Part 11 of the serialization of the presentation (compiled by R. B. Athreya from the lectures given by Swami Paramarthananda) of upadesha sAhasrI. This is the prakaraNa grantha which is agreed by most experts to have been written by Shankara himself and is an elaborate unfoldment of the essence of Advaita.
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.']
We started this enquiry into identity by employing a simple piece of logic: you cannot be what you observe. From this point of view, the things we normally take ourselves to be, starting with the body, were systematically discounted because they turn out to be objects of perception, as covered in the first three parts of this series. Despite this reasoning, the tendency to believe our identity with the amalgam of body, senses and mind tends to remains very powerful: we continue to believe that we are these individuals bound by skin, with an experiential history and an instinctive, habitual mindset through which ‘I’ filter the world.
Identity with the body is evidenced by the vast cosmetic surgery industry today. People feel better with fewer wrinkles, larger breasts, drug-induced libido, less fat, etc. That’s the extreme end, but coming closer to the average person, we think of ourselves as too tall, too short, too hot or cold. If the body is in pain, we say: I am in pain. We really do mean ‘I’ when we say: I am hot, cold, ugly, beautiful, too short, too fat, too old. By employing the incontrovertible logic of ‘I cannot be what I can observe’, it does not take long for us to realise that the body is an object of perception: ‘I’ can experience my body using my five senses. We then ask: Who is observing the body? Continue reading
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
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!!
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
Our esteemed colleagues Suka and Martin made certain important observations on the earlier Posts of mine on this subject. So I felt it may be better to respond to the points raised by them without any further delay before resuming my presentation with regard to Eka jIva vAda.
A: About the similarity between Wakeful and Dream Worlds:
Suka pointed out to the three distinct orders of reality distinguishable from the way we experience them and opined that dream and awake world cannot be treated at par. He said that a dream world was a ‘bhrama‘ whereas the awake world was ‘mithya.’
Eka jIva VAda – I Am Alone: Part II:
The quintessential teaching of Advaita is well encapsulated in the famous half-verse long apopthegm comprising eight words:
jIvah brahmaiva na aparah
(Brahman alone is Real; the world is unreal; and the individual (jIva) is in actual fact non-different from Brahman).
Thus the jIva-brahmaikya vAda (the Doctrine of the Identity of the individual and Brahman) effectively sums up the message of Advaita.
All of us are jIvas. Obviously then, without doubt, we are Brahman.
However, we outdo Brahman, if I may say so, with two additional qualities. These are (i) a delimited size, shape etc. (finitude in dimensions) and (ii) an ID (individual name, lineage etc.). Continue reading
Part 9 of the serialization of the presentation (compiled by R. B. Athreya from the lectures given by Swami Paramarthananda) of upadesha sAhasrI. This is the prakaraNa grantha which is agreed by most experts to have been written by Shankara himself and is an elaborate unfoldment of the essence of Advaita.
The Question at # 340 is, IMO, a landmine!
It sounds quite innocuous but barely conceals the explosive depths of its profundity.
It’s a cleverly worded question on the very origins of you and me, of the world, nay, of the “creation” itself, pregnant with implications on what comes first – the ‘witnessed’ or the ‘witnessor.’
The answer would inevitably be a replay of the classic debate on perception-based-creation (dRshTi-sRshTi-vAda) vs. creation-based-perception (sRshTi-dRshTi-vAda). But Advaita holds, contrary to either view, quite counterintuitively, that nothing has ever originated (ajAti vAda). Continue reading