I-consciousness, Worlds And Brahman

Shri Vijay Pargaonkar, a frequent contributor at this site, recently drew my attention to the teaching of Sage Vasishta towards the end of the 32,000 verse-strong Yogavasishta. I wish to share the following extract from the teaching as it has a relevance to the discussions going on at another thread.

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Vasishta:   Rama, there are essentially two types of (…) worlds.  They are the Stable and the Mobile worlds.  The Stable worlds are: Mahah, Janah, Tapah, Satya etc.  They are located far away from us.

स यदि पितृलोककामो भवति सङ्कल्पादेवास्य पितरः समुत्तिष्ठन्ति तेन पितृलोकेन सम्पन्नो महीयते ॥                    – VIII-ii-1, छान्दोग्य

sa yadi pitRilokakAmo bhavati saMkalpAdevasyapiraH samuttiShTanti tena pitRilokena saMpannomahIyate.       — VIII-ii-1, chAndogya upanishad. Continue reading

Living In The Moment Eternally – 2

[Nobody has obviously noticed or pointed out that the continuation articles have not been posted for two years! So I am proceeding with the Series of articles here a bit hesitantly as I am not sure of the Reader-interest. In these two years my computer lost the “memory” of my notes and files stored on the subject (thanks to the hackers from Nigeria). I am hence obliged to go by whatever material I could harness in the ‘now’ from my computer. Part – 1 here.]

The main question of interest for us here is “How does the body of a Self-realized man live eternally in the ‘Now’ and function in the day to day life of eating, moving, acting and interacting in the absence of ‘memory’ of past experience/knowledge for recognition? What does “Now” mean for him/her? Is the “Now” on a temporal dimension?”

Whether we are consciously aware of it or not, it is impossible to lead a normal life in the world without memory. Maybe it is simply responding to when your name is called or you have to find a solution to a much more complicated problem of technology, memory plays a significant role. Therefore, before we venture to answer the questions on the functioning of a jIvanmukta‘s body, one could be curious to know about the lives of those who are  at a disadvantage in their worldly life because they do not have an access to their memory anymore . I shall list briefly a few such cases which are well studied by scientists. Their lives may look yet times hilarious and often poignant and heartbreaking but always harrowing to their care givers.Wearing - HM Continue reading

Q. 372 – Superimposition and Memory

Q: What is the relationship between memory and superimposition (adhyAsa)? In the metaphor of rope and snake, we say that we fail to see the snake clearly, because of inadequate light – there is partial knowledge and partial ignorance. When we superimpose a snake on the rope, we are drawing on fear and memory. We must have seen a snake (or image of one in a film or book) before in order to be able to mistake the rope for one. Similarly, we mistake brahman for the body and the world etc.

 But what about a baby or someone who has no memory as a result of brain damage? Is there still superimposition in this case?

Responses from Ted, Venkat, Ramesam, Martin, Sitara and Dennis

A (Ted): We have to bear in mind that the example of a rope being mistaken for a snake is an analogy, and as is the case with any analogy, the example is imperfect. In the example, the snake image is based on a previous experience of the mistaken perceiver.

 In terms of mistaking the body-mind-sense complex as well as the innumerable other objects that constitute the manifest universe for Brahman, however, we are dealing with something a little bit different. Whereas in order to mistake the rope for a snake, one must have previously seen a snake, the projection of the apparent reality (i.e., the manifest universe in both its subtle and gross aspects) is not based on experiential memory, but rather results from the mind’s ability to recognize the “cosmic blueprints” that abide in dormant form in the Macrocosmic Causal Body, which is personified as Isvara, and are made manifest through the conditioning that maya upadhi, the limiting adjunct of causal matter, puts upon Brahman. That is, the mind is an instrument that is designed or a mechanism that is “programmed” to recognize these forms and, thus, is able to discern their apparent existence within the cosmic soup of pure potentiality (i.e., the unmanifest realm or “mind of God,” if you will) from the data it receives via the perceptive instruments/organs. Continue reading

Tattvabodha – Part 4

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPart 4 of the commentary by Dr. VIshnu Bapat on Shankara’s Tattvabodha.This is a key work which introduces all of the key concepts of Advaita in a systematic manner.

The commentary is based upon those by several other authors, together with the audio lectures of Swami Paramarthananda. It includes word-by-word breakdown of the Sanskrit shloka-s so should be of interest to everyone, from complete beginners to advanced students.

Part 4 begins to look at the six sAdhanA-s (shamAdhi shakti sampatti), and in this part addresses shama (control of mind) and dama (control of senses). There is also a hyperlinked Contents List, which will be updated as each new part is published.

The ‘ego’, the ‘soul’, and metaphysics ll

 It can be said that, in psychological and existential or ontological terms, the ‘only’ problem, or the main one, is that of the ego or self, seemingly a legitimate, authentic and real entity, and at the same time an apparent aberration. Why is this so? The ego is a conundrum, if not the conundrum in the realms of philosophy, metaphysics and religion. Here we are confronted with two problems, one of them metaphysical and the other linguistic – the use of terminology.
The ego (self), to begin with, is the centre of experience, the human subject; in it, both the poles of thinking and feeling, of knowing and being, unite. It can be referred to as the individual mind or consciousness and, as such, it is ‘undivided’ (in-dividuus), as the human subject itself (equivalent term) is undivided. But there is more to this, as it will be shown.

 

Logically and metaphysically we can refer to the individual man, woman, as a subject or self: ‘I’; psychologically as an ego and, metaphysically and theologically, as a soul or person.

In any case, the ego, the individual, is a unit, single and undivided, even though, when we consider the soul as such (and one should not shrink on hearing this word) we may ascribe qualities or dispositions –or faculties- to it. That single entity is the total human being (person or individual soul) who has those qualities, such as memory, rationality, imagination, desire, and who, consequently, is different from every other person, each being unique in some respect. A totality is a unit, a unity, whether seen as whole-and-parts, centre-and-periphery, or essence-and-qualities or aspects.

Taking the word ego as equivalent in meaning to ‘person’, ‘individual’, ‘soul’, as just indicated, we must make two important considerations: 1) the enigma of diversified subjectivity1 and 2) the distinction between ego and ‘ego’ (in what does it consist). Continue reading

THE ‘EGO’, THE ‘SOUL’, AND METAPHYSICS (CONSEQUENCES FOR PSYCHOTHERAPY)

 

Abstract.

This essay is an attempt at looking at the psychodynamics of the ego or self from the metaphysical perspective of Buddhism and Advaita Vedanta. Initially a distinction is made between ‘ego’, related to ‘individual(ism)’ or ‘personality’ (who I think I am), and ego –soul, person or individual– (who I am…?) immediately followed by a deepening of the significance and reality behind the terms ‘soul’ or ‘person’ as far as it can be taken, and whose consequences are far-reaching. This distinction is central not only to religion but also to philosophy and psychology. The enigma of multiple subjectivities is discussed as a preliminary. A possible relationship between Eastern wisdom and Western empiricism, and between philosophy and medicine, are postulated. Two important Buddhist triads are given a central position in this exposition: ‘the three poisons’, and ‘the three marks of existence’, as well as some important Advaitist concepts. Suffering and its release would be the aim. Reasons are advanced as to why the empirical method, by itself alone, is insufficient with regard to integral (holistic) healing or ‘liberation’.

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 This self lends itself to that Self, and that Self to this self; they coalesce. With the one aspect (“rupa” form ) he is united with yonder world, and with the other aspect he is united with this world.”

                                                      Aitareya Aranyaka  II.3.7                                      

                                                                                                                               The present age is a strange mixture of optimism and Angst. The purpose of this essay is to express the view that metaphysics, Eastern philosophy, and, to some extent, traditional religion – all three generally ignored with respect to health in whatever of its dimensions – have something fundamental to offer, their standards being more solid by far than those offered by contemporary Western philosophy and psychology. The metaphysical principles or presuppositions of the various religions agree with each other and are a testimony to a universal wisdom for which the expression ‘sacred science’ has been used in the past. In the West the predominant religion is Christianity, but I take as my main focus some Buddhist doctrines and, to a lesser extent, the Advaita Vedanta of Hinduism, which are easy to understand when properly explained. A study of traditional, universal teachings under a foreign and unfamiliar guise may prompt an understanding of the same or equivalent teachings in their more familiar (but often neglected) Christian form, as is the case in the West. This is my reason for using Buddhism and Advaita Vedanta as points of reference in this article.
Continue reading

Tattvabodha – Part 3

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPart 3 of the commentary by Dr. VIshnu Bapat on Shankara’s Tattvabodha.This is a key work which introduces all of the key concepts of Advaita in a systematic manner.

The commentary is based upon those by several other authors, together with the audio lectures of Swami Paramarthananda. It includes word-by-word breakdown of the Sanskrit shloka-s so should be of interest to everyone, from complete beginners to advanced students.

Part 3 discusses viveka (discrimination) and vairAgya (dispassion) in the ‘fourfold attainment’, sAdhana chatuShTAya sampatti. There is also a hyperlinked Contents List, which will be updated as each new part is published.

The Enlightened Person

swartz_essenceHere is an extract from the final chapter of James Swartz’s new book ‘The Essence of Enlightenment’. I haven’t read it all myself yet, but dipping into it at random shows that it is every bit as good as his ‘How to Attain Enlightenment’. It has, for me, his hallmark style of forthright, clear, informative writing, adhering to traditional teaching derived from scriptures and as interpreted by modern sampradAya-s. He has no qualms about bluntly (even brutally) exposing mistaken views but leaves the reader feeling uplifted, and with a much clearer understanding of even the most difficult topic.