Tat Twam Asi

Traditionally translated as “Thou art that”.  Interestingly, “tat”, Sanskrit for “that”, is the source of the word “that” in English.

I’m not a big fan of the “thou”s and the “art”s, however.

But I get that “tat” has special “spiritual” significance.  And “art” is a good word, generally.  Nevertheless, the traditional translation bothers me.  It probably has to do with that I’ve basically only encountered that archaic language in relation to religious frames of thought that I’d never accepted.  I almost prefer “That is you”.

Perhaps “This is you”.  But then my brain immediately picks up on a bit of redundancy in “…is is…” (and isn’t getting rid of just exactly that redundancy in thought and expression the point??) and wants to shorten the whole thing to “this you”.  But, too, it’s a little flat this way.  Lost some flare.  Forgettable.

So, then, more integrally, th(is) you”.  I’d pronounce it [thizz-you] since the “th” ends with the existential “is” and not the “-is” ending that traditionally finishes “this”.

I like “th(is) you” because it places the “is” of “you” in “this”.  That sort of syntactically mirrors what I think the statement is trying to point to, which is that the source of the very feeling of existing, the root of consciousness itself, is something that is inherent in and arises out of matter/energy.  Consciousness is rooted in existence.  It is inherent because it could as easily arise in another arrangement of “stuff” in another galaxy, etc.  I reject Earth-dependent notions of Soul as well as all Magical Wands that pop into existence to bootstrap its support.

Obviously, presence is a natural phenomenon, even if various growth narratives of matter/energy display varying degrees of experience.

Th(is) you

One thought on “Tat Twam Asi

  1. dondeg says:

    Very nice and fun post! I share your frustration with translations of Sanskrit to English. Taking an more abstract and intellectually sophisticated language and trying to squeeze it into a less abstract and less intelligent language is not the brightest move to make.

    Best,

    Don

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