Jivanmukta and Jivanmukti – 5/12:

[Part – 4/12]

NDM: What is the difference with simply being enlightenment in the advaitin sense, knowing one is Brahman, infinite, eternal non-dual awareness and so on and being a Jivanmukta?

Ramesam Vemuri:  The first and foremost thing is the knowing of information “I am brahman.”  This has to be understood by the mind intellectually.  It is the shravaNa (Listening) phase.  Next is to assimilate it and internalize it to the extent that no doubt remains in one’s mind about the Truth of that statement.  This is the manana (Reflection) phase.  After being firmly convinced and free of doubts, one needs to continuously stay with it as brahman (not become brahman but be brahman).  This is the nididhyAsana (Contemplation and Meditation) phase.  Jivanmukta is one who unwaveringly and unbrokenly abides as brahman.

NDM: Why would one person become enlightened and get the added benefits of bliss, no aversions, fears, desires and being a Jivanmukta, while another may not?   Is this grace, karma, or because of one’s practice or some other factors involved?

Ramesam Vemuri:  If one continues to mistake the rope as snake or the understanding is only superficial, his understanding is obviously incomplete. Continue reading

Jivanmukta and Jivanmukti – 4/12:

[Part – 3/12

NDM: When you say:  “The most basic point to remember is that in order to talk in terms of vAsanA-s and so on, one has to first believe in the ‘reality’ of the existence of a cause, an effect and a relationship between them. Looked at from the position of a Jivanmukta, there are no different entities, one as a cause and another as an effect and a formula expressing a relationship between them.  The entire thing is One.  And that is the only Truth.  Not so many different things and their inter-relationships which are all imaginary.”

So are you saying that the Jivanmutkta no longer acknowledges that there is an empirical relationship of cause and effect on this relative level. (samvriti-satya or vyâvahârika-satya) 

That they only recognize or acknowledge the absolute perspective? (pâramârthika-satya). That they in fact deny that a relative level even exists like some of the neo advaitins do.

Ramesam Vemuri:  The terminology of Absolute Truth, transactional reality and dream-like reality and stories around them are inventions for appeasing a seeking mind. They have as much value, meaning and significance as the conversations and technologies of a dream experience have in the wakeful world.   You may dip into a river and next thing suddenly be flying over a mountain peak in a dream.  You could do so in the dream because you possessed that technology in your dream.  But what relevance has it in the wakeful world?  Similarly, the terminologies and classifications and theories used in the wakeful world carry no meaning or relevance to a Jivanmukta. Continue reading

Jivanmukta and Jivanmukti – 3/12:

[Part: 2/12]

NDM: When you say:  “Who and what for does one set these standards?  Are the standards not highly contextual, local, artificial and subjective?  Does qualifying anything – vAsanA-s or actions – based on such purely judgmental aspects have any holiness?  A society’s imposition of rules and regulations, howsoever high may be the value and whatsoever may be the morality and nobility, does not have Absoluteness.  They may have a societal sanction but lack intrinsic Sanctity.  Who to say right or wrong or good or bad?  Things just exist.  Nothing is positive or negative until a ‘thought’ interferes.”

But what about dharma? The natural laws of the universe or God as some would call it. Some vAsanA-s violate dharma, others do not. Such as a vAsanA for smoking cigarettes like Nisargadatta had, is an unhealthy vAsanA but it’s only going to injure his lungs at most. Someone like the American guru Adi Da had extreme vAsanA-s such as having sexual relationships with his students, physically and psychologically exploiting and abusing them. How does dharma play into this equation?

Ramesam Vemuri:  ‘Dharma’ to me in the context of Advaita is synonymous to brahman, undefinable, ungraspable.  The Sanskrit word for the “Natural Laws of the Universe or God” is ‘niyati.’  Thus these two words are not the same for me. Continue reading

Jivanmukta and Jivanmukti – 2/12:

[Part: I/12

NDM: When you say “he clearly understands the falsity of the cause-effect  relationship and other such mechanisms and patterns conceived by the mind,” are you also referring to saMskAra-s and vAsanA-s and can you please explain what these are?

Ramesam Vemuri:  That is right.  Jivanmukta understands the unreality of samskAra-s and vAsanA-s too.

Let us see what these words stand for.

samskAra-s and vAsanA-s are the learned behaviors.  If I wish ‘Good Morning’ to Mr. X, my samskAra (culture) expects an appropriate response from him.  If I run away in disgust at the sight of a rotting carcass giving off unbearable stink or if a baby cries with fear on seeing a dark scary spider, it is as per the blueprint (vAsanA-s) of the learned behavior stored in the genes. Continue reading

Jivanmukta and Jivanmukti – 1/12:

[John LeKay, Artist and Editor-Owner of the Non-duality Magazine (NDM) did a lengthy Interview (in two stages) almost a decade ago (July – August 2010) on the broad topic of Jivanmukta and Jivanmukti. The Conversation is not readily available now at the NDM Website (which is under renovation). John has, therefore, kindly permitted its republication and Dennis Waite, has very graciously consented to host the Interview as a Series of Posts at Advaita Vision Website because of the relevance of the topic even today. (A few words are tweaked here and there for better readability). 

NDM: Can you please tell me how you became interested in Jivanmukti?

Ramesam Vemuri: It is rather difficult to mark a specific date or relate my interest (in Advaita and Jivanmukti) to a particular event; it happened as a process of nature and nurture in the general atmosphere of Indian cultural milieu I grew up in.   Perhaps it was smeared on to my brain cells even when I was a young boy! I was born and brought up in a family steeped in philosophy (my father was a Theosophist and author of several philosophical works). I had been fortunate to be exposed to Mr. J. Krishnamurti’s talks early in life (even before I could fathom their full import). Both these situations could be the triggers for my interest in Jivanmukti.

NDM: What would you say Jivanmukti is exactly? Continue reading

On the Seer and the Seen

  Quoting from the talk of an Advaita teacher on the message of the aitareya Upanishad:

“It is Consciousness that impels us to feel hungry. It is Consciousness that impels the food to let itself be eaten. Consciousness propels us to perceive the world and It commands the world to be seen by us. Our seeing becomes meaningless if there is no world to be seen. The appearance of the world is meaningless if there is none as the seer. Both are impelled in their actions by the One Consciousness.   Continue reading

On Analogy

Hardly does a minute go by when a student of Advaita does not hear an analogy. The subject being so abstruse and abstract, the teacher ostensibly to make things easy to understand (सुख बोधाय), resorts to the method of using an “analogy.” Much like in Theoretical Physics and Quantum Physics, the concepts in Advaita too are usually counterintuitive and metaphor is a powerful tool to help drive home a difficult idea. The danger in using the metaphor is that it, more often than not, lulls the student with a sense as though s/he “got” it (the Oneness of All That-IS).  Perhaps because of that, it is not seldom that we find even an advanced student of Advaita being tempted to extend a metaphor beyond the intended point and make his/her own inferences from such a wrong projection. (I am frequently asked questions on ‘reflected Consciousness,’  ‘Witness-Consciousness’ etc. based on such improper extensions).

No wonder that Physicists (particularly those in Science Communication) are concerned about the “use of metaphor” and the “understanding” it provides. Recently, I found the problem best articulated by  Philip Freeman, a teacher of Physics. He has some interest in Philosophy also. He lives near Vancouver BC, Canada. I am copying from his reply to a question at Quora regarding the limitations of analogies. Continue reading

On “shraddha”:

Vedanta demands “shraddha” from every seeker who is eager to learn or study Advaita philosophy. It’s a basic requirement. But what exactly is shraddha?

Unfortunately, the Sanskrit word ‘shraddha‘ does not have an exact equivalent in the English language.

tattvabodha asks: What is the nature of ‘shraddha‘? And it answers:
“Faith in the words of the Guru and the scriptures is shraddha.”

aparokShAnubhUti, verse 8 also says:  निगमाचार्यवाक्येषु भक्तिः श्रद्धेति विश्रुता । 

(nigama AcArya vakyeShu bhaktiH shraddheti vishrutA)

It means: shraddha is “implicit faith in the word of the scripture and the teacher.”

vivekacUDAmaNi, verse 25 is a bit more elaborate on ‘shraddha.’ One of the translations of this verse reads: “THAT by which one understands the import of the scriptures as well as the pregnant words of the advice of the preceptor is called by the wise as ‘shraddha.’
The word implies an ability to embrace the Truth, explains another of the translators of this verse. Continue reading

The Creation Myth

  We all know that the shruti predominantly adopts the model of adhyAropaapavAda (superimposition – sublation) in imparting the incommunicable Advaita message. There are other types of models and prakriyA-s also available in the scripture and tradition but they do not seem to be as popular. The adhyAropaapavAda model superimposes an “imagined” or illusory creation on the really real Reality and as the student ingests the core Advaitic teaching, the superimposition is sublated. We find, however, that the shruti spends more time dealing with diverse aspects of the superimposed creation (birth, sustenance, death, action, fruits of action, rebirth etc.), the sublation being left to the ingenuity of the student as s/he reaches her/ his final understanding. One teacher estimates that Shankara in general devotes 90 percent of his time in most of his works on expiation of the Advaita doctrine and the attendant practices, leaving only a minor part on sublation and the outcome of the practices. This situation in some quarters has given rise to an insistence that the shruti teaches creation and that we have to take only the shruti vAkya-s and Shankara’s commentary on them as the pramANa (reference standard) for understanding the Advaita message forsaking other methods and vAkya-s in the scripture. Is that the intention of shruti?  What is the final position of the shruti about creation from an Advaita perspective? Continue reading