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  • Writer's pictureChaitanya Prabhu

Existence, Knowledge, Infinite

As a practitioner of Tantra, I was fascinated by the sentence: “Existence, Knowledge, Infinite is Brahman.” I came across that sentence in a book entitled Brahma Sutra (an analytical anthology of all the Shlokas of Vedic and Hindu religions). And it captured my imagination, because the author stated that universal truths permeate the mindscape of ‘Intelligence’ waiting to be discovered by any serious and interested seeker. In essence, the statement meant that no one person has discovered these truths and that they don’t lie in the ownership of any one authority.

How beautifully that fits into the philosophy of Tantra: The serious seeker of knowledge can discern these truths spontaneously! Fired by that encouragement, I decided to mediate on that sentence to discover its meaning for myself. Given my scientific bent of mind and my meditations in tantra, I wondered what each word meant in isolation and how each idea connected to the other to give rise to such an amazing sentence.

Existence I dealt with this word literally in its most obvious manifestation: I need to exist physically to be able to ponder on it. (Remember the definition of Tantra? So my body must exist!) Also, on the psychical level, my “I” has to exist to be able to explore the notion of existence. Nothingness too has some relevance here but I shall delve into that when I connect these different words meaningfully. In summary, the sentence does not exist if my body is non-existent and if my “I” doesn’t exist!

Knowledge I need to have sufficient knowledge to even consider embarking on such an endeavor. Leaving aside any kind of anthropomorphism, let’s say that all vertebrates are so equipped. (I have no qualms about accepting that even some non-vertebrates are capable of doing so in their own way.) However, in the case of simple creatures (amoeba is one such example), though they exist, they cannot contemplate an utterly infinite ‘Infinity.’ It’s not enough to merely exist; one must also be equipped with contemplative abilities.

Infinite As per my understanding, Tantra does not regard infinite as ‘infinity’ – the mindless, physical expanse of the universe. ‘Infinite’ is the adjective form of Infinity. It describes the endlessness and vastness of space. And it is also symbolic of never-ending time! (In future essays, I shall introduce the concept Tantric Time to better explain this endless space-time continuum.) Therefore, infinite is the sensation of an ever expanding, untiring and timeless expanse of the vast, vast, vast space-time continuum. Brahman I interpret this as a play on the words Brahmin and Brahmand. Without alluding to the Hindu caste system, a Brahmin is one who is wise and knowledgeable. The word Brahmand is simply the Sanskrit word for the infinite universe. While the first three words are building blocks, the meaning of the sentence climaxes in this last word Brahman. How does this happen? I exist, and my “I” can see the endlessness of the universe. I need the universe for my physical survival and to entertain me with its endless mysteries (besides the hope of meeting superior alien beings). In return, my consciousness — especially a tantric one — gives the universe its attributes: endless; timeless; having multiple-dimensions and time-warps; creating wondrous patterns and strange loops; providing sustenance to other life-forms and intelligences; and being the most important requirement for the simplest or strangest fabrications of the mind. The universe not only ‘needs’ me to acknowledge its existence but also to create it. I have the power with my nothingness to destroy the universe. Nothingness (Zero) is my tool to negate the existence of Infinity. Nothingness is not a vacuum occupying some space in this vast Space – it is Nothing!

Infinity is a paradox seemingly bound by 8 alphabets or by the sum of our knowledge. Yet, it is endless because we are aware of our ignorance. Similarly, nothingness too is a paradox rendered meaningless by our attempts to define it by 4 alphabets ‘Zero’ – or even less – by the symbol ‘0’! Zero survives in the mind which occupies space in the universe. Yet the same zero destroys the universe by its nothingness. Plainly put, when my tantric consciousness ends (I die), I descend into nothingness but not before taking the entire universe with me.

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