- Early references
- The conditions to mastery
Many question the relevance of philosophy in current times. Every other subject or field of study is given due importance- physics, chemistry, mathematics, astronomy, geology, psychology, you name it! then why has philosophy dropped to simply graduate academics which very few people choose that too while being concerned about its scope and relevance in career and life. It is a matter of fact that all fields, if not all then majority have evolved from philosophy. The theories that have been expanded were once mere philosophical thought. For instance, the Archimedes principle.
This is where we need a change in perspective and practice.
Philosophy, from Greek translates to love of wisdom. it involves rational, abstract and methodical consideration of reality as a whole, viewing it from multiple dimensions. Curiosity, rationality and abstractive are salient characteristics of philosophical thought. Philosophy, in primeval civilizations was considered to be art of living and not a subject of arts. Choosing a school, in that time, meant adopting their view of life and abiding by their ideals and practices. The school designed its students like an artist would design his piece of art. The schools of thought facilitated transformation of being and search for the eternal truth that would set human free from bondages and discover the intangible with its gifted intellect. Abilities were developed and put to test in these schools. The students were deeply engrossed in enquiry of reality both natural and abstract and its exportation to practice.
Early references suggest that philosophy then was more intuitional, though it indicates a thought system acquired by intuitive experience and sustained by logical argument. Just like the Greeks term philos as love for wisdom; Indians call philosophy as Darshana and the field as darshan shastra. The word darshan in itself is vague but philosophically it means putting intuition to proof and propagating logically. A darshan is a spiritual perception, a whole view revealed to the soul sense. This soul sight, which is possible only when and where philosophy is lived, is distinguishing mark of a true philosopher. Only purity of soul can make a triumphant philosophy and an awakened philosopher. This purity is based on profound acceptance of experience, realized only when some point of hidden strength within man, from which he can not only inspect but comprehend life, is found. Philosophies arise from experiences of senses and soul and involves adroit introspection.
Philosophy seeks truth and the one in practice is a philosopher. The seeker after truth must satisfy certain essential conditions before he sets out on his quest. Samkara, in his commentary on first sutra of the Vedanta Sutras, makes out the four conditions essential for any student of philosophy.
Sri Samkara was a marvelous genius. He was a master of logic. Samkara’s philosophical conquests are unique in the world. He expounded the doctrine of Advaita Vedanta.
The first condition is knowledge of the distinction between the eternal and the non-eternal.This means having a metaphysical bent that will not accept all it sees to be absolutely real and justified. There must be a questioning tendency in the inquirer and the spirit to probe all things, a burning imagination which could extract truth from mass of apparently disconnected data. The student must have a habit of meditation which allows him remain focussed.
The second condition is the subjugation of the desire for the fruits of action either in present life or a future one. It demands renunciation of all petty desires, personal motive and practical interests. The philosopher is a naturalist who should follow the movement of things without exaggerating the good and belittling the evil based on his prejudices. So, it is said that he must have no love of present or the future. Clear thinking and honest judgement must be developed.
To achieve a modest temper, he must suffer a change in heart, where a student is meant to acquire tranquillity, self-restraint, renunciation, patience, peace of mind and faith. This counts the third condition which asserts that only a trained mind which utterly controls the body can inquire and meditate endlessly till the end of life, never losing sight of the object and not for a moment letting it obscured by any terrestrial temptation. Such a courage to lose all for his highest end has to be developed. Physical and mental difficulties are to occur and in the midst of all suffering, he must build discipline. A spiritual discipline which includes pitiless self-examination will enable the seeker to reach his end of freedom.
The fourth condition is the desire for moksha or release. The one who has renounced all his material desires and is metaphysically minded has only one devouring desire to achieve the end or reach the eternal.
Men have become so sceptical to trust their own decisions and judgements of life that they take refuge in scriptures, authority and tradition. Little do we create our own for ourselves and mankind. The early geniuses – the philosophers, comprehended experiences on behalf of mankind, so the latter are eternally grateful to them. So, Question yourself and introspect how am I a philosopher? beacuse –
“The unexamined life is not worth living”– Socrates
- Indian Philosophy by S. Radhakrishnan