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Philosophy in Asia

Enlightenment and its Attainment: Samkhya-Yoga and Buddhist Perspectives

Deepti Dutta
Miranda House, New Dehli, India

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ABSTRACT: Enlightenment is the value par excellence in all Indian philosophical systems except Carvaka. This paper attempts to elucidate some moral and esoteric aspects of enlightenment in the context of Samkhya-Yoga and Buddhism. Analysis of moral aspects of Samkhya-Yoga and Buddhist concepts necessarily refers to various steps and stages of Enlightenment and their affinity. That Yama (the first step of eightfold Yoga of Patanjali comprising Truth, Non-Violence, etc.) is accepted by Jainas, Buddhists and Vedantins irrespective of their creed, is universally agreed upon. Here an analysis is given as to the details of the cultivation of these virtues and the meeting point of the Samkhya-Yogi and the Buddhist Sadhaka. Consideration of ontological and spiritual aspects of Enlightenment also reveals some interesting analogies. In treading the path of Vipassana meditation (of the truth), the Buddhist develops Nirveda (non-attachment) and the Yogi, by unfaltering habitual concentration on the true nature of the matter and spirit, attains supreme detachment (Parama Vasikara) and contrives an effective tool to develop insight at the experiential level.

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Enlightenment in Western Philosophy technically stands for the cultural-intellectual process that emerged in Europe in the 18th Century and was widely and eagerly accepted as the scientific critical spirit. The band of thinkers in showing their concern in almost all areas of human interest successfully challenged the dominance of the medieval ways of thought. They did not express merely a negative contempt of authority and tradition but initiated a new method of Philosophical investigation. Immediate objective was to obtain certain and demonstrable knowledge. Logic and experiment or rationalism-empiricism were the model methods. Indirect result was to deliver man from entertaining uncritical beliefs leading to the living of an unexamined life.

Moksa is the right word for 'Enlightenment' in the Indian tradition. Moksa comes from the root 'muk' meaning ' to free' 'to release'. Moksa is the complete freedom from suffering . . . the recurrent cycle of birth and death. Bondage is due to ignorance (beginnigless Avidya) about the true nature of reality, specifically the nature and being of man. Just as light dispels darkness, true knowledge or 'Vidya' redeems from ignorance and cosequent suffering. 'Vidyā' is that which liberates (Yā Vidyā Sā Vimuktaye). This redeeming knowledge (Vidyā) is the higher knowledge or 'Parāvidyā' (Mundaka 1. I. 5) and all other knowledge, even the studies of the Vedas, is the lower knowledge or ' Aparāvidyā' .

European enlightenment came as a revolt against authority and tradition. Enlightenment is deeply rooted in Indian culture and tradition. The difference lies in their understanding and approach to knowledge. The most important component of the European spirit of Enlightenment is 'reason' . This is conspicuous even in classificatory definitive experimental sciences. But reason witnessed its own limits and weakness as it failed to deliver the goods. In the process of raising up humanity it ran away from humanity and its concerns. The concept of freedom, though theoretically defended, started yielding the pride of the place to the concept of rational order. Freedom is being considered almost exclusively in its social dimensions to the utter neglect of inner or individual aspect of freedom. European enlightenment has sought to derive secular-liberal values, which seem to have been shattered in historical experience.

Indian spiritual Enlightenment is the unique realization of the 'Self' as the indwelling essence of everything. This 'liberating knowledge' radically transforms the man freeing him once and for all from delusion, fear, aversion and attachment. On the positive side the 'enlightened one' is the living emblem of universal love and selflessness. Attainment of this ' wisdom' is the fulfillment of all desires, which the liberated man has accomplished by complete desirelessness, 'Realization of the Self that is within all' (Brihadaranyak.III.IV.I) is the basis of this knowledge of Reality that permeates all existence. Thus the enlightened man overcomes all forms of alienation.... alienation from the world, from other men and from oneself. Enlightenment in India is not just attaining perfect knowledge by subtle dialectic powers, but it is a way of life. The enlightened man naturally and effortlessly translates his wisdom into a model way of living . . . a life of peace, freedom and universal outlook.

It would be wrong to surmise that ' Enlightenment' viewed in two contexts are totally incongruent. Descartes, the father of modern Western philosophy, mentions some moral maxims for his Rational method. One or two may be mentioned:

To be as firm and resolute in my actions as I could . . . . To try always to conquer myself rather than fortune, and to change my desires rather than the order of the world . . . . (Discourse 3-Descartes).

Man cannot reap the fruits of Enlightenment unless the seeker develops some serenity and dispassion and resolution to live upto his ideal i. e. his search and attainment of the Truth. With this observation we pass on to the distinctive ideas of Samkhya-Yoga and Buddhist Enlightenment.

In Samkhyā-Yogā, enlightenment is described as Discriminative Knowledge (Viveka-khyāti). Ignorance is failure to differentiate the self from the not-self (Aviveka). Positively it is the realization of self (Purusa) as Absolute Awareness (Jnasvarupa) as distinct from the intellect, ego, mind and other Prakritik modifications. Liberation in Sāmākhya-Yogā is neither the acquisition of a new state, nor the shaking of an old one. It is only the disappearance of the conditioning factors i. e. the absence of contiguity with experientiable. Prakritic reality thereby Purusa, that is pure Awareness is no longer reflected in the Prakritic mirror and ceases to be identified with the objective realities. This is designated as ' aloneness' or Kaivalya because Purusa enjoys unique aloofness in its splendid Isolation. Actually there is no deviation from this state of absolute Awareness either in emergence or in liberation (Vyasa Bhasya II/15, Tattva Vaisāradi 1/3). Lack of space does not permit us to discuss how bondage and liberation are actually states of Prakriti and not of Purusa (Sāmkhya Kārikā. 63).

Liberating knowledge of Buddhism also is the realization of the true nature of reality . . . more specifically nature of being, non-being and becoming. The goal of life is to rise above or stand apart of the ceaseless motion of life. This is the state of quiescence, attainment of highest bliss, known as Nirv āna. The enlightened one attains the insight and knowledge of the real. This wisdom of Prajnā or (Pannā) has been variously described in Buddhist literature. Buddha' s followers differ on the question of what this real is and the nature of Nirvana. There is general agreement that Nirvāna is absolute extinction of suffering and attainment of unique intuitive wisdom (Pannā). There are three kinds of Prajnā or Pannā. Of the three kinds of Pannā, Suttamayi Pannā (knowledge gained from listening to others), Chintāmayi Pannā (knowledge being pondered over) and Bhāvanāmayi Pannā (knowledge gained by direct realization), the Buddha plumps for the last. The first two are useful to the extent they inspire one to experience the truth directly, they are no substitute for the third i. e. attainment of truth at the experiential level.

It is interesting to note some basic points of agreement towards which both Samkhya-Yoga and Buddhism were drawn. Their approach is positive and pragmatic. In Anguttara-Nikaya Buddha says, " believe nothing because the belief is generally held, believe nothing because it is written in ancient, so called books . . . . But believe only that what you yourself judge to be true through your reason and experience"

Samkhya-Yoga and Lokayata are described as ' Anvikshiki Vidya' (reasoned discourse) by Kautilya. Yajnavalka describes Samkhya as Anvikshiki to Janaka.

This positivistic attitude is reflected in their rejection of sacrificial ritualism, priests, God, etc. Buddha' s antipathy towards sacrifice and violence is well known. But Samkhya being in the fold of orthodox systems also renounces the ritualistic way unable to solve the problem of suffering. In Samkhya Sutra (1/2 & 1/3) and Samkhya Karika (2) scriptural means i. e. sacrificial rituals are said to be like the ordinary perceptible means; hence ultimately ineffective in bringing that abiding and final release from suffering. Samkhya goes to the extent describing one form of bondage, "Bondage by sacrificial gifts." (S. K. 44)

As we find in Comte, Positivism culminates in Humanism, so in Samkhya and Buddhism. Both are humanistic. The goal is achievable by everyone by his own effort; one need not look for any divine grace for attaining moksa. Every liberated man attains to the self-effulgent nature of the isolated Purusa (Kevalin) or Buddhahood by following the prescribed method. A man must depend entirely on himself, as the canonical text says: 'you yourselves must make the effort, the Buddhas do but point the way'.

Both for Samkhya-Yoga and Buddhism enlightenment is the central theme. Mahabharata declares Samkhya as a doctrine of liberation (Moksadarsanam) or Samkhya-Yoga as twofold path to liberation. Buddha has said that as salt is the only flavor (rasa) of sea, the only flavour of his true religion (Saddharma) is deliverance or Nirvana.

The basic motive of Buddha's teaching is redemption from suffering. Iswarakrishna also declares the purpose of metaphysical speculation as removal of threefold suffering (S.K. 1). The threefold pain is the motive force and end of philosophy. Four Aryasatyas on which the Buddha bases his philosophy fully accord with the four fundamental principles of Samkhya-Yoga . . . Heya, Heyasadhana, Hana and Hanasadhana.

We may take up the word ' sadhana' to bring home our second point i. e. the moral aids to enlightenment. In enunciating the moral auxiliaries, both Samkhya-Yoga and Buddhism finally made them a matter of ' Sadhana' or meditative accomplishment. Five restraints or ' Yama' comprising the first accessory to Yoga and five vows of Buddhism known as 'Sila' are well known moral auxiliaries. They consist in abstention: 1) from harming others (Ahimsa); 2) from falsehood (Satya); 3) from theft (Asteya); 4) From incontinence (Brahmacharya); and 5) From greed (Aparigraha). Primarily they look as prohibitions or restrictions, actually they consist of a tough course of long drawn practice. Ahimsa is the abstinence from injuring any being at any time and any manner. Positively it means that we must cultivate goodwill and friendliness towards all giving up selfishness in respect of all external matters. 'To use harsh words or speaking ill of others, deprivation or covetousness born of greed . . . . All are forms of injury'. Hence practice of Ahimsa or universal amity is the mainstay of other virtues. These are basic rules of conduct or great vows (Mahabrata) to be practised universally without any reservation of time, place, purpose or caste rules.

Attainment of some moral powers (Balas) is essential for enlightenment. They are Sraddha (faith), Viriya or Virya (energy) and Sati or Smriti (vigilance).They culminate in samadhi (contemplation) and Prajna (intuitive wisdom) (Anguttara Nikaya 363, Yoga Sutra of Patanjali. 1/20). With unwavering faith and uninterrupted energy the seeker gets firmly established in the moral precepts by intense self-absorption and meditation. We will take up the case of Ahimsa in Samkhya-Yoga and Smriti-Sampajanna in Buddhism to illustrate the point.

In order to secure oneself on the foundation of Sila, practising meditation (Samadhi) and developing wisdom and understanding (Prajna) is essential, Buddha says. Patanjali points out: meditation lessens afflictions and evil thoughts (Y.S. 2/11). The keynote of this moral attainment is unselfishness. Ahimsa as non-injury need to be developed into a positive sentiments of friendliness (Maitri) towards the happy, compassion (Karuna) towards those who are in distress, joyfulness (Mudita) at seeing others virtuous and indifference (Upeksa) towards the non-virtuous. By willing culture of these virtues the mind is purged of dirt of envy, jealousy, impatience and anger and is at peace with the world. Virtue derives its sanction in yoga from its tendency to weaken that narrow sense of individuality. Yoga technique of attaining freedom from shackles of nature and natural impulses is; ' by concentration on Nature' s objects they are subdued and seen through. In the process, Nature could be dominated by sage before being annulled'. They come in the form of powers and perfections. The concentration resulting from contemplation is called Samyama. Samyama of the feelings of Maitri etc. begets unfailing power (Y.S. 3/23). When abstention from harming others i.e. ahimsa is accomplished, there will be abandonment of animosity in his presence (Y.S. 2/36). As the yogi entirely renounces violence any enmity must cease to exist, because they find no reciprocation. Similar account is given about establishment in other virtues (Satya, Asteya etc. ) by Patanjali.

We may now turn to the grand vision of the great teacher Buddha who gave us meticulous details of meditative accomplishment of virtues. Practice of Samprajanna or mindfulness (Smrtyupasthana) is the most significant contribution of Buddhism for effective realization of ethico-religious goal of life. Mahasatipatthana sutta laying the action plan of Buddha's philosophy prescribes 'mindfulness' as an essential component. It consists in keeping watch over one's own external and internal conduct. To explore the truth about ourselves we must examine what we are body and mind and observe these directly within ourselves. It is looking within and seeing reality with zeal, awareness and mindfulness, i.e., one has to be atapi (ardent) Sampajano (aware) and Satima (mindful).

By developing mindfulness we can control our mind. By being constantly aware we may keep the sense doors well guarded so that sensations may not arise unobserved. By constant vigilance we may keep out craving, aversion and delusion to attain non-infatuation, etc. It is most expressively described as 'Cittaraksa' , i.e., protection of one' s mind against self-forgetfulness. The aim of the practice of mindfulness is as much to drive out the evil thoughts as the cultivation of beneficial and desirable thoughts. Dhammapada (1& 2) ays all actions good or bad stem from our mind. Hence we can make achievements in all spheres if our mind is tamed and made more mindful. Buddha asserts that when one practices fourfold Satipathana meditation for seven years and thereby mindfulness is established, he becomes an arihant. Sruti also says that, one whose memory is established is always pure (Katha Up. I. iii. 8).

Consideration of Samkhya-Yoga and Buddhist enlightenment as spiritual realization directly takes us to its nature as a vision of Truth or reality. Both in Samkhya-Yoga and Buddhism, enlightenment comes from ascertainment and realization of the true nature of Existence.

Yoga practices and various exercises of mind-discipline are actually explained against the background of metaphysical categories (Samkhya Tattvas). Samkhya enumeration of the 25 principles of existence is done with a view to clarify and establish the emancipating knowledge or 'Vivekakhyati' . Knowledge of the Tattvas is essential for 'Kaivalya' and the cognitive pattern follows a strict ethical, mental and spiritual discipline. For the perfection of contemplation and absorption the adept is advised to concentrate on the ascending stages of reality . . . . from lower to higher accomplishment of different stages of Samadhi (Y.S. 3/6). ' The first stage of Samprajnata yoga is Grahya-Samapatti ) engrossment in objects of knowledge), the second is Grahana samapatti (engrossment in organs of reception), and the third is Grahitri Samapatti (engrossment in the receiver). The highest stage ' Viveka-Khyati' can only be reached after attaining perfection in the previous stages one after another. The Yogasutra lay down a progressive scheme of fixation of attention from the smallest to the greatest, from outward to inward, from gross to subtle. By perfecting concentration, the adept transcends the various stages of matter (Prakritik evolutes). It is necessary to transcend the stage altogether and to realize the essential non-spiritual character of the world of matter. By thorough practice of SAMKHYA categories (Tattvabhyasa) through yogic contemplation, finally attention is fixed in the 'Mahat' or the greatest. In this context the greatest refer to 'Mahat' in two senses . . . the internal and the external. The internal is the endless universal ' asmita' and the external is the cosmos. Among the evolutes of Prakriti ' Mahat' is the first and the most expansive. Among the objects of Samprajnata samadhi, asmita, whose substratum is ' Mahat' is the highest. To remove the affliction of ' Asmita', contemplation of 'Asmita' is essential to realize the nature of ego and its functions. The concentration on the ' I' principle conveys that the 'Knower' is only the Prakritic agent and the ' Buddhi' or function- of-consciousness is illuminated by the spiritual ' Awareness-Self' . Hence concentration on the knower is the most refined, and must be constantly practised, since it opens up on the very source of consciousness. With this one attains complete mastery over mind (Y. S. 1.40). This is also brought out by Iswarakrisna as he says: "Through the cultivation of the principles, the final, pure (because free from doubt) and one single 'salvation knowledge' arises that neither does agency belong to me, nor is attachment mine, nor am I" (S.K. 64). In all kinds of afflictions ' Indiscriminating consciousness' (Aviveka) is the all pervading factor. The root cause is the failure to dissociate the factor of ' awareness' and egotism' (Ahamkara) from all other components of experience. ' Vivekakhyati' (Discriminative consciousness ) is not a direct perception dependent on an external object but it is the cumulative effect of often-repeated and perfected concentrations. Buddha also teaches: " Pull out delusion by root by thinking no more in terms of I."

Starting with the reflective analysis of experience Samkhya shows that our experience is resolved in some noumenal antecedents. But these noumenal antecedents are themselves objects of ' metaphysical intuition' . Evolutionary cycles of Prakriti synchronizes with the experience of enjoyment-suffering and ' release' of Purusas.

Though Buddhism gives an intricate analysis of the Four Noble Truths and the doctrine of Dependent Origination, Buddha shuns entirely the tendency to turn abstractions into substances. The paradigm of reality is the change or impermanence inherently connected with suffering and selflessness (nairatmya). The threefold nature of reality (Tilakkana) is realized only by direct experience. Belief born of intellectual pursuit melts away and evaporates. One develops thorough understanding of impermanence by concentrating on body sensations etc. as the meditator tangibly realizes continuous arising and passing away of all experience and existence. Here we may significantly refer to ' Vipassana' meditation, which seem to be the Buddha' s distinctive contribution to the contemplative culture of India. The essence of the method is to see things as they are, specially the contents that keep bobbing up to the surface of consciousness without interpretation or any kind of interference. To extinguish suffering and dejection, to acquire the right mode of life and to realize Nibbana, Buddha exhorts the four applications of ' mindfulness'. The four applications are: 1) To observe the body qua body (kaye kayanupassi); 2) To observe sensations qua sensations (vedanasu vedananupassi); 3) To observe thoughts as thoughts (citte cittanupassi); and 4) To observe mental objects as mental objects (dhammesu dhammanupassi). The first two applications of mindfulness aim at alienating the psychophysical complex and turning oneself into a detached observer. In the third, i.e., reflection about the contents of consciousness can be combined with direct awareness of them. The fourth consist in sustained awareness and reflection on dhamma. When one continually engages in observing objects in the context of Dhamma, doctrinal truths become directly evident and disinterestedness set in, consummation is reached.

Thus contemplation goes a long way to develop non-attachment (nirveda). On reaching the truth, i.e., transitoriness of all things at the experiential level one is cured of delusion. Clinging to and craving for objects are gone: suffering and substancelessness is directly seen. As Buddha says: "one who is concentrated knows and sees correctly." There are various stages of concentration and meditation. First stage of meditation is born of seclusion and is accompanied by deliberation, delight and happiness. The second stage leads to inner serenity and one-pointedness unaccompanied by deliberation. Then one enters the third stage being indifferent to joy and suffering and attains a sense of well being and equanimity. One enters the fourth stage of meditation where there is no well being or suffering and there is utter purity of dispassion and mindfulness. The whole mechanism of, mind being gone through and its working seen, the key is at last found to purify one' s entire nature both within and without. Absolute dispassion born of concentration is the keynote to Enlightenment in both SamkhyaYoga and Buddhism.

Samkhya-Yoga and Buddhist ideals of ' Kaivalya' and 'Nirvana' though transcendental in nature, the prescribed path has immense relevance for Paideia. Both stress on performance of universal moral duties in the form of Truth, Non-violence, forbearance, right effort etc. as essential for highest spiritual attainment. Proper practice of these ideals leads to the height of selflessness, restraint and tranquility. For an integral social living, the necessity of setting a limit to one's desires and ambitions is recognized by any sober person. Buddhism effectively inculcates the pragmatic value of this self-discipline and conquering animosity by goodwill. Progress in Yoga depends upon goodness in personal character and social relations. But there is no scope of educating others by mere precepts and maxims. Ethico-Spiritual fruition is earned by one's own effort. Preceptors being a living epitome of the ideal may motivate and inspire people around him. A general clime of virtuosity and well being is ensured by increased good deeds. Even Mahayana Buddhism, setting the goal as redemption of suffering for everyone declares; one cannot work out one' s salvation without oneself trying for it. Even Tathagatas cannot stand for others.

In both systems ' Ahimsa' is given the foremost place amongst all the virtues. It derives sanction from the tendency to weaken the narrow sense of individuality, which disguises the real nature of the soul. Teaching of ahimsa, i.e., non-violence in deed, words and thought bears particular importance in the present-day world of tension and Nuclear warfare.

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