Belief – a dangerous thing

Belief can be a dangerous thing, as Galileo discovered to his dismay early in the 17th century, when he was denounced to the Inquisition because of his claim that the earth went around the sun and not vice versa. Unfortunately for him, the Catholic Church was committed to the opposite belief so he never stood a chance. Nowadays, of course, we know better and happily acknowledge that Galileo was correct, despite the fact that everyone still talks about sunrise and sunset!

(Incidentally, this is a frequently encountered metaphor for the change that occurs upon self-realization. Just as we recognize the truth of heliocentricity, yet still talk as if the Sun revolved around the Earth, so the realized man still acts as though he lives in a dualistic world, even though he now knows that everything is Brahman.)

Belief is so often treated by the believer as if it were true knowledge, instead of simply a strongly (and often wrongly!) held opinion. We really ought to know better, given the history of such mistaken, scientific views as the theories of phlogiston and ether. If the most brilliant scientists can be wrong, so can we!

One of my favorite books – ‘The Hundredth Monkey’ (Ref. 1) – includes a chapter on studies relating to the belief that people’s behavior is influenced by a full moon. What these studies find is that people are selective in what they observe. They tend to notice things that support their present beliefs and, whenever they see something unusual, they tend to try to find an explanation. Thus, if someone is seen to be behaving in an abnormal manner and it is noticed that the moon happens to be full, the latter is likely to be used to explain the former, in the absence of any more rational explanation. Such ‘rationalizations ‘ may become so glib, that in an appropriate situation, we may not even bother to check the phase of the moon at all. And, of course, we will recall those situations when something unusual occurred and it happened to be a full moon, but we will fail to remember the many more situations when either it was a full moon and everything was perfectly normal or it was not a full moon and people were doing the most stupid things!

Many of our beliefs stem from childhood. We are told something by our parents (who, of course, were told this by their parents!) and, not knowing any better, and trusting them implicitly, we accept it. If this happens to be something that does not fall within the purview of education, it is very likely that we will reach adulthood still believing what we were told. This is the field of folklore. Thus, for example, we might be told: “don’t go out in the cold with wet hair or you will catch your death of cold!” And we believe it! That there is no scientific evidence whatsoever for such a claim is irrelevant. The most pervasive belief of this kind is one’s religious persuasion. If the Muslim child is brought up as a Christian, he will believe in Christianity – and vice versa. The desirability of applying reason to one’s beliefs rarely occurs to us. As Robert Bolton said: “A belief is not merely an idea the mind possesses; it is an idea that possesses the mind.”

Ultimately, it could be said that “we believe whatever we want to believe”, as the Greek statesman, Demosthenes said. Osho has a good joke to illustrate this (in his book ‘I Am That’, Ref. 2). A man was driving home from work one night in the pouring rain when he passed a young woman struggling with some shopping. He stopped and offered her a lift. When they got to her house, she invited him in for a coffee. One thing led to another and eventually, they ended up in bed making love. Much later, he got up to return home realizing that his wife was going to be demanding a good explanation. By the time he arrived home he had worked out what to do and he took a piece of chalk from the glove compartment and put it behind his ear. As soon as he entered the house, his wife loudly demanded to know where he had been all of this time.

“Well, darling,” he began,” I stopped to give this girl a lift home. She invited me in for coffee and then we went to bed for a couple of hours.”

“I’ve never heard so much rubbish,” his wife replied. “I know perfectly well what you’ve been up to. You’ve been out with the boys playing pool again; I can see that chalk behind your ear!”

Ref. 1 – ‘The Hundredth Monkey And Other Paradigms of the Paranormal’, edited by Kendrick Frazier, Prometheus Books, 1991, ISBN 0-87975-655-1
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Ref. 2 – ‘I Am That: Discourses on the Isa Upanishad’, Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, Rajneesh Foundation International, 1984, ISBN 0-88050-580-X
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22 thoughts on “Belief – a dangerous thing

  1. “…so the realized man still acts as though he lives in a dualistic world, even though he now knows that everything is Brahman.”

    This is an interesting area for me and thanks for writing about it Dennis! And I appreciate this site very much indeed.

    It seems to me that the most insidious belief of all is the belief in “certainty of knowing”. I would contend that anyone who states that they know anything is in fact saying that they -believe- they know something. Thus the person who believes in the duality of this world and awakens to nonduality has simply shifted his belief to this new paradigm. It might be subtle or unconscious, but it is a belief nonetheless.

    I have Christian friends who are absolutely certain that by accepting Christ that they have special status and absolute assurance of attaining heaven. Muslims, too.

    Meanwhile, I have non-duality friends who are absolutely certain that everything is Brahman, there is not separation, no time, no space. I worked with non-duality teachers who I love and loved, who taught from some self-assigned sense of certainty that they know something. I was a part of this world for a long time.

    But really, what is this thing called “certainty”?

    By investigating the question, “how do you know that what you think you know is in fact known”, these people will quickly respond that “it is from the heart”, it is a deep intuition or some such; but one must ultimately admit that “certainty” is suspect. It is a high bar indeed; probably too high for us mere humans.

    Without “certainty that certainty is here” (or something!), all knowing is tainted. All knowing is just a belief, so that there is no knowing…

    …except, perhaps, for the absolute certainty that this awareness, right here, right now, IS. That is direct and immediate and as far as I can tell, is known. But again, as far as I can tell, nothing more can be said about it.

    Thus, perhaps, the beauty of the idea of the Zen Koan; to stop the believing and to stop the knowing, to abide in what is here, now.

    Perhaps this is all just my own ignorance and perhaps someday I’ll look at “certainty” and “knowing” more respectfully. But for now I see only human minds polishing and embellishing their beliefs.

    Thanks again for your books and this site!


  2. Hi John,

    This is why knowledge is defined as ‘justified, TRUE belief’. Turning this around, if you believe in something and that belief is justified and also true, then you can call it knowledge. What you are questioning, presumably, is whether you can ever know that something is true.

    The ‘realization’ of Advaita is equivalent to saying ‘I know that I exist’ – and I don’t think you can argue with that!

    But knowledge in general is a concept in the empirical world. There is a knower, something known, and a means by which it is known. This is duality, and is mithyA. It is a bit like karma – a useful fiction.

    Best wishes,

    • I would have to throw my hat in John’s corner regarding this, Dennis. We have been told to seek knowledge, certainty. We have even been told what this knowledge is through all the scriptures, commentaries, etc., that have come down through the ages. Yet, upon inspection of what any kind of knowledge or certainty is, reveals an experiencer that is present, a self, that is having an experience. While there may be exalted states of mind or self that seem beyond the normal perceptions, the experiencer is still there aware of what is taking place, having an experience.

      If you say ‘I know that I exist’, one can definitely argue with that. It is only a thought that informs you that ‘I exist’. Knowledge always comes in the form of thought, and thought is always of the known. In fact, there is no certainty that anyone exists or anything exists. That elusive thing called knowledge may just be a metaphor for the absence of belief. What would you call the absence of belief? Wouldn’t it also take away the believer? If the believer and the belief are both absent, what can be left? Maybe a good laugh!


  3. Hi Anonymous (it would be nice to put a name to that, actually – we used not to allow people to subscribe without giving some basic details but the software didn’t work very well),

    You say “If you say ‘I know that I exist’, one can definitely argue with that. It is only a thought that informs you that ‘I exist’.”

    Who would be seeing that thought, then?

    Best wishes,

  4. Hi Dennis, that captcha software you have installed on the registration page is like a lion at the gate. It took innumerable attempts to decipher the code!

    You ask, ‘who would be seeing that thought, then?’ I don’t think there is anyone seeing that thought. No entity, no self. Any attempt to ‘understand’ or ‘name’ something is only more thinking. I don’t think it is possible to ‘know’ anything beyond what is already put into our program.

    I found Ramesam’s writings (not his, actually) about the brain, particularly interesting as it attempts to describe the electrical impulses in the brain that synthesizes this activity into a ‘person’, like you or me. But, in fact, there is no one there, just a series of electrical, chemical, reactions to stimuli.

    Advaita or JK or anything else is only an expedient to help someone begin to contemplate all this seriously. Belief, faith, etc., can help someone focus their attention on a subject, but at some point, it is seen as more of the same activity of the brain that helps create the sense of ‘me’. That sense of ‘me’ is everything you know, not what you don’t know. We are only looking at what we know. I don’t think there is anything behind that that we can know. We also cannot accept this because our program also has god, self realization, and the divine, also built into it. It is definitely a circular activity taking place in nature, but there is still no one behind it all.

    I hope you don’t take this in a negative way or think that this is a kind of failure on my part to understand something ‘deeper’. There is incredible beauty to this life when we stop trying to accumulate knowledge.

    PS-Many intelligent people on this site. It’s good to see.

  5. Dear anonymous

    In concurrence with your point, Socrates said “All I know is that I don’t know”. Nisargadatta also frequently emphasised this, as does Zen, JK, and Ramana Maharshi (though not so explicitly).

    This deconstruction of our conditioning is also the import of Advaita, in perhaps some of the most beautiful, poetic verses and stories written. Once one starts looking at this, it cannot fail to be seen that all that the ego thinks it is, is entirely a matter of conditioning: the accident of birth to a particular family, wealth, culture, nation, plus the exposure to environmental factors that shape one’s thinking. So is there ever any ‘real’ differentiable ‘you’, apart from this conditioning?

    I also don’t think there is much to distinguish between the views that there is an underlying substratum (Consciousness) that is the ultimate reality (as per Advaita), or that there is no underlying reality (which Buddhism implies, and you advocate). Either way one still concludes non-separation is what is true, and the separate ego is just a bit of sophisticated programming, that causes all the trauma in the world.

    As I’m sure you know, Ramana Maharshi was fond of Gaudapada’s verse in Mandukyakarika:
    “There is no creation and no dissolution. There is no bondage, no one doing spiritual practices, no one seeking spiritual liberation and no one who is liberated.”

    As you indicate these are all just pointers to get one to first see this as a possibility, and then to contemplate and explore it for oneself. These pointers too have to be left behind rather than deified. And presumably, in that contemplation, the mind becomes de-conditioned from its deep programming, and then life continues without a sense of ‘I’ or ‘mine”. Interestingly, that is probably when life really begins, because then you realise your total and absolute freedom. Prior to that you were shackled by the conditioning of society, parents, etc to play the game you were brought up to play, conform to what others think, etc.

    Finally of course, there is no one who can eliminate the ego. It comes to an end on its own. Which is why I’d say Katha Upanishad talks about ‘grace’ that is needed.

    Best wishes,

  6. PS. We don’t actually know whether consciousness is an outcome of a material process in the brain, or whether there is some ‘super-Consciousness’ on which a dream world is being played out. Or in the latter case, whether there are multiple minds seeing this dream world or only one. I can’t see how we can ever know this, apart from models / belief systems being presented to us.

  7. Dear Venkat, you write very well. I am not very good at expressing all of this and I don’t have the opportunity or desire to talk with many people about these things. But, let me try to address some points you make above and see where it goes.

    This issue about an underlying substratum, consciousness vs no-consciousness, is something that has been debated for centuries, it seems. I have to ask how anyone can purport to know this with ‘certainty’ as I think we both see that knowledge is conditioned and can only know what it has been programmed to know. Perhaps this question is just rhetorical as I see it has nothing to do with how we are actually functioning. We cannot know Truth as some objective reality. We cannot even know who or what we are. We certainly try, and think otherwise. But this pursuit of some underlying reality does stop to a large degree when you begin to see the mechanics of thinking and the conditioned ‘mind’. The habit begins to dissipate when you stop giving it energy. I don’t think there is any ‘de-conditioning’ possible. It is the way it is. You could just replace it with another conditioning but nothing really changes. It’s left as it is, with no sense of trying to change it. In a deep way, there is less stress, concern, and all the other empty pursuits that have obsessed us, but the sense of self and ego are not left behind. Even the death of ego, which is a significant event, does not eliminate the experiencer. But, by that time, this exalted self is not concerned with getting rid of anything, or indulging in anything except its unknown source. Whether grace comes or not, is not a concern any longer. It really is out of our hands. Is it not true surrender?

  8. Dear Mr. Anonymous
    Your post was very refreshing!
    “You ask, ‘who would be seeing that thought, then?’ I don’t think there is anyone seeing that thought. No entity, no self. Any attempt to ‘understand’ or ‘name’ something is only more thinking. I don’t think it is possible to ‘know’ anything beyond what is already put into our program.”
    I feel echoes of UG in the above statement – “There is nothing there – no self, no consciousness NOTHING. It is like a computer with some selective knowledge programmed in ….” “By asking these questions for which you already have answers you are just perpetuating ….”

    It will be quite helpful if you can tell us what your thinking or non-thinking is:
    There is no consciousness or self and there is nothing to know
    There is consciousness but cannot be known
    There is consciousness that is known all the time but ignorance of it is the problem
    There is consciousness but there is no need to know

    Even UG, who blew away any questions of the above kind, slipped a few times and ended up blurting out his assertion:
    “We assume there is such a thing as “I”, soul, spirit, self. What I assert is that I have not found anything like “I” there, any center there, any self there. This question haunted me all through my life. Then it suddenly hit me that there is no self to realize – what the hell you have been doing all your life. That hits you like a lightning – when that hits you the whole mechanism of this body controlled by thought is shattered and what is left with is the tremendous living organism with intelligence of its own and what you are left with is the pulse, the beat and throb of life. THAT’S ALL THERE IS!!!!!! “(*Lose it – by UG)

  9. Vijay, you might want to whisper the name UG here. After all, this is an Advaita forum.

    I am certainly no UG and couldn’t possibly equate my experience with the loss of self or ‘I’. I am very much like all of you but not tethered to any system of belief that attempts to describe what life is.

    I don’t see how there can be any consciousness apart from what we know. But, what we know is not any kind of reality. It is a mirage. Perhaps consciousness is a mirage, itself? We cannot take the statements of anyone and make it our own, UG included. Advaita, UG, JK, and some of the great Zen masters are all interesting to consider. They get you interested in this whole mess, but it’s up to us to work it out as none of them can do it for you. For me, all these explanations are empty. It was refreshing to read what Ramesam wrote about in the ‘brain thread’.

  10. Dear anonymous,

    “When at the time of so called death your form goes away, so also will your brain and memory, and you will not have any memory of ever being a form or person. All existence is illusory. Knowing this what do you want to achieve in the world? All is emptiness.” – Nisargadatta

    You said that:
    “this pursuit of some underlying reality does stop to a large degree when you begin to see the mechanics of thinking and the conditioned ‘mind’. The habit begins to dissipate when you stop giving it energy. I don’t think there is any ‘de-conditioning’ possible. It is the way it is.”

    Yes, but the dissipation of the habit, the “no sense of trying to change it” is surely saying, in other words, a de-conditioning, a deconstruction of the way the mind usually works? And the surrender that you talk about is the ultimate deconstruction of a mind that has hitherto fundamentally believed it is a doer and can and should influence whatever happens to it. Hence the silence that the jnanis all point to – for the chatter of a mind that has surrendered, and gives no energy to pursuits, must have come to an end.

    The paradox is how do ‘I’ volitionally achieve that? Here as you say, if one builds this up into another belief system, then that is just another form of conditioning, that lulls the mind into a false sense of having understood and achieved. Hence as JK said there can be no path to freedom. And the role of grace, aka happenstance.

    “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.” – J Krishnamurti

    “Only living stillness, stillness without someone trying to be still, is capable of undoing the conditioning our biological, emotional and psychological nature has undergone. There is no controller, no selector, no personality making choices. In choiceless living the situation is given the freedom to unfold. You do not grasp one aspect over another for there is nobody to grasp. When you understand something and live it without being stuck to the formulation, what you have understood dissolves in your openness. In this silence change takes place of its own accord, the problem is resolved and duality ends. You are left in your glory where no one has understood and nothing has been understood.” – Jean Klein

    With best wishes,

  11. Venkat, all your quotes sound so good. Very seductive. Yet, I get the feeling they are all trying to convince themselves of something with the exception of Nisargadatta. They are doing the same thing that we are conversing about, trying to put forth some kind of knowledge, some sort of ‘state of mind’. What a difference your Nisargadatta quote is from the JK and Klein quotes. One had no experience, the other two, exalted experiences. Let’s guess which is which. Cheers.

  12. Anonymous – interesting. I saw those quotes as complementary to what you have noted. The only ‘experience’ I would say that they point to is the possibility of living without a trace of an ego, and concomitantly without attachment to any conceptual knowledge.

    The preliminaries that they point to all make logical sense, I think you’d agree. You assert that they are ‘putting forth some kind of knowledge.’ On the contrary, I’d suggest that they are fellow travellers, who are trying to put into words, some pointers along the way. Different pointers ‘work’ for different minds. The fact that a number of them talk in similar terms about this in a logical, coherent way, suggests that it merits some investigation.

    One model in advaita is eka jiva vada – the theory that there is only one jiva/mind that is projecting/seeing/experiencing the world and other jivas / minds. Rather than multiple minds seeing / experiencing / interacting with each other and the world. Under this model, it is up to that one mind to realise its illusory nature and its non-separation from the rest of the illusory world. Therefore all that happens to that mind, including the experiencing of teaching by sages, are all pointers that can be: (i) accumulated as blind belief, (ii) discarded, or (iii) explored for their veracity by oneself.

    Yes of course we have to start with knowledge. And ultimately, it is pointed out, move beyond knowledge when there is no one to understand (because there is no separate entity), and nothing to be understood (because understanding would have to happen to a mind, which we have agreed is just bunch of conditioned thoughts).

  13. Venkat, I don’t dispute anything you said, and you are correct about the statements being complimentary to what I said. What I was aiming at was the point of view each person was speaking from.

    Earlier in the discussion, I mentioned that the loss of ego was not the same as the loss of self. Some describe the loss of ego, or ego death, as a unitive consciousness where there is a merging of self and God, and in JK’s statement, ‘that which is nameless can come into being.’ The experiencer is still there in both JK and Klein. It is how they describe their ‘state’ that is telling to me. But, Nisargadatta is speaking as someone who has lost them self permanently with no experience to describe. He is already a dead man, so to speak. Your UG quote also speaks from the same ‘place’.

    In any case, the seduction of words allow us to continue to pretend that there is someone understanding something. Life is elsewhere, I think. I hope I’m not being too obtuse.

  14. Yes, OK. I see what you mean. Thank you.

    I want to ask: where are you in your journey? But it is kind of a non sequitur isn’t it?

    Best wishes,


  15. Dear Mr Anonymous Thanks
    (Probably a familiar!) parting poem:
    “Asked by the disciple…Since you are enlightened…”,
    “why don’t you just enlighten everybody?”,
    “Came the reply……”,
    “When you awaken from a dream…”,
    “do you go around looking,”,
    “for the people present in the dream,”,
    “to offer them a cup of tea?”,
    “If you did, have you truly awakened,”,
    “from the dream?”,

    “who is the other… for the Self?”

  16. This is a useful quote because it highlights two common misunderstandings, which cause no end of problems in discussions such as this.

    1) There are two types of misapprehension. In the case of seeing a snake instead of a rope, once you know it is a rope, you no longer see a snake. In the case of a mirage, even though you may have established that there is only sand, you still see water. The dream is of the first type – when you wake up, you no longer see the dream world at all. Enlightenment is of the second type – when you gain Self-knowledge, you continue to see the world and apparently separate jIva-s.

    2) In the case of the dream, the dream world is entirely a product of the mind of the waker, so it makes sense to talk to the waker about their dream. In the case of the waking world, there is no ‘individual’ who is having a ‘waking dream’. Moreover, the waking world is subject to laws beyond the manipulation of the waker, unlike the (lucid) dream. Both before and after enlightenment, the ‘individual’ is simply a reflection of Consciousness. So, when you talk to the j~nAnI, you are addressing an empirical ‘someone’, who now knows that they do not exist as a separate entity but who is still functioning as such from the vantage point of the aj~nAnI.

    Who will answer if you ask “why do you not enlighten everybody”? From the vantage point of Consciousness, there is no world, no one to enlighten or be enlightened. The embodied j~nAnI knows this but the apparent world continues and the laws of the waking world necessitate that each apparent individual has to gain the knowledge for themselves. The embodied j~nAnI is just as much subject to these rules as every-seeming-body else.


  17. “Embodied jnAni” is an oxymoron!

    We do come across in the literature two metaphors:

    i) The snake-rope metaphor.
    ii) The mirage water metaphor.

    The first one includes all the examples of prAtibhAsika vartiety:- silver in nacre; swapna; gandharva nagari; dAma vyAla etc.

    The second includes the examples of the so called ‘mithya’ variety:- sunrise-sunset; moving skyline on a boat ride etc.

    So how does the world appear to a True jnAni (One who realized the Supreme Self = One who has no more a ‘sense of separate ‘self’ within’) is a question debated innumerable times at many fora. In other words, which metaphor of the above two holds on ‘Enlightenment’?

    We have from chAndogya:

    न वै स शरीरस्य सत: प्रियाप्रिययोरपहतिरस्त्यशरीरं
    वाव सन्तं न प्रियाप्रिये स्पृशत: — chhAndogyOpaniShad, VIII-12-i

    (Meaning: He who has a body cannot become free of pleasure and pain).

    Obviously, when one is not yet free from (experiencing) the effects of pleasure or pain, he cannot be termed a jnAni. Therefore, a jnAni, by definition has to be disembodied.

    We have from brihadAraNyaka:

    यदा सर्वे प्रमुच्यन्ते कामा येSस्य हृदि श्रिता: । अथ मर्त्योSमृतो भवत्यत्र ब्रह्म समश्नुत इति । तध्यथा हिनिर्व्लयनी वल्मीके मृता प्रत्यस्ता शयीतैवमेवेदँ शरीरँ शेतेSथायमशरीरोSमृत: प्राणोब्रह्मैव तेज एव स: | — bRRihadAraNyaka upaniShad, IV-4-vii

    [Meaning: When all the desires that dwell in his heart (mind) are gone, then he, having been mortal, becomes immortal, and attains brahman in this very body. Just as the lifeless slough of a snake is cast off and lies on the ant-hill, so does this body lie. Then the self becomes disembodied and immortal, (becomes) the Supreme Self, brahman, the Light.]

    Clearly, once again, that body which was once identified with a particular person’s ID does not belong anymore to that specific IDied person, because that “person” himself is not anymore in existence, the sense of a separate person having dissolved in that body.

    Shankara tells us in his commentary on brahma sUtra I-1-iv:

    Liberation is freedom from embodiment. He adds further that the unending cycle of samsAra is nothing but embodiment.

    In fact ‘dRik’ is a synonym for jnAni and the definition for that word is given as the name of the Seer ‘when there is no – thing to be seen!’

    Re: the point of “control” of the awake world and the waker:

    To say: “the dream world is entirely a product of the mind of the waker, so it makes sense to talk to the waker about their dream. In the case of the waking world, there is no ‘individual’ who is having a ‘waking dream’. Moreover, the waking world is subject to laws beyond the manipulation of the waker..” and therefore, to conclude that the waker is not suffering a ‘waking dream’ is not logical.

    Just as the dreamer-you is NOT in control of the dream, the waker-you is not in control of the awake world. Because, in both the cases, the real illuminator of dreamer-you and the waker-you is one and the same and He is different from the waker-you or dreamer-you. The illuminator is in control, figuratively speaking (for, the Illuminator actually does no thing).

    The waker-you can NEVER be a jnAni. The waker-you who still is cognizant of ‘objects’ and differentiates one object (with a name and form) from another, irrespective of his verbal level of understanding, will continue to see an objective world of names and forms. It is so because he has already distanced himself as a separate ‘entity’ from the rest – the ‘me’ vs not-me being operational. That means his separate ‘ego-center’ has not yet dissolved. Hence he is not yet at the stage of padArtha abhAvana – the amanaska stage (equivalent to sasmita samadhi in aShTAnga yoga of Patanjali). Non-perception of objects is the marker for jIvanmukta.

    The mirage water metaphor has a limited range of applicability – only to say that you seem to see water where there is none. One cannot and should not extend it beyond that limited point to say that a jnAni will also see a mirage. Because this metaphor is not given to indicate what a jnAni sees or doesn’t.

    So, we have to say that a waker sees only a continuation of his dream. Yes, it is a ‘waking dream’! The wakeful world, as some scriptures put it, is a continuation of the dream. You have only deep sleep and dream states – awake state is not different generically from dream except for the fact that it becomes awake state when the dream gets the additional facility of sensory perception to assist the mind which alone functions during dreaming.


  18. “’Embodied jnAni’ is an oxymoron!”

    Not from the vyAvahArika standpoint it isn’t. I believe that Swami Dayananda (for example) is a j~nAnI and that I can go to AVG and attend a talk given by him – a speaking, embodied teacher who nevertheless knows that the world is not really real.

    I know that we disagree on ‘worldly’ appearance etc vis a vis the j~nAnI. But I really don’t want to embark on that sort of discussion again. I was trying to keep things simple (as indeed I believe one can if one avoids confusing the viewpoints).

    Best wishes,

  19. Though admittedly still not precisely the Truth, may I suggest even a simpler Model that will convey the Advaita teaching:

    It is Self Itself manifesting in the form of Speaker D as though teaching and it is Self Itself manifesting in the shape of Listener D as if attending the Talk (the Talk also being a manifestation of the Self Itself) though the Self has not actually moved nor done anything.

    The danger (duality/multiplicity) comes only if any of the ‘forms’ appropriates the action to itself assuming the ‘agency’ of doing.


    P.S. After I keyed in the above, it looked as if it is an attempt to paraphrase BG IV-24! (+ BG III-27).

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