As mentioned in my last blog, language is a dual phenomenon and cannot be otherwise. In fact “dual” and “phenomenon” is tautological, i.e. an unnecessary repetition as every phenomenon is dual.
Quoting from the blog: Both ‘to know’ and ‘to experience’ are transitive verbs, i.e. they require one or more objects. Logically there is no reason why we need to appreciate one term more than the other. As words, both can indicate dvaita. And both can be stripped of their customary use and be defined in an advaitic sense.
For most advaitins, traditional as well as Western, the term ‘experience’ seems to be a red rag. I would like to open our minds to a more comprehensive understanding of the word.
What exactly is an experience? It is a mind phenomenon, possibly following a sense perception or an action. Tasting food is a sense perception. But to evaluate it as enjoyable or as disgusting makes for a pleasant or unpleasant experience. Similar with activities: just to be active – walking, talking, gesticulating etc. – is not an experience yet. Experiencing comes about when the mind gets involved, usually with an evaluation of the activity. An experience can also come about without a sense perception or activity: understanding a joke or having a nightmare can make for purely mental experiences, the first usually pleasant the latter unpleasant.
The whole world of non-advaita is ruled by the hunt for experiences of various kinds. Continue reading →
Hearing of our friend Peter’s death, Dhanya commented Death is a strange phenomenon in our world. One minute the person is alive and available, and the next minute totally gone, thereby summing up in simple words how it feels to experience the death of another person.
Reflecting on her statement, I came to look at death from the perspective of the dying one – noticing that life turns into as strange a phenomenon as death.
Perceiving with these mithyA-senses and this mithyA-mind a mithyA-body-mind entity called Sitara that is part of a mithyA-universe, whirling and twirling around in orderly beauty. All of this is obviously ‘here’ and yet also dreamlike, for neither Sitara nor the universe has always been here, nor will they eternally remain here in this form. All phenomena are in a constant flux, forever appearing and disappearing to something that is itself neither alive nor dead nor even different from the appearances and disappearances themselves.
Life is such a colorful, diverse, multidimensional phenomenon and, to almost everyone, it seems to be absolutely real. Yet it does not serve any purpose except for one peculiar one: to realize that this full explosion of creativity is no more real than the moon’s shining.
What a strange phenomenon is life – and how blessed is everyone who knows him/herself as life, death and beyond.
The mind of the seeker needs to be calm and contained in order for it to be able to grasp what reality is. Karma Yoga prepares the mind to attain such a state and there are a number of blogs and articles dealing with it on this site. But many Western seekers find it hard to relate to the karma yoga recommendation given by traditional advaitins as the first port of call, mainly because it needs a devotional mind set.
The purpose of karma yoga is all about developing the nine virtues of chatushtaya sampatti described in Tattvabodha as preparing the mind for self-knowledge, and explained in more detail by Adi Shankara in Vivekachudamani. As I am professionally working with a method that is effective in enhancing equanimity I would like to give you a taste of it’s principals here.
In order to ultimately free him/herself from the idea of being a body-mind entity separate from other body-mind-entities the seeker needs to get caught up less in identifications with what he/she is not. Yet he/she finds himself getting confined again and again in entrenched mental, emotional and behavioural patterns.
How is one to liberate oneself from them, especially if one does not happen to have full trust in the efficacy of a karma yoga life style? First of all the mind needs to be able to question itself. Continue reading →
Spiritual seekers who aim to go beyond duality often fancy that, at the end of the journey, they are going to experience reality altogether differently. That’s right and wrong at the same time.
Even before, there are many situations that allow us to experience non-duality, which is in and through everything. Reality being non-dual, it would be quite surprising if non-duality was untraceable up to the time of enlightenment. So even unenlightened mortals experience non-duality plenty of times throughout their day. Indeed we interpret the experience wrongly. What happens with enlightenment or awakening, is that this wrong interpretation, based on ignorance, is dropped. This means that all those possible non-dual experiences are recognised for what they essentially are: non-duality itself. Continue reading →
Lets look at the play of the universe. Pauli’s exclusion principle, fundamental to quantum mechanics, basically states that two electrons can never occupy the same space at the same time. As all matter in the universe contains electrons, it means that what we call life (including the play of the lifeless) is nothing but an ever-whirling dance: a dance of electrons in which there are no clashes. If you rub your hands together, the heat indicates that electrons have been displaced and thus every electron in the whole universe will need to adjust position to accommodate the displaced electrons. With every displaced electron, other electrons move in to take their places which necessitates yet other electrons move in to fill their deserted positions and in this way every electron in the universe changes position. Infinitely, eternally. Continue reading →
Advaita seekers in the West want to find out whether it is true that they are neither body nor mind, but in truth are one, eternal, free and all-pervasive. Most of all they are interested in the answer to the question: „Who or what am I?“ They do not really care what the world is.
But once the true import of the understanding that I am all-pervasive and One dawns, then we can no longer ignore the question about what appears to be a second thing: What about the world?
The knowledge that I am limitless in time and space (one and all-pervasive) is incomplete if no explanation is included in it of that ‘which somehow is also there’. My true nature is non-dual – but body/mind, other living beings, the ocean, the continents, space, objects and possible subtle beings – what about all that? After all this is pure duality, isn’t it! If the mind does not find an adequate explanation for it, a feeling of incompleteness of the Self-knowledge of non-duality is likely to persist. Continue reading →
For most spiritual seekers ‘consciousness’ has a positive connotation; they want to extend, raise, deepen their consciousness, or simply become more conscious. But as with so many other terms – soul, spirituality, freedom, love, truth, bliss, energy – everybody understands something else by them.
In Advaita Vedanta every term is defined unambiguously. In our normal usage of words, depending on the context, one defines consciousness in diverse ways. Generally, however, a material viewpoint forms the basis of the Western view. We think that consciousness depends on the brain, for example that one can switch it off or can raise and extend it (temporarily) by certain drugs. Also we think that we can direct our consciousness, align it to something or withdraw it from something.
We consider ourselves as conscious if we remember whether we have switched off the iron and as unconscious if we forgot it. Also, we should always remain conscious of internal processes – we consider ourselves more conscious if we note that an emotion has arisen inside us at the time that is arises, than if we note this only afterwards or not at all. Continue reading →