Sunday, April 4, 2010

What is World Two?

I began this work with the conviction (based on experience) that there are great moments in life, epiphanies or recognitions of an absolute character in which there is no sense of lack or incompletion. After the fact, as the epiphany fades into memory, we draw a line between these exceptional moments (which I am calling World Two) and ordinary reality (World One). Where does this line fall? How do we decide what counts as a great, self validated moment? With the Buddhists and Hindus I would acknowledge that even apparently worldly moments of satisfaction (Freudian “drive reductions” like eating and sex) are outside the realm of suffering, and so are not part of World One. But they also do not seem to fall within cultural, which I have termed “World Three” moments, because they do not seek, point to, celebrate or even reach satisfaction, but already are that. But perhaps we are missing something here. World Three is not just culture (the movement from World One to World Two) but can also include the descent of god into the world, i.e., the “avatara” (Sanskrit ava = “down” + tr = “cross”) event, where the movement is reversed, going from World Two to World One. Spontaneous eruptions of World Two in orgasm, mystical experience, big dreams, even the explosion of chocolate on the tongue, can be understood this way, as visitations from the divine to the earthly level. It is as if World Two, though complete in itself, contains “arrows” that point either to or from it to World One, with the arrows themselves being World Three.

I reading the books of David Lawrence, I have been wondering where rationality lies. It seems clear that reason cannot belong to World Two, the realm of bliss and fulfillment, because there is a movement in it, a tension or need for completion. If it needs completion, even if it tends in its inmost essence toward completion, reason cannot be complete. On the other hand, David Lawrence (and the Indian tantric philosopher Abhinavagupta whom Lawrence studies) have shown that reason does lead to World Two. This what Lawrence means by “transcendental argument.” My previous inquiry into Samkhya and Yoga has found that the higher (sattvika) buddhi, “insight” that distinguishes the subtlest aspects of prakrti (“nature”) from purusa (“consciousness”), lies in a paradoxical realm, the region I have called World Three, where World One suffering reaches an asymptote or limit in which it realizes its otherness from World Two and for that very reason becomes more and more like World Two, without limit. It would appear that rationality must be essentially the same thing as buddhi. So understood, rationality is an arrow from World One to World Two.

But buddhi has also been understood as the spontaneous appearance in this world of the divine. This is what happens when the guru appears to the disciple, as in the Bhagavad Gita when Krishna reveals himself to Arjuna, or when Bodhidharma travels from India to China bringing Buddhism. Buddhi thus conceived would be a gift from World Two as much as it is the highest achievement of World One. It lives on the border, as I have discussed before, but the movement is from above to below as well as from below to above. The otherness experienced in highest buddhi (in the direction World One to World Two) is also experienced in the avatara phenomenon, but now in the feeling of “visitation,” the sense that this experience of satisfaction somehow is different from other moments, that it is a time out of time, a holiday from ordinary reality. The World Two-ness of World Two, what makes it a second reality, might therefore be the sense that it has descended into this mundane reality from above, or below, in some way from outside.

This suggests that the secondness of World Two might lie in its being this other aspect of World Three, i.e., in its having a special sort of relatedness to World One, a relationship of fulfillment and completion. Going in one direction, we feel fulfillment arising in our ordinary life. Moving in the other direction, we feel fullness overcoming ordinary life from outside, as if from the future. The first case could be called “works,” the second “grace.” Now reason appears to reside primarily in the first sort of World Three process, the buddhi that more and more clearly glimpses consciousness in the course of diligent meditation and careful discrimination. Could it be that there is a second sort of “reason,” a flash of insight from World Two? An example might be the “thought” that came to me in 1965 that “Everything is empty.” Seconds later, this thought ignited, exploded, and annihilated my world. That is, it produced a World Two moment. But before the World Two there was a World Three moment of something like reason. And that “reason” seemed to come from the future, from the enlightenment that followed, more than it came from any rational process in my past life.

This line of thought suggests that I should be asking whether this sort of divine as guru process is present in Abhinava, or in Yoga.