I regard consciousness as fundamental. I regard matter as derivative from consciousness. We cannot get behind consciousness. Everything that we talk about, everything that we regard as existing, postulates consciousness.
– Max Planck

(X): Non-dualism is not something that can be understood in any formulation of words, and at best one can approach it conceptually only perhaps by means of negation, meaning by specifying what it is not.

A1. All doctrines and teachings are necessarily couched in language, which is a system of symbols. All concepts are just pointers (e.g. ‘pointing at the moon’), including those of Nonduality (ND). So it is not only negation — I think you will agree. I also referred myself to superimposition followed by rescission as a method of gradual understanding taught in Advaita Vedanta. The final end is doing away with language once final understanding has been reached, that is, once there are no further doubts or questions.

(X): Apprehending the world always arrives as consciousness, and consciousness, as I have said, and given my tight definition of it, is brain-dependent. Still, this apprehending is facilitated and illuminated by (my) ‘awareness’, which again, is non-local.

A2. To consciousness and awareness you add mind in your descriptions, three elements or categories apparently distinct though related to each other. I would tend to accept that if they are taken as being ‘three-in-one’, that is, reducible to awareness, which is essence as against, or different from, manifestation.

(X): Awareness is not ‘here but not there’; it pervades all, and in that sense is identical to that which it pervades.

A3. This is in tune with what I wrote in the paragraph above that and, thus, with ND – isn’t that what you meant by ‘direct experience’? But then you have a fourth category which is physical (brain, etc.). Here, then, we are very far from an understanding of Non-duality, if we go by the meaning of this expression. Since you posit multiplicity (of ‘physical objects’) as something real, existent, your position is dualist, not ND.

Clearly, phenomena (all ‘objects’, whether gross or subtle) are not physical entities in any way, shape, or form.

And there is no need of finding recourse on quantum mechanics or neuroscience to confirm or support the above considerations [he did mention that].

To ask a purported individual or person (a separate body-mind from the empirical perspective) whether s/he is enlightened or self-realised is an impossible question. Or, rather, it is self-defeating if the person gives an affirmative reply. And this is so on two counts: from the empirical side because the person shows lack of understanding of what realisation – identical with Non-duality – is. And from the higher, spiritual or metaphysical perspective of ND because the category of individuality – or plurality – simply does not exist; there are only insubstantial phenomena, though some of them may appear as solid. In other words, there is no such thing as a self-realised person or individual. The neo-Advaitists are right on that!

By the way, all this, by itself, obviates the statement in the quotation at the beginning:  “No object, no world, no ego can exist apart from Pure Consciousness, which is free from the limitations of time and space.”

11 thoughts on “Consciousness

  1. Dear Martin

    Thanks for this article.

    What is it that has a final understanding of non-duality, such that there are no further doubts or questions. Is it the mind – which your response acknowledges is still part of duality?

    And what happens in the mind, once this realisation happens? How does it function in a dualistic world?

    Dennis I think would say realisation is the certain knowledge in the mind, that the apparent perceived duality is actually not two. Hence, with that knowledge, the person continues to function in world. Is that your view of realisation as well – a knowledge that is acquired in the mind?

    Best wishes,

  2. From the higher, metaphysical plane, mind does not ‘work in a dualistic world’ simply because there is no independently existing mind and world. There is only ‘Brahman’ or pure consciousness. Mind and all phenomena are reducible to, are a superimposition on, consciousness, of which they are a projection. But from the lower, empirical plane, it is a ‘given’ that the mind is the seat and origin of all dynamic, vital interactions.

  3. Martin – so, on realisation:
    (a) the projection ceases or
    (b) the projection continues (until death of the body-mind), but there is no mind to ‘personally’ react to that projection?

  4. Martin

    So the mind, which itself is a projection, sees the world as an illusory projection.

    So, splitting hairs, the mind does indeed “work in a dualistic world” but knows it is not so.

    So advaitic realisation is a knowledge (in the traditional sense) that is gained by the mind. Just as the mind becomes convinced that the world is round rather than flat?

    • Dear Venkat, you said:

      “So advaitic realisation is a knowledge (in the traditional sense) that is gained by the mind. Just as the mind becomes convinced that the world is round rather than flat?”

      I would add…”… Just as the mind becomes convinced that the sun is stationary and the earth is rotating on its axis…”, Because I have exchanged views with Dennis on this topic before.

      This site is dedicated to a particular approach to ontology (the branch of metaphysics dealing with the nature of being) called Advaita.

      Unfortunately for me, I am not able to repose much hope/confidence in Sankara et al, the Vedas, etc.

      But I am firmly convinced that there is more to this quest than KNOWLEDGE at the level of a belief that the earth rotates on its axis resulting in night and day

  5. Quote from ‘Confusions 1’:

    The kaṭha upaniṣad 2.1.11 begins manasā eva idam āptavyam – This (Brahman) has to be attained through the mind alone. The bŗhadāraņyaka upaniṣad 4.4.19 states that “Through the mind alone (It) is to be realized.” And Shankara adds: “The means of the realization of that Brahman is being described. Through the mind alone, purified by the knowledge of the supreme Truth, and in accordance with the instructions of the teacher, (It) is to be realized.” (Ref. 8) Even more straightforward, in the bhagavad gītā bhāṣya 2.21, Shankara says: “The mind that is purified by the instructions of the scriptures and the teacher, control of the body and organs, etc. becomes the instrument for realizing the Self.” (Ref. 6)

  6. No slight intended, Venkat. Other readers may not be aware of them (and it’s an opportunity to promote the book). 😉

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