Limited and Unlimited Being

By David Frawley (Vamadeva Shastri)

In our ordinary lives our concerns are focused on the limited beings around us. The living beings include our family, friends and society. The non-living beings or objects include our homes, vehicles and property. We are able to recognize many different types of being in the world and interact with them in various ways. This interaction with other beings is what gives meaning and purpose to our existence.

Each limited being we know has a certain identity and coherence in time and space. At the same time, it has a limit in time and space. Our own limited being is bound by birth and death, as well as by the size and condition of our bodies. The same is true of other living beings. The being of objects rests upon their formation. For example, our car or our house has a certain being that requires maintaining their structural integrity. If we cease their upkeep, their being also gets diminished.

It is because we can recognize the being of things that we can give them names and recognize them as individual entities. The personhood of a person is our ability to acknowledge their being, their independent value and integrity as a conscious subject. The objecthood of an object is our ability to recognize their unique being, which depends upon their utility, like the particular house we can live him. Because of our sense of their being, we can have knowledge of what they are and ascribe value to them. We can work with them within the field of their existence.

But have we ever considered what is behind the being of things? Are there really many beings or is being ultimately only One? Limited being rests upon Unlimited Being. It is only because of Unlimited Being that limited beings can exist. Limited being is nothing but the reflection of Unlimited Being into the field of time and space. This situation is like water and waves. The Unlimited Being of the ocean is what allows for the limited being of the waves. The being of the waves is the same water as the ocean itself. The limited form of the waves is not a true limitation in being. So there is only One Being that allows various beings to have their being. Limited being is thus a borrowing from Unlimited Being, not something that exists in its own right.

Therefore limited being is an illusion. It is but a temporary appearance or formation of Unlimited Being like the waves on the surface of the sea. This apparent limitation on being is not real. Being is not limited by time and space, which is but its field of manifestation. When a limited being ceases to exist, its being does not end. That being is simply liberated from its form. Being itself never ceases, but the forms of limited beings rise and fall in the pure presence of Unlimited Being.

Limited being is Unlimited Being under the appearance of limitation. Once we know this, we will discover that there is nothing to gain or lose, nothing that can be born or die. Unlimited Being overflows itself into limited forms. But limited being also overflows itself back into Unlimited Being. Being is a movement through and beyond limitation, a dance within itself.

It is only because of Unlimited Being that limited being is even possible. The treeness of a tree, the humanness of a human being and so on are only possible because there is an Unlimited Being behind them. Unlimited Being is pure consciousness, the Self of all beings. It is that which endows all beings with their selfhood, being, presence, value and identity. The beingness of each being is but its aspect of Pure Being. We must learn to recognize the Unlimited Being as the true Being of all. This does not mean that we cease to acknowledge or understand the limited beings around us. The limited being is a sacred vessel for Unlimited Being.

It is important, therefore, that we extend the field of our concern, our caring and our awareness from the limited beings around us to the Unlimited Being within and behind them. Then we move only from fullness to fullness. There is only One Being in all beings. It is that Supreme Self that endows each object and creature with its soul, nature and unique value. We must learn to honor all beings as the Self. This is to see the Unlimited Being behind all limited becomings.

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