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Actualization and Transfiguration

Goals, perceptions, projected defences, aspirations, and intentions tend to hijack thought processes when there is a lack of discernment or capacity/motivation to reason out the situation objectively. J.Krishnamurthy calls this a fragmented view of life. Perception of a situation is often pivoted on what is considered as ‘universal truth,’ conditioning and wants.

Expectations project a want, to trigger a thought process, which gets entrenched as a perceived need.  It then gets affirmation as entitlement, and instantly provides the frame for discord. Control of the thought process is unwittingly taken away from the individual. Needs of the self get diluted or distorted and mitigated.

The mind often goes through pathways of memory, supposition, confusion, imagination, and bias.  All these enable and create an edifice which entrenches the idea/desire formed as a belief. The individual then feels that that the idea/desire is absolutely necessary, or is a right that is to be established. To discriminate and evaluate possibilities, to judge and resolve doubts are then the work assigned to buddhi/intellect. Experiences/anubahva or memory/smrithi influence the selection by buddhi  at that point, by anchoring justification of the selection.  As a consequence cognition is the resultant of perceptions, suppositions and inferences.

The brain is conditioned to solve problems by valid reasoning. A re-routing of thought process enables valid cognition or holistic integrative outlook. Rather than looking for solutions, if the individual is able to focus and discriminate what is necessary information, relate it to appropriate facets of thought, view it objectively; the need to tackle problems and find solutions, changes to understanding, reorganization, reconstruction and disintegration of the problem. While transformation of thoughts may still leave dregs of doubts or concerns, transfiguration enables the individual to reach equipoise.

Rather than move away from the problem, the individual has to reorganize, handle and transfigure. Responsibility and satisfaction are inherent in transfiguration. While transformation enables change by reconstituting the nature of the person or situation, transfiguration enables revelation of the true nature. Transfiguration is a stage of evolvement as the individual makes a choice to be free from the shackles of all that binds one to negativity or inability. It enables recognition of appropriate and workable goals. While transformation leads to decision making, transfiguration results in disintegration and detachment from the effect of the conflict.   

Satischandra Chaterjee and Dhirendramohan Datta in ‘An Introduction to Indian Philosophy’ say that the special functions of buddhi/intuitive faculty are ascertainment and decision. While the natural state of buddhi is sattvik, or state of equipoise and manifests as



vairagya /detachment; and



when buddhi is vitiated, tamas takes over; and then the contrary attributes like




avairgya/attachment; and

anaisvaryya/imperfection manifest.


Buddhi has the inherent capacity to discriminate, ascertain and decide. When this energy is dominant, cognition by buddhi works at a sattvik level. When memory and selective perception override valid perception, buddhi works at a tamasic [inertia]level. When Rajas/activity is dominant, buddhi is constantly restless seeking variety and hence gets disgusted easily too. At the same time, Rajas as the activity motivator enables satva and tamas to perform their functions depending on the motivation.  Rajas and tamas feed on each other and need each other for existence. Balancing of rajas and tamas energy alone leads to sattvik buddhi.

The selection by buddhi normally leads to a justification of choice based on experiences/ anubhava and memory/ smrithi. As the anchoring of cognition and triggering of thoughts and perceptions by memory are based on the effect of experiences, automatic evaluation of risk tends to make the individual to either retract or react. To evaluate possibilities, to judge and resolve doubts are then the work assigned to buddhi at the intellectual level. To operate at this level, buddhi has to be empowered to cognize and discriminate or rather be sattvik.

Any interaction, be it dissonance or otherwise, has an impact of the self/or on the self, in every concentric circle that it creates. The visuals generated in cognition by the self, support and structure the trajectory of thought. The lure of the visuals have to be overcome to understand ‘what is’. While the perception of truth is critical to reach harmony, understanding ‘what is’  enables acknowledgment and thus reciprocity and harmony.

Rta then is an understanding of truth as that which brings about SEEING ‘WHAT IS’ and REASONING ‘WHY,’ to enable harmony. This is made possible by moving from self centred/svartha thoughts to self control or in effect artha/meaning, goal, etc. Artha automatically leads to realization and ability to choose the appropriate thought process. This results in dharma.

Enquiry into the real state is termed by Indian Philosophy as tattvajigynasa/versatility of truth and is understood as the

  • valid knowledge of the object,

  • the object of valid knowledge

  • source of valid knowledge

  • cognizer of valid knowledge.


Distinction is made to denote difference from a psychological standpoint, and logical introspection which enables recognition of real nature and character of the person/situation.

Knowing is primarily based on experience as feelings play a significant role. Knowing something is actually a combination of perceptions, observation, imagination, bias, and expectations. It builds conviction and then trust. ‘Knowing’ is the basis for any interaction, supposition, and belief, as the mind tends to get fixed on what it considers as ‘true.’ While feelings track thoughts, influence perception and shape projections, knowing propels thought waves that enable exploration, recognition and thereby reconnaissance.


Jefferey Pfeiffer says that there is a gap between knowing and doing due to:

  1. Difficulty in translating what is right into implementation;

  2. Understanding that both empathy & co-operation  are a two way street; and

  3. Lack of space and time for listening, expressing, accepting & acknowledging.


Knowing is in effect a combination of listening, internalizing, and creating the atmosphere for exchange and objective analysis. In other words it is shravana, manana and nidhidyasana or hearing, reflecting and internalizing.

Recollecting and remembering, as faculties of the mind, are sustained by thoughts which are a form of energy. It is a paradox that while energy in memory clings to sense information; it is also the factor that enables building a fortress to contain/restrict freedom of real thought and cognition due to superimpositions. It provides the input for germination of hatred, violence, and intolerance due to its grounding in the past; or rather, recollection of what is understood or visualized from the past. Experiencing the thoughts and the feelings that go with it energises cognition. Knowledge is then what is apparent and what is apprehended.

Knowledge in a strict sense is perceived by Indian Logic as true belief that gets attracted by the assurance of truth. Knowledge is impacted by karana/means and cause. While cause is unconditional antecedent of a cause, the effect is the unconditional consequent. The facets that go into understanding the cause and effect are identified as perception, inference, oral testimony, comparison, postulation, non-apprehension, probability, indication, tradition and vivid imagination.

Betrand Russel distinguishes knowledge as:


  1. knowledge by description; and

  2. knowledge by acquaintance.

While the former is due to memory, the latter is experience based. When one speaks about the food in a restaurant after a good dinner, it is knowledge by acquaintance as the person has tasted the food and has direct perception. To speak about an incident in the past like the assassination of Kennedy, is not direct. Hence it is knowledge by description. In both, the expression can be inflated due to personal beliefs and narratives

When an individual communicates his personal experience or that of another, there is bound to be superimposition of other facts and feelings, mainly due to the need to make the narrative plausible and attractive. Often in litigation, the narratives are knowledge by acquaintance as it reflects what the speaker/agent/lawyer concludes as ‘sounding right.’ Hence communication is not just a symbol of what one knows; but is a factor that is framed by experience both of the situation and of feelings attached to its perception, and by external inputs. This starts an internal dialogue when concerns overtake rational thought, and diffuse the focus in goals which appear to be attractive.

In the process of goal setting and choosing, Barry Schwartz says in the ‘Paradox of Choice’ that what one wants is largely due to an internal dialogue. Even when one looks at options for taking someone out to a good dinner or movie, three ideas of utilities line up:

  1. Expected utility- what one expects and helps to make a choice

  2. Experienced utility- at the actual moment of experience, the good/bad feeling which gets stored in memory

  3. Remembered utility- future choices based on what one has experienced

While decision making needs alignment with these utilities, they rarely line up together. Even transformation is made difficult at this stage because of risk aversion.

Knowledge being the quality then that is inherent in the self, and the so called valid knowledge just a manifestation of transcendental consciousness which is basically illusory, there is need to pierce the illusion to enable understanding and actualisation. Rationalisation and actualisation happen only when the individual is able to recognise the source and effect, object of what is cognized and is able to stand outside the circle of conflict to enable a realistic view of what one needs in the situation. This is possible only by discerning the self and the knowledge that the self needs to have to stay true to his/her nature.


Uma Ramanathan

Uma Ramanathan, Advocate, Mediator, and Mediator Trainer. She is also the Organising Secretary of the Tamilnadu Mediation and Conciliation Centre, High Court, Madras. She practiced as an advocate in the High Court Madras, Tamilnadu, India for 29 years. She has been practicing as a Mediator since 2005 and training mediators… MORE >

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