Can brahman be a ‘percept’?

A few events seem to have conspired against the peaceful summer slumber at this site prompting me to pen a few words. Hope you will enjoy and add a few of your thoughts.

I have been struggling for a couple of months to locate the original Upanishadic quote for the phrase ‘sacchidAnanda‘ popularized by Shankara in all his bhAShya literature. I couldn’t. We all know that the phrase ‘sacchidAnanda’ does not come from any major Upanishads. So, I sent a query to our Dennis if he could help me out. Pop comes back the response in a jiffy from him giving me the mantras where this sobriquet for brahman appears. One of the Upanishads is maNDala bhrahmaNa Upanishad which, perhaps many have not heard even. I was floored! It was amazing how he could search so many of the Upanishads so fast especially when we know none of them are in the form of a searchable database. Not only that Dennis has a such a large collection of books, his Upanishadic knowledge too is so vast that one cannot but applaud and admire. Which, anyway, we often do here. Continue reading

Manifesting Brahman – Vivekananda

An interesting, (occasionally side-tracked!) talk on Swami Vivekananda by the ever-ebullient Swami Sarvapriyananda:

His punchline – Vedanta is about manifesting the divinity within. Recall Sankara – neti neti and renunciation, with any action not for selfish ends but for the good of the whole.

Dennis and Shishya – I commend this to you both, for entirely different reasons.

Pravishtha and apravishtha (Does Brahman actually enter an object?)

Pravishtha and apravishtha (Does Brahman actually enter an object?)

This is a dialog between guru ParAshara and shishya Maitreya from Swami VishudhAnanda’s book “PakshapAta-rahita Anubhava”. (Parashara says to Maitreya):

Hey shishya remember that you are Self-illuminated Atma. When objects in this world are formed from five elements one can say that these elements actually enter (pravishtha) in the objects and one can also say they are do not enter (apravishtha) in the objects – like gold in ornaments is pravishtha or also apravishtha; mud is pravishtha in the pot or also apravishtha; the rope is pravishtha in the illusive snake or also aprvishtha; the witness of the dream is pravishtha in the dream world or aprvishtha. Similarly, you the name & forms based substratum on which the world is superimposed (namrupatmak vivarta-upadan-karana), Existence-Consciousness-Bliss Atma is pravishtha in the imaginary, names & forms based objects and also apravishtha.

I will explain how it is pravishtha. There is not a single element of any ornament in this names & forms based world that is not occupied, pervaded or apart from the gold that is Brahman. In other words, you the Existence-Consciouness-Bliss (Asti-Bhati-Priyam) Atma is the gold that is pervaded in objects or the ornaments in such a manner that there is nothing apart from gold (that is you). You can say that for the wise ones there is total elimination of of names & forms (atyantabhAva) in ornaments; all they see is gold. Without Brahman the gold, you will not be able to find any ornaments. But in every ornament you will find gold only. That is why we say that gold the Brahman is pravishtha in the ornaments.

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chAndogya, 3.14.1:

We have had a long discussion on the mantra at 3.14.1 of the chAndogya Upanishad in Oct 2020. We examined its significance from both epistemological and ontological angles. We had also noted that the full thrust of the mantra can be appreciated only if the entire section, and the mantra at 3.14.4 and particularly Shankara’s commentary there on are also taken into account. Otherwise, there is a danger that one may try to read into the mantra a meaning which is not its purpose at all!

Somehow all of us missed a very highly relevant and meaningful point that Shankara makes about this mantra at 1.3.1, BSB . It has a clear bearing on our discussions and settles the issue, IMHO, without any scope for even an iota of doubt. I like to bring it to the attention of all the interested members. Continue reading

To know Brahman is to be Brahman

Vedanta says that what we truly are is Existence-Consciousness-Infinity (= Brahman).

The universe is an illusory appearance on/of this substratum of Consciousness.  It is not real.

The jiva (= mind = I-thought = ego) is part of this illusory appearance.  It is a result of the erroneous super-imposition of an I-thought arising between the insentient appearance and Consciousness.  Thereafter desire, fear and suffering, like and dislike ensues.

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The logical coherence of Sankara’s body-mind dis-identification and sannyasa

Many teachers seem to selectively pick and choose what advaita means by jnana, dodge between relative and absolute truths, and argue that some Vedantic statements are figurative and should not be taken literally.  What they singularly fail to do is to consider holistically the teaching and the logical consistency inherent in its philosophy and method.

We have recently been discussing the extent to which Self-realisation is more than some knowledge acquired in the mind, but actually is equivalent to a total dis-identification with the illusory body-mind, dissolution of particular consciousness and identification with all. Sankara and the Upanishads continually emphasise this.

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Alan Jacobs (9th Sept 1929 – 25th July 2020)

(Photo by Paula Marvelly)

Alan Jacobs, President of the Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK, died last month. Well-known and respected in the Advaita community, he was the author of nearly 30 spiritually-related books, from a contemporary, free-verse rendering of the Bhagavad Gita to a compilation of material from Ramesh Balsekar.

I only met Alan a couple of times so am not qualified to write any eulogy. I will leave that to Paula Marvelly, who knew him for many years. I can however, agree entirely with her summary: “Alan was the quintessential English man of letters and a perfect gentleman. I shall always have an enduring image of him sporting a Panama hat, cravat and cane, with a cup of tea near to hand”. Continue reading

In Search of Brahman, Part 5

sat-chit-Ananda is often used to describe that which ‘lies beyond’ description, Brahman.

sat is being, chit is consciousness, Ananda is bliss.

Is love there too? Kindness, empathy, compassion? Does enlightenment awaken these qualities?

Answers for April

I have just been informed by the publisher that the book – ‘Answers… to the Difficult Questions‘ is available at a reduced price until the end of April.

You can see all of the Content details here.

The links to purchase are below. Prices from Amazon are currently as follow:-
UK: Book – £28.99 (normally £32.99); Kindle – £14.75 (normally £16.31);
US: Book – $35.65 (normally $48.95); Kindle – $18.44 (normally $20.02).

Purchase Book format: Amazon UK; Amazon US

Purchase Electronic format: Amazon UK; Amazon US