upadesha sAhasrI – Part 21

upadesha21

Part 21 of the serialization of the  presentation (compiled by R. B. Athreya from the lectures given by Swami Paramarthananda) of upadesha sAhasrI. This is the prakaraNa grantha which is agreed by most experts to have been written by Shankara himself and is an elaborate unfoldment of the essence of Advaita.

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The only certain knowledge

“Whatever knowledge we may obtain about anything other than ourself is indirect and therefore open to doubt. The only knowledge that is direct is the knowledge or consciousness that we have of ourself as ‘I am’, and hence it alone can be certain and free of all doubt.

Before we know anything else, we first know our own existence as ‘I am’. This knowledge or consciousness of ourself is our primary and essential form of knowledge. Without knowing ‘I am’ we could not know anything else. Our consciousness ‘I am’ can stand alone without any other knowledge, as we experience daily in deep sleep, but no other knowledge can stand without this consciousness ‘I am’.

. . . . . .

Only when we attain true knowledge of our consciousness ‘I am’ will we be in a position to judge the truth and validity of all our other knowledge. Thus the belief that objective research can lead to true knowledge – a belief that is implicit in and central to the philosophy upon which all modern science is based – is philosophically unsound, and is based more upon wishful thinking than upon any deep or honest philosophical analysis.

All objective knowledge is known by us indirectly through the imperfect media of our mind and five senses, whereas consciousness is known by us directly as our own self. Therefore, if we seek true, clear and immediate knowledge, rather than attempting to elaborate our knowledge of objective phenomena by turning our attention outwards through our mind and five senses, we should attempt to refine our knowledge of consciousness by directing our attention selfwards, towards the essential consciousness that we always experience directly as ‘I am’”

From Happiness and the Art of Being, Michael James, Trafford.
ISBN: 978-1-4251-2465-6
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The Absence of Belief

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“I would define a ‘true sage’ conceptually as a human organism in which the sense of separation as the author of their actions is gone. It is a human being for whom the belief – and it is a false belief – that they are the centers of the universe, the authors of their thoughts and their feelings and their actions – that belief is absent in a True Sage.

And this is not a belief on the part of the human organism that they are not the authors of their action, it is the absence of the belief that they are. So it is not the presence of the belief that they are not, but the absence of the belief that they are. There are a lot of people running around with the belief that they are not the authors of their action and that belief is simply another belief.”

Wayne Liquorman

Whose Story are You Living?

There seem to be a lot of churches on Maui. The missionaries did a very thorough job here. As I drive around I often see a cryptic message posted on a sign board outside a church. Little sayings that I suppose are meant to bring one back into the fold.

When I see these messages I often try and look at them from the understanding I now have about the nature of reality and the way the world functions as a whole.

Here is one saying that I pass quite often posted outside a Baptist Church. “Whose story are you living, God’s or yours?
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Belief versus Faith pending understanding

sraddha kidrsi? guruvedantavakyesu visvasaha sraddha

Of what nature is sraddha?  Trust in the words of the teacher and Vedanta is sraddha.

Quoting from Swami Dayananda’s commentary on the above verse from Tattvabodha:

Visvasa is trust, faith, in the words of Vedanta, vedanta-vakyesu.  What is that trust here?  That they are a pramana, a means of knowledge.  You give the status of pramana to the words of Vedanta.  You do not look at them as theory, speculation or philosophy, but take them as words that are an independent means of knowledge.  That is called visvasa.”

Dhanya’s thoughts:

This type of faith is considered to be one of the qualifications for the gain of self-knowledge. There is a beautiful saying in the Bhagavad Gita that Swamiji quotes a lot ‘shraddhavan labhate jnanam.’  (Chapter 4, verse 39). Continue reading

What is Brahman? (Part 1)

Enlightenment is the realization in the mind of a person that ‘I am Brahman’. So what is this ‘Brahman’ that I am supposed to realize? Knowing this must constitute a significant aspect of the Self-knowledge that I need to acquire in order to become enlightened.

(The following analysis is loosely based upon Swami Paramarthananda’s talks on Shankara’s bhAShya [analytical commentary] on the Brahma Sutra.)

Before we can investigate anything, two criteria must be satisfied:

1) We must know what it is we are investigating (a definition)

2) We must have an appropriate means of acquiring data (a pramANa). Continue reading

There are no beliefs here

I’ve heard that in the sage, everything happens spontaneously.

Yes. And do you want to know what else? In everyone, everything happens spontaneously. In you, everything happens spontaneously.

I don’t experience it like that.

Exactly. That’s the difference.

Do you believe that the Understanding can happen to anyone?

I don’t believe anything.

What?

There are no beliefs here.

That’s an extraordinary statement.

Not at all. It’s really quite simple. You either know something or you don’t. If you know something, you don’t have to believe it’s true or have faith that it’s true; you know it beyond doubt, it simply is, and there’s no belief involved. On the other hand if you don’t know something, the honest thing is to simply say you don’t know. But of course there are many psychological and political and social reason why people can’t admit, even to themselves, that they don’t know something, so they create a belief; which is essentially saying that you don’t really know something is true, but you’re going to pretend you do. It’s all activity in the dream. There’s really only one thing which is not of the dream, only one thing that can be known, and that is the basic consciousness, “I Am.” Everything else is just a concept, a construct of mind in the dream, something “I don’t know.” Everything.

Okay, but can this Understanding happen to anyone, any body/mind?

Of course.

Could it happen to me?

No, of course not. That’s the difference. But it could happen in the case of the body/mind organism which at the moment you think is you, and then there would be the understanding that there never was a ‘you,’ a ‘me’ for anything to happen to, and that who You are is the Consciousness in which all this appears to happen. The Understanding and the belief in a ‘me’ are mutually exclusive: if one is there the other will not be.

From ‘Perfect Brilliant Stillness’, David Carse, Non-Duality Press, ISBN: 954779282.
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Believing a teaching

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Neo-Advaita picked up this teaching from traditional Vedanta.  It is called neti neti, not this, not that.  Bascially, all that Neo-Advaita has is neti neti, but it is not actually properly understood by the teachers. Negating the mind can take you quite a way, but it cannot close the deal because the denial of the apparent reality is not tantamount to the hard and fast realization “I am limitless non-dual ordinary actionless awareness.”  And the removal of the apparent is not accomplished by BELIEVING in this teaching, by mindless denial.  It only comes about by intense self inquiry, applying inquiry to everything that happens in you on a moment to moment basis.

This apparent reality teaching is quite sophisticated and I cannot do it justice here.  James Swartz Interview in non-dualitymagazine (capital letters added)

Translating Vedantic terms to Western seekers – Faith, God, Sin

599985_web_R_B_by_Dieter Schütz_pixelio.deThe following is blog I posted in 2011 when I was a blogger of Advaita Academy. As all of the addressed terms concern our topic of the month “belief” I am publishing it here again (with small alterations):

Faith

The word faith carries two meanings: trust and belief.

When I trust in something I meet it with confidence; even without knowing its exact nature, I assume that it will not harm me, rather that it will be beneficial to me when I expose myself to it.

When I believe in something I meet it with a conviction to be existent; I also may not know its exact nature but there is not necessarily an assumption involved that it will be beneficial to me.

Trust invites devotion – devote what? Time, energy, other resources. Devotion to what? To something assumed to be benevolent.

Belief demands submission – submit what? Any convictions, insights, reasoning or intuitions that contradict the belief. Submission to what? To something assumed to exist.

Shraddha is one of the nine virtues that should be cultivated by an aspirant to Advaita Vedanta, i.e. shraddha is considered to be one of the most essential traits someone should own when embarking on the journey to discover his/her own true Self. Usually shraddha is translated as “faith”.

Now, in the context of Advaita Vedanta it seems to be crucial that shraddha as faith is explained, understood and associated with trust and devotion, not with belief and submission of one’s own reasoning capacities. This is especially important when addressing Western seekers.

Why?

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