Neti! neti!

From the time of the Upanishads, India rejects the world as it is and devalues life as it reveals itself to the eyes of the sage: ephemeral, painful, illusory. A concept such as this leads neither to nihilism nor pessimism. This world is rejected, this life depreciated, because it is known that something else exists, beyond becoming, beyond temporality, beyond suffering. Neti! neti! cries the sage of the Upanishads: “No! no! Thou art not this, nor art thou that!”. In other words, you do not belong to the fallen cosmos, as you see it now, you are not necessarily engulfed in this creation.

Human suffering has its roots in an illusion: the man thinks, in fact, that his psycho-mental life — the activity of their senses, feelings, thoughts and volition — is identical to the spirit, the ego. It confuses two realities so opposite and wholly autonomous, among which there is no real connection, but only illusory relationships, since the psycho-mental experience belongs not to the spirit, but to the nature. The misery of human life is not due to divine punishment, or an original sin, but ignorance. Not any ignorance, but only ignorance of the true nature of mind, ignorance that makes us confuse the spirit with the psycho-mental experience.

“Freedom” of suffering that is the goal of all philosophies and of all Indian mysticism. Whether this deliverance is obtained directly through “knowledge” (according to the teachings of Vedanta and Samkhya, for example) or by means of techniques (as Yoga and the majority of Buddhist schools hold), the fact remains that no value unless it pursues the “salvation” of man. “Through knowledge” means practicing the withdrawal, which will have the effect of him recover their own midst. so that they coincide with his “true spirit” (purusha, atman). Knowledge is transformed into meditation and metaphysics becomes redemptive.

No philosophy, no Indian gnosis falls into despair. The disclosure of “pain” as the law of existence there may, on the contrary, be regarded as the conditio sine qua non of the liberation: this universal suffering is therefore intrinsically. a positive value, stimulating. It constantly reminds the wise and the ascetic that but one way remains for him to attain to freedom and bliss – withdrawal from the world, detachment from possessions and ambitions, radical isolation.

Mircea Eliade – Yoga: Immortality and Freedom

Psychotherapeutic Counseling

This wish to satisfy someone greater than the Self, to be found acceptable, to belong at last, is a struggle familiar to many psychotherapy patients. In their lives they waste themselves on wondering how they are doing, on trying to figure out the expectations of others so that they can become someone in the eyes of others. They try to be practical, to be reasonable, to figure it all out in their heads. It is as though if only they could get the words straight in their heads, if only they could find the correct formula, then everything else in their lives would be magically straightened out. They are sure there is a right way to do things, though they have not yet found it. Someone in authority must know… Patients do not understand that ideas are merely a desperate, intellectual attempt to stop the variable flow of life.

Sheldon B. Kopp – If You Meet the Buddha on the Road, Kill Him!

Brothers

Sages who searched with their heart’s thought discovered the existent’s kinship in the non-existent. Who verily knows and who can here declare it, whence it was born and whence comes this creation? The Gods are later than this world’s production. Who knows then whence it first came into being? He, the first origin of this creation, whether he formed it all or did not form it, whose eye controls this world in highest heaven, he verily knows it, or perhaps he knows not?

Rig Veda, Hymn CXXIX

Dubito ergo sum

We indeed recognize in ourselves the image of God, that is, of the supreme Trinity. For we 1. both are, and 2. know that we are, and 3. delight in our being, and our knowledge of it. Moreover, in these three things no true-seeming illusion disturbs us.

Without any delusive representation of images or phantasms, I am most certain that I am, and that I know and delight in this. In respect of these truths, I am not at all afraid of the arguments of the Academicians, who say, What if you are deceived? For if I am deceived, I am. For he who is not, cannot be deceived; and if I am deceived, by this same token I am. And since I am if I am deceived, how am I deceived in believing that I am? For it is certain that I am if I am deceived. Since, therefore, I, the person deceived, should be, even if I were deceived, certainly I am not deceived in this knowledge that I am. And, consequently, neither am I deceived in knowing that I know. For, as I know that I am, so I know this also, that I know.

St. Augustine – Of the Image of the Supreme Trinity in Human Nature. The City of God XI, 26

Nothing


For no age is too early or too late for the health of the soul. And to say that the season for studying philosophy has not yet come, or that it is past and gone, is like saying that the season for happiness is not yet or that it is now no more. So we must exercise ourselves in the things which bring happiness, since, if that be present, we have everything.

First believe that God is a living being immortal and blessed, according to the notion of a god indicated by the common sense of mankind. For there are gods, and the knowledge of them is manifest; but they are not such as the multitude believe. Not the man who denies the gods worshipped by the multitude, but he who affirms of the gods what the multitude believes about them is truly impious. For the utterances of the multitude about the gods are not true preconceptions but false assumptions; hence it is that the greatest evils happen to the wicked and the greatest blessings happen to the good from the hand of the gods, seeing that they are always favorable to their own good qualities and take pleasure in men like themselves.

Accustom yourself to believing that death is nothing to us, for good and evil imply the capacity for sensation, and death is deprivation of all sentience; therefore a correct understanding that death is nothing to us makes the mortality of life enjoyable, by taking away the yearning after immortality.

Epicurus – Letter to Menoeceus