Q. 418 – When enlightenment occurs

Q: “You cannot experience brahman. But everything you experience is brahman (since brahman is all there is).”

1. Are both assertions true?

2. My understanding (based on both being true) is that you cannot experience brahman directly, but you are always experiencing it indirectly via vyavahara/mithya objects. Very much like Plato’s cave and Kant’s phenomena/numina, you experience shadows/phenomena … not the dinge-an-sich/numina which casts the shadows. 

My Advaita is rusty (shoving vyavahara and mithya together into vyavahara/mithya is probably not kosher) … but is the gist of my understanding right?

A (Dennis): That’s pretty much all correct! Interchanging vyavahAra and mithyA is fine as long as you know what you are doing. But you do have to know what you are doing. After all, brahman is not an experiencer either, and yet you are brahman! The main thing to remember is not to mix vyavahAra and paramArtha in your thinking/discussion.

Of course, this thinking does all relate to vyavahAra – a world with separate people. The reality is that there are neither.

It doesn’t matter if your recollection of the teaching gets rusty. Once you fully understand it, you can work out your own ‘explanations’. And it sounds as though your understanding is pretty good!

Q: A student of James Swartz posted this:

Self realization happens when pure awareness reflects upon the subtle body (which is reflective, like a mirror), in a clear, still mind. Then there is the thought of limitlessness/oneness. There is the apprehension that this is what you truly are in the intellect, which is the discriminating aspect of the mind. When this knowledge is assimilated fully in every aspect of one’s life, the Jiva/person gains Moksha..which is the fruit of this knowledge.

I had never heard of this account of how self realization occurs. Does it jibe with your understanding?

A: To be pedantically correct, the jIva/person never gains mokSha because there is no person. Atman is ever free. True ‘liberation’ is when this already-existent fact is realized. But this is the final truth/understanding. What you say could be taken as interim understanding for the person (ahaMkAra) that is looking for a personal mokSha.

Q: So you would say this (the bolded part especially) is correct?:

Self realization happens when pure awareness reflects upon the subtle body (which is reflective, like a mirror), in a clear, still mind. Then there is the thought of limitlessness/oneness. There is the apprehension that this is what you truly are in the intellect, which is the discriminating aspect of the mind.

Is the bolded part what always happens with self realization … like knowing brahman=atman always happens with self knowledge? In other words, if someone were to ask you, how does self realization happen … would it be your answer also?

A: My answer is that Self-realization occurs when Self-ignorance is removed by Self-knowledge. All the stuff about reflection in subtle body is adhyAropa-apavAda. i.e. if it helps get you there, fine, but then you drop it completely.

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