Verse 17: What is the point of all this mixing and combining of the Gunas?

saṅghāta-para-arthatvāt tri-guṇādi-viparyāt-adhiṣṭhānāt |
puruṣaḥ asti bhoktṛbhāvāt kaivalya-arthaṃ pravṛtteḥ ca ||

saṅghāta – assemblage/combination
para – higher/other
artha – purpose
adhiṣṭhāna – standing by/authority
puruṣa – spirit/animating principle
bhoktṛ – enjoyer/experiencer
bhāva – experience
kaivalya – liberation

The Knower (Spirit).

  1. Anything made of parts (composites) serves something else.
    1. Anything that is made of parts exists for the purpose of another. A chair exists for someone to sit on it.
    2. Anything that is composite lacks consciousness.
    3. The Unmanifest and everything that it produces is composite because it is made up of the three gunas (vese 10)
    4. Therefore, the Unmanifest and everything that it produces, must exist for the purpose of another.
    5. This other is the non-composite (verse 11) Knower (Spirit).
    6. Why can’t composites serve the purposes of other composites? Why do I need to infer a non-composite Spirit? For example: it can be argued that a chair (which is a composite) is made for a body (which is another composite) to sit on.
      1. This question makes two assumptions which need to be examined with care. The first is infinite production and the other is a misuse of inference.
      2. Infinite Production
        1. Let’s assume that indeed a chair is for a body to sit on? I must then ask, then what is the body for?
        2. There are two possible resolutions for this train of thought. One is an infinite sequence of composite objects that serve other composite objects. The other is a reasonable termination.
        3. The infinite sequence of composite objects leads to confusion. If I can also place a pile of books on a chair, does the chair also serve the purpose of a pile of books? If so how does a chair differ from a shelf?
        4. Therefore, an alternative and reasonable termination that avoids infinite production is a better outcome and is also better aligned with my lived experience.
      3. Misuse of Inference
        1. Inference does not encompass all the properties of the thing from which inference is drawn (Linga).
        2. If inference required complete similarity in all properties, that would be the end of inference because in nature no two things are identical in every way.
        3. Inferring the fire on the hill from the fire on the hearth does not imply that the two fires are identical. It only implies that because there is smoke (on the hill as in the hearth), there must also be fire (on the hill as in the hearth). The two fires are different in many ways.
        4. Challenging the inference of Spirit (non-composite) from Nature (composite) by suggesting a similar relationship exists between a chair (composite) and a body (another composite) is a flawed argument. It assumes that Spirit (in the first example) and Chair (in the second example) are similar in other ways. This is not a valid assumption. Spirit and chair are different just like a fire on the hill is different from a fire in the hearth.
        5. The inference here relates only to the composite and it being in the service of another non-composite.
  2. Which brings me to postulating a non-composite Spirit.
    1. It has been established that Nature (Prakrti) is composite: made of the three Gunas (verse 11).
    2. It has been established that anything composite is for the use of another non-composite.
    3. So I postulate that there is a non-composite (not made of the three Gunas) that provides reasonable termination (rather than infinite production). That is Spirit.
    4. If I accept Spirit as non-composite then I also have to accept that it is without the three Gunas and therefore without the qualities that are related to them. I conclude that Spirit is non-distinguishable, isolated, non-objective, non-productive (verse 11).
    5. I also conclude that Spirit may therefore also be the origin of the quality of sentience.
  3. The purpose of a composite object is not inherent in the objects or its parts.
    1. Objects do not use other objects. A bed does not drive a car. A chariot requires a charioteer to exert control over the horses and give it direction.
    2. There must be a utilizer.
    3. This is the Knower/Spirit.
  4. What enjoys experiences?
    1. The three gunas cannot experience the three gunas. Pleasure, pain and delusion cannot experience pleasure, pain and delusion. Sweetness cannot taste sweetness, there must be a taster.
    2. That which enjoys the experiences of pleasure, pain and delusion (and the flavor of sweetness) is the Knower/Spirit.
  5. What is it that has the potential to experience liberation?
    1. Nature can never be liberated from itself. It is an eternal dance of the three Gunas.
    2. If there is a potential for liberation (from the experiences of pain, pleasure and delusion) is must be distinct and isolated from composite Nature.
    3. That is the Knower/Spirit.

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