Life Design

ANIL MITRA PHD, Copyright © Anil Mitra 1986, REVISED May 2010


Document status: May 12, 2010

Outdated; maintained out of interest

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1        Introduction

1.1        Origins

1.2        Objectives

1.2.1        Outline of basis, method, and priorities of design

2        Philosophical Basis for Design

2.1        Basic Dimensions of Being

2.2        The Universal

2.3        The Basic Processes

2.4        Unity

2.5        The Value of Integration

2.6        An Organization of The Dimensions Of Being

3        Psychological Basis For Design

3.1        Dimensions Of Being And Growth

3.1.1        General Considerations

3.1.2        Interpretations of The Dimensions Of Being And Growth        Maslow’s interpretation        Becker’s interpretation        Eastern interpretations

3.2        The Process of Growth and ts Dynamics

3.2.1        Openness to Being: Awareness and Perception

3.2.2        Blocks to Awareness: Resolution

3.3        Eastern Traditions: Buddhism, Vedanta, Yoga

3.3.1        Philosophy and psychology of Buddhism        A Western interpretation        An outline of Buddhism

3.3.2        Vedanta: the Existential Philosophy-Psychology of the Upanishads        Outline of Indian Philosophy        Vedanta        Advaitya Vedanta: the monism of Samkara

3.3.3        Yoga

3.4        Conclusion Individuals nd Society

Chapters 4 and 5


1           Introduction

1.1         Origins

The origins of this outline of personal design, based in knowing and self-awareness, dreams and vision, are in the development of my own sense of purpose. As this sense became varied and at the same time more explicit, I felt a need to center it and at the same time give it organization and unity

My interests and passions have included beauty and service. Beauty: in nature, humanity, the inner or psychic world, and the universal or sacred - representing four fundamental areas of relationship; and in human knowledge of these dimensions - science and humanities. Service: to these dimensions through exploration, adventure, discovery, unification, application, and through transmission of which education is an aspect

Among my interests have been philosophy, psychology and design. The unity, or inseparability, from a functional viewpoint, of philosophy, psychology, and design becomes clear--a problem of academic specialization. These interests provide some main threads of the centering and unity. Philosophy does so by showing the dimensions of experience, relationship, knowledge, and by providing an essential unity; psychology by showing or mirroring this unity in humans and by pointing to human will to the miraculous, to our highest being, and by showing the blocks to this development. Design by providing an efficient method to organize and unify the multifold aspects of my development and to provide an approach to choices for the future. To a significant degree, the philosophy, psychology, and design me personal

1.2         Objectives

The purposes of this outline are:

·    Unify and organize my personal design: the main areas of content and method me stated in Chapter 1.t; to these 1 add the necessity of self-knowledge and growth

·    Provide the initial design in outline; provide implementation for projects and priorities

·    Provide a philosophy of personal design: in outline this will include the philosophy, psychology and method: this is inherent to this outline article. Further development may be appropriate. A partial basis is my essay “Life, Unity, and Meaning”

1.2.1        Outline of basis, method, and priorities of design

Philosophical basis: chapter 2

·    The basic dimensions of being are the natural, social, inner w physic, universal w sacred. The basic processes of personal, social and universal transition are awareness [vision --> values --> needs and wants] --> knowledge [process] --> design and planning --> action --> control --> evaluation --> feedback

·    The unity of basic dimensions and processes are seen through necessity [humans, unitary beings, are of the universe], through structure and hierarchy, and through evolution. Implications for the individual are that for full health all dimensions of being are essential: humans art healthy when we attempt to be our highest being

Psychological basis: chapter 3

Based in philosophy, and also empirically, for full health humans must integrate the dimensions of being for these are manifest in our environment and mirrored in our self. The progression of growth is natural --> social --> inner --> universal. These reflect the dimensions of human need, wants, values, and vision

A process of transition is the cycle of awareness -->,...,--> feedback. Awareness is fundamental and there are many traditional systems. Essentially, awareness is openness to truth and centering of the self in creation. The dual process is of opening the sell to its highest potential and of working with blocks to openness

The universal includes what is unknown and the realm of the unknown exceeds the realm of the known. So, openness to the universal is highly practical

There is value in dissipation and play

Method and design: Chapter 4

There are appropriate balances of ‘be”-ing and design [method]: and appropriate diversities. These me consequences of philosophy and psychology

The method is a system of priorities, which includes a hierarchy of needs spanning the the...universal. This system naturally includes “be”-ing, awareness, play and so on. The basic process awareness --> knowledge --> a priority. Control in the sense of centering is also a priority. The priorities are hierarchized, but only partially--because of the unknown: this could be formalized

A separate, practical, compact and portable lilt of active priorities is kept, their hierarchy implied. Also included: centering: and noting new thoughts

Where appropriate, action will Imply] be specified

Priorities: Chapter 5

Categories of project according to philosophy, psychology, and method and design

A partial list/hierarchy of priorities: more complete list of ongoing [including currently inactive] projects in “projects” Tile

Urgent/emergency situations...could be an implicit/explicit part of the hierarchization

These projects and priorities are mine: their organizations reflect my needs--specifically my interests are diverse

2           Philosophical Basis for Design

2.1         Basic Dimensions of Being

The basic dimensions of being those humans can recognize are:


Social or artifactual--and secular

Inner or psychic, and

Universal or sacred

These dimensions represent stages in evolution. The natural presents the material nature of things: physical, chemical and biological. Thus the “brain” is natural. The social level is an outcome of the natural but is most conveniently described, not in terms of material properties, but in terms of hierarchic-emotional-cognitive interactions within a group of organisms. Such interactions have a basis in the natural, no doubt: but such a basis of description would be enormously complex and of little value. A hierarchy of intermediate descriptions could provide a convenient unity. The distinction is, in part, one of convenience and appropriateness of description

Since the relationship and structures within the social world, and the byproduct8 of the social world are created, are products of the social interactions and invention: this world can also be called artifactual. The artifacts, natural and institutional, have value and this value is highly dependent on the nature of the social individual

The inner or psychic world is, to a significant degree, an artifact of society. The child begins to absorb cultural meaning at a pre-symbolic/analytic stage of development, thus the individual’s sense of being is not merely cognitive-emotive but highly organismic, and, so, the artifactual nature of reality is largely hidden from the symbolic self. Additionally the individual’s stability is dependent on this artifactual sense of self and reality, therefore difficult to question

2.2         The Universal

Despite the highly artifactual sense of sell of individuals in society, the individual can attempt to decipher what is real. The dimensions of reality include the reality of nature including the real nature of the organism--the body; the reality of social meaning and interaction; and the reality of the self. One of the reasons why such a reality is valuable is that the entire structure of artifactual meaning is context dependent. The context is the inner or the relationships within society, and the outer w environmental. Changes in context undermine the artifactual. But this is why emergence from artifactual reality is so difficult. Because social structure is so dependent on the individual’s absorption in social meaning, this meaning must have a firm hold on the individual. The universal provides a base for reality. Meanings of the universal include:

Physical universe,

Truth behind artifactual or created meaning,

Transcendence of the social self,

The unknown in nature, humans, self, and cosmos

In the sense of the unknown, the universal is neither good nor evil. It is unknown not only in the sense of ignorance but in that it represents as yet unfulfilled evolutionary pathways and so there is no individual, species or organismic basis for its knowledge. And because there is more unknown than known, openness to the universal is good. This is not a contradiction, for the use of good and evil in the first sentence of this paragraph is in an artifactual sense

In the sense of the truth behind created meaning, the value is in critical choices for society and individual

The physical universe is our home. Here were we created and here is our final meaning and destiny. When the world fails, this remains

Transcendence of the social-self is the path to the universal, first in the self and then through transcendence of the true self to the universal in the cosmic

2.3         The Basic Processes

The basic processes of personal, social and universal transition me:

Awareness [vision: visions and dreams --> values --> wants and needs] --> knowledge [processes] --> design and planning --> implementation or action --> control --> evaluation --> feedback

2.4         Unity

I have written the essay Life. Unity, and Meaning as a philosophical basis of [personal] decision. This essay shows the basis of the basic dimensions [2.l] and processes [2.3] in evolution. The basic dimensions correspond to the fundamental structure of evolution, and the basic processes are the adaptive processes of these structures. The processes of Chapter 2.3 correspond to human [social], personal [inner, self], and universal levels

Since evolution builds by differentiating basic structures, adaptively specializing and integrating. There is an organic, evolutionary unity to the basic structures and processes. A philosophical basis is in the fact that humans [life] is unitary and therefore the universes of perception and being must be identical, and this single universe must be a web of interconnections. The essay [LUM] discusses, more fully, foundations and details of this unity and its value

A vision [value] related question I have considered is that of design in the universe. The argument, in outline, is: the origin of life and human consciousness is in evolution; humans do play a role in our own design--if limited and “imperfect”: for design and purpose on large scales, no new concept is needed--only new scales of time and space; we may be[come] a part of a larger scale: consciousness is a necessary agent of life’s independence from its own evolutionary past--the conscious individual is being in microcosm. The probabilities of these arguments are to be based in the unitary nature of the universe

2.5         The Value of Integration

The essential value is the reduction of alienation. Humans are aware of, live in, and appreciate the full dimensions of being. Our use of resources is balance and contained

The individual has free choice in determining which realms he wants to identify with and assign reality status. I felt it worthwhile to offer him the insight that his personal design for life should include designs, as far as his power permits, for his wider system: and information, as far as his knowledge permits, of that wider system. I also felt it valuable to offer for his consideration the idea of search for the broadest and highest of all possible views. I offer only a search, for the view in this essay is not a detailed one of the universal but an abstract of it..

When each individual fills in the details of the dimensions of being according to their own true vision, they fulfill themselves and contribute to the adaptive potential of the community

2.6         An Organization of The Dimensions Of Being

Corresponding to the interactions for humans, the four levels of being--nature. Society. Psychic. And universal--are four levels of relationship--humanity-nature. Human-human, human- self, and human-universe. The order of evolution and the order of development [Chapter 3] correspond to the order stated here

An organization in terms of levels of inclusiveness is:

Universal-sacred [humanity and cosmos]


World-secular [human and human; human and nature]

Social [and psychological]

Technical [technology]



Individual-personal [human and self]

Material, biological, and psychological

Needs and wants

I do not distinguish between needs and wants. Values are needs and wants at the world level. By vision I mean needs, rants, values and knowledge at the universal this level then is no distinction between values and knowledge

A possible misinterpretation of self-focus is “selfishness’. A human’s first sense of self is social, and focus on this self is focus on social meaning. Focus on further development of self. Though not always successful, is the essential source of insight for society and individual. And if the individual becomes trapped in the vicissitudes of this transition, it may be that the organismic “indoctrination” is too complete. When the transition is complete the individual is free--their vision is true--and. though the individual may be perceived as a threat to the established order. They are a source of true freedom. Their source of freedom as a free being is their vision into the universal or appropriately, the sacred

3           Psychological Basis For Design

Philosophical considerations have shown the basic dimensions of being and the process of growth dong these dimensions. Psychological considerations will show us [1] the meaning of these dimensions of being for humans and the basis of the natural progression of growth of our psychology [and biology], and [2] the psychodynamic problems of the growth process--giving insight into and approaches to entering and sustaining this growth process, and Into recognition and sustenance of my goal of terminal point. This latter point may take us into unknown areas and se back into philosophy and/or self-reliance; the systems of Chapters 3.1 and 3.2, and the processes of Chapter 3.2 provide some considerations on this issue

1 will review psychologies of being in the context of the four fundamental dimensions of being [3.1]. 1 will consider the psychodynamics of growth [3.2]. In the cycle awareness --> knowledge --> design--, act--, control--, evaluation [review]--, feedback --> awareness [‘new”]... the psychodynamic problems to be considered pre: [i] awareness is fundamental: many of the traditional systems deal with this [3.3]. Awareness is openness to truth and to centering the self in creation: the dull process is of working with blocks to openness and simultaneously opening the self to its highest potential in the full dimension of being: [2] psychology of knowledge and design-- including knowledge or potential design and extended use of potential designs [design systems 1E knowledge]: and [3] problem of free and blocked activity [including thought and action]

These discussions draw from Chapter 3.3 in which I consider the Eastern traditions: Buddhism, Vedanta, and yoga. 1 have included these In a separate Chapter because [1] they are integrated with regard to modes and dynamics of being, and [2] they do not fit naturally into my system for the modes of being. These Eastern approaches are of interest for any synthetic approach for their insight [of course], and because of the similarities behind the divergences with Western viewpoints; comparison of the similarities and dissimilarities provides clues as to what is of more general application and what is specific. We will see that, although the treatment of modes of being is different, the models of the transitional process are essentially similar

The psychological considerations of this Chapter are the basis of a “method” of transition given in outline [ Chapter 4]. A method of approach to transition is an implicit design. Chapter 5 provides a more explicit [and therefore more tentative] design

3.1         Dimensions Of Being And Growth

3.1.1        General Considerations

Based in philosophical considerations the natural progression of growth, for humans, along the dimensions of being is

Natural --> social--, inner --> universal

The natural substrate of being--physical. Chemical, biological--forms the foundation. When growth in this dimension has provided the being with human form, socialization begins--of course there is overlap in this transition as in the others. At this level the being absorbs the cultural rules or patterns for navigation in the realms of the natural, social, inner, and universal. To the extent that this development is conditioned by society the being is not truly making choices but is a manifestation of natural law and cultural conditioning. To this extent the being behaves materialistically--without true vision and without true choice. Of course seeds of choice are present. Significant, but never complete, choice is possible in the natural world: but the choice made in the social world is not so significant when compared with the full potential. It is the ability to make choices that leads the individual to a firm grasp of truth--for, having made a choice and observed the effects, the individual can compare the observed effects with the expected effects. Early performance and conditioning in the natural and social worlds have a significant effect by opening up the individual to experience and deep observation--or by closing them down. And transmitted learning can enhance the process, but the individual’s self-confidence in making choices must have 1 base in actual experience

It is this self-confidence and the related ability to see and act In accordance with truth that is at the basis of inner development. The potential w Peed for truth is in the individual early on, but its maturation occurs after maturation of social behavior; for the individual must have a range of social behaviors and some confidence in their physical and social being before the experiential learning can begin. And once the individual’s confidence in this dimension begins to grown, they can begin to differentiate the cultural version of truth and real truth--on deeper and deeper levels. The individual can learn the truth on natural, social and inner levels by being open to it. When this process if fully mature, the individual can not be existentially incorrect--for they make no claims to certitudes. This does not mean inaction, for when the individual recognizes the need for action, they act, even though they do not know the outcome

The implications of this line of argument ace interesting and 1 would like to consider them further. At this time 1 will record a thought on anxiety. It has been argued that anxiety is an essential condition of humans: that the condition of openness to truth is not one where anxiety is transcended but where anxiety is sustained. And the fundamental anxiety is the anxiety of death, which Decker identifies as organismic--arising in evolution and transculturally: the death negation behaviors and rituals have their origins in the fear of death. I do not deny fear or the fear of death. But to argue 1 fear of death and to make a significant point, for me, the fear of death should be an essential--or inescapable--and basic, w root, fear. And Becker argues that fear of death is universal. I cannot believe this. I am not referring to organismic fear or to reasonable caution. I am referring to chronic preoccupation. I do not see this as individually or culturally universal. For there are cultures that do not manifest this fear. If would seem equally valid to reinterpret those that do manifest this fear as those that do not. And there are times and occasions when death is tile. Perhaps the fear is relatively common in societies that emphasize certitudes over openness in this life and perhaps death is a chronic concern in societies that emphasize certitudes--pleasure or pain--in the life-after this one. Perhaps a society which is oriented toward certainty will be oriented toward materialism in this life--the only domain in which certainty seems approachable on Earth--and toward fundamentalism for the next--the only way in which certainty can be guaranteed in the domain of the universal unknown. I take it as fundamental that a society which does emphasize certainty--control--over chaos [or chaos over choice] has, from this dimension, an openness to truth--truth being knowledge which improves the adaptivity of actions based on choice: and that the individuals of such a society will have a predisposition to openness and acceptance

Coming back to the original line of discussion, growth of the individual. The opening to truth is development in the inner dimension--the psyche. Truth includes but is neither exclusively nor essentially knowledge in a restricted sense of the established disciplines of knowledge. If knowledge is not available, truth recognizes that fact. Of course, the individual is not completely and intrinsically alien to the truth. The adaptive features of their makeup include an intrinsic-- but not absolute--connection with truth. For, included in the meaning of truth, is the adaptive relation between organism and environment--on a conscious level

So truth consists in two factors. First: knowledge, whether probable or certain, clear w ambiguous, cognitive or emotive, symbolic or organismic [intuitive], and, second: openness to the dimensions of uncertainty, ambiguity, cognition-emotion, symbolic-organismic [including quantity- quality]--without fixation and without detriment to possibilities of choice and action. With the beginning of this dimension in truth, It this level of inner development also begins openness to the universal. The sacred is the openness to the universal--on Earth and among the stars: in history and dating back to the origins of the cosmos--and to the unknown; and a centering of being in these elements. Were our constituents formed in ancient fire, and are we of the unfolding levels of evolution Do you believe in universal design7 Look at the microcosm on Earth

Unguided, by assumption of no universal design, It has given us a creature that can see into the future [incompletely] and make choices [imperfectly]. Design in the universe requires; no new concept, no labored Imagination, but only a projection to the universe of what we know to be true on Earth: purposive and conscious choice, and a measure of success in actual outcome when compared to intended outcome. This projection is just as rational as a projection of materialism [no choice, blind unfolding] which we know to be true, to often incredible--but not perfect--accuracy and in vast, but still limited--domains of experience. To me It seems more rational to project design [choice and purpose] than materialism [blind unfolding]. For, to me, design is essential to understand our microcosm. Design includes materialism as a special case and is more general. The inclusion of materialism in design is not, to me, a dualism--not materialism AND design, but materialism IN design; and if design is reducible to some materialism here--that is, if materialism here on Earth is the basis of design by humans, then the projection of materialism to the universe includes design more rationally than it excludes design. And for a human who Is open to experience, not closed down in fear by a desire for certainty, if the projection of design to the cosmos is not in our image and does not care for the needs we feel, there Is openness to that unknown. For, although humans are open to uncertainty, we are, ideally, not blocked by it; and we realize that if the larger design does not care for our pleasure, it probably does not care for our pain either. Humans also know that infinite pleasure and infinite pain are not adaptive elements in any scheme of evolution, but are fictions of a fearful imagination

But nothing is certain. And, though it seems, to me, more rational to project design on the cosmos than to project materialism, all that I mean is that design seems more probable. A large number of materialist thinkers project materialism on to the cosmos as a matter of course, and a significant number as a matter of pride and passion--and derision toward those who do not. To me, this attachment to universal materialism is without basis. But such are the chains of modern materialism--though not of true science--that universal materialism is the norm. But to me, and even as I say this. I find my own roots in materialism surfacing: universal design is more probable than universal materialism...but nothing is certain

Beyond our projection, beyond the realm of our scientific observation and prediction, beyond the probability of our philosophical speculation, beyond the pale of the evolution of our biological, chemical and physical a complete unknown whose existence we cannot speculate. This unknown is in the universe and in our knowledge. Those who are closed down in fear in lire will be fearful of this unknown. Those who are open to truth and experience will find joy in life


I have argued philosophically for a progression of growth:

Natural -->, social -->, inner --> universal,

...and have also given an evolutionary argument for this progression and for these four fundamental dimensions in the life of humans. However, 1 shall not argue here, philosophically or evolutionarily, that the nature is the foundation and that the subsequent progression is the formation of superstructure. For [I] the progression as a theory would necessarily be in outline and incomplete, and [2] so new elements of theory need introduction at each level and we cannot say--because we cannot fully know--whether these new elements are essential aspects of being or are artifacts of our [limited powers of] conceptualization-perception. That is, we cannot say whether the dualisms are of nature or of our categories of description, and [3] we can formulate alternate philosophies based on any one of the four dimensions as fundamental; and such philosophies do exist

It is a characteristic of an undecidable dualism, that where we cannot, we need not locate its source. As outlined above [and 2.1 & the essay LUM]. I favor the progression stated above

There are empirical reasons based in observation for choice of this progression. The being that does not have a foundation in adequate body development or control remains at the biological level or inhibited in further development. Without development of appropriate sell-confidence In the social sphere, the social being does not have the foundation to question the socially accepted version of truth and remains in the realm of social materialism: without fully free choice. With the foundation to begin this quest in full, the individual begins to critique and independently judge the social version of reality. The realms in which the veil of conventionalized truth become subject to the true critique expand and the individual truly bases their actions on their critiques. As pointed out earlier, full realization of the truth’ is not an appropriate standard of judgment. Rather it is the openness to the process and continued development. This is the stage of inner development, of centering of the psyche and of true choice. Most individuals in society remain within the development, without the full strength or opportunity to complete the development. Empirically, the individuals to complete this development are those with an adequately secure sense of social self- confidence. And, se I pointed out earlier, the individual constitution does have motivation and basis in its evolutionary development for explicit realization of truth. One of the basic social lies that him been projected repeatedly in history is materialism: that there ore no true choices. This is the basis of the most basic of controls exerted on the individual. It is not a fear of external force, but the implicit insinuation of the social system on the individual, that the individual is essentially constituted as the system implies. In its most brilliant form the social ideal is projected as the most desirable and this engages the individual’s loyalty through their sense of growth, identity and choice. Individuals believe themselves to be free--but are not free. And so the confusion and futility of the individual steeped in this untruth--and the difficulty of liberation. The highest of universalists are those who project on Earth and creation neither materialism nor limited w specific design and who show the connection between the openness of the universal to freedom on Earth itself, and, empirically, they are individuals who have been free in themselves

The process of the previous paragraph is not intended as discrete. Example: Based in the natural, the social and inner develop together. Most commonly the peak of inner development occurs after the peak of social. This is not the exclusive route to inner development, but some social development does seem an essential prerequisite

The following section provides, in outline, a number of versions or interpretations of the dimensions of being and growth. Taken together with the Eastern traditions [3.3], this provides information from a multiplicity of cultures. We will compare these interpretations with the four fundamental dimensions as presented here. There is reasonable agreement between the four dimensions and the Western interpretations. The Eastern interpretations are so general or nonspecific as to provide neither agreement nor disagreement. An objective of the provision of the interpretations is to fill out the basic dimensions in the social context

3.1.2        Interpretations of The Dimensions Of Being And Growth

I will consider a number of interpretations and the integration that they provide         Maslow’s interpretation

Abraham Maslow considered growth of an individual toward fullness of being as transition along a hierarchy of needs: lower needs are more pressing and immediate and to be satisfied before the higher. All the needs are based in human biology and when a given level of need is satisfied, motivation to satisfy the next need emerges. Each need integrates and builds on the previous levels of need

Maslow’s five level hierarchy of needs is well known. Toward the end of his life he came to believe in a sixth level--that of self-transcendence...also based on biology. One interpretation is in terms of plasticity of response of the individual [and so to the group] of one’s own needs and

circumstances. Such plasticity would include an openness to incomplete nature of social truth, to truth as process, and to the unknown. Maslow referred to these needs as being-needs w B-needs. Maslow explicitly intended to include modes of experience beyond the usual limits of human experience and identity

If we interpret ‘usual” identity as social identity, then Maslow’s concept of “self’- transcendence is similar to the dimension of being that I have called universal

Maslow’s extended hierarchy of needs is:

Survival - immediate needs: sustenance, rest and shelter

Security - wants: freedom from danger. Provision for the future

Acceptance - belonging to a group, intimacy [receiving]

Status- respect, admiration [giving]

Self-actualization - fulfillment, self-motivation and openness to truth, being one’s highest self

Self-transcendence - seeing and living truth to its fullest accessible sense, being one’s highest being, B-needs w B-values

Note the transition along the hierarchy from strong to subtle and from expression of deficiency to expression of sufficiency

We may draw up a correspondence between the fundamental dimensions of being that I have considered and Maslow’s hierarchy. Survival is clearly an expression of “natural” needs. Security is an expression of survival needs by a cognitive being. Expressions of security are conditioned by society: however, it seems to me an expression of a natural need. In a situation calling for attention to survival needs, an isolated individual would begin to think about security once immediate needs had been taken care of. In a social context, security derives an added meaning through a variety of job, career, and vocational pathways: to provide security, and individuals deprived of social satisfaction may attempt to substitute by additional provision of security. But, it seems to me that security is an expression of a natural need by a being who can “see”--whether organismically or cognitively--into the future. Acceptance and status are needs in the social dimension. Thus the correspondence between the fundamental dimensions of being and Maslow’s hierarchy is:




Survival and Security


Acceptance and Social Status

Inner or Psychic



Self-transcendence         Becker’s interpretation

Ernest Becker has identified four levels of power than an individual can employ as the basis of his power:

The personal, [inner] [self-actualization]

The social, [social: family groups] [acceptance]

The secular, & [social: tribe, nation...] [status]

The sacred [universal] [self-transcendence]

I have given corresponding dimensions of being in parentheses. In square brackets are Maslow’s classes. Becker has also identified six common problems of humanity, which correspond to the fundamental dimensions as shown below:


Six common Problems of humanity


1. What is the relation of man to nature? [survival, security]


2. What are the innate predispositions of man? [behavior]

3. What types of personality are most valued? [status]

4. What are the modes of relation to others [role], [acceptance]


5. In whet kind of space, time does human action take place2 [reality]

6. What is the hierarchy of power in nature, society, the cosmos, and where do I fit into this scheme? [self-actualization, self-transcendence. This is the most fundamental problem.

Becker presents these six questions as the fundamental problems that each culture must navigate         Eastern interpretations

Buddhism, Vedanta sad Yoga are given an outline treatment in Chapter 3.3. Here I want to consider Eastern treatment of the dimensions of being

The foundation of being in a ground of material structure is not a central interpretation of the Eastern traditions as it is of the modern Western. Therefore we do not expect to find the same organization of the categories of being in the two cultures

The basic postulates and principles of Buddhism are, in my opinion, essentially a psychology of being. Buddhism starts with human awareness as the central category of existence and with the essential problem of this awareness. “Suffering exists” is the first of the four truths; and the first element of the eight-fold way--the solution of the problem of suffering--is right knowledge! According to Buddhism the fundamental problem of humans is our emotional status, and the resolution begins with cognition. Indeed without cognition [thought], there is no problem of emotion, for the emotions themselves are centered in the present. It is thought that alienates humans from the foundation of their own being and so the solution is--right knowledge [w thought]. Thus the true function of cognition according to Buddhism is integrative [humans-self] and not intellectual

The underlying philosophy of Buddhism is one of universal and eternal cause and effect: dharma--the eternal law. The universe, and humans, is a web of interactions. So Buddhism is somewhat sparse on the nature of material reality. And why not? For, nature has integrated this reality into human being and so is always present and organismically accounted for. Why “opt” for a socio-cultural style that will unduly burden human mind with material-level bookkeeping7

Despite the absence of an explicit materialism, the eight fold way of Buddhism shows a parallel to the processes of growth and transition [or any organism or society capable of conscious choice and action] as it unfolded in biological evolution from a primitive reactivity to an environmental inhomogeneity [stimulus] and as presented in Chapter 3.2. The parallel has been shown [3.3.1]

Similarly the liberation process [sadhana] of Vedanta [3.3.1] is:

awareness --> knowledge --> action,

and with the addition of feedback this can be interpreted as the process provides [3.2]. Awareness and knowledge of, and action upon the process itself are included

Thus, to a neutral interpreter, the Eastern traditions--by specifying no categories of existence at all, or by specifying only very general categories--leave the discernment of these levels to the individual. A process for this discernment is provided--in outline. So the individual, who uses these systems in a neutral context, does not have at their disposal symbolic systems of great power in the material domain. In return the individual receives a tremendous psychic freedom. Thus the Eastern traditions provide the individual with a psychology of awareness and truth [process]. A modern synthesis would include use of but personal detachment from the symbolic sciences of the categories of existence

3.2         The Process of Growth and ts Dynamics

The dimensions of being: natural, social, inner, and universal are sequentially available to the individual. Growth becomes conscious in the transition from transition from natural to social: the psychological self is largely a product of socialization. Consciousness does not imply truth: the transition to the self as a true perceiver and interpreter is the development from social to inner- directed awareness and openness to experience. The individual is then ready to grow into the universal dimension of truth as outlined in the previous pages of Chapter 3. The universal provides both truth and belonging to the individual who has successfully opened up their inner dimension. This truth is then available to the larger society. Far from being merely a model of Eastern or mystic Christian thought, this is--in outline--a model of the cognitive-strength of Newton or Einstein, or of Buddha, Jesus or Muhammad

Example: Before Einstein, space and time were held to be independent entities. If two events occur at different locations, the statement that they occur at the same time was assumed to have unique meaning. This still remains the common sense point of view: if two events happen at the same time, one at New York and the other at Los Angeles, according to a measurement made at Albuquerque, surely they will occur at the same time according to a measurement made in a jet aircraft flying from Los Angeles to New York. This was the standard viewpoint of science before Einstein’s theory of special relativity. This standard viewpoint, the absolute nature of time, was formulated: The time at which events occur is independent of who observes the occurrence. Similarly, the standard viewpoint on space was: The location at which two events occur is independent of the observer. These two standard viewpoints seem eminently common sense, and were subscribed to by Isaac Newton, one of the great scientists of all time

However, the special theory of relativity demonstrated that these viewpoints are inconsistent with the experimental and theoretical structure of physics. How did Einstein show this? The first step is an opening up to the dimensions of experience--awareness--a willingness to question the weight of common sense and established science: eliminate the assumption that space and time are absolute--or that they are not absolute. The second step is a process of reflection and analysis. Allow actual experience to decide which condition is valid. The experiential information used by Einstein was [equivalent to] the experimental fact that the speed of light does not depend on the speed of the observer. This is actually quite surprising from the common sense point of view. If a car moving at JO miles an hour and a bicycle at 2~ miles an hour are traveling in the same direction, the car’s speed relative to the bicycle is 25 miles an hour. This is not so for light which always seems to have the same speed of 186,000 miles a second, even relative to a galaxy receding at one half the speed of light. The result: special relativity according to which time and space are interwoven. Common sense is not displaced for speeds small compared to the speed of fight. For many day-to-day purposes, the older notions of time and space are sufficiently accurate. We can learn a number of things from the development of relativity

[1] The most revered of our ideas can be incorrect. [Absolute time and space are inventions of humans and not properties of the universe.] Humans tend to forget this

[2] We can see our mistakes only when we open our selves up to experience. It tales careful reflection to analyze the conceptions that are products of our limited experience

[3] The sources of insight into truth need not be esoteric, but we must be willing to accept our established ideas as approximations. The thrill of now vision is the vistas of truth that open up. Very often, whether in science or philosophy, new truths show us to be Intimately connected with the universal--and not alien to it

[4] The new truths are themselves open to correction--as Einstein himself pointed out

[5] The growth of the theory of relativity was: an opening up to the dimensions of reality and analysis of the awareness. There must have been trials and Iterations of the process. This is the basis of the transitional process

Awareness --> knowledge --> application

The same Ideas open us up to the incomplete truths in the dimensions of the social and the universal. A common argument from science is: materialism is the order of the universe--and so is society. This is reinforced by notions of social and political science. Subtly, but perniciously we are taught: we are not free... The basis of this materialism is the beauty and success of materialist science In Its appropriate domains. But life is not materialist--we know choice. Projections of materialism [no choice] to the universe are invalid. The decision to be free belongs, by our very existence, to the individual. The State may claim freedom of control war the individual, by its very existence or by the powers of the universe vested in it. But it has absolutely no basis in theory or in value for this claim except as the individual chooses to accept the claim of society or is coerced into submission. Buddha, Jesus, and Muhammad have included in their teachings and show in their lives the freedom of the individual

I have shown earlier the philosophical and psychological value to the highest goal--for humans to be our highest being. In this Chapter we have now seen the practical value to this

A more complete version of the transition w growth process is:

Awareness [vision --> value -->,want -->,need] --> knowledge and design -->, implementation w action -->, control --> evaluation -->, feedback

This model is applicable to transition for individuals, societies or other communities and, with variations to more restrictive processes or “sub-strategies” such as the process of knowledge w design. One classical version of technical design is:

Want [felt] --> need [specification] --> search and synthesis --> analysis and optimization --> evaluation --> presentation and selection

On the psychological level the following are important:

Awareness - is important. It involves openness to truth, to the dimensions of being and relationship, and generally, to the process of transition itself

Action and design control. The psychological dimension of the problem of thought and action is a problem of free and blocked activity: and of design control, the problem of continued action in light of design and priorities

Evaluation and feedback are important because of “imperfection” in initial awareness, knowledge and design. Trial and error are necessary ingredients of transition, as they are of evolution and of the individual processes of knowledge and design. Evaluation implies observation of results of implementation and comparison with priorities--or values. The problems of control and of evaluation include awareness

Psychology of knowledge and design. At this Level 1 see knowledge and design as a unity. In large-scale problems--where the problem unfolds with the solution--we can see knowledge as potential design, in a changing, ambiguous and uncertain universe. And we can see potential designs and design methodology as knowledge. There are some interesting questions in the design of information gathering, reduction and conceptualization and use-systems. Here I am more concerned with enhancement and openness in knowledge and design, and of blocks to the process, than with questions of methodology--which are related, but are more specific and so left to Chapter 4. Also I am more interested in psychological blocks than with administrative w physical blocks--since I am concerned with personal design. Again, in considering blocks and openness, the question of awareness arises. A related and significant question is: what are the available modes of awareness and knowledge?

And so I conclude the fundamental role of awareness and its sustenance. There are two aspects to this: [1] openness to the dimensions of being, to miracle, wonder, beauty, and to experience of the universal. Humans have, indeed, universal urgings. Maslow held that these were biologically based--and hence adaptive; and I have indicated the philosophical, psychological and practical values; and [2] overcoming blocks--those of ignorance and anxiety, of defenses, guilt and so on. As shown by the teachings of Jesus, by the related Western schools of existentialism and psychoanalysis, and by the Eastern schools of Buddhism, Vedanta and others, the ancient traditions are more whole. They emphasize openness to the dimensions of being m much s the blocks. Psychoanalysis focuses on the blocks or neuroses--the mechanisms of defense which close the individual down to fullness of being and experience; existentialism--secular and Christian--seems to focus on the negative dimensions of being and experience

I will now consider the two aspects of awareness: the positive or the factors of openness, and the negative or the blocks

3.2.1        Openness to Being: Awareness and Perception

Psychology and sociology show the sources of closedness to being and experience in the individual and society--and the ideal religion, including that of the Vedanta. Buddha, Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad, show the way out. Of course, being based on a science or tradition of antiquity, the ancient religions do not always hold up to modern physical science on a material plane, but their positive psychological, social and universal insights are visionary

Characterization of openness: Awareness, openness to experience, to choice and to failure, vision [including visions], dream, inspiration, new attitudes: there is always freshness--new, fresh, looking, opening, including, beyond, evolutionary, revolutionary, and so on. Preconditions: will, will to integration, humility fin the face of being], acceptance of pain, anxiety

Paths to awareness and growth: Christian existentialism: courage to be, will to meaning, psychology of being: Maslow’s hierarchy, dimensions of being, process of transition: Buddhism, Vedanta, Yoga and other schools

These schools identify, actually or implicitly, their own hierarchies and paths to awareness. Yoga and psychoanalysis combine in the recognition that a foundation of health is in the body. For this reason, some versions of Western treatment [including versions of psychoanalysis] counsel cessation of analysis, independence of opinion [based on exteriors] and trust in the self [interior] founded in a trust in the body--the material or first level of being. Yoga includes the asanas or postures in the eight-fold path. Buddhism has its eight fold way through [right] knowledge, resolve, speech, conduct, livelihood, effort, mindfulness, meditation: this has clear interpretations in terms of the transition model [3.2]. The Vedanta path is sadhana: vision of the dimensions of being --> study of the true nature of being --> application. The coincidence of these approaches and my approach [bared on my twentieth century experience, learning and reflection in the cultures of East and West] is striking

Modes of awareness and knowledge [knowing, design, problem solving... Rational, conscious, emotional, intuitive, mystic, belief, faith, body, organismic, systemic/process, subconscious, memory; acquired, instinctive; unconscious, race, species, category-- conscious/unconscious: social-institutional/traditional: machine; environment: universe

Empiricism vs. organismic/experiential/evolutionary and intrinsic: Ultimately there is no distinction except in that scientific [or any authoritarian] dogma which has its subtle appeal in the aura of certitude and precision [always limited] and which holds the zero of knowledge to begin with rational, explicit, conscious science

Process: trill and error applied to [and in] being, to information and to process

Dependence/independence in evolution: consciousness, a pathway for independence and surprise

Knowing/action a false dualism: integrated:

Knowledge --> action --> feedback

3.2.2        Blocks to Awareness: Resolution

Resolution will consist of two parts: removal of deficiencies--this Chapter : and openness to sufficiency and abundance [3.2.1]

Psychoanalysis: There are three fundamental neuroses, blocks or deficiencies of character. They have names connected with body functions and Greek mythology. These denote their original context but detract from their full meaning. Versions of modern psychoanalysis [Backer 1971] have overcome the mistakes of Freud--the explicit, emphatic position of the negative aspects of sex, excrement and death--and shown the fundamental contributions of Freud: these include guilt and the implantation of conscience: but not the source of motivation--the self-esteem of Adler. This treatment has given psychoanalysis a more whole approach to the sources of repression in personality. Three fundamental sources are:

1. Dependency: leads to trust in the demagogue, fear of the stranger

2. Self-love/withdrawal; an exaggerated version of the will to power--healthy in its normal form: with the same problems of blind worship of the leader [who emphasizes ‘we”] and distrust of the outsider making society an alienating [and finally dangerous] place. [1986: America shows marginally excessive signs of self-love.]

3. Over control/lack of wonder and respect: result of fear: love of machine and control over life: source of sadism. [1986: America shows marginal tendency to overcontrol, especially in Central American policy.]

These are the causes of closedness that need to be overcome. Psychoanalysis also identifies the fear of the wondrous and the universal, but does not emphasize them, presumably removal of the blocks opens the individual up to growth. The universal then serves as motivation-- as Maslow writes.] According to Ernest Backer the process is:

Trust in self [without excess]: in the body --> overcoming negative social learning [the blocks] --> self-esteem --> opening up of the self to truth --> search for the universal --> provision of insight for society

Backer argues that the fear of death is fundamental, anxiety must be sustained through growth. As I discussed earlier, I tend to disagree--the organism MUST have both fear and joy built in, and so I am not sure of any claim that anxiety cannot be eliminated. Buddha provided a psychology in which anxiety can be transcended without withdrawal from the world. It does seem to me that there is a self-defeating attitude in excessively materialistic societies in which there is necessarily a premium on the commitment of the individual to production, in which independence from the “normal “--anxiety-based “drives” to participate in the cycle of production-consumption-- is regarded with suspicion. It follows that non-subscription to the fundamental tenets of materialist knowledge [dogmatic science: knowledge that begins with strict empiricism--over-control] is suspect. So, escape from over-control and fear of death is difficult in these societies. Further, as pointed out earlier, projection of materialism onto the universal is standard--and this must provide an essentially gloomy view of death. Fundamentalist Christian belief underscores this view of death and even provides for fear of life. I do not know the resolution to the debate between anxiety and transcendence. It may be necessary for social transition as a preliminary. The process would be: sustenance of anxiety by the individual[s] --> openness to perception --> truth [reality] --> communication to society: teaching --> social transformation

General centering skills are provided by the systems above: psychoanalysis: Christian existentialism [courage to be]: Yoga: Vedanta: Buddhism. Others are: identification of problems, reinterpretation, and choice: ritual and routine: acceptance of dissipation [of evil in society and self]--meaning, specifically, that the existence of evil is not an excuse to avoid transition: change of scene/pace, rest, and play; putting aside the problem; sleep, withholding sleep, fasting --> plasticity/ego transcendence [vision seeking--Oglala Sioux and other shamanistic tribes--whose purpose: centering in creation--realizing unity of all things, preparation for ordeal, thanksgiving]: focusing on the highest objective--heroic vision: accepting limitations [but not to excess...the negative side is stopping short of...], accepting pain, anxiety, imperfection. For the central objective; controlled gratification

3.3         Eastern Traditions: Buddhism, Vedanta, Yoga

3.3.1        Philosophy and psychology of Buddhism         A Western interpretation

Goleman has shown how Buddhism provides an Ideal of health in terms of a set of healthy and unhealthy factors that can be classified according to Western concepts:





2. Delusion, false-view, shamelessness, remorselessness

3. Insight, mindfulness, modesty, discretion, confidence, rectitude


1. Agitation, greed, aversion, envy, avarice, worry, contraction, torpor

4. Composure, non-attachment, non-aversion, impartiality, buoyancy, pliancy, efficiency, proficiency

1 have labeled the classes factors 1, 2, 3 and 4 so that elimination of the unhealthy factors and growth to the healthy factors in the sequence 1->2->3->, and 4 can be identified, roughly, as the progression natural-> social-> inner-, universal. Thus the Buddhist ideal of growth has a relation with the ideal that 1 have presented earlier. The Buddhist ideal for humans is arahat. This is the individual who is liberated in the present life. Goleman points out that the prototype of arahat is notable in contemporary psychologies, in the main, by its absence. Thus Becker maintains that anxiety is transcended by sustaining it and not by overcoming it. According to Goleman:

From the perspective of Western psychology the arahat must seem too good to exist... yet the prototype of the saint [arahat] is a maim tenet of Asian psychologies which have continued to thrive for two and three millennia

The characteristics of arahat are: [1] absence of greed for sense desires: anxiety, resentments, fears: dogmatisms such m this w that is “the truth”: lust or anger: suffering: need for approval, pleasure w praise: desire for anything for oneself, for anything beyond essentials: aversion to conditions such as loss, disgrace, pain w blame, and [2] presence of impartiality towards others and equanimity in all circumstances; ongoing alertness and calm delight in experience, no matter how ordinary w boring; strong feelings of compassion and loving-kindness: quick and accurate perception; composure and skill in taking action         An outline of Buddhism

Buddhist philosophy is practical in intent: the foundation is the fact of dharma or “eternal law”: universal cause and effect. Existence is permeated by cause and effect. This dismisses any accidental w interventionist origin of life. Buddha would have delighted In the Idea of evolution of life from its material substrate

From dharma, Buddha derives universal change: everything that has a beginning must have an end, but an end has a beginning; all things are transitory; it is unhealthy to form attachment [dependence] to transitory things. A corollary: non-existence of the soul as a transfinite entity. Buddha holds it to be ignorance to be attached to the soul. From these considerations derive karma: the consequence of dharma in life. “We are the result of all we have thought”.... And “work out your life with care”

Buddha wanted to solve the problem of suffering in this life. He emphasized the practical in his ten uncertain and ethically useless questions: Is the world eternal? Is the world non-eternal? Is the world finite? Is the world infinite? Are the soul and the body one and the same? Are the soul and body different? Doer a realized person live after their death? Doer a realized person not live after their death? Does a realized person neither live nor not live after their death?

Psychology in Buddhism derives from philosophy. The foundation is the set of the four noble truths:

1. Suffering exists. For Buddha there is in addition to physical suffering, an existential element to suffering: birth, wishes, despair, frustration, dejection, emotions, failures--all born of attachment

2. There is a cause of suffering. Buddha identified a twelve-linked chain of causation: --> ignorance[ avidya] --> past impressions [samsara] --> initial consciousness[ vijnana] --> mind/body organism [namarupa] --> six organs of cognition [sadayana] --> contact of senses with objects [sparsa] --> previous sense experience [vedana] --> thirst to enjoy [trsna] --> mental clinging[ upadana] --> will to become[ bhava] --> birth [jati] --> old ago and death [jaramarana]-->. The cycle goes on until one learns to break it

3. There is a cessation of suffering. If one keeps away from the conditions of suffering one attains the state of nirvana...the cycle can be broken at the stage of attachment and desire. Nirvana is not inaction. It includes the discharge of duty in a personally detached way--as service--not under the influence of passions and attachment: in this connection: the value of meditation

4. There is a means to end all suffering. The cycle is broken by following the eight-fold way:

o   Right views [samyagarsti] - about the nature of the world and a person’s relation with it

o   Right resolve [samyaksamkalpa] - mental reformation, give up attachments, ill feelings

o   Right speech [samyagvak] - good behavioral approach, reinforcement from others

o   Right conduct [samyakkarvanta] - action: five vows: nonviolence, truthfulness, not stealing, non-sensuality, non-possessiveness

o   Right livelihood [samyagajiva] - one has bodily needs and these must be provided in a way that doer not harm or interfere with others’ lives or disturb social harmony

o   Right effort [samyaguyayama] - need to continue to deal with deeply rooted samskaras [past impressions] that produce negative thoughts. One must be careful to maintain equilibrium. Parallel with psychoanalysis

o   Right mindfulness [samyaksmrti] - constantly remembering the transience of all things helps concentration on the previous steps, maintain determination, deal with doubt, confusion, and passion

o   Right meditation [samyaksamadhi] - the seven previous steps help the student to live in the world yet remain above it - an impartiality of style of life. Now one can explore inner consciousness and truth. Buddha gives four stages: first, concentration of the pure and unruffled mind on truth: second, dispelling doubts and confusions--mind established in four noble truths enjoys the peace: third, transcends joy: indifference, equanimity: fourth, transcends equanimity and bodily existence, nirvana and perfect wisdom

The eight fold way serves individuals as well as the whole of humanity in various aspects and dimensions of life

Buddhism seems to make no effort to emphasize w de-emphasize a distinction between secular and universal

The four progressive levels of enlightenment are: srotapana - one who has entered the eight fold path; sakrdagamin - will return only once more to this world; anagamin - will not return: arahat- one who is liberated in this life

The eight-fold way synthesizes the dimensions of being and the process of growth:












Social, natural






Universal, inner




3.3.2         Vedanta: the Existential Philosophy-Psychology of the Upanishads         Outline of Indian Philosophy

The Veda is the root of Indian philosophy-religion. It was transmitted orally, possibly as early as 4000 BC, before it was compiled in Sanskrit--and constitutes the most ancient scripture known to humans, compiled long before Panini systematized classical Sanskrit grammar. The Veda has four sections: Rig [Rg], Yajur, Sama and Atharva. The Rig is a collection of poetic hymns to gods and goddesses [personified forces of the universe]. In symbolic language, they contain philosophical meaning from which the thoughts of Indian philosophy flow. The Yajur contains mantras, some from the Rig, to be sung during ritual activity. The mantras of the Sama are from the Rig, and are to be sung in verse form, to a specific tone during ritual. The meaning of the mantras thus chanted is contained in symbol, sound, and metro. Sound, and its profound effect on psyche was an accomplishment in understanding of the Vedic seers, who discovered the seven-tone system. I have made a personal--not meant to be exclusive-- identification:

The hymn [way] of the universe...Vedic visual-tonal symbolic philosophy-religion

The way of the world....Buddhism in its Indian-Asiatic forms

The way of nature...Western science and materialism

The inner way..

The mantras of the Atharva deal with the mundane and material, unlike the mantras of the Rig. Yajur and Sama, whose purposes are sacred: but the power of the Atharva is believed to be in forces above the world

The Veda is in four chronological stages: Samhita, Brahmans, Aranyaka, and Upanishad. Thus each Veda has four stages of development--of theory and practice: Samhita--the original mantras; Brahmana--instructions for archaic rituals, for use by householders; Aranyaka--methods for higher enlightenment to be practiced in solitude and calm in quiet corners of the forest [the link to the universal], and for householders who have calmed their senses and controlled their minds through a correct understanding of their relationship with the external world. The Aranyakas establish a link between householders and renunciates

The Upanishads are the culmination of the Vegas. Upanishad means to “sit close beside” the competent teacher. In the Upanishads truth is revealed sequentially and experientially through the teacher. Truth is revealed It various levels. The important concept, to me, is that of revealing truth in the life of an Individual and not one of technical virtuosity. In the context of the modern world, beyond the central concept of revelation, the value of the Veda is in the experiential nature, at some level, of all knowledge--symbolic or organismic. Another way of stating the fundamental value is that the ideal in the Veda stands against materialism--the idea that the individual does not have choice. There are 108 prominent Upanishads of which eleven are considered preeminent. In these eleven, the wisdom of the Veda reaches its Peak

The compilation of the Upanishads marks the end of the “Vedic Period” of Indian philosophy. The hymns of the Rig-Veda are rich in imagination, but the Upanishads are abstract. The epics of Indian philosophy, the imaginative rich Mahabharata and the Ramayama, are written against the abstract background of the Upanishads. The Ramayana is of the conflict of the Aryans with the pre-Aryan natives and of the penetration of the Aryan culture. The Mahabharata records the conflict between two claimants to the throne, and symbolizes--it is said--the conflict of good and evil. The Bhagavad-Gita an epic poem, is a part of the Mahabharata The Gita is the peak of the epic poems, perhaps, as W. von Humboldt claims “the most beautiful...philosophical song”. The Gita includes a doctrine of action in the lace of meaninglessness and despair. Cast in literary form, the Gita is a dialogue between Arjuna, hesitant to enter battle, and Krishna. We could call it a positive existentialism. The epic poems form a pmt of the “Epic Period’

The consequent developments in Indian thought derive from the Vedic and Epic. The Epics acknowledge the authority of the Vedas. The heterodox systems reject the authority of the Vedas, while the orthodox systems accept that authority. These systems, all, have some based in the Vedas or the Epics--even the heterodox systems, but are not a mere working out. They include psychology, philosophy, ethics, and doctrines of action and of self-realization. Above all the elements of Indian philosophy include a serious stand against say doctrine of materialism--the idea that individuals lack choice

My source for the organization of Indian philosophy into a Vedic Period, and Epic Period, heterodox and orthodox systems is the book by Radhakrishnan and Moore. In addition to the classical systems, they include a section on contemporary thought. Their organization--with some modifications--is:

Vedic Period

Vedas, Upanishads [2500-600 BC]...or 4000 BC oral?

Epic Period

Ramayana, Mahabharata [600 BC to 200 AD], Bhagavad Gita

The Laws of Manu

Kautilya’s Artha-Sastra [on politics, diplomacy, 300 BC]

Heterodox systems [- 600 BC]

Carvaka [dates back to Rig-Veda]

Brhaspati Sutra [600 BC] doctrine of phenomenal world as reality and perception the only source of knowledge

Jainism [Mahavira: 599-527 BC]

Buddhism [Gautama Buddha: c. 563-483 BC]

Orthodox systems [Sutra Period, dating from early Christian on to - 800 AD] - The period of systematic treatises

Nyaya [knowledge through logical analysis]

Vaisesika [analysis of reality]

Samkhya [a dualistic theory: conscious and unconscious]

Yoga [disciplines for self-awareness, self-knowledge]

Purva-Mimamsa or Mimamsa [Interpretation of the early parts of the Vedas]

Uttara-Mimamsa or Vedanta [interpretation of the early Upanishad]

Scholastic Period [- 800 AD to decline In - 1700 AD]

Period of commentaries

Revival [19th sad 20th centuries]

Sri Aurobindo [1872-1950]

S. Radhakrishnan [b. 1888]         Vedanta

Vedanta literally means the end of the Vedas. The Vedanta systems are the interpretations of the Upanishads of the Sutra Period. The Brahma Sutras are the systematization of the Upanishads by Vyasa. The Advaitya Vedanta is the monistic systematization by Samkara [Samkara] [788-8201 AD] and is based on [1] the Upanishads, [2] the Brahma Sutra and [3] the Bhagavad Gita. Samkara says he is merely expounding the content of the Vedas but, according to S. Radhakrishnan, he is a creative thinker of the first rank. Other versions of Vedanta are duct to Ramanuja [11th century AD: qualified non-dualism] and Madhva [1197-1276 AD: dualism]

The Vedas and the Upanishads being affective in origin and application--though not ignorant of cognition, are not consistent systems. The systematic versions inherit this quality, despite the logical framework: the intent is application in life

Common views of the Vedanta Systems. There is an all-pervasive reality: Brahman [eternal consciousness] and Atman [self]. The self is distinguished from the body, breath, mind, and intellect that cover the self like sheaths. The self is eternal, has an essential nature of bliss and knowledge. Realization of the self is the goal. The path is internalization of awareness. Being is unitary [Brahman and Atman are identical as are forests and trees]. Iswara [God] is the aspect of Brahman that sees over the phenomenal world. The Vedanta is unique in Indian philosophy for its conception of Isvara; Isvara’s existence can be established only by direct experience or testimony; reasoning, however, is necessary to justify faith and to understand the real teachings         Advaitya Vedanta: the monism of Samkara

Vedanta was transmitted orally until Samkara. Through his commentaries Samkara [l] reformed society, and [2] provided a philosophy and practice for those who wanted to explore the inner self

Atman [self] - reality beyond phenomenal world, not accessible to sense experience: in other language, what lies behind the description, the senses, and the connotations. Atman is a denotation--a pure symbol, a name--not a meaning. Atman sees all phenomena. Atman is eternal, without beginning, end, or cause. Atman is true reality, the original cause. Death is a return to Atman in its pure state

Brahman - is the ultimate truth; whatever is: accessible or inaccessible; the cosmic manifestation/collection of Atman: the source of all being

Maya- the cosmic illusion/delusion: subscription to the notion that a description can suffice for reality or is an eternal reality. The physical universe is the projection of Maya ultimately transitory. Maya is unconscious and unreal: the power of Brahman through which it veils itself--included in Brahman: without beginning: positive when it projects the world, negative when it veils Brahman; in between dream and absolute reality--real from the standpoint of the world, unreal compared to Brahman: the relative and finite forms of Brahman: removable by right knowledge; avidya ignorance] in its original form

Causation - in outline Vedanta is a theory of the location of psychology in reality, and one of death and its cause. I understand Samkara’s theory of cause and effect to be a projection by Maya on the world of descriptions, of evolution or, in more familiar terms, a description of evolution [unfolding],

Prana - the life force, not different from Maya. Prana--what brings the cosmos into its manifestation; while Maya makes the manifestation [our sense description] seem real. Prana-- identical with Brahman before manifestation

Sadhana - the system of practice for liberation: seeing truth and therefore realizing the essential nature: bliss, knowledge, consciousness. Vedanta is the path of knowledge: Jnana Yoga-- sravana [study], manana·[reflection] and nididhyasan [application of the truths in life]; that is, contemplation, meditation and use or action. Through contemplation one comes to know the levels of reality. The student contemplates the sound OM--the name of reality. This leads to a distinction between real and manifest. Meditation leads to truth in the distinction

The content of the process of sadhana can be interpreted: vision [dimensions of being] --> awareness and knowledge [of reality]: --> action, design, application

The four stages of realization [from the Mahavakyas--the great statements of the Upanishads] are: [I] Brahman alone is real and the universe Is unreal, [2] there Is only one Brahman without second, [3] I am Brahman, [4] the entire universe is Brahman

3.3.3        Yoga

For Yoga, see Journey in Being and Yoga

Postscript: My purposes in discussing Indian philosophy here have been:

1.  To consider sources of centering

2.  Insights into dimensions of being and processes of transition

3.  Insights into alternatives to materialism

4.  Alternate models of knowledge and reality. The objective is not so much to show new ways of thinking, but to show the possibility of alternative viewpoints and to loosen up from our standard cultural viewpoints--whatever they are. There are socio-psychological reasons for ascribing centrality to our conceptions, and though certain conceptual areas of Western/world culture are highly accurate atlases of experience, the world is still struggling with itself and its environment. A certain flexibility in language, symbol and system of concept is healthy

3.4         Conclusion Individuals nd Society

The four dimensions of being--nature, society, psyche and universe--are sufficiently general to include all categories of existence. All categories of human culture are admitted. There is sufficient specification to include the dualisms of experience without confusion. Thus accuracy is not sacrificed. The scheme admits plurality of experience and unity of being. However, no plurality or unity is forced and thus reality and psychology are not prejudiced. I, personally, incline to ward unity of being. A number of paths to seeing the unity/dualism are available: nature/evolution, inner...and I have indicated an evolutionary path to unity in my appended essay. Here. I do not emphasize this unity but show it as arising in a hierarchy of needs [Maslow] corresponding to the four dimensions. While no scheme can be regarded as final, there is empirical evidence that the needs are based in biology/psychology and reflective evidence from philosophy that they are based in the dimensions of being

The hierarchy specifies the dimensions of an individual’s life. It is also whole in that it includes, or is capable of including, the “needs” of the entities with which the individual interacts and upon which they depend. Later, I indicate the nature of respect for the natural environment of humans as a need felt by humans ourselves. Similarly the social needs and values [5.1.8] have a dual function: they provide a path for us to live in society and also make ourselves useful to society

On the material and social level, individual needs for development and living ate provided by family, education and career. Through these needs the individual contributes to the material and organizational needs of society; it is a problem in social organization to work the distribution of employment and resource use. If circumstances were patterned and material and organizational needs were the only ones, society could be rigidly structured

However, circumstances--the environment and society’s interactions--are very unpredictable. Flexibility is necessary. Society provides this by being flexible in its institutions and by providing the individual with freedom--freedom from over concern over security and social needs and freedom to express our individuality. By individuality, I mean our “higher” needs: psychic and universal. Society may provide avenues for development of higher needs but these should be more in the sense of suggestion and freedom of movement than in the sense of structure. When the freedom is available the satisfaction of “higher” needs is a function of human innate motivational system. In fact, these higher drives--inner and universal--are so powerful that even if the lower ones me marginally satisfied: or, if social freedom in nonexistent, the drive to expression remains. This provides an innate, though “imperfect”, safeguard to freedom. The truth and insight available from the expression of inner and universal needs by the individual is useful for society in navigating the material and organizational aspects of existence as well as in the provision of freedom

Given an appropriate integration and balance of structure [for satisfaction of necessities: material, social--including organizational] and freedom [for satisfaction of the higher needs-- psychic, universal and social flexibility] in society, the individual’s own motivational system results in satisfaction, w in motivation towards satisfaction, of needs of individual and society in all dimensions

Chapters 4 and 5

These chapters on actual design have been eliminated since they have been superseded in Design for a Journey in Being