Martin Heidegger's Philosophy, A perspective
by Dr. Parviz Dehghani
In the middle of the Second World War a German thinker showed up on the philosophical theater of Germany who tried to revive the forgotten truth and the reality of being.
His goal was to become a Jesuit priest to become a member of the Society of Jesus, which was a Roman Catholic, a religious order for men (Webster’s New World Dictionary)
This religious order was established in 1534 in order to defend the Catholic Church against the protestant reformation. For some reason he decided to pursue philosophy to find his answers to his questions. This departure from Religion to philosophy gave him the freedom to investigate the history of being in the Western philosophy.
He decided to go way back to Plato, who had realized the significance of being. Plato put being in the realm of the Forms and perfection. This was the realm where Parmenides belonged in Plato’s chain of being. Being didn’t have the same status for Aristotle as it did for Plato.
At the very beginning of the 19th century, Soren Aabye, Kierkegaard (1813-55), the Danish philosopher and theologian, criticized Hegel on the fact that he had ignored the subject of being all together. Hegel had acted very much like Aristotle and St. Thomas Aquinas in some sense. Hegel and Aquinas were both concerned with Religion and philosophy. They both tried to bring Religion and philosophy together. In the Gospel of John, we read that in the beginning there was the word. The word was with God. The word was God. The word became flesh and came to us. God the father, God the son, and God the Holy Spirit are now with us, in time and space.
By rejecting Plato’s Forms, which are perfect and transcendent, Aristotle argued that their reality was in the objects of the world. As you can see, there’s a similarity between Aristotle’s philosophy and the Gospel of John. One might wonder whether or not St. John was influenced by Aristotle’s thoughts. “Being” for Aristotle is no longer what it was for Plato, because for the former, namely, Aristotle, beings became more important whereas for the latter, that is, Plato, transcendent Being was the highest Reality in the realm of Forms. It is possible that Being for Plato was higher than the Form of Good. Being was perhaps the first manifestation of the Ultimate Reality. Given this analysis of Plato’s philosophy, we could say the world is now an illusion or Maya, very much like what the Hindus have believed for thousands of years. After all, wasn’t it Parmenides who once said the world was nothing but an illusion?
Hegel, on the other hand, tried to remove the wall, which had been built by Immanuel Kant between phenomenon and noumenon, between appearances and hidden reality, manifest and conceal, apparent and inward, inner and outer. This Berlin wall collapsed with Hegel. Hegel, like Aquinas, used the Gospel of John and made Geist or the Holy Spirit, part of the world we live in. In other words, he made God be part of the world of becoming. Of course, there was a risk involved in what he did.
Aquinas had not gone where Hegel went in the 19th century. Aquinas was very much under the canopy and marquee of the Catholic Church. He, namely, Aquinas, tried to justify his interest in Aristotelian philosophy by showing the similarity between what was said in the Gospel of John and Aristotle’s approach to Plato’s Forms. There’re speculations as to why John came up with such an assertion that the word came to us like an Avatar or incarnation and became flesh.
Hegel’s philosophy, in some sense, was a reaction to Kant’s separation between the two realms, namely, the appearances and things in themselves.
St. Augustine, unlike, Aquinas was influenced by Plotinus’ philosophy called Neo-Platonism in the fourth century A.D.
Heidegger didn’t become a Jesuit priest and instead he followed the path of philosophy. He realized the reality of Being was highly regarded by Augustine than Aquinas. But he was a Catholic and naturally Aquinas must have been very important to him. Both Catholics and Protestants claim Augustine for themselves. However, the Catholic thinkers regarded Aristotle more important than Plato.
Heidegger, perhaps, thought we needed to lean towards Protestantism or rather Augustinianism than Catholicism in order to bring about the question of being again. He must have felt the West had followed Aristotelian philosophy for too long and it was time to cut this attachment once and for all to preserve the integrity of Being. The West, in fact, had pursued Averroes (1126?-98), the Spanish Arab Muslim philosopher, who was one of the most faithful students of Aristotle. Aristotelianism and Averroism went hand in hand in the West for several centuries, even long after the 13tcentury. Thus, where ever Catholicism went, it carried Aristotle with it. The Renaissance painting of Raphael’s “School of Athens” clearly shows the presence of ibn Rushd (Arabic) or Averroes, on the lower left corner of painting, who is wearing a white turban while leaning forward.
Heidegger emerged out of this religious tradition and embraced philosophy to pursue the truth, whatever it might be. He thought Cartesian dualism or philosophy of Descartes creating a division between mind and body with two different substances, had led philosophy to a point where it was very difficult to bridge the gap between the two.
“And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” (Genesis 2:7). (The Oxford self- pronouncing Bible) This person consists of two different elements: one is mother earth and the other is the breath of God. Dust, which is the fine element of the ground, is created but God’s breathe is uncreated. This spirit or breathe is not created. Are they two different substances? Creation brings with its possibility or contingency. Spirit, however, is not created; therefore, it is not in the realm of possibility.
We’re made, however, of spirit, mind, and body. Mind is psyche, which in Greek it means soul. Adam became a living soul; does this mean soul can also die? If this were the case, then soul couldn’t be spirit, because the former, that is, soul is now part of the dust of the ground.
In modern psychology, a person is made of mind and body. As we can see, the element of spirit is absent here. Spirit is the abode of the Intellect or the unlimited Reason. This is what is missing in Kant’s philosophy also, because for him Intellect and pure reason are one. Some scholars might disagree with us on this point. It is possible that Kant knew the difference between the two.
The mind is the place of the pure reason and not the Intellect. Spirit means breathe. Adam was created out of God’s breathe and the subtle material or dust of the ground.
Unfortunately, Freud, the father of psycho-analysis, seems to have completely ignored the presence of the spirit, concentrating, instead on the mind or the soul. Spirit is missing in action.
Prior to modern psychology, the cure for the soul was in the hands of the great sages, who knew a lot about the psycho-somatic treatment that we’re now becoming aware of this fact. They knew something of the science of the soul. With the power of spirit, they would cure many psychological problems among people. Now a day’s quite number of psychologists have been using Buddhism in their treatments. A lot of patients have been practicing yoga, which goes back to Hinduism.
Ancient Hebrews didn’t believe in distinction between soul and the body. In reality they must have thought that the soul belonged to the realm of the body, which are both in the world of possibilities. They must have distinguished between spirit or breathe of the Lord and the dust of the ground.
Apparently, it was the influence of Hinduism, through the Greek philosophers, on Christianity, as a result of which, the division between soul and body became a reality, which had never existed in the Jewish tradition.
By the time we get to Descartes, we have to deal with mind/body problem, when in fact such a distinction should have been between spirit and body. The difference would be like the Holy Spirit and saint Mary or between Christ and his mother. Yes, there’s a difference between Joseph, Mary’s husband and the Holy Spirit. Mary was the dust of the ground Adam was made of. Mary was the mother earth. After all, this is the religious tradition Heidegger had come from. Perhaps he saw the loss and the disappearance of Being in the Western philosophical tradition, which resulted in forgetting the presence of spirit after St. Augustine.
Right here there’s a commonality between the Muslim philosophers, who came on the scene of the Greek thought later on and St. Augustine. Plotinus was the focal point for both Islamic thinkers and Augustine. To be or not to be of Hamlet is about the beings. There’s a difference between a thing and its existence. But this ‘is’ is not what Plato had in mind. Heidegger seems to have been searching for this Platonic Being, which is in the transcendent realm. Everything is because of the presence of Being. Plato needed this Being in order to explain the becoming of things in the world. Spirit and the dust though different, they both are one reality in the Ultimate Reality. The Ultimate Reality can’t accept any duality due to its nature. In Raffaello Santi’s painting of the school of Athens, he had Plato’s right hand pointing upward with his index finger, while Aristotle’s right hand is stretching forward with all his five fingers. Plato, with the face of Leonardo Da Vinci (1452-1519), is directing our attention towards the Ultimate Reality and circle, where as Aristotle is showing us the five senses as well as the perspective and oval. While Plato is pointing to the One, where as Aristotle is manifesting the many. When Plato wants us to see the sun, Aristotle is fascinated with its reflections in the ocean, which breaks into many. This can also be said about the moon and the sea. Spirit is what Plato was vertically referring to in the painting.
For Plotinus Being is the first manifestation of the Ultimate Reality. Being is the breath of life in the Genesis. Being is the spirit, which is a life-giving Reality. Necessary Being is not the Ultimate Reality. Necessary Being means it can’t not be, that is, it must be.
Heidegger, however, believed Being had been forgotten in the West. During Christmas time we tend to think more about things than their existence. These beings that are attached to objects of the world are the road sign to help us reach Being. These “many” are our guides to infinity and eternity and finally One. But we, nonetheless, are attached to our passing moments, and consequently we struggle through life. We go through discomfort, pain, agony, and torment because we’re not detached from the objects and even ourselves, so we’re miserable.
Salvation is not about not forgetting the very small ‘is’ between subject and predicate or the ones connected to things. God gave His breath of Being to us, therefore, we’re and are living. Heidegger was perhaps looking for this Reality when he wrote the book, ‘Being and time’. Here we’re dealing with beings, which are with lower-case. Being with capital letter is in the realm of Plato’s Forms. Heidegger is trying to get away from Cartesian dualism of mind and body. Just as Kant, who made an attempt to wed Rationalism and Empiricism, Heidegger made an effort to go beyond Descartes’ division without falling into Hegelian idealism. He thought the answer is in Being going back to Kierkegaard. He probably found something in this Danish thinker that corresponded to his character. Perhaps it was because Kierkegaard was both religious and a philosopher.
Do you remember that for the early Hebrews there was no division or distinction between soul and the body? There was one reality, not two. 2600 years ago, Buddha taught that the whole universe was made of mind, which reminds us of the pre-Socrates philosophers, who were looking for what the world was made of. This, however, didn’t make Buddha an idealist in the Western sense of the word. Buddha argued that once you purify your mind, you shall see the world as it really is.
So, there was no struggle over mind/body dualism. If there was any conflict, it must have been about spirit and the world. Lord’s breath is that very spirit. How can a created reality or the dust of the ground be mixed with the uncreated reality of God’s breath?
John Marmysz in his book, ‘The path of philosophy’ tries to help us understand Heidegger’s philosophy.
For Heidegger “question of Being” mattered a lot and was of a great significance. What is the ultimate “ground,” or “Being,”? Humans come out of this Reality and build their lives accordingly. It kind of reminds me of when lotus flowers emerge out of the underwater ground or mud and move up till they reach the air. In necessary existence essence and existence are one. In our world the question of essence or whatness and existence is an issue to be dealt with. What is “Being”? It is existence in its whatness or essence, Heidegger argues.
What is being, Hegel asks? It is nothing, he says. For Hegel this is the logical base in our language. “Nothing” comes out of being and these two, namely, being and non-being, are what determine whether statements are contradictory or not. You see, sweet and sour are opposites but not contradictory. However, taken separately, something can’t be sweet and not sweet at the same time and in the same relationship. The same is true for sour. ‘To be or not to be’ of Hamlet, I repeat, comes to mind here. Of course, once the contradiction between being and non-being is resolved, according to Hegel, then the synthesis is becoming.
When it comes to Heidegger, we learn that Being is existence in its essence, which tells us that all things are, because of Being. Regardless of all accidental qualities, once we comprehend its true nature, we can then understand that Being is the fundamental ground of all things. Heidegger seems to be telling us that Being generates existence to things so they would be.
Let us say, my interpretation is correct. The word ‘existence’ once it is taken literally or etymologically, means standing out there becoming. ‘Ex’ means ‘out’ and ‘stance’ means standing. In reality it is ‘outstanding’, which is used in our language all the time. But we’re all outstanding. Imagine if we use this word, namely, ‘existence’ for God. It would mean God is standing out there becoming. Like the song Bette Midler sang, ‘God is watching us from a distance’. We’re reminded of spy satellite telescopes, which are constantly watching us. This, of course, is taken out of context. We ought to read the whole lyrics in order to appreciate the song thoroughly.
Even though there’s a problem with the word ‘existence’, we still can understand that breath of life is Being from which existence emerges to give the whole of reality the necessary connection to the Ultimate Reality. It reminds us of spider’s web. No matter at what level we’re, we’re still connected to the center. By the way, one of the holy Qur’an’s chapters is named “spider”.
Heidegger wants to do away with traditional philosophy in order to reach “primordial” base in which all particular “beings-in-the-world” are rooted. He thought if we could achieve this goal, then we would be able to know our true nature and its relationship to everything else that exists.
As you may recall, Kant argued that with the limited pure reason we can’t know God, our true Self, and things in themselves.
Heidegger, in contrast, believed once we get to this foundation, we would be able to understand our true nature. He was trying to integrate human existence into Being itself. It is as if we have been thrown into this world of existence and he wants us to get back to the reality we came from, which is Being. This sounds like Plato’s Forms and their distance from the world, which Aristotle tried to bring them into this world. However, unlike Aristotle Heidegger wants to integrate our beings into the wholeness of Being. He wants to bring “many” back to the One. He was planning to resurrect an “authentic” consciousness of what we are as human beings, what our true potentialities are made of, and to inculcate our lived existence with a sense of profundity, awe, and reverence. By so doing, Heidegger is engaged in some kind of religious message for our modern world. He argued that we shouldn’t look at the world through a scientific pair of glasses where by human beings are treated as “things”. We ought not to be regarded as any other objects in this world. He insisted that this way of thinking is a mistake. Not only are we not “things”, we’re in contrast, beings that are much more dynamic with so much potential than any other kinds of beings-in-the-world. In other words, the quality of our existence is a lot higher than other beings in this world. But I believe, even though we’re different from other beings, we still share our existence in this world.
When Heidegger talked about “the integration of human existence into Being itself” we thought he meant Plato’s Being, which is the highest of all Forms. However, he seems to have something else in mind.
Heidegger wants us to see why we, as human beings, have been dealt with by the scientific community as if we’re also like any other beings in the world? To do that, he goes back to Plato and explains why he, namely, Plato was responsible for this mistake. He believed Plato had “directed our attention away from the empirical world (which he, that is, Plato thought was a world of illusion) towards the world of eternal, perfect, and absolute Forms”. I disagree with Mr. Marmysz’s interpretation of Heidegger’s philosophy here. I take issue with him concerning what is written in the parentheses. Even though Plato believed in reincarnation, he didn’t think the world was an illusion, because of the fact that Being, which is the highest Form, is not subject to change. This is how he was able to explain why there was motion and change in this world. The highest Form, namely, Being is immutable and at rest, like God on the 7th day of the week or Sabbath. Becoming is meaningful only and only if there is some reality at rest. This Reality is Being of which Parmenides spoke. The world would be a world of illusion if and only if we believed in the Ultimate Reality that is beyond rest and motion or any other duality. In Hinduism we can’t have “reincarnation” without “Maya” or illusion. So, if what Mr. Marmysz says to be true, Plato must have thought of the Ultimate Reality at some point, because it is with the reality of “Brahman” that we have the world of illusion. Did Plato have such a reality as “Brahman” in his system? To make the matter more complicated, it is also possible that Plato followed the footsteps of Cratylus, the student of Heraclitus and the teacher of Socrates. If, according to Heraclitus, we can never step into the same river twice, to Cratylus there’s no river to step in. Perhaps it is for this reason that Plato considered the world as illusion. In this case Mr. Marmysz could be correct.
Heidegger maintained that for Plato the world is a distraction when it comes to the eternal, perfect, and he absolute Reality of the realm of Being, Good, and Forms. Plato had no choice but create two separate realms: one is the world of perfection, and the other is our world, which is imperfect.
Somebody once complained he had gone through so many managers in the company he worked for and none of them had been ideal. His friend simply reminded him that we don’t live in an ideal and perfect world, so expecting perfection of this world is simply absurd. Come to think of it, this world is subject to imperfection, relativity, possibility, and change.
Emmanuel Kant also struggled when it came to the two realms. For him we live on the first floor of this apartment, which is not perfect, and it is called the phenomenal floor. The second floor above us is the noumenal one, which is supposed to be perfect, infinite, eternal, and absolute. Unfortunately we have no access to it, because our pure reason is limited.
The use of the word “wall” standing between the two realms is very misleading, because it makes us think we’re dealing with a horizontal reality, while in fact we ought to think vertically when we speak of these two realms. The term “wall” brings the image of a perspective in art, which is horizontal, like Berlin wall, the wall of China, and the future, controversial wall between Mexico and the United States of America.
I believe we should use the word “ceiling” rather than “wall” for separating these two worlds.
The highest reality, that is, where the Forms are, is the abode of true Being. The highest Form is the Good itself. This Form is the most real, substantial, and fundamental expression of Being itself. So Being is not a Form, according to Plato. This Form is like the moon compared to the brightest stars. The Form of Good is even more real than the Form of Truth, Beauty, and Justice. Being can be equated with one particular “thing,” that is, the Good itself, which is way above and beyond every other “thing” below it, given the hierarchy of existence. Being is like the sun and Form of Good is like the moon. Other Forms are like the stars. As we mentioned before, Being can be equated with the Form of Good, namely, the former can become equal to the latter. The sun is equated with the moon. Why not? After all, the entire moon is bright because of the sun. Of course, Being and Good are not exactly identical, nor are the sun and the moon.
Heidegger, however, believed Plato destroyed the unity of Being with his hierarchical system.
Heidegger here sounds like Aristotle criticizing Plato. In his book, “Being and time” Heidegger emphasizes that the Being of beings ‘is’ itself not a being. He argues that we must not determine beings as beings or beings qua beings “ … by tracing them back in their origins to another being—as if Being had the character of a possible being.” In the past Being was necessary and being was contingent or possible. Being can’t, not be, namely, Being was necessary. Therefore, it must be. For Heidegger, “Being” is not a being, which is contingent in its nature, like any other beings, which are possible. It is rather the ground, based on which particular beings manifest them-selves. Whatever you see around yourself are all beings. My computer, table, cars are all things. The big question is: what is the reality behind the existence of all these things? We know they exist and we know what they’re. So their existence and essence or whatness are known to us. But they wouldn’t be before us, if it wasn’t for Being. What is the foundation for their existence? What establishes “Being” itself, apart from the qualities of individual beings? Here we’re dealing with the Being of beings. What makes it possible for all beings to exist in the world?
We’re also beings but different from other beings. We’re born and arrive here. We live till our mortality reminds us that we shall pass on too like others before us. When I see my father and mother died, it made me think. A little more than three years ago my boldest sister succumbed to death. Only three of us are left, two brothers and one sister. Death was always other’s till it starts invading our territory, our family. It was not time that killed them. It was the fact of the eventuality of motion and growth. This becoming shall sooner or later swallow all of us, even though our beings are different from other beings. So there must be a permanent Reality to justify our change unless that Reality is beyond any duality, which makes this show an illusion.
Heidegger believed the Pre-Socratic thinkers had asked this question long before we did. “Why being rather than non-being?” “Why do we have things rather than nothing?” “Why to be rather than not to be?” “Why “to be” instead of “not to be?” Let me ask this question, with permission from Mr. Heidegger himself: How can there be something, if there’s nothing? In this world of opposites and contradictions, we can’t have one without the other.
Heidegger is telling us that we should free ourselves from Platonic ideas and examine the conditions needed for the existence of any-thing.
Heidegger argues that Plato’s philosophy has influenced many prominent thinkers in the West. Among these figures Aristotle stands out, who organized logic through which he broke Being into small segments in our mind.
Descartes created the dualism of mind and body in which he separated the thinking subject from the world.
Nietzsche categorically refuted the idea of Being and went for constant change and becoming.
Heidegger challenges us to understand that there has been a common idea in the history of Western metaphysics, to presuppose that human thinking is split and distinguished from Being. To understand Being, we only needed to focus on the bits and pieces of existence. We ought to stop concentrating on particular beings at the expense of losing sight of Being itself. “The unnamable is the eternally real. Naming is the origin of all particular things.” (Tao Te Ching, Chapter 1, trans, S. Mitchell )
The revival of Western civilization relies on how well we’re willing to come up with an understanding of Being, which goes to its grounds and sees our life as rooted in the whole. Being concerned with the whole, Heidegger refuted the contention of the analytic thinkers such as Bertrand Russell (1872-1970), English philosopher and mathematician. They tried to understand Being by analyzing it into fragments. Heidegger wants us to synthesize our understanding of the world such that we aspire toward Truth. His idea here is somewhat similar to the idea sought by Hegel. No wonder why Heidegger was held in very low regard by most analytic thinkers. (Marmysz, pp. 362-364)
Heidegger knows we have been neglecting to understand the true meaning of Being in the West for centuries. How are we to look beyond particular objects in the world to know the underlying unity, which ties together all the existing things? He gives us an idea as to how we should begin this searching process in his book, “Being and Time.” Given our nature, we’re “thrown” into the drama of existence. Before anything, we exist, and our very existence is not disconnected from Being. Sartre also came up with “existence precedes essence”. Not only is my existence not divorced from Being, it is set right in the center of it from the time we are born.
(“Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father in me…” John,14:11). I’m not suggesting that this verse was in Heidegger’s mind at the time he wrote his book. However, we can’t deny the resemblance. If this were not the case, we wouldn’t have been here right from the very beginning.
“Never have I not existed, nor you [Arjuna], nor these kings; and never in the future shall we cease to exist.” (Lord Krishna, 12, in “The Bhagavad- Gita) “Nothing of nonbeing comes to be, nor does being cease to exist; the boundary between these two is seen by men who see reality.” (16) “Death is certain for anyone born, and birth is certain for the dead; since the cycle is inevitable, you have no cause to grieve! (27) If death means the absence of being, it is us who interpret it this way. We equate death with the destruction of bodies, while in reality we have always been. Our forms are the ones that change like the way babies go through changes as they grow up. Here Krishna speaks of His existence, not as the Ultimate Reality, which doesn’t exist.
“Human beings are unique manifestation of Being itself. Thus, the particular characteristics of human experience of existence can help us have access to the mysteries of Being.
Heidegger makes use of the word “Dasein” in order to explain human existence. This word can be split into two German terms: “Da”, which means “there,” it also possess a temporal element like “there-then” or “there-now.” “Sein” is defined as “to be.” In English we translate the whole word as “Being-there.” “Being-there- now” is perhaps better way to translate it. Let us not forget that “being” here is typed with capital “B” because it is in the beginning of the sentence, otherwise it would be “b”. But question that I raise is, why not translate it as “being-there- then”? Was he ignoring the fact that “Dasein” is in transition from future to the present and the past or from now to then? We don’t know that yet. Remember though that Heidegger was not into picture theory. Nothing freezes in temporality. We’re constantly becoming as “Dasein.” We’re not in the future, but we’re here now, that is turning into the past or then as we live. However, Heidegger wants us to know that, like we don’t know this already. We human beings exist in a particular location at a particular time and in a particular manner or mode. We experience the world we live in from this basic beginning point, even Being itself. He says in the starting point of “Being and Time” that Dasein’s essence rests or is in its existence. If you ask Dasein, what are you? The answer is, “I exist.” Buddha was asked: “What are you?” His response was: “I’m awake.” However, Heidegger seems to be making a risk here. Let us not forget that essence and existence are one only in God, not us.
I repeat, when Buddha was asked, what are you? He simply said, “I’m awakened”. He was enlightened with the light of the Ultimate Reality. He didn’t just say, “I exist”. After all, he wouldn’t have said this, had he not existed. He had already achieved his goal even though he hadn’t experienced death. He woke up from the illusion of this world. Once you wake up, you don’t have to become or create your own essence. His essence is enlightenment. My essence is freedom from ignorance, prejudice and the bondage of being attached to the world. This is not about, who are you? This regards whatness of Buddha. His nature is beyond any duality They called this, “Buddha nature.” No wonder why he was silent when it came to enlightenment. Silence can’t be divided. Buddha wouldn’t have responded by saying that he existed, because “I” didn’t any longer have any substantiality in him. Once the I-ness is removed between him and the Ultimate Reality he doesn’t exist like you and I. He didn’t have to experience Being, because he had experienced the Ultimate Reality, which is way beyond Being. He rejected the existence of Brahman in order to experience that Reality. We’re told he had rejected all deities, gods, Atman, and Brahman. I personally believe that he rejected our perceptions of them. He had to go beyond his conceptualization of the Reality in order to smell its perfume.
Heidegger, however, argued that my whatness or reality of who I’m lies in my existence. If an apple is existence, then essence is like the worm inside of it? This doesn’t mean essence and existence are one, which is the case for God.
I’m this being experiencing the world around me. It is also through this existence that I can experience Being in itself. It is through Atman (our true Self) in Hinduism that Brahman (Ultimate Reality) is experienced.
Since we’re grounded in Being from the time we come to be, through examining the fundamental characteristics that make who we’re, Heidegger hopes we’ll find to track our way back to the profoundest depths of all existence. (Plato)? Once we have done this, we’ll eventually do away with our underlying alienation or estrangement.
Let us bear in mind that Heidegger is not basically concerned about our physical way or manner of existence. He rather wants us to “consciously” experience the world. He begins to describe those mental states, which are characteristic of the human way of being. One of the basic traits in “Dasein” is the fact that it is the only form of being that in its being cares [it is conscious of or feels concern about or worries about] its Being. This specific characteristic differentiates us from all other beings-in-the-world. Part of our essence or whatness is the fundamental fact that we “care” in regard to who we are and what we’ll become.
Sartre had similar thought, namely, our essence is not fixed. We’re not so and so, prior our existence. Other creatures lack sense of self while we want to understand ourselves and fulfill our potential. Because of this reason, we’re always thinking of the past and constantly planning for the future. We’re anxious for what is yet to come. Our past events constantly haunt us and we’re worried and scared about what happened and what will occur as a result. We only have our reason to figure out what went on, which caused this effect. Our mind goes to hundred places looking for the real cause. We’re in this state of anxiety on a regular basis. In the mean time Dasein fears death as it witnesses others who pasted away without coming back to tell us what happened to them. Perhaps nothing happens to them. They’re no longer in the physical forms they were before. But are they “whole”? Body is part of being a whole. It seems we’re wholes not them. They’re missing what made them wholes here. John the Baptist was a whole before he was beheaded. My dog was a whole before it died. We’re already wholes before we pass on and it doesn’t necessarily mean we become wholes after we’re dead. When we commit suicide, we leave our wholeness by turning our bodies into objects. Therefore, we can’t say, I was half and now I’m whole, in a wedding song. Of course, being whole doesn’t mean perfect. The most beautiful daffodil is not perfect though it is a whole. Even Buddha was not perfect. After the experience of enlightenment the answer to what he was should have been: “light.” There’s no “I” left in Raja yoga meditation at the end. “I” no longer exists to say “I exist”. Our true Self doesn’t exist being connected with the Ultimate Reality. Perfection didn’t belong to Buddha. It rather is the character or essence of the Ultimate Reality. Buddha would say, I now glow like the moon, because I’m enlightened. However, the Ultimate Reality is the sun. Being awake is not his essence. He seems to be ignoring the question all together. He basically saying, he smelt the perfume of the sun. Nothing exists by itself in this universe. Being alive doesn’t mean we truly exist. “Dependent origination” means there’s nothing in the world that exists independently. Dependency is the law of the universe. The Ultimate Reality is absolute and independent. The word “existence” means standing out there, which is the definition of Dasein or being in the world now or then.
Dasein, while caring for its existence, it also goes beyond the bounds of the present and “projects” into other times and places. Dasein can imagine and come up with new goals, projects, and objectives to be pursued. It evolves and changes during its life time. Dasein manifests itself as “pure possibility” for as humans we’re always able to make choices, which are not anticipated and are, therefore, novel and new. In being, we, all the time, race ahead of who we’re at any time. We make decisions to carry out the kinds of projects which provide our lives with significant activity. Everything said and done, what is Heidegger telling us anyway?
We’re cast away into this world as beings that care about our existence. Therefore, we’re constantly projecting outside of ourselves by anticipating the future and remembering the past. Obviously Dasein is innately temporal or time-bond. Although it experiences life from the point of the here and now, it nonetheless mentally runs away and escapes into the past and the future. Memories of past events engage us, whether they are good or bad. Sometimes they make us happy and at times make us sad. We then hope for what is to come in the future. However, “Success is as dangerous as failure. Hope is as hollow as fear” (Tao Te Ching, 13) Dasein wants to focus only on the present moment or now, but it is crucified between two robbers, that is, the past and the future, as one writer once wrote. We’re locked up between the regret (past) and the anxiety (future), while we’re losing grip of the present moment. Past gives us history and future leaves us with predictions based on the past, which often times might not even come true. Future is an unknown reality, which we can’t have our hands on. We’re told to learn from the past, whereas we know very well that the past may not help us to predict the future. Hume raised this question in 18th century. But nevertheless, we still plan for the future. How can we not to? Retail businesses plan almost a year ahead of time. Colleges and universities must schedule courses way ahead of time.
It is exactly this very “feeling” which let Dasein start the task of building a world around itself. I escape into reading novels or fictions. I watch movies, which are based on those novels. I wish life was the way it was then. Consequently I escape into the future so I’ll be free from all of my predicaments. And while I’m engaged in this task, I’m missing the here and now. Thus, I begin to surround myself with a world, which is not real. This is not the world we experience on a daily basis. This is like when a person’s business fails, he thinks his whole world collapsed on him.
On the other hand, if Dasein or humans don’t mentally move outside of their own here and now consciousness, they wouldn’t have an opportunity to create and keep the webs of interconnectedness, which are experienced as our lived universe. If we constantly stay in space—of course we don’t mean outer space, and not time, then we’re locked in the moment ignoring what is going around us. Unless you’re Buddha, this is a difficult task, to be living in here and now. He was an enlightened individual, we’re not. Buddha didn’t experience the opening into Being through time. Preparation, of course, took time. However, he seems to have ascended vertically and specially to first Being and then beyond it to the Ultimate Reality. Remember, time is the realm of man, but space is the abode of gods.
We’re here reminded of Jacob’s ladder. We have no choice but deal with the reality of time. In the absence of time, we can’t string events together into a kind of enduring succession or continuity. So we’re looking at rosaries, which are used for prayers. A string runs through many beads and usually there is a gap between them so we can move them one by one as we pray. It is also called “love beads.” Here string represents time and beads the events in our life. Without time we can’t have our everyday life, which we experience. We inhabit this world we experience. Time brings about a kind of “clearing” in the texture of existence, which in turn creates a space for the presence of a realm called our own environment. We need to clear out an area to build the foundation for a house. So putting together of a world also demands that we clear out a room in Being itself. Time, as a tool, makes this act possible. Heidegger is explaining this over by saying that, “Only in terms of rootedness of Dasein in temporality, do we gain insight into the existential possibility of the phenomenon that we characterized at the beginning of our analytic as the fundamental constitution of being-in-the-world.” What he is trying to say here is that time makes it possible for us to bring about a world to be-in. It lets us think outside of the immediate (without medium) present moment, to withhold and reserve memories and make them “present” to our consciousness, and therefore to create a world of relationship around us.
But what if there’s no string or time? Time has no substantiality. It is like evil. After all aren’t we the ones who created time? Do I need the category of time to experience the world? When I was born I had no notion of time. However, I could experience space among bodies and things. But what is space any way? Is it a thing? Is it an entity? Is it a substance? Hindus regarded time and motion illusions. Kant considered time and space categories of our mind. In other words, we’re born with it. Our mind is equipped with these windows through which we experienced the world so we can organize our world according to our needs. Hume said, we learn causality by experiencing the world. Kant, in response, said, unless we have these categories, we can’t know the world we live in. It sounds we’re slave to these categories. To reach freedom from them, we should be like Buddha. Once you’re awake, we’re truly free. Does it come with death? The answer is ‘No’. We must lift ourselves vertically from the world we live in. Sometimes I wonder why Heidegger never tried to act like Thomas Aquinas in the 13th century and read the works of Islamic philosophers on being and ontology.
I fully understand if you don’t comprehend Heidegger’s ideas like you’re reading a novel or any other material besides philosophy. Well, with the help of a great scholar, Mr. Marmysz I tried to make some sense out of Heidegger’s philosophy based on his book, “Being and Time.” He was not happy with Plato’s project, which was hierarchical. Nevertheless, Aristotle, with whom he also had problems, was closer to his thoughts. He brought dawn not Plato’s Forms, but Being and created a meeting between Parmenides (Being) and Heraclitus (becoming). The latter represents time and the former manifests rest and immutability. He goes back to St.Thomas Aquinas, who was Aristotelian, in order to make sense out of the Gospel of John. Perhaps, he felt he could understand why Hegel had to struggle to bring transcendence to the level of immanence. Hegel had no choice but take the element of time seriously while the Hindus didn’t have to do that when it came to Krishna, the Avatar of Vishnu. For the latter, time is cyclical whereas for the former it is linear. Hegel used rationality and logical certainty the key factor in his philosophy of history. Heidegger, on the other hand, seems to have used the idea of causality in explaining his thoughts on time. The string of time connects all the dots or beads of events, like cause comes before effect. Being is not a far away Idea. After all without Parmenides, Heraclitus can’t function. Without the immutability of Being, time has no meaning. So Being and time need each other just as Aristotle’s form and matter needed one another. However, unlike what we read on page 364, first paragraph, of Marmysz, I don’t believe Aristotle broke Being into bits and pieces. By the time they are refuted by Aristotle, Plato’s Forms became forms that needed matter as much as matter was in need of forms. These forms were not Plato’s transcendent Forms. This is true about Plato’s Being or the Form of the Good, which as Heidegger said, were now beings and not Being. Aristotle’s Being, I believe, was the pure Form he talked about, which is pure actuality and doesn’t need matter to become actualized. Aristotle finally couldn’t have the world of becoming without this pure Form. In the final analysis, Aristotle was almost back to where Plato had started. Let us not forget that for Aristotle the reality of Plato’s Forms was in the objects of the world, which can’t be intellectually demonstrated. Being with capital “B”, being transcendent doesn’t have to have a particular space or location. It is the mother of all beings that are possible. Absolute is Being and it is like an ocean in which we’re. Heidegger somehow wants us to realize that there’s a unity here similar to Aristotle’s and the way to it is through our beings. Heidegger wants to convey the message that we, in the west, have involved ourselves with things and not their beings for centuries. With things or objects, either you have something or you don’t. But with beings, we’re engaged in a reality that is unlike a thing. The opposite of being is non-being or nothing. Once Heidegger walked in a class room or an auditorium to give a talk and said, today I want to speak about nothing as if he knew without nothingness, being would have no meaning, without non-being, being would be meaningless. He probably never realized that the whole Eastern philosophy, by and large, was rooted in nothingness.
It is by being or the ray of the sun that we are able to reach the sun or Being. What is missing in his philosophy, however, is what Buddha encouraged his followers to do, and that was the practical aspect of this journey. For Buddha the intellectual practice was not enough. He taught that we ought to observe the moral precepts first and then sit in meditation in order to have an empirical taste of the Ultimate Reality. We should experience the Realty, which we start with our own being. Did Heidegger ever consider this at all? Did anyone ever see him sitting in meditation? Contemplation is not enough. As one scholar mentioned, Heidegger was like a bird in a cage fluttering and trying to get out.
Following certain moral rules precedes any effort to discover the Truth. There is a direct relation between ethics and our health on a larger scale. Of course, even moral people suffer from malfunctioning of their bodies, which eventually lead to their death. But nonetheless, being moral helps us to have a clear mind and be mentally ready to experience the Reality.
If Heidegger had gone beyond Being into the Ultimate Reality or non-dualistic Realm, then he wouldn’t have had a way to explain the world of change and becoming, because that highest Reality is beyond being and non-being and rest and motion. He would have to accept the fact that our universe is nothing but illusion, as the Hindus have believed in it for thousands of years. Did he realize that the linear idea of time from one point of view didn’t make any sense, because there’s nothing straight in the Universe? Everything is curved including all the stars and the planets.
Heidegger at some point writes about death, which is about our mortality. He believes time is the reality our life is wrapped around it, and reminds Dasein or “being there” to be ready for this inevitable destiny. We know one day we all die. The question is, when? Death is a just and a fair institution. Senator John McCain past on, Saturday, August 25, 2018. Today is Monday, August 27, 2018.Death never discriminates against anyone. It takes poor and rich folks together. This is where there’s an absolute equality among all beings. Biblical records tell us that Elijah ascended to Heaven in a chariot of fire and never died. If this and perhaps other examples are exceptions, we still can say, as far as history, majority of beings lived and died at some point in time. Having gone through care and time, conscious human life is made by awareness of death. As much as we grow up thinking that we’re going to be around for a long time, we begin to worry about our mortality. As kids our summers never ended and were always there and felt like eternity, as if they would never come to the last days. But as we get older, time seems to be accelerating. Days become shorter like the winter days. This train of time speeds up to get us to our destination. Does time depend on our perception? If it does, then it is not absolute. But where am I going any way? We’re “beings- onto- death.”
Buddha was once asked: what is the cause of death? He simply answered: Rebirth. Based on the reincarnation, we shall return, if not into this world, or perhaps other worlds and not even necessarily different planets. Of course, if you don’t believe in Hinduism or Buddhism, this answer we’ll not satisfy you.
Heidegger, maintained that we’re the only creature who possess such a quality, imbedded in our existence. Undoubtedly, there’re other kinds of organisms and animals that finally “expire,” however, none of them go through the anxiety and apprehension we experience before we pass on. We’re anxious while anticipating our imminent mortality. We’re apprehensive and worry, not knowing where we’re going. What is going to happen after we die? What if all the stories related in all Religions are nothing but fictions. What if reincarnation or rebirth is fable or fabrication? What do the Religions give us but promises any way? We always hope, however, that they’re not campaign promises.
My mortality is an issue, not only for me but, I believe, for everyone else. Certainly there will come a day when I shall stop to be or exist. Part of uniqueness of Dasein is the fact that it is conscious of its potential not to be-there any longer. The late senator MacCain or Maccain—pronounced in both ways in the medea– is no longer there. His body will be laid to rest.
What is death anyway? It is defined as ‘departure,’ decease,’ dissolution, ‘exit,’ expiration,’ and finally, ‘mortality.’ (The Nuttall dictionary of English, Synonyms & Antonyms, edited by G.E. Christ) ‘Birth’ is the opposite of death, as we know.
We’re taught by the Hindus and the Buddhists to detach ourselves from the world, even from ourselves. We suffer when we’re attached, according to Buddha. We’re detached by death from this realm of existence. When we’re born, we’re detached from our mothers and attached to the world. We’re told to cut the umbilical cord, even from this world in order not to suffer. Once death approaches us, our umbilical cords are cut from this world. We’re not to wait till death to detach us from this world. We ought to learn how to cut our attachment to the world way ahead of time. Socrates once said, philosophy is nothing but the practice of death. We’re thrown into this world and need to attach to it for our nourishment like a fetus. “I am different from ordinary people. I drink from the Great Mother’s breasts” (Tao Te Ching, 20) By Great Mother Lao Tzu means the Tao. We should practice to detach again and be ready to leave the mother earth. We don’t belong here. This world is not ours. We don’t own anything at all, not even our God or gods. The Lord, if there is one, doesn’t belong to me. So by saying, my Lord, we’re declaring that we’re still attached. Death is teaching us to detach, because it simply detaches us from this world and our loved ones. Every time we forget where we came from, all we have to do is look at our bellybuttons, our navels.
Senator McCain and Aretha Franklin had to succumb to the inevitability of death. They were detached from us by death. But why do I have to enter this realm to finally depart? What is the purpose of this transition? I didn’t ask for it? Did I? What is going on?
Desein, according to Heidegger, takes its own being, even though it doesn’t own its being, to task and asks this very question to which he has no answer.
Confucius seems to have directed our attention from after life to this life. When he was asked about hereafter, he answered this question by another question: do you know what life is all about. He was answered: no. He then said: then why worry about after life or death, when we still don’t know what life itself is? What is being rather non-being?
Immanuel Kant said that pure reason asks questions it can’t answer. However, the very fact that it asks, to Heidegger, defines the reality of Dasein.
Heidegger argues that since people have hard time understanding this inevitability of death and our awareness of it, they try to forget it, as if they could.
We try not to bring our children to the wakes and funerals. We keep them away from the funeral houses as if we’re doing them a favour. Cemeteries are crowded by the adults than children, while a Latin proverb says: Death is love. I was unable to find the quotation on this. However, the idea is that when we forget death, we’re bond to forget love. Death here means sacrifice. Children knowing that one day their parents will be buried in the cemetery should love them dearly and more, whether they do or not is a different story. When you’re being unto death, you live your life one day at a time. We rush towards the future and return to the memories of our past events, where as the present is with us only for a moment. Death is a present possibility as Heidegger wanted us to know. Once we live our life with this knowledge, we live an authentic existence. A brother tried so hard to explain this fact to his affluent brother. His rich brother instead made fun of him. But one day when earthquake shook up the whole neighborhood and everybody ran to the street for their life, the rich brother told his sisters, he would leave everything he owned to his struggling brother. Years went by and knowing the fact that he owed his brother money, he still was reluctant to compensate and paid him only a little compared to what he had really owed him. The struggling brother didn’t mind and all he wanted was for his brother to talk to him at least once in a while.
For Heidegger being alive is not enough. We ought to learn from death to live authentically or have an authentic existence.
Suppressing the consciousness of inevitability of death is an error, which eventually ends up directing us to the way of an inauthentic and alienated existence. Since “being-onto-death” is a fundamental part of our very essence, disregarding death is to neglect part of who we’re. To suffocate this awareness of death in us is to become like a nonhuman reality or “thing,”, namely, an object that will not perish like us. Things eventually decay and disappear but not us.
In the mean time I’m getting old every hour, every day, every month, and every year. Every time we celebrate birth days, we’re in reality celebrating our death. The late senator McCain’s mother is 106 years old. The former was 81 when he passed on. We all die at different time or sometimes in the same month and year. What difference does it make any way? All those who were paying their respect to the late senator McCain know that perhaps they’re going to be next. But are they living an authentic life or they are only alive? I get depressed when I think about my mortality and my loved ones, who are no longer with us. Life is sweet till it can no longer be tolerated due to illness. It is then that death becomes salvation and freedom from the bondage of pain. Who wants to go through torment, and agony? What is the quality of life here? Death becomes a blessing when our bodies are on fire because of the amount of torture they have gone through.
To overlook the inevitability of death is like withholding the very quality, which keeps the potential to provide our lives with an “end” and therefore a “totality.” I agree if this is the end of my totality or wholeness. Even before death I’m still a whole and not a half, at least from our point of view. Once I’m dead, I’m no longer a whole. Heidegger, however, seems to be saying that with the absence of conclusiveness and completeness of death, particular human lives would never be able to become “summed up” and given shape or significance. AS you can see, Heidegger here is not talking about Aristotle’s idea of being a whole and becoming a half once death arrives. In movies, for example, we always look for a final concluding scene. We ask this question as to why there was no conclusion to this movie, unless it was meant to be an open ended show. There’re movies that are truncated at the end. I guess the directors leave the ends to the viewer’s imagination. We then come up with our own opinions as to how the movie would end. With Heidegger death somehow defines our life. It is the celebration our wholeness, which is about to be over. This story or movie has an end. A beginning has no meaning without an end. Life has no meaning without death.
In death the deceased leaves a vacuum behind. There is a reality in this act to be discovered. After all, emptiness or vacuum represents death or non-being. In fact every time we walk, we go through being and non-being. We’re at point ‘A’ and then we’re at point ‘B’. We always leave a vacuum behind. Motion in fact is the demonstration of life and death.
An empty room represents death. When I pass vacant buildings at night, I get a sense of loneliness and spookiness. It is almost as if I smell of death. Nothingness frightens me. But without non-being, being has no meaning.
In the absence of an end, the movie would merely be one scene after another till we give it a conclusion. In the absence of a finishing line, there would be no consummation or completion, so we could be satisfied that we now understand how all of the pieces were meant to fit together and how all of the scenes were connected. Similarly, our lives adopt meaning and significance through our consciousness that what we do during the course of living shall contribute to an overall project that those who survive us will look back on and appreciate in its totality. Dasein is not finished when it comes to its task until death. There is some unfinished quality about Dasein. Pari Nibbana (Nirvana) comes with death as it did for Buddha. Heidegger says: “A constant unfinished quality thus lies in the essence and constitution of Dasein…. As long as Dasein is a being, it has not achieved its ‘totality’ and ‘wholeness.’ Remember here Heidegger is not speaking of what we mentioned earlier concerning being a whole and becoming half once we die. We can put it this way that although Dasein is a whole, it has not achieved wholeness or totality. However, if it does, this attainment of its wholeness becomes the absolute loss of being-in-the-world. Dying means you’re not going to be in this world. You’re no longer to be-in-the-world. You come to a point of finishing and ending, which can’t be explained by the deceased. To be able to die, nonetheless, grants us with a unique and valuable potentiality; this is a potential to leave behind a time-bound memory treasured by the survivors as wholeness in-itself.
Heidegger tells us that “the “deceased,” as distinct from the dead body, has been torn away from “those remaining behind,” and that is so because he is “still more” in his kind of being than an inner worldly thing at hand to be taken care of. In lingering together with him in mourning and commemorating, those remaining behind are with him, in a mode of concern which honors him.” I couldn’t agree with him more as I was watching Aretha Franklin and John McCain. The latter was laid to rest yesterday, the 3rd of September, the day before the Labor Day, which is today.
Heidegger believed, if my interpretation is correct, that the dead body is not the whole person. McCain was whole when he was still alive. Therefore, when we mourn his death, we’re not mourning his body, which is left behind. We rather mourn the totality of the person we cared about. When McCain’s daughter eulogized his late father, she must have been mourning the whole person she cared for; the complete life project she could see, looking back, established her loved one. This is exactly what Heidegger has in mind when he writes about human beings, like us, as Dasein. When Jesus says, we shouldn’t asunder what God has put together, perhaps he means we must not get engaged in the act of destroying a whole, like when we murder or kill somebody. Men and women ought to get married and create wholeness. A deceased person is no longer a person he was, which sounds a bit like a contradiction. We’re not our bodies. We’re not “things” as rivers and mountains, to exist in this mode. To be a being is to care about others as well as the world, to follow and seek life projects, and eventually to pass on. He continues by saying that these activities and events are not objectively present entities and “things.” We’re constantly making things happen, which are made possible just by our potentiality to exist in time. Remember, Dasein is rooted in temporality.
Through time, Being is disclosed and uncovered before us. We’re very closely connected to each other. Time is a quintessential fact through which we’re who we’re. We wouldn’t “be” who we’re without the phenomenon of time. We can feel the Hegelian influence on him. If it is true that time became elevated to the level of God by Hegel, then we can see why both time and Being are so related. God became flesh and came among us so we can become God. God entered time so time can become God. Does this make sense? After all, God and time seem to have been perhaps equated in Hegel’s philosophy, according to some interpretations. You see, time is not a substance, but we know it is there. God also is not a substance. We are unable to see Him or Her just like time. However, we’re aware of its existence. Come to think of it, there’re lots of similarities between the two. Was Hegel referring to the Ultimate Reality, we don’t think so. Being beyond being and non-being, the Ultimate Reality doesn’t even exist. Besides, it is also beyond time and space and any possible duality. Then who is this God who can enter the river of time and the reality of our space so we can become God? Of course, if we believed that Christ was not God or on the same level as God the father and the Holy Spirit, then no such a problem would ever arise. However, these decisions were made by the Church Fathers in 300 A.D and are manifested in Nicene Creed, in spite of oppositions.
For the Hindus time was an illusion, not Brahman or the Ultimate Reality.
We’re told time is the measure of motion. What if time is equated with movement? I can see things moving but I don’t see time moving. We seem to be imposing time on change and becoming. Time seems to be an accident whose existence, as we know, depends on the substance of motion. In other words, without motion there’s no time. When a cross spins on its axis with 4 points in flame, it symbolizes samsara in Jainism. When it turns in a circle, it represents eternity where death and rebirth are demonstrated. Here time disappears in the cycle of eternity.
God became flesh and came to us or came among us, so we, who’re moving, can become God. Unmovable Reality began moving so we can become immutable.
Benjamin Franklin (1706-90) once said, time is the stuff life is made of. Is time really what life is made of?
For Heidegger time is that reality which provides us with the potentiality to hope, plan, remember, fear, and mourn. Our essence and “nature” are given to us by Being. I can’t blame Heidegger for bringing Being and time together. By “Being” perhaps he didn’t mean the Ultimate Reality, which is beyond being and non-being, rest and motion, and any other duality you could possibly imagine. Being and time are in unison when they come to let us gather facts and ideas in order to arrange them into a world of our own. Let us not forget that none of them, namely, Being and time are “things.” They’re not objects or “things” in the world like toys in boxes put under the tree by Santa. They’re rather the very conditions, which let the world unfold and be what it is for us. Keep in mind, however, that Being seems to stand above time, because it is the broader concept. It is the real essence of “unfolding”, which provides substance and a foundation for the passage of time. Time issues forth and appears from the human wish to have knowledge of the essence of Being itself, thus it wouldn’t come to be unless being was there to be cared for to begin with. ( Marmysz, pp, 362-367)
What have we done so far? Well we have been trying to make some sense out of Heidegger’s philosophy but partially. We don’t claim we have thoroughly examined all of his works. Remember, we have not dealt with his actual works. To deal with his real writings, requires a lot of work, which is beyond the capacity of this article. We by passed this great task on purpose, because this article is not written or better typed for the community of scholars, who have been working on Heidegger’s thoughts for many decades. We bow in humility before those great interpreters of this spectacular thinker. This humble material could be basically used by the students of mine who’re unfamiliar with using texts in order to write a mid-term paper. Did I write this article with that in mind? The answer is: “No.” I paraphrased as much as I could, while at the same time shared my own thoughts with my readers. But why this particular book rather than other more scholarly works? Perhaps it is because it really doesn’t matter to me whether a text is scholarly or not. I try to think about the issues raised and then I come up with my own humble thoughts on them. Honestly, I try not to care who wrote the book I’m working on as long as I can understand what is written. I could somewhat comprehend what Marmysz wrote on this difficult subject. Of course, there were times I agreed with the author’s interpretations and also there were times I disagreed. Therefore, I decided to turn it into an essay using him as a source and also including my own ideas on Heidegger’s philosophy. This was presumptuous on my part and yet I wrote it any way.
Heidegger, I think, brought the reality of Being or Good from Platonic hierarchy down into our world, which sounds very much Aristotelian, may be because he was a catholic to begin with. On the other hand, he talks about “Dasein” or “There-then or There-now.” “Sein” means “to be.” At the end, a human being is defined by “being there.”
To exist is to stand there any way. “ex” means out or there and “sistere” means standing. So to exist means simply means “outstanding”.
Just as Aristotle introduced the idea of form and matter, which they need one another, Heidegger dealt with “Being” in our midst. Aristotle argued that the reality of Plato’s Forms was in the world or in the objects. However, how can we have this logically? Consequently, he mentioned about the idea of four causes, which once consolidated would give us form and matter.
Michelangelo (1475-1564), the Italian sculpture and architect, once said, there is an angel in this block of marble and I’m about to free it. This angel is the formal cause of Aristotle.
St. John also said that in the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was God. In the following verse, very close to the above verse he said, the word became flesh and came down to us as the person of Christ. This sounds very much like Krishna as the Avatar or incarnation of Vishnu. Now, whether this was an influence of Hinduism on Christianity or not, we leave that to your imagination and scholars to decide.
By the time Plato’s Form is removed from the realm of the transcendence, it is subject to change and becoming. The only time Aristotle’s idea of form corresponds to Plato’s is when he talked about pure Form, which doesn’t need matter for its actuality, because it is pure actuality, that is, it doesn’t have to become actualized. In other words, acorn doesn’t have to become oak tree; it is already one. Acorn and oak are one, like the ray of the sun and the sun are one. There’s no duality here.
Heidegger is searching for the unity between Being and becoming, which is like the unity between One and many. Are you reminded of the reality of the concept of Trinity in Christianity? They’re three and at the same time One.
I believe in Being and time Heidegger is trying to break the barrier between Being and beings. “For in Him we live and move and have our being.” (King James, Acts 17:28)
“For it is by him that we have life and we move and exist”
(Aramaic Bible in plain English)
For in Being we live and move and have our being. For it is by Being that we have life and we move and exist. If Being were the first manifestation of the Ultimate Reality, it is obviously is not the latter. Once Being comes to us, it is no longer Being but it is rather being. We just can’t have both at the same time and in the same relationship. It is for this very reason that following Aristotle would not help Heidegger here. This highest Form, namely, Being can be equated with Aristotle’s pure Form or God, the unmoved mover and the uncaused Cause. Aristotle’s pure Form is transcendent, so is Plato’s Being or Good. This Being enters the flow of time for Hegel, at least in his imagination. But once this is done, it is no longer transcendent. Heidegger has no choice but appeal to the transcendent Reality of Aristotle’s pure Form. Dasein or being- there is in time. Dasein exists, namely, it is standing out there.
For Kant, as we know, the statement “God exists” is analytic, that is, existence doesn’t add anything to God. God, as personal as it is, doesn’t exist. Dasein does but not God. God is not standing out there. It is a title after all. Then why bother prove its existence? We ought to move higher towards the Ultimate Reality, which is beyond being and non-being.
How can Being enter time and still be considered Being? It has to be another being like Dasein. What if there’s no river of time?
We live in Being, move, and have our being. Being and being are connected. However, the reality of time is the issue here. When by comparison, Krishna enters our world, time is not an issue here, and because time is cyclical or better it is an illusion, no problem arises in Hinduism. While in Hegel’s project, time and history or passed events gradually become God. Does it make any sense? If Heidegger is following Hegel, he has to pay the price of turning time into Being. Thus, Being and time are one. How can Being be transcendent and immanent at the same time? However, as we said earlier, it is also possible that time and motions are one reality. If this were the case, then Being and motion are one, which it doesn’t make any sense at all. How can transcendent Reality be one with motion? In Christ, it is believed, these two realities meet. In other words, Jesus is the meeting point between transcendence and immanence. Even Aristotle seems to have gone back to Plato’s position at the end just as Buddha seems to have gone back to the Hindu position about the world being Maya or an illusion.
We mentioned before that Dasein is “Da”, which is now and then and “Sein”, which means “to be”. Dasein is locked up in time, as we can see. What if we clime up Jacob’s ladder and ascend beyond Being to The Ultimate Reality, which is above any duality, like being and non-being. This Brahman can’t even be? If it is beyond rest and motion, then we have no way of explaining becoming and change. Then we ask Parmenides: what is movement? He would tell us that it is nothing but an illusion. What would Heidegger think about this? I wonder why Heidegger didn’t have a meeting with Einstein to discuss time. For Einstein time and space were not absolute. They were absolute, according to Isaac Newton. Perhaps Heidegger didn’t want to get involved with science, especially when the author of the theory of relativity didn’t highly regard Newton’s physics. What if time was nothing but our own subjective reality or one of our mind categories (Kant)? Time and Being are not “things” as Heidegger tells us. According to Kant time and space are categories with which we were born. They’re innate and we bring them with us as we’re born. We experience the world around us through these categories.
Think about this for a moment that when time and history became God for Hegel, if it did, then, given Kant’s idea, God is what it is in our mind. In other words, God has no objective reality. Well, if time is an abstract reality, then God by entering the flow of movement becomes part of the motion at hand. It is in this sense that God becomes history, which is the record of things passed. God seems to be losing its transcendence, because it is now locked in the change and becoming of this world. As we said before, this is one way of interpreting Hegel’s philosophy. You have the right to disagree with me on this point, if you wish.
Perhaps it is not surprising that Ludwig Andreas Feuerbach (1804-72), the German philosopher, who was born in the year Immanuel Kant died, regarded God as nothing but the projection of our own mind. In other words, God has not created us, we rather have created God. He was a leftist Hegelian. The rightist Hegelian thought Hegel had rationally proven the belief in Trinity and Christ being fully man and fully God.
Remember for Kant time never became Geist or the Holy Spirit. Time, for Hegel, became such a valuable commodity. Once the Holy Spirit became flesh and entered time, time that received it was precious afterwards.
Let us not forget that in the Gospel of John there is no rational proof that such an even ever took place. Was St. Paul simply imagining what we have in his writing? What happens to the transcendence of God, if it comes to us in the figure of Jesus according to John? Are we not mixing up the Ultimate Reality with the world of possibilities? Possible is not absolute. Only absolute is absolute. Although the ray of the sun is connected to it, it doesn’t mean it is the sun. This had been debated among Hindu philosophers. Krishna was related to Brahman or the Ultimate Reality, however, he was not Brahman, even though he wants us to see the connection. Was Krishna transcendent? I don’t think so. From our point of view, he was not. Perhaps, by the same token, Christ was not transcendent either.
When Heidegger was asked about God, he kind of postponed it by saying that, we’ll find out about it in the future. This was a promise that was never kept. After all, why time had to be involved here? He doesn’t seem to have taken this belief seriously. Then why is he talking about Being as if it is God? May be St. Paul’s words meant something great to Heidegger. “For in Him we live,” makes sense when Jesus said, he is in Him and He is in him. (Not an exact quotation). This doesn’t indicate Christ was one with God the Father. Then again, if the Ultimate Reality is like the ocean, we’re like the fishes in it. “In Him we live”, is like saying that we’re like the marines living in the ocean. But this is not the ocean of Being. It is rather, like we’re part of the Ultimate Reality while we’re not transcendent but perhaps we’re also divine, as Wayne W. Dyer once said. After all, didn’t we come from Adam who was part divine and part the dust of the ground? If it is true that we have been carrying the original sin, since Adam and Eve fell, then we also have been part divine from the very beginning. If Dasein is different from other beings, this is the best reason why.
As much as Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543), the Polish astronomer, made the earth secondary compared to the sun, Kant put man in the center when it comes to the role in the world. Heidegger seems to have followed Kant by making Dasein the central figure in his philosophical landscape. However, the same Dasein is very much perplexed and puzzled by the inevitability of death. Dasein is yet to know of the essence of death, because it doesn’t know what life is to begin with. Dasein is in complete darkness when it comes to where it came from and where it is going, and finally why we’re here. But nonetheless, it is Dasein, according to Heidegger, that can ask these questions and not any other creatures. However, can Dasein find answers to these questions? According to Kant, pure reason asks questions to which it has no answers.
It is as if Heidegger read about the last days of the life of Mark Twain, which is a pen name of Samuel Langhorne Clemens (1835-1910), the American author and humorist. Having lost all members of his family, except one daughter, Mark Twain questioned the existence of Christian God and the fact of the meaninglessness of it all. Why did he come into this world? Where is he finally going? What is the meaning of life, as if life had a meaning in the first place? Mark twin seems to have had no answers to these questions. The pain of the loss of his wife and daughters made him wonder about death. Why enter this realm to leave it someday? Dasein asks the same question to no avail. What is life anyway? Why to be rather than not to be?
I worry about my mortality, especially as I get older. Our friend’s father just died the other day and at the wake, his grandson related a story about his grandfather. He said he, not his grandfather, was about to throw away an old flashlight battery but he was stopped by his granddad. How do you know the battery is dead my son, he asked? Let us test the battery first. With some wires and a small bulb granddad showed that the battery was still good, as if he was talking about his own life. Listening to him, I told his grandson the battery is now dead. It is a good analogy except the fact that it has its own shortcoming. Perhaps life is like the light in the light bulb and once we’re gone, there is no light anymore. I wish we could understand death this way. This would make a good sermon on death. However, we’re doing philosophy and we’re not ministers or preachers.
Kant said, pure reason keeps asking questions it can’t answer. Perhaps other creatures don’t have to go through what we experience as questioning Dasein. Agonizing fact of the death of his loved ones made Mark Twain question the authenticity of the existence of God. May be twain was aware of Friedrich Nietzsche’s philosophy in which he talked about the death of God. It is possible that both Nietzsche and Twain had reached a point in their lives where they had to rethink their notion of Christian God. I personally would rather use the Biblical or Abrahamic God idea than the Christian God for the moment. It is also possible that they both rebelled against believing in Jesus as a member of the Trinity or Christ being fully man and fully God belief. But why blame Religions for what we can’t figure out intellectually. Either this God or that God, what difference there’s in our inquiry concerning death? The fact of the matter is that we’re all mortal beings and sooner or later we must leave this world. We hear, with the death and resurrection of Jesus, we have defeated death. Have we done that? We’re born to go, just like a flower that is bound to fade away and finally it does.
Is Dasein afraid of death? If it lives its life as a being towards death, it might be. However, even if I were a being unto death, and my life, therefore, changed accordingly, it is possible that I still would fear death. As far as its practical and moral aspects, I would be a better person and yet I would have to deal with Pascal’s wager.
Blaise Pascal (1623-62) was a French philosopher and mathematician. Wager is like gambling we have to get engaged in this life. We have no choice but get involved in this gambling, according to Pascal. What is this gambling about? Well, Pascal argued that it makes more sense to be virtuous and following God’s commandments and live a moral life throughout our time in this world, because if we die and there’s a judgment day, then we’ll be alright. We’re not losing anything by believing the promises of our Lord that we shall be rewarded in here after. Either there is such a judgment or not after we pass on. If there’s, then we have not lost anything and we’re winners. But there’s no such a thing as the Day of Judgment, then we’re still fine, because we did our religious and moral duties regardless, which were for us and those who lived around us. What if we lived a rotten life, and there was a Day of Judgment after we deceased? What would you do then? Thus, it is better for us to believe than not to believe. The only problem I have with this wager is the fact that I would deprive myself of many pleasures of life, even the healthy ones, without really knowing whether there’s or there’s not anything after death. I spent a life time doing good and going to Church hoping one day I would be rewarded for what I had done. What if I died and suddenly realized there was nothing after all, and I could hear a voice in the backround, who said you were a fool, naïve, and gullible person and believed everything you were told?
Mark Twin lost his faith in God or Christian God, because towards the end of his life he went bankrupt or belly up like a dead fish floating on water. He went through this financial disaster and on top of that he lost all the members of his family, except one daughter, who was with him before he died. For him it was not just raining but it was pouring. Such a predicament would break the back of most human beings. However, we should never forget that we don’t live in a perfect and ideal world. We all suffer, as Buddha taught about 2600 years ago, some more and some less. Of course, we didn’t have to wait for him to teach us this lesson. We’ll all die, some sooner and some later. Nobody wants to lose his or her loved ones. No one would desire to experience the vacuum left behind once one of our dear family, relative, or friend leaves us. It is extremely heart breaking and sad to grieve the death of your children like John McCain’s mother, who has survived him. She was sitting on a wheel chair and was stoically observing this drama of life and death. Who knows what she went through?
Dasein finds out that the family show played in the theater of this world, where we’re surrounded by parents and siblings, would soon come to an end. The smell of mother’s cooking no longer comes out of the kitchen. Father is dead and mother is crippled by strokes. Shortly after, she also joins her husband. Brothers and sisters find themselves left with no protection. They have their own families, though their parents are gone and life goes on as it has always been going this way.
I just heard the famous movie actor, Burt Reynolds passed away. I believe it was, today; the 6th of September, 2018 that he also left us. Of course, other unknown people have also died during the writing of this humble article.
Dasein still is unable to figure out the purpose of this coming and going. It is wondering about life and being and its intention. Dasein knows it is different from other beings. To be happy Dasein goes shopping, because it gets tired and bored with the old objects. Being, with capital letter ‘B’, is like Aristotle’s form, which is a contradiction at hand. Once Being is among us, it is no longer Being with capital letter. Otherwise transcendence is compromised. Can Dasein solve this problem? What problem are we talking about? Dasein here is caught between Aristotle’s refutation of Plato’s Forms and the fact that the reality of these Forms is in the objects of this world. Michelangelo felt an angel was in the prison of the marble block and it was his duty to free it. David was not an angel; however, he brought it out of the block, which was provided for him. Aristotle’s form or his formal cause was David and not Plato’s angel. You can’t have Plato’s Form in the block, as Aristotle thought we could. Plato’s Forms are not in the prison of the world. They’re free.
This great Italian sculpture and architect must have been Aristotle’s follower to think that an angel could be in the object of the world. Therefore, Heidegger’s Being can’t, to my humble opinion, be a Being with capital letter. We ought to differentiate transcendence from immanence as far as our mind is concerned. We have no clue as to what is happening outside of our mind.
Can we have our cake and eat it too? Dasein is wondering whether we could resolve this contradiction like Hegel did. Can Jesus be fully man and fully God? When we come to Trinity, can one and many be one? To resolve the contradiction between being and non-being, Hegel came to the conclusion that our synthesis will be ‘becoming.’ In ‘becoming’ one and many are one. In “change” all contradictions are resolved. Are they?
Aristotle, however, didn’t do what Hegel did and had no choice but come up with the idea of pure Form, which didn’t need any matter to become actualized, because it was already pure actuality. Acorn is oak tree when it comes to pure Form.
Dasein knows if Plato’s Forms are in the realm of perfection, then the Form of Being or Good must also belong to that reality. Once we use Aristotelian logic of either/ or, we can’t mix transcendence and immanence, unless we accept the logic of the sub-atomic or quantum mechanics, which defies Aristotle’s logic of excluded middle.
From the point of the Ultimate Reality, Aristotle’s logic can help us with our computers but not the metaphysical realities. Only David can come out of the block, not an angel.
Dasein understands that because of Being we are and we move. St. Paul helped us to figure this up. We, as well as Dasein know, unless Being were at rest, there is not going to be motion. This Being must be immutable for us to be able to move. God had to rest after creation so the whole universe could be in motion. If there was no Sabbath, there would be no becoming and change. So, turning Being into the form of Aristotle wouldn’t give us motion.
There is a difference between absolute and relative, perfection and imperfection. The former Mayor of New York city, Rudy Giuliani, has recently said that, truth is not Truth. Of course, he didn’t specify what he really meant by this. If he meant, truth is not truth, he contradicted himself. However, if he said, truth is not Truth or Truth is not truth, then he made a good philosophical point.
Muslims believe God is closer to them than their Jugular veins. How can we logically make sense of this? This is not illogical but super logical. Our mind has certain capacity and can’t go beyond it. Only through the Intellect can we reach what is beyond our mind. First manifestation of the Ultimate Reality is Being or God, who created everything. The God, who rested, is not the Ultimate Reality. This Reality is not like us who need rest. This Being is like Aristotle’s unmoved Mover and uncaused Cause. If we go to the realm of Brahman, then we have the Ultimate Reality, which is beyond all dualities, as a result of which the whole world is nothing but Maya or illusion.
It is difficult to use a metaphor or analogy like, Being is like an ocean and we, beings are in it and we move. The ocean is in constant change and becoming. However, the sun is not. The light of the sun is on the ocean, while the sun itself doesn’t move at all. To think of Being as the sun, makes more sense here. We need the sun, which is stationary in order to define motion.
When Krishna entered this world as Vishnu, he didn’t come into time, because time is an illusion. Time, to Hindus, is not like one of Kant’s categories. When Buddha says, of mind everything is made, he didn’t mean our mind as we understand it to be. He must have meant that of Being everything is made. Of course, we don’t know this for sure.
When St. Paul said, by Him we have life, move, and exist, he must have meant that God is that very Being, which is not subject to change. We move in Him because Being is stationary and at rest. We have our beings, because of this Reality, which itself doesn’t become, whereas we, as beings, are subject and are involved in movement. It sounds as if Paul is moving away from the God of the Old Testament, who can be jealous and needs rest after what He created. The entire universe of things is contingent, that is, all things or objects are possible beings. They could be and they couldn’t be.
It seems the creating Being is Brahma in Hinduism. Brahma is the creating god. Brahma created everything and then it perhaps rested, although there’s no such a language used in Hinduism. No Hindu would believe in this, because this indicates time, not eternity. Circle is the sign of eternity, whereas straight line is the sign of time. In a cross, the vertical reality stands for space and the horizontal one represents time. Here by ‘space’ we don’t mean the outer space. Time is the land of people, while space is the abode of the gods.
As much as Kierkegaard and Marx had to deal with Hegel’s obsession with time and history, Heidegger perhaps had no choice but deal with time in his own way. A great scholar by the name of S.H Nasr once said that perhaps there never would have been Charles (Robert) Darwin (1809-82), had it not been Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770-1831). The only difference being Hegel was not a naturalist, otherwise we could call him a Darwinian, except the fact that Darwin was born in 1809.
The influence of Hegel has been tremendous on the philosophers, who followed him and Heidegger is no exception here.
I’m not a Heidegger scholar and it would be presumptuous on my part to write in that manner. Nevertheless, as a humble student of Religion and philosophy, I have tried to make some sense out of this great 20th century thinker. I don’t call him an existentialist philosopher because he himself didn’t like to be named as such. There is no doubt that he made an effort to give us a portrait of ourselves in what he called Dasein. We ask fundamental questions as Dasein, who is thrown into this world. Just like Robinson Caruso or the character, played by Tom Hanks in the movie, ‘Cast away,’ he finds himself alone after he was washed away to the shore. The exception here is he knew why he ended up in that island, but we don’t know where we came from. He didn’t know where he would finally go, though he could guess. However, we can’t even do that either. Dasein is caught between the past and the future. Dasein is crucified between two thieves, one is the past (regret) and the other is the future (anxiety), as one writer wrote. Dasein doesn’t make any sense out of what life is all about. He worries about death, which would end this short life. But what happens after death is not known to him or her. He could stay unmarried or get married and have children, who would grow up and ask the same questions followed by no answers. He is a being unto death, which is a present possibility. In other words, we could die at unknown moment.
Dasein knows the difference between a thing and its existence. We suffer when we’re attached to things while their existence is what we ought to concentrate on. Dasein, however, has to attach itself to the world, though is aware of its futility. Dasein has to tolerate the pain of loneliness. Twain, the humorist and writer was in pain at his old age when he witnessed how one by one the members of his family left him and went on their journey of no return except one daughter, who was there at his death bed. It is like we don’t want to leave but we have to. His daughter seems to have been holding on to her father asking him not to leave her so quickly. Omar Khayyam, the Persian poet, addressed God by saying that, OH, Lord, why do you create such a beautiful work of art like everything around us and then you let them decay and die including us. What is the purpose of this creation and destruction? Perhaps God is creating and destroying everything at every moment. Dasein realizes that this world it has been thrown into is the realm of imperfection.
Job was trying his best to be perfect when it came to living a moral life. Nonetheless, he became subject to struggle and suffering. Why? He was so frustrated and depressed that wished he had never been born to go through all that pain. Little did he know that this very wish indicated the fact that he had some expectation for all the good things he had done before and was still doing then? This fact of expectation showed, even if he didn’t want any reward, but he didn’t expect all that hardship he had gone through either. May be, this is the reason why he suffered so much. However, his wish not to have been born came after he had suffered pain and agony. So this argument doesn’t seem to hold any weight. In other words, being under a lot of pressure, he lost it. Was he being tested to see how much he could take? This could have been the moment when Job realized he couldn’t expect perfection in this world. It seems somehow God hurt him and once Job screamed, then God came up and said: Now you know why I tortured you in the first place. I did it because you screamed.
There seems to be a moral lesson here in which we learn not to attach ourselves to even our good deeds to begin with, even though this was not the reason why Job suffered so much.
Dasein has to be careful concerning what Krishna, the avatar or incarnation of Vishnu, told Arjuna in Bhagavad-Gita. This book was written during Upanishad period, which roughly goes back to 2700 years ago. Addresing Arjuna, Krishna says, give without expectation, which had anticipated Kant’s categorical imperative in the 18th century. Kant referred to such a moral fortitude in his categorical imperative without the presence of God. Here is the major difference between Kant and Bhagavad-Gita. Kant wasn’t a religious philosopher like Thomas Aquinas or St. Augustine. There is no evidence that Kant had studied Hinduism. He was not familiar with this ancient Religion or perhaps he ran into a copy of Bhagavad-Gita in the library. Nevertheless, it is possible he had access to some material regarding India and its history. It is also in the realm of possibility that he was original in his discovery. What matters here is that the main difference between the two is the fact that Krishna is like Christ speaking with one of his followers, but in Kant’s case there’s no divine assistance. After all, the existence of God for Kant is only a postulate or assumption. Nevertheless, it is through practical science or morality that we can know God, which, to put it mildly, it is absurd. Ironically Kant thought if we didn’t achieve our goal to observe and practice all the moral teachings, perhaps we’ll in the next life. This sounds a little like the idea of reincarnation. No Hindu, however, would ever think that through moral precepts alone, we can know the reality as it really is. It seems that we need more than the rules of ethics in our conducts to reach the Ultimate Truth. First of all, the presence of Krishna was necessary in this equation in order to penetrate the wall of ambiguity in solving our ethical dilemmas. To reach Nirvana, we need more than moral rules.
Dasein goes through the agony of thinking about these issues.
Dasein’s existence is an issue for him or her. Dasein is getting old and lives with the bitter reality of death. He or she doesn’t want to leave this world. Like the late Wayne Dyer, who wrote and gave lectures while he was aware of his mortality before he joined the rest of the dead or did he? This caterpillar became a butter fly and flew away.
Rene Descartes began a campaign of separation between mind and body, not Spirit and matter. Going back to the story of creation, God’s breath and the dust of the ground made Adam. Mind, as we know it, must have been an aspect of God’s Spirit. Gradually God’s Spirit was reduced to only mind by the time we reach this French philosopher. Through his systematic doubt process, he separated mind from body, which sounds like an act of murder. Some prefer to use the word, “distinction” rather than “separation.”
Following Descartes, several philosophers made an attempt to bridge the gap between the two. The age of Enlightenment emerged out of France, which was Descartes’ home land. France, through Descartes, marked the beginning of this division between the two substances, which affect each other without being part of one another. Although Sartre went back to Descartes, Heidegger made an effort to bring the two together.
Dasein is the pivotal point of this unity. Dasein literally means “being there,” which reminds us of St. Paul when he said, “…in Him we live, move, and have our being or exist.”There is a unity here, in that we’re not separated from Being. “Why have forsaken me?”(Jesus) We could say here Being is the same breath or Spirit of God. In Adam there was a unity of Spirit and the dust of the ground, not mind and body. The unifying factor was Being or Spirit. Heidegger didn’t believe in this division between mind and body, whether in us or the world. WE grow up thinking about the world around us. But as we get older, we start building our own world and live in it. We tend to separate ourselves from the real world like Descartes after he came up with the statement, “I think, therefore I’m.” Then he found himself in his mental bottle with no connection to the outside world, which put him in danger of falling into solipsism. Solipsism means only the self exists or it is proven to do so (The Random House, College Dictionary). Descartes, thus, had to prove there was a world outside of his mind. To do so, he tried to prove the existence of God first, and through which he would come up with the idea that God knows regarding this world that is independent of our mind. This is called Cartesian dualism in a nutshell. Heidegger avoided what Sartre fell into. Heidegger realized that by using Being in his philosophy he could come up with a solution to the problem of Cartesian dualism. Dasein is not here but there in the world.
Geist for Hegel was the Holy Spirit, who was involved with time and history of mankind. Geist entered the river of time as an event. Once Christ as the word of God became flesh, this indicated that, according to St. John, God the father, God the son, and God the Holy Spirit were all in time. In the beginning was the word and the word were with God and the word was God. As you notice, all of this happened in time. Adam was created in time but God never entered time. However, in the Gospel of John God enters time. For Hegel Geist is in time. Hegel removed the ceiling between the realm of phenomenon and noumenon or appearance and beyond it. Once the ceiling was removed, the sun started shining to the lower level of Plato’s hierarchy. This is how Geist entered our world. Heidegger surprisingly benefitted from this analogy or metaphor and wrote the book, “Being and time.” This Being is no longer locked up in Plato’s level of Forms. Dasein is not separated from the world outside of itself. Dasein as being is in the world with Being. Logically we may have problem with the idea of transcendence but ontologically or metaphysically there is a unity at hand. Nevertheless, it is very interesting that Heidegger was not accused of Pantheism as Spinoza was.
We’re living in our own world. The late president Nixon also had built a world in which he operated his affairs. After the Watergate incident exposed him to the public, his world collapsed all around him. It seems Heidegger wants us to break away from this world and realize that we’re already in the real world.
“Da” means “There, now and then.” “Sein” means “being.” For Dasein there is no “I” and “Thou.” There is no now and then. I’m not like a light house projecting the huge and powerful lamp towards the ocean. I’m not the guard tower with a projector towards the world out there. As much as the possible and contingent world is part of the Ultimate Reality or its potential, the ocean lit by the light tower is in fact the ocean and the ocean is the light tower. When I was given the order to guard the military camp from the tower, I would turn the light projector towards me in order to keep warm when temperature was perhaps below zero. All I knew it was very cold and at times it was not bearable. Occasionally I would fall sleep around 2:00 or 3:00 a.m. If you fell asleep while the projector was directed towards outside, you could possible die very easily. I was just hoping the higher soldiers or the commander wouldn’t catch me off guard. Otherwise there would be a penalty. I guess I was lucky that I was never caught. Heidegger thought we hardly turn the projector towards ourselves. We focus on there and not us, where as we’re there and there is us. There is no then and now. Now is then and then is now. Mind is body and body is mind. Spirit is the dust of the ground and the ground is the Spirit. These divisions are the game plays of my mind. He was not an idealist like Berkeley and Hegel. But he had reached a point to realize that if the Ultimate reality had to generate the world of possibilities and imperfection, because otherwise it wouldn’t be what it is, then we’re within this Reality. He used Being to express this reality. “For in Him we live and move and have our being.” There is no me as a projector and the world out there. The world out there is here and it is me. We’re one and there’s no division. These dichotomies are shows of our mind. However, from the point of the Spirit within me, there’s only one Reality. Pure reason divides as Kant had it. Spirit in Adam is about unity and oneness. It is the unlimited Reason of which Kant doesn’t seem to talk.
The light tower projector while spinning guides the ships to the port, at times, in a stormy ocean. Spirit does the same thing within us. The army camp tower projector, on the other hand, acts like Immanuel Kant’s pure reason that projects our categories on to the world. This projector shows us what is capable of in the darkness of the night. It is unable to reach beyond its power. What we see out there is nothing but our own categories of our minds. The computer of Kant can only give me what I have already put in it. What we observe is not the natural law. This is a subjective reality of my own mind. What is missing in Kant’s project is the presence of Spirit or The Intellect, or the unlimited Reason. It is through this reality that we can have access to beyond the closed system of Kant. Kant’s subjectivism doesn’t allow him to move into the unifying reality of Spirit. Heidegger, however, brings in Being or Spirit, units Dasein and the world. Dasein operates within the reality of Being. Bishop Berkeley wanted to get rid of the world independent of our mind by calling it nothing but our own ideas. He tried to resolve Cartesian dualism by reducing everything to ideas that are in our minds. Heidegger didn’t fall into this kind of idealism. Dasein’s problem is not about mind and body as two different substances. He rather deals with Being here. We’re in Being, therefore, this “I and the world” subject doesn’t arise. Mother earth and Spirit are one reality. St. Mary and the Holy Spirit are one in that Jesus is the symbol of this unity. In Being we’re one. We as beings are connected to Being like the ray of the sun is connected to the sun. It is through Being or Spirit, not mind that we’re one and there’s no bifurcation between us and the world out there. We can realize that the world is not out there but here and we’re one with it. This, I believe, is the unity Heidegger is talking about in his writings.
For Aristotle the mind is the storage room of Plato’s Forms, which correspond to the objects and beings in the world. Horse, for instance, is a Plato’s Form. It is not like any other horses we see in our world, in that, they age and eventually they die. However, Plato’s Forms are transcendent and immutable. They don’t change and become. They simply are. Aristotle rather argued that when we see 50 horses, then we develop an idea about them in our mind. Mind becomes very important here. Mind, as we know, is not a tangible reality. We can’t see it or smell it or touch it, or hear it, or taste it. Can we say the same thing about Plato’s Forms? I would think so. I don’t know about you. There’re philosophers who deny the existence of the mind. So, Aristotle denied the existence of Plato’s Forms. He argued that these ideas or concepts are in our minds. Thus, we go from one abstract realm to another one. But he said that these mental forms correspond to the beings and objects of our world. Was Being also considered as a Form like other Forms for Plato and Aristotle? If there Good was regarded the highest Form according to Plato, then Being must have been treated the same way. If this were the case, then Being must have been nothing but a concept, which also corresponded to the beings out there in the world. But Being like other concepts is no longer a transcendent one, so it is only being. I have seen many beings; therefore, I developed the idea of being in my mind. With Plato we have a vertical reality and with Aristotle a horizontal one. Here we have an image of a cross and Jesus in the middle of it. Aristotle soon realized that if his 4 causes, namely, efficient, material, forma, and final causes were true, then this can’t be Plato’s Form. This formal cause needs matter as much as matter needs it. In reality being needs an object as much as the latter needs being. If I said this apple is or exists, this would mean both apple and its being need one another. Therefore, being here can’t be Plato’s Being, which is not subject to change and becoming. Aristotle had no choice but come up with a Form that doesn’t need matter, because it is pure actuality. Symbolically, Heidegger, like Michelangelo, would say: “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free…. Aristotle freed this bird from the cage of the world’s objects and turned it into an uncaused Cause, and unmoved Mover, and finally pure Form, which meets Plato’s Forms in the realm of perfection. Perfect Forms have no business to be imprisoned in the objects of this world. This chained Form in the Plato’s cave had to be freed to be able to go back to the realm of Forms.
Heidegger knew about the famous paradox of God being here and also nowhere. On the one hand God is everywhere. On the other hand, God is nowhere. God is here and nowhere at the same time and in the same relationship. This defies Aristotelian logic of either/or, because it is super-logical and not illogical.
Heidegger needs Being or there’s no movement and change. Somehow, transcendent Being is with Dasein. Maximus, in the movie Gladiator, told hid soldiers before they were ready to attack, remember whatever you do in life will have its echo in eternity. However, time and eternity are not proportional. Time and Being are also not proportional. Then how is it possible to have Being or Spirit with us while we’re in time? In this theatre of life Being is related to beings just as the rays of the sun are connected to the sun. This Being is like Aristotle’s pure Form, which doesn’t need matter to reach its actuality.
From the Ultimate Reality, which is way above Being, time and motion are illusory, because this highest Reality is beyond any duality, such as being and non-being, rest and motion.ere Being is first manifestation and still transcendent. We live and move in Being. This Being is the God who is at rest so the whole universe would be in motion. Change and Being are not proportional just like time and eternity. But we’re in Being and we’re beings because of Being. As much as Spirit is with the dust of the ground, thus Adam, Being is with us. We move because Being is with us. We’re in Being like fishes in the ocean. We move from A to B through the water. Above the ocean is the Ultimate Reality. From that high point the ocean and its movements are nothing but illusions. In the ocean, time and motion are real. We can’t live without them.
This Being Heidegger is talking about must be the God we’re used to worship. This God, just like Aristotle’s form or formal cause needs matter in order to reach its actuality. Why? Because a God that needs to rest and also goes into wrath and rage can’t be a perfect God. God doesn’t become jealous. All these are characteristics of human being and animals. Anthropomorphic God needs us as much as we need Him. The word “anthropos” means “man” in Greek. The word “morphe” means form. We create our own gods and worship them. The population of the world is 7,632,819,325 and increasing every minute. There’re 7 billion humans and perhaps they all believe in their own gods. However, there is only one Ultimate Reality, which is the One. In some sense, we all morph, if I could use this word, our gods in our own ways. We form and shape them the way we want. One wonders whether God has created or is creating us or we have been engaged in this task of creating gods. Immanuel Kant called, “God exists” an analytic statement, that is, existence here doesn’t add anything to God. As we know, he wasn’t speaking of the Ultimate Reality. Let us give Kant the benefit of the doubt in that he got rid of the God that had been the figment of people’s imagination. This God perhaps was an anthropomorphic one, like the ones we talked about before. If we’re allowed by the grammarians to say, “Existence” is God”, then we’re not bothered whether “God” is adding anything to existence or not. “Existence is God” is what we have been saying all along. Here Being is God. “God is” or “God beings” are analytic statements. “Is” is God or “Being” is God are telling us, even if God doesn’t add anything to “is” or “being”, we are still on a firm ground. If Kant dismisses God at the front door, he brings it in as a postulate or as an assumption for our ethics. If Kant had thought of the Ultimate Reality or Brahman in Hinduism, perhaps he would never have bothered whether statement “God exists” was analytic or not, because Brahman simply doesn’t exist. It is beyond the duality of being and non-being. It is not even is. It doesn’t being. I wish Kant had given a little thought to someone like Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772).He was a Lutheran Swedish theologian, scientist, philosopher, revelator, and mystic. If Kant had befriended him, maybe he would have come up with better ideas when it came to the existence of God.
Buddha had a different philosophy concerning this issue. He didn’t reject the existence of Hindu gods as we would like to think. All what he did was refute what people thought of them. Here is the story of an elephant in a dark room. Those who entered the room had no idea as to what was there. Thus, they all came out with different opinions regarding the reality of what they touched and experienced. But when we’re dealing with spiritual matters, we must have a different kind of experience. Buddha was against their opinions of those gods as if they could touch them like the elephant in the dark room. He thought having opinions was not enough and was not going to help us. We ought to experience and smell the perfume of those gods. He wanted them to know the reality of what they only believe in. Having faith alone is not sufficient. Experiencing the unknown is very different from experiencing the body of an elephant. We must find the right method of understanding of the reality of those gods than just think about them and come up with our own opinions. With elephant story we experience different parts of the animal and then we think about what we have touched. God or gods, Brahman and Atman cannot be experienced physically. Empiricism teaches us that our knowledge comes from experience alone. Rationalism, on the other hand, maintains that our knowledge is rooted in reason alone. Buddha held that finally our purpose should be to have an experience of the Ultimate Reality.
Heidegger ought to aim for a Reality, which doesn’t even exist. It is way above and beyond Being or God.
Lao-tzu said in “Tao-Te-Ching”: being and non-being create each other. This is the realm of beings, opposites, and contradictions. He said: It is hidden but always present. I don’t know who gave birth to it. It is older than God.
This Ultimate Reality or Brahman is dealt with in almost the same way in Upanishads. It pervades the whole universe of reality and yet it remains transcendent. It is transcendent and immanent at the same time. Aristotelian logic doesn’t allow us to have such a concept at all. Nevertheless, quantum mechanics and subatomic reality in modern physics can help us understand this a lot better. In quantum mechanics physics things can happen at the same time and in the same relationship, which is considered a contradiction in Aristotelian logic.
For the Muslim philosophers there was a difference between the necessary existence and or possible reality. The former conveys the message that necessary Being can’t not be, thus it must be. Its very existence is necessary. Our beings are only possible, namely, I could be here and gone tomorrow.
This is a wonderful concept. Is this what Heidegger was referring to when he talked and wrote about Being? This is an interesting question. Heidegger would have problem solving the reality of Brahman or this non-duality Reality, as if Aristotle’s rules of logic were carved in two tablets and had come down with him from Mount Sinai. Aristotle was no Moses.
This ocean of Being is connected with the rest of beings in the water. The Ultimate Reality is that, which is above the water of the ocean. This Being is Vishnu. It is Shiva, but not the Ultimate One. It is present in everything and yet absent.
Time is what we have to deal with as human beings. We’re locked up in Plato’s cave struggling to free ourselves from the bondage of time. Time heals and destroys, builds and demolishes, and yet time isn’t an agent. Time doesn’t move but things in it do. Time is an illusion for the Hindus and a category of our mind to Kant. It sounds like time has no substantiality. It is perhaps like a hole in a piece of cloth, though it exists, it is yet nothing.
Do we live with death at every moment? Yes we do, according to Heidegger. Socrates once said, philosophy is but practice of death. We’re facing death at every second. We’re mortal, which means we’re bond to Succumb and surrender to death. We’re being unto death.
Motion is a chain of being and non-being. Non-being is the vacuum we leave behind. This is not about the late persons alone, who leave a vacuum behind as they departure. As we walk, we leave a vacuum behind. This emptiness left behind represents death or non-being. When we die, we’re non-beings.
It is hard to say whether Heidegger believed we would be in another form after we pass on. We don’t think he had any faith in rebirth.
What is death anyway? If we could argue that we would exist after we died, then we can’t say that death is the absence of being, because we must be in some form after we pass. In other words, we need to become whole again. However, if we could argue that there’s no life after death, then we could say that non-being is the end of this life for the deceased. What is life anyway? I’m like a fish in the ocean of Being. The ocean is stationary but I’m moving. My life food sustenance is the rope going through my mouth and exits my body later on. I’m moving horizontally. Either I’m stationary or the rope is. If I’m at rest, then the rope of the food sustenance is going through me. And if the rope is at rest, then I’m moving forward. Which is which? What difference does it make? This ocean of Being is transcendent as well as immanent. While Being is immanent in the ocean, it is also transcendent above the ocean. They say God is immanent, that is, it is present throughout the universe of being. This is not illogical but super-logical.
We’re very much like dolphins and whales. Although we’re in the world of Being, we’re not of it. We need to come up for oxygen. We’re in Being like fishes, and yet we come up on the surface in order to breath and use oxygen. We surface because we need to be in touch with the Ultimate Reality, which is the world above the ocean. As far as Being is concerned, it is connected to the Ultimate Reality, because Being is the first manifestation of the Ultimate. This analogy or metaphor may be the best for our purpose here. The reality above the ocean or the sea is like the Ultimate. The ocean represents Being from which all other beings generate. Man is in the sea like the whales and the dolphins. Although he is in the sea, yet he needs to breathe the air of the Ultimate to survive, because there’s something in him, which is not created. The Hindus call it “Atman” and we name it “Spirit” or the ray from the sun of the Ultimate. We’re not made of mind and matter. There’s a trinity of mind, matter, and Spirit.
Did Heidegger refer to this air and sky above the sea called the Ultimate Reality, which is the sun?
The lotus flower though rooted in the mud, it moves upward passing through the water till it surfaces and still ascends towards the sun.
Buddha is sitting in the middle of the lotus. It moves vertically towards the sun. It comes from the mud and is going through the water of Being, and being not content, it climbs the Jacob’s ladder to reach outside of the sea of Being.
Just worry about Being and its relation with beings is not enough.
Time has no reality except in the sea of Being. Once everything was created by Being in 6 days, then it rested. Of course, Being is not a being that needs rest. Nor is the God who created the whole universe and everything in it, less we might fall into anthropomorphism, which could easily happen, unless we’re very careful. Nonetheless, we need this these myth and mythological stories in the theatre of the world in order to understand our scriptures. This is somewhat similar to what Philo Judaeus, the first century Alexandrian Jewish theologian and philosopher did to the stories in Genesis.
The ocean or the sea of Being is at rest so everything in it could move. In Being we live or exist, move, and have our beings. Time doesn’t move. It exists to organize our activities in Being. Otherwise it is nothing in and of itself. These abstract phenomena are with us so we can make some sense out of our lives in the sea of existence.
“Like corn mortals ripen and fall; like corn they come up again.” When a person dies, there arises this doubt: “He still exists,” say some; “he does not,” say others, I want you [death] to teach me the truth. (Nachiketa) “This doubt haunted even the gods of old, for the secret of death is hard to know.” (Yama, king of death) Ask me about anything you want but “Don’t ask me about the secret of death” (Yama) “Never can mortals be happy by wealth. How can we be desirous of wealth when we see your face and know we cannot live while you are here?” (Nachiketa) “Dispel this doubt of mine, O king of death: Does a person live after death or does he not? (Nachik) “far apart are wisdom and ignorance. The first leads one to self-realization; the second makes one more and more estranged from one’s real Self.” “Far beyond their eyes, hypnotized by the world of senses, opens the way to immortality. [They say] I am my body; when my body dies, I die. Krishna, the Avatar or incarnation of Vishnu, told Arjuna in Bhagavad-Gita, that this is not the case at all. Your body dies but your true Self never dies. Yama, the king of death, continues: “It is but few who hear about the Self. Few still dedicate their lives to its realization. Wonderful is the one who speaks about the Self. Rare are they who make it the supreme goal of their lives. Blessed are they who, through an illumined teacher, attain to Self-realization. The truth of the Self cannot come through one who has not realized that he is the Self. The intellect (pure reason) cannot reveal the Self, beyond its duality of subject and object.
Here we’re reminded of Kant’s position concerning pure reason. He argued that we cannot know God, self, and things in themselves through pure reason, because it is limited. Pure reason, according to Kant, asks questions it cannot answer. It is also a divider not a unifier phenomenon, if I can put it this way.
Here, the translator, Eknath Easwaran, used the term “intellect” to convey this message. However, we ought to remember that the word “Intellect” with capital ‘I’ should refer to the Self, with capital ‘S’, which is Atman within us.
When we read that the intellect is unable to reveal the Self, beyond its duality of subject and object, we ought to be very careful not say that the Self is changeless. If we say that the Self or Brahman is beyond any duality, then this would mean that it is also beyond rest and motion. If the Self is beyond rest and motion, then we cannot say it is changeless, because this would mean it is at rest. Since it is not at rest, therefore, it makes sense to say the world is in reality Maya or illusion. Changelessness gives us the world of motion, movement, and becoming. God rested after the creation of everything in 6 days. This God is changeless but not the Ultimate Reality or Brahman. Vishnu, Brahma, and Shiva are changeless but not Brahman. God, in whatever shape or form, must be changeless, so the whole universe would be in motion. Being an avatar, Krishna cannot be changeless. Nor was Christ, as an Avatar.
“The truth of the Self cannot come through one who has not realized that he is the Self.” I’m the Self? We’re potentially the Self and not actually, using the Aristotelian contribution to the Western philosophy. “The intellect cannot reveal the self, beyond its duality of subject and object. Those who see themselves in all and all in them help others through spiritual osmosis to realize the Self themselves. This awakening you have known comes not through logic and scholarship, but from close association with a realized teacher. The wise, realizing through meditation the timeless Self, beyond all perception, hidden in the cave of the heart, leave pain and pleasure far behind. Those who know they are both neither body, nor mind but the immemorial Self, the divine principle of existence, find the source of all joy and live in joy abiding. (Yama) We’re not either, or reality. This takes us beyond Aristotelian logic of either/or. Aristotle doesn’t use this logic in ethics. In practical science of Aristotle we can see the logic of neither/nor. Be neither rash, nor cowered. Be courageous. Here, however, Yama tells Nachiketa about the wise who go beyond the utilitarian approach to happiness by moving away from pain and pleasure. They’re those who know they’re neither body, nor mind. Rene Descartes’ dualism is totally abandoned here. Spirit or Self is the goal here, which was missing in Cartesian dualism. Self is the principle of existence or being. However, in itself is not Being. It is beyond being and non-being. We ought to aim for this Self and leave mind/body problem, created by Descartes, to those who treated him as if he was a great prophet. Yes, he was a prophet of division, which had never existed in the history of Hebraic tradition.
Let us remember that the whole time it is death, as a teacher, who is teaching Nachiketa. We’re learning from death about life beyond our ordinary life. “The all-knowing Self [the knower] was never born, nor will it die. Beyond cause and effect, this Self is eternal and immutable. The Ultimate Reality is the knower and we’re the known.
As we can see, it is not uncaused Cause of Aristotle. However, if Aristotle’s Cause is changeless, then why Self is immutable? Perhaps, we can think of Aristotle’s pure Form, which is pure actuality. Is it possible that This Self discussed by Yama, the king of death, is both transcendent and immanent. It is even beyond the Aristotelian pure Form, in that; it just doesn’t fit the logic of either/or. Aristotle’s pure Form is like Being or God, while Self can be both transcendent and at the same time immanent.
It is also possible that this Self is Atman that is within each individual and is in the realm of many not One, which is Brahman. Brahman, by way of analogy, is like the sun and its ray is Atman. Therefore, this Self Yama is talking about must be that reality, which resides in the cave of everyone’s heart. This Self is unchanging and immutable though everything else is becoming. Although both Atman and Brahman are one according to Shankara, yet there’s a difference between the two, according to Ramanuja. We need Self to be immutable, so change would have meaning. The Ultimate Reality or Brahman is beyond all dualities. Atman here is like Avatar, except the fact that we couldn’t see the former whereas we could observe the latter.
“If the slayer believes that he can kill or the slain believes that he can be killed, neither knows the truth. The eternal Self slays not, nor is ever slain. [This reminds us of Krishna’s conversation with Arjuna in the Bhagavad-Gita.
“Hidden in the heart of every creature exists the Self, subtler, than the subtlest, greater than the greatest. They [The wise] go beyond all sorrow who [that] extinguish their self-will and [they] behold the glory of the Self through the grace the Lord of Love. Though one sits in meditation in a particular place, the Self within can exercise his influence far away. Though still, he moves everything everywhere. This reminds us of Aristotle’s unmoved mover. This is very consistent with the fact that Self is immutable.
“When the wise realize the Self, formless in the midst of forms, changeless in the midst of change, omnipresent and supreme, they go beyond sorrow. The Self cannot be known through study of the scriptures, nor through the intellect [pure reason], nor through hearing discourses about it. The Self can be attained only by those whom the Self chooses. Verily unto them does the Self reveal himself.”
This is like what St. Augustine said about grace being a gift from God. We cannot earn it, which Martin Luther (1483-1546), the German leader of the Protestant Reformation tried to do. In other words, it is not based on meritocracy. Although he was an Augustinian monk, he was still trying very hard to earn God’s grace just like Job. Of course, Luther changed his course of action later on.
This is not a one way street. As you get closer to your mirror, your image gets closer to you. We make ourselves candidates for election, but finally people decide who to pick. You don’t go to Heaven automatically, as some believe this is the case.
While Heidegger says we’re beings unto death, Upanishads teaches us through death itself as to what life is all about first. After all, how do we know what death is, unless we know first what life is. We get to know things by their opposites. This world is the realm of opposites and contradictions.
“The Self cannot be known by anyone who desists not from unrighteous ways, controls not the senses, stills not the mind, and practices not meditation. None else can know the omnipresent Self, whose glory sweeps away the rituals of the priest and the prowess of the warrior and puts death itself to death.”
As we can see, Yama, the king of death, tells Nach that this Self puts death, namely, me to death. In other words, once you’re chosen by the Self, then you can even put death itself or Yama, to death. This is where Yama speaks of itself as the king of death. In Islam Yama could be called, “Malek al- mout or Ezrail or Angel of death.” Yama is talking about its own existence here. If you’re righteous and control your senses, and still your mind and finally take part in meditation, then you smile at death, before you say goodbye to it. This could be interpreted as dying before your physical death. Socrates once said, philosophy is nothing but the practice of death. With physical death our bodies stop being whole. After death it is part. Physical body, once death occurs, joins the inanimate objects. Nevertheless, we can overcome death and defeat it when we get to know the Self. That is why Arjuna is taught by Krishna in Bhagavad-Gita to know his true Self or Atman. Our I-ness goes away with our bodies at the moment of death. But this doesn’t mean we’re out of the woods. Death never replaces what we can do to be one with the Ultimate Reality, otherwise suicide would be the way to the Reality, which is absurd. The ray of the sun and the sun are one now that our I-ness is removed. Our I’s block the sun from reaching us. My ordinary self interferes with this union between me and the Ultimate.
I’m being unto death, according to Heidegger, that is, I can be stopped from living at any moment. But if I have been ready, according to Upanishad, then I shouldn’t fear death. “In the secret cave of the heart, two realities are seated by life’s fountain. The separate ego drinks of the sweet and bitter stuff, liking the sweet, disliking the bitter, while supreme Self drinks sweet and bitter neither liking this nor disliking that. [The ego naturally avoids bitter fruits while it likes sweet ones. There is a difference between honey and bitter gourd or momordica charantia, so named scientifically. This ego differentiates between the two. If there was no former, we couldn’t say the latter is bitter. He or she eats the juice of bitter fruit with sugar substitutes, because she is diabetic. However, she still prefers sweet fruits over bitter ones. This is not the case for the supreme Self, because it drinks both sweet and bitter fruit juices while it neither likes nor dislikes them. The logic of the Self seems to be neither/nor rather than either/or of the ordinary self. Sweet and bitter are not contradictory but opposites. Nevertheless, something can’t be sweet and not be sweet at the same time and in the same relationship. Contradictions are opposites, but opposites can’t be contradictory. The Self is beyond any duality and differentiations. It is One not many. It is indifferent towards the opposites. It is not partial to this or the other side. When it rains, it covers both wet and dry lands. The Self doesn’t have to tell things by their opposites. [There are no opposites or contradictions in the Self]. We long for justice and resent injustice. The Ultimate is beyond them.
The ego gropes in darkness, while the Self lives in light. So declare the illumined sages and the householders who worship the sacred fire in the name of the Lord. [We live in darkness whereas the Self resides in light. We’re chained in the dark cave and the only reality are the images on the wall of the cave, which are created by the bonfire and those who walk in front of them in the upper level or the balcony or terrace. The sun has been shining outside of the cave. Yes, we live in darkness. The light is in the center and we have been away from the sun in this solar system]. May we light the fire of Nachiketa that burns out the ego and enables us to pass from fearful fragmentation to fearless fullness in the changeless whole? [Once the fire burns out our egos, then we’re able to go from fearful fragmented world to fearless fullness in the immutable whole. We’ll reach the One or the Self when the fire of the Ultimate Reality burns our egos that stand between us and that Reality. Moses was relieved from his I-ness by the burning bush on top of the Mount Sinai. Prometheus brought the fire from Heaven to burn our I-ness so that we can become like gods. Perhaps the burning bush observed by Moses on top of Mount Sinai, was referring to the same fact. We ought to go to the One from many, from the fragmentation to the whole].
Know the self as lord of the chariot, the body as the chariot itself, the discriminating intellect [discerning Intellect] as the charioteer, and the mind as reins. The senses, say the wise, are the horses; selfish desires are the roads they travel. When the Self is confused with the body, mind, and senses, they [The wise] point out, he seems to enjoy pleasure and suffer sorrow.
So much for Utilitarian philosophers like Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) and John Stuart Mill (1806-73), for both of whom pleasure symbolized happiness, though with some differences.
When a person lacks discrimination [discernment] and his mind is undisciplined, the senses run hither and thither like wild horses. But they [senses] obey the rein like trained horses when one has discrimination [discernment] and has made the mind one-pointed. [An experienced chariot racer knew how to arrange the positions of the four horses so they could win. This was beautifully demonstrated in the novel by Lew Wallace based on which the movie Ben-Hur was made in 1959.] Those who lack discrimination, with little control over their thoughts and far from pure, reach not the pure state of immortality but wander from death to death; but those who have discrimination, with a still mind and pure heart, reach journey’s end, never again to fall into the jaws of death. With a [discerning Intellect] as charioteer and trained mind as reins, they attain the supreme goal of life, to be united with the Lord of love. The senses derive from objects of sense-perception, sense objects from mind, mind from intellect, and intellect from ego; ego from undifferentiated consciousness, and consciousness from Brahman. [Our 5 senses plug us to the world around us. We have sense perceptions, which are based on sense objects. Sense objects come from mind, mind from intellect [reason], and intellect from ego [self]; ego from undifferentiated consciousness, and consciousness from Brahman. Brahman is the First Cause and last refuge. [I’m reminded of Aristotle’s pure Form as the First Cause. Brahman, the hidden Self [Atman] in everyone, does not shine forth. He is revealed only to those who keep their mind one-pointed on the Lord of Love and thus develop a super conscious manner of knowing. [Here, I believe, Brahman is in its Saguna or human quality, otherwise this Reality is beyond He or She]. Meditation enables them to go deeper and deeper into consciousness from the world of words to the world of thoughts, then beyond thoughts to wisdom in the Self. Get up! Wake up! Seek the guidance of an illumined teacher and realize the Self. Sharp like a razor’s edge, the sages say, is the path, difficult to traverse. The supreme Self is beyond name and form, beyond the senses, inexhaustible, without beginning, without end, beyond time, space, and causality, eternal, immutable. Those who realize the Self are forever free from the jaws of death. [This is what we don’t get from Heidegger]. The wise, who gain experiential knowledge of this timeless tale of Nachiketa, narrated by Death, attain the glory of living in spiritual awareness. Those who, full of devotion, recite this supreme mystery at a spiritual gathering are fit for eternal life. They are indeed fit for eternal life. [Let us repeat]
Those who realize the Self are forever free from the Jaws of death. The wise, who gain experiential knowledge of this timeless tale of Nachiketa, narrated by Death [Yama], attain the glory of living in spiritual awareness. The self-existent Lord pierced the senses to turn outward. Thus we look to the world without and see not the Self within us. A sage withdrew his senses from the world of change and, seeking immortality, looked within and beheld the deathless Self. The immature run after sense pleasures and fall into the widespread net of death. But the wise, knowing the Self as deathless, seek not the changeless in the world of change. [As we can see, Yama or death as teacher, is directing us to search for the Self within. This changeless Atman cannot be found without. It has to be attained within. Once we get to know it, death is defeated]. That through which one enjoys form, taste, smell, sound, touch, and sexual union is the Self. Can there be anything not known to That who is the One in all? [How can a fish go from ‘A’ to ‘B’ without moving through water?] Know One, know all. That through which one enjoys the waking and sleeping states is the Self. To know that as consciousness is to go beyond sorrow. Those who know the Self as enjoyer of honey from the flowers of the senses, ever present within, ruler of time, go beyond fear. For this Self is supreme. That which is the source of the sun and of every power in the cosmos, beyond which there is neither going nor coming, is the Self indeed. For the Self is supreme. What is here is also there; what is there, also here. Who sees multiplicity but not the one [One] indivisible Self must wander on and on from death to death. Only the one-pointed mind attains this state of unity. There is no one but Self. Who sees multiplicity but not the one [One] indivisible Self must wander on and on from death to death. Only the one-pointed attains this state of unity. There is no one but the Self. Who sees multiplicity but not the one indivisible Self must wander on and on from death to death. That thumb-sized being enshrined in the heart, ruler of time, past and future, to see whom is to go beyond all fear, is the Self indeed. For the Self is supreme! That thumb-sized being, a flame without smoke,[Burning bush] ruler of time, past and future, the same on this day as on tomorrow, is the Self indeed. For this Self is supreme! As the rain on a mountain peak runs off the slops on all sides, so those who see only the seeming multiplicity of life run after things on every side. As pure water poured into pure water becomes the very same, so does the Self of the illumined man or woman, Nachiketa, verily become one with the Godhead. [The ray of the sun becomes one with the sun or Atman becomes one with Brahman or better said, they’re one already]. There is a city with eleven gates of which the ruler the unborn Self, whose light forever shines. They go beyond sorrow who meditate on the Self and are freed from the cycle of birth and death. For this Self is supreme!
The Self is the sun shining in the sky, the wind blowing in space; he is the fire at the altar and in the home the guest; he dwells in human beings, in gods, in truth, and in the vast firmament; he is the fish born in water, the plant growing in the earth, the river flowing down from the mountain. For this Self is supreme!
The adorable one who is seated in the heart rules the breath of life. Unto him all senses pay their homage. When the dweller in the body breaks out in freedom from the bonds of flesh, what remains? For this Self is supreme!
We live not by the breath that flows in and flows out, but by him who causes the breath to flow in and flow out. [Here vertical causality is emphasized].
Now, O Nachiketa, I will tell you of this unseen, eternal Brahman, and what befalls the Self after death. Of those unaware of the Self, some are born as embodied creatures while others remain in a lower stage of evolution, as determined by their own need for growth.
That which is awake even in our sleep, giving form in dreams to the objects sense craving , that indeed is pure light, Brahman he immortal, who contains all the cosmos, and beyond whom none can go. For this Self is supreme!
As the same fire assume different shapes when it consumes objects differing in shape, so does the one Self take the shape of every creature in whom he is present. As the same air assumes different shapes when it enters objects differing in shape, so does the one Self take the shape of every creature in whom he is present.
As the sun, who is the eye of the world, cannot be tainted by the defects in our eyes or by the objects it looks on, so the one Self, dwelling all, cannot be tainted by the evils of the world. For this Self transcends all!
[If the Self is the same Atman or the Ray from the Sun or Brahman, then it must be beyond all dualities. If this were the case, then it would also have to be beyond transcendence and immanence. It is the question of neither/nor logic rather than either/or one. It sounds as if we’re talking about the Self being both transcendent and immanent, which is not logically possible. Upanishads, however, were written centuries before Aristotle’s time. Besides, quantum mechanic physicists had already faced difficulties with Aristotle’s logic of either/or in sub-atomic level of reality. Hence, we should understand why we see the Self is spoken of as being both transcendent and immanent at the same time. The Self seems to be both of them at the same time and in the same relationship. Let us say, if Buddha, Christ, and Krishna, or the Avatars of Vishnu, were asked whether they were either human or god, then based on this Hindu logic, they would have to say, they were neither. Buddha seems to have avoided this by saying that he was awake or enlightened, because once you’re out of Plato’s cave, you’re beyond either or logic. Buddha would say, he was in the realm of the enlightened in which there is only Oneness or One consciousness.
The early church fathers, in the third century A.D, settled this issue by believing that Jesus was both, namely, fully human and fully god. Later Christians made use of paradoxes to solve this dilemma, because they have the appearances of contradictions without being contradictory. They claimed Christ was the middle way, like the middle of an hourglass, between transcendence and immanence. In reality, we can think of all other prophets to have this divine quality. After all, the very creation of Adam began with God breathing His spirit into the dust of the ground.
Plato’s Forms of perfection, which are transcendent, gave rise to his hierarchy. These Forms are the reason why the world below is in motion and becoming while the transcendent realm of Being is immutable. What if we argued that these Forms including the Form of Good, which is the highest, were beyond transcendence and immanence? If this were the case, then Aristotle couldn’t hold his position regarding Plato’s Forms. Being beyond transcendence and immanence, Plato’s Forms can’t be the reason for the changing world, because we need permanence to justify impermanence. Therefore, we have no reason to believe in movement and motion, because without the immutability of the Forms, our world is nothing but illusion. Plato’s level of perfection is a transcendent realm, which corresponds to Parmenides’ position, namely, what is, is. In other words, it is the realm of Being. Immanence is the abode of Heraclitus or Buddha’s philosophy of change. Some believe Heraclitus maintained that everything changes except change itself. But the concept of change also changes depending on what kind of change we’re talking about. For example, there’re fast changes, slow movements, weather changes, and moderate changes. It seems Heraclitus needs more than that to prove everything is changing. Plato’s Form of change is immutable. Plato must have been influenced by Heraclitus’ philosophy of change. Perhaps Plato used this concept and made it a base for transcendent Reality. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have been able to explain the change and motion all around us.
The ruler supreme, inner Self of all, multiplies his oneness into many. Eternal joy is theirs who see the Self in their own hearts. To none else does it come!
Changeless amidst the things that pass away, pure consciousness in all who are conscious, the One answers the prayers of many. Eternal peace is theirs who see the Self in their own hearts. To none else does it come!
Nachiketa asks: How can I know that blissful Self, supreme, inexpressible, realized by the wise? Is he the light, or does he reflect light?
Yama answers: There shines not the sun, neither moon nor star, nor flash of lightening, nor fire lit on earth. The Self is the light reflected by all. He shining, everything shines after him.
The Tree of Eternity has its roots above and its branches on earth below. Its pure root is Brahman the immortal, from whom all the worlds draw their life, and whom none can transcend. For this Self is supreme!
The cosmos comes forth from Brahman and moves in him. With his power it reverberates, like thunder crashing in the sky. Those who realize him pass beyond the sway of death. [Death loses its power over those who realize this reality. It no longer has dominion and control over them].
In fear of him fire burns; in fear of him the sun shines, the clouds rain, and the winds blow. In fear of him death stalks about to kill. If one fails to realize Brahman in this life before the physical sheath is shed, he must again put on a body in the world of embodied creatures.
Brahman can be seen, as in a mirror, in a pure heart; in the world of the ancestors as in a dream; in the gandharva [Heavenly beings in Hinduism and Buddhism, Wikipedia ] world as the reflections in trembling water; and clear as light in the realm of Brahma.
Knowing the senses to be separate from the Self, and the sense experience to be fleeting, the wise grieve no more.
Above the senses is the mind, above the mind, is the intellect. Above that is the ego, and above ego is the un-manifested Cause. And beyond is Brahman, omnipresent, attribute-less. Realizing him one is released from the cycle of birth and death.
When the five senses are stilled, when the mind is stilled, when the intellect is stilled, that is called the highest state by the wise. They say yoga [union] is this complete stillness in which one enters the unitive state, never to become separate again. If one is not established in this state, the sense of unity will come and go. The unitive state cannot be attained through words or thoughts or through the eye. How can it be attained except through one who is established in this state oneself?
There are two selves, the separate ego and the indivisible Atman. When one rises above I and me and mine, the Atman is revealed as one’s real Self.
When all desires that surge in the heart are renounced, the mortal becomes immortal. When all the knots that strangle the heart are loosened, the mortal becomes immortal. This sums up the teaching of the scriptures.
From the heart there radiate a hundred and one vital tracks. One of them rises to the crown of the head. This way leads to immortality, the others to death.
The Lord of love, not larger than the thumb, is ever enshrined in the hearts of all. Draw him clear out of the physical sheath, as one draws the stalk [the stem of a plant] from the munja grass. Know thyself to be pure and immortal! Know thyself to be pure and immortal!
The narrator says, Nachiketa learned from the king of death the whole discipline of meditation. Freeing himself from all separateness, he won immortality in Brahman. So blessed is everyone who knows the Self!
OM shanti shanti shanti
(The Katha Upanishad, translated by Eknath Easwaran).
What is death? Are we still asking this question? Why not? What would life be without death? “Death is certain for anyone born, and birth is certain for the dead; since the cycle is inevitable, you [Arjuna] have no cause to grieve! (The Bhagavad-Gita, trans by Barbara Stoler Miller). “Shortly, therefore, Tsu Lai fell ill. He lay gasping for life while his wife and children gathered around crying. Tsu Li came to see him and said, “Shhh! Get away from him! Do not disturb the transformation! Leaning against the door, he said to Tsu Lai, Great is the Maker! What will He use you for now? Where will He send you? Will He make you into a rat’s gizzard or a snake’s leg?” Tsu Lai replied, “ A son must go wherever his parents tell him to go! East,west, south, or north. Yin and Yang are no other than one’s parents. If they brought me to the verge of death and I do not obey them, then I am only being stubborn. They are not to be blamed.” (Chuang Tsu, The Great Master, new trans by GiA-Fu Feng/ Jane English.)
What would have been Heidegger’s reaction to this Hindu and Taoist notions of death? The emphasis is in both Hindu texts is on our true Self or Atman. This is the Self Immanuel Kant must have known as unlimited Reality. However, he mixed it up with the limited pure reason. It seems he consolidated the two as pure reason. The question is, how can unlimited and limited be consolidated? How can the Intellect and reason be the same? How can Spirit and mind or soul be one? How can uncreated and created be identical? Did he set the stage for Hegel to come with his philosophy? Hegel argued that we can resolve contradictions, that is, being and non-being, which would result in becoming.
Lord Krishna says: “Rarely someone sees it, rarely another speaks it, rarely anyone hears it-even hearing it, no one really knows it. As a man discards worn-out clothes to put on new and different ones, so the embodied self discards its worn-out bodies to take on other new ones.” (Gita). We can’t know this Reality residing within us through pure reason, as Kant himself admitted. I qua I can never have access to the sacred uncreated Atman. Atman and Brahman are One to begin with. The ray of the sun and the sun are one. Atman doesn’t have to know Brahman, because this would introduce duality. By the means of meditation we can pierce through the mystery of being. There’s no indication that Heidegger he knew about Hinduism and Buddha, which had been by discovered by Schopenhauer, the German philosopher in 19th century. However, if he had read the works of Schopenhauer, then he must have at least known something about the two above Religions.
More than 100 million people lost their lives in war in 20th century. Millions also died for different reasons than being killed in the battle fields. This was the bloodiest century in the history of mankind, thank to Mr. Darwin, who had thought we were going to evolve and progress towards perfection through time. Once time becomes God or God becomes time, thanks to Hegel’s philosophy of history, then we have problem with the transcendence of Reality. In other words, once God becomes mixed with the river of time, and then transcendence is compromised. Why do you think time become so important in 19th century?
Arjuna begs, “Tell me- who are you…?” Krishna responds: I am time grown old, [one is reminded of the old song “Ol’ man river” song by Paul Robeson] creating world destruction set in motion to annihilate the worlds; even without you, and all these warriors arrayed in hostile ranks will cease to exist… They are already slain by me. Be my instrument,” (Gita) In this old song we hear, “Let me go’ way from the Mississippi…show me dat stream called de river Jordan, Dat’s de ol’ stream, dat I long to cross… Once an avatar enters the flow of change and motion, it becomes subject to age, that is, “I’m time grown old”. In other words, I’m an old timer. To use Einstein’s example, my twin brother is still young, who crossed the river Jordan. I ought to cross the river Jordan to reach the Promised Land. This is a vertical ascent. By crossing Mississippi river, which is horizontal by nature, I’m not going to land in the Holy land. Through the horizontal hands of Jesus I go to his heart, which is in the middle of his chest, unlike ours, in order to ascend to the transcendent Reality of God the father and beyond to the Ultimate Reality. We go through Krishna to reach Vishnu and from there to Brahman or the Ultimate Reality.
However, Darwin’s use of time shows us the horizontal way to achieve this. This vertical journey is “The pilgrim’s progress” by John Bunyan, which is a vertical ascent, whereas the “ol’ man river” represents the “The Darwinian evolution”, which is more like a science fiction than anything else.
What is the essence or whatness of this phenomenon called “death”? To tell you the truth, we still don’t know why we’re, to become, we’re not. Why be and later not be? What is the purpose of this coming and leaving? Where were we before we were born? What is this named, “life”? Where is my destination? “Creatures are unmanifest in origin, manifest in the midst of life, and unmanifest again in the end.”(Gita) Did Heidegger asked these fundamental questions? I don’t believe so.
Krishna is an Avatar. He is incarnated Vishnu, who came to us from the transcendent realm. Jesus Christ was an Avatar of God the father. He was incarnated God who came to be among us. They both entered time. They both operated in time. With Hegel the latter became time. “I’m time grown old. (Krishna). But isn’t it true that time is an illusion? Then why Krishna answer, I’m time grown old? Well, baby Krishna is getting old. He is moving and growing. He is changing. In some sense none of them, namely, Krishna and Christ, were the Ultimate Reality. For the former time is an illusion. Thus, Krishna is safe here. How about Jesus in the philosophical hand of Hegel? Time is not an illusion in Christianity. When Krishna says to Arjuna that “I’m time grown old”, this would mean that time is not absolute. Perhaps Hegel relied heavily on Isaac Newton’s physics, who said time and space were absolute.
What is death? I know this much that I will one day have to succumb to it. We’re born alone and we’ll die alone. I’m mortal. I wasn’t born to die, at least that is what I believe. However, people are leaving, to where? Honestly, I have no idea. I have come from unmanifested reality like mind, and going to the unmanifested reality using Krishna’s language with slight difference. My origin has nothing to do with my senses, nor does my end. The manifest is between the two. “Death is certain for anyone born, and birth [ rebirth] is certain for the dead; since the cycle is inevitable, you have no cause to grieve!” (Krishna) However, while this is the way it is, is this the way it should be? But why do we have to go through this whole enchilada? Why do we have to go through this headache? This question remains unanswered, at least to me, because I prefer not to speak for everybody else in the world. Perhaps this question has been answered by the sages, seers, prophets, philosophers of the past or even the present time.
I’m sure Heidegger was not the only thinker who took this matter seriously. But he was unable to tell us what death is. We all know it is inevitable. But why do we have to go through life and death to begin with? Elijah ascended to Heaven, as we read in the Bible. Why not us? Perhaps this biblical story is telling us that there’s a way. What is the secret of being? It is just the way it is, is not an answer for me. Buddha told the mother with the dead baby that just as a flower fades away, we also someday will come to our end. Jesus temporarily brought Lazarus to life. However, he eventually died. Buddha once said, all conditional things are bond to perish and are not permanent. This is not an exact quotation, of course. But the message is conveyed.
What is life? What is being? Life is perhaps what makes death possible. Don’t teach me how to live my life. Just tell me what life is first. My mind doesn’t seem to figure this out. We come together as a family and gradually brothers and sisters go their own ways. I was alone in my room with my parents still alive downstairs. In retrospect, I have always been alone. I’m now left with one brother and one sister, who’re both older than me. But who are or were they in my life? They’re getting old like the tree in front of my house. Am I crazy to ask these questions? I don’t think so. Whereas Heidegger was asking these questions, millions of people were falling into the most violent death in the world around him and elsewhere. Not everyone dies a peaceful death. If we’re the possibilities of the Ultimate Reality, why do we have to suffer so much? Right next to the recent galvanized poles, there could be a railroad track. Some of us are on the train and some are on top of poles. Some come and go and some climb up to reach the stars. Some ascend the Jacob’s ladder with the help of the angels.
Kant’s pure reason can’t help me to find out what life is. I need something else. Perhaps a good philosophical analysis or argument could show me the way. What if I learn how to purify my mind? A purified mind is not Kant’s pure reason. It is what Kant failed to approach. He just didn’t know how. He talked regarding the limitation of pure reason. However, he didn’t even let us know how he got this idea without knowing what an unlimited reality is. I believe once we purify our mind, then we have discovered the unlimited Reason or the Intellect within us.
Why the word “creation” doesn’t seem to have been used in Eastern Religion, except perhaps in Hinduism? What if we’re not created at all? What if we’re part of this organic whole of cosmos? Let us say, I have always been and I’ll always be, perhaps in different forms. This is an ever recurring process.
Why the term, “creation” or coming into being, is used in Abrahamic Religions? Coming into existence would mean that I did not exist before I came to this world. We can say, death is the absence of life or life is the absence of death. Epicurus and St. Augustine also used a negative language in order to convey their messages. The former said, pleasure is the absence of pain while the latter believed evil is the absence of good. Epicurus believed when we’re dead, we don’t exist and when we’re alive, we’re not dead. What if we turn this around and say that when I have tasted death, it doesn’t mean I don’t exist. My body is not functioning for a while till it finally stops, if I’m not cremated, because the buried bodies are still growing for some time. My body decays but I don’t, because I’m not my body. My body has been going through many different forms since I was conceived. I’m still changing till I die or decease. Have my feelings and sentiments changed along with my perception and consciousness? I think they all have been going through changes but I still exist. Something tells me that after I departure from this world, the process of change and becoming will continue. Unfortunately this is one way street. Once I experience death, I cannot come back to tell everybody about my experience.
As long as I live, death follows me like my shadow. As long as I move and walk, I initiate the chain of being and non-being. Being is the absence of non-being and vice versa. When there is motion, things are being followed by non-being. There is no contradiction here. Being follows non-being and vice versa. If being and non-being were simultaneously happening, then there would be contradiction. Our growth is the very reason why we’re not contradictory realities. Becoming is neither being nor non-being. It has both realities within itself. This is the way Hegel resolved contradiction. Being and non-being can’t be at once and in the same relationship. Something can’t be and not be at the same time and in the same relationship. What happens when we die? My body freezes over and is turned into a wax Museum item. My body is motionless or at least it appears to be for a while. But am I a whole like I was before I died? When man and woman marry, there are whole whereas they were two halves before. They say we were halves but now we’re whole. It seems absurd, however, because we’re already whole before marriage. A baby is the consequence of this union. However, this baby should be a whole by her or himself. However, we consider the baby to be only a half. So what is it? Am I a whole or a half finally? I would say that before marriage we’re both wholes. I’m not Adam to be only a half, because he lost one of his ribs and once the rib is sheathed, he is a whole again. A sword and its sheath is a whole. Was he a whole when he was created? As long as he was alive, he must have been a whole. I think once we die, we’re no longer a whole. But what happens to my other half? Perhaps it continues becoming? But becoming what?
What is death? How do I know? I’m just a fellow like any of you. I have not experienced death to know what it is. However, I think, by way of analogy, it is like when we enter our dream. I don’t know at which moment I start having my dream. The difference is when I’m dead, you can’t wake me up. When my brother in-law died, they rolled his body to one side in bed but he didn’t move.
What is tomorrow of anxiety? In some sense it is not unknown. It has perhaps happened before. Past, present, and future seem to be one reality. What is time anyway? To Hindus, it is an illusion. Anything moving is finally an illusion. History is not time. It is series of events. Perhaps time is nothing but our own making. The earth moves around itself and the sun. But time doesn’t move. How can a nonentity move? We move our time an hour back and an hour forward every year. We made the sundial so we can see the movement of the sun. Of course, we now know that the earth is changing, not the sun. If time is what we have come about, then what are past, present, and future? My older sister died more than three years ago. Why three years ago? She just died and that is enough. Time is the measure of moving evens. Yes, we created such a measurement. Things have been moving for millions years when no one was around. Now we say millions of years ago. However, who was there to measure the movements in terms of time? Did the animals, who experienced day lights and nights, think about time? We got familiar with numbers and began using them to measure. What did the cave beings think of time? Did the aborigines think of time? God, if there was or is one, didn’t created time. A curious fellow kept asking Augustine many questions. Augustine was very tired. “What was God doing before he created time” was his last question? Very politely, Augustine answered, He must have been making hell for someone like you. God rested on the 7th day after He had created everything. Does it make sense? God made us and asked us questions that even angels couldn’t answer. (Qur’an) Perhaps one of these questions was: “Can you measure the events that make history?” Time is for us, not for any other living beings. History is not time. We look at the past events in terms of time. Time is not absolute like Isaac Newton thought. For Einstein time was not absolute. The world moves but time doesn’t. There’re young twin brothers of the same age and one is put in a rocket, which went far enough in the cosmos. The other stayed behind waiting for his brother to come back to earth safely. When the twin brothers were united, the one who had gone away was still 20 years old, while the other, who remained on earth, was about 90 years old. This is not the exact scientific narrative discussed by Einstein. However, it is for us to realize that time is a relative phenomenon and not absolute.
We don’t bring Religions in to condemn. We would rather like to have an open mind about their real messages.
What is substantial about time anyway? I can’t see it. Nor can I feel it? This is also like a hole in my shirt. It is nothing in itself and yet it exists, at least in our mind. Things are moving and naturally we need to organize our lives accordingly. So we invented time. We made a tool, like sundial in order to know where we’re going. We had no choice but find out about the movements of objects around us. Today is Friday and next Friday will be the one after thanksgiving and the year is 2018 and the month is November and time is 7:52 p.m. These are our making. But I can’t deny the fact that it is dark and cold outside with snow everywhere. The earth is moving, and nights are turning into days. Warmer weather will come, and snow will melt. I’m unable to stop this change and becoming. So to keep my sanity and psychological health I time everything. What is history but the records of events, which took place? We sometimes have a tendency to mix up time and history.
With Hegel God became an event in history. It seems transcendence of God became compromised. Time is measuring the events. How can God become time or vice versa? Time is not absolute. And even if it was, it still couldn’t become God. Geist is not time. The mystery is the fact that the Ultimate Reality is a Reality that is transcendent and immanent at the same time. Remember this term, namely, “immanent” shouldn’t be confused with the word, “imminent”. God didn’t come up with the idea of time. He created us and then let us figure how we can live with no concept of time.
In the Holy Qur’an he says he only taught Adam “Asma” or names, not angels.
Kant didn’t believe we’re born with anything innate. His idea of synthetic a priori or the combined experience and reason, though it reminds us of “the Platonic- Cartesian doctrine of innate ideas, but there is a major difference here. Between Kant’s ideas and them. Kant did not claim that we are born with a group of ideas but that the mind is structured in such a way that it analyzes its data in terms of a particular set of synthetic a priori rules, which are like a permanent program in a computer and which produce ideas when fed information by the senses. If you are a human being, then you make sense of the world in terms of such concepts as time/space/substantiality/ causality. The mind must order the world in terms of “thingness,” though there is nothing “out there” corresponding to our idea of substance. The mind must understand the world in terms of causal series even though there is nothing out there that could correspond to our idea of the cause of any event. (D. Palmer, Looking at philosophy, p. 219, 2013)
Time is not my God. According to Hinduism, time and motion are illusions. For Kant, time is not an illusion. It is a synthetic a priori category, which means it is a happy medium between rationalism and empiricism. The former represents a priori and the latter synthetic realities. My categories are part of the rational structure through which I experience the world around me. On the other hand, I experience the passage of time on a daily basis.
Edmund Husserl (1859-1938) founded a philosophy named “phenomenology.” This word comes from the Greek “phainomenon,” which means “appearance.” This finally is about the study of appearances. (Palmer, p.301) Naturally when Kant argued that we couldn’t know the noumenon through our pure reason, Husserl was left with no choice except to call his philosophy “phenomenology.”
He followed Descartes in putting consciousness at the center of all philosophizing. Husserl, however, had learned from Kant that a theory of consciousness has to regard both form and the content of consciousness. He, therefore, came up with a method which would demonstrate the structure as well as the content of the mind. This is a descriptive and not theoretical one in nature, namely, it describes the way the world in reality reveals itself to consciousness without the help of theoretical constructs from either philosophy, science, or social tradition. (Palmer, p.301)
Where am I in this world introduced to me by my parents? I want to know the truth about my being. I don’t believe by Husserl’s method I can know the reality hidden behind the appearances. I feel depressed and hopeless at times. Empty buildings remind me of death. They’re like empty bodies, especially at night. When the sun leaves buildings as it sets, I experience death. As I get older I think I’m like the setting sun in winter. My days are getting shorter and I’m driven to an unknown destination. I came to this world from an unknown place to my family and as I get older I see one by one are leaving me. I’m left alone. Lao-tzu says: “Since before time and space were, the Tao is. It is beyond is and is not. How do I know this is true? I look inside myself and see.” My mind immediately analyzes this logically. How can the Tao be, while at the same time it is beyond is and is not? I’m bound by my language.
Heidegger tried very hard to provide us with a view into the reality. However, we’re driven back towards East for some wisdom.