What is experience, what is knowledge, what is the difference, what is real? Is your experience real? Really?
This post is due to the experience I have when being in America. There is great value placed on what seems like everything from a subjective experience that is then called knowledge. This is false when there is understanding of what knowledge is as well as what knowing of something is and how it happens.
Knowledge is of five kinds – sensory knowledge, scriptural knowledge, clairvoyance, telepathy, and omniscience.
That which knows its objects through the senses and the mind, or that through which the objects are known, or knowing alone is sensory knowledge. Owing to the destruction of karmas which cover it, that which hears, or that through which the ascertained objects are heard, or hearing alone is scriptural knowledge. These two are mentioned side by side, as these are governed by the relation of cause and effect. This is mentioned later, ‘Scriptural knowledge is preceded by sensory. The next kind is called avadhi (clairvoyance) as it ascertains matter in downward range or knows objects within limits. The object located in the thought of another is called mana (mind) due to association with the mind. Ascertaining it is telepathy. Now is it not sensory knowledge? No. Mana (mind) is merely relative. That which is displayed by destruction alone is merely spoken of with reference to one’s own and another’s mind. For instance we say, ‘Look at the moon in the sky’. Here the sky is intended merely as the background. That for the sake of which the seekers pursue the path by external and internal austerities is pure knowledge. Or it means without the help of anything else. This is mentioned last as it is attained at the end. Telepathy is mentioned close to it because of its proximity to it. How is there proximity? Self-restraint is the cause of both. Clairvoyance is removed. How? It is far removed from knowing.
Indirect knowledge is mentioned before direct knowledge, as it is easily intelligible. These are heard by, familiar to and experienced by all beings, for these are mostly attained by them. Thus these are the five kinds of knowledge.
Sensory knowledge, scriptural knowledge and clairvoyance may also be erroneous knowledge.
Viparyaya means false. How is it? It is because this is the section of right knowledge. Ca means also, that is wrong as well as right. Why are these wrong? These are wrong because these coexist in the soul with wrong belief. It is similar to the milk kept in a bitter gourd. Now the taste of the milk becomes different on account of the defect of the receptacle in which it is kept. But there is no error in the ascertainment of objects by wrong sensory knowledge etc.
For instance, just as the person of right faith perceives form, colour and so on, so also does the person of wrong faith. Just as the person of right faith ascertains form, colour etc. through scriptural knowledge and represents these accordingly, so also does the person of wrong attitude through wrong scriptural knowledge. And just as the man of right attitude ascertains matter through clairvoyance, so also does the man of wrong attitude through erroneous clairvoyance.
The first two (kinds of knowledge) are indirect (knowledge). Sensory knowledge is the first from the real point of view. Being next to it, scriptural knowledge is also considered the first figuratively. By the use of the dual number, the secondary one is also taken. The first and the first are the first two, namely sensory knowledge and scriptural knowledge. These two are indirect pramanas or knowledge. How are these indirect? These are dependent on others.
“Sensory knowledge is acquired through the senses and the mind, scriptural knowledge through the mind.”
Explaining the destruction of the karmas; sensory knowledge and scriptural knowledge arise in the soul through the senses and the mind in the presence of light, teaching, etc. Hence these are called indirect. And comparison, verbal testimony, etc. are included under these alone. The remaining three constitute direct knowledge. Now it is contended that knowledge resulting from the operations of the senses is direct and that arising without the functioning of the senses is indirect. These definitions which are not open to disagreement must be accepted. But it is improper to say so. For, if such a view is accepted, the authentic person would cease to be omniscient. If knowledge arising through the senses be considered direct, then there can be no direct knowledge in the case of the authentic person. For he does not attain knowledge through the senses. If he also is considered to derive knowledge only through the senses, he would not be omniscient. If it is contended that he derives direct knowledge through the mind, that knowledge is certainly not omniscience, as it is derived through the application of the mind. And it cannot be said that omniscience is established by scripture, for scripture presupposes the omniscient
The basic principle of knowing process of the Jîva or the Atma, and the variations in the knowing process of a particular Jîva are due to associated conditions. An ordinary living being has access to the environmental objects through sense-perception. Sense perception is through the medium of sense-organs of the body. Since they are parts of the body, physical and physiological, the sensory-organs are distinctly material in nature and thus distinct from the nature of Jîva or the Atma. Sense perception therefore is the knowledge which the Atman acquires of the environment through the intermediary of material sense organs. Since it is through the intermediary of physiological organs of sense, perceptual knowledge cannot be considered to be immediate access of the soul to the environment-objects. Hence sense perception becomes mediate and not immediate. Direct contact of Jîva with the object is what is called pratyaksha. Since the sense-perception is conditioned by physical sense-organs, it is not immediate. Sense-perception becomes paroksha, mediate knowledge. In this respect the terms pratyaksha and parokÈa are completely reversed. What is directly in contact with the soul is pratyaksha and what the soul acquires through the intermediary agent is paroksha. Hence the sense perception is a paroksha knowledge and not pratyaksha as described by the other Indian systems. But Jaina epistemology recognizes two kinds of supersensory knowledge, (1) awareness of objects in distant places and times, and (2) contact with thought present in other individual beings. The former is called Avadhij›âna which may be translated as clairvoyant knowledge, and the latter is called Manasparyayajnana which means telepathy in the language of modern psychology. These two features of supersensory knowledge, Avadhi and Manasparyayajnana, clairvoyance and telepathy, are recognized to be knowledge of immediate type or pratyaksha, since they do not depend upon any intermediary of sensory-organs. Of course, the real pratyaksha knowledge is the supreme knowledge of Paramatma when he gets rid of karmic bondage and when he attains Kevalajnana – the knowledge par excellence. This knowledge is infinite and unlimited by spatial and temporal conditions.
From the empirical point of view (vyavahara nyaya), eight kinds of knowledge and four kinds of perception are generally said to be the possessions of the soul. And from the pure transcendental point of view (uddha niucaya nyaya), soul’s distinctive characteristic is pure knowledge and perception.