The Brahman Experience

Let’s discuss the possibility that Brahman is nityaptasvarupa, no exceptions. Let’s talk about what it means to truly live from a place where Brahman is all that is – our ideas, experiences, loves, violence. I’ll start with some of the comments made on a previous post, ‘Consciousness of Choice’, because let’s face it, Dennis made some great points!

Experience Of Advaita

dreamstime_Intuition_© Elena Ray smaller

Intuition © Elena Ray Dreamstime

Firstly, one cannot ‘experience’ Advaita. This is axiomatic – Advaita means ‘not two’ and there must be two to experience, namely an experiencer and an experienced thing. Advaita is primarily a teaching, though it can also be viewed as a philosophy. Its purpose is to remove self-ignorance from the mind of the person who is taught so that this mind realizes that reality is non-dual. The person whose mind realizes this is said to have attained mokSha.

But we should always remember that, in reality, there never was a person or mind; there was and is always only brahman. So mokSha is also mithyA. ~ Dennis Waite

To me it seems self-evident that if Brahman is nityaptasvarupa (all that is) then that includes experience, otherwise something is other than Brahman. And if Brahman is whole then there is no mind to realise, no ignorance to remove, and no two to speak of. But how do we re-story our understanding that experience requires two when we have no other way to explain what experience is?

Rather than seeing experience in duality, for those who live the truth of Brahman as all that is, experience is Brahman. There is no need to have an experiencer and an experiencer in order for experience to be of Brahman unless you believe in duality. If you believe that Brahman is nityaptasvarupa then nothing is outside or inside, there is only Brahman, and the physics of experience is oneness or Advaita.

The question is, where do the physics of reality and perception begin to extricate themselves from the beliefs we hold about oneness?

While it’s perfectly acceptable to say Brahman is nityaptasvarupa, it is quite another to believe that all we think-know-feel is included. Somewhere, we draw a line and tell ourselves that this part is separate. As we have the conversation about what we believe the physics of oneness to be, that ever more inclusive version of the story naturally acknowledges our objections, separations and choices as Brahman.

Choice As Brahman

dreamstimefree_© Kirsty Pargeter | Dreamstime Stock Photos

© Kirsty Pargeter Dreamstime

‘Choice’ is always for the (mithyA) person, whether or not that person has Self-knowledge. The point is that the person who is ‘enlightened’ will be more likely to make choices which recognize, for example, that pleasure and pain are equally ‘expressions of brahman’ as you put it. ~ Dennis Waite

It is true that the language of physics and philosophy leaves much to be desired when attempting to describe the nature of oneness. Our concepts of choice, of experience, and of life are tangled in pre-conceptions about duality. And while I am working on new terms more fitting to our discussion, it seems intuitive to have the conversation with the words and ideas being thrown into the ring.

I agree that ‘choice’ seems like a dualistic concept. Perhaps there is a more accurate way to describe the nature of what I refer to. In my writings I often speak of intuitive-logic. Not an ideal term, it attempts to make visible the fact that intuition is logic and what we know-choose is Brahman.

The language used to discuss oneness is simple. Making visible the pre-conceptions is where we spend most of our time. For example, the entire philosophy could be summarised as I Am, or Brahman Is, but how many people would be able to meet what they have labelled choice, pain, parenthood, or business from that summary? How many can grasp the nature of what it means to live a oneness reality?

Living A Oneness Reality

Girl in bottle_© Kevin Carden | Dreamstime.com small

Girl in bottle © Kevin Carden Dreamstime

But there is never any ‘living’ of Oneness. Life will always be dualistic, with desires and aversions or at least likes and dislikes. ‘Being present’ is a dualistic outlook or way of living. It may be more likely to be the outlook of a person with Self-knowledge than one without, but it is also the practice of many spiritual aspirants who have not yet gained Self-knowledge. It is not the case that the experience of Oneness that a seeker has in, for example, deep meditation (samAdhi) differs from the experience of Oneness that someone who has Self-knowledge has. Both are (dualistic) experiences with a beginning and an end, irrespective of the fact that the one with Self-knowledge knows that all is brahman.  ~ Dennis Waite

Okay, let me ask you this. If I stand in what has been designated this place, and allow everything to be what is, what am I doing?

The truth is, we have no language to comprehend the cosmology of oneness, the physics of Brahman. By assuming that life is dualistic, we are labelling and making meaning of ‘what is’ in duality. But by experiencing all that is as Brahman, we are living oneness.

Even the sense of being present is inadequate for our purposes. Being present is just being, which is just Brahman – at least for those who believe Brahman is all that is. Again, the language is an explication of the simpler notion, I Am. Nothing more need be said except for those who wish to explore what that might mean in an everyday way when everything is being experienced in dualistic terms.

I do realise the use of the terms – I, we, you, et cetera are all concepts tied to duality. And we can certainly have those conversations in the future – how to be simultaneously the I and the I Am in oneness. For now I would simply say that there is a way to understand the physics of so-called “self” without duality, or fixed identity. When being is Brahman, there is no separate I to speak of, no dualistic notions of self or other.

It’s a big conversation and there’s so much more I want to say about the language and physics of trust and interconnection…

25 thoughts on “The Brahman Experience

  1. Interesting post! Of course, you are right in one sense. Everything being brahman, it is not possible to talk about anything that is not brahman.So exeperience, too, is necessarily brahman.

    Equally, for the vast majority of people, the world is obviously not non-dual. Virtually everything we do and say clearly assumes this duality and to try to claim otherwise is a sign of a misguided, mystically-inclined mind!

    The problem, ultimately, is language. Language is (also) intrinsically dualistic, so as soon as you use it in writing, speech or even thought, you are implicitly assuming duality.

    This is most effectively addressed by the Chandogya Upanishad. Here is what I said about this in my book ‘A-U-M’:

    In Chapter 6 of the Chandogya, Svetaketu asks his father to explain how the Vedas can teach us about unknown things (i.e. the Self) by talking about things that we do know. In VI.1.4, the father tells Svetaketu:

    ‘O good looking one, as by knowing a lump of earth, all things made of earth become known: All transformation has speech as its basis, and it is name only. Earth as such is the reality.’ (Swami Gambhirananda translation)

    And then the next verse uses the well-known metaphor of gold and gold ornaments. Everyone who has made more than a passing study of Advaita will know that chains, rings and bangles are all only name and form of gold. But the argument is much more subtle than this. How is it that, by knowing that gold is the material cause of the ornaments, the different products become known? Shankara points out that this objection is not valid because the product is not different from the cause. The Upanishad makes the following crucial point: it is effectively the naming of (giving a label to) the discrete forms (which are all actually the same substance) which ‘creates’ the supposed, new object. The phrase ‘vAchArambhaNaM vikAro nAmadheyaM’ is repeated many times in the chapter to emphasize that all objects have no substantive other than brahman.

    vAchArambhaNa is a Vedic form of vAgAlambhana, which means it depends upon mere words or on some merely verbal difference. vikAro nAmadheyaM means that the vikaraH, transformation, is nAmadheya, (just in) name only.

    In the metaphor, rings and bangles etc are mithyA, while the gold alone is satyam. The rings and bangles are always gold and nothing but gold. It is by the very act of putting a name to a specific form that we con ourselves into thinking that we have a separate, distinct object. And, of course, in the wider context everything in the world is mithyA and brahman alone is satyam. There are no separate things; there is only name and form of brahman. In a very real sense, we can say that the name IS the object; without the word, there would not be any separate thing. That which we ‘bring into existence’ by naming would otherwise simply be part of the ‘background’. So name and form are inseparable; and both are mithyA.

    Best wishes,
    Dennis

    • Hey Dennis : )

      Your insight is exciting!
      When you say, “Virtually everything we do and say clearly assumes this duality and to try to claim otherwise is a sign of a misguided, mystically-inclined mind!” I guess the first thing that comes to me is the tendency to assume a perspective of Cartesian dualism when there are other ontological perspectives on how the world works.

      I do not believe we bring anything into existence since there is only all that is and nothing more. If it seems like we use language or travel through linear time or have bodies, this is just how it seems. This is not what is. And there is a way to see the world that way.

      As you say, brahman is the only substantive, therefore our naming of things is not what is but rather brahman manifest. Brahman is the things we have labelled experience, body, physical and non-physical. If I can see something you cannot see, does that make it real (or unreal)? If I can understand myself not as a linear dualistic being but as an equal and essential aspect of all that is, does that make those who do not any less brahman?

      For me it’s the ontological assumptions that are up for discussion; it’s the nature of One Field physics versus dualism. Not to determine what is right but to qualify the perspective that allows brahman to be all that is without having a different explanation in this moment according to another set of rules.

      I really do believe it’s possible to experience oneness!

  2. MELANIE:
    After posing the question or query, ‘attempting to describe the nature of oneness’ – something that cannot be done – you follow up with the words, ‘… how many can grasp the nature of what it means to live in oneness reality?’

    Your own answer: ‘By experiencing all that is as Brahman, we are living oneness.’ Yes, right.

    Then, as another query, ‘How to be simultaneously the ‘I’ and the I Am in oneness… ‘. The answer is that there is no separate ’I’ (‘not two’). With right understanding, as is well established in Advaita, there is no chooser, no experiencer – only experience, or experiencing.

    DENNIS: (You write)

    ‘But there is never any ‘living’ of Oneness. Life will always be dualistic, with desires and aversions or at least likes and dislikes.’

    ‘Virtually everything we do and say clearly assumes this duality and to try to claim otherwise is a sign of a misguided, mystically-inclined mind!’

    Isn’t the rebuttal of those two sentences what I wrote above, quoting also MELANIE’s own words? Unless periods without thinking or in quiet contemplation are considered ‘doing’. True, it could be said that, in the ordinary sense, one is not living at those times (if time there is).

    Other than that, can language (or the mind) be the problem, even if both are ‘intrinsically dualistic’? Naming, thinking, writing, etc. are so… but we know that there are no separate things; there is only name and form of brahman posing as a multiplicity of objects – ‘all objects have no substantive other than brahman’, as you write.

    ‘The real became the real and the false (of practical experience) – Tai. 2.6’

    • Hey amartingarcia : )

      Let me clarify what it is you are questioning. You are considering the terms I and doing and Melanie according to Cartesian dualism, yes? And asking how one can be simultaneously the I and the I Am when there is not two, yes? And asking how language can be the problem when all things are brahman, yes?

      Okay, the term I and Melanie are only individual identity concepts according to particular psychoanalytic explanations. There are alternative explanations of identity that allow I and Melanie to be an equal and essential aspect of all that is without separating out that aspect as individual.

      There is also a way of living/experiencing/understanding the physics of so-called reality as a manifestation of brahman that takes into account part of that manifestation includes perception of individuality itself. This physics of oneness allows what is (whether we label it perception or identity) to be the manifestation of brahman without requiring that manifestation to be actually physical and no-physical (aka dualism) while still including the perception of dualism and self as an equal and essential aspect of brahman. In this way their is no problem. Language is what it is. Experience is what is. What is is what is, no matter what.

      Please let me know if I have understood the questions as you posed them (and thank you for engaging the conversation, I am most honoured).

  3. Hi Melanie (and Martin),

    What I was intending to conclude in my last comment (!) is that Shankara got around these problems (sort of) by talking about ‘vyavahAra’ and ‘paramArtha’ – how things appear to be (empirical reality) and how they really are (absolute reality).

    The reason that language effectively causes our problems is that, by definition of the use of the words, you cannot have a concept without a conceiver, a thought without a thinker, a percept without a perceiver, an experience without an experiencer.

    So ANYTHING that you think or say is necessarily dualistic and therefore cannot ultimately be true. (This also goes for anything that I say, of course!)

    I apologize for my statement “Virtually everything we do and say clearly assumes this duality and to try to claim otherwise is a sign of a misguided, mystically-inclined mind!” I didn’t realize at the time that this reads like a personal criticism – it was not intended to be! There are so many around today who claim that enlightenment is an ‘experience’ and I seem to spend a lot of my ‘answering-questions’ time refuting this!

    Also, I was not claiming that speech ‘actually’ brings things into existence but that it ‘as if’ does so in the mind of the speaker. It is the putting of a name onto something that separates it (in the mind) from the rest of the world.

    Of course I know what you mean about ‘experiencing oneness’. It is the feeling that we can have in certain unplanned situations. The attention opens right out so that one seems to be aware of infinity and the realization that all this is a unity. But it is just a feeling. It has a beginning and an end. Even nirvikalpa samAdhi is in the same category. It is not Self-knowledge; it is not mokSha.

    Martin: Of course, there is no problem in reality. There is only brahman. But in this seeming world, that many believe to be real, most who think about it believe there is a problem. The reason that they think like this, is a problem of the mind. It is called ‘ignorance’.

    P.S. Melanie, I meant to say that I liked your photos, especially the child playing in the bottle. Are these yours? (If not, you ought to include an acknowledgement for copyright.)

    • Hey Dennis : )

      I would never read your comments as a criticism. I know you do not need to personalise the discussion. We’re just talking here. And as far as I can tell, we’re not trying to convince each other of our truth, just philosophising.

      I think I have mentioned to you privately that I first encountered Advaita through ‘The Philosophy of Sankara’s Advaita Vedanta’ by Shyama Kumar Chattopadhyay. It was in this text that I recognised my own cosmology of oneness:

      “…Nor is it possible to regard the vedantic moksa as apya – that is, attainment of the new and other than or extrinsical to what is there already. This moksa is realisation of one’s own true nature (svatmasvarupatva). One’s own real nature is not a content which is not in one’s possession always – anapyatvat. It may only be that which although possessed is missed. But in that case, this missing of what is already possessed can only be due to ignorance or mis-apprehension, and it is knowledge which removes this misapprehension and not any act of any description which can exercise a curative effect and make a conscious recognition of what is already possessed but is ignorantly missed (praptasyaprapti) possible.”

      “Sankara taps the other alternative, an alternative which, for instance, would be favoured by the non-advaitists, in this context, and shows a reduction ad absurdum or the view that the Vedantic moksa can be regarded as ‘apya’ in any sense. This is that even if Brahman, claimed to be the indivisible true self of the phenomenal individual (Jiva) be taken as other than or transcendent of the phenomenal individuality realisation of or termination in the self-accomplished being of Brahman cannot be regarded as a new attainment since Brahman is sarvagata (all pervasive) and nityaptasvarupa (its nature being eternally self-complete) like the all pervading and all-comprehending ether (akasa). This observation of Sankara should have hoped the non-Advaitists in avoiding an error which they have committed. Brahman, by admission of all the Vedantic schools, being all the existence, leaves no room for anything as a distinct or external entity. It being, again, nityaptasvarupa, that is, having a nature in which everything is secured, the jiva, of apart from Brahman, remains secured in communion as an integral part of Brahman’s being. So, even, on thats alternative, what matters is conscious recognition of this being-in-Brahman which already exists. Knowledge alone is to be the means thereto. There can be no sense, therefore, in holding that this being-in-Brahman is to be a new attainment made possible by any act, ritualistic or devotional…”

      “Even when the jiva, a playful development of the very same reality, Brahman, in the form of a phenomenal appearance (which is a ‘mere appearance’) feels toward itself (in the exigency of the cosmic game) illusorily as a substantive real and consequent upon that posture, regards Brahman as other than itself, (svarupavyatirikta) Brahman being sarvagata and also as nityaptasvarupa by definition, and also from its own side, does not stand as unattained and remote, since it is immanent in the misconceived (so-called substantive) jiva form, and moksa being in the realisation by the jiva of its true nature becomes at one with the realisation of the nature of Brahman.” p165

      “…even if the Jiva and Brahman being regarded in this way, as one does when labouring under the influence of avidya, Brahman being sarvagata, that is being immanent even in such cosmic and fancied forms and being also nityaptasvarupa (the phenomenal and fancied manifestations also being ever integrated in Brahman’s being and realised in those ways) there can be no sense in saying that moksa which is realisation of the nature of all-comprehending reality as the true identity of all and everything remain beyond reach and so apya since what shows this apartness (Vyatirikhata) is a mistaken attitude and a misconception. We would insist that this passage, the second and the none carefully throughout alternative, which could pose difficulty for Sankara’s doctrine of moksa but which is solved by Sankara on the ground os sarvagatatva and nityaptasvarupatva of Brahman definitely supports our rendering of Sankara’s doctrine according to which the mere appearances of cosmic multiplicities and the illusory appearances of substantive separate subjects and objects are all grounded in Brahman as cosmic expressions and none of these is a human manipulation or human impositions from outside. Ignorance consists in regarding the appearance not as appearances but as real themselves.” p166

      I realise that is a lot to quote in a comment but it feels we might miss the point if I attempt to summarise. What I see is that Brahman cannot be unattained; Brahman is what is, no matter how we comprehend it; and the nature of what is cannot be divided into empirical and absolute without abandoning the explanation for what is as Brahman.

      When I ‘walk around’ I can explain this as being a physical entity with an identity that travels through linear time blah, blah, blah OR I can see that I am Brahman. Just because it does not seem obvious how I might do that, and even the fact that I may not be able to articulate what it is I’m doing, does not preclude the reality that I actually live the everyday experience of oneness; of explaining what’s going on as a function of oneness (rather than in terms of dualistic, psychotherapeutic, particle physics absolutes).

      As I say to anyone I am consulting with, it’s not my place to make statements about what is, I can only be the equal and essential aspect of all that is I Am. Whatever configuration of Brahman you believe yourself to be is your Brahman experience and I would never debate that.

      P.S. The photos are beautiful. I pay for them but an artist acknowledgement is always the courteous thing to do. Let me do that now : )

      • Wow! If Chattopadhyaya was the principal source of your inspiration and knowledge of Advaita, I’m impressed! As I told you, I have a copy of the book but haven’t read it. You must admit, it is not exactly ‘readable’. I do have a problem with this sort of presentation. Accurate it may be, but it almost seems that you have to understand before reading it. Then, after re-reading several times, you may be able to verify that it is correct!

        Prof. Chatt was an academic philosopher (head of department when he left) and, unfortunately, philosophers are not the best people to explain advaita. Their role is rather to analyze it and compare its ideas to those of nyAya and yoga etc. Advaita is a ‘teaching methodology’ rather than a philosophy and it should ideally be explained by a j~nAnI, who is also a saMpradAyavit and fully acquainted with the scriptures.

        To come to the points you make: yes, of course, from the point of view of how things REALLY are, ‘brahman cannot be unattained’. As Gaudapada puts it: “There is no dissolution, no origination, none in bondage, none possessed of the means of liberation, none desirous of liberation, and none liberated. This is the ultimate truth.” (K2.32)

        But, even knowing this, you cannot deny the seeming duality. You are over there (wherever ‘there’ is) talking via computer to me over here. This is seeming duality and you will never convince me that you do not recognize this. This is what Shankara calls vyavahAra, empirical reality. It is not really real; it is mithyA. The reality is brahman. But it appears to be real to the senses and mind.

        • Okay, now we’re getting to the nuts and bolts of oneness as a lived experience (and how it is we can philosophise brahman while believing in duality)!

          According to the research I have gathered, we do not experience from within a human body. Our memories are not stored unchanged, distinct and separate from other people’s experiences. Our thoughts do not form a stream that can be tamed by so-called inner calm or outer proofs. All these ideas, these ways of distinguishing emotions from logic, all these prescriptions for health and happiness advocating a healing crisis or a reward for being on track – these are not true for you if you believe we are all equal and essential aspects of all that is. But who is this ‘we’ and ‘other’ in Oneness?

          Examination of the senses that inform us “you are over there (wherever ‘there’ is) talking via computer to me over here”, reveals the perceptual and cultural biases at work filtering data into experience.

          Further examination of this filtration process we call ‘perception’ reveals the boundless interconnection and meaning-making central to out experience. In other words, everything is relevant once we enquire how the universe works and not only is the data filtered, the filtering itself is biased.

          Such an inescapable bias requires an explanation. Either the bias can be overcome or not. Either the bias is meaningful in a purposeful way, or not.

          While one explanation says, “you are over there (wherever ‘there’ is) talking via computer to me over here. This is seeming duality and you will never convince me that you do not recognise this.” Another explanation admits there are perceptual and cultural biases at work but these are not separate from Brahman. In fact, they are Brahman, just as any alternative explanations are also Brahman.

          It’s the latter explanation we are seeking to understand. The empirically self-evident meaning-making process allowing the perceptual and cultural biases not to be ‘seeming duality’ navigated with rules of jiva versus mokSha, but instead a function of Brahman to be explained by the physics of Oneness.

          My everyday explanation of what’s going on is unbounded. I have fluid experiences that allow me to know myself beyond the fixed identity duality requires. When I am “over there (wherever ‘there’ is) talking via computer,” my meaning-making process is of oneness, and I have studied consciousness, learning theories, psychology and physics to comprehend what is going on beyond the explanation that insists ‘you’ are a bounded being travelling through time; beyond the story that ‘I’ can be located in a fixed place. In essence, I live the experiences of a physics which cannot be explained in direct linear terms.

          Of course I would not attempt to convince you of anything. Firstly because your perceptual and cultural biases cannot be convinced of anything they do not accept. Secondly because your biases are a function of Brahman. Thirdly because my perceptual and cultural biases tell me there is nothing else going on except what is, and any other explanation is an intuitive-logic inviting me to be that I Am – ergo ‘convincing’ is not on my agenda.

          In Oneness, it’s not thinking. It’s not talking. It’s not taking up space the way duality might explain it. We are having the experience our meaning-making process allows. If assumptions of duality are unquestioned then they remain structural guides to what is going on. Whereas when assumptions of duality don’t fit our experience then we make meaningful the gaps in the explanations available.

          The physics of duality, of being “over there (wherever ‘there’ is) talking via computer,” do not explain the experience I am having because the assumptions don’t fit. The assumptions about identity and location and actions according to duality don’t fit when your perceptual and cultural biases tell you otherwise. When you are Brahman manifest, the facts are fleshed out from this point. A point of truth that does not sit beside a physics of duality, but instead navigates what’s going on as a function of Brahman.

          Living this true is about the meaning-making process. A process that structures our physics and explanations for everything – including what’s going on when it seems like “you are over there (wherever ‘there’ is) talking via computer to me over here.” We don’t stop explaining what’s going on according to what it seems like. This explanation feels inadequate. Navigating what’s going on as a function of Brahman is to see what it seems like as an important but not defining aspect and to keep trusting what is…

  4. Melanie, If you read carefully what I wrote, you will see that I did not ask any questions, only made some comments which substantially agree with the statements I quoted from your post. Therefore, to the three questions you ask of me in the first paragraph of your reply, my answer is: NO. For one, my metaphysical position is the non-dualism of advaita Vedanta, not Cartesianism.

    I did not say that language is the problem; Dennis did, but he has now clarified what he intended to say. Clearly, it all depends on both intention and context.

    You write that ‘this physics of oneness allows for [or is consistent with]… the perception of dualism and self as an equal and essential aspect of brahman. From the higher perspective of advaita, paramartha, there is no duality. It is said that the realized person ‘does not see the world’.

    • Hey amartingarcia : )

      You’re right. I missed the subheadings.
      When I read your comment again last night I realised you were agreeing with me. I think the questions (even though you never raised them) are important none-the-less. I hope you aren’t too offended. I think most people who read your comment can see what I missed straight away.

      I’m not sure what the ‘realised person’ is in oneness.
      For me if we are all equal and essential aspects then there are none above or below, more realised or less. From my understanding we are all equally and without separation brahman. But I do not prescribe or suggest there is a truth to be debated; only that in my take there is no meta-physics (since this would require a separation) and no-one that is not what they are meant to be (which is brahman manifest). Maybe you can tell me more about the significance of a realised person?

      Apologies again for not reading your comment more closely. I am glad you got to make your point in reply to my mistake, and that we continue to have this conversation.

  5. Melanie, I just read your (and Dennis’) comments carefully – and with much satisfaction and profit! You ask what is a ‘realized person’, and I was going to reply that there is no such ‘thing’ – which you well know – but now I think that someone like you may be (or is) an exemplar of that: ‘an aspect (your term) of Consciousness or reality which goes by the name of Melanie’; not ‘you’ as a purported person or individual (though you may not agree with this), but consciousness itself manifesting in apparent space-time.

    If we do understand something fully, we must be consistent and have the courage of voicing it, as circumstances may allow. But who is going to attribute him/herself such an ’honor’? For it is not an acquisition but an act of intuition.

    Even if in principle agreeing with your statement: ‘if we are all equal and essential aspects then there are none above or below, more realised or less’, it is customary, to make some qualifications and/or gradations in such things in ordinary, transactional. life. Sometimes this is done out of deference to someone, or to a teaching. I think you may gree with this. I am enjoying this conversation, thank you.

    • I too am enjoying this conversation : )

      I must confess that I am less concerned with agreement than I am fascinated to tease out what it is that is true for you.

      I trust that a conversation with full permission to hold our own understandings as meaningful, our own experience as insightful, and our own truths as living things allowed the flexibility and wonder we attribute to ‘enlightenment’… then who we are in those conversations is exciting and interconnected without ever having to look or sound the part.

      I agree that we use transactional language which normalises our everyday as different from an experience of all that is. In Oneness if there is no judgement and we accept what is not despite what it seems like but by navigating what seems to be going on from a point of trust in all that is, then the transactional language might stop explaining what’s going on as we pay attention or better yet make meaningful what seems to be going on as a function of what is.

      What do you think-feel-believe? How does your truth speak to you in this moment and ask you to decode what’s going on (as well as what seems to be going on)? I’d love to hear more!

      • My thinking-feeling at this moment is one of contentment, satisfaction, and peace. Being Atman (which ‘I’ intimately AM) means that everything is being taken care of – whatever the outcome.

        ‘What seems to be going on’ is what is… appearing in consciousness, both the thoughts-feelings occurring and the knowing that consciousness, I, is really all there is – consciousness reflecting on itself.

        I am thinking that you have a knack for challenging ‘whatever is’ to express itself (come out of the closet, as it were). I can’t help thinking that the reason for that is/may be that ‘you’ appear in the form of a woman. Sophia is another name for that mystery, ‘womanhood’. As I say, I can’t help thinking that – whatever the consequences… or reprimands.

        • I’m smiling as I read your comment : )

          Whatever you can’t help thinking, you can’t help thinking for a reason (whatever the outcome). I too live this perspective. The I Am of allowing what is to be what is.

          For me allowing is a spectrum of every feeling-thought-scenario. Anxiety is what is. Hunger is what is. Exhaustion is what is. I have never been able to distinguish the so-called ‘good’ or ‘positive’ from anything else; for me it’s simply what is.

          I have no assessment or means of moving toward one thing as I move away from another. I only have that I am. There is nothing to challenge or emerge. All that is – is…

  6. Hi Melanie,

    I thought it best to continue our thread down here rather than in-line, to avoid confusion. I read through your response to my last post several times without any real clarification.

    To quote several of your statements:
    “According to the research I have gathered…”
    “Of course I would not attempt to convince you of anything.”
    “I have fluid experiences that allow me to know myself beyond the fixed identity duality requires.”
    “I live the experiences of a physics which cannot be explained in direct linear terms.”

    This approach is not really acceptable. It is the approach of those who channel God or speak to angels. “I know and you cannot, because you are not privileged.” If we are discussing Advaita, everyone on this site is qualified to discuss and understand. We have different starting points, according to our upbringing and education, and we may have differing degrees of conviction regarding its truth, but we all know what we are talking about. If you are claiming to have privileged knowledge, then you are not talking about Advaita.

    Since I did not understand most of what you were saying, can we just look at the first paragraph (and maybe come back to the rest once that is clear)? Here is what you said:
    “According to the research I have gathered, we do not experience from within a human body. Our memories are not stored unchanged, distinct and separate from other people’s experiences. Our thoughts do not form a stream that can be tamed by so-called inner calm or outer proofs. All these ideas, these ways of distinguishing emotions from logic, all these prescriptions for health and happiness advocating a healing crisis or a reward for being on track – these are not true for you if you believe we are all equal and essential aspects of all that is. But who is this ‘we’ and ‘other’ in Oneness?”

    1. What is the ‘research’ you have gathered?

    2. If we do not ‘experience from within a human body’, from where do we experience? The definition of the noun is ‘practical contact with and observation of facts or events; the definition of the verb is ‘encounter or undergo (an event or occurrence)’. According to this dictionary definition, and all my past ‘experience’ of usage of this word, it certainly does entail a body.

    3. “Our thoughts do not form a stream that can be tamed by so-called inner calm.” I’m not sure why you are introducing this topic but my experience (and, I believe, that of millions of others) is that meditation does ‘tame’ thoughts. But so what?

    4. “All these ideas, these ways of distinguishing emotions from logic, all these prescriptions for health and happiness advocating a healing crisis or a reward for being on track – these are not true for you if you believe we are all equal and essential aspects of all that is.” Again, I do not know where you are coming from or going to, with this line of thought. None of it seems to follow from what I said in the previous post in the thread. I assume you are commenting on my reference to vyavahAra versus paramArtha but I do not really see the relevance. Nevertheless, if you like, yes – prescriptions for health and happiness of a presumed jIva are perfectly valid from an empirical perspective, even if one knows that there are not really any jIva-s. The entire teaching methodology of Advaita, with the thousands of books that have been written on the subject, presupposes that there is really no world and no people. This is true for me as a person. Incidentally, we are not ‘equal and essential aspects of all that is’; we ARE brahman; there is ONLY brahman (from a pAramArthika perspective!) 

    (Apologies for any seeming hostility in my comments – not intentional; just trying to clarify!)

    Best wishes,
    Dennis

    • Hey Dennis : )

      Great idea moving us to a new comment space!
      Apologies for being esoteric.
      Your indulgence is welcomed.

      1. The research for my PhD is gathered from a broad range of fields including consciousness, sensory perception, healing, placebo, learning, behaviour, physics, and more. I’m not focused on the collation and proposal as yet. This year I am writing, discussing and exploring.

      2. We experience as brahman. Rather than relying on explanations that stop asking “what’s going on?” from a dualistic assumption, we continue to question until the explanation abides the physics of oneness.

      3. Since there is no inner or outer, no mind and no thought we have no stream of thought to tame. If brahman is whole and complete, then there is nothing for us to tame. Whatever is, is for a reason (especially when the reason requires us to trust we are brahman).

      4. Here I am referring to the way we categorise brahman as ‘over there’ and ‘tame’ for example; the way that we attempt to make sense of what is via a dualistic treatment when we could actually see this moment, that person, inner-outer as brahman from a oneness perspective. It’s our explanation for what’s going on that’s convinced the question has been answered by duality. For those of us that keep asking, a oneness experience is available because the seeming is not satisfactory.

      Yes, the equal and essential aspect thing… My use of the word aspect is not referring to a part but instead to a way of examining or understanding all that is. I am not a point on a globe or piece of the whole. I am brahman and brahman is not bounded in time-space even if there is the perceptual bias of such a reality. The perceptual bias, the thought-feeling-action, the settling on dualistic assumptions, the questioning of dualistic assumptions – all equal and essential aspects of all that is i.e. nothing is not brahman, nothing is wise or ignorant, and nothing is of greater or lesser value, nothing is right or wrong, nothing is a mistake, nothing is taught or learnt, nothing is a failure nor an achievement. When all is brahman then there is only brahman and all other assessments/explanations are just that – other assessments/explanations (and yet still brahman).

      Everything you ask is relevant to my PhD. Unfortunately, I may not be able to reply with the data this year. Nonetheless, I am grateful for the questions and comments. Each time you engage my posts there is something else for me cover in my material. I am taking copious notes and wish to say “Thank you!”

      I also want to add that I do not need to focus on this. I am grateful for the attention you give my posts, but if my comments feel inappropriate or an ill-fit for the site, I am happy to explore the reading you have suggested and post about what is familiar. I am not here to stir up new approaches or introduce tangents. I want to honour the conversation about oneness you host in this space by contributing in a useful way.

  7. Melanie,

    If you really have no assessment or means of moving towards one thing as you move away from another, then why are you still trying conclude something out of all of this? Is it not the same movement of thinking that propels you all over the place? Your ideas, perceptions, insights, philosophies, all come from the cultural pastures you’ve been exposed to. You arrange the words to give that sense of ‘you’ the continuity of time/space. There is nothing to intrinsically understand except how the mind cannot approach ‘what is’, but only ‘what was’. The mind is ‘what was’ and you have no way to change this by using the mind or anything else that you think you may possess.

    This brings to mind the comment of JKrishnamurti when he said the mind that is free does not accumulate. Data is fine for a thesis, but a thesis has nothing whatsoever to do with ‘what is’ and real peace.

    • Hey Anonymous : )

      I’m not sure where I said I was trying to conclude anything but if I did then that is not what compels me. I have no conclusions only living wisdom – that which is revealed as it is experienced (for want of a better word). As far as I can tell All That Is is in constant movement, reconfiguring itself and whatever I appear to be is simply an aspect of that configuration, just as what we have labelled thoughts, ideas, perception and so on, are All That Is.

      In this way there is no I to arrange anything, only what seem to be the words and what seem to be I, you, us. There is no ‘was’ in All That Is since the perception of time is simply another thing that seems to be. I cannot and would not seek to change anything, which would be an impossibility since I have no separate power from being part of the configuration of All That Is.

      I do not seek peace or conclusion or any other goal. I am where and who I am for a reason (even when that reason eludes me) since I Am simply a configuration of All That Is.

  8. Hi Melanie,

    First of all, whatever you say (as long as it is polite!) is fine. We specifically welcome all views and we have been lacking a ‘non-traditional’ viewpoint for a long time!

    I need to qualify this of course. If I had to categorize it, I would have to say that yours is the view of neo-Advaita. This is not intended in a derogatory sense, though it is mostly used that way on the Internet (and I am one of those who could be accused of that!). Rather I’m just referring to the attempt to talk about worldly things from a pAramArthika perspective. This, in itself, is not necessarily a bad thing (although it is not actually possible!) but doing so almost always leads to the mixing of real and mithyA and this is not good! It misleads and confuses the reader. It appears to be saying things which one supposes to be true yet at the same time denies the validity of the seeker’s experience. It is also usually very difficult to argue against (since it is the ultimate truth), which is why there are so many neo-teachers around today who are apparently successful but who are really doing Advaita a great disservice.

    Part of the success of this line of argument lies in the misuse of the English language. Thus, you are still using the expression ‘experience as Brahman’. This is a contradiction. Brahman is non-dual and consequently has no parts; there is nothing that is not brahman; it does not think, perceive, act, know or experience. All that you can say about it (already too much) is that ‘it is’.

    Regarding your answers to the questions:

    1. Apologies for not being sufficiently clear. When I asked what research you had gathered, I was referring to your statement that “we do not experience from within a human body.” What I wanted to know is what data you have gathered that tells you this. Your “broad range of fields including consciousness, sensory perception, healing, placebo, learning, behavior, physics, and more” all seem still to have to do with bodies and their experience in the world. Furthermore, ‘data’ are necessarily either objective or subjective. Whichever the case, this is in the realm of the dual.

    2. Your answer regarding my assertion that experience entails a body: “We experience as brahman. Rather than relying on explanations that stop asking ‘what’s going on?’ from a dualistic assumption, we continue to question until the explanation abides the physics of oneness.” This does not answer the question. Also the phrase ‘until the explanation abides the physics of oneness’ does not mean anything to me; i.e. does not relate to Advaita. To me, the term ‘physics of oneness’ is an oxymoron.

    3. Regarding the ‘taming of thoughts’, the very expression tells us that we are in the empirical realm, so that your response “If brahman is whole and complete, then there is nothing for us to tame” is an example of the ‘mixing up of levels of reality’ that I mentioned above. As I said, if you want to talk about paramArtha, then you can say ‘it is’ or, if you really want to push this to the extreme, you could say it is sat-chit-Ananda. You cannot say ‘us’ and ‘tame’ – that is duality.

    4. You insist that “the way that we attempt to make sense of what is via a dualistic treatment when we could actually see this moment, that person, inner-outer as brahman from a oneness perspective”. You cannot say this in a literal sense, because that would entail duality, as already discussed. Anything that you ‘see’ – ANYTHING! – has to utilize your mind, whether it is conceptual or perceptual (in which latter case, it also involves the senses). Yes your mind is also brahman, since there is only brahman, but this ‘I’ ‘see’ has to be dualistic. You have to accept that you are speaking empirically here – ‘you see from a oneness perspective, others do not’. If you want to explain what is happening from an understanding of the reality of the situation, you have to resort to something like the chidAbhAsa explanation of Advaita.

    I am glad you are finding the discussion useful. I hope readers do also! What is the area and subject in which you are doing your PhD – philosophy, psychology, religion? ‘The things people believe and the rationales they use’? 🙂

    Best wishes,
    Dennis

    • Hey Dennis : )

      I will have to look into the neo-advaita thing. Thanks for the homework!!!

      I understand the temptation to see what I propose as mixing so-called real and mithyA. I guess my reading of one field physics, namely with the Higgs boson field where all so-called matter is an excitation of a field rather than actual particles which can be broken down into smaller and smaller parts until we reach energetic explanations for reality, allows me to comprehend-experience-trust whatever it seems to be, as a configuration of All That Is. Which also allows me to trust-interpret-process what it seems to be, as an interconnected oneness rather than an illusion projected by Brahman or an unenlightened understanding of Brahman.

      Again, I don’t have the vocabulary yet to fully articulate how that works. If I am still using words like I and experience, it is not that I mean to accept their dualistic basis but that I am yet to be able to explain in English and online without using these words. Like you say, it is.

      When I say ‘experience as Brahman’ I am saying Brahman is experience, not that experience is a thing that can be defined as sensory awareness and then such an awareness can have the flavour of Brahman. These are quite distinct notions. The difference between claiming it was magic or it was a punishment from God versus it is. What we have labelled experience is Brahman. What we have labelled perspective, mind and so on cannot be explained as things that can be known except in duality. The research/data I have gathered is all in duality and it points to the explanation that no matter which door we go through, no matter which field we focus on, there is a thread that leads back to non duality.

      For every account that claims there is a truth there are an equal number of equal validity that can see the exception. It’s all in the questions being asked, in the data being collated and the measures being used. Once we begin to question the assumptions – ontological and otherwise – we find that bias is at the heart of all conclusions and prescriptions. Whether it’s cultural or perceptual, it’s bias that shapes our picture of the so-called real. And then, if we ask about the nature of bias, about the heart of assumption, where do we find ourselves but back in the inherent balance and harmony and configuration of Oneness.

      For example, I never needed a study to tell me I Am a configuration of All That Is. It is something innate. My compulsion to read and question is not for proof or understanding. It is what I am intuitively led to do. If I end up doing the PhD or not is no matter. Sometimes what we are told to do is not about the thing we thought we were doing and that’s the point. In surrender to All That Is, not as a separate yet to be known thing, but as the nature of All That Is (including what we have separated out as assumptions and compulsion), there is room for a lived reality which recognises what seems to be, as a configuration of All That Is.

      Put another way, so often the rules we have imposed do not create the outcomes we expect. Instead of surrendering both the outcomes and the rules, we seek more accurate readings on reality. At some point our seeking – scientific and otherwise – has pointed to a reality that has no rules and promises no outcomes according to direct linear duality, but in it’s place invites whomever we seem to be to have an experience that allows us to decode what it seems to be with trust in it is.

      What happens when I trust it is? What happens when that is more than enough to explain-rationalise-justify what seems to be going on? It’s no longer about outcomes because I cannot assess anything from trust, I can only find the place to stand that allows me to be directed by the reality of trust rather than attempt to herd what I think is going on into some culturally biased picture of what should be occurring. In trust I cannot label or dismiss, I can only be. When I say ‘I cannot’ I do not mean to impose rules. I am merely stating that trust leaves no room for these things, and if I find myself feeling-experiencing-doing assessment or labelling, then this must be a function of All That Is; a function that I trust. Not because I have permission to do whatever I feel-want but because if I am assessing then it must have a purpose, a reason and all I need to do is trust the interconnectedness, the configuration of All That Is.

      Trust is not the same as make meaningful or overcome. If I trust then I accept the sacredness of what is (even if appears irrational to my biases) and focus my so-called energies on being. For me being is trusting. Trusting that I Am. Trusting that it is. Trusting the configuration of All That Is, no matter what.

      Either we are who we seem to be for a reason, or we’re not. As a configuration of All That Is, that is neither here nor there. It is what it is. It seems as it seems. Any assessment of that feels arbitrary.

      I will follow up the chidAbhAsa explanation of Advaita too!

      As for the area and subject of my PhD, it will be difficult to find a mentor willing to take on a new cosmology since it requires all fields of study and cannot be understood separately as a philosophy/psychology/religion/science but an alchemy that encompasses all things. I will let you know when I have a better idea. I can say that the first figure who came to mind was Philippe Goldin. Any thoughts?

      • Hi Melanie,

        Apologies for the delay in replying – as you (now) know, I have been on holiday.

        I’ve read through your response several times and I do find it very difficult to reply, because we are not really speaking the same language.

        Having recently read (though not fully understood!) ‘Trespassing on Einsteins Lawn’ by Amanda Gefter, I am aware that cosmologists/particle physicists are slowly coming round to ideas related to Advaita. But there is obviously no relevant teaching methodology there – the vast majority of scientists are still totally dualistic in outlook. The tendency has been for those ‘spiritual-scientific’ writers to play on people’s complete lack of appreciation of quantum physics to con them into believing there is scientific backing for their spurious theories.

        So, yes, since everything is brahman; you are brahman, your cup of coffee is brahman, your dream is brahman etc. But you cannot switch this around and say that brahman is a cup of coffee! So your statement ‘Brahman is experience’ is incorrect; non-experience is also brahman if you like. When we state that it is not possible to assert ANYTHING of brahman, that is literally true.

        I appreciate what you say about the ability to ‘arrive’ at brahman via many routes. But, if you want to discuss the journey in any depth, both discussants need to be on the same ‘path’. Someone crossing the mountain via the goat’s route would not have much to say of any directional value to someone who was travelling around the mountain by train.

        I honestly do not feel your ‘one field physics’ (whatever that is) is a useful route. Even if science is coming around to a non-dual world view, its ‘methodology’ has been around only a very short time. Traditional advaita has a teaching ‘program’ that has been validated over thousands of years. If you want to reach the notional destination, it is best to trust in that.

  9. A dear friend sent this to me today and I thought I would share this with those of you who are so sure of their knowledge and understanding of themselves. This also goes to illustrate what I said in my post above. Sometimes, ‘break-throughs’ come in an unexpected way.
    http://www.theonion.com/r/36586

    • My Dear Anon,

      “This also goes to illustrate what I said in my post above.”

      And since when have you started quoting Onion.com and Fox News as proof of your contentions? Be aware then that your ideas will also take the same route as the news from the Onion! 🙂

      In case you or your friend doesn’t know, please read below the caution that Onion says about itself:

      “The Onion
      The Onion is an American digital media company and news satire organization that publishes articles on international, national, and local news.”

      regards,

      P.S.: And let me please add for general info. so that “others” are not misled on Science, Scientific method and Scientists:

      “Researchers in all of the sciences, including the basics of genetics or astrophysics, are people as well, and subject to their own biases and expectations about their findings.” That is why we have built-in mechanisms to correct “Observational Hazards” and “Pitfalls in Interpretation” as indicated in Slide # 8 and Slide # 9 in my PPt Presentation on “Inquiry in Science and Vedanta” at my Blog: http://beyond-advaita.blogspot.com/

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