Q. ‘Is finding true self also a feeling or emotion?’ Quora
SK. Emotions and feelings are deeper than thoughts. Attachments and aversions are deeper than emotions and feelings. True self is deeper than attachment and aversions. Even though some people think of it as feeling or emotion, in reality it is much deeper than just that. The reality of true self only comes with direct experience of prolonged practice of consistent meditation for a long period of time.
M. This, the ‘experiential’, is one way. The other way is knowledge-understanding based on the shastras (scriptures), as I am sure you know. According to authorities both are equally valid. The second one: Intuition (anubhava) is also an experience, No? I like the expression ‘knowledge-experience’. What do you think?
SK. Knowledge is different from experience. That is my take on it. Reading books on eating an apple can never be the same as tasting the apple. You can read a million books on eating an apple, so that you can prepare yourself for the moment of eating the apple. But it will never be the same as eating the apple. That is the simple truth of it.
Similarly, based on this logic, you can try to read and understand the shastras how much ever you want. However, unless you follow the practice of meditation and direct enquiry of self, you will get stuck in the realm of ideas, and fail to taste the experience of self. So with regard to reading the books / scriptures and experience, the answer really is straight forward. Both are not equal. That is the reason why many devotees or Bhaktas of god, who have had direct experience of Brahman didn’t even have to read any books to experience the bliss of true self. So it is really straightforward here.
Intuition is never the same as the experience of true self. Intuition is however a higher faculty than logic or pure reason. However, in front of the experience of true self, even intuition we experience reading the scriptures when we get some understanding is paltry in comparison. So in my opinion, again, one has to go even beyond intuition, though intuition is necessary step in the process on the path to true self. So on all fronts, experience trumps intellectual knowledge and understanding obtained from books. There is simply a difference between quoting the Vedas and saying “I am Brahman” and saying the same thing, “I am Brahman”, because of the experience of Brahman. It is the same difference between claiming having been to the moon by reading about it and saying it after having been to the actual moon. The latter is more valid and more real than the former.
M. (Somewhat belatedly) It is not just reading books. I understand your position, which is in accord with Muktipada Behera (in Quora): ‘… there are two traditions – (1) Pramana based and (2) Experiential approach. Swami Paramarthananda of ArshaVidya is from (1) Pramana based tradition. Sri Ramakrishna, Swami Vivekananda and Ramana Maharshi are from (2) Experiential approach… Since I have studied both I don’t see any confusion. Rather I see harmony in depth. Both traditions are not contradictory, rather complementary.’ With some caveat-s, I cannot disagree with that.
In advaita deep or extended meditation is called nididhyasana, whether it leads or not to nirvikalpa samadhi; in any case, it is experiential. First is ‘hearing’ (shastras), followed by reflection (manana), and finally nididhyasana.
Isn’t there a point where experience and knowledge (Pramana based) come to or are the same thing? There is no knowledge without experience, and vice versa. ‘Knowledge’ then, which transcends individual mind, is nothing else than universal intuition (anubhava); the word – ‘Knowledge’ – is then a symbol or name of Atman-brahman or the absolute. Actually, the absolute does not experience anything other than Itself, if we can say that (that is, not as an object). Thus, pure Knowledge = pure Experience. Or ‘Knowledge-Experience’.
“Not being incompatible with ignorance, actions do not destroy it; it is knowledge alone that does it. Ignorance not being destroyed, the destruction of desire and aversion is not possible. Actions caused by impurities are sure to follow in case desire and aversion are not removed. Knowledge alone, therefore, is taught here so that liberation may be accomplished.” Shankara.
“There is no lustral water like unto knowledge” (Maharajas of Benares)
“Only thus much [knowledge], my dear, is the means to immortality” (Br. Up., 4-5-15)