When we analysed the world of objects in the waking state we came to the understanding that our experience of the variety of objects is due to the variety of corresponding mental impressions (covered in Part 2 of this series). If there isn’t a mental impression ‘this is a pot’ then, despite fully-functioning senses, the pot will be as good as non-existent. The perception of ‘is-ness’ is the single, unchanging common thread in all our worldly experiences. This perception is given the name, ‘consciousness’.
When we analysed our dream state experience we realised that the same observation holds true for the dream universe as for the universe we encounter when awake. This experience gives an added dimension to our understanding of consciousness: not only is it the one, unchanging basis of the varied, changing objects (gross and subtle), but now we see that it is also continuous through the changing states of experience. The ‘I’ that is awake is the same ‘I’ that dreamt: ‘I am awake, I had a dream’. Continue reading →
In the first part of this enquiry we saw how, by discriminating between the seer and what’s seen, we arrive at the understanding that ‘I’, the seer, am not the body, not the sense powers, not the thinking faculty, not even a combination of all of them. They are all objects of my perception and I am the perceiving subject. And I, the subject, cannot be what I can perceive as an object. In this logical way we arrived, step-by-step, at a final ‘knower’, which is given the name ‘pure consciousness’. This pure consciousness is what remains after thoughts, (which are the subtlest objects of perception), have been dismissed as the ultimate ‘I’. We know there’s something there but it is still a bit hazy. We now need to test the robustness of our new working conclusion that this ‘pure consciousness’ is the ‘I’ we are searching for and sharpen the understanding.
For this we need to understand the nature of consciousness and its relationship, if any, with ‘I’. A question might arise at this point: If ‘I’ is the pure consciousness that remains in the absence of vṛtti-s (thoughts), and no cognition is possible without vṛtti-s, then how can I ever know what I am? How do we go further with this enquiry if there are no thoughts? Continue reading →
Q: There are moments when I think I am the one that is creating my world with my specific positive thoughts – is that true?
Or is it the concsiouness bringing me those positive thoughts or negative thoughts? I know that I don’t have to ask for anything because in that way there is an infinite possibility of something fresh and new and totally different.
How do I pray? In silence only doing meditation?
A (Sitara): Yes, it is true. Your experiences (positive as well as negative ones) are constructs of your mind. The question is, what do you do with this information?
It seems that all of your questions are about, how to get a different life. For that you would like to know the mechanism of what in New Age (or Yoga, magic etc.) is called materialization of things, events, persons etc. Continue reading →
So how do we know how Brahman is? The teacher says that each object of experience has 5 aspects: asti, bhāti, priyam, rūpam, nāma. Asti = ‘is’. You know the meaning of the word ‘cat’, but not pay attention to the meaning of the word ‘is’, which means ‘isness’, which means ‘existence’. When you say ‘cat is’ you mean that the existence of the cat is. Any object of experience you can name is.
Existence is the intrinsic nature of Brahman, the Reality. In what form is Brahman? Continue reading →
Spiritual seekers who aim to go beyond duality often fancy that, at the end of the journey, they are going to experience reality altogether differently. That’s right and wrong at the same time.
Even before, there are many situations that allow us to experience non-duality, which is in and through everything. Reality being non-dual, it would be quite surprising if non-duality was untraceable up to the time of enlightenment. So even unenlightened mortals experience non-duality plenty of times throughout their day. Indeed we interpret the experience wrongly. What happens with enlightenment or awakening, is that this wrong interpretation, based on ignorance, is dropped. This means that all those possible non-dual experiences are recognised for what they essentially are: non-duality itself. Continue reading →
Q: I understand the advaita vedanta teaching – that we are what is perceiving, the consciousness in which the world, including our body-minds, appear. And that it is mAyA that makes us think we are a separate self. I can see this as one logical explanation of our experience. As many teachers say, there is nothing in our experience that can prove to us that there is a “real” world out there, since everything has to arise in consciousness.
It seems to me that an alternative, plausible explanation of our experience, is that there is a world which this body-mind experiences. However, even in this model, it is clear to me that there is no separation – that everything is inter-dependent, and that we are simply conditioned beings, programmed by our genetics and environment, and under the illusion that we are somehow separate from the world. But the truth is that we are just chemicals / molecules / energy quanta, the essence of which is the same in all things. As Krishnamurti used to say, you are the world and the world is you. This also seems to be more in line with the Buddhist emptiness / dependent origination explanations.
So the question is, do you find one model of reality more “provable” / plausible above the other? I presume you will say the advaita model, but why not the above alternative model I sketched out? I know that both end up at similar conclusions – that the ego is illusory and there is no separation, but it would be interesting to know if one is “truer” than the other. Continue reading →
Q: As I understand, the sense of “I” (distinguished from the ultimate I/Self) is the source of “ignorance”. “Ignorance” leads to “the fear”, which inspires us to attempt to find “enlightenment”. The attempt to find “enlightenment” is the delusion that there is something to gain. The teachings tell us that “enlightenment” is the nature of existence. What needs to happen is the destruction/removal of ignorance, rather than the acquisition of anything. I already feel as if I have approached the “screen” upon which phenomenon occurs. By practicing “neti neti”, I attempt to see what always is, which is a temporary attempt to disregard things that can be seen. Once this happens, there is the inference of blankness/darkness/all-inclusiveness/voidness. And once this practice of “neti neti” is over, I begin to see things come of themselves, from little sparks … flakes of concepts … to their blooming as a climax of a concept. The climax wanes and the concept disappears of itself just as it arose.
A short time after this attempt at enquiry, the ease I had with reality fades. The sense that reality is not okay begins to gradually return. It feels as if I missed something from this experience. At other times, I feel as if perhaps this effort is part of the problem. Maybe the enquiry is meant to be a last ditch attempt to notice the fallacy of trying to do something, or even the attempt to try to do nothing.
Is this the realization? That effort is resistance? That surrender to this fact is the ultimate motion?
How does it happen that one can know “in the mind” that one is free, and yet continue to fall back into the conundrum of no longer feeling this freedom? Moments of complete freedom … knowing that it’s not my business to “do” life, not even to attempt to not “do” life … and yet slowly fall back into the habit? Continue reading →
Ānanda is of two types): ātmā ānanda and koṣa ānanda (we will retain the word ānanda without translation because it loses its expressiveness in translation). We need to understand the difference between these two types of ānanda before entering into the enquiry.
Ātmā ānanda means fullness – the very nature of one’s own self. Every individual’s intrinsic nature (svarūpam) is ānanda. Vedānta says: you are happiness, because you are fullness. Just as heat is the intrinsic, inseparable property of fire, so too happiness or fullness is the real nature of the individual. Continue reading →
Here are a few more short Q & A’s which do not merit a separate post of their own: (Dennis’ answers, so don’t blame any of the other bloggers!)
Q: Nisargadatta says : Delve deeply into the sense ‘I am’ and you surely discover that the perceiving centre is universal, as universal as the light that illumines the world. All that happens in the universe happens to you, the silent witness. On the other hand, whatever is done, is done by you, the universal and inexhaustible energy.
My question in two parts:
1. If my awareness is the absolute one and there is no other – then yours does not exist?
2. If they both exist as the Absolute but are separately perceived by two minds why am I not aware of your experience as well as my own?
So far as I can see, without reliance on solipsism, non-duality/Vedanta must posit a reality where the Absolute is being “dipped into” by separate minds? Continue reading →
As long as I believe in the absolute reality of the things around me, as long as I believe in the absolute reality of the body-mind amalgam, and further, as long as I believe that the body-mind amalgam is Me, I will be insecure and unhappy. Why? Because, if the world is real and this body-mind amalgam is real then threat and danger surround me: the treat may be to my life and wellbeing but, more often than not, my fragile ego is vulnerable to outside events and circumstances.
There is always someone richer or cleverer or wiser or more beautiful or more influential than me. In their presence I am unworthy and powerless. Poor unworthy me could lose all my friends to more attractive people, to cleverer people or to richer or more powerful people. I live my life dreading the moment that I will be found out to be a fraud or lose my job. Deep down I believe I am unlovable and that I will end my days sad and lonely. My fragile body-mind amalgam is not really up to the onslaught from the more powerful forces of the universe. I am not good enough to gain all the security I need to cushion myself from ‘the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune’ (as Shakespeare’s Hamlet puts it). My life (or the life of loved ones) can be wiped out in an instant by a monster wave or powerful wind or fire or earthquake, or a drunk behind the wheel of a car or a mugger or a mentally deranged person or by a tiny bug invisible to the naked eye. And even if the threat doesn’t come from outside, my very own biology can suddenly conspire to pack up: cancer, dementia, palsy, blindness, deafness, a blockage in the artery, stroke. Continue reading →