‘That’: Tát To Tát-āgathā


The summary expression of Vedic insight is Tát [‘That’]. The Symbol ‘0’ is simply ‘That’ taken to its natural, necessary and inevitable limit.

‘That’ is an Expression of Inexpressibility. A self-scuttling assertion in negation, an immediate, unregenerate self-contradiction. It is neither noun nor verb, is grammatically homeless, a lexicographer’s nightmare, and meant to be so.

Point a finger, draw a line, say a word, think a thought, emote a feeling towards ‘That’ and by that very act, what you have pointed a finger to, drawn a line of, said, thought, emoted, is not ‘That’.

It includes all markers, any and every whiff of presumption to identity. Aspects, elements, endowments, features, qualities, temperament, tendencies. You may not source it for ethical or social directives [rules], go philosophical or poetic on its attributes…

The Summum Bonum of Dharmic Teaching is: Tát Tvam Asi, the same Tát [‘That’] of the Rig Veda. In translation: ‘That are’t Thou’.

‘That’ is synonymous with Brahman, from the root ‘Brh‘, ‘To Uphold, Support’. Brahman is ‘That which upholds’, originally a Mantric expression for Yagnic formalities before it took on metaphysical meanings.

Para Brahman [the ‘Highest Expression’] of Brahman was as Nirguṇa Brahman: ‘Brahman without attributes’. If something doesn’t have attributes you cannot express it. Except as Self-Negating Expression.

I cannot say anything about ‘That’. Anything I say about ‘That’, by that very fact is not ‘That’. Effecting this yields the Logical Form of the Self-Negating Expression.

The Buddha famously held his Silence [Mounam, Avyākṛta, Anirvacaniya] to all questions about the nature of his denouement.

This Unformulated Principle‘ says the Diamond Sutra ‘is Uncontainable and Inexpressible’. [Unformulated Principle‘? Formulation is the essence of Principle. Is that a Self-Negating Expression sneaking by?]

Siddhartha Gautama’s chosen name for himself was not as ‘The Buddha’ [a later appellation] but as the Tát-āgathā [literally, ‘That-Gone’] again, the same Tát [‘That’] of the Rig Veda. And it has the same intent as: Tát Tvam Asi [‘That are’t Thou’].

In the highest tradition of the Buddha-Dharma one does not worship The Buddha, which is easy enough. The struggle is to become a Tat-āgatha.

A Tát-āgathā is one: ‘Entered in Tát’ [‘That’]. It says nothing about any ‘Object’ [such as an imagined ‘That’]. It is all about the Subject. Or rather, the absence of it. 

‘Self’ [‘Thou’] as used in the Upanishads was a mystical term [as in the ‘Subtle Inner Essence’ of the Chandogya]. In the Buddhist Sūtric articulation it is consistently an empirical one. It is not simply to be asserted but directly observed in undeniable inferential link. That is, as an identifiable Subject in counterpoint to an identified Object. It is one of the key elements that differentiates the literature of the Buddha-Dharma from its Vedic roots.