Q.400 – Consciousness and the person

A few questions or clarifications please…

  1. As you’ve said to me before, to focus on this world and everything within it, is really the wrong focus, because it’s mithyA. And what we really are, is that in which all of it occurs?
  2. Am I correct in saying that Vedanta is truly a specific system or process to know who you really are as well as understanding the functioning of everything?
  3. So the elements or energy is not who we are since they are dependent on Consciousness. As Nisargadatta said, “without Consciousness nothing is”.
  4. To gain self-knowledge however, there must be a body with a nervous system. So the body does matter in relation to self-knowledge? But, consciousness doesn’t care whether it’s manifested or not?
  5. Words cause confusion, so what is the difference between Consciousness and Awareness from your understanding?
  6. The mind is discussed a lot, and many say that to have ‘no mind’ is the key to peace and freedom. Is the mind a part of the brain or something entirely different?
  7. Upon gaining self-knowledge, does the mind continue or fade away if you will, leaving the brain to function in its normal and natural way without the mind blocking it?

A (Dennis):

  1. You are not the body-mind; you are Consciousness. There is only Consciousness in reality; the ‘rest’ is just appearance and mistaken interpretation.
  2. Advaita is a teaching methodology to bring you to this realization.
  3. Elements, energy etc are only name and form of Consciousness.
  4. In reality, there is only Consciousness. From the perspective of the person, there is a body-mind. The realization that there is only Consciousness has to take place in the mind of the person in order for the person to realize that ‘All there is is Consciousness’.
  5. You can define words how you like. As long as you do this, there need not be any confusion. The way I use these terms is that Consciousness (capital ‘C’) is the reality (better called ‘Brahman’ to avoid confusion); and ‘awareness’ (capital or not) and ‘consciousness’ (small ‘c’) refer to the person’s perceiving/conceiving ability.
  6. The ‘person’ requires a mind in order to function in the world. This applies whether the person has Self-knowledge or not.
  7. It is likely (though not necessary) that the mind of someone with Self-knowledge will be less prone to disturbance by desire/fear etc.

2 thoughts on “Q.400 – Consciousness and the person

  1. Congratulations to the Questioner for raising very important doubts a seeker normally does not realize they subiminally exist and usually glosses over them being lost in the captivating flow of the high sounding and mesmerizing words of a teacher.

    Hearty Congrats to Dennis for very precise and pointed answers without mincing words.

    I am not trying to be an Advaita police. Nevertheless, I suggest a slight tweaking in a couple of lines in the answers to two questions (hope the Questioner does not feel that the suggested answers are too complicated):

    Answwer # 4:

    Instead of:
    The realization that there is only Consciousness has to take place in the mind of the person in order for the person to realize that ‘All there is is Consciousness.’

    How about:
    The realization that there is only Consciousness will take place in the mind of the person in order for the person to realize that ‘All there is is Consciousness’ as and when Consciousness Itself begins the implosion.

    Answer # 6:

    Instead of:
    The ‘person’ requires a mind in order to function in the world. This applies whether the person has Self-knowledge or not.

    How about:

    The ‘person’ is the mind and in order to function in the world the mind ‘imagines’ a body. The Infinite Self, when It gets contracted (limited), it is called the mind and It then loses its peace and freedom. Self-realization is the ‘mind’ losing its sense of limitedness and attaining Its natural quality of Peace and freedom.
    Mind’s footprint does appear in the body and the brain which are, after all its creatures.

    regards,

  2. Thanks for those comments, Ramesam. I have no doubt that the answers can be improved upon. However, my aim is always to avoid potential confusion in my answers and I fell maybe your alternatives do this.

    “…as and when Consciousness Itself begins the implosion.” I know what you mean, but of course you will acknowledge that Consciousness never ‘does’ anything in reality.

    “…the mind ‘imagines’ a body.” This is getting involved in Berkeleyian idealism and I don’t think it is helpful to go there!

    “The Infinite Self, when It gets contracted (limited), it is called the mind and It then loses its peace and freedom.” Again, you will acknowledge that the Self cannot gain or lose anything in reality and is never limited in any way.

    I suppose that anthropomorphic explanations may be helpful to some people and, since they are all apavAda’d in the end anyway, it doesn’t really matter, but I always strive to minimise the risk by keeping things simple!

    Best wishes,

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