View Full Version : Prima Materia & Samkhya system of Hindu philosophy

solomon levi
01-05-2009, 11:50 PM
This is a Phoenix-thread (http://forum.alchemyforums.com/showthread.php?t=7) from the old site (http://alchemy-forums.forumotion.com/forum.htm).

In the Samkhya system of Hindu philosophy, there are many correlations with alchemical philosophy.

As Kapila described it, in the beginning there were two principles: Purusha and Prakriti.
Purusha relates somewhat to what westerners call soul, and Prakriti is primordial matter.
The relation to sulphur and mercury are evident.
The first matter untouched by soul is termed A-vyatka Prakriti - unmanifest.
In the unmanifest state, the three qualities, or gunas, are said to be in perfect equilibrium.

This Prakriti, like the alchemists' first matter, is no particular thing, but becomes all things when
coagulated by philosophical sulphur. (These two also relate to the ancient Greek hyle and eidos -
matter and form.)

So when Purusha observes Prakriti, the gunas are disturbed and we have manifestation.
Purusha was formerly in darkness until it became aware of Prakriti, and light was the result,
which is the third principle - Buddhi: awakening, perception, consciousness; philosophical salt.

And with this simultaneously arises the perceiver - ahamkara: ego sense of self; division into

Anyway, I'm probably confusing things more than I am explaining.
I'll come back to this sometime.
Ok. So I wanted to speak about unconditioned consciousness/mind as the
prima materia. It has to do with being present, as true presence is quintessence.

Only a year ago I had thought the present moment was this moment - now, a point
on a linear timeline between past and future. But after studying advaita and having some
experiences, I now know that the present is a completely different consciousness/state
and not just any ordinary passing moment. I know that sounds contrary to non-duality,
but I have to explain it that way. The present must be without thought, without knowledge,
without self, otherwise it is conditioned/determmined, tincted - the three gunas are
imbalanced and manifesting. So technically the tincted present is still the present, just like
vyatka prakriti is still prakriti. But I'm wanting to point to the magical present/presence
of prima materia/undifferentiated mind (which is no mind).

"To think is to practice magic. To let the mind/inner dialogue run without awareness/
conscious intent is to practice 'black' magic."

Another way to point at this state is to say it lacks the usual state's preoccupation with
subject-object identification.
I attended a lecture on alchemy recently where at one point the lecturer showed us a picture of a friend and alchemist from the west coast, and casually commented "he's holding the prima materia in his hand, so we had to blot it out" and there's a question mark superimposed over the guy's outstretched hand. Only had the image up for about five seconds, made the casual remark and moved on. Classic.
Who was the person giving the lecture?

05-21-2011, 04:19 PM
This is the clearest explication of Samkhya I've ever read [just finished it this morning]:

Atreya - Psychology Of Transformation In Yoga


I don't consider this the last word on cosmology [I imagine we all have additional factors and considerations to add to any given presentation of ultimate matters] but I do enjoy its clean lines and the relative absence of Hindu gods/godesses [except as mentioned, in passing, as archetypic representaions].

There's a bit in there on the "Five Elements" which the author prefers to call "The Five States of Matter."

05-24-2011, 11:05 PM
This looks like a really interesting article Albion

Relates to my current threads