Q. 470 Aah!

Q: Does this sound right to you?

Advaita considers this to be innate certain knowledge: I exist, I experience (i.e. I am a subject). It is the bedrock of the Advaitin teachings. The source. If I am not utterly certain that I exist and experience, all of the downstream Advaitin views of self and reality will be skewed.

A: No. It is certain knowledge that ‘I exist’. But that ‘I’ (Atman) does not act or enjoy (akartA, abhoktA). So it does not ‘experience’ either. It cannot be a ‘subject’ because then there would have to be an ‘object’ – and that would be duality. Everything other than ‘I’ is mithyA. ‘Experience’ is via the reflected consciousness (chidAbhAsa) in the mind.

Q: I understand.   The thing is, I’m a very intuitive person. I rely on and trust my gut feelings about things. Pure reasoning and logic only go so far for me, particularly in the metaphysical realm.

So in order to be certain that I exist, I need to know it in my gut. Up to now, neither reasoning nor shravaNa has elicited this in-the-gut certainty. What has is perceiving, thinking, and feeling stuff – I experience, therefore I am. 

Brahman is clearly neither subject nor object (nor anything else that can be thought or expressed in words). Thus Atman is also neither subject nor object. Ditto for the Self. But some students (a sizeable number I reckon) are going to find it next to impossible to somehow KNOW stuff like this with certainty but without relying at all on experience, gut feeling, intuition, etc.

A: Sureshvara says that only shravaNa can bring the ‘final understanding’. If you do not currently have it, all you can do is more manana (which you are doing by asking questions) and nididhyAsana (more reading, listening to talks etc.) and then, at some point in the future, come back to more shravaNa. And repeat this loop until a shravaNa session brings you an Aah! moment!



A: Very good!

Doership and personal responsibility

Q. Is the standpoint of the Vedanta man not the doer? If so, where does his/her personal responsibility begin and end? (from Quora)

A. Individual man is a doer (and an enjoyer) so long as s/he identifies themselves as such, thus reaping the results of their actions. If the presumed – seemingly independent – individual knows that s/he is in essence the supreme Knower/Actor, that is, pure Consciousness, then actions, enjoyments, happen, but s/he does not claim any of that: any response comes directly and spontaneously from Consciousness.

Bear in mind, though, that it is not Consciousness itself which acts, rather it is behind all actions: ‘It is the hearing of hearing, touch of touch, mind of mind’, speech of speech’, etc. (Ke Up, 1-2) as their background or substrate.

‘Mind alone – when ignorant – is the cause of bondage and mind alone – when enlightened – is the cause of liberation’ (Amrita Bindu). M.

Can consciousness exist without time? 

From the viewpoint of Advaita Vedanta (and I believe also zen and Dzogchen), time is not just something elusive, but ultimately unreal – only an idea or concept. The same can be said about the concept of ‘now’, which cannot be elucidated or measured in any way. ‘Now’ can only be a symbol of eternity, immeasurable but always present. ‘Eternity’ itself is a symbol or slanted conception of reality or existence/being, which is timeless. For the absolute time does not exist. Consciousness alone is real and, thus, timeless. Stated differently, ‘what is never ceases to be; what is not never comes into being’ (Shankara). Parmenides, Gaudapada, and Shankara were strong in that position.


Vedanta the Solution – Part 62

VEDĀNTA the solution to our fundamental problem by D. Venugopal

Part 62 concludes the series with a short summary of the function of Vedanta in revealing the truth about the nature of the Self, the world and Ishvara; and the role that saMpradAya plays in achieving this. A list of addresses is provided to access the Arsha Vidya teaching via talks and books. There is a complete Contents List, providing links to the relevant material.


Our special thanks to Sri Venugopal for writing this brilliant and accessible summary of the teaching and allowing its serialization at the site.


Meditation- Vedantic Way

Advaita seeking is in three gradual stages: ShravaNa( Hearing), Manan (Contemplation) and NididhyAsanA (Meditation).  In  Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣhad  sage Yagnavalkya says to his wife Maitreya:  Self should be realized by ShravaNa, Manan and NididhyAsanaA; upon realization of the Self, all this is known.

ShravaNa means listening to vedantic teaching by a guru. It would also include reading vedantic literature and in the age of technological advancement, accessing the teaching offered by other sources. Contemplation means analyzing the teaching and grasping intellectually. All doubts should stand cleared at this stage.  Next stage is meditation which enables internalization of the teaching and making it a living practice. No doubt, there is a wide gap between intellectual understanding and living practice, like two shores of a river. Having understood the enormity of task, the sages of yesteryear, out of compassion for the mankind, laid down the technique of vedantic meditation so as to swim across the river.  Drg Drsya Vivek describes vedantic meditation. It is progressive and in conformity with vedantic teaching.

There are two broad categories of meditation, namely, internal and external. Each category is further divided in three stages, namely, savikalpa meditation with thought, savikalpa meditation with word and nirvikalpa meditation.  It is noteworthy that the three stages follow in the same order.  Thus it is six- fold method. Vikalpa means division. In savikalpa meditation, subject-object division and duality exist. In nirvikalpa meditation there is no such division and is non-dual. Continue reading

Is a single neuron conscious? A brief discussion.

M. Advaita Vedanta’s perspective is better seen from the top down rather than from the bottom up. Consciousness or awareness can be considered (there is a consensus on this) as a ‘fundamental ‘property’ of (or pointer to) reality’, not reality itself, which is unfathomable and indescribable. It permeates every apparently external phenomenon, which is thus an expression or manifestation of Consciousness. Accordingly, a neuron, an electron, is a manifestation of Consciousness – ‘the One without a second’. Alternately, neurons, atoms, etc. are embedded in Consciousness or reality.

PB. I think the best words you can use to characterize reality are awareness/consciousness, existence/beingness and bliss/love. However, I wouldn’t identify reality with consciousness, the other two concepts, or all three together. They are just the purest manifestations of reality that we can identify. True reality is not a thing or concept, it is beyond definition.

But yes, I would agree that neurons, electrons etc. are phenomena of consciousness, as are these words and the bodies and minds that write them.

M. Metaphysical truth is sometimes called apperception, or direct supramental perception, and it is non-transferable. Nicholas of Cusa put it this way: “The highest wisdom is this, to know… how that which is unattainable may be reached or attained unattainably”. Metaphysics (philosophia prima, or first philosophy of medieval times) is not science, and its truths are often dressed as paradoxes, analogies, and metaphors; they are not meant to convince anyone who is not open to them.


A metaphysical truth appeals to intuition; it is an experience, or knowledge-experience… It is not speculation and is not amenable to subject-object relationship or distinction.

M. (to another participant) Did you look up the word ‘rishi/s’? It means ‘sage’ – Swami Vivekananda described Rishi-s  as Mantra-drashtas or “the seers of thought”. He told— “The truth came to the Rishis of India — the Mantra-drashtâs, the seers of thought — and will come to all Rishis in the future, not to talkers, not to book-swallowers, not to scholars, not to philologists, but to seers of thought.” (From Wikipedia).





Two Q & A-s

How can we consciously realize the consciousness concept?

First, consciousness is beyond concepts – language, which is dualist, allows talking of it as if separate from the subject, thus conceptually. But consciousness is a prime reality, the foundation of everything existing; same as being (which are not two). Consciousness is first, an immediate reality and, accordingly, you don’t have to do anything to realize it since you are it. Only, let the veil of ignorance drop, mostly by ‘not this, not this’ – one apavada after another; that is, by real understanding or discrimination. You are being itself, consciousness itself. The knower cannot know itself – as an object.

Who would win in an argument between Ramanujacharya and Shankaracharya?

As non-duality can be said to go beyond, and at the same time enclose duality within itself, we can also say that Shankara, being a non-dualist philosopher, goes beyond and ‘incorporates’ Ramanuja, that is, the latter’s philosophy (it has been said: a jñani understands a bhakta, not vice versa).

Ramanuja took the ego (psychological self) as being the Self, an error for an Advaitin. For the former a destruction of the ego (“me”) will thus entail destruction of the Self. For an Advaitin, the ego or subtle body (mind, senses and vital breath) dissolves when the body dies – not so awareness or pure consciousness.

From the viewpoint of Advaita Vedanta ‘consciousness’ is another name for ‘reality/being/existence’: all there is or that can be (all possibilities of existence). Neither ‘subject’ nor ‘object’, it annihilates this (mental) division, as well as sublating all concepts.

Or, as Francis Lucille, a well-known teacher wrote: ‘Simply put, non-dualism is the hypothesis that reality is non-dual, that there is only one single reality which is the substance of all things, of all phenomena, of both mind and matter. If that is true, it follows that the reality of our ordinary consciousness, meaning whatever it is that is really perceiving these words in this moment, must be this non-dual, single, and universal reality.’

Shankara said:

‘An enlightened person, after his death, does not undergo a change of condition – something different than when he was living. But he is said to be “merged in Brahman” just due to his not being connected to another body.’ Quoted from ‘The Method of Early Advaita Vedanta’, Michael Comans.


Meet the Ancient Scriptures of Hinduism

Most seekers who have been involved with Advaita for any length of time will be familiar with the writings of Prof. Krishnamurthy, long associated with the Advaitin group for example, and known as ‘ProfVK’. He has a new book coming soon – it will be available from Notionpress.com, notionpress bookstore, amazon.com, amazon.in, either as a e-book or a printed book — from about the 15th of March. The book is a ‘compendium introduction’ to all of the ancient scriptures that form the source of Advaita (and other Indian philosophies). Anyone who is potentially interested may download a selection of extracts from the book.

Visit to India – 7th and final part

On the following morning, after breakfast in the hotel, Ravi took us to the magnificent palace of Mysore (it was rebuilt in 1897) where we spent the rest of the morning – well over two hours. One picture is worth one thousand words, so better not to try to describe what we saw and contemplated in awe while following a long row of visitors. The pavement of tiles was slightly cold and I had almost gotten over my viral throat infection, so I had to content myself with the thin socks I was wearing hoping I would not get a pneumonia (it did not materialize subsequently). We bumped into a group of teachers from Kerala which were exultant just for being there – quite apart from the contrasting colored lights reflected in glass in some of the rooms, and the splendor of the place itself. We also exchanged a few words with an elderly couple… everyone was happy. Continue reading

Trip to India – part 6


Next day, Monday, it was decided to visit Holenarsipur, a village about 1½ hour from Bangalore, where the main centre or karyalaya had been built, as it was detailed in part 4 of this travelogue. First, our taxi driver and friend (by now) Ravi, drove us to the house of a second Ravi, the one who is in charge of the first karyala of Bangalore. The latter  presented us to his wife – both of them living in a comfortable and well-furnished house – and had tea along with a congenial conversation, where we talked about our country, Spain, and the circumstances that brought us to India. I congratulated the lady of the house for her good taste and the beauty of her two daughters (we only saw them in two photographs on the wall of the room where we were sitting – that is, the sitting-room). After one hour or so, we proceeded to Holenarsipur on a fairly narrow road not lacking a number of not-quite threatening shallow pot-holes and medium to small-sized stones. To our driver, Ravi, this was normalcy itself. Continue reading