What is 'Absolute'?
Hegel describes ‘the absolute’ as ‘the sum of all being, actual and potential’. Another explanation is ‘reality as in itself unaffected by perception or knowledge of any finite being’. In Western philosophy, the question of the Absolute generally revolves around the concept of ‘God’. Whereas in Eastern philosophy, the Absolute expresses an omnipresent, eternal, spiritual universal source. In Taoism, the Absolute is Tao (Way). However, the first line in the Tao Te Ching declares that it cannot be the Words are useless because the Tao is beyond description. All classification of the Absolute is relative because they are concepts, and concepts limit language. They are constructs; composed of parts relational to each other.
Parts and Whole
The word ‘part’ implies that there must be a ‘whole’. Therefore a need arises to call this whole ‘something’. How can one name the ‘whole’ without reducing it into a word concept? Words serve a purpose as a means of relative communication in the full knowledge of their limitations.
For the same reason, the intellect is unable to grasp or express totality. Intelligence relies on thinking, logic and analysis. Thoughts are constantly assessing and dividing into this and that. Therefore it is impossible to ‘think’ any form of understanding of the Absolute.
The notion of the Absolute is sublime. That is to say, the wisdom of the Absolute has to bypass the intellect. It may be possible to experience the Absolute when the mind is in a state of total detachment and penetrating clarity without the slightest obscuration of thought movement.
Religion, art and philosophy acknowledge this state of profound epiphany. In faith, it may be called ‘union with the divine. In art, epiphany may be called inspiration, and in philosophy, it becomes the difference between a philosopher and a sage.
Experience of the Absolute is synonymous with Enlightenment. Enlightenment is the ‘state’ of ‘Nirvana. Therefore Nirvana is beyond any form of description.