Enjoying Being Brahman – Q. 324

Q1: When I was in the constant of awareness that I was Brahman I used to enjoy the Thoughts that all indeed was Brahman. Since I progressed to the simply I AM I am not enjoying the earlier feelings of thinking everything as Brahman. Is it that the state of being in simply I AM is absolute absence of any thought whatsoever? 

 Q2: How to overcome the sleep state to be in constant awareness of Who am I? Please some practical hints!

 Regarding my second point I intended to know more about the Fourth State in which the Saints wait to consume all their Prarabdha. How is this state practised and what are the skills of it?

Please shed some light on how do the realised but unpractised people live in their day to life while all the time immersed in their truest identity. My readings tell me just to let things happen without least botheration how they happen. Is it this way?

A (Peter): These questions make a strong case for why seeking proper guidance in this work is vital. Vedānta isn’t something that anyone can just pick up from a book, any more than anyone can dive straight into advanced mathematics from a book. If one doesn’t have a basic concept of numbers and the ways they combine through addition, multiplication, subtraction and division then how could one cope with the more esoteric realms of the subject? And compared to the science of self-knowledge, which is subtler than the subtlest, higher maths is crude. Self-knowledge needs appropriate prep work before the books make sense.

These questions are about two things: the questioner’s experiences and the personal spin the questioner puts on his experience or what’s read. In every experience or cognition or idea (even the Aham Brahmāsmi idea) there are two parts: a thought ‘plus’ consciousness. Fixation on the thought part – on ideas, theories, contentions – is a sure-fire way of missing the Reality, ‘I’, consciousness. ‘I’ can never ever in a zillion years become an object of experience; I am ever the experiencer. And one’s interpretation, backed only by personal authority, is always to be treated with suspicion.

 Here is a breakdown of the statements in the questions:

  1. The constant of awareness that I was Brahman’ is a thought. (The use of the past tense gives it away!)
  2. The experience of ‘enjoy(ing) the Thoughts that all indeed was Brahman’ is another thought. (Enjoyment is for the jīva only: Self is not an enjoyer.)
  3. ‘Progressing’ to ‘the simply I AM’ is yet another thought. (One cannot ‘progress’ beyond Brahman. To see Brahman as different from ‘I’ is ignorance.)
  4. The experiencing of ‘not enjoying the earlier feelings’… you guessed it… even more thinking.
  5. The idea that you need ‘to overcome the sleep state to be in constant awareness of Who am I’ is an unsupportable idea, i.e. more mental activity. (In the sleep state, when all thoughts have resolved, one abides in the consciousness, the very ‘I’ that is being sought.)
  6. The idea that ‘the Fourth State (is one) in which the Saints wait to consume all their Prarabdha’ is not just an idea but a totally erroneous one.
  7. As is the idea that ‘this state (can be) practised’ and that skills are involved

And now for the practical advice: If Thought 1 had any authenticity, then Thought 2 would not be possible and Thought 3 would not be necessary. If Thought 4 is disturbing then return to Thought 1 which, though inauthentic, has the slight merit of at least seeming to be less agitating. Don’t bother with Thought 5 or Thought 7 as they are as impossible to attain as is cleanliness from bathing in mirage water. Correct Thought 6 because it is plain wrong…

My most practical advice is: stop self-study as it is producing wrong ideas, or change any existing gurus because they are misleading you. Find an authentic, qualified teacher who will guide you, step-by-step, in removing ignorance through a proper understanding of Tuīrya and śāstra.

A (Ramesam)By now it is perhaps clear to you that Advaita is not about having any specific type of experience (enjoyable or otherwise) or even about progression from one experience to another.

Non-dual teaching is also not about resisting thoughts or stopping them. As UG said once, thoughts do continue as long as breath continues! In fact, the relationship between thoughts and breath is exploited in prANAyAma and other yogic methods – but all these ultimately help in achieving a focused one-pointed mind sharpened enough to take up Self inquiry in a resolute manner. Exercises directed at ‘thought control’ by themselves do not lead to Non-dual ‘realization.’  The “Amness” of “I” or “Beingness” is eternally existent in spite of and irrespective of thoughts. So one has to be alert to notice this unceasing “Beingness” even when thoughts are there rather than be carried away by the content of the thoughts.

 As you put it in the last part of your second query, the four words “Just let things happen” encapsulate the entire Advaita teaching excellently if they are completely and correctly understood. Forget about your thoughts of Brahman or progressing to something else or seeking some “experience.” Stay with those four words and see if you really “get” what they mean. Let us not get into complicated theories or technically valid or invalid terminologies.  Keep it simple.

 If all things ‘just happen’, please appreciate that there is no one there (including a ‘you’) judging and deciding what is desirable to happen and what is to be stopped from happening. In other words there is no controller of the things and events, exercising his/her likes and dislikes. There is no gatekeeper.  So you do not have a separate existence as a distinct entity apart from all that is there. What exists is all just Oneness – a singular identity (in a mathematical sense).

 Immaterial of the fact that a situation is comfortable or uncomfortable, happy or sorrowful, it is welcomed with a deep non-judgmental “Yes” and lived from moment to moment. There is no desire to change anything, or to avoid something or prefer another thing. You stay firm and stable unaffected and unperturbed by the happenings. This does not mean that you will be insensitive like a stone. You will be fully aware and alive. But you will not live with an idea that things are happening to a ‘me’, an entity that is contracted and living within a small body-mind which I identify to be myself. It is all “I” only everywhere in and outside the body-mind, without any divisions as internal and external. There is no ‘me here’ and a ‘world out there.’

 A “realized man” does not notice anything not because there is nothing but because there is no ‘thing’ separate from himself to be noticed.  That is the life of a realized man. He “real”-ized what is truly Real – that there is no separate individual confined in a body-mind and what there is, is  only a live single happening that is Life.

 In the Western type of study and education, we tend to look for a “How to” manual for all actions. We are accustomed to ‘act’ and we expect a result as an outcome of our action. But the reality is different. You do not have to produce “Reality” as an outcome of an action taken by you as if Reality did not exist before you took up an action. The unfragmented “Whole” is the Reality in existence forever.

 You are already that “whole.” You have overlooked your “Wholeness.” You have misidentified yourself with the smallness of the contracted body-mind. Even while you are with this false belief of who you are (“I am a contracted body-mind), you have NOT stopped being the “Whole.”

 So you do not have to do anything following a “How to” method to be what you actually are. Just come out of the false belief. The only thing to do is to constantly remember that you are not the person that you take yourself to be (confined within the body-mind), but you are that very “Knowingness”, that sensitivity that knows all things.

 Say a thermometer measures 20 deg C. The 20 deg C is not the thermometer. It is that capability to measure the temperature that is the thermometer. Similarly, the body-mind is something you are aware of. The Awareness (You as Knowingness) is what you are.

 There is not a fraction of second that goes without you being aware. So you are that Awareness 24/7. You do not have to “do” anything to be “Aware.”

 If you imbibed this Truth, what ought to be clear will be:

1.  You are not any specific thing that you are aware of (including the body-mind) but you are Awareness Itself.

2.  You are effortlessly “Aware” 24/7 and you do not have to “do” a thing to be “Aware.”

3.  Remember not to mis-identify yourself with a contracted body-mind, a thing that you perceive.

4.  Do not be judgmental with your likes and dislikes about things as they happen because you are not any specific thing/event/situation/experience happening but you are the “Whole.”

5.  In fact any desire to alter/change/modify a situation seeking a specific experience is ‘suffering’ because you are identifying yourself as a distinct person aloof from the object which is being experienced. When the Oneness of the experiencer and the experienced object is understood, the holistic ‘experiencing’ only remains without multiplicity. And that is Non-duality.

6.  Because we have lived with a mind that is habituated to differentiate a ‘me’ here and a ‘world’ out there for so many years, the mind keeps coming back to its old ways and veils the true Oneness that I Am. If it happens so, we have to gently remind ourselves who we truly are by surrounding ourselves with all such ‘aid memoirs’ that can bring us back to Oneness. There is no shortcut nor a bypass. Perseverance is the word rather than being lost in some esoteric and mystic concepts of ‘prArabdha’ etc. until the mind abides naturally and effortlessly in Oneness.

A (Dennis): In reality, there is only Brahman. In reality, there is nothing more to say.

At the empirical level, there is the individual ‘I’, which is a reflection of Brahman (for the sake of talking about it). The individual ‘I’ experiences and has thoughts and feelings. In this respect, it is meaningless to differentiate between “awareness of Brahman” and “simply I AM” – both are the individual mind thinking/feeling/experiencing. Any differences between what you perceive as being these two states is not of any relevance. There is no ‘progress’ here.

What do you mean by ‘progress’, anyway? You were always Brahman and always will be. All you can say is that once you did not realize this and then (hopefully) you did (or will). The only meaningful ‘progress’ is the removal of Self-ignorance. Afterwards thoughts, feelings and experiencing continue as before; the difference is that you now know that you are Brahman irrespective of the nature of those thoughts etc. There is no attachment or threat in any of them because you know that they cannot touch you.

The deep sleep state is what it is, for the enlightened and unenlightened alike. It is rest for body and mind. Mind being resolved, there is no experience or awareness for anyone. On awakening, the individual continues in his or her state of Self-ignorance or Self-knowledge. There is nothing to be done here. All that has to be done is to purify the mind and gain Self-knowledge!

What the Mandukya Upanishad calls ‘the fourth’ (turIya) is not a state. It is the non-dual reality itself. Upon enlightenment, we know that who-we-really-are does not act. Consequently, no further karma is accrued. Because the prArabdha karma is that which brought about this (apparent) embodiment, it continues to play out until the body dies. This is so regardless of whether one is enlightened or not.

So there is no ‘fourth state’, nothing to be practiced and no skills. Simply purify the mind as per sAdhana chatuShTaya sampatti and then gain Self-knowledge through listening to the scriptures unfolded by a qualified teacher.

31 thoughts on “Enjoying Being Brahman – Q. 324

  1. Dennis – Some observations on your statement: “The deep sleep state is what it is, for the enlightened and unenlightened alike. It is rest for body and mind. Mind being resolved, there is no experience or awareness for anyone” ..

    The deep sleep state, by the very fact it is a “state”, is also a superimposition on the absolute .. hence exists only in duality. There is no ‘pramanam’ that the deep sleep state is identical in all people. It cannot be.

    It is not correct to say that there is no experience or awareness because the mind is resolved in deep sleep state. It is a universal experience that a dull happiness is enjoyed in deep sleep.Clearly the mind is not required to experience this happiness. Moreover, the mind is an inert entity – it has no capacity of its own, to resolve or manifest itself independently. If the mind resolves in deep sleep state, there is surely a sentient resolver behind that. This sentient resolver is not the attribute-less brahman but brahman modified by a ‘karana shariram’. This sentient resolver is the enjoyer in deep sleep state called ‘pragya’. The ‘pragya’ is disctinct in each jiva.

    • KR – I don’t think we disagree essentially; we are just maybe being pedantic in different ways! Of course, I agree that the deep sleep state is only meaningful in duality but I would say that the person cannot have ‘experience’ or ‘awareness’ in the sense that is usually meant without a mind. Consciousness is there, certainly (how could it not be since that is all there is?) But ‘awareness’ is by virtue of Consciousness reflected in the mind. Since the mind is resolved, there is no reflection and therefore no awareness. Each person has a causal body – praj~nA, the ‘deep-sleeper’ I – but there is no ‘experiencer’ in the sense of objective awareness, only ‘pure Consciousness’ (otherwise known as Anandamaya kosha).

      Therefore, regarding the sense of my original answer, I still maintain that the deep sleep state is effectively the same for all. Yes the deep sleepER is different but what is being ‘experienced’ – unqualified consciousness/bliss or whatever you want to call it – is the same.

      • Dennis –

        Indeed. We do recognize the limitation of worldly language in describing/talking about the non-dual atman.

        If ‘..the deep sleep state is effectively the same for all’, should we also have to say that the waking state is also ‘effectively’ the same for all ? Any experience, objective or otherwise, is ‘essentially’ experience ‘of’, ‘by’ brahman only .. there being no second Existence / Consciousness principle.

        Kind regards.

        • No. We cannot say that the waking state (or dream state) is ‘effectively’ the same for all, because in these states the mind is not resolved. The sensory inputs and interpretations are different for each person.

          Yes, all experiences are of/by brahman, since there is only brahman. The point is, though, that the minds of aj~nAnI’s do not appreciate this. The reflected consciousness of each is different. (Metaphor – red water gives red reflection; dirty water poor reflection etc.)

          Best wishes,
          Dennis

          • Let us rewind a bit. We said all states are super-impositions on brahman. From a layman’s point of view there are three clearly recognized states of the jiva .. waking, dream and deep sleep. Hence we speak of the ‘turia = fourth’ – the substratum which is identical in all three states. We say all these three states are ‘mithya’ and are dependent upon the real ‘adhishtanam / substratum’ for their existence. There can be no superimposition without a substratum.

            So, the deep sleep state is NOT of the same order of reality as brahman. If we agree on this, then we can see there is no particular reason to give the deep sleep state a superior status over the waking state.. except possibly as a useful example in understanding the nature of brahman. We should not confuse the example with the object of the example (drishtantha & darshtantha).

            There are points of view in advaita that the deep sleep, dream and waking states are of mutally different orders of reality – because the experiences in each of these states is limited to that state alone and are not to be found in the other two. The presence or absence of the mind / body / world etc may cause these differences, but they are all identical in that they are ‘mithya’.

            When I said the waking state is essentially the same as the deep sleep state, I meant that they are both ‘mithya’ i.e. essentially brahman .. with different name and form.

            Dennis, I think we can agree on this. If you see any divergence from this, I would much appreciate if you would please explain that point of view.

            Continuing on a related topic. Upon waking up from sleep, there is a recollection of the experience had in sleep ‘I slept soundly. I did not know a thing’. Note: only a recollection. Sleep is not re-experienced. Deep sleep state is defined as the state in which the mind is resolved. However, no experience is at all possible without the three-fold ‘triputi’ subject-instrument-action. Because deep sleep is in fact experienced (else there cannot be a recollection upon waking up) it is clear that there is a ‘triputi’ in deep sleep state also .. and that there can be a continuous experience of happiness in deep sleep without a mind. A ‘triputi-conditioned’ deep sleep experience cannot be identical in all sleeping individuals.

            Regards
            KR

  2. It is not possible to know that all experiences are of/by Brahman, or if even Brahman exists. These are philosophical concepts/beliefs that are not actually experienced by most of us but are posited as some sort of Ultimate Truth. During deep sleep, these are non-issues and only arise with Consciousness and its mental states.

    Going back to the original question of deep sleep being the same for all or not, my question to both of you is who is it the same or not for in both your cases? If you are talking about being the same for your mind and the supposed ‘you’ that we tell ourselves exists, it would be a meaningless statement having no bearing on anything.

    If you are asking if the deep sleep state is the same process for all or not regardless of the content of your minds and the person that each of us believes to be, both mind and person are in a suspended state. What is left then? Is there anything there that can be called Atman, Brahman, or any other name that you give it? Any description that you come up with will be colored by your own background and interpretation of what you ‘think’ is real. And ultimately, the deep sleep state is a state of mind/experience without the story of ‘you’ and all the psychology that goes into creating ourselves. Without the body, none of it happens.

    Having a picture of all this in your minds is not the same thing as ‘knowing’ it. And knowing it is not the same thing as being clear about some picture in your mind. Seems like more entertainment to keep the mind from taking a holiday. 🙂

  3. Dear KR,

    Interesting! I do agree with all that you say in the beginning. Where we diverge is regarding tripuTI and ‘experience’. I would say that the reason we ‘recollect’ that we slept well is that Consciousness was present throughout and the recollection in the waking state is that ‘I did not experience anything’. This is because the mind was resolved and there was only the bare subject Consciousness, without experience or experienced object. This Consciousness cannot be the reflected chidAbhAsa because there is no mind present to do the reflecting. Hence the ‘experience’ of the deep sleep state must be the same. There is no tripuTI. But I do agree that the causal bodies of jIva-s are not identical. So I also agree that this appears to present something of a conundrum!

    I would like to invite Peter’s (and through him maybe Swamini Atmaprakasananda’s) input.

    Best wishes,
    Dennis

      • Dear Ramesam,

        Thanks for that. I nearly mentioned in a recent reply that I had had a discussion with Francis Lucille on this topic over 15 years ago and that my conclusion was that the ‘Direct Path’ explanation of deep sleep did not tally with that of traditional Advaita. Having just re-read your reference, I have to say that this view has not changed! As KR pointed out, the ‘experiencer’ of the deep sleep state cannot be brahman. Apart from the fact that brahman cannot experience (since there are not two things from the pAramArthika standpoint), the praj~nA or causal body of each person has to be different. It it weren’t, we could not guarantee to wake up as the same person who went to sleep.

        Best wishes,
        Dennis

        • Dear Dennis,

          Your comment of 21 Oct 2012 (and those of KR) can be, as I understand, summarized to two questions:

          1. Traditional Advaita teaching (by this you mean Sankara’s exposition based on Upanishads) does not support the Deep Sleep itself as being Brahman (I am avoiding the use of the words ‘state’ and ‘experience’) and hence cannot be the same for all. Therefore, does not the so called ‘Direct Path’ teaching (by this you mean Atmananda Krishna Menon’s teaching) lack Upanishadic support?
          2. How does one wake up to be the same person that went to sleep?

          I felt that the pictorial representation and explanation on the avastha traya by the two slides (# 50 and 51) at the Powerpoint “Inquiry in Science and Vedanta” I have at my Blog are inadequate to answer your questions. So I probed deeper into ‘Direct Path’ explanation and sought the help of my nephew, a Brahmachari in one of the Ashrams in India.

          I found considerable material at your web site ably edited by you condensing the discussions amongst stalwarts like Dr. Ananda Wood, Dr. Greg Goode, Dr. K. Sadananda, yourself and many others going back to 2002 and 2003. I learnt considerably from these posts.
          And my nephew quoted Ajatasatru – Gargeya discussion from Chandogya (II.I.1-20) and also sent me a beautiful, beautiful book first printed in 1953 (second edition in 1959) written by Swami Iswarananda of Ramakrishna Mission, Trichur. Needless to say that both these references fully support that deep sleep is Brahman experiencing Itself – hence it is the same for all. The Swami’s book quotes many references from Chandogya, Taittiriya, Parsna, Brihadaranyaka Upanishads and Sankara’s commentary there on and also from Brahma Sutra Bhashya in support to say that we “attain to pure existence in deep sleep.” The prajnya and Turiya as expounded in Mandukya are explained to be the same.

          Of course, there is no allusion to ‘Direct Path’ method in the above references, but it is clear that Sankara too supported the contention that deep sleep is pure existence.

          These references considerably augment what Dr. Wood and others presented in their 2003 write ups and sets aside your first objection that Sankara’s teaching differs from the so called Direct Path understanding.

          Coming to the second question on carrying a memory, the reply is closely linked to answering the question on Creation itself. There is a long discourse that takes place between Lord Shiva and Sage Vasishta extending to several cantos on the subject of Shiva Manasa Puja in the first part of the sixth chapter Nirvana in Yogavaasishta. Shiva explains in this conversation the process of Creation. It goes on like this (Sarga 33, Sloka 20 onwards):

          “The undifferentiated non-dual Brahman, as if looking through a defective eyewear called nescience, sees himself as two. He names one of them as ‘an individual’. Moreover, He forgets His original form to be Supreme Consciousness. Assuming the position of an extraneous individual, He sees the world to be different from Himself. ……………”

          In the way AUM is written and interpreted, the wakeful state (A) is followed by dream state (U) and then comes deep sleep (M). But from Neuroscientific studies, we know this is not the order in which things happen to us. It is more like A MU, MU, MUA…. as I pointed out in an article some 4-5 years ago. The implication is that deep sleep is followed by dream state and not the other way around. Dream world is of manas (mind) by mind.

          In the process of creation explained by Shiva, He also talks of manas originating from deep sleep and subsequently the wakeful body arising from manas.

          How exactly the memory of past actions gets carried in a new creation after each dissolution is never clear in our scriptures beyond surmises. This is because Brahman is “historyless.” Everything is always New and in the Now without memory. Of course, one can build ‘stories’ to explain away things by karma, maya etc. but they are all just that – stories.

          Perhaps, this format of comments is not well suited for this sort of discussions and more in-depth argument. If you and other readers feel still unconvinced that there is scriptural support for the so called “Direct Path” teaching, I urge one should take a look at Swami Iswarananda’s book of about 125 pages. Or brace yourselves for 2-3 articles by me!!!

          I have to quickly add the caveat that I am not biased one way or the other beyond presenting the available factual information.

          regards

  4. The idea of Happiness and an ‘I’ in deep sleep is absent. There is no movement interpreting what it is that is going on during deep sleep. In fact, there is no awareness of anything or any experience or non-experience. There is a point in the emergence from deep sleep when what you call awareness begins to experience a vastness without form which begins to change into the more ‘normal’ experience of the experiencer and the resumption of your ‘story’, your ‘self’, and the interpretation of what happened during deep sleep begins. All this is within the field of the body/mind and all of it is part of your experience. There is nothing you can point to that is ‘left over’, ‘standing apart’, or even presumed to exist. Consciousness and self can never be separated. They are a human condition. What you are can never be known. As Nisargadatta was fond of saying, ‘It is enough to know what you are not. You need not know what you are.’ ‘………there can be no such thing as self-knowledge, for what you are cannot be described except as total negation.’

    All of this is your ‘story’ including all the realizations, explanations, gods, and all the ways of looking at it all. That desire to make sense of it all, to understand it, is also part of this ‘story’, and not its answer. Total negation also cannot be achieved. This is unexplored territory, not in the field of the known.

  5. Unk,

    I think you’re right, this is unexplored territory, not in the field of the known.

    When I awake from sleep I can say “I slept well” or “I slept poorly”. But I can only say that NOW, when I’m “awake”. I’m describing a state/condition NOW. What happened 10 seconds ago, when I was asleep is not known. I’m saying NOW what I feel/believe NOW, when I’m awake.

    I could just as easily say “I feel depressed now”, when, 10 seconds ago I felt
    “good”….these seem to be just passing things on the screen of consciousness
    (and, yes, I know, that is a concept).

    Do I exist in deep sleep? I don’t know. I don’t seem to have the characteristics
    that we include in the idea of “exist” when I’m in deep sleep. Yet, even now, as I’m writing this, I can talk about “deep sleep” and say “I don’t know if I existed then”. Apparently I exist/ed in deep sleep, yet I don’t remember it. Still, I’m writing and thinking and conceptualizing NOW, while awake, about something during the time when I was NOT awake, not NOW.

    It is easy to say and think that I exist always, yet there are times when I’m not aware of that personal existence….maybe consciousness includes both existence and non existence. One implies the other, at least semantically and logically.

    Well , as Ramana asked “Who am I?”

    Maybe the question is unaswerable and we should go have a good Belgian ale
    or a Guinness and an order of fries ( chips, if you’re in GB!!!)

    Best wishes, all!
    SteveS

  6. Cheers!

    But most of the other posters are trying to draw conclusions and make statements that they ‘believe’ in. They are trying to fit it all within their ‘model’ but the model is part of the ‘story’ too. None of this takes you anywhere and also misleads others in asking them to believe in the ‘story’.

    • Dear Unknower,
      May I suggest a small “thought experiment”?

      Suppose you are the top man In-Charge of Public Water Supply. All the waterlines are damaged and a whole section of the city is parched, children getting dehydrated and dying desiccated. Or think yourself to be an Oncologist with a long line of patients with serious malignancy. You have a job on hand and you can’t wait for the real final sure-fire solution. What will you do? Tell the dehydrated baby or the cancer victim contorted with pain that all physical bodies any way die finally; there is no truth in any medicine the doctors give – they are all sedating palliatives with no truth. Do you keep reminding the nurse giving an ORT packet to the child or the surgeon administering an analgesic IV to the cancer patient that all gross bodies are mortal and what they are doing is meaningless? Tell them that it is all a story and they will die one day or the other no matter what?

      Please do not misunderstand me that I am trying to play a savior to any one. Perhaps I am playing the doctor and I am myself the patient. I am not telling stories to others.

      Just ‘learning’ what the final Truth is or even a ‘reflection’ on It to the extent that I have no doubt about It will not take me to the final Truth. I am constantly reminding myself about the misidentification of who “I” am and the thousand ways the ‘mind’ keeps playing tricks on me along with a host of co-seekers. We are all in this game – together. A term accepted in Vednata for this constant churning process is “nididhyasana.”

      It is true that all these are stories. Yet the combustion (tapa) in the form of nididhyasana does serve a purpose. Rather than throw up hands helplessly or wait for some transformation to happen with a resigned attitude, don’t you like to pick up that ORT or take that IV with love and compassion?

      • Ramesam,

        I didn’t see your post until now. Your points are completely understandable but the analogy that you are using doesn’t apply quite the same way, IMO. We are talking apples and oranges. We must act as long as we perceive a body/mind. In fact, the involuntary system of our bodies goes on no matter what we think and feel. When we see someone in danger or real need, we respond. But this ‘spiritual search’ and the various models of existence that have been passed down for thousands of years are part of the accumulation of ‘mass memory’. Is it really any different from the ‘story’ we create in this life? Your imagined dilemma is not the same as someone bleeding to death in front of you.

        Are you not trying to play saviour to anyone including yourself? We are all doing that. I am just acknowledging it as one of the ways the mind plays tricks on itself. I never said I was different and I never said I was waiting for a transformation. These are all things we need to deeply observe in ourselves. This is real meditation to me, not imagining what a final Truth might be. As you say, ‘learning’ what the final Truth is, doesn’t take you there. I would even argue that it prevents any real understanding from taking place as it keeps in place the mechanism (thinking) that wants to achieve it but can’t.

        • Thanks Unknower.

          I was sort of vaguely aware that the analogy I gave is not strictly applicable when I wrote the above comment. But I felt the general ‘drift’ would come out, so I Iet it go.

          There is a fine ‘razor’s edge here in what we are discussing, I am sure you are quite aware of. On one hand even the stories we build can be taken in as part of the inevitable ‘happening’ and lump it in the “nothing is excluded in Non-duality” clause; on the other hand there is the danger of Non-duality becoming a new belief structure.

          I would like to end here quoting Rupert: “Meditation is not what we do; Meditation is what we are.”

          regards

  7. Dear Unknown,

    You may certainly carry on posting as long as your comments continue to be well-mannered. But surely the point is that this forum is for the discussion of Advaita. Most visitors come to the site to read about Advaita and ask questions for clarification when they don’t understand. You have made it clear that you do not accept the views of traditional Advaita and have presented your arguments as to why you do not. You do not seem to want to be persuaded otherwise but rather to persuade others of your own views. Any future correspondence along these lines is not really constructive and will only tend to confuse those visitors who want to understand Advaita. Might I suggest that you start your own blog ‘Why the traditional view of Advaita is wrong’ and I can provide a link to it from the main site if you want?

    Best wishes,
    Dennis

  8. Dear Dennis,

    As you probably can surmise, I wish no ill-will to anyone here that wishes to pursue their interest in Advaita. My own point of view is sympathetic to some of the points that traditional Advaita makes, but, yes, you are correct in that I don’t accept many of the traditional views of Advaita. I don’t come here to be convinced or to practice Advaita. I come here to see what people are discussing that claim to be interested in Truth and understanding who or what they may be.

    My question to you would be this. Is it better for you to have a closed forum where only the tenants of Advaita are discussed and no divergent views are considered? Or, is it more helpful overall for any readers of this forum to hear divergent views relative to what Advaita teaches? If the blog is indeed your domain, you have every right to ask me to cease and desist posting here. I will certainly abide by your decision. If the blog is a joint effort and takes in the opinions of other bloggers and viewers in what they want to have happen here, I would be interested to hear what they have to say about this, too. If there is a unanimous shout to go away, I have no problem. There are obviously some very intelligent and sincere people reading this blog and I can see the hard work you put into it, Dennis. Is my questioning really offensive to the viewers here? Please advise as I have no desire to have my own blog and no direction that I seem to be going in. Pranams to you and Ramesam.

    • Dear Unknown,

      I accept your sincerity and respect your views. I would hope that no visitor to this site would find them offensive – that would imply lack of an open mind. And I definitely don’t want it to be a closed forum. It is just that I fear that many seekers less familiar with the tenets of Advaita visit the site and there is a danger that they will think your views are represent the traditional ones. You speak in the spirit of authority rather than inquiry. Perhaps you should simply put in brackets after your posts “these are not necessarily the views of traditional advaita”!

      Maybe if you keep visiting and reading the material you will eventually be persuaded!

      And definitely let us hear the views of the other bloggers.

      Best wishes,
      Dennis

  9. One other point I would like to mention. It is dangerous to make out-of-context statements from mystic sages. KR quoted Nisargadatta: “‘It is enough to know what you are not. You need not know what you are.’ ‘………there can be no such thing as self-knowledge, for what you are cannot be described except as total negation.’”

    Here is another quote from him just published in today’s NDHiglights: “The idea of enlightenment is of utmost importance. Just to know that there is such possibility, changes one’s entire outlook. It acts like a burning match in a heap of saw dust. All the great teachers did nothing else. A spark of truth can burn up a mountain of lies. The opposite is also true. The sun of truth remains hidden behind the cloud of self-identification with the body.”

    Dennis

  10. There is a danger in all of this, Dennis. This is why it is of the utmost importance that all who enquire or are interested not take anyone else’s view as their own. UG as well as others, echo the same sentiment as Nisargadatta that the idea of enlightenment or freedom become the primary interest that burns in you.

    I am only an authority to myself and speak from my own experience. When something doesn’t ring true, I speak up. It may seem hard to understand that I have no motivation other than pointing out the impossibility of understanding any of this stuff with our minds. Yet that is precisely what we do. We weave our own journey through time and space within our little bubble. Once in awhile, one of the bubbles pops. What then? Strange creatures we humans are.

    • Dear Unknower

      You express many things as if they are from your own perspective and you even claim that you are the authority to yourself, but in fact lean heavily for authority on Nisargadatta, UG and others. So how does that make anything you say different in principle from others who draw on the words of śruti? But you repeatedly speak of other seekers in a tone that comes across as disparaging and patronising (see above: “But most of the other posters are trying to draw conclusions and make statements that they ‘believe’ in. They are trying to fit it all within their ‘model’ but the model is part of the ‘story’ too. None of this takes you anywhere and also misleads others in asking them to believe in the ‘story’.”)?

      There is only one kind of valid discussion: where both parties are interested in arriving at the truth of the matter (called vāda). The other types are where one person wants to defeat the other: in a wrangling argument the objective is for one contention to defeat the other; in a pointless argument the idea is to defeat the opponent without having a point of view oneself.

      The ‘fingerprints’ of these latter two types of discussion are generalisation, circumvention and personal attacks on the opponent. In many of your posts there are personal comments like the one above quoted. The personalisation of your response indicates that you are not really interested in the truth of the matter. Your responses also suffer from the defect of circumvention: commenting on the posts of others without addressing the substance. So in that sense have ruled yourself out of the serious discussion.

      That’s your choice. But when you combine your comments with inaccurate or unsupportable statements then you don’t do anyone any favours. Here’s an example from the first three sentences of your first post of this thread above:
      “The idea of Happiness and an ‘I’ in deep sleep is absent. [THIS IS NOT ACCURATE: THE ‘I’ THOUGHT MAY NOT BE THERE AND THAT IS WHY THE ‘HAPPINESS’ THOUGHT THAT IS THERE IS NOT RECOGNISED AS A COGNITION AT THE TIME. THIS IS NOT A BELIEF, IT IS CONSISTENT WITH THE WAKING STATE RECOLLECTION.] There is no movement interpreting what it is that is going on during deep sleep. [YOUR UNEXAMINED ASSUMPTION HERE IS THAT KNOWLEDGE IS ALWAYS ACCOMPANIED BY A MOVEMENT IN MIND. WITHOUT A MOVEMENT IN MIND DURING DEEP SLEEP, THERE CANNOT BE THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE ABSENCE OF THOUGHTS ON WAKING.] In fact, there is no awareness of anything or any experience or non-experience. [HOW THEN CAN YOU HAVE A VIEW ONE WAY OR OTHER ON WAKING?]”

      Those types of inaccuracies are prevalent in a number of your posts. But because of what comes across as your closed mind, they have never seemed worth correcting. Please feel free, however, to keep exposing yourself in these pages. But I urge you to keep all personal comment about others under your hat and attack the argument and not the person.

      And in closing I make one more point: You say ” I don’t come here to be convinced or to practice Advaita. I come here to see what people are discussing that claim to be interested in Truth and understanding who or what they may be.” It will save you a lot of time to know that people on this site will be talking about Advaita of which you have no interest. How long will it take for you to know that and to realise that, as a consequence, you have no interest in anything that the regular posters have to say?

  11. Sometimes discussions like these suffer from the problem that everyone is right from their own perspective. The world is real from a transactional perspective but not from the perspective of consciousness. So too, in the exchange between KR and Dennis, both points-of-view are valid and, to some extent, much to-ing and fro-ing might have been avoided if the definitions were more expansive.

    So, is there experience in the deep sleep state? Yes and no. If there was consciousness only in the deep sleep state then we could not say anything about the state on waking. Yet, if there were thoughts then it wouldn’t be deep sleep – it would be dream. So how do we solve this apparent conundrum?

    First the term ‘experience’ seems to be used in the above exchange with its everyday meaning. Technically, experience is consciousness together with a vṛtti (thought). If vṛtti, the manifesting medium of consciousness, is missing then the experience is as good as non-existent. Why only ‘as good as’? Because, according to Vedānta, nothing that is available for sense perception or thought perception can ever become totally non-existent: it just becomes unmanifest. So yes there is experience in deep sleep, but it is unmanifest. And no there isn’t experience in deep sleep because in the absence of thoughts, for all intents and purposes, it does not exist.

    Also, when we say ‘mind resolves’ in deep sleep we are not strictly accurate. Two thoughts are present in deep sleep: ignorance and happiness, ajṇāna vṛtti and sukha vṛtti. BUT the thought that is needed for any and every perception to be experienced is the ‘I’ thought. That thought is absent in deep sleep and so ignorance cannot take the form ‘I know nothing’ because ‘I’ is not manifest! For the same reason ‘I am happy’ is not possible. (And, for the sake of completeness, it must be acknowledged that another part of the subtle body is active in sleep: the prāṇa-s. If they had been absent we’d not wake!)

    In the sense that the ‘I’ thought has resolved, is the deep sleep said to be analogous to enlightenment. But it is definitely not the ultimate non-duality spoken of in śruti – it passes.

    What about the deep sleep experiences of the jñāni and the ajñāni? When the ‘I’ thought is absent everything is equalised. A pitch black room in a palace is no different from a pitch black room in a slum (as far as seeing is concerned): both being covered in ignorance. Similarly in the pitch black deep sleep state of ignorance there is no difference between the jñānī and the ajñānī. The ‘I’ sense of both of them is unmanifest and, as a consequence, they both share the same ajṇāna vṛtti and sukha vṛtti.

    What about the waking experiences of the jñānī and the ajñānī? The ‘I’ thought gives us our individuality by virtue of its association with different aspects of the gross and subtle world: so because the bodies and prārabdha of every individual are different, each individual ‘I’-sense experience is different when awake. The sense of ‘I’ is even more different between one who believes that ‘I’ is the body-mind-sense complex and one who is clear that ‘I’ is satyam-jñānam-anantam Brahma.

  12. Peter,

    I don’t really see any difference between what you are saying and what I am saying in the sense that at times we both draw upon ‘recognized’ sources for some of our own ideas. In fact, none of our ideas are really our own and the only reason I quote someone here is because I see a common thread running through many of the posters who want some kind of authority to recognize and match their own ideas to. In your case, it is to Advaita that you look for your authority. In my case, I don’t do that but have come across certain individuals that seem to express what I experience very well. I also don’t completely agree with them on all things. How and why could I/should I? In the words of JK, he said ‘what is, is the comparative mind’. For me, this is a statement that can be shattering to the story we invent in ourselves that we call ‘I’. You might ask what is the point I am trying to make? The point is this:There is only the comparative mind and you are not different from it. Everything you know is a reflection within this complex. All continuity of a self, our story, is right there. If there is anything outside of this movement, it is not knowable through our thinking. For me to say it is one thing, but to live it is another. This is why each story has to come to terms with its own creation/creator. All models may help focus the attention on this but it seems to me that most people get caught in the model and don’t really see that it is part of the comparative mind which is responsible for most if not all problems we have.

    In light of what I just said, to discuss the dreamless deep sleep state with you or anyone else, or to say you are right or wrong, is meaningless. If I give you my own experience and you tell me it’s not true, do you want me to tell myself I didn’t have this experience? Anything I say or you say becomes food for the comparative mind and a basis for more thinking. It is pointless to defend anything I say. You seem to think I’m attacking you and your beliefs. I’m only referring in every moment to the comparative mind and how we weave our story. That story seems to survive deep sleep as well as every other state that we experience. There is no getting away from it into God-Consciousness or any other experience we may have. For you and I, this is what is true not an idea or ideal or any other experience we may have. Starting with what is is always appropriate for everyone.

    • Dear Unknower, a small correction to what I said before: this comment of yours on Peter’s comment seems to be your first one where I see/hear you making points to enter a discussion. I appreciate that.

      • Sitara,

        It’s always difficult to know how we come across to others in speech and words. I am really not trying to set myself up as an authority so I try only to speak about my own experience as it relates to some of the subjects put forth. I’ve found very few of the regular viewers and contributors here actually engage me at all. No real discussion has taken place except for a few isolated occurrences. In this thread, Peter’s anger and accusations come across as not discussion but criticism and defensiveness to what I said. He’s not really interested in discussing but TEACHING.

        Maybe Dennis is correct in the sense that this is really not a forum for a free form discussion of differing points of view but one relating to Advaita. My capacity for philosophical discussion has shrunk to all-time low levels for me. Your remark about my repetitiveness is 100% correct mainly due to the importance of seeing the false over and over again. I realize it has little entertainment value even for me and I’m sure it seems boring to those who don’t see it quite the way I do.

        So, with all that to consider, I will decide if I shall continue to post here. It might be better to leave it as it was intended to be, a forum for the discussion of Advaita. Thanks for your input.

        • What a disappointing response to Sitara (after a more measured response to my post) and also very revealing. You characterise me as angry and accusative: that is your experience and I can tell you I am not in the least angry or accusative. You, however, persist in carrying on as if your experience is all that counts and, before checking its validity, you publish your opinion as if it is fact.

          All I did was to challenged some of your statements to open the discussion and this is experienced as ‘teaching’! You are the one who does not seem to be interested in discussion. Instead of responding to the points I’ve made, once more you choose to resort to personal comments.

          I shall return to my original position regarding your posts and let them stand unanswered. As Sitara says: End of story!

  13. Dear Unknower, as one of the bloggers I’d like to say something about your contributions to the site. As far as I am concerned this site is not restricted to traditional Advaita Vedanta but a site that has space for all kinds of approaches, as long as they are trying to understand the non-dual nature of reality.

    Any visitor to the site should be able to distinguish between the bloggers who are all leaning towards traditional Advaita Vedanta and visitors who have their own perspectives. Many of the regular bloggers on this site have explored other approaches to the teaching of advaita (if you read my profile you’ll know that I am one of those). And most have found that the traditional approach answers more questions than other approaches. This they try to present for the general visitor. I suspect that many visitors turn to the site in order to learn more about the traditional perspective. Most are silent visitors, some want to discuss within the framework of Advaita Vedanta, others want to discuss departing from tradition. You could be one of the latter.

    But you are not discussing. Instead you use the site as your forum to spread your message. Dennis put it kindly as ‘You speak in the spirit of authority rather than inquiry.’ Nothing wrong with that but this is why Dennis’ suggestion for you to open your own blog somewhere else is quite reasonable. (His offer to put a link to a blog titled ‘Why the traditional view of Advaita is wrong’ onto this site reflects the basic openness of Advaita vision to other viewpoints.)

    You said ‚It may seem hard to understand that I have no motivation other than pointing out the impossibility of understanding any of this stuff with our minds.’ In fact it is not hard to understand at all. It is just a bit tiring. You come to the site with this one and only message which you go on repeating in every one of your comments. This is not really what this site is meant for.

    For myself I have decided to just glance over your posts (still hoping to find something other than this one viewpoint) and not reply anymore. I have understood your position, I respect it but I don’t agree. End of story.

  14. I have read the above discussions with interest. It seems the enquiries are in the domain of spiritual curiosity (see Swami Sivanandaji on this topic). Let me share my experiences with you.
    True spirituality is earned with one’s utmost effort not casual questioning. And the greatest teacher for every seeker is he himself. If we are true to ourselves we must succeed at getting all problems solved. The mind is that great teacher. Wherever, whenever and whatever may be our obstacles if we are truthful to our souls we must overcome those obstacles. We must have the persistence of a tiny ant!
    Instead of going here and there go to Maharshi Ramana for all your doubt clearances. And finally we are not only Brahman but the only Brahman. Study Yoga Vasistha sincerely with Sadhan Chatusthaya. You will not doubt.

  15. Dear Unknower

    My response, as a Blogger in this forum, is given in 2 parts.

    Part 1 – My answer to your original post.
    Q1 – “Ahaṁ brahma asmi – I am Brahman” is the complete understanding. “I Am” is incomplete, since it only indicates sat – existence, and cit – consciousness. It is incomplete in the sense that it misses one key dimension, viz, ananta – endless, boundless, all pervasive. Moving from “I am Brahman” to “I Am” is not progress, but regress. Further, both these are matters for understanding and have nothing to do with the presence or absence of thought. Also, it is not “a state”. It is “the one and only reality” which is in and through all other states.
    Q2 – Sleep is within the Physical Order of reality of Īśvara, so there is nothing wrong in sleeping. There is nowhere in the śāstra wherein it prescribes overcoming sleep as a step in self-realization.
    Q3 – A jīvanmukta lives in the understanding that turīya is the only reality, and lives in that awareness during the waking state.
    Q4 – People are either realized or unrealized; there is no in-between class called “realized but unpracticed”; because there is nothing to practice. Also, letting things happen is not the way of realized people. People are impelled into action either out of svecchā, (own desires/voluntary), anyecchā, (for the sake of fulfilling others desires), or anicchā, (involuntary, such as breathing etc). In the case of the realized, it is all either anyecchā or anicchā. They do what is to be done, until their prārabhdhā is exhausted.

    Part 2 – My feedback on your query to the Bloggers on being part of this blog: I think the decision whether to post or not should be yours and yours only. All I can do is to help you in that decision, which is what I have done below.

    From my reading of your posts, it appears that you do not have prāmāṇya buddhih in śāstram, as the only means of self-knowledge. You have stated that the bloggers quote from Śāstram to support our own views. In fact, it is the opposite. In my understanding, the settled view is that Śāstram is indeed the ONLY authority in the matter of self-knowledge and hence I quote from there; and I quote so that I avoid, even inadvertently, saying ‘our/my opinion/view’.

    Since the time even before Śankarācāryā, there have always been two schools of thoughts: Āstika Darśanās (those that accept śāstram as a pramāṇam) and Nāstika Darśanas (those that do not accept śāstram as pramāṇam). These two schools run as parallel rails, always together, but never meet. They can never meet because of the basic difference.

    I now give my position on whether you should post your comments/queries in this forum or not. If you accept śāstram as a pramāṇam, then your posts will be contributing to the forum. If you do not accept śāstram as a pramāṇam, then your posts will constantly cause conflicts. Śāstram denotes the Upaniṣads, Bhagavad Gītā, Brahma Sūtras, Śankara Bhāṣya and the Prakaraṇa Granthās by Acāryās of Advaita Order. To me, statements of acclaimed/proclaimed Brahmaniṣṭās such as Nisargadatta Maharaj, Ramana Maharishi, JK or any such individual, are acceptable only to the extent they are supportive to śāstram; I treat them as secondary authority. Please read my recent post on “Guru” to know more on my view regarding this.

    Now, you need to state your position as to whether or not you accept Śāstram as a pramāṇam, and accordingly decide whether to be part of this forum or not. If you ask me, I will always say your views are welcome. But then, if your position is indeed that you do not accept Śāstram as a pramāṇam, then your posts in this forum will serve no useful purpose to either of us. Therefore, the decision is yours.

    Note that the above is my own view. The site policy is somewhat different. The site has always been aimed principally at Western seekers, regardless of their background. All visitors who are sincere are welcome. The site contains material from all branches, from the strictest traditional to the most radical neo-Advaita. We tend to promote traditional Advaita because we know that it works. It is not a requirement that anyone has prior knowledge of the shAstra.

    Praṇams

    Śuka

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