In the beginning, the non-existent existed.
Everything was engulfed in nothingness.
From that nothing, came everything.
Ignorance itself is known only through the knowledge of ignorance
Now, I know philosophy is an oxymoronic subject – no offence. Especially when it comes to the Indian version, codified predominantly in the Sanskrit texts that I am subjected to read – which I usually don’t – the statements made are wonderfully… well, oxymoronic. The ambiguity is virtually non-existent but there is a huge level of self-contradictoriness. Welcome to what you have to go through before knowing the supreme 😛
A non-existent thing is something that never existed, which is why it is called non-existent. Now if you say “non-existence exists” that makes it perfectly imperfect. How can something that never exist, exist? Okay, so we twist the words. We say, in the Indianized version of the English, Non-existence is there. That is calls for an existence. If you say something IS, it means it exists. Again, back to square one. (or zero, as we’ll see later).
Quite a lot of times I’ve come across one famous passage in the tenth mandala of Rg Veda – the last mandala, so to speak. There’s this Naasadeeya Sukta (talking about the origin of everything) wherein, we find statements like: Everything was engulfed in nothingness.
Again we are set to face similar problems here. Problems that my professor calls “hair-splitting” till you decipher them; problems that explain why more than seventy percent of his head is bald.
If it was nothingness that was everything, this means there was nothing actually. Null. Void. Zero. How come this resulted in the entire cosmic creation – which is everything for us? Was zero the cause of the one which is the cause of the many, then?
And finally the whole concept of ignorance and knowledge – the reasons for bandha (bondage) and moksha (liberation) in toto – came breaking down like a deck of cards. I have heard this one said before in Samkhya – to be aware of one’s ignorance itself is indicative of knowledge. This is because, in order to be aware means to be knowing. The jiva knows itself to be ignorant. And this is where I knew I was also quite ignorant about the ways of philosophy. 😛
(Note: Underneath all these seemingly dual-edged statements, the fact remains that these are only pathways to understanding the one underlying principle/concept – everything is one, interconnected and indeed the same thing. Call it whatever. The whole of perceivable and imperceivable universe is One.)