Thursday, 31 March 2011

Concept of VijJAnavAda (The Theory of Immaterialism) in Buddha’s Time


Almost every religion thought or philosophies considered and investigated for the fundamental cause of existence. In the India context, at the time of the Buddha such thinkers could be classified into two main groups according to this ideology.
1.  BhautikavAdI – materialists
2.  VijJAnavAdI – immaterialists

Those thinkers in the first group held the idea that the basic and fundament cause of existence is matter (rUpa) – i.e. paThavi, Apo, tejo and vAyo mainly.
The second group considers something immaterial as the fundamental cause, namely mind, brahmA or Iśvara. The common characteristic in the immaterialist theory is that they consider matter is secondary and something immaterial is primary, while the first group considered matter is primary and all other things are by product of matter. ViJJAnavAda maintains their theory in stand-points namely:
1.   Subjective idealist – imaginary
2.   Objective idealist – real

1.         Subjective idealist immaterialism means believing in concept like creator God, which one can not immediately perceive in explaining in the fundamental cause of existence. The religions that maintain creation theory with reference to the God comes under this category. They hold the view that the being, the world and universe are created some immaterial force like God which independent and powerful.

2.         Objective idealist immaterialism means believing that there is no an external world apart from personal experience. In another word according to them the external world is mind-made.
Buddhism belongs to none of them. Because Buddhism believes no a certain theories and it accept the existence of external world, other then human mind. Other religion I the time of the Buddha fell into one of these categories for they maintained one these theories. Vedic religious tradition (Brahmanism, Hinduism) accepted a created God called PajApati or BrahmA. In the †itthAyatanasutta of AN, the Buddha criticized this theory as IssaranimmANavadA. When it was UpaniSad period, this entity was transformed to person shape concept as IZvara or GagadviJJana. This was also called Ātman, Brahman or ParamAtma. This also included in immaterialist category. When the Brahman is JagadAtama soul was called PuggalAtma. The aim of UpaniSadic thought was to unify these two souls. This is in real these two souls. This is called ådvaitavAda. What it means is in real, these two souls are not two but one. This ĀtmavAda later developed to be a spiritual idealism (AdyAtmika vijJAnavAda).

Ancient Indian thinkers divided the consciousness into these levels:
      1. PravRtti (jAgara) vijJAna   - awakened consciousness
      2. ßvapnavijJAna   - slept or dream consciousness
      3. ßusuptavijJAna   - deep slept consciousness

When the human beings are in dreams, they won’t feel that is a dream. When human beings recollect past experiences they feel as a dream too. Depending on these examples those thinkers who upheld spiritual idealism said that our real experience also is a dream. In other words, we are in a dream now. Therefore, they recommend Yoga meditation with which human beings can discover the truth of ßusuptavijJAna. According to them, only in jhanic absorbsions one can see the truth of vijJAna. That is the reality. The experience by normal sense faculties are in only a dream. Through the development of mind, the ultimate reality can be perceived. This is called idealism.

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