Tuesday, August 21, 2007


People generally believe that without ownership of mind a person would cease to be a person, but personhood is not destroyed when the acquisitive ego is dispelled. Analogously, space is not destroyed when a pot is smashed.

According to the writers of the Upanishads and other Sanskrit texts, the universe does not just feature personhood, but it is a person, called Purusa or Purusha (the words 'person' and 'purusa' are very similar. I wonder if they have a common Proto Indo-European origin). In the Svetasvatara Upanisad, Purusa is described as being "everything in existence, everything that was and everything that will be". The human mind has forgotten that this is its true source of personhood.

The Impersonal or Transpersonal
Charles Upton has commented that, to the Western mind, the idea of an Absolute Self beyond individual 'persons' is difficult to accept. The term 'impersonal' denotes something inferior to personhood. He prefers to describe the Absolute Self as 'transpersonal'.
"God is indeed a Person, but if we say He is only personal, we are in danger of implying that He is no more than we conceive Him to be, of imprisoning Him on our human level of understanding, of denying that He opens out 'behind', onto the Infinite. But of course we do the same thing in our habitual ways of seeing other people, and ourselves; we treat others as if they were no more than our ideas of them, and ourselves as if we were limited to our own shifting self-images. We forget that all persons are, precisely, personal faces of the Transpersonal Absolute: if, like God, we were not also more than persons, we would not be persons at all."
- Charles Upton, Parabola, Summer 2008

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