This can be seen from two perspectives: 1) lower or empirical, and 2) higher or spiritual (I try to avoid the word ‘metaphysical’). I am not going to consider what Christianity or Islam hold about any of these two perspectives, only the non-duality of Advaita Vedanta (Buddhism does not contemplate individual existence per se). According to the Advaitic tradition the individual self (jiva) can be considered as a reflection of the higher Self and then his/her faculties (basically memory, mind, and sense of self) as well as all bodies are separate and individual – this pertains to ordinary, transactional life. This is the realm of ignorance (avidya). Continue reading
Does Advaita Vedanta acknowledge the existential reality of suffering and non-suffering occurring in Atman even after the spiritual liberation, or suffering becomes impossible in Atman after the spiritual realization?
‘The existential reality of suffering and non-suffering… in Atman’? You write ‘suffering and non-suffering’, which makes no sense, as written, in the case of the highest principle, Atman (Atman-brahman or the Self) – there cannot be suffering in the Self, only non-suffering. Further, the way the question is written… ‘existential reality’, implies that you have in mind ordinary or worldy experience, but this confuses the issue, since ‘suffering and non-suffering’ cannot be ascribed to either the Self or the (empirical) self (jivatman- seen as individual and separate). Indeed, it is the lot of the self (ego or mind) to be immersed in a sea of difficulties and troubles – opposite ‘realities’ or experiences – but here it is suffering (samsara) what charterizes the life of an ordinary jiva — not ‘non-suffering’.
On self-realization what is eliminated, or, rather, disappears of its own, is psychological suffering – once and for all. No one is mentioning here physical pain, which is a foregone conclusion, as acknowledged by all spiritual traditions – no one more word about this.
One could say more about the cause of suffering by relating it to mind, when the latter (or the ego) is given some reality of its own instead of realizing that it is an illusory superimposition on the Self – all this being an essential doctrine of Advaita Vedanta.
The second part of the question – ‘the thinking mind coming to a conclusion’ is reminiscent of Plato’s notion of ‘true opinion’ and his showing how that is not a conclusive proof of something being real. Also sometimes the allegation is made that ‘(just) intellectual knowledge’ falls short of the truth, which is true. Depending on the area of knowledge – of every and any area – intellectual understanding is a first and necessary step. On the other hand, ‘truth’ and ‘certainty’ are slippery concepts. It cannot be a matter of degree, can it?
In the final analysis we have to rest on what you say at the beginning of your question: ‘understanding-integrating a truth’; that is the key, and it is based on maturity (not only intellectual maturity, whatever this may mean) and experience: that is what *integrates*. The right term for me is ‘knowledge-experience’, itself based on feeling and intuition (what used to be called ‘truth of the heart’). IOW, you make your bet and plunge in head first, as it were. By themselves, neither science nor philosophy has the final answers, mandatory and irreplaceable as they are. It is only long experience and deep thought, persistent reflection on the subject at hand, which gives certifying certainty. Ask a good cobbler or carpenter…
Saying ‘have consciousness’ is a non-starter – you are already lost, confused . We do not have consciousness, we ARE consciousness; in the same way, we don’t have humanity, we ARE humanity – humanity is us, consciousness is us; these two are not adjectives, but substantival, standing by themselves. Consciousness and Existence are the same (category, let us say). These two are metaphysical principles, and as such they are indefinable and inseparable. IOW, everything is based on, is a consequence of, or in essence IS existence-consciousness, including sticks and stones. That is the essence of all life, everything else being a derivative or extension – or appearance: phenomenon. The objective world is an extension or ‘appearance’ of consciousness, because reality is ONE.
(Trans. From Spanish)
Are our lives like the life of a flower – a promise, a hope, a passing beauty?
And what is that promise,
How do they find fulfilment –
Their time being ever so short?
And as to beauty, does ours fade away
Like the beauty of the flower?
Fear not, for time is not involved:
The Beauty and Essence of the flower
And of our Soul
Are timeless, infinite.
(Out of my window)
Gently, softly, the snow is falling
And quiet, still, is my soul.
I feel that inside me the snow also falls,
And that in it, too, the sun
Shines along with all its warmth.
I know of being and non-being, (Trans. from Spanish)
know of eternity and time –
that my place is at the center,
though there is no time and no center.
Neither between heaven and earth,
for earth and heaven are not –
nor East or West,
neither South or North.
Not needing a refuge for rest,
for my home is everywhere.
Not wanting a place to go,
for the world is all my own.
There is no mixed darkness and light,
for there is nothing but light.
I Know that nothingness is not,
for other than Being all’s naught.
ENERGÍA…………………………ENERGY – Prana
Yo soy montaña y soy mar. I’m tall mountain, wide sea;
Soy del río la corriente,………… Of the river I’m the current,
soy el correr de la fuente,……… The flowing of all the springs
del raudo viento el bramar……… And of a gale I’m the howling.
Soy el mar embravecido………… The turbulent ocean too
y soy tormenta rugiente,………… And also the raging storm.
soy caudaloso torrente………… I am a torrent unwieldy
y fuerza del vendaval………….. And of wind the blowing force.
Torbellino, rayo, trueno, Whirlwind, thunder and bolt,
relámpago y terremoto, Of fire the conflagration.
La conflagración del fuego,
el ojo del huracán. Lightning, earthquake – that am I;The eye of the hurricane.
Yo soy del águila el vuelo,…… Of eagle I am the flight,
y del león el rugido,…………… And of a lion the roar;
de las estrellas el giro………… Of the starry sky the gyre
y brillo del disco solar………… And brightness of the solar orb.
Soy yo Mercurio y soy Marte; I am Mercury and Mars;
Dionisio, Apolo y Teseo; Dionysius, Apollo, Theseus;
soy de Cupido el deseo. Of Cupid the lusty love…
Yo soy eso y aún soy más. I’m that and e’en more than that.
You (H). ‘…… perhaps we both ought accept that Planck was right: matter exists. Or are you saying that matter does not exist; is that really your position, Dr. M? Are you saying that not only is consciousness the substrate of matter and of the world, but that ultimately, matter and the world do not exist, and all that does exist (whatever that might mean within such a definition) is consciousness?……’
Me (M): A3. Plank was an empirical scientist with a philosophical bent. Was he a thoroughgoing or pure non-dualist? His position seems to be like yours, except when he adds (or is attributed to him): ‘non-duality implies the universality of consciousness. Concomitantly, it implies that consciousness is the ‘stuff’ everything is made of.” YES! Continue reading
M. … Of course, we know ‘we’ are primarily awareness where no distinctions whatsoever are valid, such as male/female. But something occurs to me just now, and is that prior even to the apparent multiplicity I mentioned above, and perhaps even more significant if not more real, is the presentation or exhibition in nature – amounting to a cosmological law – of the dichotomy or binary positive-negative, active-passive, static-dynamic, yang-yin, potentiality-actuality (this one an Aristotelian distinction). And, of course, male-female.
And, by extension or implication we have: angularity-roundness, left brain-right brain, etc. Someone I knew (a traditionalist or perennialist) wrote in one of his books that poetry is masculine and musicality and dance feminine… man is protector and woman nurturer; doctrine male, method female (in Buddhism it is the reverse, i.e. doctrine as prajna). Further, Sophia (wisdom) is female, represented by the goddesses Athena and Saraswati, also Minerva. And so on.
A final point: Is your metaphysical position, rather than pure non-duality, closer to the mitigated non-duality of Ramanuja (a great sage in the Indian philosophical tradition)? If so, who can find fault in that? Continue reading
H. ‘… as regards the somewhat artificial distinction (ontologically speaking) that I make between awareness and consciousness, then this is something I do of my own choosing, accepting that there is an objectless state of mind that cannot correctly be termed ‘consciousness’ as it is not ‘with knowledge’ of any kind. In its stricter, more formal sense, then in the language of Pali this would be one of the Arūpajhāna, as you may well know – i.e. neither perception nor non-perception. I often find myself in dispute with phenomenologists over whether an objectless awareness is possible. Although the (8th) Arūpajhāna itself is of course a very rarified state, the very fact that it is a state gives me – I hope – the liberty to introduce the idea of a Tabula Rasa of mind, and which, again due to the ubiquity of the term, I call ‘awareness’ for the purposes of creating a template for learning only. I do not consider it to be its own ontological category.’ Continue reading
That said, one has to realize that absolutely all concepts used in advaita are only symbols or indicators pertaining to what is considered ‘lower knowledge’, and that includes all that is written in the venerable Vedas. At the same time, they, and the expressions containing them, have, directly or indirectly, the supreme reality as their referent.There is a pithy statement in one of the Upanishads: ‘That from which all words fall back failing to reach it, along with the mind’. ‘Higher knowledge’ is beyond the mind (one could even say ‘by consensus’), while necessarily using the latter for verbal transmission. This knowledge or understanding can only be conveyed by what can be called ‘universal intuition’ (or ‘truth of the Heart’), an expression redolent of ‘the Peace that passes all understanding’. And this is the only ‘thing’ – ‘knowledge-experience’- that is unstultifiable; a knowledge that transcends the individual as individual. More on this (knower, witness) following right now. Continue reading
I agree with the responders here that equate both concepts – soul and consciousness – which in themselves are just pointers to what is real/reality. Reality can only be one, not multiple; thus, to make a distinction between soul and consciousness, or between spirit and matter, God and the world (or ‘I’), experience and knowledge – or between Brahman and Atman – is either provisional (an intermediate doctrine or teaching) or confusing and limiting.
Another polarity which is ultimately unreal (only verbal or conceptual) from an unitary or metaphysical perspective is singularity/multiplicity. Language has its rights, but in this rarefied realm I would also equate spirituality with metaphysics, knowing full well the risks or misunderstandings that it can lead to. Continue reading