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Question:

A concept of the Ultimate is one thing often said to be characteristic of Asian thought and religion. Discuss with reference to either the Brahman or the Dao.


Answer:

A Concept of the Ultimate Is Characteristic of Asian Thought and Religion

The concept of the Ultimate has on many occasions been associated with Asian thought and religion, and this view is best demonstrated through reference to the Brahman. To begin with, the concept of the Ultimate entails many things in the Asian thought and especially religion. For instance, there is profound preoccupation with the ultimate good, whereby the supremacy of the intuitive thought at the over rational ideation is emphasized.

According to the Indian Brahman identity, for example, the notion of the phenomenal world has been accorded a prominent role in religious practices and philosophical thought. It is against this backdrop that the concept of soul transmigration has also been widely recognized. These views have greatly contributed to the element of resignation and quietism that many people associate with Hinduism. The same thing may be said regarding the idea of nirvana, which some in the West perceive as complete annihilation.

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To promote the concept of the Ultimate even further, the Asian thought and religion strongly relies on the rhetorical flourish of sacred writings. In most cases, these writings contain images and symbols that many people in society look up to for religious and philosophical inspiration. In India, Brahman connotes the Ultimate Reality or the Universal Principle. The concept has traditionally been widely promoted in most schools that specialize in Hindu philosophy. It is viewed as the final formal cause of all that has ever existed and that exists in the universe.

The idea of Brahman is not only described in Hindu philosophy but also in Hindu scriptures. It is normally likened to the sky because of its non-dual, indivisible, all-pervading, and incorporeal nature. It is the basis on which all existence is conceptualized. The most absolute version of this way of thinking ultimately leads to the conclusion that only Brahman exists.

As one may have easily noticed already, there is an intricate interlinking of religious and philosophical thought in the Asian context, and this is best demonstrated in the concept of Brahman. This interconnectedness may have greatly contributed to efforts to distinguish between immanent and transcendent Brahman. Represented by the pronoun “He”, the transcendent Brahman is often manifested through the idea of personal God, who is the creator and preserver of the universe. In contrast, the immanent Brahman is represented by the pronoun “It”, and it appears to represents those aspects of the Ultimate that are not necessarily defined based on the notion of personal God.

Lastly, Asian thought stresses the importance of subjecting all beliefs to the test of the Ultimate, and religion is no exception. It is for this reason that the idea of God is perceived as ever-changing. In the supreme Brahman, for example, all forms and concepts of God are interpreted as what one thinks of Him as opposed to what He actually is to Himself. This means that seekers of God are allowed to perceive Him differently depending on their advancement towards the realization of the Ultimate.

To conclude, the idea that the Ultimate is characteristic of Asian thought and religion is not far-fetched. On the contrary, it is a representation of a consistent pattern of concerted efforts by societies to conceptualize the idea of the ideal way of life, thought, and belief system through gradual but consistent evolution of philosophical thought and belief systems. The example of Brahman offers valuable insights into the features and characteristics of the universe that are widely viewed as typical of the Ultimate.


 

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