Overview of Western Philosophy – Part 18

Note that this is the Concluding part

(Read Part 17 of the series.)

Nowadays, there are still large numbers of people who, even if they do not entirely accept all of the claims made by their religion and no longer recognize it as an authority for their everyday behavior, nevertheless pay lip service. And sentiments such as ‘love thy neighbor as thyself’ do seem to contain great wisdom, finding a balance between the two extremes given above.

But with all of our values no longer ‘supplied’ by religion, people have been forced to develop them for themselves. In the absence of expert guidance, the principal influence now tends to be the media and we have such ridiculous situations as the cinema’s cult of the anti-hero. It is now normal for films to conclude with the thief in some luxurious setting surrounded by money and women and no sign whatsoever of justice or retribution. It is acceptable for the individual to triumph over the perceived constraints of society, including its laws. And it is far more usual for the governments, police and similar bodies to be portrayed as corrupt, with ‘hidden agendas’ and secret conspiracies against you and me. And we have been brainwashed into cynically believing this to be normal.  Continue reading

Time Does Not Exist

Truth will set you free: Time Does Not Exist by Hans Meijer

Why time does not exist

When we ask ourselves why we think time exists, most of us would say: because we see everything changing, always. And so it is: everything in and around us is constantly changing, from beginning until the end.

The question however is: is the reason for this perpetual change to be found outside the changing subject (caused by a phenomena called time) or is all change coming from inside the changing subject itself?

I don’t think that it is hard to see that the latter is correct. That which makes things change (the cycle of life) to a flower, a human being or an animal is set by the characteristics of that particular life’s form and not by an outer cause such as time. What we call ‘time’ is just a method for measuring the ‘perpetual change’.

Because of our need to measure this perpetual change we decided to divide the ‘cyclic changes’ such as seasons and day and night, into months, twenty-four hours, minutes etc. These well-known changes are caused by the ever-moving planetary positions within our solar system and not because there exists such a thing as ‘time’.

So, there are no minutes, but we decided that after counting 60 (seconds) we say that a minute has passed. Based on minutes we calculate hours, days, months, years, centuries etc.

In this way we can count the number of heartbeats per minute, years from birth to death and we even can calculate the number of years from the Big Bang until today.

But we also say: ‘it seems as if time has stood still (in that old village), nothing has changed`.

Actually there is only NOW – in which all that is manifested appeared, changes and disappears. Continue reading

Belief – a dangerous thing

Belief can be a dangerous thing, as Galileo discovered to his dismay early in the 17th century, when he was denounced to the Inquisition because of his claim that the earth went around the sun and not vice versa. Unfortunately for him, the Catholic Church was committed to the opposite belief so he never stood a chance. Nowadays, of course, we know better and happily acknowledge that Galileo was correct, despite the fact that everyone still talks about sunrise and sunset!

(Incidentally, this is a frequently encountered metaphor for the change that occurs upon self-realization. Just as we recognize the truth of heliocentricity, yet still talk as if the Sun revolved around the Earth, so the realized man still acts as though he lives in a dualistic world, even though he now knows that everything is Brahman.)

Belief is so often treated by the believer as if it were true knowledge, instead of simply a strongly (and often wrongly!) held opinion. We really ought to know better, given the history of such mistaken, scientific views as the theories of phlogiston and ether. If the most brilliant scientists can be wrong, so can we! Continue reading

Mithya, Mythology, and Metaphysics – an exchange

(Under part 4 of my ‘Review of article on Shankara’ 9 ‘thoughts’ or
comments were made, the last one on May 8th, 2013. Following that,
Peter and I continued our dialogue, which took us in different
directions, resulting in a 12 page thread. We both thought that our discussion might merit publication in AV. Quite sadly, Peter passed away one week after he wrote his last reply within our exchange. This is the first part, to be followed sequentially).

Martin (M) – How interesting that myths (different from ‘mithya’) give rise to different interpretations, perhaps mostly due to one’s cultural background and held views on life, etc. When you say ‘literal’, in this context, I understand something like an interesting story, mostly for children; but if myths say something about man’s life, his struggles, aspirations, etc., how can they be just nice, imaginative stories? (‘literal’ x2 is for those who believe – in the recounting of The Garden of Paradise – that that is how it actually happened; I don’t count you among them, of course).

 About your points (Peter’s (P):

  1. Right, not unity, but union (Creator/creature, lover/beloved, etc.); therefore bhakti, with its bond of love and surrender on the part of the creature – which can lead to a state of unity (advaita) once Knowlege or realization has dawn. No?
  1. a) “with us” is not plural; it is first person singular when the subject is God, a king, or someone in authority speaking for the law or from a chair of authority, which is impersonal. If you have the KJ version of the Bible, it reads: “man is become as one of us, to know good and evil” Gen., 3, 22.

      b) P: “Before Adam was ‘one with’ God, (i.e. before he knew right from wrong), what was he?” My (M) answer: ‘one of us’ sounds rather sarcastic, No? Yes, man knew duality by his ‘individualistic’ act, but was not like God; this cannot be the meaning of the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament). With the New Testament, things are no longer oppressive, based on fear and ‘the law’: Jesus brings liberation through knowledge, love, and compassion, and man is seen as theomorphic (capable of assuming his divinity in Oneness). cf.  St. John’s Gospel and the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas.

  1. a) M: The serpent “presaging Jesus”? At one time Jesus said: “you must be wise as serpents”, meaning to discriminate between acts (and people), but, other than that, the serpent is ‘the Tempter’ and the representation of evil (egotism?), and henceforth there will be enmity between it and mankind (“it  shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel” (Gen., 3,15).

        b) P: “what’s wrong with having the knowledge of right and wrong?”.

M: ‘Seeing’ duality everywhere*, precisely – the pairs of opposites – and thus becoming judgmental and stuck in that limited, constricted vision, the consequence being the loss of Paradise in union with God. “You will be like gods” was the promise of the serpent. Duality (plurality) pertains to the dimension of God or Ishvara (‘I’ and ‘other’, heavens, hells, etc.). Right and wrong belong to thinking (vritti/s), as you well know, and it can be a problem unless you just observe it as such (i.e., an object for Consciousness). Did the couple know that they were immortal? I don’t know, and probably they did not know either. Continue reading

Mind Reifies Or Deifies

Mind occupies a significant place in the teaching of Vedanta philosophy.

All the talk of liberation pertains to the mind only.  Maîtri Upanishad (VI-34-11) holds mind to be central for the liberation or bondage of human beings.  amRitabindu Upanishad (mantra 2) makes it further clear stating that “the mind engrossed in objects of senses leads to bondage but the same mind free from attachment to objects leads to liberation.”

But what is this mind?

Continue reading