understanding full of prejudices of various sorts and hence finite. The destruction of the finitude of understanding is that FOR WHICH existence is and as long as it remains unaccomplished, the births and along with it the deaths will continue.
And now we are able to see the connection with this and the notion of Mukti , Moksa or Nirvana. There will come a point at which this metaphysical ignorance is completely , totally and irrevocably overcome. Now precisely at this point , the point of ABSOLUTE ILLUMINATION, there will no temporality and no no awaiting for some possibilities or other. There is fullness, a completedness , a saturation because of which there is NO LOOKING FURTHER AHEAD. This is Moksa Nirvana etc. And at this point since there is NO MORE MEANING for being in the world, being born again into the world is made unnecessary and redundant! The psychic entity continues to BE but without coming into earthly existence.
If you want further details, please read my Metaphysica Universalis which I hope you can understand now.