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L'émeraude dans une jatte de lait

20 février 2007

Comme une émeraude ou toute autre pierre précieuse, lorsqu'elle est jetée dans du lait (test d'authenticité), le rend luminescent et le fait briller de ses feux, de même l'âtman plongé dans le corps sensible des êtres vivants dans le monde d'ici-bas les illumine de l'intérieur. La comparaison de l'âtman à l'émeraude est l'une des variantes de «l'analogie du reflet», souvent invoquée dans les textes philosophiques et en particulier dans le Vedânta.

Exemple tiré du Commentaire de Sankara sur la Brhadâranyaka Upanisad, 4ème adhyâya, 3ème brâhmanam, 7ème paragraphe. Œuvres complètes de Sankara, éd. de Srirangam, rééditée en 10 vol., Madras, Samata Books, 1983, volume 10, pp. 527 ligne 8 à 528 ligne 4.

Brhadâranyakopanisad, IV.3.7 (trad. Sénart)

«Qu'est-ce que l'âtman? — Perception (vijnana) dans les sens (les souffles, prânesu), lumière intérieure (antarjyotih) dans le cœur (hrdi), ce personnage (purusah), toujours semblable à lui-même, parcourt les deux mondes. Il semble penser, il semble s'agiter (comme une flamme); car, dans le sommeil, il dépasse ce monde et les formes de mort.»

Commentaire de Sankara

jyotiḥ avabhāsātmakatvāt ātmā ucyate | tena hi avabhāsakena ātmanā jyotiṣā āṣṭe palyayate karma kurute, cetanāvān iva hi ayaṃ kāryakaraṇapiṇḍaḥ — yathā ādityaprakāśastho ghaṭaḥ; yathā vā marakatādir maṇiḥ kṣīrādidravye prakṣiptaḥ parīkṣaṇāya, ātmacchāyam eva tat kṣīrādidravyam karoti, tādṛg etat ātmajyotiḥ buddher api hṛdayāt sūkṣmatvāt hṛdy antaḥstham api hṛdayādikaṃ kāryakaraṇasamghatam ca ekīkṛtya ātmajyotiścchāyaṃ karoti, pāramparyeṇa sūkṣmasthūlatāratamyāt, sarvāntaratamatvāt |

buddhis tāvat svacchatvāt ānantaryāc ca ātmacaitanyajyotiḥpraticchāyā bhavati; tena hi vivekinām api tatra ātmābhimānabuddhiḥ prathamā; tato'py ānantaryāt manasi caitanyāvabhāsatā, buddhisaṃparkāt; tata indriyeṣu, manaḥsaṃyogāt; tato'nantaraṃ śarīre, indriyasaṃparkāt |

evaṃ pāramparyeṇa kṛtṣnaṃ kāryakaraṇasaṃghātam ātmā caitanyasvarūpajyotiṣā avabhāsayati | tena hi sarvasya lokasya kāryakaraṇasaṃghāte tadvṛttiṣu ca aniyatātmābhimānabuddhiḥ yathāvivekaṃ jāyate |

Eliot Deutsch & Rohit Dalvi (Edited by), The Essential Vedânta. A New Source Book of Advaita Vedânta, Bloomington (Indiana), 2004, p. 260

The self is called light, because it is self-effulgent, for through this light, the self-effulgent âtman, this aggregate of body and organs sits (ayam kâryakaranapindah), goes out and works, as if it were sentient, as a jar placed in the sun (shines). Or as an emerald or any other gem, dropped for testing into milk, etc., imparts its luster to them, so does this luminous self (etat âtmajyotih), being finer than even the heart or intellect, unify and impart its luster to the body and organs (kâryakaranasamghâtam), including the intellect etc. (hrdayâdikam), although it is within the intellect (hrdi); for these have varying degrees of fineness or grossness in a certain order, and the self is the innermost (antaratama) of them all.

The intellect, being transparent and next to the self, easily catches the reflection of the intelligence of the self. Therefore even wise men happen to identify themselves with it first; next comes the manas, which catches the reflection of the self through the intellect; then the organs, through contact with the manas; and lastly the body, through the organs.

Thus the self successively illumines with its own intelligence the entire aggregate of body and organs. It is therefore that all people identify themselves with the body and organs and their modifications indefinitely according to their discrimination…

Phyllis Granoff, Maitreya' jewelled world: Some remarks on gems and visions in Buddhist texts, Journal of Indian Philosophy, Vol. 26, 1998, pp. 347–371.

David Peter Lawrence, Remarks on Abhinavagupta's use of the analogy of reflection, Journal of Indian Philosophy, Vol. 33, 2005, pp. 583–599.

T. S. Rukmani, Vijnanabiksu's Double Reflection Theory of Knowledge in the Yoga System, Journal of Indian Philosophy, Vol. 16, No. 4, December 1988, pp. 367–375.