Ultimate Reality

But despite what is known and what is to be known, we are ultimately seeking to know the unknowable, and that is “pure consciousness” or the “absolute” or “ultimate” reality of existence. Pure consciousness or ultimate reality is said to be the level of consciousness and reality beyond the appearances and illusions of the universe and beyond what can be seen and heard. It is a “perfect, self-sufficient reality” which is not dependent on anything external to itself. “Nirvana” is said to be the psychological and mental state which signifies ultimate reality. Ultimately reality is also “the origin and the end” of all things. Thus, ultimate reality is signified by nirvana, and nirvana is brought about by the extinguishing of anger, desire, envy, greed, and other base qualities and vices.

It has also been said that ultimate reality is both soteriological and teleological, given that nirvana signifies ultimate reality and given the fact ultimate reality is the final cause behind all phenomena and all things. Ultimate reality is both within an individual and external to an individual. Thus, ultimate reality encompasses both the individual and the space and time which encompasses the individual. And while ultimate reality can have attributes and form and not have attributes and form at the same time, ultimate reality is more about the indivisible and primary building block of existence known as the essence upon which both the individual and ultimate reality is constituted. 

In turn, everything conscious is under the influence of an unconscious reality, as Freud argued. Freud argued that conscious life “includes only a small content, so that the greater part of what we call conscious knowledge must in any case be for very considerable periods of time in a state of latency, that is to say, of being psychically unconscious.” Freud added: “When all our latent memories are taken into consideration it becomes totally incomprehensible how the existence of the unconscious can be denied.” 

And while visible reality is constantly changing, ultimate reality remains unchanged. Ultimate reality is the “eternal refuge” and the “cosmic principle” or “universal principle” upon which everything is predicated. Ultimately reality is the “oneness” and “unity” behind all the division and diversity which appears on a surface level. Ultimate reality is both “bliss” and “truth” at their highest levels and at their peak. What we consider as “peak experiences” in modern psychology gives us a glimpse or short insight into the ultimate reality of traditional philosophies. Love is said to be the emotion or feeling which best describes what is felt in ultimate reality. 

Arguably, love is part of a broader emotion or feeling, namely, felicity. Knowledge and reason – with reason consisting of both practical and theoretical reason – serve as the foundation for felicity. It is worth noting that practical reason serves theoretical reason, as Al-Farabi argued. Al-Farabi also wrote: “Felicity means that the human soul reaches a degree of perfection in its existence where it is in no need of matter for its support, since it becomes one of the incorporeal things and of the immaterial substances and remains in that state continuously forever. But its rank is beneath the rank of the Active intellect.” 

This is because only the divine intellect is perfect, which means that human perfection has to be a rank lower than that of divine perfection. Al-Farabi also spells out how human perfection – or felicity – is achieved:  “That aim is achieved only by certain voluntary actions, some of which are mental and others bodily actions, and not by indiscriminate actions but by defined and determined actions which arise out of definite and determined dispositions and habits, since there are voluntary actions which are an obstacle to felicity.”

Al-Farabi added:

“Felicity is the good which is pursued for its own sake and it is never at any time pursued for obtaining something else through it, and there is nothing greater beyond it for man to obtain. The voluntary actions which help in attaining felicity are the good actions; and the dispositions and habits from which these actions proceed are the ‘virtues,’ these being goods not for their own sake but goods for the sake of felicity only. But the actions which are an obstacle to felicity are the bad things, namely, the evil actions, and the dispositions and habits from which these actions arise are defects, vices and base qualities.” 

In sum, nothing is to be pursued or is worth pursuing other than knowledge of ultimate reality, given that felicity is the byproduct or outcome of such knowledge. In turn, the road or path to felicity and thus the road or path to ultimate reality is both simple, yet complex. 

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