S. Again, you keep jumping into unfounded conclusions about Brahman and consciousness. These are your beliefs. We all have them. Reduction is not the same as truth or fact. It is an assumption. Our assumptions are often wrong (not the end of the world). You introduce two elements that are distinctly Indian in origin, Brahman, which you say is the ultimate reality, and consciousness, which you say can be objectless.
I don’t see how you can separate these things from the totality of phenomenon. When you reduce this to a single truth, you automatically elevate it into a hierarchical model and that highest element is Monism. Why do you insist on separating things out? The universe does not work like that, it is only our minds that are attempting to do so. The struggle of mind to sort out what doesn’t need sorting is where duality resides.
Advaya, meaning not two, is not a definition of non duality. It means to say that the 2 views, things as existing, and its opposite view, things as non existing, are not adhered to. This is the Madhyamika view of Buddhism. Can you see the difference?
I am not saying that this is a better view than the Hindu one. But, it does allow for the totality to remain as it is, what it is, neither existing, nor not existing. It shuts down the mentation that carries on the analytical and self serving functions that lead to holding either one or the other of the views that are mentioned above. In this kind of environment, conceptualization doesn’t overpower what is. Objectless consciousness has no more importance than the breeze coming through my window, or the river flowing along its banks. Nothing stands apart from anything else.
What is your definition of awareness vs. consciousness? Is there one without the other? Are they effectively the same thing? You seem to think that consciousness exists. As stated above, this would be a mistaken view and not within the advaya purview. Whenever you separate anything out, the tendency is to fixate on it. Please think this over.
M. You (S): “Again, you keep jumping into unfounded conclusions about Brahman and consciousness.”
M. Am I? My position has been, and is, all along that of (Shankarian) AV. You should try to refute that tradition rather than trying to refute me. Besides, as I said before, a belief based on introspection and understanding or assimilation ceases to be just a belief (you would have to refute the tradition behind it). True, the conclusion based on it (the purported belief, or understanding) may be only – and it usually is – within vyavahara (see below).
S. “Reduction is not the same as truth or fact. It is an assumption. Our assumptions are often wrong… You introduce two elements that are distinctly Indian in origin, Brahman, which you say is the ultimate reality, and consciousness, which you say can be objectless.”
M.These two doctrines (or ‘beliefs’) are not mine, they faithfully reproduce the tenets of AV (I could have copied them from anyone of my books). By the same token, they correspond to what is called vyavahara (empirical viewpoint) and also mithya (neither real nor completely unreal). All teaching – as teaching – is vyavahara.
S. “I don’t see how you can separate these things from the totality of phenomenon. When you reduce this to a single truth, you automatically elevate it into a hierarchical model and that highest element is Monism.”
M.There is nothing that is separable as seen from AV – what there is is an integrated whole (but not Monism, as I clarified previously). There is not even need to resort to the Buddhist doctrine of Co-dependent origination since understanding that all transactions – practical or empirical and doctrinal (including the highest doctrines) are but mithya; all phenomena are mithya, meaning not independent or self-validating. This means that the essence of all phenomena (gross and subtle) is satya-reality (or Brahman, to give it a name). It also shows that you did not understand what I wrote last:
‘Brahman’ is a name or symbol standing for ultimate reality, but one can use others.
‘Consciousness’ and ‘awareness’ (equivalent terms in AV) are also verbal symbols within a given language; English in this case. Something – a figurative symbol or a name – has to stand for the reality or fact/s indicated by them; there may be more than one. The modern Indian sage, Nisargadatta Maharaj, distinguished between these two terms, ‘awareness’ (as was translated from Marathi, his own language) being ontologically prior or higher (than ‘Consciousness’); he was rather an exception in this.
‘The Madhyamika view of Buddhism’…
Evidently this is your main source of inspiration or adopted teaching/tradition. We could debate on this, showing on my part why I consider the non-duality of AV preferable, if not necessarily superior (a personal choice?).
This pair (sat-asat in Sanskrit) is also referred to and covered in AV, and is a theme all its own.
(I said enough about ‘awareness vs. consciousness’ and the misunderstanding caused by these two terms.)
I don’t think one can ever debate sensibly and amicably between two belief systems. The terms and methods of one determine the way that the adherent thinks about all of these matters and they differ from the basic tenets of the other. The only way that one can ‘teach’ one system to someone else is for the other to start out with no belief system at all or to set it aside completely and be genuinely open-minded. Extremely difficult for the other!
I once tried explaining Advaita to a devout Christian but it was a total waste of time and very frustrating! They, of course, has the agenda of trying to ‘convert’ me. (So I guess it was even more frustrating for them!)
Agree on the whole with Dennis, although – as everyone knows – there have always been debates in all cultures, religious and philosophical – including Quora and Advaita Vision! At most – or at best – a debate is an exercise in dialectic, each part putting forth more o less well-constructed arguments, and at worst it is an exercise in futility or frustration.
As R. Puligandla has written (consistent with what Dennis wrote above), ‘The knowledge-claims a thinker advances are constituted of percepts and concepts falling within the range of the categorical framework with which he conducts his enquiry… every expressible and communicable knowledge-claim is relative to a categorical framework, and so, there can be no absolute claims relative to any categorical knowledge’ – ‘Reality and Mysticism’.
My debate with the crypto- buddhist will end next week, likely more with a bang than with a whimper (or vice versa).