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Thread: Subtle elements

  1. #1
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    Question Subtle elements

    Hello,
    The "five elemens" is a good classification to describe the basic forms prakriti manifests at the gross level (which we all percieve through our senses).
    But why it is said that these elements (or these differentiations) also exist at the subtle level?
    I mean, the deeper/subtler you go, the lesser differences are.
    To put it in another words, how can we talk about differentiation between earth, water, air, etc when we are at the level of sub atomics or quarks?
    Hope you understand my point.

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    Re: Subtle elements

    Good question!

    The basic idea in Samkhya is that the effect pre-exists in the cause. That is, when we observe the gross elements, the effect, it is but a manifestation of what was pre-existent, albeit in subtle or unmanifest form, as subtle elements.

    The adjective "subtle" here means that imperceptible.

    This is called satkaryavada.

    The argument put forth by Samkhya in support of satkaryavada is that only certain causes give rise to certain effects. We do not perceive a mountain produced from a mustard seed. So, the specificity of the cause-effect relationship implies that there is no "new" creation that occurs.

    So, every effect that you see, has subtle causes that "contain" the effect.

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    Re: Subtle elements

    Hi, wundermonk

    Quote Originally Posted by wundermonk View Post
    The basic idea in Samkhya is that the effect pre-exists in the cause. That is, when we observe the gross elements, the effect, it is but a manifestation of what was pre-existent, albeit in subtle or unmanifest form, as subtle elements.
    Right, there's no such thing as creation ex-nihilo.

    Quote Originally Posted by wundermonk View Post
    The adjective "subtle" here means that imperceptible.

    This is called satkaryavada.
    Right, but Samkhya keeps differentiating ether, air, fire, water and earth in the subtle level while modern science talks about atoms, sub atomics, quarks, etc. as the common substratum for all the gross elements.

    Quote Originally Posted by wundermonk View Post
    The argument put forth by Samkhya in support of satkaryavada is that only certain causes give rise to certain effects. We do not perceive a mountain produced from a mustard seed. So, the specificity of the cause-effect relationship implies that there is no "new" creation that occurs.

    So, every effect that you see, has subtle causes that "contain" the effect.
    I can't agree with Samkhya in the differentiation of elements at the subtle level. Maybe I can interpret it in this way:
    Different arrangement of the subtle, produce different manifestations at the gross level which we perceive as the different elements.
    But in the end there's only ONE principle which is the common substratum for everithing else, this is the only logical conclusion and this is in line with Advaita.

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    Re: Subtle elements

    Hi,

    Samkhya does not believe in atomism like the Nyaya Vaiseshikha do.

    So, from a Samkhya POV, any subatomic particle today, such as quarks, atoms, etc., are an instantiation of a particular configuration of sattva, rajas and tamas.

    Everything in nature has sattva, tamas and rajas in differing amounts. The difference in nature is accounted for by the preponderance of one over the other.

    But in the end there's only ONE principle which is the common substratum for everithing else, this is the only logical conclusion and this is in line with Advaita.
    Well, Samkhya does not disagree here. In the undifferentiated stage, pradhana is singular without any differentiation. Sattva, Rajas and Tamas are held in equilibrium at this stage and exist as potentialities. However, the presence of purusha disturbs this equilibrium and the undifferentiated pradhana evolves into actuality into everything that we see and experience in nature.

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    Re: Subtle elements

    Quote Originally Posted by wundermonk View Post
    Hi,

    Samkhya does not believe in atomism like the Nyaya Vaiseshikha do.

    So, from a Samkhya POV, any subatomic particle today, such as quarks, atoms, etc., are an instantiation of a particular configuration of sattva, rajas and tamas.
    Well, I agree with this, I don't believe in the absolute existence of particles.
    I think the ultimate substratum (Brahman) is not an object/particle, so from the Absolute point of view, particles exist only virtually.

    Quote Originally Posted by wundermonk View Post
    Well, Samkhya does not disagree here. In the undifferentiated stage, pradhana is singular without any differentiation.
    Ok, of course you know much more about Samkhya than I do.
    I don't know, maybe differentiation of the 5 basic elements at the subtle level is just a pedagogic tool.

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