What is common sense?

Wikipedia defines common sense as: “Common sense is sound, practical judgment concerning everyday matters, or a basic ability to perceive, understand, and judge in a manner that is shared by (i.e. common to) nearly all people.” What is forgotten here is, this “practical sense” is actually shared equally by all living beings. We do not find an animal walking out of the cliff into the air to fall to its death, nor do we find a deer silently grazing when a lion is around. We do not find a bird flying to a net and getting caught in it when a bird net is put across space, we do not find an animal walk over a thorn bed. Many such practical intelligence is built into every living being. How is it that such a sense in-built? It can be understood if we can see the animal learning it over a period of time, but some of this intelligence comes automatically when the animal is born. While we, as human beings, may want to put ourselves a cut above all other living beings and claim that we come equipped with intelligence, I find that a sound, practical judgement concerning everyday matters pertaining to living is something that is built into all living beings. So, what is this common sense and how does it come about that many of such practical knowledge is common across all living beings?

When we view this world “as is” without questioning the normal, but accepting the normal, we find it requires no explanation or searching for an explanation falls within the purview of a philosophy. Yet, shouldn’t this be what should differentiate us as humans from the animals, that we question, understand and explain the working of the normal also?

If we do question and search for an answer, we need to look at the primary base as that unmanifested truth, with nothing available in it i.e., nothing is taken for granted. Then, we find that this question takes on a huge importance and the question itself takes on a totally different form. The question becomes: “How does commonality in capabilities get established in a seemingly random individuals formed in the unmanifested?” And even more curious is the fact that a whole class of individual impulses classify the similar set of occurrences as pleasant or unpleasant. How does this occur? How do these classes of individuals get established? If everything is left to a random chance, then it should be understood that the probability of such an occurrence should be very small. It has to be an inherent feature of the development cycle in the environment that such a thing occurs. So, what is this?

These verses in chapter-3 of the Brhat Parasarahora sastra gives an insight into this:

Rendering is present attached to the acquired appearance of the impulses. From then onwards due to the seeking of that quality (of rendering) of the self-nature (it) repeats the limited rendering. The invoked depiction of the agitation by the state of the acquired becomes, is the origin of Akasha, limiting the rendering to continual sequential light(wave) beams. That seeking (of the quality of rendering) approaching that place which is the boundary of harmony, acquiring the boundary of harmony, becomes aware of that boundary, that boundary in that approached place is only in appearance a boundary, steady continuous boundary originating in thought. By the appearance of the boundary of the period of progression, the acquired boundary of continuity by that which is acquired is the immovable penetration at the surface part of the becomes sphere (and) starts to collect penetration attaining uniformity instantly.

That existing partition of the two states (divider between the acquired and immovable by the boundary) is balanced and starts to harmoniously expand, giving order to the course of multitude starting to acquire other harmonious impulses. The attachment rising out of multitude is that control of energy produced, resulting in the interference of the acquired connections and disconnections becoming aware of pleasant / unpleasant. By knowing the common rule of accumulation of the harmony of an approaching place, (it) approaches towards a direction that is the natural state resulting in a shield for the balanced multitude.

Reading this brings to fore a number of misconceptions that we have. The most important misconception is related to sequentiality. As I have indicated in my book “A Research of Shiva: The Enigma“, the problem with “studying with the manas” is that, when we study with the manas, we only learn sequentially even though what is present is all at once. While, I had written this for learning, if we reflect within ourselves, we find that this is true of our living also, it is also just sequential. Hence the appearance of past, present and future exists. I need to pass through this instant’s “slice of space” before I can experience the next instant’s “slice of space”, even though both the “slices of space” (this instant and next instant) has to continuously exist for this experience to be continuous. We need to ask ourselves why is this so? When does that which exists continuously as a whole become sequential? The above verse answers this and it says, that it is because of the rendering that Akasha is created and it becomes sequential rendering. It is similar to a computer program. The backend can do all sorts of parallel processing and complicated threading to acquire performance of a processing, but the minute this data is rendered on the screen for a user to interact with it, it becomes single threaded. While, here we are not talking about a clear-cut backend and front-end, we talk about transformations occurring as reality is formed. When the unmanifested finally transforms into Akasha or space, we hit the limits of rendering which is sequentiality.

Why is sequentiality important to “common sense”? If “sequentiality” was not present there is no reason for the presence of “past, present or future” and hence no need for a “judgement to act appropriately”. Where there is no sequentiality, there is no need for common sense, intelligence or any such judgement based conclusions! It is because of the limitations introduced by rendering that there is a need for intelligence and common sense.

The next important misconception is related to multiple and individual. We believe that multiple individuals come together form a class of beings. Meaning, multiple individuals form a class of “humans” or form a class of “tigers” or so on and hence the question arises of “How do a common set of rules get established for a class of individuals?”. But, if we read this verse and the ones in Surya Siddanta and other literature, we find that what is explained is always the “collection of multiple” being formed first before the individual is fragmented from it. For example, the Surya Siddanta talks about the establishing of a network called bhUmi or the base in which individuals are formed. This is the only way in which we can get an assured commonality in behaviour. This can be the only way in which similar pleasant/unpleasant can be established and this becomes the main reason for the establishing of “common sense”. And again, it should be noted that this is a limitation at the level of rendering, rather than being followed through all the layers of formation. This formation of harmonious multitude is a core reason for the formation of “common sense”. We find that the verse tells us that multitude forms in harmony because the multitude that belong to and which goes towards a natural state because “each and every one of that multitude knows a common rule of accumulation of that multitude”. This “common rule” now becomes the common sense that we experience!

Details of translation is below:

kathitaM bhavata premNA grahAvataraNaM mune = kathitaM + bhavata + premNA + graha + avatAraNaM + mune = is told / is related / reckoned (connected to?) + is present + due to affection + grasping of + manifestation / appearance + impulse
teShaM gunasvarUpAdyAM krpayA kathayatAM punah = te + eShaM + guna + sva + rUpa + adyaM + krpa + yA + katha + yatAM + punah = by + looking / seeking + quality + self + formed / nature + from now + (kRpa = to think / imagine) (kRpay = beautiful / lament / mourn / shape / appearance?) (yA = attain/proceed) + (katha = rendered?) + (yatAM = limit/restraint? support?) + again / repeated / further

shruNu vipra pravakshyAmi bhagrahAnAm paristhitim = shruNu + vipra + pravakshyAmi + bha + grahAnAm + paristhitim = invoked? + stirred / excited / agitation + (pra + vakShyamaNa = before + describe / depict?) + (bha + grahAnAm = becomes + by being acquired) + state of / remaining in / situated in / established
AakAshe yAni dRShyante jyotirbimbAtyanekashaH =AakAshe + yAni + dRSh + yante + jyotir + bimba + atyanta + ekashah = within space + origin + is visible + (yante = restrained? limited) + jyotir = light + bimbA = image / picture / circle / sphere + (atyanta = uninterrupted/continual/thourough) + ekashah – one by one (sequential?)

teShu nakshatrasanjnAni grahasanjnAni kAnicit = te + eShu + naksha + atra + sanjna + ani + graha + sanjna + ani + ka + ani + cit = by + seeking / desirous + to come near / approach / get / attain + here / in this place + harmony with, agree with + pin of axis / point? or (aNi = a limit or boundary?) + take / grasp / perceive + harmony with + limit/boundary + of + axis + awareness
tAni nakShatranAmAni sthirasthAnAni yAni cai = ta + ani + naksha + atra + nAmAni + sthira + sthAna + ani + yAni + cai = that limit + approach this place (nakShatra) + only in appearance + (sthira = steady) + (sthAna + ani = staying / continuance / place + limit) + origin + (caita = belonging to thought/mental?)

gacCanto bhAni gRhaNnti santataM ye tu te grhaH = gacCa + anto + bhAni + gRhaNat + anti + santata + ye + tu + te + grhaH = period of progression during + end of / limit / boundary? + appearance / perception + taking / seizing/acquiring + end / limit / boundary (anti = towards / in the proximity of / near?) + stretched/extended /continual + this + then + that + grasp / seize

bhacakrasya nagashvyaMsha ashvinyAdisamAhvyAH = bha + cakra + asya + naga + ash + vya + aMsha + ash + vinyA + adi + sama + ahva + ayAH = becomes + sphere + them + immovable + penetration + a coverer? / surface + part + penetration + distribute / spread / put down / deposit? / fix in (vinyAsa = assemble/collection?) + etc / beginning / commencement / start / first + equal / same (uniformity?) + instantly / at once + in this way / thus (yAH = attain/proceed?)

taddvAdashavibhAgAstu tulya meShAdisaMjnakAH = tad + dvadasha + vibhA + ga + astu + tulya + meSha + adi + saMjnakAH = that + 12 (12 instead can be say dvA+dashA = 2 + states) + (appear / become visible + going / being in / moving) (vibhAga? = divider? / partition? / division) + must be/ should be/ exist + equivalent / same as (same on both sides? balanced?) + (miSha = illusion / false appearance / emulation or miSh = expand / open eyes / look / behold / blossom) + start + harmony
prasiddhA rAshayaH santi grahAstvarkAdisaMjnakAH = prasiddhA + rAsha + ayaH + santi + graha + astva + arka + adi + saMjnakAH = accomplished? famous? arranged / brought in order + all the multitude + (aya = fortune? walk? course?) + end / destruction?/ giving + graha = grasp / obtaining / perceiving + (astya = removed / end / set) (as + tva + happen / become / take place / be present + other) + arka = impulse + Adi = start saMjnakAH = harmony

rAshInAmudayo lagnaM tadvashAdeva janminAm = multitude + (nAmya = to be bent / bendable) (nAmba = consisting of (grain)) (nAm = namely / called? / in appearance only) (rAshInAm = due to multitude?) + rises + lagnaM = attachment + (that (tad) + 12 (dvadasha)) (tad + vasha = that + control of?) + energy + (janmin + nAm = consisting of existent beings)
grahayogviyogAbhyAM phalaM cintyaM shubhAshubhaM = perceiving / grasping (grah) + union (yoga) + separation (viyoga) + to advance violently against / interference?(abhyAM) + result + thinking + right + wrong or (true / false) or plesant / unplesant

saMjnA nakShatra vRndAnAM jneyAH sAmAnyashAstrataH = saMjnA + nakSha + astra + vRndAnAM + jneyAH + sAmAnya + shAstrataH = harmonious + approach this place + number / quantity (vRnda = multitude / heap / aggregation / collection) + knowing + commonly / equally + percept / rule
etacCAstrAnusAreNa rAshikheTaphalaM bruve = eta + acCa + astra + anusAra + eNa + rAshi + kheTa + phalaM + bruve = come / approach + clean / pure / transparent / close by / here / towards + throwing / hurling / weapon (direction?) + going after / following / usage / natural state / accordance / confirmity to usage + multitude + shield / moving in air / armed? / low / vile? / deterioration (decompose? disintegrate? decline?) + result + being merely nominal / only in name (bhRu = maintain? foster / nourish / support / balance?)

Read more on this topic in my upcoming book

One Comment on “What is common sense?

  1. Pingback: Exploring science in ancient scriptures | Research of Ancient Philosophy

%d bloggers like this: