All Life is a movement towards the establishment of a deeper & vaster relationship with existence.
It would not be wholly correct to say that it is a process of expansion of SELF-knowledge.
Greater & greater knowledge of Self, and of the Universe, are inseparably one - and both impel & feed each other.
The END is the source & cause of the BEGINNING: this is a very, very important truth.
In that sense, the End is the Beginning, and the Beginning is the End.
"Progress" as I understand is, is the movement towards comprehension & realization of the ULTIMATE relationship between Man & Existence.
In this ultimate relationship consists the Joy of life, and to the extent we have realized it, we are truly joyous.
The rationalist says: Life is an end in itself.
This is a sweet-sounding, convinient escape-route, an evasion of the question: WHY must a man live? WHAT must man live for?
He approaches an answer when he says that there are moments in a man's life when men is cognizant of the truth that: Yes! This is life, and this is worth living for!
And yet, the rationalist has not answered the question.
He never seeks to elucidate the inner law of life, in all its complexity, its multi-pronged but integrated march towards a specific goal.
He finally seals the question when he says: Life's meaning is the meaning that YOU - the individual - give it.
This may be true from a specific individual's point of view, seen within a small bracket of the limited time-space he occupies.
The truth is that Life DOES have a meaning quite apart from what meaning specific men want to give THEIR specific, individual lives.
Life has its Truth & inner law independent of a specific person's conscious perception & comprehension of it.
Man's life has meaning independent of a specific person's interpretation & effort: a universal meaning which every individual must grasp & strive to establish.
The process of history has been, perhaps, a struggle to grasp what precisely this law & meaning is, and since life & human nature are so complex, it has taken thousands of years, and may take thousands of years more to actually establish the 'Kingdom of God' on this earth.
Whatever might be the details of the ultimate truth, the fact is that no philosophy of life is relevant if it is not a philosophy to be grasped, practised, & realized in this life, here & now, on this earth.
I do not necessarily mean all the externals of civilization, or joys of the body - (because, immediately it is understood that "the joy of the earth" means money & sex) - but in a broader context, not for any dimension beyond our existence as human beings.
It is possible that the ultimate truth of life here & now does NOT involve sex & art & culture: it may be something else.
Men cling to these phenomena & conceptions so militantly, because they cannot concieve of life without them, not bothering to grasp that YES, life is a big zero without these aspects, WHEN IT HAS NOT GAINED A NEW, DIFFERENT TRUTH.
If some great blazing-eyed sage wandering on unknown mountain peaks asks men to abandon sex & money & foolish, frivolous art & culture (think of the Dadaists, the Absurdists, of painting without form or pattern, music without sound & harmony, novels without events! etc.) - he does not ask men to renounce all this & sit tight & do nothing else & seek nothing else. He offers a totally different vision of life - a whole new set of activities, values, practices, disciplines, joys, achievements. A new alternative.
We, sitting inside our cubicles, don't understand because we keep seeing HIS life from OUR perspective, without quite changing it.
The rationalists' paymasters are bone-scared of THIS, and spread the propaganda that this kind of life is impossible & useless - and actually create this universal misunderstanding by creating a life, with all its fascinating & bogus glamor & glitter - in which men enslave themselves, and laugh at renunciation & mysticism.
(This does not mean that the rationalists all speak lies & there's nothing to be learnt from them; they do make many crucial, relevant points, & their philosophy contains a large degree of truth. Also, it would be totally untrue to say that all of them affirm what they do without truth & depth of conviction. They can be very profound, & infact most of them are very sincere.)
So the question arises: What must men live for?
What is the deeper essence of all movement in life? What is the direction life fundamentally takes?
Life being a process of widening, deepening, & extending our relationship with existence - it is a process of erasing all separativeness & conflict between the Unit & the Whole.
A relationship implies two distinct entities with two distinct natures.
It implies that the relationship exists at a certain level, it has its own law & its own process.
(There can be various levels, or contexts, each with its own law & process. For e.g., between two individuals there is a physical context, an intellectual context, a social context, etc.)
It implies that both entities have an ideal condition of being, which both strive to achieve.
An ideal condition of being (in the context of the relationship between these two entities) is one in which both are at LEAST conflict with one another, i.e. are in perfect at-one-ment.
It implies that the distinctness or separativeness necessarily leads to conflict - hence, the ideal condition of being has to be achieved following a particular path - in which their individuality is maintained, and yet, perfect harmony between the two is attained.
It implies that the relationship between the two entities contains the law of the process of adjustment, of obliterating any conflict between the two entities, & achievement of perfect harmony.
In other words, all of life is a movement towards greater harmony or oneness with Existence, WHILE MAINTAINING THE PERFECT INDIVIDUALITY OF THE ENTITIES INVOLVED.
The active entity in this case is man.
It also must be understood that this Whole is NOT a social, cultural, political or even an ideological whole, but a METAPHYSICAL, SPIRITUAL Whole: the ALL of Existence - its entirety.
The interpretations that the Whole manifests itself in "society", the "collective", & the "State" are all MIS-interpretations, designed for ulterior political & economic motives.
And thus, the perfect relationship - the fundamental & ultimate TRUTH - of Man & Existence is when BOTH ARE DISTINCT FROM ONE ANOTHER, AND YET, PERFECTLY ONE, i.e., in perfect harmony with each other.
This has to be understood properly: the UNITY has its own definite, unique CONTEXT, because a thing cannot be something else in ANY FINITE context (i.e. except the context which subsumes ALL possible finite, measurable, sensorily-perceptible contexts).
The Man remains distinct from the Universe as such, physically & sensorily: and that's why, he remains a specific entity occupying limited, specific time & space.
The unity is an inner unity - and exists in the spiritual, metaphysical dimension: the dimension of Spirit, of Atma-Brahma.
This is the ONLY POSSIBLE context in which a Man is both Man the Finite Individual occupying limited, definite time & space, and the Universe transcending all time & space.
Man's body does not become Existence's "body" - which is impossible.
I am not in a position to say if the Universe has a Mind & a Life: there is no reason to think it doesn't - and little to base an affirmation that it does.
But considering, for the meanwhile, that the dimension corresponding to the MIND in man, is LAW in the universe, there MAY NOT be perfect oneness between the two: a man who has attained perfect SPIRITUAL oneness with the universe may not be OMNISCIENT - may not be aware of the structure of atoms & behavior of sub-atomic particles.
So, a mental or rational unity is not the point, and perhaps is not possible. (I'm sure of the former, not of the latter).
And so, Man's MIND does not BECOME the Mind of Existence, or the Mind of God.
The IDENTITY is in context of Brahman - Tao - Dharmakaya - Ayin-Soph - the root, essence, & BASE of ALL of existence - it is in the context of God.
This, I think, tackles the question of "A is A".
Man remains a specific unit in time & space, with his own thoughts & mental, vital, emotional & physical processes: distinct from the univese: a unique entity in his own respect.
Both pursue their own laws & processes independently of each other.
And yet, he has achieved what's called AT-ONE-MENT.
Strictly speaking, Man does NOT "BECOME" the All: he GRASPS THE TRUTH that he fundamentally - i.e., essentially, in spiritual & metaphysical terms - IS One with the Totality. He always was, and always will be.
It is when Man comes to THIS realization, that he is in perfect harmony with Existence - and with every aspect, element, & particle of it.
His relationship with existence is perfect & ultimate BECAUSE HE HAS ATTAINED TO, & GRASPED, THE FUNDAMENTAL SPIRITUAL-METAPHYSICAL CONTEXT, IN WHICH THEIR DISTINCT INDIVIDUALITIES ARE TOTALLY ERASED.