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The Self and Platonic philosophy


Vedanta states that Brahman permeates everything that exists.  It is the material cause

of the world. Nothing exists without the presence of Brahman.  Even the individual self and all its organs and functions are manifestations of the same substance, Brahman.  Consequently, two of the four central aphorisms of Vedanta are "This Atman is Brahman" (The individual self is the universal self), and "That thou art".  That, being existence itself, devoid of all space and time, or being Brahman, pure spirit, of the nature of sat, chit, and ananda,(existence, knowledge/consciousness, and bliss).  Thou refers to the self of the person, the witness within, unmoving, unborn, the Atman, or immortal soul.  To understand, or realize this in the depths of one's soul is the end of Vedanta.  *

 


In Platonic terms, both the gross and the subtle are universals.  Air, for example, is one,

as well as touch.  There are not a multitude of airs or touches, each corresponding to an

individual experience.  Each experience may be unique - and differ from every other ex-

perience.  One touch may be hard, another soft, but all are just the one subtle element

of touch.  Plato says universals have no parts.  What seems to be their parts are really

instances of them in particular situations.  A hard touch is a hard instance of touch, not a part of touch which is hard.  In Plato's sense of universal, the individual self is a universal.  The white snowfalke is a part of snow, but the whiteness of the snowflake is not a part of whiteness.  Whiteness is a universal, It has no parts, though it may have instances. The individual person is a part of the human race, but the individual self is not a part of the universal self -though it is an instance of it.  It is as truly and completely the self as they are the same.  Consequently, Plato might say that the in-

dividual self is of the nature of existence, consciousness, and bliss, each of which is un-

iversal, and ultimately no different from the unity of the self itself.

 


* 'The Essence of Vedanta' - Brian Hodgkinson

 


   

      Swami Satyananda Saraswati on Plato:   ..."Inspired by his guru (Socrates)...in the

      4th century BC he founded the Academy of Athens, an institution devoted to the

      teaching and practice of meditative enquiry.  It is interesting to note that Plato's

      Academy existed at the same time as the famous tantric Buddhist University at

      Nalanda, in Bihar, India was instructing seekers from Asia and eastern Europe in the

      same fundamental practices...That Plato instructed his disciples in the meditative

      practices which lead to the awakening of intuition and inner perception is clear, for

      he makes reference to ajna chakra in his discourses: 'In all men there is the eye of

      the soul, which can be reawakened by the correct means.  It is far more precious

      than ten thousand physical eyes.'   It is known that Plato travelled widely and was

      fully familiar with the mysteries of ancient Egypt, as well as with many other cul-

      tures including Hinduism and Buddhism..."

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