Arvindus

Contemplations

Forms of 'Being' with Heidegger, Nisargadatta, Bailey and Blavatsky

  • Title: Contemplations, Forms of 'Being' with Heidegger, Nisargadatta, Bailey and Blavatsky.
  • Author: Arvindus.
  • Publisher: Arvindus.
  • Copyright: Arvindus, 2024, all rights reserved.
  • Index: 202406121.
  • Edition: html, first edition.

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Central in the philosophy of Martin Heidegger (1889-1976) stands the so called 'ontological difference'.1 Throughout his entire oeuvre he wants to discern between being and beings (or things), or in the original German between 'Sein' and 'Seienden'.2, 3 Western philosophy, from Plato to Nietzsche, has forgotten about this difference, treating being as if it were a first and highest being (or thing), but not being itself.4 Another feature of such metaphysical thinking is that being as a highest being (or thing) is detached from the real beings (or things), transcending them, instead of being their ground. The name that Heidegger gives to such a transcendent, highest being is 'beingness', or in German 'Seiendheit'.5 Being however, Heidegger maintains, is not a being (or thing), but rather the ground of all beings (or things) enabling their perception.6 Being regards phenomenality itself.7 And as such phenomenality may occur in an authentic way, when being itself is revealed in the phenomenon, or, as usually, in an inauthentic way, when being is covered by the appearances of beings (or things).8

Now phenomenality contains both the perceived object and the perceiving subject, presupposes both a world and an interpreter thereof, or in Heidegger's terminology: the Dasein (the subject) is equal original ('gleichursprünglich' in German) with the being of the worldly things (the objective world).9 And this seems to correspond with the manner in which Sri Nisargadatta Maharaja (born as Maruti Shivrampant Kambli, 1897-1981) describes consciousness as containing both the notions of 'I am' and the world.10 It is what he in Hindu terminology calls 'atman'. And like with Heidegger being is the ground of beings, so with Nisargadatta atman is the ground of what he calls 'jivatma', being the notion of a separate personality. Consciousness regards phenomenality, jivatma regards the inauthentic Dasein and atman regards the authentic Dasein, whereby with both thinkers the world and the beings (or things, or objects) appear equal original with the aforementioned.11, 12

The terminology of both thinkers, or rather of their English translators, may differ. Heidegger's English translated terminology is rather steadfast. Beings regard things, being regards the ground for their appearance, phenomenality, and beingness regards a, so presumed, from beings (and from the true being itself) detached highest thing. Heidegger considers this thought of beingness as a transcendent given as inauthentic (calling it fairly but in his case also pejoratively 'metaphysical' and 'onto-theological').13

Nisargadatta's English translated terminology is less steadfast. Often 'beingness' is used to refer to consciousness (to the phenomenality of Heidegger), but a term like 'pure beingness' is also found to refer to the ultimate state transcending that consciousness. And for this state also the term 'pure being' occurs, while the same term too occurs to refer again to consciousness.14, 15 Throughout the books a trend can be discovered, but applications may vary here and there, and in the English translated teachings of Nisargadatta it is important to read the terms carefully contextually.

Sometimes direct translations of Hindu terms can be recognized. Terms like "being-consciousness-bliss", "truth-wisdom-bliss" and "existence-knowledge-bliss" for instance can, although being different among each other, be taken as certain translations of the Hindu term "sat-chit-ananda".16, 17 These Hindu terms are much more steady and are therefore better suited as terminology. Hereby 'jivatma' can be taken to correspond to Heidegger's concept of the inauthentic 'Dasein', 'atman', 'sat-chit-ananda' and 'chaitanya' to his concept of the authentic 'Dasein', 'maya' to his concept of the inauthentic world, 'brahman' to his concept of the authentic world and 'parabrahman' to his concept of 'Seiendheit' (even though Heidegger denies and Nisargadatta acknowledges the validity of such a notion of transcendence).18, 19

Interesting to note is that in Nisargadatta's teachings the term 'personality' is related to the Hindu term 'jivatma'. For 'personality' is a term that is also abundantly found in the esoteric teachings of Alice Ann Bailey (1880-1949). And where Nisargadatta applies the threefold of 'jivatma', 'atman' and 'parabrahman' there Bailey thematizes the threefold of 'personality', 'soul' and 'monad'.20 Linking this esoteric threefold further to Heidegger's philosophy we get the correspondences of the personality with the inauthentic Dasein, the soul with the authentic Dasein (and equal originally with the authentic world) and the monad with the beingness. This correspondence is supported by the esoteric notion that the soul regards the principle of consciousness, for consciousness is also in Nisargadatta's overview the second principle, and atma is also in Bailey's teachings a constituent of the second principle.21 The other two constituents of the soul regard there buddhi and manas, and this threefold atma-manas-buddhi then may be related to Nisargadatta's threefold of sat-chit-ananda.

Now the important thing that can be derived from the above, especially for students of the Bailey teachings, is that the soul regards basically phenomenality. For thinking of the soul in a phenomenological manner may smash the unauthentic way of viewing it as, for instance, some kind of radiant thing inside the breast.22

It is further also interesting to have a look at the teachings of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (1831-1891). For to the vocabulary of 'beings', 'being' and 'beingness' she also adds the term 'be-ness'. This term refers (or infers)23 to the transcendent state, a state for which she also uses the Hindu term 'sat'.24 This seems different from the use of 'sat' in Nisargadatta's teachings as being part of 'sat-chit-ananda', however it must not be forgotten that 'atma', which was above related to 'sat', is also in the esoteric teachings used to refer to both the spirit and the highest soul principle.25 The referents of terms, such as 'sat' and 'atma', may vary somewhat, depending upon the teacher, the school of thought and the context.26 But in line with Blavatsky's teachings on atma, buddhi and manas it is perhaps proper to consider sat as part of the soul, consciousness, being(ness), phenomenality, when it uses chit-ananda as its vehicles, while it regards the monad, be-ness, absoluteness, pure beingness, when it has detached itself from its vehicles of manifestation.27

Now one term belonging to the list of 'beings', 'being', 'beingness' and 'be-ness' has not yet been discussed, and this is the term 'non-being'. Blavatsky equals non-being with be-ness (from the perspective of the beings).28 Bailey seems to agree, equaling non-being with the withdrawal of will (or atma).29 And Nisargadatta's teachings, sometimes using the term 'non-beingness' too, seem to adhere to that view also. However more often this ultimate state is depicted by Nisargadatta as being beyond being and non-being, relegating the latter duality to the realm of consciousness.30, 31

Basically this depiction of non-being in its two modes corresponds to the two modes of sat or atma that have been mentioned above. In the one case the ultimate state, non-being, be-ness, sat, atma, is detached from manifestation, and in the other case it causes that manifestation by taking on vehicles.32 Atma first takes on the vehicle of buddhi, according to Blavatsky and Bailey,33 and non-being first takes on the vehicle of the I-am-ness, according Nisargadatta,34 but what these teachers indicate is the same, or at least very similar. And the idea has also been mentioned in an earlier contemplation.35

So what about Heidegger's vision on non-being? Heidegger too thematizes non-being, be it under the term of 'the nothing', or in German 'das Nichts'.36 Heidegger wants to think this nothing in a phenomenological manner. The nothing is not the plain negation of beings but is rather the root of being itself.37 For it is only against the background of the nothing that one can be aware of being. Being is basically conceived as not-nothing, because of which the nothing can be seen as more original than being.38

Interestingly this very much corresponds to Nisargadatta's teachings, for he teaches to leave the multitudes of beings behind and to reside with the single beingness or the I-am-ness, after which the state of non-beingness may dawn upon the practitioner.39

Now Heidegger is much more descriptive than normative, and also he wants to have nothing to do with metaphysical thought patterns. However within his phenomenological dome we may now see a metaphysical light (or rather a metaphenomenal darkness) falling in through the gap of the nothingness. So if ever a Heideggerian wants to escape his phenomenology then that might be possible through this notion of nothingness.

Notes
  1. 'Academic Philosophy, A Heideggerian Mysticism', Index: 200908282, 1.1.1 Ontological Differentiation.
  2. Herman Philipse, Heidegger's Philosophy of Being, A Critical Interpretation, Princeton University Press, Princeton, 1998, p. 35.
  3. Martin Heidegger, Sein und Zeit, 1927, Max Niemeyer Verlag, Tübingen, 1967, p. 6. "Das Sein des Seienden »ist« nicht selbst ein Seiendes."
  4. 'Academic Philosophy, Heidegger's Play of Being', Index: 200901152.
  5. John David Caputo, The Mystical Element in Heidegger's Thought, Ohio University Press, Athens / Ohio, 1978, p. 37.
  6. Ibidem, p. 69.
  7. Sein und Zeit, p. 38. "Ontologie und Phänomenologie sind nicht zwei verschiedene Disziplinen neben anderen zur Philosophie gehörigen. Die beiden Titel charakterisieren die Philosophie selbst nach Gegenstand und Behandlungsart."
  8. 'A Heideggerian Mysticism', 1.2.2 Unauthenticity and Authenticity.
  9. Sein und Zeit, p. 13. "Dem Dasein gehört nun aber gleichursprünglich – als Konstituens des Existenzverständnisses – zu: ein Verstehen des Seins alles nicht daseinsmäßigen Seienden."
  10. Sri Nisargadatta Maharaja in: Consciousness and the Absolute, The Final Talks of Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, Jean Dunn (editor), The Acorn Press, Durham, 2004, p. 102. "1. Jivatman is the one who identifies himself with the body-mind. One who thinks I am a body, a personality, an individual apart from the world. He excludes and isolates himself from the world as a separate personality because of identification with the body and the mind.
    2. Next only the beingness, or the consciousness, which is the world. "I Am" means my whole world. Just being and the world. Together with the beingness the world is also felt - that is Atman.
    3. The Ultimate principle that knows this beingness cannot be termed at all. It cannot be approached or conditioned by any words. That is the Ultimate state."
  11. Sein und Zeit, p. 56. "Der Begriff der Faktizität beschließt in sich: das In-der-Welt-sein eines »innerweltlichen« Seienden, so zwar, daß sich dieses Seiende verstehen kann als in seinem »Geschick« verhaftet mit dem Sein des Seienden, das ihm innerhalb seiner eigenen Welt begegnet."
  12. Sri Nisargadatta Maharaja in: Ramesh S. Balsekar, Pointers from Nisargadatta Maharaj, The Acorn Press, Durham, 1998, p. 18. "Please remember, objects are really the perceiving of them. Conversely, therefore, the perceiving of them is what the objects are. Try to understand."
  13. Michael Inwood, A Heidegger Dictionary, Blackwell Publishers Ltd, Oxford / Massachusetts, 1999, p. 126.
  14. Sri Nisargadatta Maharaja in: Pointers from Nisargadatta Maharaj, p. 44. "The universal manifestation is only in consciousness, but the 'awakened' one has his centre of seeing in the Absolute. In the original state of pure being, not aware of its beingness, consciousness arises like a wave on an expanse of water, and in consciousness the world appears and disappears."
  15. Sri Nisargadatta Maharaja in: I Am That, Talks with Nisargadatta Maharaj, Maurice Frydman (translator), Sudhakar S. Dikshit (editor), The Acorn Press, Durham, 1992, p. 71. "The impersonal is real, the personal appears and disappears. 'I am' is the impersonal Being. I am this is the person. The person is relative and the pure Being — fundamental."
  16. Ibidem, p. 83, 103
  17. Consciousness and the Absolute, The Final Talks of Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, p. 118.
  18. Nota 10.
  19. Consciousness and the Absolute, The Final Talks of Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, p. 115-118.
  20. 'Ageless Wisdom, Triplicities in Man', Index: 201308292, Triplicities in Man.
  21. Ibidem.
  22. Alice A. Bailey, Discipleship in the New Age, Volume II, in: Twenty-Four Books of Esoteric Philosophy, (CD-ROM, Release 3), Lucis Trust, London / New York, 2001, p. 193. "May I remind you that, just as the soul is not a twelve-petalled lotus floating around in mental substance, but is in reality a vortex of force or twelve energies held together by the will of the spiritual entity (the Monad on its own plane), so the antahkarana is not a series of energy threads, slowly woven by the soul-infused personality, and met by corresponding threads projected by the Spiritual Triad, but is in reality a state of awareness."
  23. 'Contemplations, The Absolute Absolute', Index: 201012051, Reference and Inference.
  24. Helena P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine, Volume I, in: Theosophical Classics, (CD-ROM), Theosophical Publishing House, Manilla, 2002, p. 14. "This Infinite and Eternal Cause—dimly formulated in the "Unconscious" and "Unknowable" of current European philosophy—is the rootless root of "all that was, is, or ever shall be." It is of course devoid of all attributes and is essentially without any relation to manifested, finite Being. It is "Be-ness" rather than Being (in Sanskrit, Sat), and is beyond all thought or speculation."
  25. 'Contemplations, Language Layers', Index: 202111181.
  26. 'Questions, What Are the Differences and Relations between Spirit, Soul and Body According to Hinduism?', Index: 202403252.
  27. The Secret Doctrine, Volume I, p. 193. ""A Dhyani has to be an Atma-Buddhi; once the Buddhi-Manas breaks loose from its immortal Atma of which it (Buddhi) is the vehicle, Atman passes into NON-BEING, which is absolute Being." This means that the purely Nirvanic state is a passage of Spirit back to the ideal abstraction of Be-ness which has no relation to the plane on which our Universe is accomplishing its cycle."
  28. Ibidem, p. 7. "In the sense and perceptions of finite "Beings," THAT is Non-"being," in the sense that it is the one BE-NESS; […]."
  29. Alice A. Bailey, A Treatise on Cosmic Fire, in: Twenty-Four Books of Esoteric Philosophy, (CD-ROM), Lucis Trust, London / New York, 2001, p. 284. "There are cycles of non-being when Time and Space are not, and the energising Will is withdrawn."
  30. Sri Nisargadatta Maharaja in: I Am That, Talks with Nisargadatta Maharaj, p. 409. "When you go beyond awareness, there is a state of nonduality, in which there is no cognition, only pure being, which may be as well called non-being, if by being you mean being something in particular."
  31. Sri Nisargadatta Maharaja in: The Ultimate Medicine, As Prescribed by Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, Robert Powell (editor), Blue Dove Press, San Diego, 2001, p. 145. "But what am I for myself? In fact, that state of the Absolute is mine today – where there is neither Being nor non-Being. I have absolutely nothing to do with what this body is today. Whatever it has to give you is of no interest to me. So far as I am concerned, I am in that state where beingness and non-beingness do not matter at all."
  32. Alice A. Bailey, The Externalisation of the Hierarchy, in: Twenty-Four Books of Esoteric Philosophy, (CD-ROM, Release 3), Lucis Trust, London / New York, 2001, p. 588. "2. The Fact of God. This is the truth that Being is God Immanent and God Transcendent; it involves the recognition of the great Whole and the related part; it is the knowledge of divinity, ascertained through right relationship and identity of origin. It is the revelation of the life of God, pervading all that is (God Immanent), and of that same life, providing that still greater cosmic relation (God Transcendent) which is the final guarantee of all progress and of progressive revelation. `Having pervaded this whole universe with a fragment of Myself, I remain' is the challenge of Deity and the eternal hope of humanity. This is the answer of Life Itself to the demands of humanity, to the enquiries of science and to the whole world problem. God is here, present among us and in all forms of expression; He includes, pervades and remains beyond. He is greater than all appearance. He reveals Himself progressively and cyclically as man gets ready for further knowledge."
  33. Nota 27.
  34. Sri Nisargadatta Maharaja in: The Nectar of Immortality, Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj's Discourses on the Eternal, Robert Powell (editor), Blue Dove Press, San Diego, 2001, p. 23-24. "But the ultimate principle is prior to the sphere of subject-object. I would like to know how you divide that state. On the state of "non-beingness," the beingness appeared together with manifestation, creating a feeling as if "I am." Who that is, is not important; only "I am" is important. We talked about duality. Did it begin with the appearance of beingness over "non-beingness" or has it developed later? It is simple. When the beingness – that is, the "I-am-ness" – is felt, it is obvious that Quality has begun. Later, the beingness manifests as multiplicity, functioning as it does through innumerable forms. The initial humming of the beingness as "I am, I am" is the duality. But who accepts the duality? The "non-beingness" accepts duality with the beingness. The Absolute "non-being" state, by assuming the being state, becomes dual in manifestation."
  35. 'Contemplations, A Setup for a Metaphysicratic Manifest', Index: 201204032, Multiplicity, Unity, Nullity. "Every multiplicity is reducible to the unity in which it exists. Every unity has its ground for existence in the context of a nullity. It is no coincidence that a counting starts with null, continues with one, after which the multitudes follow."
  36. A Heidegger Dictionary, p. 144.
  37. 'A Heideggerian Mysticism', 3.1.4 Chaos.
  38. Martin Heidegger, Wegmarken, Gesamtausgabe, Band 9, Vittorio Klostermann, Frankfurt am Main, 1976, p. 114. "In der hellen Nacht des Nichts der Angst ersteht erst die ursprüngliche Offenheit des Seienden als eines solchen: daß es Seiendes ist – und nicht Nichts."
  39. Sri Nisargadatta Maharaja in: The Nectar of Immortality, Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj's Discourses on the Eternal, p. 25. "That is why I say my process is atma-yoga, which means abidance in the Self. When the "non-being" state became the being state, the world, along with so many things, came into existence. As per my guru's directive, I became one with the beingness. Beingness means having the vision that one is the entire dynamic universe. When one transcends individuality, one is the manifest beingness only. In this process the Unmanifest reveals itself."
Bibliography
  • 'Academic Philosophy, A Heideggerian Mysticism', Index: 200908282.
  • 'Academic Philosophy, Heidegger's Play of Being', Index: 200901152.
  • 'Ageless Wisdom, Triplicities in Man', Index: 201308292.
  • 'Contemplations, A Setup for a Metaphysicratic Manifest', Index: 201204032.
  • 'Contemplations, Language Layers', Index: 202111181.
  • 'Contemplations, The Absolute Absolute', Index: 201012051.
  • 'Questions, What Are the Differences and Relations between Spirit, Soul and Body According to Hinduism?', Index: 202403252.
  • Alice A. Bailey, A Treatise on Cosmic Fire, in: Twenty-Four Books of Esoteric Philosophy, (CD-ROM), Lucis Trust, London / New York, 2001.
  • Alice A. Bailey, Discipleship in the New Age, Volume II, in: Twenty-Four Books of Esoteric Philosophy, (CD-ROM, Release 3), Lucis Trust, London / New York, 2001.
  • Alice A. Bailey, The Externalisation of the Hierarchy, in: Twenty-Four Books of Esoteric Philosophy, (CD-ROM, Release 3), Lucis Trust, London / New York, 2001.
  • Ramesh S. Balsekar, Pointers from Nisargadatta Maharaj, The Acorn Press, Durham, 1998.
  • Helena P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine, Volume I, in: Theosophical Classics, (CD-ROM), Theosophical Publishing House, Manilla, 2002.
  • John David Caputo, The Mystical Element in Heidegger's Thought, Ohio University Press, Athens / Ohio, 1978.
  • Martin Heidegger, Sein und Zeit, 1927, Max Niemeyer Verlag, Tübingen, 1967.
  • Martin Heidegger, Wegmarken, Gesamtausgabe, Band 9, Vittorio Klostermann, Frankfurt am Main, 1976.
  • Michael Inwood, A Heidegger Dictionary, Blackwell Publishers Ltd, Oxford / Massachusetts, 1999.
  • Herman Philipse, Heidegger's Philosophy of Being, A Critical Interpretation, Princeton University Press, Princeton, 1998.
  • Consciousness and the Absolute, The Final Talks of Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, Jean Dunn (editor), The Acorn Press, Durham, 2004.
  • I Am That, Talks with Nisargadatta Maharaj, Maurice Frydman (translator), Sudhakar S. Dikshit (editor), The Acorn Press, Durham, 1992.
  • The Nectar of Immortality, Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj's Discourses on the Eternal, Robert Powell (editor), Blue Dove Press, San Diego, 2001.
  • The Ultimate Medicine, As Prescribed by Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, Robert Powell (editor), Blue Dove Press, San Diego, 2001.
Appendix
Heidegger Nisargadatta Bailey Blavatsky
The nothing Non-being, parabrahman Non-being, atma as monad, spirit Non-being, be-ness, sat, atma(n)
Authentic Dasein, being, phenomenality I-am-ness, beingness, consciousness, atman, sat-chit-ananda, brahman Atma-buddhi-manas as soul, consciousness Atma-buddhi-manas
Inauthentic Dasein, beings, beingness as a highest, transcendent being Jivatma, personality, objects, maya Personality, matter  

Figure 1: A tabulated comparison of Heidegger, Nisargadatta, Bailey and Blavatsky.