I read once that Indian philosophy considers four levels of existence:

  • being
  • being and not being
  • not being and being
  • not being

I thought this fascinating and more realistic than Western classifications, even if the text did not specify the exact sense of the Indian concepts. I felt that Western concepts such as 'nothingness' are meaningless : 'nothingness' has no referent and should be avoided in reasoning.

Do you happen to know a little more about the issue?


2 Answers 2


I expect Samsara and Maya come into the answer to this question, so here is a quote about being and not-being by way of 'being real' and 'not being real':-

from Wikipedia: The Upanishads

Hendrick Vroom explains, "The term Maya has been translated as 'illusion,' but then it does not concern normal illusion. Here 'illusion' does not mean that the world is not real and simply a figment of the human imagination. Maya means that the world is not as it seems; the world that one experiences is misleading as far as its true nature is concerned."[35] Lynn Foulston states, "The world is both real and unreal because it exists but is 'not what it appears to be'."[6] According to Wendy Doniger, "to say that the universe is an illusion (māyā) is not to say that it is unreal; it is to say, instead, that it is not what it seems to be, that it is something constantly being made. Māyā not only deceives people about the things they think they know; more basically, it limits their knowledge."[36]

  • The levels I mentioned do not refer to degree of reality by to the level of existence itself, Just to make a silly but clarifying example, you can think of coma as a possible state of degree 2 or 3.But the meaning of the scale is more profound
    – user157860
    Jul 23, 2018 at 11:55
  • @user157860 How about this type of non-being? books.google.gg/books?id=YIPIHWHWRDoC&pg=PA105 Jul 23, 2018 at 13:15
  • This answer seems spot on to me. For the details I would recommend a study of Nagarjuna.
    – user20253
    Oct 1, 2019 at 15:34

Grades of Being varies from Religion to Philosophy, from Religion to another Religion or from Tradition to another Tradition.

Some religions or traditions are monotheistic or dualistic or tritheistic or even pluralistic. These religions or traditions mostly look to Matter as Eternal or created by God, non Conscious, since life is created by God, they look also to Godhood as transcendental.

Mostly, in these Religions or Traditions there are Godhood and Metaphysical Conscious Creatures as Angels and Demons, and Physical Creatures as Humans. Thus there are Metaphysical World and Physical World, as we said Godhood is Transcendental, and matter is, mostly, Eternal and Unconscious.

Some religious traditions and philosophies are Pantheistic or Pan-en-theistic.

In Pantheistic, God is the world, namely, matter is in absolute consciousness, thus grades of being in this dogma is:

  • World which equals God.

  • Atmas or spirits or individual Conscious substances.

In Pan-en-theistic God is both Immanent and Transcendental.

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