akhaNDAkAra vRRitti – The End of Suffering

653350_web_R_K_B_by_Sabine Menge_pixelio.deThere is a very evolved state of realization that can easily be mistaken for the final realization brought about by akhaNDAkAra vRRitti. I do not mean the often mentioned state of samAdhi that also tends to be mistaken for enlightenment. What I am talking about is less spectacular than samAdhi. In my experience with Western students and friends, there is one moment in which an almost complete recognition of the true nature of oneness takes place. From that moment onwards, the general outlook of the person will change: suffering is going to diminish considerably and the person knows what it is that is actually sought by people asking the question “Who am I?”. He/she recognizes what is talked of in the scriptures as Truth.

This sometimes results in calling off the search – prematurely, because for most it is not the end of the road. What is missing is the full realization of the ‘ananta-aspect’ of sat-chit-ananta. Even though the sat and chit aspects are crystal clear, there is still a vague notion of separation that can be activated if vAsanA-s are being triggered. MokSha is only after this notion is completely resolved in the non-dual knowledge.

So, this first ‘almost-realization’ cannot be akhaNDAkAra vRRitti even though it is extremely valuable, its effects being noticeable and not subject to subsiding. What akhaNDAkAra vRRitti really is, is the full and complete realization of oneness that will remain in all circumstances and result in a complete absence of suffering, anxiety, anger and the like.

This last point is crucial. Many Western Advaita seekers content themselves with the consolation “It does not matter whether there is suffering, anxiety, anger etc. As I am not the mind, I am none of this even though it occurs” and leave it there. This is NOT mokSha. In mokSha there is no resistance to anything. (Mind you, the enlightened one may show signs of resistance to certain circumstances; unfortunately it is impossible to judge from the outside whether this is a reflection of his or her being identified or just the play of the guNa-s in prakRRiti).

By the way, I completely agree with Nathan Gill’s statement that Dennis quoted the other day. There is absolutely no need for any spectacular events taking place along with neither the beginning of the “almost complete realization”, nor with the true akhaNDAkAra vRRitti. If the tension of being a ‘someone’ has been released by and by, the incomplete realization as well as the akhaNDAkAra vRRitti may be just accompanied by something like “Aah, I see!” or not even that. In fact it can be so subtle that the effect of the complete absence of tension will only be noticed afterwards.

 Photo credits: Sabine-Menge@pixelio.de

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About Sitara

Sitara was born in 1954, she became a disciple of Osho in 1979. In 2002, she met Dolano and from then on,discovered Western-style Advaita teachings, especially those of Gangaji. After reading Back to the Truth by Dennis Waite in 2007, Sitara started to study traditional Advaita Vedanta (main influences being Swami Paramarthananda, Swami Dayananda and Swami Chinmayananda). She teaches several students on a one-to-one basis or in small groups (Western-style teaching inspired by Advaita Vedanta). Sitara is highly appreciative of Advaita Vedanta while at the same time approving of several Western Advaita teachers. She loves Indian culture and spent many years in India.

72 thoughts on “akhaNDAkAra vRRitti – The End of Suffering

  1. Comment in a private email from Dennis:

    I believe you are confusing mokSha and jIvanmukti incidentally. Whether one is without suffering etc is dependent upon the extent to which one had completed sAdhana chatuShTaya sampatti prior to gaining Self-knowledge, not a result of mokSha per se.

  2. Dear Dennis,

    I agree with you about the necessity of sAdhana chatuShTaya sampatti. But I add that complete Self-knowledge , meaning full knowledge of aham brahmasmi will not happen before sAdhana chatuShTaya sampatti is complete enough. (Mind you, it will never be perfect and does not need to be but the nine virtues need to be there to a degree. Nobody can say to what degree they have to be there. It seems that this depends on the individual’s prarabdha.)

    Suffering is an expression of separation; actually suffering and separation are almost synonymous. This means that mokSha, being the absence of separation, does not admit suffering; it is an impossibility. So if there still is suffering at times, the notion that somehow something is missing although basically everything is fine, one can trust that, yes, something IS missing. Not in Truth but in the understanding. And as we all know the understanding can be completed.

  3. Dear Sitara,

    mokSha is not ‘the absence of separation’. There is never separation, either before or after mokSha. mokSha is the knowledge that there is no separation. And knowledge does not itself do anything. Knowing that the sun does not go around the earth does not prevent me from seeing the sun rising and setting. So what we are taking about here are two different things (from the standpoint of empirical reality!). Self knowledge is the same thing as mokSha. Freedom is knowing that I am free, that the bars of the world do not enclose who-I-really-am. But, as far as the body-mind is concerned, the bars can still be very much there. The extent to which the mind is unaffected by the bars (of fear and desire, for example) are dependent upon the extent to which the mind has learned to be detached from them, stilled despite the noise outside, able to discriminate between the various distractions, and so on. I.e. it is sAdhana chatuShtAya sampatti that determines the lack of suffering and not mokSha.

    • Dear Dennis,

      sorry, I was not precise enough. Of course moksha is the absence of the sense of separation, not of separation itself. And I agree that “Self knowledge is the same thing as mokSha. Freedom is knowing that I am free, that the bars of the world do not enclose who-I-really-am.”
      And I contend that akhaNDAkAra vRRitti, the starting point of this knowledge, will simply not occur unless sAdhana chatuShtAya sampatti has been completed to a degree. It seems to be just that degree that we have different opinions on.

      In the end it is a matter of definitions of terms. If I understand you correctly, you say:
      1. mokSha is Self-knowledge
      2. the mind has to be prepared in order for Self-knowledge to arise (sAdhana chatuShtAya sampatti) as well as being exposed to the teaching
      3. Self-knowledge/mokSha may occur even though the nine virtues are not sufficient
      4. after Self-knowledge has occurred the mind has to still be worked on in order to leave suffering behind completely.

      I agree with point 1, 2 and 3.
      As to point 3 – I impose higher standards to the degree to which the nine virtues are sufficient.

      I do not agree with point 4. Yes, the mind can still be improved upon after mokSha. But if this is done in order to overcome suffering, i.e. if suffering still happens, I cannot accept that mokSha. This is because I hold that Self-knowledge cannot occur in a mind that is still prone to identify with a separate self. akhaNDAkAra vRRitti is the realization of the fact that there is no separation. If suffering did not dissolve with “Self-knowledge” I conclude that the mind holds on to the idea of a separate self and thus will not allow for akhaNDAkAra vRRitti to happen.
      I do agree though that the remedy to suffering is sAdhana chatuShtAya sampatti, whether someone considers him/herself enlightened or not.

      Having said all this, I would like to add that to me it does not really matter from which point on you call it mokSha. Even the scriptures and/or commentaries of various teachers do not clarify this point without scope for interpretation. What I say is: if someone feels that he/she has Self-knowledge and at the same time freedom from suffering is lacking he/she needs to know that much much more is possible. I have one student who got to that point, i.e. knowing the Self and being relatively free from suffering now (this is someone who had 60 years of a life of extreme suffering, drama and struggle). She found that nothing else is needed and has discontinued attending classes. Of course there is nothing wrong with leaving it there.

      All my (now 14) students have the Self-knowledge you are talking of as well as lacking chatuShtAya sampatti to different degrees. Except for this one student none ever has been satisfied with a knowledge that in certain situations is veiled by habitual mental/emotional or even behavioural patterns. I myself have been in that state for many years and I know that it can dissolve into complete freedom from suffering. Mind you, the aim is not the freedom from suffering but the freedom from identification to such a degree that suffering becomes impossible. This is the freedom I call mokSha.

      Especially if someone wants to be a teacher, he/she needs more than authentic Self-knowledge that is conveyed through a mind prone to suffering and/or fear at times. Such a mind will colour the teaching and make it less convincing and thus less efficient.

  4. How, then, do you differentiate between a j~nAnI and a jIvanmukta? And how do you get from one to the other? Or do you think they are synonyms?

  5. Dear Dennis,

    I am not quite sure where you are heading, how your questions came up and in what way the answer matters. Anyway, I am glad to answer:

    j~nAnI and jIvanmukta are just words and, at that, are often used interchangeably. One could take j~nAna as a word for the “almost realization”. jIvanmukti would then be the final realization, mokSha.

    This would correspond to the idea of jivanmukta pointing to someone who can reap the fruits of knowledge whereas the j~nAni not being able to enjoy those fruits yet. This concept may be useful for the purpose of teaching but in the end it is not convincing. Ramesam in a private email drew my attention to the fact that only karma can bear fruits, not Knowledge and I find what he says most persuasive. From the fact that the terms are usually used interchangeably I conclude that the distinction is indeed difficult to make and to justify.

    That‘s why I said “Even the scriptures and/or commentaries of various teachers do not clarify this point (from when on you can call it mokSha) without scope for interpretation.” Around that point there is a kind of a grey area and I guess that this grey area has to be there because – as we agreed on in the beginning of the discussion – the dawning of knowledge or occurrence of akhaNDAkAra vRRitti can be extremely subtle. The exact point in time when understanding/knowledge is unshakably complete may not be noticed immediately.

    So I am not decided whether there needs to be a difference between the terms, i.e. I am fine to leave the area grey. But as I said, if there is a difference, it is due to lack of sAdhana chatuShtAya sampatti. Howsoever one may call the basic condition – enlightened or not – if suffering still occurs working on chatuShtAya sampatti is the cure.

    This leads to an entirely different matter: HOW to work on chatuShtAya sampatti? What would be an efficient way to develop more viveka, vairAgya, shama, dama, uparati, titikShA, shraddha, samAdhAna or mumukShutva? As many of those qualities are mutually dependent it is worthwhile contemplating this question (at least when teaching).

  6. Dear Sitara,

    Apologies for brevity. I am trying to do so many other things at present!

    You disagreed with point 4 – “After Self-knowledge has occurred the mind has to still be worked on in order to leave suffering behind completely.” This is how j~nAna and jIvanmukti are differentiated, as I understand. And that understanding came from Swamis Dayananda and Paramarthananda I believe. Unfortunately, I have not yet been able to track down a precise reference.

    I have answered numerous questions on this general topic on the Q&A page. Here are a few relevant statements that I made:

    1) What you are differentiating between is the j~nAnI (who is enlightened) and the jIvanmukta (who is established in peace/stillness etc all the time). The obstacles are called pratibandha-s (obstacle, hindrance, impediment, opposition, resistance ). And they are there because there was insufficient mental preparation (discipline, control etc) prior to enlightenment. So the mind is still prone to fall into old habits. If nothing is done, it is possible to ‘fall back’ to some degree. The solution is to continue to do nididhyAsana in the form of reading, studying, teaching or whatever; continually reminding oneself of the teaching and the truth of its conclusions. from https://www.advaita-vision.org/incomplete-enlightenment-q-333/.

    2) . First of all, let me emphasize (as I have pointed out in previous, similar questions) that I am not a jIvanmukta. I am still prone to the usual human failings. One does not gain the mental/emotional benefits (j~nAna phalam) unless one is fully accomplished with respect to sAdhana chatuShTaya sampatti prior to enlightenment. And I would not even claim to be enlightened unless I first established with the questioner that we understood exactly the same thing by this term.

    Secondly, you should disassociate �experiences� from both the study of advaita and from enlightenment. Any �feelings of peace� etc. or �absence of fear� etc. should be considered to be independent and irrelevant. It is certainly true that, with the eradication of self-ignorance, you know that the essential �you� is totally unaffected by anything; is unlimited and immortal. But the body-mind continues. Perception is via reflected Consciousness in the mind and that mind is still affected by prArabdha saMskAra. So if there were certain tendencies present before, it is quite likely that, to some degree at least, they will still be there afterwards.

    So the bottom line is that, if mental/emotional benefits are your principal concerns, advaita may not be the best route. Yoga may be a better option. from http://www.advaita.org.uk/discourses/q_and_a/q_and_a57.htm#q296.

    3) you need to be very aware of the distinction between a j~nAnI and a jIvanmukta. One can be Self-realized yet still be subject to mental suffering, still indulge in bad habits, etc. This will occur when there was insufficient preparation (sAdhana chatuShTaya sampatti) prior to enlightenment. The remedy is continuing nididhyAsana. This need not affect one�s ability to teach. Indeed, even someone who is not yet enlightened may be a good teacher if they know the scriptures and have learned the various methods from a sampradAya. Of course, someone who is enlightened as well will be even better.

    This does mean that a seeker has to be alert to the potential dangers and there is always the possibility of scandal in the extreme, as happened with Ramesh a few years ago.

    What the �seeker community� fails to appreciate is that the teacher, too, is a person from the vyAvahArika standpoint. Of course, he is the Self in reality (and knows this if he is enlightened). But so is the seeker (although he does not know it). And the teacher still functions as a person for the remainder of their life. The extent to which this person�s behavior tallies with the seeker�s notion of how it ought to be will depend, as I said above, on the state of the teacher�s mind � better prepared means purer and less likely to behave in any way �antisocially�! from http://www.advaita.org.uk/discourses/q_and_a/q_and_a39.htm#q253.

    (Apologies for the ‘?’ symbols. These are the result of changing the font standard within the HTML and can only be remedied by changing them all manually!)

    • Dear Dennis,

      Sorry for the delay. Yes, the idea of distinguishing between j~nAna and a jIvanmukti comes from Swami Dayananda and Swami Paramarthananda, I found it in many different commentaries. I expressed what I think about it in my last reply (above): it may be a good tool for teaching purposes – it can help the student with dRRigdRRishya viveka regarding manomaya and vij~nAnakoshas. But I cannot accept it as the final truth of the matter.

      You say “And I would not even claim to be enlightened unless I first established with the questioner that we understood exactly the same thing by this term.” Yes, there are so many different definitions around, this surely is something that one first has to clear up.
      You say “if there were certain tendencies present before, it is quite likely that, to some degree at least, they will still be there afterwards.” I agree. But once you know yourself as Brahman there is no possibility anymore for identification. ahaMkAra which has been the master (at least from time to time), has become the servant. As one of my student put it: the ego more and more turns into a medium for managing practical life and it functions just like organs within the body.
      prArabdha means that you have to reap the fruits of past karma, it does not mean that identification continues. There is karma phala but there is no person any longer to suffer from it.
      You say: “Indeed, even someone who is not yet enlightened may be a good teacher.” Again I agree. Swami Dayananda points out that even a mere paNDita is a good teacher and should be preferred to someone who does not know the scriptures. But, as I said in an interview with Non-Duality Magazine:
      >Someone may have got a basic understanding of his/her true nature. This basic understanding usually consists of knowing that he/she is sat-chit (is-ness–consciousness) and is the ultimate subject, the witness-consciousness to everything else. This is a very valuable realization and on enquiry it is even seen that sat-chit is boundless. But, very subtly, separation continues. There is still a ‘me’ and an ‘everything else’. If someone is in this state he may be able to help people and to teach, but as long as the last realization – of “Aham Brahmasmi”, of “I am all there is”, ananta (limitlessness) – has not happened, he is not altogether trustworthy. Such a one I would not call liberated.< Dennis, as I said before: it is a matter of words and definitions. You say “the bottom line is that, if mental/emotional benefits are your principal concerns, advaita may not be the best route.” I agree absolutely. I just regret if someone contents him/herself with less than the optimum.

      • Dear Sitara,

        I can’t find anything to disagree with in what you say here! Yet I still feel that you do not agree with what I said regarding your original statements, namely that a person who has gained Self-knowledge (via akhaNDAkAra vRRitti if you like) may still undergo suffering. (Also, there is the other corollary, namely that such a person may not exhibit the sort of behavior that we like to associate with a j~nAnI.) Thus, I would say that the mind of that person may still suffer, although I do not disagree with your statement that such a person no longer identifies with the mind.

        Do we now have accord?

  7. Dennis,

    From Sw Gambhirananda, BG 4.39: “The man who has faith, is diligent and has control over the organs, attains Knowledge. Achieving Knowledge, one SOON attains Supreme Peace”

    Shankara: “Peace, supreme detachment in called Liberation. That Liberation soon follows from full Knowledge is a fact well ascertained from all the scriptures and reasoning”

    In fact, Warrier’s translation is even more emphatic.
    “The man of faith, who has mastered his senses and who is intent on it, wins knowledge. Winning knowledge, he attains WITHOUT DELAY the peace supreme”

    Best

    Venkat

  8. Also, from Ramana’s Guru Vachaka Kovai

    530: When thus the direct (aparoksha) experience of the pure Supreme Self alone is the true, non-dual jnana, calling even that which is indirect (paroksha} as jnana is just like calling the demons ‘meritorious persons’

    532: Is it possible to appease one’s hunger by eating food cooked by a painted picture of a blazing fire? Likewise an end to the miseries of life and the enjoyment of the bliss of Self cannot be achieved by mere verbal knowledge, but only by practical knowledge of Self, which is obtained by extinguishing the ego in the heart. Thus you should know.

  9. Hi Venkat,

    Why does the body-mind not die on gaining mokSha? It is because the prArabdha karma is still active and this will continue to play out until death. The j~nAnI knows that he is not the body-mind and is not concerned about this, whether circumstances be positive or negative. Nevertheless, the mind will be affected and the extent is determined by the degree of attainment prior to mokSha regarding sAdhana chatuShTaya sampatti.

    Best wishes,
    Dennis

    • Dear Dennis,
      I finally managed to reply to your comment above. I also commented on what you say about prArabdha karma.

  10. Dear Dennis
    You haven’t addressed the BG quote? I have not come across anywhere in the Upanishads or the BG the concept that one can have jnana and yet still be subject to mental suffering. Would be interested in having a reference please?

    On the other hand:
    Katha 1.2.24: “He who has not FIRST turned away from wickedness, who is not tranquil and subdued, and whose mind is not at peace, CANNOT attain atman. It is realised only through knowledge of reality”

    Isa 7: “To the seer, all things have verily become the Self: what delusion, what sorrow can there be for him who beholds that oneness.”
    Shankara’s comment: Both ignorance and its effect, that is to say multiplicity, are destroyed for the knower of Atman. This knowledge itself is Liberation. The knower, though living in a body, is free from attachment and aversion, pain and pleasure, and the other pairs of opposites.

    And from Shankara’s comment on Brihadaranyaka 2.4.12:
    “After attaining (this oneness), the Self, freed from the body and organs, has no more particular consciousness. No more is there such particular consciousness as ‘I so and so . . I am happy or miserable’. For it is due to ignorance and since ignorance is absolutely destroyed by the realisation of Brahman, how can the knower of Brahman, who is established in his nature as Pure Intelligence, possibly have any such particular consciousness?”

    Surely jnana cannot be ‘real’ jnana without the extinguishing of the ego / particular consciousness, as per Ramana and Brihadaranyaka. It is merely an intellectual indirect knowledge, rather than the direct insight that leads to the death of the mind per Ramana or a mutation of the brain cells per Krishnamurti.

    So would be interested in being corrected?

    Thanks

    venkat

    • Dear Venkat,

      Can we maybe continue this under Sitara’s thread below rather than trying to keep separate threads going?

      I worry about specific translations because of cognitive bias on the part of the translator. It is amazing how, for example, a neo-Vedantin’s translation of a shloka can differ from one by someone in a direct sampradAya from Shankara. This is how misunderstandings regarding nirvikalpa samAdhi are propagated.

      I accept what you say and agree that they appear to support your position. You have clearly been more successful at locating scriptural references than I have! But I am still not convinced because none of them explain how it is that a j~nAnI continues to exist in the world (and usually teach etc). I certainly do not accept that the mind ‘dies’ or that the j~nAnI does not still see duality etc (though knowing that the world is mithyA of course).

      So my comment on May 12 14.27 has still not been answered – it seems to me to represent the reasoned understanding of the situation (and as Gaudapada and Shankara acknowledge) scriiptural statements which contradict reason are valueless.

  11. Dear Dennis,
    You make a difference between the mind and j~nAna, saying that after Self realization the mind is going to follow its old ruts even if they contradict j~nAna.
    The knowledge occurs in the mind and culminates in akhaNDAkAra vRRitti or howsoever one may want to call the moment of completion, mokSha. YogavasiShta states that with mokSha the mind becomes non-different from Brahman. So from the moment of completion onwards the mind is incapable to identify with what one is not, the separate Self.
    Any identification is a derivate of the identification with a separate self.
    Resistance is due to identification.
    Suffering is an expression of resistance to what is.
    To me it is a contradiction in terms to say that someone knows himself as “all there is and beyond” and at the same time separation should continue in the mind, meaning ahamkara is still running the show at times. I understand your logic because I myself held the same point of view for a while. But I do not follow it any more because from where I am now I understand that the logic is faulty.

  12. Dear Sitara,

    You haven’t explained how the logic is faulty. The mind cannot become non-different from Brahman as a result of a thought. It always was non-different. There is always only Brahman. What changes is that the misconceptions in the mind are corrected. The mind continues and there has to remain an attenuated ahaMkAra such that the j~nAnI can still operate in the world and not be put into a lunatic asylum.

    If you accept that prArabdha karma continues until death of the body-mind, what form do you believe this takes as regards behavior?

    • Dear Dennis,
      I think that I did explain how it is faulty by bringing in Yogavasishta. But again I (or Yogavasishta) was not precise enough: of course the mind does not BECOME non-different from Brahman. Instead, exactly what you say happens at the point of final realization: the misconceptions in the mind have lost their impact. And, yes, the mind continues and there has to remain an attenuated ahaMkAra.
      As I said, “prArabdha means that you have to reap the fruits of past karma, it does not mean that identification continues. There is karma phala but there is no person any longer to suffer from it.” To define “person” more precisely: there is no identification any more with a separate entity.
      As
      1. “Any identification is a derivate of the identification with a separate self.
      2. Resistance is due to identification.
      3. Suffering is an expression of resistance to what is“
      it follows that suffering is no option any more once identification is extinguished.
      To me this seems logical, maybe I am wrong. As I said, in the end it is a matter of words: at which point one starts calling it mokSha.

      Also, I have to add that I do work with an extremely efficient vAsanA dissolving tool; I have done so for myself in the course of the last 17 years and help my students to apply it whenever a vAsanA persists to form an obstacle. I do not only want my students to become enlightened (by your definition most of them are that already) but also want them to function as integrated, mature, playful and loving personalities – meaning that they have chatuShtAya sampatti completely at their disposal.
      So, who knows, maybe you are right and the utter freedom from suffering in my case is due to the effects of that tool.

      Anyway we do agree on the fact that sAdhana chatuShtAya sampatti needs to be (relatively) complete for the final realization to occur in the mind. You say that the work on it may continue after mokSha, I say that completion to a high degree is a prerequisite for mokSha. As far as I can see that’s all we differ on.

  13. Sitara’s Comment @ 10:52 on May 19, 2014 is brilliant! Thank you for mapping the things clearly.

    The points made by Dennis are both “sticky” and “explosive” at the same time – pardon me for mixing the metaphors.

    Past experience, though, incontrovertibly confirms the aptness of both the adjectives I used: “Sticky” because the discussions on this very question remained unresolved even after months and months of debate by experts at some other fora. “Explosive” because, much of the time the arguments turned acrimonious and left bad taste in the mouth.

    More as a fly on the wall, I would like to say the following:

    To hold that mind always has been non-different from brahman is equivalent to saying that dog-shit has always been non-different from brahman.

    Why so? Because both are “perceived” and by definition whatever is perceived is an “object” only. An object can never be the “Subject.” Thus mind is as much an object as dog-shit is. But the ‘substance’ of all objects is brahman.

    Therefore, mind is ‘brahman’ only in the sense that its substance also is brahman.

    Expressing in a figurative manner, mind is a little throb within brahman (please see the Throb in the Blob at: https://www.advaita-vision.org/questions-not-raised-or-answered-part-2/ ). Mind is an ‘imagined’ contraction that happens in brahman by virtue of brahman’s infinite Freedom.

    The imagined contraction has to end for the ‘mind’ to be back again as spotless pristine brahman within brahman.

    And as Dennis said, “mind cannot become non-different from brahman as a result of a thought.”

    (The above observation, incidentally, exposes the infirmity in the concept of akhaNDAkAra vRRitti – but that is another debate. This term, (jumping the line, for I hope to answer my questions separately), is not found in any major upanishads or Bhgavad-Gita to the best of my knowledge).

    When the throbbing (=rippling) subsides, what “remains” is automatically Pure brahman (remember the throb was within brahamn only – not outside It). No ‘thing’ extra needs to be done so as to bring about liberation as a “result” of, a reward for, doing something.

    With the “imagined constriction” having gone, mind has ended – there is the Blob only and only the Blob! No more any throb.

    ahamkAra is that throb. Attenuation of ahamkAra is the end of the throb. Attenuation of the throb is the end of mind.

    Now we face the intriguing question posed by Dennis: How can a j~nAnI still operate in the world and not be put into a lunatic asylum?

    Rama asks this question as many as four or five times in different prakaraNa-s of Yogavasishta. Sage Vasishta replies in different ways very elaborately, each time in a novel manner, each time equally convincing. At one point the Sage even chides Rama: “What a brainless fellow you are, you ask the same question so many times!”

    Undoubtedly the concept of prArabha is also invoked in the Sage’s explication. This is not the place to get into the details. Rama was finally fully convinced. But we still are left unconvinced with saucer eyes and bewildered looks.

    However, see what Shankara himself says about prArabdha in aparOkshAnubhUti and also in one of his bhAshyA-s (I do not now recollect exact citation): “It is, therefore, for the understanding of the ignorant alone that the Shruti speaks of Prarabdha.” prArabdha is no more than an explanatory figment of imagination.

    Some of our friends may be familiar with Prof. T. Nagel’s famous question: “What Is it Like to Be a Bat?”

    Neither Neuroscientists nor Philosophers could answer it. I do not know if I see the same “red” that you see. Under these circumstances, who can answer how a jnAni sees unless we invent a myth?

    The body might have been of that “useless fellow” ‘Mr. X’ whom I knew well. But now he is a jnAni, there is no more Mr. X there. It is under the direct use of brahman who is using it merely as an instrument – as much as I use a cell phone to talk to you.

    regards,

    • Dear Ramesam,

      Thanks for your kind words. Anyway, I do not believe that there is a danger of acrimony. Acrimony is based on identification with one’s thoughts and opinions. Dennis and I like and respect each other and certainly will not allow identification to undermine this.
      “The imagined contraction has to end for the ‘mind’ to be back again as spotless pristine brahman within brahman.” Well said! As goes for many sentences in your post it cannot be taken literally but has to be heard as poetry (Mr. X being under the use of brahman). Knowing Dennis, he will certainly object to such expressions, though – ☺.
      As far as I am concerned I would just object to one thing you mentioned, “the end of the mind”, also called “the destruction of the mind” which, I am sure you do not mean literally either but in the sense of the body-mind finally being allowed to be what it always was: a mere vehicle for Ishvara – as law and order of the universe – or guNas to operate.

      • Thanks Sitara.
        Yes, what is important is the “lakshyArtha” (the indirectly expressed purport) and not the “sabdArtha” (the immediate word meaning), because, in the ultimate sense, all words are just ‘sounds’, and irrespective of what sound is produced here, it is up to the ‘receiver’ what meaning s/he makes out of it !!!

        And coming to the usage of “end”, I agree it is a poor translation for the philosophical sense of the Sanskrit word ‘nAsha,’ but conventionally adopted by all. The word ‘nAsha’ does not exactly mean destruction, ruining, etc. etc. It conveys a sense of subsiding after an upwelling, like the calmness after a rough storm, like the forest vegetation which was ravaged by the invasion by a horde of monkeys and the monkeys have just left (borrowing Sage Valmiki’s description).

        So the word ‘end’ does not convey really total disappearance, but signifies an ethereal ‘calm down’, upasama, at least to me.

        regards,

        • How very very beautiful. Thanks, Ramesam for these enlightening remarks. What a blessing is the Sanskrit language.

  14. I always try hard to keep the issue clear and simple so as to try to avoid the topic expanding and requiring longer and more time-consuming replies to cover everything. I usually seem to fail…

    It seems to me that the key point here is: who is it that suffers? I suggest that Atman never suffers! It must be the mind (or reflected consciousness in the mind if you prefer). If you agree with this, then: if you also agree that the mind continues after enlightenment, surely it must follow that suffering may also continue? The extent to which it does or doesn’t must depend upon its ‘purity’ (and therefore how good a reflector of consciousness it is). If it was very purified (by sAdhana chatuShTAya sampatti) prior to enlightenment, then it is unlikely to suffer much, if at all. If it was purified only to the degree necessary for Self-knowledge, then it is quite likely that it will suffer from time to time. Of course, after enlightenment, there is no identification with the suffering mind so it does not really matter too much.

  15. Dear Dennis,

    correct: Atman never suffers. We agree tat it is the mind that suffers. I hold that only the mind of those who do not (fully) know themselves as Brahman is able to suffer.
    The mind continues after enlightenment but as there is only an attenuated ahaMkAra, meaning an ahaMkAra that has been rendered harmless, there are no identifications anymore that could bring about suffering (identification = harm).

    I know your logic because I myself have been following it. But from my experience now I rather go with Yoga Vasishta and the adduced reasons above.

    As I said, I may be wrong because of the powerful method I have been using to reduce identifications/suffering when there still was suffering.

  16. Dennis

    With respect to my quotes from the Upanishads, for Isa and Katha, they are from Nikhilananda’s translation and Brihadaranayaka from Madhavananda. Hardly neo-vedantins!!

    I’d agree (from my far more limited understanding) with Sitara and Ramesam. One can experience pain whether a jnani or not; but one can only experience suffering if the mind identifies with the body, and subsequently has desires / fears for the future with respect to the body. That is what suffering is. If you have fundamentally lost the sense of ego / I / identification with the body, then there can be no suffering.

    Katha talks about Atman not being able to be gained by study, but that “it is attained by him alone whom it chooses” (1.2.23). In like vein, K says “A mind that is no longer concerned with change has no fear and is therefore free. Then it is no longer trying to change itself into another pattern, no longer exposing itself to further experiences, no longer asking and demanding, because such a mind is free; therefore, it can be quiet, still. And then, PERHAPS, that which is nameless can come into being.”

    Nisargadatta and Zen similarly talk about abandoning all concepts, and reaching a silent mind.

    And how does a jnani live if the mind no longer has an ego? Nisargadatta says it best:
    – “A man who knows that he is neither body nor mind cannot be selfish, for he has nothing to be selfish for. Or you may say he is equally “selfish” on behalf of everybody he meets; everybody’s welfare is his own. The feeling “I am the world, the world is myself” becomes quite natural; once it is established, there is just no way of being selfish. To be selfish means to covet, acquire, accumulate on behalf of the part against the whole . . . When the centre of selfishness is no longer, all desires for pleasure and fear of pain cease; one is no longer interested in being happy; beyond happiness there is pure intensity, inexhaustible energy, the ecstasy of giving from a perennial source.”
    – “Why have I been talking? Because the life span has to be spent, it has to be used. So even that is merely entertainment. Something has to be done; this is entertainment, whiling away the time, the life span.”
    – “If what I have been saying is clearly understood by anyone the effective result will be that even in the daily working of the individual’s life there will be no specific intention. Things will continue in a sort of ballbearing fashion – without any deliberate intention or deliberate action. In my own case, throughout the day, the body carries out its normal functions; things go on in a normal way and nothing is resisted. Throughout the whole day there is no interest in understanding what is happening . . . To have any hopes, expectations, etc, one must have an image, an identity.”

    So it really doesn’t matter to a jnani how life subsequently plays out – because there has never been anything to achieve. And if he is deemed a lunatic by society, so it is. But, the neat conundrum, is that you cannot will yourself to this loss of ego, because that will in itself is ego . . . hence the “grace” that Katha and K talk about.

    Best

    venkat

  17. Dear Dennis,

    You raised two crucial questions in your Comment @ 21:33 on May 20, 2014 to buttress your argument in support of post-enlightenment suffering.

    I fully agree with you that “Enlightenment” does not end the ‘suffering’ per se. This has been the foundational argument of my Blog and the PPts presented therein. Expanding on this theme will be a digression at this place. But, I do have to say that enlightenment does end the ‘sufferer.’

    You asked:
    1. Who is it that suffers?
    2. If you also agree that the mind continues after enlightenment, surely it must follow that suffering may also continue?

    I felt that Sitara and Venkat answered these questions well.

    You have not obviously concurred with them, as yet. May I suggest that the difficulty to agree lies in the way the word “mind” is used and understood?

    As we all know, the English word ‘mind’ is an omnibus term combining the four functional aspects that Vedanta looks at with distinction. As Sitara said, the attenuation, on enlightenment is for ‘ahmakAra’ (ego). So the other three aspects (components of the mind) will jolly well continue. They serve for the upkeep and maintenance of the body-organism post-enlightenment.

    The post-enlightenment body exists pretty much in the same way as does the tree across the road or the dog on the street without belonging to any ‘person’ as there is no more a claimant of ownership for it nor doership for its actions. (Remember, it is the ‘ego’ that makes these two claims and thinks itself as a ‘me’ (i.e. self), separate from the rest – the ‘not me’ (i.e. the world)).

    So effectively, ‘Whatever-that-Is’, in the absence of ‘belongingness’ to a separate individuated self, is brahman — neha nAnAsti kincana, yena sarvamidam tatam, sarvam khalvidam brahma – including the roadside tree, the street dog and its ‘bark’, the meowing cat and its ‘meow’ as well as ‘suffering’.

    regards,

  18. Dear All,

    I believe it would be possible to answer the questions you have raised here by following up on Ramesam’s suggestion regarding definition of ‘mind’. Indeed, I had already begun to do this. However, I think it would prolong the discussion by triggering new questions. Accordingly, I would sooner examine the word ‘suffering’.

    First of all, let me say that I do not dispute anything that is said in the scriptures. As I already noted, though, whatever is said has to be subject to reason. Many things are figurative and everything is ultimately adhyAropa. We have to use shAstra in order to gain understanding but it is like the pole in pole vaulting and has to be left behind ultimately. (But also, Venkat, Swami Nikhilananda is a neo-Vedantin, whether you like it or not. He was a disciple of Sarada Devi rather than Vivekananda but he still equates enlightenment with nirvikalpa samAdhi, for example and regards enlightenment as an experience rather than Self-knowledge.)

    I’m sure our apparent failure to agree is due to words only (which is hardly surprising when duality itself is effectively the result of words!)

    From the perspective of absolute reality (if we could have such a thing), there is only brahman. I’m sure we agree on this! Any other perspective is mithyA. Nevertheless, we are trying to explain what happens in the dream as though it were real.

    Anyway, I think I have figured out what the problem is: suffering is a second-order phenomenon. First you have the primary problem, which is directly physical or emotional – pain, fear etc. Then there is the possibility of identifying/attaching to that and dwelling on it. It is this second order aspect that we call ‘suffering’. So, with this definition, I can agree that the emotional involvement continues for the j~nAnI but suffering ceases. As David Carse puts it: “Taking the dream to be real is not what causes suffering; it is the suffering.”

    Best wishes,
    Dennis

    • Dear Dennis, dear Ramesam, dear Venkat,
      great! So it seems we finally reached “The end of suffering”!
      Thank you all for a very enjoyable discussion.

    • No, No, Dennis, if you excuse me.

      IMHO, it sounds like a typical Western(-ized) Advaita teaching to say “Pain is physical and suffering is psychological; and, therefore, you have no option with pain but you have a choice whether or not to experience suffering.”

      Well, let me hasten to add, it is not a wrong statement. Most of the teachers (including the traditionalists), perhaps, lay quite an emphasis in their teaching until thus far.

      (Some teachers, out of sheer compassion towards the seekers and some other teachers desirous of a large retinue of sishya-s, are anxious to prove Advaita offers some direct benefit to their living condition, pardon me in saying this).

      But, such a teaching is still a halfway house only. Advaita continues beyond this. Advaita is actually an inquiry into what is that which is the ultimate trikAla abAdhita Truth.

      True Advaita teaching – All Is brahman (even ‘All’ is superfluous) – implicitly means even the so-called ‘pain’ is brahman, unless I name it as pain and distinguish it from the rest of ‘What-Is.’

      There are no ‘second order phenomena’ to follow a first order something, as the last para seems to suggest in your Comment. There is no ‘second.’ a-dvitIyam.

      Therefore, “Suffering” – the raw vibration before you give a name to it – is as much a first order thing, inclusively within ‘All-That-Is.’

      Just as at that moment the entire Totality chose in its infinite freedom to be all that whatever “IS” (including the roadside tree, the street dog and its bark, the cat and its meow), It chose to appear as that ‘pain’ also, indistinguishably and inseparably within the total canvas of “What-Is.”

      Even to ‘call’ some arising sensation within the Totality as ‘pain’ or ‘suffering’, is duality being brought in!

      “Osama is as much a part of the world as Obama is! Perhaps I should even omit “a part of” because Oneness does not have parts in it. It is simply indivisible. Non-duality is not exclusive. It does not sieve out, winnow or filter. It is all inclusive.”
      (http://www.nondualitymagazine.org/nondualitymagazine.2/nonduality_magazine.2,ramesamvemuri.htm )

      I hope I am able to convey clearly what my understanding is. With apologies if I happen to appear to have hurt anyone in this expression,

      regards,

  19. Dear Ramesam,
    as to your objection to Dennis’ distinction between pain and suffering. Would not you agree that the fully realized one will sense physical pain, lets say if he/she breaks a bone and yet will not identify with this sensation as “me” and thus will not suffer from it?
    I admit that this is the crudest example. With other, subtler examples, it may be less easy to make the distinction. Lets say his/her loved one dies. I can only say that from my own experience it is the same: there is pain, a reaction of the subtle body, and yet without identification this pain is not followed by suffering and thus the pain soon subsides.(And believe me, I have been a great sufferer before throughout my life).
    Another issue is fear. No doubt: basically fear is not possible after Self realization. But what if the fear is a mere physical response? It is not easy to distinguish. Quoting from another interview that I gave to Non Duality Magazine:

    “Also I think that the brain of the human animal nature has got certain built in alarm systems, which will be felt by enlightened as well as non-enlightened beings. So aversion to this or that, or fear based on those alarm systems is natural. It simply depends on the degree to which someone is able to handle that aversion or fear intelligently.

    If your alarm starts because you encounter a big but harmless spider, see whether you can move away, and if you can’t, just meet the situation as it is.
    If your alarm starts because you see a dangerous animal, run away or do whatever is needed to be done to save your life. It is appropriate to save your life if you can.

    If your alarm starts because the airplane you are sitting in is diving head on to the ground, the enlightened should be able to stay calm. The alarm of the body-mind may go crazy but not he/she. There is absolutely nothing that can be done, life is over, so why not relax. Nothing is lost anyway.”

    Ramesam, you will know better about these scientific things than I but to go deeper into them would certainly go beyond the scope of this thread.

    • Dear Sitara,

      The questions you have raised here will undoubtedly take us into a hugely fuzzy territory with possibilities of arguments in support of, as you are aware, diametrically opposite viewpoints! And as you rightly said, the neurophysiological issues are of a different kettle altogether and any discussion here may be out of place.

      Many Indian readers can cite innumerable examples in answer to your opening question – stories from puranas, itihasas etc. Shankara vijaya-s also narrate many amazing incidents from Shankara’s life. Swami Rama describes in his books several instances he himself witnessed in the Himalayas. Examples from more recent saints like Ramakrishna, Ramana, Nimkaroli Baba, Shridi Saibaba can also be quoted. However, a number of these stories sound very incredulous and throw even a doubt on the credibility of the narrator.

      Notwithstanding these observations, in answer to the specific instance of “breaking a bone”, I want to quote here a couple of paras from a short write up by Shri C. S. Ramakrishna Sarma about Shri Janardana Swamy, the father of Brahmasri K.V. Krishna Murthy whom I know very well:

      *****

      “Shri Kuppa Lakshma Avadhanulu was a well-known Pundit of Vedas, Vedanta and Auxiliary Vedic Systems in Andhra region during the last century. He was born on 3rd November 1909. Shri Avadhanulu studied in depth several branches of Vedic literature like Shiksha, Vyakarana, Chandas, Jyotisha, Nirukta, Kalpa, Tarka, Mimamsa, Vedanta, Yoga, Mantra Sastra etc. Shri Avadhanulu entered into sainthood in the Holy presence of the Paramacharya of Kanchi Kmakoti Pitham in 1981. He was conferred the name of Shri Janardana Ananda Saraswati Swami in the Ananda Saraswati tradition.

      Shri Janardana Ananda Saraswati Swami had since then followed the strict life-style of a saint as prescribed in scriptures. Many of his actions and reactions used to strike an observer as if he did not feel a separation between himself and his surroundings. Pain or suffering hardly mattered to him and could never disturb his placid state of composed mind. His contemporaries remember several incidents that speak of his yogic achievements.
      ………………
      “Shri Janardana Swamy at another time amazed the doctors with his subtle explanations of some complicated philosophical questions ignoring all the pain while he was being surgically treated for piles. Once the Swamy had to be operated to mend a bone. No anesthesia worked on him. So several persons held him tight and the orthopedic surgery was carried out physically hammering a part of his bone. But he neither stirred on the surgical table nor expressed any discomfort. He later told his surgeon that his thoughts were lost in some deep philosophical analysis when the hurtful procedure commenced.”

      *****

      I leave it to you to draw your own conclusions.

      regards,

      • Yes, there are many awesome stories. To me they prove that yogic training can bring about amazing results. But these basically have no relation to enlightenment. A yogi will have the siddhis that he acquired through yogic training (maybe even in past lives). He won’t lose them because of enlightenment. But there is no need for them as far as Self knowledge is concerned.

  20. Dear Ramesam,

    Of course you are right – there is only brahman so pain and suffering are brahman too. I believe I said as much at the outset of this discussion. What we were looking for, I thought, was a satisfactory vyAvahArika explanation.

    It also occurred to me that there is a tendency for us to get hung up on the traditionally taught advaita ‘mechanisms’. Thus, we talk about ahaMkAra identifying with this and that. But those are only adhyAropa models also. It is far simpler to say that thoughts/feelings arise in the mind. Some of these are prolonged and persistent. That is what we call ‘suffering’. Someone with SCS training is able to watch thoughts arise and simply let them pass by and disappear. Someone with insufficient SCS training will keep attending to such thoughts and thereby prolong the suffering.

    The difference between a j~nAnI and an aj~nAnI is that the former knows they are only arisings in mind, whether or not they are persistent, and therefore doesn’t worry about them.

  21. Dear Dennis,

    Thank you for the observations.

    I am fully in agreement with what you say re: the “tendency for us to get hung up on the traditionally taught advaita ‘mechanisms.’ ”

    I am afraid the model of ‘thoughts/feelings arising in the mind’ is also an inappropriate model. It gives the feeling that ‘mind’ is a container like a fruit bowl on the dining table or an empty space in a room wherein the thoughts arise and subside. The adhyAropa of five body sheaths, the concepts of mental plane and manoloka made up of subtler mind-stuff, godly beings roaming around in the mental world giving darshana-s during dreams etc. etc. contributed no less to this misconception.

    As a matter of fact, there is no mind other than the thought arising. Thought never IS; it is always a movement. Mind is movement.

    If you recall the IkshaNa shruti vAkya, for example: so2kAmayata bahushyAm, this thought arose in ‘That’.

    And how did the thought happen? spandena.

    So spandana (vibration i.e. movement) in “That” is the thought.

    There was no other medium like a ‘mind’ as a container in which the thought came up.

    Even the so-called “our” thoughts also actually arise in an undefinable and unlocatable placeless space for a no particular ‘me’, until “I” claim ownership to that thought as ‘my thought.’

    Shri Vijay in his Comments at the other topic gave a link to Swami Sivananda’s site. Swami Sivananda too I think speaks about mind being none other than the thought.

    Another minor point I would like to make here is the difference you mentioned about a jnAni and ajnAni. I am certain you are aware of it. But just for clarity, I want to make it explicit.

    The way you said gives the impression that a jnAni “knows” that thoughts are only arisings in the mind and an ajnAni is unaware of this. As we have seen that there is no entity as ‘mind’ other than that thought, obviously, the statement that jnAni, as a remote observer-knower, “knows” thoughts as arisings in the mind cannot be correct.

    The actual difference between the jnAni and ajnAni is that the ajnAni “misidentifies” himself with one of the arising thoughts to the exclusion of all others, imagining himself to be a limited and separate entity. There is no way to ‘define’ a jnAni except to say that jnAni is whatever is the residuum after the mis-identification ends. So a jnAni is not an identifiable separate entity — brahmavid brahmaiva bhavati.

    regards,
    (P.S. The construction of the sentences above looks muddy and sticky; but I hope they will make sense. 2. What is SCS?)

    • Dear Ramesam,

      Happy to go along with that. I will rephrase what I said:

      “Of course you are right – there is only brahman so pain and suffering are brahman too. I believe I said as much at the outset of this discussion. What we were looking for, I thought, was a satisfactory vyAvahArika explanation.

      It also occurred to me that there is a tendency for us to get hung up on the traditionally taught advaita ‘mechanisms’. Thus, we talk about ahaMkAra identifying with this and that. But those are only adhyAropa models also. It is far simpler to say that thoughts/feelings arise. Some of these are prolonged and persistent. That is what we call ‘suffering’. Someone with SCS training is able to watch thoughts arise and simply let them pass by and disappear. Someone with insufficient SCS training will keep attending to such thoughts and thereby prolong the suffering.

      The difference between a j~nAnI and an aj~nAnI is that the former knows they are only arisings, whether or not they are persistent, and therefore doesn’t worry about them.”

      (SCS is sAdhana chatuShTAya sampatti. I hate having to keep typing it out in full – sorry!)

  22. Talking of jnanis, I just came across this in “Drops from the Ocean” by V.Ganesan (grand nephew of Bhagavan) on the occasion of his meeting with Nisargadatta:

    “We are three brothers, Ramana Maharshi, J Krishnamurti and I. We teach the same truth but in different languages that’s all.”

  23. . . . which leads onto this apposite comment from K:

    Surely, it is only when I see the false as the false that my mind is capable of perceiving what is true. A mind that is confused in the false, can never find the truth. Therefore, I must understand what is false in my relationships, in my ideas, in the things about me because to perceive the truth requires the understanding of the false. Without removing the causes of ignorance, there cannot be enlightenment; and to seek enlightenment when the mind is unenlightened is utterly empty, meaningless. Therefore, I must begin to see the false in my relationships with ideas, with people, with things. When the mind sees that which is false, then that which is true comes into being and then there is ecstasy, there is happiness.

  24. Dear Dennis,

    Since you were sceptical of Nikhilananda’s translation of Katha, here is Divyajnana Sarojini Varadarajan’s notes, based on Sw Paramarthanada’s lectures:

    1.2.23: This atma can be attained neither through (mere) recitation (of the Vedas), nor through (mere) memory, nor through (mere) repeated listening. (It is) attained by him only, whom this (atma) chooses. This atma reveals its nature to him.

    1.2.24: Neither the one who has not withdrawn from bad conduct, nor the one who lacks self-control, nor the one who lacks mind control, nor the one who lacks concentration can attain this (atma) through knowledge.

    P’s comment: In this mantra four disciplines are highlighted which are all part of SCS. The upanishad presents them here using double negatives. The upanishad says that four types of disqualification will NOT give moksha.

    So Katha, supported by P’s comments, says that SCS is a prerequisite for moksha (and further that moksha is gained only by him that atma chooses).

    Best wishes
    venkat

  25. Dennis,

    Following logically on, here is Sw Dayananda’s translation of Bhagavad Gita

    4.39: One who has faith (in the satra and in the words of the teacher), who is committed to that (knowledge) and who is master of one’s senses gains the knowledge. Having gained the knowledge, one IMMEDIATELY gains absolute peace”.

    D’s comments: Here we see two types of santi. One is the santi, tranquility that is gained through yoga. By karma-yoga, one can gain certain tranquility that is purely a condition of the mind. Being a condition of the mind, this santi is subject to change. This type of santi is ALSO A NECESSITY and is indicated by samyatendriyatva, mastery of the sense organs. A person who enjoys the santi gained by karma-yoga gains another santi TOO, the absolute santi through knowledge . . . And in the wake of knowledge it is gained immediately, not after time.

    And D’s comments on v40 are also apposite:
    Because of sraddha, the non-discriminative ignorant person can become discriminating. And once there is discrimination, viveka, there will be vairagya, detachment or objectivity, because of which the person will have desire for liberation, mumuksutva. This desire for liberation will lead to enquiry whereby the knowledge is gained, and along with it, para-santi.

    Note the sequence in both Katha and BG between SCS to knowledge/moksha to supreme peace. I suspect you don’t regard Dayananda and Paramarthananda as neo-vedantins?!

    Best wishes

    venkat

  26. Dear Venkat,

    I’m afraid I have lost track of the key point of seeming contention here and don’t want to read through the whole lot again. Is it possible to make the point that you want me to answer in a single sentence? (Unless the following provides an answer.)

    What I have said all along is that one cannot gain Self-knowledge without having at least ‘medium’ SCS. And, if a j~nAnI did not have ‘full’ SCS, then he/she will not gain the fruits of Self-knowledge until further nididhyAsana has been done. This is what I believe Swamis D and P have said.

    Best wishes,
    Dennis

  27. Thanks Dennis. The point is that the Upanishads do not posit stages in enlightenment and freedom. The comments on Upanishads and BG by Dayananda and Paramarthananda seem to support this contention. It may well be that they have said something different elsewhere – but this doesn’t have any scriptural support, let alone from the likes of Ramana or JK or Nisargadatta. Though the latter would agree that intellectual knowledge may give some peace, it is not the liberation that they talk of.

    I suspect we agree to disagree!

    Best
    venkat

  28. Dear Venkat,

    I (at least partially) take back what I said about Swami Nikhilananda. I am still fairly sure I have seen something that he wrote which was in accord with neo-Vedanta and not with traditional Advaita but I have now encountered footnotes in his Mandukya commentary which specifically do not do this. E.g. in a footnote to kArikA 3.37, he says about Gaudapada’s use of the word samAdhi: “The state of complete identity with non-dual Brahman, arrived at as a result of discrimination and negation of phenomena, is the Vedantic conception of samAdhi (which is quite different from any mystical or mechanical state described as samAdhi in the yoga system).

    Best wishes,
    Dennis

  29. I have now located a reference. Unfortunately it is an mp3 one so I can’t paste it here!

    Swami Paramarthananda talks about how shravana alone can bring both knowledge and phalam provided that one has SCS but that, without full qualification, knowledge may come but not immediate phalam. In that situation, nididHyAsana is needed.

    This occurs in his talks on Mandukya Upanishad in the commentary on kArikA 2.36.

    Dennis

  30. “knowledge may come but not immediate phalam”

    If any one talks of knowledge and its phalam in a way comparable to karma and karma phala, such a usage calls for a lot of explanation.

    One cannot say much without knowing:
    i) The exact words and wording used by the speaker;
    ii) The context and relevance of usage of these words;
    iii) The meaning the words ‘knowledge and phalam’ convey to a listener;
    iv) What meaning is wished to be conveyed by the speaker;
    v) What is understood by the speaker himself;
    vi) The Speaker’s own level of understanding;
    etc. etc.

    But it is not also, perhaps, correct to let go such expressions without a word or two on the potential confusion they may create because, at least on the face of it, they sound not only strange but also “unshAstraic.”

    Why “unshAstraic”?

    Conventionally, “phala” implies bhoktRtva and therefore, the existence of a bhokta (experiencer). A bhokta reaps the just desserts/rewards of his/her karmic actions.

    But in the case of dawn of the Self-Knowledge, by its very definition, what happens is the complete dissolution of any sense of a ‘separate self’ as the experiencer (bhokta). There is a total absence of triputi — of experiencer-experiencing-something to be experienced — on attaining Self-Knowledge. In simple terms, a bhokta does not exist after Self-Knowledge to enjoy any ‘phalam.’

    The intuitively and experientially realized understanding of the “absence” of a separate “me” as an ‘experiencer’, who still would be looking for the bhoktRtva of something to be experienced itself, is the True “Knowledge” (with capital “K”). So there is no gap (time itself cannot exist) in such an understanding happening and the dissolution of an ‘experiencer’ taking place. They are simultaneous; the two are identical; they are synonymous.

    In the absence of such an understanding of Self-Knowledge, all other ‘knowledge’ is only information gained at a verbal level. So there is a need to distinguish “Knowledge” from ‘knowledge’ (lower case ‘k’).

    Though, admittedly, Knowledge and knowledge are both schematically supposed to happen as vRRitti-s, a qualitative difference is postulated between these two notionally conceived vRRittis. The former is referred to as the akhaNDAkAra / brahmAkAra (unbroken and of the nature of brahman or formless) going by the ‘conceptual’ model of vRRitti-s. In contrast, the latter vRRitti is said to be delimited and of a finite form.

    [Incidentally, it may be stated here that Vedanta Scholars aver that the usage of “akhaNDAkAra vRRitti” is not found even in Shankara’s prasthAna trayi bhAshya! So Shankara never used such terminology/conceptual vRRritti model!!]

    To further help to bring in some clarity between Knowledge and knowledge, the following illustration may be useful:

    Everyone knows that on contact, electric power gives a shock. You may also have some idea of what a shock feels like. All this is ‘knowledge.’ But how exactly is the experiential Knowledge of a 440 V shock? Have you ever experienced at least a 220 V shock by willfully touching with your finger a power supply line standing on an uncarpeted cement floor with naked feet? Can you ever forget that experiential knowing of the shock once you had it? What “gap” is required to have any phalam between touching the live wire and the shock?

    I do not advise you to try it; you may say it is foolish to touch a live wire; but I had done that as a curious teenager when I saw for the first time in my life electricity at home when I went for college education to a different town! I simply wanted to know what an electric ‘shock’ was.

    regards,

  31. Thanks, Ramesam, for drawing our attention to this unresolved question – that phallam of Self Knowledge is a contradiction in terms. The example you give – 220 V shock –, however, suggests that akhaNDAkAra / brahmAkAra vRRitti comes along with a sort of a flash of lightening which is not necessarily the case.
    As mentioned in one of my early comments in this thread I suppose that Sw. Paramarthananda uses the term “fruit of knowledge” for teaching purposes only. The understanding that knowledge cannot be complete if it is still able to bear fruits, is needed only for those who are entering nidhidyAsana.

    • Thank you, Sitara for the observations.

      The example of the electric shock was only to highlight the difference between knowing a thing at verbal level and gaining knowledge of it in an experientially unforgettable (irreversible) manner. It is NOT at all meant to compare Self-Knowledge to a shock or flash of lightning. Please permit me to say that such a comparison is never intended nor is implied in the sentence. (This, incidentally, demonstrates how a reader/listener can draw unintended inferences).

      Coming to the issue of attainment of Self-Knowledge and having to wait for ‘phalam,’ it will be highly appreciated if the proponents of such a theory can cite the relevant mahavAkya-s / mantra-s from the major upanishads / Shankara bhAshya.

      In the absence of any scriptural evidence to that effect, such statements unfortunately have the danger of being misunderstood.

      regards,

  32. Here is what Swami Paramarthanada says as his rendering of kArikA 2.36:

    shravaNa alone will bring instantaneous knowledge and benefit to one who has sAdhana chatuShTaya sampatti. In this case, the study is sufficient to receive knowledge and enjoy karma phalam; j~nAna and phalam occur simultaneous. Without qualification, knowledge may come but j~nAna phalam may not come. Such people say: “I understand, but…”. There is j~nAnam but a gap between it and phalam. A lack of SCS. The deficiency has to be rectified. What is needed to rectify is nididhyAsana. This is the sAdhana to be followed by a student who does not get the benefit even after understanding Vedanta. nididhyASana is ‘dwelling on the teaching for a length of time, in one way or another.’ Gaudapada says, if you feel you know but don’t get the result, continue nididhyASana.

    If you have grasped the teaching by systematic study, but still feel you are a saMsArI, put your mind and thoughts in Advaita. Dwell on as much as possible on this teaching. As you do this, the mind becomes more prepared and the j~nAna begins to give the benefits in the form of shAntam, abhAyam etc. The phalam gets released gradually. Thereafter, don’t publicize that you are a j~nAnI; move in the world like an aj~nAnI. As long as you mind what people think, there is still a problem!

  33. Here is some more from Swami Paramarthananda, commenting on kArikA 3.40:

    When Atma j~nAna takes place (in the mind), this knowledge is capable of bringing about transformations in the mind, in the form of shAnti, abhAyam, sense of security, poise of mind etc; many emotional benefits which take place at the level of the mind. But we look on it only as a secondary benefit because improving your mind is not the primary aim of Vedanta. The primary aim is telling you that you are not the mind! It is incidental that the mind gets refined, improved. This benefit or toughening of the mind is called jIvanmukti. But even though this is only a secondary benefit, the majority of people are more interested in this aspect. They want a mind free from rAga-dveSha, anger, freedom from love-hate etc. Therefore this benefit is also talked about in the shAstra, e.g. Gita.

    Here we find a peculiarity. Even though many students study Vedanta, teaching same etc, all people do not get the same degree of jIvanmukti. Some get a high degree of emotional benefit but some do not. We find a gradation in deriving the j~nAna phalam or mental transformation. The question arises: why do not all students get same degree? Relatives complain: “You continue to be the same person – anxious, depressed and full of fear. It is clearly no use studying Vedanta.” Even though the teaching is the same and the understanding is the same, how comes the j~nAna phalam is not uniform in all people?

    The answer is in sAdhana chatuShTaya sampatti – the fourfold qualifications on the part of the student is not uniform in all seekers. This is extremely important because this alone determines the degree of jIvanmukti phalam even though there is no gradation in j~nAnam. Based on this fact, Vedantic students are broadly classified into three types depending on their attainment : manda, madhyama and uttama according to whether SCS is low, medium or high.

    The uttama student gets both j~nAnam and phalam. SCS in green area of fuel gauge.

    In the case of the manda student, Vedantic teaching is not received properly and does not enter the mind; such a student considers it irrelevant for life’s problems. He gets neither j~nAnam nor phalam. SCS fuel gauge is in the red area! He has to concentrate on acquiring SCS by doing karma yoga and upAsana. For such a student, shravaNa will become a form of karma yoga rather than j~nAna yoga.

    The madhyama adhikArI is one who has some qualifications from previous births or from doing some SCS in this life. SCS in yellow. He understands the teaching well; knowledge comes but not phalam. Emotional problems continue despite j~nAna. j~nAnam and saMsAra co-exist. More karma and upAsana are not needed. nididhyAsana is needed for such a student to remove the block caused by insufficient qualification. This will convert him from madhyama to uttama. Without the block, j~nAnam can then give phalam.

    • It must have been a real effort to transcribe the MP3 stuff and post it here. Our thanks to Dennis for his time.

      First of all, the kArikA II-36 is an advice on how one would have to act in the world post-enlightenment (jadavallokamAcaret – should behave in the world as though dull-witted). And kArikA III-40 talks about the practitioners who have not had complete realization and it says that such people are the ones that resort to the control of mind to achieve fearlessness etc. (manaso nigrahAyattamabhayam…).

      One can see for oneself how much relevance the off-the-cuff comments made thereof are related to the main thrust of each of the verses. But that is not our concern here.

      I hope everyone would agree that to go for populism in serious discourses and take license to distort the very fundamental definitions is difficult to swallow. I can only say here that it is Grace that I am not exposed to such teachings during my learning phase. The way I learnt Advaita is:

      jIvanmukti is the complete emancipation of a separate sense of self i.e. the dissolution of the ‘ego.’

      I have not learnt that “toughening of the mind is called jIvanmukti.”

      Further, the dissolution of the ego is advised to be achieved through the development of a tenuous mind (tanumAnasA) – not by exercising it to toughen it like the wrestlers build their muscle.

      i am taught that AtmajnAna or brahmavidya is an inquiry into the Ultimate Truth in order to know “who really really “I” am and what is this ‘world’ around.” I have not known to take it as a medicine to be administered to accrue emotional benefits to the mind or for its transformation.

      Whether one calls by the name of R2D2 or by any other alphabetic soup of words, the conversion of the paroksha jnAna learnt through an instructional statement as an AptavAkya (tatvamasi) from shruti into aparoksha jnAna (immediated Knowledge) resulting in an experiential statement (ahamasmi brahmahamasmi) , is NOT a linear deterministic process. No formulas can be defined nor equations can be set.

      Yes, it is a question why different people respond in different ways for the same teaching. The Educationists could not find a solution to this problem in the routine Institutes that deal with apara vidya. Is it easy to answer in the case of para vidya? There are a range of explanations – from Grace (VivekachUdamaNi) to unknown or invisible (adRuShta) vAsana-s to mental conditioning to …… the list goes on. Any one explanation is only an eye-wash.

      As I understand, nididhyAsanA (deep contemplative meditation) is an umbrella term that subsumes all such methods (if a ‘method’ is there!) that help in the achievement of an unbroken ‘thought’ on brahman (tailadhAravat) AFTER a clear understanding of the Advaita message is obtained. It is not a remedy for any lapses in the preceding two stages – shravaNa and manana.

      I found a wide range of definitions provided for nididhyAsanA at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nididhyasana

      A note on shravaNa, manana and nididhyAsanA on the Knowledge Path may be found here: http://beyond-advaita.blogspot.com/2010/12/yoga-based-and-knowledge-based.html

      regards,

  34. Here is another piece taken from Swamiji P’s lectures – Chandogya summary of Chapter 6. Swamiji narrates the story of Karna from Mahabharath to illustrate that Tat Twam Asi Mahavakya gives direct knowledge/sakshatkar/vijnan/realization instantly.

    Background (for those who do not know Karna)
    Karna was the arch enemy of Arjuna but also the oldest son of Queen Kunti the mother of Arjuna and other four Pandavas. Karna was conceived by Kunti before she got married so she dropped the infant Karna in Ganges. A chariot operator’s wife Radha found him and raised him as Radheya (a lower caste suta putra). Karna had a genuine and intense desire to become a warrior so he was obsessed with archery and did become one of the finest archers of that time. Yet he always had a mental block that he was a shudra (born in lower caste) and not a born warrior (Kshatriya) like Arjun. This created self-doubt and frustration that haunted him all the time. Because of his superior skills karna became famous and the whole world including Queen Kunti his original mother noticed him. As the Mahabharatha war approached, Kunti wanted to reveal him the secret of his birth.

    + Kunti informed Karna that there exists an all powerful sixth Kounteya – Karna intellectually knew there is a sixth one. He had paroksha jnana that there is a sixth one.
    + When Karna (wanted to know “face to face” who the sixth one was!) asked her who it was – Queen Kunti revealed “Tat Twam Asi” You are the sixth one – Now Karna actually experienced the sixth one. Karna had vijnana or Sakashatkar or experience or realization of the sixth one. The urge to experience the sixth one was removed instantaneously (not gradually) and there was an immediate intimate knowledge of the sixth one. Karna’s mental block and the associated self doubt and frustrations were removed instantaneously.
    + The knowledge was permanent – now once in a while when he met Radha, the one who raised him, he got emotional and forgot that he was Kounteya – all he had to do in this case was some Nidhidhyasana on what Kunti told him and he was back on track.
    How does this relate to Jeeva knowing it is Brahman? What is SCS? What is paroksha? What is aparoksha? Who is Guru? What is Avantar Vakya and what is Mahavakya? in the above story … – I will leave it to you.
    Vijay

  35. Really interesting discussion – thank you.

    Dennis, I now recollect Swami P’s comments on Mandukya; at the time I was taken by it – since it enabled me to feel that I had understanding / knowledge, and I just needed to develop viveka / vairagya. My feeling is that he is trying to give encouragement to people who have been studying Vedanta for a long time, fully understand the logic of it, and through it have some peace, BUT NOT the ‘moksha’ that is talked about.

    However I do think it is misleading, and simply gives the ego / mind something to cling onto.

    As Ramesam says there is no scriptural support for Swami P’s schema. And there is a fundamental difference between knowledge and Knowledge – which is the (unwilled) dissolution of the ego through watching / understanding / detachment, and ultimately for ‘he whom the atman chooses”.

  36. Dear Venkat and Ramesam,

    I do sympathize with your view and accept that there are no clear supporting scriptural references. However, I find that Swami P’s statement is unarguable: “We look on (mental equanimity etc) only as a secondary benefit because improving your mind is not the primary aim of Vedanta. The primary aim is telling you that you are not the mind! It is incidental that the mind gets refined, improved.”

    And ALL scriptural statements are ultimately mithyA and have to be apavAda’d.

    Best wishes,
    Dennis

  37. Should a warrior be smug that he saved the horseshoe after losing the horse and the chariot?

    2. “And ALL scriptural statements are ultimately mithyA and have to be apavAda’d.”

    On this ground one needn’t then be pejorative at all of “neo-advaita” teachers!!!

    3. The various types of pratibhandaka-s described in the scriptures illustrate the non-linearity of converting the AptavAkya into aparoksha anubhUti. We discussed some of these at: https://www.advaita-vision.org/knots-and-kinks-in-the-way-of-knowing-the-truth/

    There is another pratibhandaka:
    तातस्य कूपोयमिति ब्रुवाणा:
    क्षारं जलं कापुरुषा: पिबन्ति — Yogavasishta

    Meaning: Some persons stick to a well simply because it was inherited from their forefathers. They manage to live with the brackish water of the well (foregoing the sacred sweet river waters existing nearby to them).

    This type of a trap (which signifies loyalty and attachment) should be avoided as advised by Sage Vasishta in Sarga 163, sloka 56, Book II, Chapter: VI nirvANa, Yogavasishta.

    regards,

    • 1. “Should a warrior be smug that he saved the horseshoe after losing the horse and the chariot?” – You will have to explain that one, I’m afraid, Ramesam!

      2. “On this ground one needn’t then be pejorative at all of “neo-advaita” teachers!!!” – Actually, I have already drafted an article for promoting the Gaudapada book called ‘In defence of neo-Advaitins’! But that is not the point. It is certainly true that many neo-advaitins state the same truths as are ultimately stated by traditional advaita. The crucial difference however is that it is mostly not helpful to state these ultimate truths from the outset. The teaching has to be adhyAropa’d before being apavAda’s if it is to work!

      3. I’m also not clear what you are getting at here. You seem to be implying that I should not be attaching so much credibility to what Swami Paramarthananda was saying. But, as Swami Dayananda says, ‘it is not me who is saying these things, it is the saMpradAya’. What Swami P is saying is what has been passed down a recognized saMpradAya from the time of Shankara. Who should we believe if not that? It is new teachers (wells) that we should be cautious about, surely. If a well has provided water without poisoning for generations, is it not more trustworthy than the new one which may just have been dug through a seam of galena (lead ore)? Indeed, is not the saMpradAya better compared to the river, since it has been flowing steadily and without interruption from past to present?

  38. shAstra has many examples of explaining how the world and jIva-s were created despite the fact that, in reality, there never was any creation. This is because of the need to lead seekers gently towards the ultimate truth rather than alienating them from the outset. And, even after realizing the truth, there still appears to be a world, in the same way that the sun still appears to rise and set.

    It is entirely analogous that scriptures should tell us that mokSha brings total happiness, peace of mind and fearlessness. After all, this is a major motivation for bringing people to advaita in the first place. But what changes on realizing the truth is not the appearance; it is our understanding of what is real and what is mithyA. Just as we now know that the world is only empirically real and cannot harm us, so we now know that feelings of anger, fear, sadness etc are mithyA and do not really affect us. But equally, just as we still perceive duality, so we still have negative feelings unless our sAdhana chatuShTaya sampatti disciplines have inured us to these.

  39. Dear Dennis

    Sampradaya is simply what has been passed down from person to person. How do YOU know that it has been passed down authentically like a steadily flowing river? And how do you know Swami D and P’s interpretation is correct? After all, their teacher, Chinmayananda did believe in nirvikalpa samadhi as a necessary step to freedom, as did the Sringeri shankaracharyas Sri Candrasekhara and Sri Abhinava Vidyatheertha. Does that make them neo-vedantins and not authentic teachers in the sampradaya river? Who is to judge what is authentic and what is not, especially once you start ad-libbing onto top of the assumed authority of scripture.

    The scriptures and teaching just point to the truth of non-duality and the illusion of a separate ‘I’. That is relatively straight-forward, and frankly isn’t that complex to understand intellectually. In my view, JK, Nisargadatta and Bhagavan Ramana, do an equally efficacious job of doing this pointing in the right direction. We do not have to get attached to the teaching and argue this is better than that. But after the pointing is understood the real journey begins, which can only be done alone, since it involves the dissolution of the ego, the particular consciousness; and no one (else) can do that.

    Swami D and P, through this intellectually appealing trick of a 2×2 consulting matrix of jnana vs SCS, are just giving out more concepts to an ego to hang onto, whereas the import of vedanta is to go beyond knowledge, beyond particular consciousness.

    “But what changes on realizing the truth is not the appearance; it is our understanding of what is real and what is mithyA. Just as we now know that the world is only empirically real and cannot harm us . . .”
    – It is not that there is an empirically real world and a separate ‘us’ that cannot be harmed. It is that we are the world, and fundamentally non-separate from it. The illusion is believing we are separate, and somehow need to protect ourselves from the world.

    ” . . . so we now know that feelings of anger, fear, sadness etc are mithyA and do not really affect us. But equally, just as we still perceive duality, so we still have negative feelings unless our sAdhana chatuShTaya sampatti disciplines have inured us to these.”
    – As Ramesam implies, SCS is not a psychological well-being course; SCS disciplines are a pointer AT THE OUTSET to suggest to our minds to disentangle from the desires and fears that they normally abide in, and thereby find the space / silence in which to abide. And without the constant stream of thoughts, life flows more spontaneously with less and less interruption of the ego seeking to bend that flow to achieve its own desires. And through that silence, real jnana, the ultimate may come.

    Best wishes

    Venkat

  40. PS This is also the gist of Martin’s recent posted quote from Jean Klein:

    “The timeless non-state cannot be achieved because 
the mind cannot evolve towards it. The mind can only 
bring you to the threshold. Awakening comes 
unexpectedly when you do not wait for it, when you 
live in not-knowing. Only then are you available.”

    This is a far more helpful and admittedly advanced pointer (in that it makes you reflect deeply and challenges the very basis of thought and of volitional action of an ‘I’) than this soothing balm of jnana vs SCS matrix.

  41. Dear All,
    There has been so much input that I fear that I will not be able to do justice to every point that has been made. Basically my own position has not changed: I do not make a decision for or against Swami P’s/Dennis or Ramesam’s/Venkat’s viewpoint. My own experience is reflected more by the latter but, for what I say in the last paragraph below, this need not be a valid argument.

    The sampradAya mentioned by Sw. D., however, is no criteria here for me, for one thing because I have learned that within Advaita Vedanta there are a variety of viewpoints accepted even though they are contradictory – just go through “Elucidation of Terms and Concepts in Vedanta”
[Based on the Commentaries of Sri Sankaracharya and other authoritative texts]
 by S. N. Sastri, http://www.celextel.org/articles/conceptsinvedanta.html

    Secondly, it seems that neither Upanishads nor Shankara proclaim the viewpoint expressed by the two Swamis, so where does it come from? As far as I am concerned it may be correct or it may not be correct. Meaning: it may be correct that the mind is a mechanism like a physical organ, which will go on functioning after j~nAna just the way it has done before j~nAna. Or, it may not be correct because the mind is the very instrument that delivers j~nAna. Which means that after j~nAna it should not be able to ever function the way it did before j~nAnam.

    Incidentally most of Western Satsang teachers advocate the first position whereas Direct Path teachers take up the second position. Yet again, I have to admit that Direct Path teachers are few and (as in my own case) they all seem to be of a predominantly sattvic disposition – which again could mean that their conviction is based on their own experience and not on how things would be for someone with a different mind disposition.

  42. Brilliant exposition by Venkat and excellent summarization by Sitara.
    Thanks to both of you. We may also note, incidentally, that the sacred guru-sihya sampradAya, as per the unwritten norms of custom and tradition go, implicitly involves carrying out the teaching in the name and honor of one’s own guru with dedication to the entire lineage right up to the original source Rishi. If the chain is broken by one’s choice to branch off and selective omission of some immediate gurus, the sampradAya also loses the continuity. Then it is difficult to accept the claim of sampradAya being upheld.

    There are a couple of very subtle points I wanted to bring up re: the final ‘push’ (!) for liberation, but I shall wait for another opportunity.

    In the meanwhile, will Sitara please tell us how you got the impression that ‘Direct Path’ people take the position that mind is the instrument that “delivers” jnAna?
    To my understanding, it is not so.

    regards,

  43. Sorry, Ramesam, you are right. I meant to say that they take the position that if there is suffering after supposed understanding then the understanding is not yet complete.

  44. I did not mean to say that Dennis is just awed by Swami Paramarthananda but that he (and me) will focus more on the strong points of his teaching. For example I would not place so much importance to his expression of “toughening the mind” even though I also consider it inappropriate. I just take it to mean “becoming immune to whatever old thinking habits may still be running” as with jIvanmukti they have lost all relevance.

  45. The discussion seems to have become sidetracked into one about the value of saMpradAya. This is certainly a topic worthy of consideration but, I suggest, irrelevant here.

    Gaudapada kArikA 3.23 states that “That which is supported by shruti and corroborated by reason, is alone true and not the other.” (Swami Nikhilananda translation.) I suggest that same applies to whatever is said by a teacher, be he or she traditional, direct path or neo. Any and all such statements have to be rescinded in the end, since reality is beyond description. So they have to be supported by reason.

    Assuming that all accept this position, then my quotation earlier has still not been answered and, to my mind, shows that Swami P’s stance regarding the secondary nature of j~nAna phalam must be valid. If there are any further comments in this thread, could they please aim to support or refute this assertion, please:
    “We look on (mental equanimity etc) only as a secondary benefit because improving your mind is not the primary aim of Vedanta. The primary aim is telling you that you are not the mind! It is incidental that the mind gets refined, improved.”

  46. In the end it is incidental that the mind gets refined and improving the mind is not the primary aim of Vedanta. I am sure we all agree. Improving the mind is the stepping stone to enable it to understand Vedanta. I am sure we also all agree.

    The only difference is, I have to state it again, that I do not concur with the idea that complete understanding ( j~nAnam) is POSSIBLE for an impure mind.
    It seems that I have been unsuccessful so far in making my viewpoint clear:
    The mind certainly has its conditionings and will follow them even after enlightenment. But enlightenment will only ever occur to a very very sattvic mind in which ego has lost almost all its meat already.

    Thats why to me the very continuation of suffering, fear or anger is a clear indication that j~nAnam is still incomplete. There is no way that understanding could have dawned to such a mind.

    Dear Dennis, I do not want to convince anyone of my position. I cannot even base it on particular scriptural statements although we both know that there are plenty which could be quoted to support it. All positions have their pros and cons and I am more than happy if in Advaita Vision we succeed in presenting many of them in a thorough and respectful way for our visitors and our own benefit.

    As Sastriji once mentioned in an email to me “no view is rejected as long as the final conclusion, identity of jiva and Brahman is not affected. Sureshvaracharya has said: ‘All the different means by which people can attain knowledge of the self should be understood to be valid. These are unlimited in number’.”

  47. I would concur with Sitara, Dennis I think you are changing the basis of the conversation from jnana+SCS = jivanmukti, to a more innocuous statement that “it is incidental that the mind gets improved” which I think we’ve all expressed already!

    However, to be pedantic, when you say “The primary aim is telling you that you are not the mind!”, this is not quite right. Who is the ‘you’? Surely, the primary aim is to make the mind see that is has no independent existence, separate from anything else; that it is just the outcome of the conditioning, the past that it has experienced and accumulated. And that each ‘personal’ thought that arises is false, because there is no separate, personal I.

    best
    venkat

  48. “We look on (mental equanimity etc) only as a secondary benefit because improving your mind is not the primary aim of Vedanta. The primary aim is telling you that you are not the mind! It is incidental that the mind gets refined, improved.”

    That, precisely, is the “horseshoe”!!!

    As far as I could construe, the above quote was NOT an issue at all.

    The main issues that occupied the center stage in the prolonged discussions have been : the misconceptions that are allegedly being taught in the name of traditional (Shankara) Advaita like:

    jnAna phalam (Fruits of Self-Knowledge) and a way to enjoy jnAna phalam ;

    toughening the mind is called jIvanmukti;

    nididhyAsana is done for the rectification of lapses in shravaNa and manana;

    creating an impression that a “structured” formulation for moksha exists by placing all things at the door of SCS;

    etc. etc.

    regards,

  49. This has been an intense churning and I collected many nuggets of Advaita. It would be really helpful if any one of you could elaborate on what brings one to Advaita. To the one who is sitting FD&H (fat, dumb & happy) what pulls him/her to self knowledge?
    Prarabdha?
    Personal trauma?
    God’s grace?
    Good deeds?
    Fear of losing FDH-hood?
    Intellectual ego?
    Curiosity?
    ………
    Vijay

  50. I forgot to add my main questions.
    When does one start SCS – SCS is often referred to as prerquisite.
    Or does SCS in a formal or a natural way brings one to Advaita.
    Is there a difference in how one views SCS pre TTA phase and post TTA phase.
    Vijay
    I don’t intend to pull the forum into Advaita 101 but I am asking these questions in the light of above discussions.
    Thanks
    Vijay

    • Hello Vijay,
      thank you for all these questions. They are a great incentive for the bloggers to write about. But I do not think that they should be handled under this thread. The main reason is that most visitors would miss out on them because they do not necessarily check out this particular thread for new contributions but the bloggers site in general. Also this thread is already too long.

      May I draw your attention to the new topic for this month? Maybe you could tailor your questions in such a way that they would fit with “Appearance versus reality”.

  51. Dear All, thank you for an inspiring discussion. I do not feel that I could add to what I have said on this month’s topic; so I will retreat from this thread now. Maybe we’ll meet again in a the context of the next topic.

  52. Very deep discussion… Here is my chain of thoughts in a more simplistic language..hope this adds to this discussion.

    There is Knowledge. The knowledge that I am the Absolute Reality supporting all that seems to exist in the form of an experience-able Universe. Obtaining the Knowledge is the primary objective.

    Even after obtaining the Knowledge, I am not perpetually Happy. Here we need to look at what we mean. Apparent happiness, and sufferings are simply different experiences. like the different seasons , except that they happen to the mind. The Knowledge tells me that I am not this mind, nor am I connected to this Universe. This is Mukthi/Moksha etc. Essentially this is Liberation. In simple terms, One is liberated from the clutches of the World. The Absolute Happiness one experiences is due to this extraordinary nature of this Knowledge.

    After realizing this Truth, why is it that one is wrongly expecting that there should be nothing disturbing that must happen. Disturbance /Oscillation etc.. are the essential nature of the mind. If none of these should happen, then we are expecting the mind to be absent. Which can be achieved by withdrawing from the world etc. But that idea is only a soothing notion. Even the idea of Niddhidyasana is the same, it is prescribed to the seeker who seems to be fixated on a mind that will happy “ever after”.

    But when do we hear the words “lived happily ever after”? In fairy tales, and at the very end. So if we seek an end to all experiences, then we can crave for a mind that is silent. Similar to the blank Silver screen at the movies. If we spend some time thinking about what this world without suffering would look like, we will realize it will be an empty experience-less state, very similar to the empty screen. Sometimes the movies maybe so tiring we may need a break, but we do not imply that no movies must exist.

    So the SCS as well as the suggestions for manda/madhyama that Swami P prescribes is more of temporary support for the seeker, who has the Knowledge but is craving for a still mind, and he/she must continue until the “need for this Still mind” goes away, and not that a still mind is achieved 🙂

  53. The idea of an independent external world or objects causes the ignorant experiencer or the subject or the jiva to arise and further create the suffering of duality or sense of separation from the true Self. When the idea that the world is external to consciousness is falsified, then the jiva stops dividing and suffering of duality also goes. So, this idea of an independent world apart from consciousness not taking root or whenever it surfaces if it is seen as false, that is the end of suffering due to duality. The jivanmuktha always knows and sees within and without that the apparently physical world of sensations is mind only and sees the world including the jiva as only ideas or exactly like a dream. That what was once thought as absolutely real has now become only dispensable ideas, is the true freedom. The drik is ever free and the jiva also is only a drsyam. The jiva which was once the ignorant subject has now become an object and acts only as a tool for perception and interaction without any psychological baggage. To what degree this non-duality has become natural is a question which arises only when it has not yet become natural! Hope I am not out of sync with the discussions above.

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