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The Relevance of Phenomenology for Theosophy

Govert Schuller


In this article I like to make the case that Theosophy has not been sufficiently exposed to one of the West's most fruitful philosophical movement, phenomenology, as founded by the German philosopher Edmund Husserl and further developed and/or radicalized by philosophers like Max Scheler, Martin Heidegger, Eugen Fink, Jean-Paul Sartre, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Paul Ricoeur, Emmanuel Levinas and many more.[1] As complex both schools of thought are, the more complex their possible interactions. Following are six reasons why I think interaction is important, the linchpin being point IV, in which I try to bring out a few of phenomenology's crucial findings and their possible applications in Theosophy.

I. Appropriating Phenomenological Philosophy

The subtitle of H.P. Blavatsky's The Secret Doctrine makes the quite extraordinary claim by proclaiming the book in its subtitle The Synthesis of Science, Religion, and Philosophy. These fields of endeavour are continuously changing, creating ever-new hypotheses, laws, insights, even going through radical transformations like paradigm-shifts. In order to stay contemporary and dynamic, it behooves Theosophy to understand, compare, elucidate and incorporate these many advances into its synthesis. So far in the fields of transpersonal psychology, psycho-therapy, parapsychology, religious studies, physics, biology, ecology, Asian thought, history of esotericism, cross-cultural understanding and many other fields, Theosophy has either contributed significantly or functioned as an understanding and sympathetic clearing-house. [1a] What seems to be missing is a critical evaluation and appropriation of post-Blavatskyan Western thought especially phenomenology in its many variations.[2] With its rich and fruitful insights and methods phenomenology can be important for the deeper understanding of relevant Theosophical themes as:
a) Consciousness in general in its structures and dynamics
b) Religious, mystic and occult experiences [3]
c) The hidden power of 'categorial intuition' (see point IV)

II. Updating Theosophy by Phenomenological Philosophy

Besides appropriating phenomenology into Theosophy from a Theosophical point of view, the tables could be turned by giving phenomenological philosophy a chance to bring Theosophy to a deeper philosophical self-understanding. Phenomenology could elucidate, for example, the essential demarcation between--and interactive complementarity of--science, religion and philosophy, and thereby lay out an internal dynamic of Theosophy. One idea that could be explored is the way science, religion and philosophy can work as a system of checks and balances upon each other, thereby evading materialism in science, dogmatism in theology, post-modern relativism in philosophy and other aberrations. Another Theosophical subject phenomenology can contribute to is the question of the seven constituent principles of man. Can these principles be phenomenologically understood in their essential differences and unity as different ontological regions, or ways of being? As far as I have tried, I think that is the case. [3a] More importantly is the possibility that phenomenology can help Theosophy in understanding and re-experiencing its own roots and origin of its meaning, thereby countering the tendency of its self-interpretation into superficiality, self-alienation and self-forgetfulness.[4]

III. The Spiritualization of Phenomenology

In one of the Mahatma Letters an appeal went out that is eminently applicable to phenomenology: "The crest wave of intellectual advancement must be taken hold of and guided into spirituality." [5] As phenomenology is a fruitful open-ended research-program with "infinite tasks," it tends to be molded and appropriated by many different anti-spiritual, if not anti-esoteric tendencies like Marxism, fascism, absurdism, relativism, nihilism, Catholicism, Protestantism, etc. Theosophy should enter the fray of the ongoing discussions by presenting its own spiritualized interpretation of phenomenology and, with the tools of phenomenology, present more precise refutations of its alternatives. Too many young people are sucked into the quagmire of scientistic, fundamentalist or post-modern relativistic worldviews, which doesn't need to be so.

An intriguing field of research would be a Theosophical investigation of Heidegger's philosophical development. Heidegger's development can be understood as a phenomenological self-interpretation of his own underlying theological and spiritual development in his grand quest for the meaning of Being. This latter development can then be understood within a Theosophical framework as steps on the initiatic path, with a troubling slip-up. Theosophy, in its capacity of interpreting history along esoteric lines, can also help illuminate this troubling aspect, i.e. the very thorny issue of Heidegger's mistaken vision of Hitler and his occult-political sect the Nazis as some new revelation of Being potentially open to overcome the dead-end techno-centric metaphysics of the West.[6] Overlooked aspects feeding at a sub-conscious level into Heidegger's complex motivations in his aim at becoming Germany's philosophical Führer, would be the collective conscious and sub-conscious messiah expectations unleashed worldwide by Theosophy's World Teacher Project with Krishnamurti. And connected with that, Theosophy can help in understanding the occult mind manipulations by Hitler and the Nazis--who projected themselves as such saviors into the vacuum left by the abrogation of fore-mentioned project--not the least by the fact that the Nazis appropriated many Theosophical ideas, which by itself still needs a thorough critique. Here Theosophy finds itself in the same boat as Heidegger for different groups see both as leading to fascism.

IV. The Latent Power of Categorial Intuition and Essence Intuition

The third object of the TS asks for an exploration of latent powers within the mind. Phenomenology does explicate, develop and apply such a special power. It is the power of having philosophical insights or intuiting essences, but now in a way in which 'having an insight' has come, within western philosophy, to an unprecedented level of self-evident self-understanding.[7] Phenomenology's founding father Husserl called these philosophical acts 'essence-intuitions' (Wesenschau) and through such acts he also made some penetrating investigations into the necessary conditions to make such acts possible. This claim can become really intelligible only on the basis of understanding a) the intentional structure of consciousness, b) a peculiar perceptive capacity called categorial intuition, c) a philosophical technique called eidetic reduction and d) the specific subject-matter phenomenology is interested in, i.e. the essential structures of consciousness.

a) Intentionality

Intentionality in phenomenology means that consciousness is always consciousness of something. In all psychological acts like seeing, remembering, counting, discussing, etc., we are directed or focused on a certain seen, remembered, counted or discussed object and not on the act itself or the 'I' enacting the act. Consciousness is not a container of some sorts within the brain, duplicating what is outside itself with the senses acting as intermediaries. Who would be then conscious, and in what way, of what is contained in the container? Another container? Properly speaking consciousness is always already outside itself, directly, through its senses, in the world of its cares, whether practical, social or theoretical.[8] An important part of intentionality is the phenomenon that we can emptily intend an object and also experience different grades of fulfillment of the intention, through which then a temporal self-sameness of the object can be experienced. Examples of empty intentions are: looking for a lost object, trying to remember a forgotten phone number, the content of any statement before it is personally verified, not understanding a self-evident statement like A=A, or not seeing yet that intentionality is a basic feature of consciousness. This dynamic of intentionality is important for a deeper phenomenological understanding of issues like knowledge and evidence, mistakes and misunderstandings, and the philosophical trio of necessity, possibility and actuality.

b) Categorial intuition

The really important issue here is what Husserl calls categorial intuition (kategoriale Anschauung), a term Heidegger also uses.[9] Categorial intuition organizes and structures, on a pre-theoretical, pre-thematic level, our simple perceptions into complex 'states of affair.' This happens for example when we go from seeing just a house to seeing that the house is white, or that it is bigger than its neighbor or any other specific feature or relation it might have. On a more complex level we can use the example of seeing a row of trees or hearing a melody. The peculiarity is the following. The trees and notes are sensuously given, but the row and the melody, though they are experienced, they are not sensuously given. The pattern and melody are items that are not part of the raw data entering our senses, and because of that they might even not be experienced at all. You might just see some trees and not perceive the row pattern, and you might just hear a sequence of musical notes without experiencing the melody. At the same time, when these patterns are experienced, it is obvious that they are not merely subjective in the sense of an arbitrary processing of information, or some form imposed upon the data by consciousness. Once perceived, the pattern and melody are really out there and have their own kind of objectivity, which can be pointed out to others, and shared with them. To come back to the example of the house, one could ask where or how in the sensuous experience the 'is' or 'bigger' is when the perception is articulated in the statement 'the house is white' or 'the house is bigger than its neighbor.' We can see the house, the white color, its neighbor, but where and how do we see the feature and the relation? It is these kinds of structuring of our experiences that find their way, when expressed in language, in the non-sensuous parts of language, in words like 'being,' 'this,' 'and,' 'or,' 'unity,' 'plurality,' etc. These items of experience are not merely subjective forms imposed upon sensuous experience, nor are they to be found in sense perception. These items are given to consciousness with and founded upon sensuous experience, through a non-sensory kind of perception, i.e. categorial intuition.[10]

c) Eidetic reduction

Eidetic reduction is a technique by which one gradually comes to understand the essence or univocal meaning of an issue through imaginative variation. If the issue is understanding the essence of the practical object 'coffee-cup,' one would take its various features and relational aspects and change them in imagination until it becomes obvious that one couldn't speak of a coffee-cup anymore. For example, imagine changing the opening at the top to being gradually more tilted and ending up on the side, at which point it can not contain any fluids anymore and therefore hardly qualifies as a cup. Or gradually change it weight, size, or material. What one ends up with are those features without which a coffee-cup wouldn't be a coffee-cup, that is, its structural essence. These features could then be gathered into an extended definition of the item, like 'a small non-porous, heat-resistant delivery device, weight- and size-wise proportionate to a human body, for intake of warm water-solved caffeine.' In the previous example the issue was the essence of a specific practical object, an issue phenomenology is hardly interested in. What it is interested in--among many issues--is the essential complex structures of the experience of using any practical object whatsoever, though it could proceed or abstract from the example of a coffee-cup, or a hammer as Heidegger does, to uncover these essential ideal forms. In this way Heidegger developed a phenomenological description of tool, here compressed in the following 'definition': A tool is something non-thematically, non-theoretically understood as ready-at-hand; belonging to a totality of equipment within an assignment context; circumspectively used in a series of involvements 'in-order-to' produce a work, which is its 'towards-which;' used in the end 'for-the-sake-of' a possibility of human being; constituted by serviceabilty, conduciveness, usability and manipulability; revealing a public world of co-producers and co-users and the natural world as resource.[11] This 'definition' might strike one as a strange hybrid of obvious and obscure ideas about the essential structure of a practical object in general. But reading the chapter from which the fore going was abstracted, with an understanding of phenomenological method in the background of one's mind, the whole exercise becomes quite rigorous and revealing. And the insights thus obtained can be retained and put to fruitful use in subsequent deeper phenomenological investigations.[12]

d) Phenomenology's subject-matter

Phenomenology is the philosophical study of consciousness and as consciousness is intentional in its structure, it is the investigation of the essential structures of intentional experiences. It studies a) the essence of the experiencer or that identity that stays self-same throughout all experiences, or the unity of consciousness; b) the essential features of the many different modes of experiencing like perception, imagination, thinking, remembering, reflection, coping, moods, relating, etc. and their interconnections; c) the essential features of the many kinds of 'objects' as connected with, or constituted through, the different modes of experience, like the essence of perceptual objects, imaginings, thoughts, memories, tools, cultural objects, intersubjectivity, etc.; and d) the unity of these structures in the context of one's life and world. Mostly the structures of consciousness would be 'read off' the object of experience, because the form of the experience comes necessarily with the experienced object, though it is not explicitly given, for the experience focuses on the object itself and not on the form of the experience. Through different moves--like bracketing (resisting the temptation to explain the phenomenon in naturalistic causal terms) and applying eidetic reduction--these forms can be brought to evidence.


Next step is to show that when we make statements about the essential structures of consciousness itself we are dependent on categorial intuition. For example, when Husserl makes the case that consciousness is always intentional, he could not do so by merely reflecting upon his own consciousness. He had to structure that peculiar investigative reflective experience and have it confirmed and refined through varying repetitions, i.e. eidetic reduction. He saw that when one wills, something is willed; when one thinks, something is thought; when one sees, something is seen, etc., etc. He saw that every act of consciousness has its own peculiar correlative 'object' to which it is directed. Consciousness is always consciousness of. The importance here is not this structure of intentionality itself, but the idea that once you see this structure for yourself it is because of categorial intuition, which means that you are categorially intuiting a non-sensuous item with its own claim to objectivity. Moreover it is a philosophical act. It is not a scientific hypothesis to be tested in a psychological laboratory. It is categorial intuition in the first place that makes science possible by ongoingly and in ever more refined ways structuring its subject matter. Science even doesn't need to know about this possibility condition to proceed successfully. And it is not a religious experience either. Phenomenology can uncover things about ourselves, and these revealings can be experienced as a revelation of some sort, but phenomenology's subject matter does not reach farther than the necessary possibility conditions, or ideal forms, of our experiences and can't say anything about its content qua content. It is by an act of faith that faith's specific content is constituted, which will provide a content only for theology to investigate, while phenomenology can only investigate the essential structure of the act of faith and the correlative kind of being of its intended object, regardless of its content.[13] Husserl called these philosophical acts 'essence-intuitions' (Wesenschau), which only bring out what comprises the structuring ingredients implicitly within any experience whatsoever and make them therefore more intelligible. Heidegger refines this notion of phenomenological explication of the structures of experience with his idea of 'formal indication' (Formalanzeichnung), of which Dasein (Being-there) and Being-in-the-world are his most well known. These peculiar Heideggerian concepts, here emptily intended (formally indicated), will find their own appropriate fulfillment in acts of understanding, which can only be called acts of transcendental self-knowledge, because the concepts indicate the essential dynamic structurization of our very own being.

In short, categorial intuition is an important 'power' inhering in the dynamic structure of consciousness. This 'hidden' ability can be explicated and refined with the help of eidetic reduction into a philosophical attitude along the lines phenomenologists have investigated, and applied in any intellectual endeavour whatsoever, including Theosophy.[14] The main subject coming into view for investigation would be the interconnected questions about a) the how of Theosophical insight and knowledge, b) the originary experiences underlying its intellectual super-structure, c) the role of inter-subjective factors, d) its concept formation, e) the interaction between Theosophical understanding and psychological transformation, and much more.

V. Phenomenology and Krishnamurti

There are different reasons why Phenomenology and Krishnamurti are relevant to each other, and in their relationship are relevant to Theosophy.

1) First of all there are already two book-length studies by Indian philosophers comparing Krishnamurti with phenomenology. One compares Krishnamurti with the existential phenomenologist Sartre and another one compares him with phenomenology's founding father Husserl.[15] Sartre is also the focus of an article by one of Krishnamurti's friends, René Fouéré.[16] And the important Theosophical study of Krishnamurti's esoteric life by Aryel Sanat makes numerous appreciative references to phenomenology in comparison to Krishnamurti's approach.[17] Meanwhile, not all studies with 'Krishnamurti' and 'phenomenology' in the title are to be considered phenomenological in the philosophical sense.[18]

2) Secondly, phenomenology is important as a device to study and clarify the way Krishnamurti proceeds in his own proto-phenomenological investigations. It can help clarify statements like 'the observer is the observed' and 'you are the world.' The leading question here is if Krishnamurti really shows at every turn of his monologues the matter or issue itself, or is he sometimes making short cuts and introduces speculative elements? For example his statement that "thought is matter" might be up for a good phenomenological critique.[19]

3) Thirdly, phenomenology, in tandem with Theosophy, can help clarify the nature, structure and development of Krishnamurti's own long list of mystical and occult experiences and their inter-connections.[20]

4) Out of point 3 can come a more philosophically balanced Theosophical appreciation and critique of Krishnamurti's experiences and teachings and thereby help the Theosophy-Krishnamurti dialogue in a new and promising vein.

5) Krishnamurti's proto-phenomenological investigations into such existential themes like fear, desire, death and conflict can contribute to the existential-phenomenological understanding of the same. For example the interaction between Heidegger's analysis of fear and anxiety and Krishnamurti's analysis of fear might get to something bigger than the sum of their separate parts. In an experimental vein I recently stated the following: "Being non-fearful doesn't exclude anxiety, which might well be the mood accompanying the act of detachment when one slips from a fear of something into the anxiety of nothing, which then might slip into bliss of Being, when the nothing is seen as the veil of Being, and anxiety turns inside out as bliss."

VI. Phenomenology and Eastern Thought

There are numerous studies by both western and Asian scholars that point out, or fruitfully use, phenomenology as a tool for a deeper understanding of Asian philosophy and religious experiences and/or see striking parallels between the two. One of the most amazing events in this regard is the Heidegger reception by Japanese philosophy.[21] They apparently can't get enough of Being and Time and have translated that masterpiece at least six times now. At the same time some scholars are making headway in uncovering the Asian, especially Zen and Daoist, influences on Heidegger himself.[22] Indian philosophy seem to gravitate more towards Husserl with his stratification of different levels of consciousness and their accompanying egos.[23] As far as Husserl's and Heidegger's responses are concerned regarding Asian thought, we find Husserl writing, after reading some original Bhuddist texts, the following enthusiastic assessment:

"For to any sympathetic reader it soon must become clear that Buddhism, as it speaks to us out of its pure original sources, is concerned with a religious and ethical method of the highest dignity for spiritual purification and pacification, a method thought through and carried out with an internal consistency, an energy and a nobility of mind that are almost unmatched. Buddhism can be paralleled only with the highest formations of the philosophical and religious spirit of our European culture. From now on it will be our destiny to blend that Indian way of thinking which is completely new for us, with the one which for us is old, but which in this confrontation becomes alive again and strengthened."[24]

Heidegger is several times on record to the effect that what Zen Buddhism expresses is something he tried to say throughout his writings.[25] In order to further an East-West dialogue it has been pointed out that the work on the nature of interpretation and dialogue by hermeneutic phenomenologists like Heidegger and especially Gadamer can be very productive.[26] As Theosophy intends to make the rich heritage of eastern thought available to the West, phenomenology can be of great help in facilitating that agenda.


Many more reasons could be brought forward to make my case, but I think these six, sometimes somewhat overlapping reasons, are enough to establish The Relevance of Phenomenology for Theosophy, while also touching upon its reversal.


1. For a quick overview of phenomenology see:
a) The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2003 Edition), s.v. "Phenomenology" by David Woodruff Smith,
b) Lester Embree, "What is Phenomenology?" at the web site of the Center for Advanced Research in Phenomenology.

1a. Meanwhile many of these subjects have received extensive help in their development from phenomenology, especially in their methodological and theoretical aspects. This suggests to me that phenomenology can become an integrating factor for most, if not all, of these disciplines. Find here a bibliography of studies in which phenomenology contributed to the understanding of certain academic subjects and professional practices.

2. In a 1961 lecture philosopher and Theosophist J.J. Poortman presented an overview of the philosophical interests of prominent Theosophists and an assessment of the interaction of Theosophy and philosophy. According to Poortman there used to be a quite active scene of philosophizing Theosophists and theosophizing philosophers in Holland, with the latter category not necessarily sympathetic to Theosophy as presented by the Theosophical Society, but anyway doing interesting 'Theosophical' investigations along Hegelian lines. Poortman himself made it to the University of Leyden occupying the chair of "Metaphysics in the Spirit of Theosophy" and it was due to a Theosophical couple that the International School for Philosophy in Amersfoort was founded, which recently had to close its doors. See J.J. Poortman, "The two Sophia's or the Relationship of Theosophy and Philosophy" in Philosophy, Theosophy, Parapsychology: Some Essays on Diverse Subjects (Leyden: Sythoff, 1965). Poortman did study some of Husserl's philosophy and actually dedicated a whole chapter to phenomenology in his four-volume Vehicles of Consciousness, 4 vols. (Adyar, Madras, India: T.P.H., 1978), in which he also stated that some of its sections were "entirely phenomenological in their plan and intention." (IV:16)

3. See for example the outstanding introduction to Experience of the Sacred: Readings in the Phenomenology of Religion (Hanover/London: University Press of New England, 1992) edited by Sumner Twiss and Walter Conser, Jr. Poortman refers to the work of the "well-known parapsychologist" Gerda Walther, who to others is more known as an early student of Husserl. She presented a small paper, combining the two fields, titled "A Plea for the Introduction of Edmund Husserl's Phenomenological method into Parapsychology" Report no. 44, Proceedings of the International Conference of Parapsychology, Utrecht, 1953.

3a. See also: "The Seven Theosophical Principles: An Initial Experiential Grounding in Reflective Experience" (Theosophist Blog, June 26, 2008)

4. See for example Christopher Richardson's appeal countering that direction in his article "Radical Theosophy" in Theosophy World, no. 100, October, 2004.

5. C. Jinarajadasa (ed.) Letters from the Masters of Wisdom, First Series (Adyar, Madras, India: T.P.H., 1988, 6th ed. [1919]), p. 123. "The last Letter," no. 59 from K.H. to Annie Besant, received in 1900.

6. For a concise overview of the issue see Thomas Sheehan's "Heidegger and the Nazis," review essay of Victor Farias' Heidegger and Nazism in The New York Review of Books 35/10 (June 16, 1988), pp. 38-47. [For an in-depth study of the connection between Heidegger's philosophy and politics see: Iain Thomson Heidegger on Ontotheology: Technology and the Politics of Education (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005)]

7. One venue of research, with probably fruitful results, would be the comparison of Husserl's faculty of 'essence-intuition' with Henri Bergson's notion of intuition and Theosophy's faculty of spiritual intuition residing in the Buddhic principle. For a start see J.J. Poortman 's "The two Sophia's …," pp. 52-53.

8. The ever so interesting Rupert Sheldrake has recently developed a scientific hypothesis about visual (and extrasensory) perception that comes closer to this phenomenological datum that consciousness is really 'out' there. He presented his theory and supporting experimental evidence in The Sense of Being Stared At: And Other Aspects of the Extended Mind (New York: Crown, 2003). He combines the 'intromission' theory if sight--which became the dominant theory in the 17th century after Kepler's theory of the retinal image--with the 'extramission' theory with its roots in Pythagoras' school, Plato and Euclid. Sheldrake proposes that "vision involves a two-way process, an inward movement of light, and an outward projection of images," (207) done through the mind, which is "extended in space, and stretches out into the world around you. It reaches out to touch what you see," (12) and in that way "the subjective world of experience is projected outward into the external world through fields of perception and intention." (284). This latter notion of 'mental fields' is an extension of his earlier theory of formative causation through 'morphogenetic fields' and 'morphic resonance,' as presented in A New Science of Life: The Hypothesis of Formative Causation (London: Paladin, 1987[1981], 2nd ed.) and The Presence of the Past: Morphic Resonance and The Habits of Nature (Rochester, VT, Park Street Press, 1988). Besides being fascinating in itself, Sheldrake's researches are exceedingly relevant for both philosophy and Theosophy, and I see the possibility of a fruitful dialogue between Sheldrake and phenomenology with the latter providing some conceptual refinements of such notions as perception, intentions, images and projection. Meanwhile he does err in his assessment that the "materialist-dualist debate has stayed stuck within the narrow limits of an outmoded way of thinking about matter." (208) Most phenomenologists would heartily disagree. For Sheldrake's relevance for Theosophy see "Rupert Sheldrake: A Theosophical Appraisal" by David Pratt.

9. The important foundational text about categorial intuition is Edmund Husserl, Investigation VI, "Elements of a Phenomenological Elucidation of Knowledge," Second Section, "Sense and Understanding" in Logical Investigations, Vol. II (New York: Routledge, 2001 [1970]), pp. 269-320. For Heidegger's appropriation of the term see Martin Heidegger, §6 "Categorial Intuition" in his History of the Concept of Time: Prolegomena (Bloomington, IN: Indiana U.P., 1992), pp.47-71. See also Theodore Kisiel, "Heidegger (1907-1927): The Transformation of the Categorial" in his Heidegger's Way of Thought (New York: Continuum, 2002), pp. 84-100. For an effective introduction see: Robert Sokolowski Introduction to Phenomenology (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge U.P., 2000), pp. 88-112 or his more thorough Husserlian Meditations: How Words Represent Things (Evanston, IL: Northwestern U.P., 1974), pp. 31-42.

10. Because it is non-sensory, categorial intuition should not be confused with something like clairvoyance, which, as a special kind of sensory experience (extra-sensory), is also dependent, in its complex modes, on the structuration enabled by categorial intuition. The extent to which phenomenological insights and methods found their way into the clairvoyant investigations by Rudolph Steiner is an interesting and open question. Based on a communication with a Husserl scholar and anthroposophist I can relay that Steiner studied in Vienna under Husserl's teacher Franz Brentano, in whose philosophy intentionality was a prominent theme, and that Steiner was on speaking terms with Max Scheler, a prominent phenomenologist, to whom Steiner even dedicated one of his books. In this connection it is also interesting to read Husserl stating: "Other beings may gaze upon other 'worlds', they may also be endowed with 'faculties' other than ours, but, if they are minded creatures at all, possessing some sort of intentional experiences, with the relevant differences between perception and imagination, straightforward and categorial intuition, meaning and intuition, adequate and inadequate knowledge--then such creatures have both sensibility and understanding, and are 'subject' to the pertinent laws." Logical Investigations, Vol. II, p. 315.

11. Extracted from Martin Heidegger, Being and Time (San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1962, trsl. by Macquarrie and Robinson), pp. 96 ff.

12. An important aspect of Being and Time is the careful differentiation between the kind of being of things present-at-hand, ready-at-hand and human being (Dasein). He does so in order to show that the philosophical tradition, at least since Plato, has tried to understand the being of Dasein with the predicates belonging to the kind of being of things present-at-hand and ready-at-hand, that is, things we are most familiar with. In this way human beings are seen as some kind of object like a clockwork, a machine, a process or a computer, etc. Also, other way around and maybe less objectionable, we might predicate objects with characteristics specifically belonging to Dasein, like when we say 'the table touches the wall.' What Heidegger tries to do is to liberate Dasein from inappropriate categories and develop a set of new categories, which he calls existentialia, which better bring out the unique kind of being Dasein is. This problematic of inappropriate predication is identical with the Advaita Vedantic idea of Adyhasa or superimposition, "when a person superimposes on his self attributes external to his own self…," as Shankara states, though Heidegger would disagree with the predicates Shankara used in his examples. See Eliot Deutsch Advaita Vedanta: A Philosophical Reconstruction (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1969), p. 33.

13. See here for example the investigations of Paul Tillich in his Dynamics of Faith (New York: Harper and Row, 1957). Summary

14. A first trial in that direction was executed during a class at the Theosophical Society in America in the fall of 2004. I gave a presentation titled "The Ascension as Ultimate Transcendence," in which I aimed at a phenomenological understanding of transcendence in order to get a deeper theological understanding of the idea of ascension.

15. See: M.M. Agrawal, Consciousness and the Integrated Being: Sartre and Krishnamurti (Shimla, India: Indian Institute of Advanced Studies, 1991) and V. Gunturu's Jiddu Krishnamurti's Gedanken auser der Phaenomenologischen Perspective Edmund Husserl's [Krishnamurti's Thought from the Phenomenological Perspective of Edmund Husserl] (Frankfurt: Peter Lang, 1998. Ph.D. thesis).

16. René Fouéré, "Krishnamurti et l'Existentialisme," Appendix 2 in Robert Linssen, Krishnamurti et la Pensée Occidentale (Brussels: Editions "Etre Libre," n.d.), pp. 156-176.

17. Aryel Sanat, The Inner Life of Krishnamurti: Private Passion and Perennial Wisdom (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1999). On page 144 Sanat states that Krishnamurti's "approach was akin to those of existentialism and phenomenology." See also pp. 101 and 246.

18. Most of these studies do not clarify or justify the use of this term. They seem to take the term phenomenology to be equivalent to descriptive psychology and find that both Krishnamurti and their own study of Krishnamurti are studies in descriptive psychology. Though illuminating and interesting in their own way these studies are, strictly phenomenologically speaking, 'naïve' and at best proto-phenomenological, which is meant here in a technical sense, not a moral one. In this category belong the following studies: Peter Butcher, "The Phenomenological Psychology of J. Krishnamurti" Journal of Transpersonal Psychology 18/1, 1986, 35-50; Veronica Boutte, The Phenomenology of Compassion in the Teachings of Jiddu Krishnamurti (1895-1986) (Lewiston: Edwin Mellen Press, 2002, Studies in Asian Thought and Religion, Vol. 24); Lawrence K. Holden, "The Structure of Krishnamurti's Phenomenological Observations and its Psychological Implications" (Ph.D. dissertation, United States International University, 1971).

19. See for example the following reductionist account by Krishnamurti in which the essence of thought gets reduced to a totally different essence, the one of matter and energy. What he overlooks is that thought is peculiar to consciousness and has meaning, something that can not be predicated of matter. "Those who think a great deal are very materialistic because thought is matter. Thought is matter as much as the floor, the wall, the telephone, are matter. Energy functioning in a pattern becomes matter. There is energy and there is matter. That is all life is. We may think thought is not matter but it is. Thought is matter as an ideology. Where there is energy it becomes matter. Matter and energy are interrelated." J. Krishnamurti, Freedom from the Known (San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1969), pp. 101-102.

20. In a recent post on the Theosophy and Krishnamurti Yahoo-group I posted a preliminary stratification of K's experiences and their connectedness. Though the facts come from K's own writings and the terminology is predominantly Theosophical, the working out of this idea of stratification was very much helped by my own phenomenological insights into the structure of consciousness. See "Higher Self - K versus Blavatsky," message of March 14, 2005 at . See also the 'flip-side' of this in message of March 19, 2005, "K's states of consciousness."

21. See Parkes' introduction to Graham Parkes (Ed.) Heidegger and Asian Thought (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1990 [1978]).

22. See Reinhard May, Heidegger's Hidden Sources: East Asian Influences on His Work (New York: Routledge, 1996). Translated, with a complementary essay, by Graham Parkes.

23. See for example A.N. Balsev "Analysis of I-Consciousness in the Transcendental Phenomenology and Indian Philosophy" in D.P. Chattopadhyaya, Lester Embree, Jitendranath Mohanty (Eds.) Phenomenology and Indian Philosophy (Delhi, India: Motolal Banarsidass, 1992), pp. 133-140. The stratification of Krishnamurti's experiences in Indian concepts as referred to in note 11 is here of significance.

24. Edmund Husserl, "Ueber die Reden Gotama Buddhos," review of some original Bhuddist texts in Der Piperbote, spring 1925. Quoted in Karl Schuhman, "Husserl and Indian Thought" in Phenomenology and Indian Philosophy, p. 26.

25. Heidegger's Hidden Sources, p. 3.

26. See Wilhelm Halbfass' comments on Husserl, Heidegger and Gadamer in his India and Europe: An Essay in Understanding (New York: SUNY, 1988), pp. 160-170.




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