Q.545 – How can I ‘do’ anything?

Continue reading

Q.544 – Evil in the world

Continue reading

Q.543 Life-coaching

A: Fundamentally, everyone is already the Self/Brahman/Absolute (whichever word you prefer), since there is only the nondual reality. But of course most people do not know this. They are only interested in pursuing money/fame/relationships etc. and would never accept the truth or even be interested in listening. Assuming that you, yourself, are convinced of the truth, you would simply be wasting your time attempting to explain this.

Nevertheless, again assuming that you fully accept Advaita, you know that these ‘others’ are in fact your Self, so why would you want to propagate their mistaken view of life? The only reasonable approach is to be available to help them move towards the truth if they actively seek to do this, but simply to let them continue in their ignorance otherwise.

Continue reading

Q. 542 ‘Doership’ and Osho

A: Osho is not a reliable source of teaching according to Advaita. I have read a few of his books and was most impressed by his breadth of knowledge. But his sources are many and he does not always differentiate. There are several non-dual teachings and any may take you to the final understanding. But my own knowledge is now strictly oriented towards traditional Advaita (Gaudapada-Ṥaṅkara-Sureshvara).

Continue reading

Q.541 Knowledge in the Vedas

A (Martin): I’d 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 which could be said to be somehow contained in it, even if in embryonic or potential form.

The knowledge inherent in the Vedas is metaphysical rather than mystical. According to it there is one and only reality: consciousness (Brahman, or the Absolute), 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 or a name or symbol for reality – since the referent of the symbol is unfathomable – 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’, ‘unifying theory…’). Not all physicists are reductionist, some of them having seemingly mutated into philosophers with an understanding of the core of Vedic teachings.

Question about anubhāva

Would Shankara be likely to agree or disagree with the passage (from an AI): “In Advaita, the emphasis given to experience is not about experiencing Brahman as an object, but rather about realizing one’s own nature as Brahman through the direct, immediate experience of consciousness itself.”

Q.540 Following Bhakti Yoga

A: There are two main points here.

First, since you are asking a question about Advaita, you must appreciate that, in reality there is only Brahman, or Consciousness. From the empirical standpoint, of course, you see a dualistic world with other people etc. and, from this point of view, it is not unreasonable to speak of a god, or gods. But anything to do with this empirical point of view has to be provisional only. It all has to be acknowledged as simply name and form of that non-dual reality eventually. That ‘acknowledgement’, and the firm belief that it is true, is what we call ‘enlightenment’.

Continue reading

YAQ (Yet Another Question) About Brahman and Experience

Greetings fellow seekers! 🙂

1. The argument goes: Brahman cannot be experienced because it is not an object. But is there perhaps another form of experience that needs no object? In Buddhism, for example, you can be aware of something (object), and you can also simply be aware (open awareness, no object).

2. Is the statement “You cannot experience Brahman, but everything you experience is Brahman” valid?

Thank you for your help. 🙂



A (Martin): By the evidence of the ages – of innumerable sages and mystics, their outpourings, and the teachings they left us that are like the fruits of wonderful trees – the answer has to be yes! They tell us, especially to those capable of fathoming their words (‘those who have ears’), that the depth of understanding what is real and inescapable, reality itself, is practically limitless, to the point of becoming one with it in a seamless unit – no more subject-object distinction, the root of suffering.

And that is so because, as Matthew Arnold put it referring to some people: … ‘He who makes the determined effort to see life steadily and see it whole…’. There is a caveat, though: ‘Without love, the mind cannot understand’ – Sine desiderio mens non intelligit (Nicholas of Cusa). Is love anything more, or other, than that determination Matthew Arnold was speaking of? That is a high price, or is it not?

Q.539 Māyā and Brahman

A (Martin): 1) Māyā is not an attribute of Brahman which, as you say, is attributeless. Māyā is a diffuse, or polyvalent, concept which gives rise to much confusion, particularly by translating it as ‘illusion’ (see below). This concept can be viewed from the psychological, epistemological, and ontological perspectives.

Purely from the standpoint of Ṥaṅkara’s Advaita Vedanta, māyā is tied in with the concept of ‘ignorance’ (avidyā), which is prior to it; that is, avidyā is the necessary condition for māyā. Once ignorance has been annihilated by knowledge, māyā disappears. That means that from the higher (of two) point of view māyā does not exist. This is contrary to most post-Ṥaṅkara authors, with the exception of Sureśvara, who taught that māyā is a positive entity or force. If that were the case, how could a positive entity be removed by knowledge? Swami Satchidanandendra, practically alone in the 20th Cent. has defended the former Ṥaṅkarian position.

Continue reading