Verse 14: Sensible & Reasonable

Reflecting on verse 14 has made me think back to the assertion of right cognition in verse 4. I am attracted to a notion of right (and wrong) cognition. I find comfort in right cognition. When I feel confused I have come to assume it is because I am in wrong cognition and need to find my way back to right cognition. I find that I don’t have direct agency over my own quality of cognition. If I am, for example, in wrong cognition I can’t just think my way back to right cognition.

Wrong cognition has a particularly sticky trap when it is applied to cognition itself: when wrong cognition pervades me I can think that I am in right cognition. I find I need to be constantly vigilant to avoid falling into traps of wrong cognition. Right cognition is never a given, there is always a potential for wrong cognition to emerge.

Right cognition itself seems to be a constantly unfolding dynamic. It was once sensible and reasonable that the earth was flat. Then we looked more closely (with better sense-ability) and it became apparent that the earth was round. It was once sensible and reasonable that the universe rotated around the Earth. Then we looked more closely (with even better sense-ability) and it became apparent that the Earth rotates around the sun. There seems to be a reason-seeking foundation around which a dynamic sense-ability develops. This makes me wonder about the dynamics that led ancient observers to Samkhya itself!

Verse 14 seems to me like a celebration of that reasonable foundation. In previous verses, a tower of sense and reason has been built, and now comes an invitation to consider the foundations upon which this tower stands. This requires rigorous attention because I am now being asked to point my attention towards something that lies beyond my senses:

  1. Right cognition has been established.
  2. Inference has been established as a means of right cognition.
  3. Causality has been established through inference.
  4. A Manifest, Unmanifest and Knower have been established through causality.
  5. The lived-experience of the three Gunas in the Manifest has been established within the Manifest.
  6. The Unmanifest as the cause of the Manifest has been hinted at (and will be further elaborated in the next verse).

And now, all that reasoning seems to converge. Finally, because the Unmanifest causes the Manifest and is itself uncaused (there is no other cause that precedes it), it too must be endowed with the qualities of the Gunas, which makes them truly fundamental qualities.

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