Trip to India – 4

Sw-s Subraya Sharma, Ramachandra Iyer & Sowmya

The Adhyatma Prakasha Karyalaya was founded by Swamiji [1880-1975] in 1920, its first location being Bangalore, which has persisted, but reduced in size in comparison with the next location: It then became well established in 1937 in Holenarsipur, 1 and ½ h. from Bangalore, where he spent his last years. Swamiji’s intention was to publish the works of Shankaracharya along with those of Gaudapada and Suresvara, all of those that are based on Prasthanatraya. His own extensive work has also been published there, as well as several journals – in Sanskrit, Kannada, and English. Continue reading

Trip to India – 3


On the third day Sowmya, my wife and I went over to Ramachandra’s house and he accompanied us to visit Subraya Sharma. Ramachandra Iyer, a saintly swami with a persistent gentle smile in his face and of few words, is someone you can be quite at ease with in company, so unobstructive and unassuming  is he. Sowmya  (I was told) calls him ‘uncle’, even if there is no blood relationship between them. He has just turned 72 years of age and lives with his wife, one son and his wife, and two young  and sprightly grand-daughters.

At Subraya Sharma’s home (he is the one who took care of Swamiji for 16 years of the latter’s life) we were offered milk in a small glass and some granulated sugar (one was supposed to drink the milk and swallow the sugar after putting it in the palm of one’s hand and may be grind it between one’s teeth before swallowing – this is what I did). Continue reading

Trip to India – 2

As I wrote in part l of this Travelog, I never expected that I would be talking on three occasions in front of an audience and in three different locations. Before departing to India I had asked Sowmya (a 29 years old MD and accomplished Advitist) what could I talk about if the occasion arose, assuming that there would be at least one presentation I should be making. Sowmya told me that the topic  could be the article I wrote (published serially in Advaita Vision in 2017) in defense of SSSS (‘Swamiji’ henceforth) which took me so long to write – 16 pp long vs. the 40 pp of the article by Ramakrishnan Balasubramanian. Continue reading

Trip to India

Trip to India – l

(Don’t expect here a sequel to ‘A Search of Sacred India’, by the well-known author Paul Brunton)The thought of going to India came to mind – despite my advancing age and unsteady gait- through the contact with a user of Quora with whom I had been relating quite well through that medium. There are a number of such users who are either followers of the great Vedantin of the past Century, Shri Satchidanandendra Saraswati, or acquainted with his writings. Through that contact I learned that two Swami-s who took care of SSSS, one of them during the last 16 years of his life and the other during the last year (1975) were still alive and living in Bangalore, the city where my contact, Sowmya, lives (there must of course be other close followers of that sage in other areas of India, but we are now talking about Bangalore (or Bengaluru, as recently renamed) and some of the people who live there. With the indispensable help and support of my wife, we took to India without thinking it twice. Continue reading

1. Metaphysics – 2. Is Advaita a trap?

  • If metaphysical entities cannot be verified to exist, how can we say anything meaningful about them?

My position is that everything is metaphysical – cf. Is everything metaphysical?

(Originally answered in Quora)

So, everything that exists is metaphysical, including language and thought: sticks and stones, trees, all bodies, etc.; IOW there is nothing that is ‘material’ or physical per se (which is a pure abstraction, or a metaphysical theory*). Language divides ‘what is’, the whole of existence, into parcels having particular meanings which, having specific referents, are not purely verbal or conceptual (i.e. language constructions), but are based on particular experiences. The experiences are either sensorial, purely mental or intellectual (thought, emotions), or intuitive, transcendental or spiritual, that is, transcending the mind; these last being metaphysical properly so called, for example pondering about, contemplating the nature of the universe, of matter, time, space, the nature of life, of origins or causality, ‘subject-and-object’, ‘value’, consciousness, mind, the meaning** of ‘soul’ or individuality (plurality). Pondering about the nature of experience and what may be called nonduality is intellectual as well as metaphysical or spiritual – this is not a neat distinction; the scope is what counts here.

*Metaphysical theories, being the product of thought (and language), are metaphysical themselves, it goes without saying. Their import or thrust “in the scheme of things” is something else.

**‘Meaning’ (a word or concept – or question mark in the mind ), merges here with its referent, ‘the thing itself’, by an act of intuition or comprehension.


  • Is Advaita a trap?

Yes, it is a trap for individual mind – that is, the mind that considers itself a separate and independent individual, a doer and enjoyer. After usually many years of seriously studying Advaita (emphasis on ‘seriously’) with full force and dedication, it may dawn on that mind that the belief described above was actually a trap and a lie. Realizing this, by a stroke of magic as it were (so one might think without straying much from the truth), BINGO! you are free… free from the mind’s doubts, fears, hopes, projections and tribulations. You then realize that only universal consciousness (a.k.a awareness) is true, and that that is what You are —the quotidian mind has disappeared, become no-mind, that is, pure unalloyed consciousness.

1) Knowledge and the Vedas; 2) Is everything metaphysical?

Do the Vedas really contain any advanced knowledge as so many people claim they do? (Quora)

I would say the Vedas contain the most fundamental and ‘advanced’ knowledge there is, though usually portrayed  in the form of paradox (analogy, metaphor, story, etc.), so that one has to crack the code in order to find the wealth hidden in them. That knowledge is not like empirical science, which is cumulative and provisional, and can be said to be somehow contained in the latter, even if in embryonic or potential form. That knowledge or perspective is metaphysical rather than mystical. According to the Vedas there is one and only reality: consciousness (brahman, the Absolute, etc.), which pervades the whole universe; it is immanent in it as well as transcendent… “the smallest of the small, the largest of the large”. It cannot be measured or understood by the mind, for which it is ineffable, but it is that by which the mind comprehends… it cannot be expressed in words but by which the tongue speaks… it is eye of the eye, ear of the ear, mind of the mind, as expressed in the Upanishads.

Modern physics is having a hard time trying to explain away what consciousness is in terms of physical phenomena (neuronal activity in the brain), but consciousness is not an irreducible phenomenon or datum; it is reality itself, everything being comprehended in it (theories, doubts, projections, emotions, things, thoughts, intelligence, observer and observed, you and I). For the Vedas reality is one, and present physics is trying to find out in which way it is so (‘theory of everything’, ‘unificatory theory…’). Not all physicists are reductionist, some of them having seemingly mutated into philosophers with an understanding of the core of Vedic teachings.


Is everything metaphysical? (Quora)

‘Is everything metaphysical?’ My answer is a resounding Yes! despite the widely accepted, prevailing, physicalist theory: everything is reducible to matter/energy. This last position is being insistently questioned ever since the rise of the new physics (the role of the observer, uncertainty principle, etc.). Nobody knows what matter is intrinsically, and why an atom is an atom – its nature is a mystery; scientifically we can only talk about mechanism, ‘behavior’ or function, in relation to physical processes. Thus, everything is metaphysical – including tables and chairs or, rather, the material they are made of, wood (hilos) – which means non-reducible to the physical. Psychology, mind, selfhood are equally non reducible to the physical – nor are they purely mental or purely conceptual – , thus they are metaphysical, however psychologists may protest. ‘Man’, ‘personhood’, are metaphysical or philosophical notions.

Metaphysical doctrines are couched in LANGUAGE (concepts, plus logic and reasoning -tarka), which de facto is dualistic, but that is a springboard and a conditio sine qua non for realization or uniting with the TRUTH or REALITY which is indivisible, non-relational, and inexpressible by the mind (anubhava).


Advaita Vedanta & Neuroscience

Contrary to consciousness being an emerging property of the mind, as someone has answered, thus reifying the latter, I would hold the inverse: mind is a property or, better, a projection of consciousness. Consciousness is universal, mind particular, individual – standing in the relationship essence-accident (or substance-form). The first is without a beginning, the second temporal, The first, necessary as principle, the second contingent. First unmoving, second changeable.

All this is clearly spelled out in the philosophy and metaphysics of Advaita Vedanta and also, even if with different analysis and import, in Aristotelian metaphysics. Continue reading

Two questions (relationships & eternity)

1) How is one’s self related to other selves.

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

Question on Atman and suffering

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.

Two Q&As in Quora

What is the difference between truly understanding/integrating a truth and the thinking mind coming to a conclusion that this truth is true?

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…

How can we prove people have consciousness if you are not the person?

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.