Awareness of Self

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs you know, it is difficult to assess what another person ‘experiences’. It is also difficult to equate various words that might or might not mean the same thing to one person or everyone. Not sure if this is possible. Probably not. So, the following is not the gospel. I could be mad, mistaken, and a fool. Being foolish is not the worst thing. Feel free to call me names like Martin does.

For me, the word awareness has to constitute both subject and object. Someone or thing is aware. It is a function of the human being. We all have it and it is functioning right now. For me, all awareness functions within the context of self and consciousness, self and consciousness being virtually the same thing. I am talking about what constitutes self, not about self’s true nature. Self’s true nature has to be devoid of self completely and therefore out of the realm of all consciousness. Thus, it is also devoid of awareness as this is a function of our human nature, not our true nature. Normal death erases all experience and awareness but not our true nature.

Our human efforts can only concern itself with our human nature and that lasts maybe 70-90 years. To know thyself is a human endeavor that involves using observation. How else can we understand anything? Mind is involved to be sure. Everything we know is reflected in the mind. But this doesn’t seem to be the case with our true nature. Our true nature is not a reflection of our human life. No human faculty can know its true nature, only the human nature can be known. The only way we can ‘know’ our true nature is through the ending of this separate self that we call ‘me’, ‘I’, etc. And, it is not possible for our human nature to bring an end to itself. From what I have read of the sages, conversations I have had with sages (of course, the ones I think are sages!), it happens in a blink of an eye. You are simply swept away. It is a revelation, not an attainment. It is not a result. There are no levels of attainment, only levels of self. No true self. The body may remain, but no person inhabits it. True nature and human nature are not compatible. You can’t have your cake and eat it, too, as the saying goes.  To know the self is to forget the self. But forgetting the self is not erasing it from memory. It’s erased from your whole being.

As others have said our own existence is common to us all. By observing this sense of existence, me, self, being it, breathing it, living it, you by-pass all the mental analysis and duality that most are involved with. The sense of problem is relieved and a kind of centeredness that focuses this observation can be felt and deepened. This centeredness is a  gateway that our true nature reveals itself through and brings an end to all forms of self.

Posted by ‘Anonymous’

29 thoughts on “Awareness of Self

  1. Dear Anonymous,

    Thank you for this write up explaining your position and thanks to Dennis for bringing it up as a separate Post.

    At the outset, I would like to make one observation, not immediately related to the subject under focus but what you said in one sentence. Please permit me to submit the following:

    Martin (Dr. Alberto Martin Garcia) is a very senior retired Surgeon, author and highly knowledgeable in both Western Philosophy and Vedanta. He studied Islam too for sometime. I am sure with the maturity of understanding you are speaking, you do not intend to say that you felt slighted by his words and that you are only pointing out to the danger of potential misunderstandings. I am also certain that Martin too never meant in any other way than to bring a point to highlight. I guess we can take up a serious discussion on the important issue of “Awareness” without any further reference to this matter.


      • Dear Anonymous
        I wanted to let you know that I really appreciate your postings. You open up a new dimension for someone like me who has been following traditional advaita for some years.
        I remember that in your early postings you ‘shhhhhhh’d” me when I said your views echo UG. But then you continued to maintain your consistent “line &length” (a term from game of cricket) on your core message and finally seem to have gotten AV’s attention through this post.

        Also to my delight you finally revealed your secret in one of your replies “ I don’t have a singular discipline or path except the direct experience of this self awareness. It is akin to Nisargadatta’s ‘I am”. In order to understand a little more about what you are saying, I went to the original Tapes of Nisargadatta in marathi (my mother tongue). After I heard some of the tapes I can now relate to what you are saying. Here is a brief summary of his message (as I understood) in these tapes:

        “I am this body” is screwed on to you and you are suffering. To unscrew this notion go back to the womb of your mother and remember that “I am” which is there all the time through which this whole world of yours has sprung. Now you may think that “I am “ is me but that is not the real you. What was prior to “ I am“ is you. Eighty-four years ago I was that, in few years I will be that but due to my guru’s grace “I am that” right now. You will never get there through shruti, quotes from masters, concepts. You cannot take any action (“you cannot even P~~~ on your own)” The only gateway to that is “I am”. Ignore everything and abide in “I am” – and it will vanish. BTW this prior to “I am” state is not really a mystery; you are that in your ‘Dhyana”

        Then in this posting you also described what that experience is like-” It happens in a blink of an eye. You are simply swept away……….” And you mentioned that only way we an know our true nature is through ending of this separate self that we call ‘I” or “me”. But then as Nisargadatta says leave alone dropping self, you cannot even “drink water on your own. So how do I get there (only figurative because you do not go anywhere)? Abiding in I am, meditating on I am, satsang with sages, simply do nothing….How?
        Eventhough you feel one’s exerience does not help the other it does rub off and then one creates his/her own tune.

  2. Vijay,

    I remember someone saying here that Nisargadatta’s English translators had made some sort of translation error concerning pure consciousness as not being ‘That’. This is a key point I believe that many overlook. Self and consciousness vanish. What seems to animate the body is no longer this self-aware ‘person’. The body itself undergoes some kind of transformation.

    Please don’t think I am equating myself with Nisargadatta. The statement that it happens in a blink of an eye is what I have gleaned from conversations and study material of and with sages. Nothing in my own experience contradicts this. All effort is a self involved activity, but there is no way NOT to make an effort. It is a contradiction that gets clarified through abiding in your own sense of existence, being. That sense of being is informed of its true nature. The question HOW is also clarified or rather made irrelevant. A good teacher can only point to yourself, not to himself. Everything is up to you, and yet nothing is up to you. It can definitely drive some people crazy.

  3. “Self and consciousness vanish. What seems to animate the body is no longer this self-aware ‘person’. The body itself undergoes some kind of transformation.”

    Well said by Anonymous.

    Excellent pointers!

    Avid readers of the discussions at this site may recall how the above experiential statement made by Anonymous is in contradiction to the improbable stand taken by several “theoretician” Advaitins and the statements of certain Swami-s quoted thereon re: the requirement of ‘ego’ in the post-realization phase of a living body.
    (I had debated this issue about how actions are done by the body-mind that once belonged to a jnAni both online and offline with some members).

    I hope Dennis can take some time off from his work in order to participate in this thread as this is a very important point observed by Anonymous — and very timely too.

    And I have two questions for Anonymous, if he does not mind disclosing:

    i) Who are the Sages with whom he had interactions and whom he alludes to in his posts ? Is there any harm in revealing their names and teaching?

    ii) What is the kind of transformation that the “body without a ‘person’ ” is observed to undergo?


    [P.S.: The word “Self” (with capital ‘S’) in the quote cited by me, IMHO, refers to the ‘sense of separate self’ and not the nameless “That” (“true nature” in the terminology of Anonymous). Conventionally, we use Self (capital ‘S’), Consciousness, Awareness, brahman as pointers to “That.”]

    • Ramesam,

      As you already know from my posts, that the two Krishnamurtis were a big influence on me in my earlier years. From reading and listening to JK, I was brought into my own sense of being that allowed me to see what I was not, an entity, a person. I had also read Sri Ramana and studied some Zen teachings and met with different Roshis and teachers.

      It wasn’t until I met UG that I knew I was looking at someone who was really done and dusted. I also realized that what I was experiencing had nothing to do with what had happened to him. His was a total break, a true death in every sense, including a clinical one. If my memory serves me, Sri Ramana also mentioned there were two deaths that happened. And, Nisargadatta also referrred to this death. But, it was UG who talked matter of factly about it and you can read his words in various books published of his conversations with people.

      My reluctance to talk about things like this is due to two things. First, I have no way to corroborate anything that anyone says about this transformative ‘experience’ (or lack of) because it is not mine to talk about. In a way, it’s like listening to a fairy tale. Secondly, is the imagery that it will eventually conjure up that will lead to more indulgence in conceptual thinking and what it would be like to ‘experience’ this. It is of no real use to anyone. It takes us away from our sense of being and our own discovery of the way we are functioning and our true nature.

      I will say this, that UG insisted that the body had an intelligence of its own that kept it running in optimal condition after his ‘calamity’ as he liked to call it. This body/brain had no capability of going within or interiority. It was all about perception on a sensory level. However, his description of perception was not the same as ours. The absence of a self allowed the senses to function in a different way, unimpeded by thought, memory, and a sense of a self.

      The following quote is taken from something Bernadette Roberts, a Christian contemplative, wrote about the life of the body after the disappearance of self.

      “What is unique about the human soul, however, is self-awareness or consciousness. Yet, as a function of the human soul, self is not man’s real or true life. If this function (self or self-awareness) were to cease functioning, nothing could be more obvious than that the physical body has a life of its own – with no one running the show, no one even in the body – we call this “vegetative life”. So too, sensory or animal life is not human life – plants and animals have no human “psyche”, this is solely a human prerogative.”

      Hers is another testament of the ending of self and the transformative effect it has on the body. She talks much more about this in her books and about her own ‘transformation’. She seems to be the real deal, IMO.

      So, before we get carried away and try to imagine that any of that has anything to do with us, isn’t it better to discuss what it is that is taking place within our sense of self?

      Oh, one more reluctance to name names. So many of us have pre-conceived ideas about this one and that one, including yours truly, that what they say is automatically colored by who we think they are/were. UG wasn’t a lovable Meher Baba type of guy who smiled and loved everything. Many came away with a negative feeling about him.

  4. I don’t think I have anything new to add on the topics here. As I see it, it is all straightforward, relatively simple, and reasonable.

    In reality, there is only brahman or Consciousness.

    At the empirical level, there are forms or manifestations of Consciousness.

    These forms are constantly changing or evolving. When a form is sufficiently advanced to form a ‘mind’, Consciousness is reflected in that mind and the form seems to acquire a separate individuality. In really advanced forms, self-awareness develops and the reflected Consciousness identifies with its container and believes it is separate.

    Enlightenment occurs in that mind when it realizes that this is what has happened; that it is not really separate and that there is only Consciousness. The form, and the mind, continue as before but with the key difference that this Self-knowledge is now present in that mind.

    Nothing can really change. If it did, there would have to be (at least) two things.


    • Dennis,

      To say what is left after the disappearance of the separate self has been a debatable topic and explained differently in different traditions, etc. From what I have gleaned from my own sources, Brahman and consciousness are not equated. Self and consciousness are equated.

      It also seems to me that you are equating enlightenment with a deep understanding that there is indeed no separate self and this happens in the mind. My sources have explained it differently (or, what I think they have said). The dissolution of ego is not enlightenment in the sense of the disappearance of all forms of self. It is a modification of self that is able to have a mystical union with what it deems as god. This is a kind of death, and irreversible, but not the end of the road, so to speak. The true death is the disappearance of self (consciousness) utterly. It has nothing to do with mind, consciousness or any kind of True Self. There is no longer any union, mystical or otherwise, body, although the body may live on but is not connected to any self whatsoever. There is no self knowledge in that mind. Self is gone. Take away self from body, and what I quoted about the statements of UG and others kicks in. Perception without a self is what the body experiences.

      For us to really discuss something like this and arrive at a conclusion is impossible, I think. It would only be conjecture and secondhand information. And, it is not really what we need to put our attention to. Everyone wants to know what is on the other side of death. Well, seems like a complete waste of time to me unless this is what entertains you. But entertainment is not ‘knowing’ any truth. This is why I always try to bring the focus back to what is at hand. No use thinking about things you cannot truly know. It’s a distraction, really.

  5. Anon,

    I really don’t know what you mean by saying that Self = Consciousness but neither = Brahman. This site and blog relate to Advaita. We are not interested in discussing dvaita philosophies. Also, the rest of what you say just seems to indicate a lack of understanding of Advaita. By all means, if you want to learn about Advaita, continue to read the material and ask questions for clarification but please do not try to convert readers to some other system; it will confuse everyone!

    One point of confusion for you seems likely to stem from Nisargadatta. Advaita in general, and this group in particular, uses the term ‘Consciousness’ as a synonym for the absolute reality. (The traditional pointers to Brahman are existence, consiousness and limitlessness.) For some unknown reason, Nisargadatta chose to use ‘Awareness’ for this pointer and used the word ‘consciousness’ in its limited, personal sense. This is not the way we are using it here.

    • Dennis,

      I didn’t want to post what I wrote in the first place. What I thought I was doing was clarifying questions about where I was coming from (my influences, teachers, etc.) that other posters asked in this thread. Ramesam also insisted on clarifying some terminology.

      I am not trying to prove you wrong or me right. Or, that my sources are better than yours. I even mentioned that discussing this kind of thing works against everyone. There is no possible resolution to what these terms ultimately mean. Personally, I don’t care what anyone calls awareness or consciousness. I get your point about the site being devoted to Advaita and its structure.

  6. Interesting conversations.

    I guess when mature individuals intercommunicate, one will vibe with the ‘salience’ of the issue beyond technicalities and definitions with an intellect (buddhi) that will pierce through the form of the garb given to the ‘carrier of the message’ (i.e. the word used) . After all, in the ultimate sense, it is One Consciousness (= brahman = Self = True Nature =..??.. = ) as though talking to Itself as the Speaker as well as the Receiver!

    When people go beyond the sabdArtha to vAcyArtha (if necessary invoking the bhAga tyAga lakshaNa – Dennis’ favorite (?)), one need not shy away from taking part in an ‘adult-like’ conversation nor hide behind a curtain of humility, IMHO. In fact, iff I am allowed to say, trying to hide is indicative of a fear of being ‘hurt’ or ‘hurting’ – surely pointing to the presence of a remnant ‘ego.’

    Even according to “tradition”, discussions amongst seekers, irrespective of their adeptness, is an honoured and accepted practice and is considered to constitute ‘nididhAsana.’

    [What I write below is more in a lighter vein than serious debate.]

    On another note, I was a little bemused, to read what Dennis said:

    “.. forms are constantly changing or evolving. When a form is sufficiently advanced to form a ‘mind’, Consciousness is reflected in that mind and the form seems to acquire a separate individuality. In really advanced forms, self-awareness develops and the reflected Consciousness identifies with its container and believes it is separate.”

    The schema presented by him is:
    “form without mind — form with mind — form with advanced mind — form with separate individuality — form with self-awareness.”

    That seems to me to be an effort to absorb Darwinian evolutionary paradigm into Advaita Vedanta, a la Teilhard de Chadrin and Aurabindo almost half a century back and Eckhart Tolle and Gary Zukav (to some extent) in the current times.

    I wonder if Advaita “tradition” goes with the ingestion of the concepts of evolutionary theory in its teaching!

    Or perhaps, we need a Dictionary of Concepts too along with that of “terms and definitions” because some organized “traditions” want to show off themselves as “scientific”, never mind even if it is pseudoscience sometimes!


  7. I don’t think we can avoid re-intepreting, or at least rationalising, the traditional way of expressing things in terms of our ‘modern’ paradigms. Our minds tend to work according to the concepts prevalent in the society of our upbringing.

    A good example might be Gaudapada’s alAta metaphor. We now know about persistence of vision so that the patterns generated by the whirling firebrand do not carry quite the literal interpretation that they once did. But that need not make it less potent – it is, after all, only a metaphor.

    I don’t believe that incorporating Darwininan evolution into vyavahAra dilutes the teaching one iota!

    Best wishes,

  8. Dear Dennis,

    “I don’t believe that incorporating Darwininan evolution into vyavahAra dilutes the teaching one iota!”

    It does! Not only dilutes, it contradicts also!!
    And that too on TWO counts.

    Even though there are a couple of research papers of doubtful value which claim to the contrary, reverse Darwinian evolution of a species is not possible.

    In contrast, a human being (with self-awareness) may become an animal of four legs, a fish or even an insect if you go by the teaching in the scriptures as if backward evolution can take place. Similarly, a low level creature (a bird, a deer) may become a human being skipping all the intermittent steps.

    Secondly, the evolutionary schema as spelt out by you suggests that only self-aware beings (humans) at the highest end of the series are eligible for liberation.

    But we have many famous stories (which are advised to be read repeatedly as a holy merit-bestowing act) wherein animals like elephants (gajendra), monkeys (Lord Hanuman) etc. are said to have attained Salvation. Examples of even critters (whose claim for a mind is doubtful ) like spiders receiving liberation are also present in itihAsa-s. We have instances wherein trees and stones (having no mind, certainly) too get liberated.
    (itihAsa means iti = thus; ha = indeed ; Asa = (it) was).

    I am not very knowledgeable of purAna-s and ithAsa-s. I am certain experts can cite many more examples from these texts wherein the theory of progressive one-way Darwinian evolution stands counter to the teaching.

    On a different dimension, of course, is the fact that the existence of ‘absolute arrow of time’ is essential for Darwinian evolution to take place. Advaita Vedanta teaches the non-existence of time and “Realization” of this truth in the NOW is said to be liberation.


  9. What happens ‘between births’ has nothing to do with Darwin, I suggest!

    As far as I am aware, the scriptures state that only a human being can gain mokSha – see, for example, vivekachUDAmaNi verse 2.

    SInce ‘enlightenment’ is an event in a mind which has been adequately prepared by sAdhana chatuShTAya sampatti, I refute the suggestion that ants and buffalos can become elightened, irrespective of any scriptural statements seemingly to the contrary. Theories such as karma and reincarnation are, in any case, part of the adhyAropa-apavAda teaching for beginning-interim seekers.

    FInally, I suggest that this thread is veering way off topic!

    Best wishes,

  10. Is enlightenment an event in the mind? The sages I respect have all said the contrary, and supposedly, they were/are enlightened. You sir, do not seem to be enlightened, but you are sure that it takes place in the mind. You can only theorize about this. Certainty is not yours. But, this has little to do with the moment at hand, does it?

    What is ‘on topic’?

  11. Yes, it is an event in mind.

    Who said that the ‘sages you respect’ were enlightened?

    You are entitled to your view as to whether or not I have Self-knowledge. But there is no way that anyone can know the status of another. You can only make assumptions based on what they say/write. You cannot even rely upon assumptions made from the way that they act.

    What constitutes ‘theory’ and what ‘knowledge’?

    ‘On topic’ simply means ‘relevant to the current thread’. Any subject relevant to Advaita is open for discussion if there is interest, but should appear under a title that relates to the discussion so that others may more easily locate it. We could, for example, start a new thread on the subject of whether or not non-humans can become enlightened (although I suspect it would be quite short!)

    Best wishes,

  12. Dennis,

    I refer you to a post Venkat made in another thread. It says:

    “‘Studying the Way’ is just a figure of speech. It is a method of arousing people’s interest in the early stages of development. In fact, the Way is not something that can be studied. Study leads to retention of concepts, and so the Way is entirely misunderstood . . . Some of the ancients had sharp minds; they no sooner heard the Doctrine proclaimed than they hastened to discard all learning. So they were called ‘sages who abandoning learning, have come to rest in spontaneity’. In these days people only seek to stuff themselves with knowledge and deductions, seeking everywhere for book-knowledge and calling this Dharma-practice. They do not know that so much knowledge and deduction have just the contrary effect of piling up obstacles”. – The Zen teaching of Huang Po

    “This conceptual understanding leaves open the possibility that . . . we are the Absolute, the one without a second. If it is so, what we really are obviously stands beyond the grasp of the limited mind. When we see that the mind, in spite of all of its abilities, is absolutely unable to comprehend the truth for which we are striving, all effort to reach enlightenment ceases naturally. This effortlessness is the threshold of real understanding beyond all limitations.” – Francis Lucille

    “Instead of looking outwards, look within. WHATEVER IS NOT PRESENT IN DEEP SLEEP DOES NOT EXIST. What are you doing? Invite silence, stillness. Don’t waste your time doing anything other than being silent, being still within. Anything which is your‘self’, is illusion, not true, does not matter. Anything which is ‘out there’ is illusion, not true, does not matter. Let yourself be emptied of these. Let there be emptiness.” – David Carse, Perfect Brilliant Stillness

    “All this conceptualising, all this articulation, has been taking place only after the original concept arose that you are. What was the position before this concept arose? At that time did you have any concepts, any needs? THE CONCEPT THAT IT IS LIKE DEEP SLEEP IS NOT INCORRECT, BUT IT IS STILL A CONCEPT, AND THE ORIGINAL STATE IS BEYOND CONCEPTS. That you are awake is itself a concept at this moment. Let this sink in. Throw away every thought, every experience, everything that happens after this consciousness has come. Other than throwing it away as useless, there is nothing to be done beyond the firm understanding in which you become more and more absorbed.” – Nisargadatta

    Is this something you understand, Dennis? Each one recommends abandoning conceptual thinking and engagement. Is this something you have come to realize, that it is not the mind that has anything to do with one’s true nature? By your own words and actions, it seems not. In any case, it is worth taking a look at. We have to be very honest with ourselves about what we are engaged in.

  13. Anon,

    If you accept that reality is non-dual, you have to accept that there are no people and no world in reality. Empirically, it is obviously the case that there seem to be people but again, if you accept non-duality, it must be the case that everyone is already free, liberated. So the only meaningful way of looking at this is to posit that most people are ignorant of this truth. Where does ignorance and knowledge take place?

    I suggest moving over to the new thread by Venkat to continue this discussion, if there is anything further to say. I am duplicating this comment there to help.

    Also, please do not use arguments from other traditions (e.g. Zen). I do not dispute that other traditions ‘work’, simply that common concepts have to be used if anyone is to make sense of these discussions. We are using the concepts of traditional advaita. Even Direct Path diverges from this. E.g. the deep-sleep state is characterized by ignorance. It is mithyA, depending on the reality – turIya – for its existence.

  14. Greetings !

    I would like to post some comments on the conversation on this thread.

    We were reminded early on that “This site and blog relate to Advaita”. I think that referred to the Advaita Vedanta philosophy and perhaps not some loose concept of ‘non-duality’. By philosophy I mean a formal academic body of knowledge – complete with its theories, literature, methodologies, technical terminology etc. Any debate on Advaita Vedanta would then necessarily have to be restricted to this domain .. because in a debate every one must talk about the same subject matter.

    If there is an ongoing debate between medical doctors on the contemporary methods of treating cancer, would it be permissible for one participant to rise up and say ‘I think this is all rubbish. I know of some highly qualified people who say that only Homeopathy is the sure cure for cancer” ? Now, this person may sincerely believe in what he says and he could as well be right, but as has been pointed out, that forum is inappropriate for that statement. Only a person subscribing to the basic objectives of the forum can make a meaningful contribution to the proceedings of the forum, in the spirit of mutual discovery. Of course, in this particular case, “search for a cure for cancer” is an universal issue beyond that of just the medical profession ..and if the person is able to articulate that commonality of purpose, there can possibly be some sympathy to his/her views, else it will only be regarded as a distraction.

    Finally, a reference was made in an earlier post, “to the improbable stand taken by several “theoretician” Advaitins” .. implying perhaps that a personal ‘direct’ experience is more powerful and meaningful than mere theories. That may be so. But then, that cannot be the subject of a debated .. only ideas and concepts can be debated. Ideas and concepts formulated into a coherent theory and through that theory subjected to critical inquiry can only survive the test of time. This is the case with Advaita Vedanta also.



  15. Thanks for your comments, KR. Very cogently expressed! If we were discussing this around the time of Advaita, we would be required to give chapter and verse of the relevant shruti statements to support our arguments. This really focusses the mind and tends to obviate throw-away statements of opinion or hearsay!

  16. The well defined layout spelt out by KR about what constitute the platform and ground rules for discussions suit excellently in the acquisition of the “knowledge” of any mundane worldly subjects.

    If one is desirous to obtain “knowledge of the ineffable, unthinkable and inexpressible Self” in an academic sense in a pedantic atmosphere using pedagogic tools, there’s no need to look for a different approach.
    [‘Self’ being the pointer to that which is indicated by mantra 7 of mANDUkya.]

    If, however, one is desirous to obtain “Self-Knowledge,” the design prescribed by KR is eminently unsuited.

    The difference between ‘knowledge’ and “Knowledge” is as given in the Upanishads – “Knowledge” is that “knowing which all is known.”

    We should remember that ‘knowledge’ is accumulative, makes one an ‘expert’ and it is always based on memory and hence belongs to past and therefore, considered ‘dead.’ OTOH, “Knowledge” is ever fresh, alive and cannot be stored in memory.

    Acquisition of ‘knowledge of Self’ may make one an ‘Expert on Truth’; but it does not make him/her a “Knower of Truth.”
    (For an explanation of these terms, please read: )

    Honouring the desire of a sincere seeker going in search of “Knowledge,” the objectives and direction of goal are spelt out in as “inclusive” a manner as possible at the “About Us” page at this site, as can be seen by all. (It would do well for KR to take a look at the page).

    KR’s design, IMHO, stands in violation of almost all the points made therein.
    If Dennis too now feels that KR’s approach for discussions “cogently expresses” the objective, perhaps one may have to revisit the statements written therein.

    One more point before closing: What does constitute a discussion on “Knowledge” and how does it differ from a discussion on ‘knowledge’?

    “Discussion” amongst seekers on “Knowledge” is more in the spirit of ‘nididhyAsana’ in order “to grok” the subject but not to prove or disprove anything. It is more to surmount one’s own impediments (pratibhandaka-s — shAstra vAsana is one of the most difficult pratibhandaka-s to get rid of. I have post on this too at this site) in the process of ingesting the ultimate Truth. This is in stark contrast to a discussion on ‘knowledge’ because this sort of discussion is aimed at proving one’s statement and disproving another’s – often morphing into an ‘egofest.’

    A genuine question may arise then that if word meanings are not standardised, any debate may be totally incomprehensible to the participants. The answer lies in the fact that one should carefully assess the meaning of the ‘word’ as used by a teacher instead of trying to declare his expression to be wrong. As noted by me in another thread, knowledgeable Vedanta Pundits say that our scriptures hardly tied themselves into knots giving significance to sabdArtha; they went for bhAvardha in a spirit of true learning. Any discussant may upfront define his/her usage of terms to avoid confusion.

    Needless to say, the issue raised here by KR is beyond adjudication and as the Administrator-Owner of the site, Dennis’s has the final say.


  17. Thanks to Ramesam for pointing back to the ‘About’ page. This was agreed by all as representing the guidelines for everyone posting new material or commenting on existing. I am not aware of anything that has changed since this was produced (except that Peter, who actually wrote it, is unfortunately no longer with us). It would be well for us all to re-read this from time to time!


  18. Dear Shri Ramesam

    Your comments are well taken. I did go and read the ‘About’ section .. but did not get the sense that I have violated any of the ground rules. I only disgreed with ideas and statements .. and not with the person making them. That is the nature of a debate. The charge that I have transgressed every norm of the site appears, to me, somewhat exaggerated. I acknowledge my use of words like ‘permitted’, ‘inappropriate’, ‘sympathy’ etc could have caused some disturbance .. let me assure you that was not my intention. I was only trying to convey the lack of any ‘utility’ or ‘validity’ in those statements. eg If a doctor is examining a patient and noting down his/her vital signs, the colour of the wall is not one that he is likely to note down. However, if the patient has a psychiatric problem the the suggestion to also note the colour of the wall could be a useful one.

    Secondly, whether knowledge is spelt with ‘k’ or ‘K’ it is knowledge only. The upanishads also ask the same question ‘How can Brahman which is defined as inconceivable be known at all ?’ .. and provides the answer also .. that the main problem here, is seeing the world and Brahman as two different things .. caused by avidya. This is the central knowledge delivered by all the upanishads and is also spelt with a ‘k’ alone and this happens in the mind only. Converting this ‘reasoned knowledge’ into a fact that requires no further inquiry, is what we call ‘self-realisation’ .. and that also occurs in the mind only. If I want to boil some water in a pot, to make tea .. if the pot also boils away there can be no question of making any tea !!

    Participants in this forum are free to agree or disagree with the above ideas. If such comments are presented with support from the upanishad passages or reasoned logic, then that can be a very enjoyable exercise for all of us.



  19. Dear Shri KR,


    You say: “………… but did not get the sense that I have violated any of the ground rules.”

    You didn’t!
    Even I cannot agree if any one says that you violated.

    What was pointed out in my note was that, with regard to Advaita, any restrictive DESIGN for the content and discussions as proposed by you will claustrophobically asphyxiate the length, breadth and scope of what is envisaged by Peter expressed at the About Us page. Your suggested DESIGN for the content and discussion was:
    “By philosophy I mean a formal academic body of knowledge – complete with its theories, literature, methodologies, technical terminology etc. Any debate on Advaita Vedanta would then necessarily have to be restricted to this domain .. because in a debate every one must talk about the same subject matter.
    “……. implying perhaps that a personal ‘direct’ experience is more powerful and meaningful than mere theories. That may be so. But then, that cannot be the subject of a debated .. only ideas and concepts can be debated. Ideas and concepts formulated into a coherent theory and through that theory subjected to critical inquiry can only survive the test of time. This is the case with Advaita Vedanta also.”

    2. ” If I want to boil some water in a pot, to make tea .. if the pot also boils away there can be no question of making any tea !!”

    Excellent metaphor! Congratulations for coming out with such a beautiful construct!!

    I would like to use it (with due accreditation to you) with your permission in some of my writings.

    As you indicated your preference for upanishadic sayings, I shall leave you here without any further remarks on how well the metaphor captures the ken of the following mantras, with reference to a realized man :

    kena Upanishad: न तत्र च्क्षुर्गच्छति न वाग्गछति नो मन: न विद्यो न विजानीमो यथैदनुशिश्यात् ॥

    brihadAraNyaka: अत्र पितापिता भवति मातामाता लोका अलोका देवा अदेवा वेदा अवेदा:
    अत्र स्तेनो अस्तेनो भवति भॄणाहाभॄणाहा चण्डालो अचण्डाल: पौल्कसो अपौल्कस:
    श्रमणो अश्रमण: तापसोsतापसोsनन्वागतं पुण्येनानन्वागतं पापेन तीर्णो हि तदा सरवाञ्छोकान्हृदयस्य भवति !

    brihadAraNyaka: यत्र तु अस्य आत्मैवाभूत् तत केन कं पश्येत् जिघ्रेत् ………


    • Dear Shri KR,

      As you may have seen from the discussion at another thread, the positioning of a ‘seeker’ and a ‘goal’ to be sought, maybe helpful to some at one point. But it still is in duality, (seeker being jIva and brahman the goal). As long as duality exists, there is reason for ‘suffering.’

      Regarding the Rig veda quote you have given (rUpam rUpam….), I have to say that I am not too familiar with the brahmaNa portions. Shri V. Subrahmanian who is very knowledgeable of scriptures mentions that almost similar mantras come in kaThopanishad, and also an echoe can be found in the more familiar neha nAnAsti kincana of brihadAraNyaka. Gaudapada adopted the next line of the above mantra in his kArika at 3.24, I understand.


  20. Dear Shri Ramesam

    Thank you for your clarification and also your kind words. I do see your point-of-view with regard to the boundary of the topics we discuss on this forum.

    Thanks also for posting the upanishad passages describing the nature of Brahman. I could not but read some significance into your earlier words “with reference to a realized man”.

    I am wondering if you will agree with me, if I say, even “Brahman” is relevant only as it relates to the benefit it provides to the jiva a जीव पुरुषार्थ

    You may be familiar with the shruthi passage : रूपं रूपं प्रतिरूपं बभूव तदस्य रूपं प्रतिचक्षणाय


  21. Just a quick comment – I never tire of looking at Devanagari script; so beautiful and efficient. But, despite having written a book about interpreting it, it still takes me an age to read it! And there are many visitors to the site, I am sure, who cannot read it at all. Could we please always include transliteration as well (and maybe even a translation!)

    Best wishes,

  22. Certainly, Dennis

    जीव पुरुषार्थ .. jIva puruShArTha .. the life goals of a jiva

    रूपं रूपं प्रतिरूपं बभूव तदस्य रूपं प्रतिचक्षणाय .. rUpam rUpam prathiroopam babhUva tadhasya rUpam prathicakshaNAya .. The One Form verily became many forms .. each such form is to know that One Form (only)

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