Self-realization is a matter of clarifying the relationship between experience and truth, which in our habitual, conventional view is entirely clouded. In this existence we can speak of three modes of perception or experience. Each of them has a different relationship to the ultimate truth. Let’s begin with the mode where most of humanity lives:
Somethingness. The first mode is of finite, materialistic perception and identity—remembering that how we perceive determines our identity, and our identity conditions perception. In this mode, “God” or truth is basically seen as Nature, or Life in all its earthly wonder, its pain and pleasure, failure and triumph. In this mode everything and everyone is a “something,” a limited and known entity. A good example of perception in this mode is how children, and even some adults, will personify inanimate objects and project feelings or a soul into them. We might see everything as precious and special, but most importantly, things are regarded in their multiplicity. We see God as a great Something under which we are each another unique something, as in “all God’s children.”Love is therefore perceived as a special connection between separate entities. In egoic, finite consciousness we believe we have to fight and struggle so that “Love can win,” or that good can overcome evil. Hence, the tendency in this mode is to identify and split up into factions and parties, where we imagine we are on the side of good. Here we find all the divisive negative qualities of our limited view of somethingness. Everyone and everything gets sorted into identities and categories. There is no understanding of the unity beyond that, even though one may talk about or seek a limited unity of some kind. One does not understand precisely where and how that unity already exists; it is imagined as something—you see, another “something”—that we have to create.
Let’s use this method of inquiry to investigate another ubiquitous entity: What is the reality of money? Ask someone on the street if money is real, you would hardly find anyone doubting it. But what actually ‘is’ money? We assume it is real, but what is the substratum of its reality? Is it independently real or does it depend on something for its existence? Is money just the amount of coins in your wallet? Certainly not, since money also appears as bills, cheques, and as digital data. Today the majority of the world’s money is stored as binary code on hard drives. Is the reality of money the binary code on the hard drive, which is storing the balance of the bank account?
Let’s imagine, an alien species visits our planet for the first time. In their foreign culture the concept of money is unknown. Would it be obvious for them to learn what money is, by simply investigating the data of the hard drive? All they could do is extract the data, but they would lack the contextual information about what to do with it. Therefore, money, which seems very ‘real’ to us practically, has no physical substratum. It is only by convention that coins, bills, or digital data act as a symbolic carrier for money. The reality of 10 USD does not originate from a 10-dollar bill. If the money were ‘in’ the bill, it would be impossible to replace an old bill for a new one. Physical carriers, like coins or bills, act as a medium for money, but they ‘are’ not money. Continue reading →
Dr. Subhanu Saxena posted the following message at one of the online fora. It has a link to a 1:30:41 duration Video where one can watch a demo of Vedic recitation and the meaning of the mantras.
Message from Subhanu:
“We recently gave the inaugural memorial lecture for our dear departed Dr Satyanarayana Shastri, a great Sanskrit and Veda scholar who did much to promote the study of Sanskrit, Veda and Vedanta. The event was organized at the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan London last Sunday and together with my Gurus from Mattur we gave a very brief overview of the Vedas to provoke interest and inspire people to take up the study of our ancient traditions. The lecture is given below and the Q&A will be posted shortly. We hope you enjoy the talk. Please feel free to share it with anybody who you believe can benefit from it
Thanks and regards
Understanding Reality in the Vision of Advaita Vedānta
by Wolfgang P., firstname.lastname@example.org
We, as human beings, are interested in reality. Unlike animals, we are able to ask questions about the nature of our experience. We understand that experiences are numerous and fleeting, so the question arises: What is the reality behind those experiences? From this question subsequent ones emerge: What does it mean to say something is ‘real’ or ‘unreal’? What is the nature of reality? Vedānta is a body of knowledge to analyze the nature of reality and its relationship to the individual (jīva). It applies a teaching methodology that has been handed down from teacher to student since time immemorial. The aim of Vedānta is to make one understand its fundamental tenet:1
ब्रह्म सत्यं जगत् मिथ्या जीवो ब्रह्मैव नापरः
brahma satyaṃ jagat mithyā jīvo brahmaiva nāparaḥ
Brahman is the only truth (satyam), the world, jagat, is unreal (mithyā), and there is ultimately no difference between brahman and the individual self (jīva).
In this article I will explain the three categories Vedānta provides to understand reality: sat or satyam, asat, and mithyā.2 When we talk about reality, we need to distinguish that-which-is-real from that-which-is-not-real. This discriminative inquiry is called tattva-viveka. In Sanskrit, that-which-is-real is called satyam, whereas that-which-is-not-real is called asat. Continue reading →
The terms ‘Vedanta’ and ‘Advaita Vedanta’ are used loosely nowadays to describe teachings whose principles do not factually meet the subtlety within the profound truth of ‘One-without-a-second’ or ‘There is only the Absolute.’ If this principle is corrupted or compromised then guidance to the truth can be affected from the beginning, which may in turn lead to an incomplete realisation. Alternatively, we may only hear statements describing the highest (Paramarthika) Reality without any means at our disposal for approaching such a Truth.
Being the foundation of its teaching, the principle of Advaita need not be compromised in allowing for the ‘mundane’, empirical experience of the seeker and the questions stemming from his or her experience – the entire Vedic system naturally accounts for development at all stages of life and Vedanta gives an understanding of the exact status of the world, as we experience it, in relation to Reality. Continue reading →
[ Uppaluri Gopala Krishnamurti or more popularly known as UG was a “philosopher, a Non-guru, guru.” Though he used to claim “that the demand for enlightenment was the only thing standing in the way of enlightenment itself,” his close followers consider him to be a jIvanmukta. Krishnamurti himself often “referred to his state of being as the ‘natural state’.” Anon who is a frequent Commentator at this site contributes the following write up about UG’s natural state — ramesam.]
For me to do a commentary on what U.G. has described as ‘The Natural State’, would be a very difficult thing as I would only be playing with ideas and concepts about what someone else has said, much like doing a commentary about what the Upanishads described. The closest thing would be to paraphrase some of the descriptions from what U.G. had said about it. Here is my feeble attempt:
UG makes a clear distinction between ‘states of mind’ and what happened to him. He refers to the totality of mind and all its maneuvering as having nothing to do with the ‘Natural State’. He made it clear that if anything had to be done, it was the stopping, not volitionally, of all attempts to gaining ‘understanding’, Continue reading →
Pujya Swamiji’s uniqueness has already been the subject matter of a book by that name, published in October 2008 and released by Pujya Swamiji himself. However, certain very significant details of his life and teaching need to be highlighted.
Right from his childhood, Pujya Swamiji was distinctively different from others. He was fearless by nature. He did things that others never dared to do, like catching any snake by its tail. During those days, owing to the anti-Brahmin movement, the school boys used to rag the Brahmin boys, who were conspicuous with their tufts. Pujya Swamiji also had a tuft. He once caught off guard a tough ragger and punched him so hard that he fell into a ditch. Also, for fear of being ragged, the Brahmin boys would not opt for Sanskrit as the second language. Unmindful of the repercussions, Pujya Swamiji chose Sanskrit. He did not also take lying down the ridiculing of religious practices by his class mates but countered them by thinking out the plausible reasons for those practices. They could never outwit him in the arguments that ensued. Continue reading →
Everyone wants to be happy. This is the motivational force for everyone. The Vedas acknowledge this. The first part of the Vedas – karmakANDa – is effectively aimed at those who look for their happiness in external, limited, objects and pursuits; the latter part of the Vedas – j~nAnakANDa – is aimed at those who are looking to find the happiness within, through gaining knowledge of their true nature.
Here is a brief article from Ramesh Pattni, called
WHAT IS VEDANTA? VEDANTA AND THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS
The pursuit of happiness has been the foremost goals of humanity from time immemorial. There is, however, a diversity of understanding and experience of happiness across traditions and cultures around the world. Eastern traditions which offer great insights into the human condition and psychological processes, have a universal appeal which point towards attainment of happiness by different means.
The development of Positive Psychology in recent decades has focused on the study of happiness and wellbeing and examined evidence for the ways and means to happiness. Currently there are two dominant Western approaches to human happiness and well‐being: Hedonic and Eudaimonic perspectives. The former is based on the idea that pleasure is the only intrinsic good, and obtained through the contact with the world of objects. The eudaimonic approach is that happiness is an end in itself and the highest good and based on a life of virtuous living and contemplation.Continue reading →
Below is another essay from Atman Nityananda whose earlier essay on sAdhana triggered so much interest. This is preceded by an essay on the same topic from Swami Sivananda.
Free Will versus Fatalism
by Swami Sivananda
The controversy between free will and fatalism is still going on in the West and no one has come to any definite conclusion. It is a great pity that the doctrine of Karma is mistaken for fatalism. Fatalism is the doctrine that all events are subject to fate and happen by unavoidable necessity.
Fate is otherwise known as luck or fortune. That indefinable mysterious something which brings trials, successes and failures to man, which shapes and moulds him by teaching lessons of various sort, which takes care of him like a mother, which brings various sort of experiences, which brings cloudy days and days of bright sunshine, which raises a beggar to the level of a landlord and hurls down a mighty potentate to the level of a street-beggar, which gives different kinds of fruits and experiences to two people of equal talents and capacities, which made Napoleon at one time a terror in the eyes of the people and at another time a prisoner, and which makes a certain portion of the life of a man quite stormy and another portion quite smooth, is called fate. Fate educates and instructs man. However whimsical the fate may appear to operate, it works in harmony with the law of causation. Continue reading →
A frequent contributor to the site, Vijay Pargaonkar has provided the following valuable information rearding the terminology of Nisargadatta Maharaj:
When references to Nisargadatta Maharaj and his teachings come up at the AV forum during discussions, the arguments often seem to become tangential. I think this is mainly due to the differences in terminologies and definitions used by the followers of Nisragadatta and the ones used in traditional Advaita forums.
Last week I came across a rare Satsang tape in Marathi where Maharaj clearly lays out his version of the Creation Model and Prakriyas while explaining various Advaita terms according to his definitions. I have excerpts of this Satsang translation (as I heard and understood) below, where I have indicated the Sanskrit/Marathi terms along with the English terms used by the translator – the translator has actually chopped the live recording and inserted his English translation in between.
Prior to your waking is Nirguna, the substratum of Waking. The Nirguna is not at all bothered by this samara (samara = ‘war (of life)’). In Nirguna appeared knowledge (Bodha). This is pure Consciousness or Beingness or the Sense “I am” that has no shape or form. In this pure Consciousness there appeared a slight perturbation or movement and the pure Consciousness then grabbed a body-form (deharupa). After wearing this body form it started calling itself a man or woman while bound by different concepts (I am this; I am that; I am going; I am coming etc.). These concepts are all imaginary (Kalpana) and not real. Continue reading →