Tattvabodha – Part 15

Part 15 of the commentary by Dr. VIshnu Bapat on Shankara’s Tattvabodha.This is a key work which introduces all of the key concepts of Advaita in a systematic manner.

The commentary is based upon those by several other authors, together with the audio lectures of Swami Paramarthananda. It includes word-by-word breakdown of the Sanskrit shloka-s so should be of interest to everyone, from complete beginners to advanced students.

Part 15 continues to look at the metaphor of the five sheaths, from the Taittiriya Upanishad. This part explains the bliss sheath and then goes beyond the sheaths to examine the nature of the Self – Atman.

There is a hyperlinked Contents List, which is updated as each new part is published.

The Play of Life

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Lets look at the play of the universe. Pauli’s exclusion principle, fundamental to quantum mechanics, basically states that two electrons can never occupy the same space at the same time. As all matter in the universe contains electrons, it means that what we call life (including the play of the lifeless) is nothing but an ever-whirling dance: a dance of electrons in which there are no clashes. If you rub your hands together, the heat indicates that electrons have been displaced and thus every electron in the whole universe will need to adjust position to accommodate the displaced electrons. With every displaced electron, other electrons move in to take their places which necessitates yet other electrons move in to fill their deserted positions and in this way every electron in the universe changes position. Infinitely, eternally. Continue reading

Understanding the Mind

A mind is the complex of cognitive faculties that enables consciousness, thinking, reasoning, perception, and judgement — a characteristic of human beings, but which also may apply to other life forms. (Wikipedia)

(in a human or other conscious being) the element, part, substance, or process that reasons, thinks, feels, wills, perceives, judges, etc.: the processes of the human mind. 2. Psychology. the totality of conscious and unconscious mental processes and activities. 3. intellect or understanding, as distinguished from the faculties of feeling and willing; intelligence. (Dictionary.com)

It is generally agreed that mind is that which enables a being to have subjective awareness and intentionality towards their environment, to perceive and respond to stimuli with some kind of agency, and to have a consciousness, including thinking and feeling. (Wikipedia)

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Advaita vedanta is frequently criticized by Western advaitins for its intellectual approach. Many things can be said about this but I would like to clarify here what Advaita Vedanta means by mind.

In the West quite a number of functions are subsumed under this one term ‘mind’. From the point of view of vedanta the above definitions are a bit of a mumbo jumbo. Two flaws in particular need to be pointed out. The first is to do with the use of the word ’consciousness’. Whereas Wikipedia says mind enables consciousness, vedanta states the opposite: consciousness enables mind. The other flaw is that there is no differentiation between all the various functions listed: ‘thinking, reasoning, perception, and judgement ‘.

I would like to take up this latter point here. Continue reading