Update and commentary: This post has a few problems, upon reflection: it seems as if ‘purusha’ refers to a state or else to a dimension in space. IN fact the term is simply a placeholder that got turned into a different set of concepts in the emergence of classic samkhya. None of that is the point: the post tries to show how the much denounced dualism of Samkhya is irrelevant. All systems of yoga must reckon with what this dualism really means: the spiritual search is through a realm is that still within the ‘samsaric’ world.
Writing these posts on Samkhya in relation to J.G.Bennett suddenly made me realize what’s going on with Samkhya, whose dualism (of Purusha and Prakriti) has long confused people. Prakriti is supposed to represent ‘nature’ while ‘purusha’ is, well, forever mistranslated, as ‘consciousness’, spirit, etc….These translations confuse students and the original isn’t much better.
And the dualism of Samkhya isn’t really an issue. Do critics of Samkhya speak of matter and spirit. They are thus dualists too.
But the distinction in Samkhya, we suddenly see, is slightly different:
We have (using Bennett’s distinction of hypo/auto/hyper/nomic realms a hierarchy of worlds (all interconnected). Using older languages we tend to call the two lower the material and the higher, about which we have little knowledge, the spiritual. It was the ancient Samkhyaists who, given the probable large amount of metaphysical bickering over ‘material/spiritual’ lingos, got fed up and tried to fix the subject with a new approach (that made many traditionalists angry with its materialism); it’s all material…but…
The hyponomic, the autonomic, and the hypernomic are the manifest faces of a unity of natural dimensions low to high AND ALL THREE are connected to a ‘spiritual dimension beyond space time. The spiritual has no real meaning as such: it is just the ‘NOT PRAKRITI’ on each level. The confusion arises from trying to equate the higher hypernomic with the uniquely spiritual realm. This is why the path to enlightenment is so confusing, perhaps. Enlightenment must have a material grounding, and yet it is also where the yogi ‘snaps out’ of material, usually ultra sophisticate spiritual/material, after realizing his many ‘realizations’ were all still in the realm of prakriti. (Chogyam Trungpa gives a related classic example of something like this in his ‘Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism’) The seeker ascends higher into the realm of so-called spiritual only to find it is part of a larger material world. The point should suddenly seem obvious, but it isn’t.
It is as if the ‘purusha’ or spirit is a dimension orthogonal to all three realms of base matter, life, and ‘hypernomic’ what???. If, as we have said yesterday the ‘conscious’ energies are part of the hypernomic, we can hardly declare ‘paying attention’ a sudden entry to a spiritual world. It is a complex situation at the boundary of the life world and the larger hyponomic world.
We should be wary of what we consider ‘Purusha’ because it is a mythological term in a language that had forgotten the real Samkhya yet perserved the crucial distinction needed for those who are ready to ‘snap out of it’ and as to purusha they must have realized the term was a botch and realized something that was ‘beyond words’.
We should be wary of using the terms ‘spirit’ and ‘consciousness’ here for ‘purusha’ and we think of the Israelites with their wariness (once, not later) at using a ‘god’ term, content with IHVH.
I would not hazard an attempt to connect ‘god’ ideas with Samkhya: the result would be semantic calamity, but the Israelites were clearly aware of a difference between ‘manifest gods’ and their idolatry and the nameless beyond. Their grudge with polytheists was, just as with our distinctions above, that these ‘divinities’ were all within the realm of nature: hypernomic obscurities with forms still within in nature. A great confusion arose as the whole subject of attempted monotheism suffered the same fate as polytheism, and the kerplunk point arrived when the upside down monotheism had a walking talking spirit god vending machine running on prayers. Wise beings looked the other way for two millennia plus at this silly confusion usurping religion, but the jig is up at this point, and I have to wonder whence come these feral dogs called the ‘new atheists’ trying to expose monotheistic idolatry no less, egad.
Full stop: reflect and we can pursue this latter another day… The buddhas and realized yogis, as often said, were more than just spiritual priests, they were those who went beyond the spiritual circus of the hypernomic ‘gods’ to a deep source unnamed dimension that primitive samkhya-ists called ‘purusha’.