Mulavidya – Real or Unreal? ll

Claim against Swamiji (SSS)
 Big fuss on whether avidya =mAyA
·           Swamiji does not like tarka or reasoning
·           Swamiji does not admit of avidyA in deep sleep
·           Swamiji does not endorse prakarana works, as he says they are not written by Shankara
·           Swamiji claims no role for bhakti in the advaita tradition
·           Swamiji does not accept that an enlightened soul may still suffer the consequences of past deeds
·           Swamiji advocates learning from books only, and being self taught without a teacher
·           Swamiji overuses the phrase adhyAropa-apavAda giving the impression it his discovery
·           Swamiji is not of the tradition
·           Swamiji claims he is right and everyone else is wrong

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Q. 377 – Desire and suffering

(Also discusses Buddhism versus Advaita; analysis versus experience; need for practice)

Q: Your work is both beautiful and rigorous, and I’ve appreciated your continuous efforts to continue the much-beloved tradition of Advaita Vedanta.

As I consider devoting myself to the path of Advaita Vedanta, I find that I keep coming up against a few constant, nagging protests:

First, it seems that the tradition and methodology (although I also assume that there is quite a lot of variety of how Vedanta is taught and realized) is overly academic and scholastic, at least as I view it from the information that I’ve gleaned during my research.  The unfolding of the teaching of Vedanta seems to leave the student engaging in a lot of analysis, rather than a deep exploration of how they genuinely experience the world, which lacks transformative power because it remains something objective.

Second, according to some of the sources that I’ve gleaned, it seems to place Vedanta on an extremely high pedestal, as something engaged in only following years of other preparatory practices.  But modern practice appears to demonstrate that such preparation, while helpful, is not necessary.  I cite websites like “Liberation Unleashed” and Scott Kiloby’s excellent work which show that directly exploring and inquiring into the truth of statements like, “All there is is pure awareness,” etc., can still be highly transformative outside of the context of a more robust regime of spiritual purification and development.

My fear is that if I follow the traditional route, I will end up entangled in these preparatory practices.  I’ll just be getting the appetizer for years before getting the meal, in other words, but, in my opinion, why wait?

Is this perception true (given that there will be a lot of diversity)?  Do most AchArya-s make their disciples engage in such practices for prolonged periods of time before discussing Vedanta?

I have heard you and many other teachers in the traditional Advaita lineage say things like, “Unless you have a very pure mind…” or “Unless you are highly developed…”  etc., the practice of Vedanta will be fruitless.  But, if you read the logs, for example, of the website “Liberation Unleashed,” you will find some very impure people – depressed, addicted, desperate, you know, the usual seeker lot!, who come out transformed after only a few days of directly looking into their experience.

I appreciate your thoughts on this and your generosity in helping so many confused seekers. Continue reading

Q. 376 – Is preparation necessary?

Q: As I consider devoting myself to the path of Advaita Vedanta, I find that I keep coming up against a few constant, nagging protests:

 First, it seems that the tradition and methodology (although I also assume that there is quite a lot of variety of how Vedanta is taught and realized) is overly academic and scholastic, at least as I view it from the information that I’ve gleaned during my research. The unfolding of the teaching of Vedanta seems to leave the student engaging in a lot of analysis, rather than a deep exploration of how they genuinely experience the world, which lacks transformative power because it remains something objective.

 Second, according to some of the sources that I’ve gleaned, it seems to place Vedanta on an extremely high pedestal, as something engaged in only following years of other preparatory practices. But modern practice appears to demonstrate that such preparation, while helpful, is not necessary. I cite websites like “Liberation Unleashed” and Scott Kiloby’s excellent work which show that directly exploring and inquiring into the truth of statements like, “All there is is pure awareness,” etc., can still be highly transformative outside of the context of a more robust regime of spiritual purification and development. Continue reading

Traditional Path

  1. Once self-ignorance is admitted as the problem, then it follows necessarily that self-knowledge is required to remove it. In turn this implies the need for a teacher or material to impart that knowledge and consequently, effectively a path and a seeker etc. We do not have any sense organ for ‘self-knowledge’. All of the usual pramANa-s only provide information about the world of facts, observations and information (which includes our body and the subtle aspects of thoughts and emotions).
  1. The seeker might well ask why it is that a sampradAya teacher should be better or more worthy of listening to than the independent teacher. The answer is simple – authority (in the sense of proven to work) and training. Why should one pay more attention to the claims of one ‘ordinary person’ than another? If a totally unqualified teacher says ‘This is it’ and my own experience tells me that “no it isn’t”, who is right? Should I not give more credence to first-hand experience? On the other hand, if a teacher is able to say “this is what my teacher told me” and so on, back down a noble line of sages to the shruti itself, then that is worthy of attending to.It might be said that the traditional path is a well-worn one and we are therefore far less likely to stray, whereas the neo-advaitin path is, by its own admission, no path at all.

Enlightenment: The Path through the Jungle, Dennis Waite, O-Books. ISBN: 978-1-84694-118-4. Extract Link
Buy from Amazon US, Buy from Amazon UK

Eka jIva VAda – I Am Alone: Part VI

Understanding Perception:

We don’t ever see or experience a ‘world.’

Our capacity to detect anything  is confined to a limited bandwidth of certain characteristics (in a so-called world) using our sensory organs:

                       Eyes      →   light, colors, shapes, distances, sizes

                       Ears         sounds, distance

                       Skin       →  heat, pressure, itch, softness, roughness

                       Nose      →  smells

                       Tongue   →  taste

                       Mind (?)   time, imagining (thinking)

[Note: 1. The normally held view about our senses as given above is valid only in a broad way.  Modern scientific research shows that quite a bit of collaborative overlap exists in their actual functioning.  For example, eyes and skin also have a role in hearing;  nose and ears (and even lungs) assist the tongue in tasting etc. Embodiment takes place from multi-sensory input.

2.  Notice that we are not endowed with any sensory organ to detect ‘time.’]

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Eka jIva VAda – I Am Alone: Part V

This Post responds to the Comments of 18th April made by Suka.

(Suka’s Comment in blue and my response in black).

S:  Mithya is defined as sadasadbhyām vilakṣaṇam – meaning it cannot be categorically classified as truth or false. Mithya is vyāvahārika, experientially efficient, substantially unreal. 

R:   vyAvahArika and prAtibhAsika fall under mithya.  Both vyAvahArika and prAtibhAsika are experienced in their respective spheres, and both derive their reality based on the Reality of the immutable substratum. Dr. Mani Dravid Shastri also suggests in his lectures on adhyAsabhAshya that, “mithya can be divided into two categories, namely vyAvahArika or empirical and prAtibhAsika or illusory.”

S:  The argument tat pot is an illusion does not hold water, because pot does hold water.

R:  “Holding water” too is as much an illusion as pot or water!!

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Eka jIva VAda – I Am Alone: Part IV

This Post is once again in continuation to the discussions on my earlier Posts.

I shall try to answer the questions and clarify on some of the conceptual issues raised by our esteemed Colleague Suka in his Comments of the 15th of April.

That we have to necessarily use words to express ourselves is pretty obvious. But the words come with their own baggage especially when we use them in contexts that are non-quotidian and are hence liable to be understood or misunderstood in unintended terms. Therefore, it looks to me that I should begin with clarifying the meaning of some of the words, and many a time, this by itself, will have the potential to resolve some of the pending confusion.

Suka observed, inter alia, in his comments of the 15th April:

I)   “Traditionalists (do not) consider neither māṇḍūkya bhāṣya nor vivekacūḍāmaṇi as authentic works of śaṅkara for this very reason.” [I guess “do not” is a typo.] Continue reading