Monday, September 19, 2016

Human Nature

Can something definite be said about human nature?  We can say from our everyday experience that people exhibit different natures - patient, irritable, decisive, dubious, compassionate, slimy, arrogant, humble, manipulative, kind, cruel, .... the writers, novelists, playwrights, sociologists and the new age self-help gurus have written a great deal about it.  At one end of the spectrum is a claim that human nature is "fixed and unchangeable", and the other end of spectrum is that human nature is "infinitely malleable".  The "fixed and unchangeable" position implies one is born with a nature and no education or external conditions and life experiences could change that.  The "infinitely malleable" position says that human child, a new born, is like a putty that could be molded in any which way through education and other societal influences.  Madhyasth Darshan has a take on this, and that's the objective of this article.

Human being is a part of existence, or is a unit in existence.  Existence is the context (sandarbh) and basis (aadhar) for the study of human nature.  Human nature cannot be studied outside of this context or without this basis.  Existence - as Matter saturated in Omnipotence (Brahman) - is destined for emergence (prakatan) of successively higher orders of nature - material order, bio order, animal order, and knowledge order.  Human being is in the knowledge order.

Entities in existence have four integral aspects - form (roop), qualities (guna), intrinsic nature (svabhav) and religion (dharma).  All entities have their own nature that is intrinsic to them, which characterizes the order (vyavastha) of their kind, it is also the range of their activities.  All material order things have the same nature - composition or decomposition.  It is intrinsic nature of all soil, metals, gems and stones to compose and then decompose.  Theirs is a mortal nature, that keeps undergoing transformation (parivartan).  This nature is fixed and unchangeable.

Bio order emerges from material order, and all bio order things - as organisms - have the same intrinsic nature, they all either abet growth (or nurture, saarak) or abet decay (maarak).  This abetting growth or decay is an "emergent nature" in bio order and it cannot be reduced to composition-decomposition of the material order, as long as it has pulse (spandan).  When an organism loses its pulse, it dies, it becomes material nature.  There is a successive refinement (parimarjan) in bio order - from single cell organism until human body.  Bio order too is of mortal nature.  Body (plant body, animal body or human body) undergoes transformation from the time of birth until death.  This nature is also fixed and unchangeable.

Animal order emerges from Bio order.  Animal order is the beginning of expression of consciousness (chetna).  Animals are conscious beings.  These are not just flesh, bones and blood.  Consciousness is not of or from body.  Jeevan - an atom with perfect configuration - is the source of consciousness.  Body is a tool (sadhan) of jeevan.  Jeevan is self.  However, in animals there is no awareness that self (I) is distinct from body.  Jeevan functions according to the design of body.   The expression of consciousness is limited to their innate want to remain alive.  Animals want to live.  Can something definite be said about nature of animal existence?  Some animals are of docile (akroor) nature, while others have aggressive (kroor) nature.  Their nature is manifested in their food habits and their bodily structure (claws, teeth, intestines etc) is in line with that.  Docility and aggressiveness is the "emergent nature" in animal order, which is not present in bio order.  Docility and aggressiveness is a conscious phenomenon of assuming (maanana).  In animal order jeevan assumes the nature of the specie whose body it controls.  In the absence of self-awareness, all animal activities are in the form of bodily indulgence (vishaya) - i.e. food, sleep, fear (fight or flight for survival), and sex.  Death means immortal jeevan's separation from the mortal body.  It is ending of one life span and beginning of another, mostly of the same specie and incidentally a different one.  Animal nature is fixed and unchangeable.  Humans domesticated animals for their use, whereby made animals exhibit behaviour that's contrary to their intrinsic nature - for example, a madari making monkey display tricks, seal jumping through a hoop in circus.  These are not their natural behaviour.  Left to themselves they would return to their original nature of docile and aggressive.

Humankind is in knowledge order, and it emerges from Animal order.  Human being is also combined expression of jeevan and body.  Human nature is according to the level of consciousness.  There are four levels of consciousness in which a human being could be found.  The four levels of consciousness are - animal consciousness, human consciousness, godly consciousness and divine consciousness.  Animal consciousness is illusion (bhram) for human being.  While human consciousness, godly consciousness and divine consciousness are in the purview of awakening (jagruti).  Having said that, it postulates that there is possibility and path for consciousness development in human being, and thereby rise from illusion to awakening.

Illusion and Awakening have existential dichotomy or these two are mutually exclusive.  Awakening contradicts illusion, and this contradiction is resolved when illusion is dispelled and is replaced with Awakening.  If illusion is, awakening is not.  If awakening is, illusion is not.  No amount of rationalization can harmonize or negate the contradiction between illusion and awakening.  Awakening is higher value than illusion.  It is from the standpoint of awakening that illusion gets appraised.  Consciousness development is an irreversible transition (sankraman) from animal consciousness to human consciousness.  The existential dichotomy of illusion and awakening has parallel in the dichotomy that is there between material (jarh) and conscious (chaitanya).  If something is material then it is not conscious, and vice versa - while irreversible transition (sankraman) is possible from material to conscious, which is when an atom achieves configurational perfection (gathan poornta). 

Human beings have faculty of imagination (kalpanasheelta), which is an emergent that makes them distinct from animals.  This imagination, which emanates from self (jeevan), is there in all human beings in the same way, and it tries to reason about the world and about itself, and makes a worldview and self-awareness, albeit incomplete.  Awakening is when the reasoning is satisfied and this worldview becomes complete and comes in resonance with the way reality is.  It is upon awakening that a human being becomes able to appraise that everything prior to awakening was illusion.  Awakening is a qualitative change (gunatmak parivartan) that takes place in jeevan as a result of study (adhyayan).

Human Life in Illusion:

Illusion essentially is the state of jeevan's assuming itself to be the body that it is controlling.  It is lack of self-awareness.  In animals this fusion of identity with body is total, and in the absence of imagination there is no way for them to see things any differently or do any reasoning.  Jeevan functions mechanically in animals, responding to the sensory stimuli of incidental events according to the design of the specie and thereby evidencing bodily indulgences.  This fusion of identity with body is the condition from which a human being begins life as an infant.  The expression of imagination begins from the infant stage itself, and one begins to see that one is not just body, though this clarity is not complete.  This lack of clarity is the common human condition, and it is there with every human being anywhere in the world.  This lack of clarity at the fundamental level has remained despite huge advancements in multiple spheres of human life such as art, music, technology.

The difference between intrinsic-nature and habits


- Based on Madhyasth Darshan.

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