Count yourself out of material existence

“Count me out of this,” is an idiomatic way of saying, “I won’t participate in this.”

Counting as a precursor to withdrawal comprises the modus operandi of the Sankhya system of philosophy. Sankhya specializes in analyzing material existence into its constituent elements. This exercise in intellectual deconstruction is meant to demystify worldly objects, thereby decreasing their lure. Through the eyes of Sankhya, we see that all material objects are essentially lumps of various material elements such as earth, water, fire and air – none of which trigger our fantasies of pleasure, as do sense objects. By contemplating that even the most alluring sense objects are essentially conglomerations of these unalluring elements, we can see through those objects’ seductiveness.

By further contemplation, we can recognize that matter lacks consciousness, whereas we ourselves possess consciousness. So, we can infer that we are different from matter. Accordingly, sankhya bifurcates existence into two realities: conscious beings called purusha and insentient matter called prakriti. These are also referred to as kshetra (the field of action, specifically the body – the arena of action for embodied consciousness) and kshetra-jna (the knower of the field, the soul – the source of consciousness).

The Bhagavad-gita integrates sankhya within its devotional Weltanschauung. In its thirteen chapter, it probes the nature, provenance and transformation of the field of action and its knower (13.04). The Gita explains that our individual consciousness is eternally part of the infinite consciousness, whose highest manifestation is the all-attractive supreme person, Krishna. We are meant to be united with Krishna in eternal ecstatic love.

By sankhya’s intellectual deconstruction and bhakti’s spiritual redirection, we gradually count ourselves out of material existence, in both conception and action. That is, we understand our non-material identity and redirect our innate longing for happiness from worldly objects towards Krishna, thereby paving our way to liberation from material existence.

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1 Comment

  1. Hare Krishna CCD,
    Great message, thank you for making the material link to Bhakti so easy to understand.
    ‘Count out of materialism and count back into Bhakti ‘ Thereby avoiding the void and redirecting the senses.


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