On the following morning, after breakfast in the hotel, Ravi took us to the magnificent palace of Mysore (it was rebuilt in 1897) where we spent the rest of the morning – well over two hours. One picture is worth one thousand words, so better not to try to describe what we saw and contemplated in awe while following a long row of visitors. The pavement of tiles was slightly cold and I had almost gotten over my viral throat infection, so I had to content myself with the thin socks I was wearing hoping I would not get a pneumonia (it did not materialize subsequently). We bumped into a group of teachers from Kerala which were exultant just for being there – quite apart from the contrasting colored lights reflected in glass in some of the rooms, and the splendor of the place itself. We also exchanged a few words with an elderly couple… everyone was happy. Continue reading
Next day, Monday, it was decided to visit Holenarsipur, a village about 1½ hour from Bangalore, where the main centre or karyalaya had been built, as it was detailed in part 4 of this travelogue. First, our taxi driver and friend (by now) Ravi, drove us to the house of a second Ravi, the one who is in charge of the first karyala of Bangalore. The latter presented us to his wife – both of them living in a comfortable and well-furnished house – and had tea along with a congenial conversation, where we talked about our country, Spain, and the circumstances that brought us to India. I congratulated the lady of the house for her good taste and the beauty of her two daughters (we only saw them in two photographs on the wall of the room where we were sitting – that is, the sitting-room). After one hour or so, we proceeded to Holenarsipur on a fairly narrow road not lacking a number of not-quite threatening shallow pot-holes and medium to small-sized stones. To our driver, Ravi, this was normalcy itself. Continue reading
Wife, Sowmya, and a friend of the latter employed themselves the next day mostly shopping (goodness knows what they shopped – I think my wife bought a shalwar chameez). I stayed home, mostly sipping warm lassy. The following day (Saturday) my wife was taken by Ravi (our taxi driver) to visit two temples and she took some photos. Next day – Sunday – we all went to the karyalaya, centre of activities of Sw. Subraya Sharma. A large group of students, both young and adult, were sitting around in the large room – as they do every Sunday – to study Advaita Vedanta under the direction of Subraya Sharma. They all speak Kannada (definitely better than they do English, at least to my ear), so no problem. Continue reading
Three Q/A from QUORA (on brain, philosophy, QM, NDE, consciousness)
- How does the brain understand philosophy?
M. The brain… understanding philosophy? My reply to this is similar to the one I gave recently to another question and which was based on Socrates’ answer to an observation that someone was making. The man saw a pool of water being stirred by a stick held by a man and said that the stick was stirring the water. To which Socrates replied: ‘Is it the stick, or the man moving the stick?’ (Which one is the real agent – the material, or the instrumental cause, in Aristotelian terms?).
Equally, is it the brain, or the mind which ‘moves’ the brain which moves the stick which stirs the water?
Is it the brain, or the mind which (using the brain as an instrument) understands philosophy?
Actually, it is consciousness (as a substrate) using the mind using the brain… Consciousness itself does not do anything.
The Adhyatma Prakasha Karyalaya was founded by Swamiji [1880-1975] in 1920, its first location being Bangalore, which has persisted, but reduced in size in comparison with the next location: It then became well established in 1937 in Holenarsipur, 1 and ½ h. from Bangalore, where he spent his last years. Swamiji’s intention was to publish the works of Shankaracharya along with those of Gaudapada and Suresvara, all of those that are based on Prasthanatraya. His own extensive work has also been published there, as well as several journals – in Sanskrit, Kannada, and English. Continue reading
On the third day Sowmya, my wife and I went over to Ramachandra’s house and he accompanied us to visit Subraya Sharma. Ramachandra Iyer, a saintly swami with a persistent gentle smile in his face and of few words, is someone you can be quite at ease with in company, so unobstructive and unassuming is he. Sowmya (I was told) calls him ‘uncle’, even if there is no blood relationship between them. He has just turned 72 years of age and lives with his wife, one son and his wife, and two young and sprightly grand-daughters.
At Subraya Sharma’s home (he is the one who took care of Swamiji for 16 years of the latter’s life) we were offered milk in a small glass and some granulated sugar (one was supposed to drink the milk and swallow the sugar after putting it in the palm of one’s hand and may be grind it between one’s teeth before swallowing – this is what I did). Continue reading
As I wrote in part l of this Travelog, I never expected that I would be talking on three occasions in front of an audience and in three different locations. Before departing to India I had asked Sowmya (a 29 years old MD and accomplished Advitist) what could I talk about if the occasion arose, assuming that there would be at least one presentation I should be making. Sowmya told me that the topic could be the article I wrote (published serially in Advaita Vision in 2017) in defense of SSSS (‘Swamiji’ henceforth) which took me so long to write – 16 pp long vs. the 40 pp of the article by Ramakrishnan Balasubramanian. Continue reading
Trip to India – l
(Don’t expect here a sequel to ‘A Search of Sacred India’, by the well-known author Paul Brunton)The thought of going to India came to mind – despite my advancing age and unsteady gait- through the contact with a user of Quora with whom I had been relating quite well through that medium. There are a number of such users who are either followers of the great Vedantin of the past Century, Shri Satchidanandendra Saraswati, or acquainted with his writings. Through that contact I learned that two Swami-s who took care of SSSS, one of them during the last 16 years of his life and the other during the last year (1975) were still alive and living in Bangalore, the city where my contact, Sowmya, lives (there must of course be other close followers of that sage in other areas of India, but we are now talking about Bangalore (or Bengaluru, as recently renamed) and some of the people who live there. With the indispensable help and support of my wife, we took to India without thinking it twice. Continue reading
- If metaphysical entities cannot be verified to exist, how can we say anything meaningful about them?
My position is that everything is metaphysical – cf. Is everything metaphysical? www.quora.com/search?q=everything+is+metaphysical
(Originally answered in Quora)
So, everything that exists is metaphysical, including language and thought: sticks and stones, trees, all bodies, etc.; IOW there is nothing that is ‘material’ or physical per se (which is a pure abstraction, or a metaphysical theory*). Language divides ‘what is’, the whole of existence, into parcels having particular meanings which, having specific referents, are not purely verbal or conceptual (i.e. language constructions), but are based on particular experiences. The experiences are either sensorial, purely mental or intellectual (thought, emotions), or intuitive, transcendental or spiritual, that is, transcending the mind; these last being metaphysical properly so called, for example pondering about, contemplating the nature of the universe, of matter, time, space, the nature of life, of origins or causality, ‘subject-and-object’, ‘value’, consciousness, mind, the meaning** of ‘soul’ or individuality (plurality). Pondering about the nature of experience and what may be called nonduality is intellectual as well as metaphysical or spiritual – this is not a neat distinction; the scope is what counts here.
*Metaphysical theories, being the product of thought (and language), are metaphysical themselves, it goes without saying. Their import or thrust “in the scheme of things” is something else.
**‘Meaning’ (a word or concept – or question mark in the mind ), merges here with its referent, ‘the thing itself’, by an act of intuition or comprehension.
- Is Advaita a trap?
Yes, it is a trap for individual mind – that is, the mind that considers itself a separate and independent individual, a doer and enjoyer. After usually many years of seriously studying Advaita (emphasis on ‘seriously’) with full force and dedication, it may dawn on that mind that the belief described above was actually a trap and a lie. Realizing this, by a stroke of magic as it were (so one might think without straying much from the truth), BINGO! you are free… free from the mind’s doubts, fears, hopes, projections and tribulations. You then realize that only universal consciousness (a.k.a awareness) is true, and that that is what You are —the quotidian mind has disappeared, become no-mind, that is, pure unalloyed consciousness.
I would say the Vedas contain the most fundamental and ‘advanced’ knowledge there is, though usually portrayed in the form of paradox (analogy, metaphor, story, etc.), so that one has to crack the code in order to find the wealth hidden in them. That knowledge is not like empirical science, which is cumulative and provisional, and can be said to be somehow contained in the latter, even if in embryonic or potential form. That knowledge or perspective is metaphysical rather than mystical. According to the Vedas there is one and only reality: consciousness (brahman, the Absolute, etc.), which pervades the whole universe; it is immanent in it as well as transcendent… “the smallest of the small, the largest of the large”. It cannot be measured or understood by the mind, for which it is ineffable, but it is that by which the mind comprehends… it cannot be expressed in words but by which the tongue speaks… it is eye of the eye, ear of the ear, mind of the mind, as expressed in the Upanishads.
Modern physics is having a hard time trying to explain away what consciousness is in terms of physical phenomena (neuronal activity in the brain), but consciousness is not an irreducible phenomenon or datum; it is reality itself, everything being comprehended in it (theories, doubts, projections, emotions, things, thoughts, intelligence, observer and observed, you and I). For the Vedas reality is one, and present physics is trying to find out in which way it is so (‘theory of everything’, ‘unificatory theory…’). Not all physicists are reductionist, some of them having seemingly mutated into philosophers with an understanding of the core of Vedic teachings.
Is everything metaphysical? (Quora)
‘Is everything metaphysical?’ My answer is a resounding Yes! despite the widely accepted, prevailing, physicalist theory: everything is reducible to matter/energy. This last position is being insistently questioned ever since the rise of the new physics (the role of the observer, uncertainty principle, etc.). Nobody knows what matter is intrinsically, and why an atom is an atom – its nature is a mystery; scientifically we can only talk about mechanism, ‘behavior’ or function, in relation to physical processes. Thus, everything is metaphysical – including tables and chairs or, rather, the material they are made of, wood (hilos) – which means non-reducible to the physical. Psychology, mind, selfhood are equally non reducible to the physical – nor are they purely mental or purely conceptual – , thus they are metaphysical, however psychologists may protest. ‘Man’, ‘personhood’, are metaphysical or philosophical notions.
Metaphysical doctrines are couched in LANGUAGE (concepts, plus logic and reasoning -tarka), which de facto is dualistic, but that is a springboard and a conditio sine qua non for realization or uniting with the TRUTH or REALITY which is indivisible, non-relational, and inexpressible by the mind (anubhava).