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Unity of God, World, And Soul – Important Lingayat Teaching

 A distinguishing feature of a lingaikya (a person following Lingayat teaching) is his perception of himself, God, and the world as one and inseparable. Therefore, he perceives nothing other than himself. Chenna Basavanna says: ‘When the liberated person thinks that he is the whole world and the whole world is he, he does not distinguish himself from God, and for him there cannot be anything else.’

A person who has not yet realized his true self is subject to illusion. He may distinguish between reality and appearance. But for a liberated person there are no such two things as reality and appearance, or subject and object; there is but one. He cannot call it ‘reality’ either, because there is no appearance from which he has to distinguish it; there is no object which could be ‘other’ to him. For this reason, Basavanna says: ‘When self-realization has taken place, what is the meaning of “God’s world” or “mortal world”? There is no difference at all.’

Explanation of above paragraphs

The teachings referred here are deeply rooted in the philosophy of Lingayatism, a distinct Shaivite religious tradition that originated in Karnataka, India, in the 12th century. Central to Lingayat philosophy is the oneness, which emphasizes the oneness of the individual soul (Atman) with the universal soul (Paramatman) or God. This understanding leads to a perception of unity where distinctions between oneself, God, and the world dissolve.

Chenna Basavanna, one of the prominent saints and philosophers of the Lingayat tradition, beautifully encapsulates this concept in the quote you provided. He speaks to the realization of the liberated person, who perceives themselves as inseparable from the entirety of existence. In this state, there is no sense of separation or distinction between the individual and the divine. The liberated person sees the world as an extension of themselves and experiences a profound unity with all creation.

For those who haven't yet attained this level of realization, the world appears dualistic, with distinctions between reality and appearance, subject and object. However, upon achieving self-realization, these dualities dissolve, and the liberated individual recognizes the inherent oneness underlying all of existence. In this state, terms like "God's world" or "mortal world" lose their meaning because there is no longer a perceived difference between the two—they are recognized as one and the same.

This philosophy emphasizes the importance of self-realization or enlightenment as the ultimate goal of human existence. It suggests that by transcending the illusion of separateness, individuals can experience profound unity, peace, and spiritual fulfillment.