A Collection of Esoteric Writings of T. Subba Row/Will

WILL.

"Sors de l'enfance ami, reveilles toi."
—(Schopenhauer's motto.) Rousseau.

It is with the greatest interest that I read the profound article by T. Subba Row, "A Personal and an Impersonal God,"—logically arriving at a condition of unconsciousness, though containing the potentiality of every condition of "Pragna," the only permanent state in the universe.

The theory of the Idealistic thinker John Stuart Mill is metnioned in connection, who is certainly the type of Western Idealistic philosophy.

But there is another Idealist, another Western thinker, who has expressed the same long before J. S. Mill in other words, but with a candid reference to Asiatic philosophy, und given these ideas at the same time a far more palpable objectivity, as far as regards our conscious world.

Perhaps for the latter reason your readers may find an interest in his thoughts, which I allow myself to render as follows:—

"The world is my mental perception,"—this is a self-evident truth for every living and discerning being, although man alone can bring it into a reflecting abstract consciousness, and when he does do so, in fact, then philosophical reflection has begun in him. Then also it becomes a clear certainty to him, that what he knows is no Sun, no Earth, but only an eye that sees a Sun, a hand that touches an Earth, that the surrounding world is there only as a mental representation, i.e., absolutely in relation to something else, which something else is himself. If any truth can be pronounced a priori, then it is this one, the statement of that form of all possible and thinkable experiences, more universal than all others, more so than time, space and causality. All these, in fact, presuppose already the former; it is only the division in object and subject that makes possible and imaginable phenomena of whatsoever kind, abstract or intuitive, pure or empirical. Therefore, no truth is more certain, more independent of all others, or requiring less proof than that everything that exists in our perception is only Object in relation to Subject, the perception of that which perceives; in a word,—our own mental representation.

"And this applies as much to all Past as to the Present, and all Future; to what is most distant, and to what is most near, because it applies to time and space themselves, in which alone the relations can exist.

"This is by no means a new truth. It was already contained in the sceptical premises from which Descartes proceeded. Berkeley, however, was the first to give it an absolute form, and has thereby deserved much of philosophy, though his other doctrines cannot bear criticism. The principal mistake of Kant was his neglect of this axiom.

"How long ago, however this fundamental truth has been acknowledged by the Sages of India, appearing as the fundamental principle of the Vedanta philosophy, ascribed to Vyasa, is demonstrated by Sir W. Jones, in his work "On the Philosophy of the Asiatics."—(Asiatic Researches, Vol. IV, p. 164). The fundamental tenet of the Vedanta school consists not in denying the existence of matter, that is of solidity, impenetrability, and figure (to deny which would be lunacy), but in correcting the popular notion of it, and in contending that it has no essence independent of mental perception: that existence and perceptibility are convertible terms."

"These words express sufficiently the co-existence of empirical reality with transcendental Idealism.

"Thus only and from this aspect of the world as mental perception, can we begin to contemplate it. That such a contemplation, however, without any detriment to its truth, is one-sided, and therefore, the result of some arbitrary abstraction, is nevertheless felt by everybody and proved by that internal revolt, with which one accepts the world as one's mere mental perception, and of which, on the other hand, one can yet never entirely rid himself. Later on, however, we will make up for the one-sidedness of this consideration, by the enunciation of a truth, not so directly certain as that one from which we now proceed, but the only one to which a profounder injury can lead; still more difficult as an abstraction, the division of what is different, and union of that which is identical; a most important truth, which, if not dismaying, yet must appear critical to everyone, the following one in fact; that we can as well say, and must say—

'The World is my will.'"*[1]

We must begin to consider not only the world, but even our own body as mere perception. That from which we are now abstracting shall presently clearly show itself as Will, of which alone the world in its other aspect consists, for that aspect is in one respect exdnsively mental perception, but on the other absolutely will!*[2]

L. A. Sanders, F. T. S.

Borneo, 18th March 1883.

Editor's Note.—For the benefit of those of our readers in India, who, although excellent Vedantic scholars, may have never heard of Arthur Schopenhauer and his philosophy, it will be useful to say a few word's regarding this German Metaphysician, who is ranked by many among the world's great philosophers. Otherwise, the above translated fragment, picked out by our brother, Mr. Sanders, for the soul purpose of showing the great identity of view, between the Vedanta system—the archaic philosophy (we beg Professor Max Müller's pardon) and the comparatively modern school of thought founded by Schopenhauer,—may appear unintelligible in its isolated form. A student of the Göttingen and Berlin Universities, a friend of Goethe and his disciple initiated by him into the mysteries of colour (See A. Schopenhauer's Essay Ueber Sehen und Farben, 1816,) he evoluted, so to say, into a profoundly original thinker without any seeming transaction, and brought his philosophical views into a full system before he was thirty. Possessed of a large private fortune, which enabled him to pursue and develope his ideas uninterruptedly, he remained an independent thinker and soon won for himself, on account of his strangely pessitimistic view of the world, the name of the "misanthropic sage." The idea that the present world is radically evil, is the only important point in his system that differs from the teachings of the Vedanta. According to his philosophical doctrines, the only thing truly real, original, metaphysical and absolute, is will. The world of objects consists simply of appearances; of Maya or illusion—as the Vedantins have it. It lies entirely in, and depends on, our representation. Will is the "thing in itself" of the Kanitian puilosophy, "the substratum of all appearances and of nature herself. It is totally different from, and wholly independent of, cognition, can exist and manifest itself without it, and actually does so in all nature from animal beings downward." Not only the voluntary actions of animated beings, but also the organic frame of their bodies, its form and quality, the vegetation of plants, and in the inorganic kingdom of nature, crystallization and every other original power which manifests itself in physical and chemical phenomena, as well as gravity, are something outside of appearance and identical with what we find in ourselves and call—will. An intuitive recognition of the identity of will in all the phenomena separated by individuation is the source of justice, benevolence, and love; while from a non-recognition of its identity spring egotism, malice, evil and ignorance. This is the doctrine of the Vedantic avidya (ignoranoe) that makes of Self an object distinct from Parabrahm, of Universal Will. Individual soul, physical self, are only imagined by ignorance and have no more reality and existence than the objects seen in a dream. With Schopenhauer it also results from this original identity of will in all its phenomena, that the reward of the good and the punishment of the bad are not reserved to a future heaven or a future hell, but are ever present (the doctrine of Karma, when philosophically considered and from its esoteric aspect). Of course the philosophy of Schopenhauer was radically at variance with the systems of Schelling, Hegel, Herbert and other contemporaries, and even with that of Fichte, for a time his master, and whose philosophical system while studying under him, he openly treated with the greatest contempt. But this detracts iu nothing from his own original and profoundly philosophical though often too pessimistic views. His doctrines are mostly interesting when compared with those of the Vedanta of "Sunkaracharya's" school, inasmuch they show the great identity of thought arriving at the same conclusions between men of two quite different epochs, and with over two milleniums between them. When some of the mightiest and most puzzling problems of being are thus approximately solved at different ages and by men entirely independent of one another, and that the most philosophically profound propositions, premises and conclusions arrived at by our best modern thinkers are found on comparison nearly, and very often entirely, identical with those of older philosophers as enunciated by them thousands of years back, we may be justified in regarding "the heathen" systems as the primal and most pure source of every subsequent philosophical development of thought.


  1. * See Schopenhaur's chief work Die welt als Wille und Verstallung. Isis Unveiled, II. pp. 159 and 261.—L. A. S.
  2. * An entity, however that would be none of either, but an Object for itself, to which Kant's "Ding an sich" degenerated under his treatment, is a phantasm, and its recognition a will-o'-the-whisp in "philosopiy." Arthur Schopenhauer (Vol. I, p. 35,) edited in 1818, at a period when the knowledge of Sanskrit in Europe was very meagre. Schopenhauer's "Objectivation of Will" throws light upon the other side of the universe.—L. A. S.