online: 14 november 2002

13 november 2002 a second look at reality

Still inspired by my so far fragmentary readings of the vast and profound book by Som Raj Gupta* (which could alter my view of almost everything) I set aside other thoughts to read more of it - here and now...

...the chance process directs me to begin at page 87 (there are 767 pages to choose from) which is about space. This section begins with the question

What is the support of this world?

I asked someone who was phoning just now to answer first she said 'air' ...and then 'soil'. Good answers I think.

But the divine voice in this book says it is 'space'. Som Raj Gupta justifies or explains this strange answer as follows (though I am shortening his explanation):

We have to find out how space is the origin and end of all phenomena, of the entire world ... we find ourselves contemplating it as the empty space around us and as the sky above us. We should let this emptiness, around and above us, possess us, possess us to the extent that we lose our sense of the presence of things. We shall find that the sky becomes one, the contemplator, and one becomes the sky, the vast infinite emptiness, in the state of giving in. Only the man who is thus possessed by the sky can 'see' the end of himself and the world in it and its reemergence out of it...

I don't quite see what 'it' is here but I recognise in this quotation S R Gupta's characteristic way of attuning himself to each statement that he is trying to interpret - deliberately losing his sense of himself and of his own opinions so that he can better understand what is written. He states, in the preface, the traditional aim or method expected of a student of Hindu scriptures:
One engaged in... [genine comparative philosophy] ...should ever be ready to be undone and replaced by the living centre of every point of view...

I fear to apply this criterion to myself, I tremble to do so. Do I have the generosity of spirit for this encounter... the humility that does this kind of dialogue or a mere monad to repeat, ad nauseam, only a monologue? I know I cannot pass the test; my humility may echo and reecho many a Satanic whisper! Let the reader judge for himself.

It was this admission that attracted me first to the book. And now I can see it in action. To imagine space and the sky so completely as to lose all sense of oneself or of any body, earthly or cosmic, what an ability, what a risk, but what an attractive or divine thing to attempt! Yet while doing this, for the statements in the Upanishad he is studying, he is doing it equally for the the writings of modern thinkers such as Freud, and Heidegger and Foucault and Derrida, all of whom he appears to have understood in this way - the thinkers of our humanist or Faustian predicament, I suppose.

Close to midnight. That is enough for this evening, but enough I am sure to convey the attraction of this new Indian writing and thinking that spans two worlds, 'the two shores of human experience: East and West' as his friend or mentor, Professor Raimundo Pannikar writes on the book-jacket.

This is not what I expected to be writing. I feel a little transformed.

*Som Raj Gupta, The Word Speaks to the Faustian Man,, Motilal Banarsidass Publishers, Delhi 2001.

what's new


digital diary archive

© 2002 john chris jones

You may transmit this text to anyone for any non-commercial purpose if you include the copyright line and this notice and if you respect the copyright of quotations.

If you wish to reproduce any of this text commercially please send a copyright permission request to jcj at