Man is a cultured being. Bereft of culture he is merely an animal. Modern science had I origins in the dark ages of Christian Europe. The womb of darkness blinded science to the culture of humanity. Thus it lost track of the subject’ in search of ‘the object’. Science tried to reduce subjective reality to merely an objective reality. This led it to an unnatural growth. From the nineteenth century onward. Social and psychological enquiries pointed to the incongruity, but science doubted their scientific validity. But while approaching the twentieth century, physics, the crown of the objective material science, started developing fundamental doubts about pure objectivity. Eventually the observations of the sub-nuclear particles forced modern physics to accept the subjective element in all objective observations. The object goes through a change by merely being observed. This eventually leads to a scientific study of the observer.
Western philosophy, being a child of Christian and Greek philosophy, accepts the soul as the observer and an atomic element. Hence observation of the soul becomes a contradiction in terms. One soul cannot observe the other soul for the soul is supra-sensual hence un-observable. The soul cannot observe itself for it cannot be a subject and an object at the same time. So modern psychology both observes the physical behaviour (Behaviouristic school of psychology) of the individual and tries to deduce from un- induced axioms the nature of the particular soul. Or, it observes the verbal testimony in a special environment, which may be hypnotic or free association, etc. It may even attempt at self-analysis from un- induced axiomatic formulations. Hence in Spite of all attempts of psychologists, the orthodox scientists are not convinced of its objective verification. Vedanta has a message for this paradox. The soul as understood by Eastern philosophy is not atomic but molecular. Mind and consciousness associated in a complex formation is the soul Just as a molecule of water consist of hydrogen and oxygen, yet it is something extra, similarly consciousness and mind are the atoms from which the soul is made, yet it is something extra. Hence the mind can be observed by the consciousness in an objective way. This ‘extra’in Vedantic terminology is ‘nescience.’ This objective observation leads to introduction which eventually forms the basis of scientific deduction.
Since it is subtle, If not the subtlest of the sciences of the material world, for Vedanta asserts that the mind is an much a material object as the food which is its material cause, the mind necessarily must be observed in its purest form, mental culture must precede the observation. Just as to observe iron, we have to purify it if we want to know its real property. Similarly we must purify the mind. Vedanta gives an elaborate scheme of mental purification or culture. The Maitrayani Upanishad, being one of the oldest of Upanisads of Yajurveda, was taken up to deal with the mental culture in its earliest phases. Patanjali naturally has developed on this fundamental approach. But the intervening period saw the rise of Kapila’s Samkhaya system, which developed the notion of an independent unconscious developing into the phenomenal universe. Kapila claimed his system to be a rational one, least dependent on the Veda as the final authority. Patanjali accepted this independent unconscious with few changes. Thus the mind is treated in Patanjali’s yoga as an independent category, in contrast to the Vedantic position of the mind being merely an objectified consciousness due to ignorance of the real nature of consciousness. Consciousness due to the mind becomes dual as subject and object. The mind being essentially material in Vedanta is really an object. becoming subject due to its identifications with consciousness while the ignorance of the real nature of consciousness lasts. Once the mind is observed really as it is, the ignorance is destroyed once for all. This is attained by the Vedic knowledge of the Supreme Being. In this serious of lectures we have deal with the technique of mind purification.
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