Ignorance – the cause of the world

I think it is worth recaping the discussion to date. Dennis made two critical assertions:

(1) ”Ignorance is not the cause of the world; it is the reason that we fail to realize that the world is Brahman.”

As part of this discussion Dennis also disagreed that Sankara ‘approximated’ deep sleep to jnana.

(2) ”we superimpose ‘things’ upon the non-dual reality. That is adhyAsa. But that is not the ‘cause’ of the world.”

Lets clearly address each in turn:

(1) ‘Ignorance is not the cause of the world’ and Sankara never equated deep sleep to jana

In Upadesa Sahasri, Sankara unequivocally writes the opposite of this assertion.

17.20: ”All this world is unreal and proceeds from nescience, because it is seen only by one afflicted with nescience and is not seen in dreamless sleep.”

19.5: “When thou hast ceased to function there is no notion of difference, through which one suffers, through illusion, the delusion that there is a world. For perception is the cause of the rise of illusion. When sense of difference is absent as in dreamless sleep, no one experiences any Maya”.

Next, Brhad Up 4.3.32 says:

It becomes (transparent) like water, one, the witness, and without a second. This is the world (state) of Brahman, O Emperor. Thus did Yajiiavalkya instruct Janaka: This is its supreme attainment, this is its supreme glory, this is its highest world, this is its supreme bliss. On a particle of this very bliss other beings live.

This verse describes the supreme attainment. Sankara in his bhasya on this attainment compares it directly and unequivocally to deep sleep

“When, however, that ignorance which presents things other than the self is at rest, in that state of profound sleep, there being nothing separated from the self by ignorance, what should one see, smell, or know, and through what? Therefore, being fully embraced by his own self-luminous Supreme Self, the Jiva becomes infinite, perfectly serene, with all his objects of desire attained, and the self the only object of his desire, transparent like water, one, because there is no second : It is ignorance which separates a second entity, and that is at rest in the state of profound sleep ; hence ‘one.’ The witness, because the vision that is identical with the light of the self is never lost. And without a second, for there is no second entity different from the self to be seen. This is immortal and fearless. This is the world of Brahman. In profound sleep the self, bereft of its limiting adjuncts, the body and organs, remains in its own supreme light of the Atman, free from all relations, O Emperor. Thus did Yajiiavalkya instruct ]anaka.”

So, Sankara is equating realisation with deep sleep, in which no second thing is seen.

In his bhasya to 2.4.12, he states that the jiva has arisen from the delusion caused by the body/organs (and their perception of the world).  Therefore when the delusion has gone, there are no more differences created by ignorance, and no more particular consciousness.

That separate existence of yours, which has sprung from the delusion engendered by contact with the limiting adjuncts of the body and organs, enters its cause, the great Reality, the Supreme Self, which stands for the ocean, is undecaying, immortal, beyond fear, pure, homogeneous like a lump of salt, Pure Intelligence, infinite, boundless, without a break, and devoid of differences caused by the delusion brought on by ignorance. When that separate existence has entered and been merged in its cause, in other words, when the differences created by ignorance are gone, the universe becomes one without a second . . .

How can the knower of Brahman, who is established in his nature as Pure Intelligence, possibly have any such particular consciousness? Even when a man is in the body [ie in deep sleep] particular consciousness is impossible; so how can it ever exist in a man who has been absolutely freed from the body and organs?”

 

(2) Adhyasa is superimposing things on the non-dual reality

No.  Actually, when Sankara talks about adhyasa, it is the mutual superimposition, through ignorance, of a insentient body with Consciousness, from which arises a false notion of a jiva, which projects a separate world.  This is made clear in Sankara’s preamble to BrahmaSutraBhasya:

“Since a man without self-identification with the body, mind, senses, etc., cannot become a cognizer, and as such, the means of knowledge cannot function for him; since perception and other activities (of a man) are not possible without accepting the senses etc. (as his own); since the senses cannot function without (the body as) a basis; since nobody engages in any activity with a body that has not the idea of the Self superimposed on it; since the unrelated Self cannot become a cognizer unless there are all these (mutual superimposition of the Self and the body and their attributes on each other); and since the means of knowledge cannot function unless there is a cognizership; therefore it follows that the means of knowledge, such as direct perception as well as the scriptures, must have a man as their locus who is subject to nescience.”

Dennis referred to V H Date’s translation, which actually reads similarly:

“In the first place, the absolutely free and unattached Atman cannot be said to be the knower, unless the body, mind and senses are first superimposed upon it, and there arise the wrong notions such as “I am this, this is mine’. And secondly it is only after the knower is established, that the body and senses will be active, and the means of knowledge will be employed”

Ignorance is the mistaken superimposition of body and consciousness, which is the cause of subject-object separation.   SSSS clarifies this in his commentary on MK 2.16 (page 152 of The Essential Gaudapada):

“ ‘First they imagine, conceive’ does not mean first temporally. For a universe comprising the whole gamut of distinctions – like time, space, causation, action, means of action, fruit – is appearing co-evally, co-existentially with the waking state. Therefore the expression here – ‘They first of all conceive of Jivatwa’ – means that by forging ahead with the concept of Jivatwa, then on the strength, basis of that rudimentary concept (called ‘I’ concept), all other concepts are entertained.
Thus beginning with the jiva-concept at the root of all other thoughts, and on the strength of that fundamental ‘I’ concept the other concepts are entertained – in fact for conceiving internal concepts and external percepts this basic ‘I’ concept is alone the support”

 

Concluding remarks

Dennis is essentially postulating that ignorance is believing that the world is separate from ‘me’ – and realisation is when we have the knowledge in our mind that it is actually not separate, and thus we continue to live in our body-minds.

The above I think demonstrates that Sankara points to a realisation that is far more profound than this simple ‘knowledge in the mind’.  Indeed he says so in Bhagavad Gita Bhasya 4.24:

But those who maintain that one has to superimpose the idea of Brahman on the ladle . . . cannot be the intended subject matter dealt with here, because according to them ladle etc are objects of knowledge. . . knowledge in the form of superimposition of an idea cannot lead to liberation as its result.

Finally, of course, the idea that there is a body-mind that continues to function in the “relative” world as if separate, but with the knowledge in the mind that it is not ‘really’ separate, clearly goes against Gaudapada’s ajata vada – there just is not, never was and never will be a jiva, because the jiva itself IS the ignorance:

MK2.32: There is no dissolution, no birth, none in bondage, none aspiring for wisdom, no seeker of liberation, and none liberated.  This is the absolute truth.

41 thoughts on “Ignorance – the cause of the world

  1. From above:
    ——————————————–
    Concluding remarks

    Dennis is essentially postulating that ignorance is believing that the world is separate from ‘me’ – and realisation is when we have the knowledge in our mind that it is actually not separate, and thus we continue to live in our body-minds.

    The above I think demonstrates that Sankara points to a realisation that is far more profound than this simple ‘knowledge in the mind’.

    —————————-

    Full marks to Venkat, as in the old British expression…..

    Being sympathetic to the Dayananda school, Dennis adds that it is an “intellectual” realisation….

  2. There was an exchange on this issue in part 2 of Dennis’ Pratibandha series: Pratibandha-s – part 2 of 10
    https://www.advaita-vision.org/pratibandha-s-part-2-of-6/#more-7019. Copy pasted some of it below:
    ————————
    Dennis said: …
    1. Since there is ONLY brahman in reality, we must already BE brahman.
    2. So what is the problem? Clearly it must be that we do not KNOW this to be so.
    ——————-
    Shishya said:
    Points 1 and 2 are in contradiction – you assert something is so (true) and then claim that we don’t know it is so (true). What is the basis of your assertion then?
    On the other hand, your facile (effortless) assertion may be because you “grok” this stuff better than I do, and can really “see” it….unfortunately beyond me.
    It is not clear to me what you mean by “know” because you have consistently denied any mystical connotation to the word in this context.
    I will not bring up JK again but I think there is a large overlap between your points and what he said, except for Point 1 as above.
    ——————————
    Dennis on January 10, 2019 at 12:26 said:
    Points 1 and 2 are not in contradiction. c.f. It is a fact that the earth rotates on its axis, making it appear that the sun is orbiting the earth. Nevertheless, people once did not know this to be the case and really believed the appearance was truth. Knowledge in this case is having the justified, true belief that day-night is really caused by the earth’s rotation.
    ——————–
    Shishya on January 20, 2019 at 01:04 said:
    Martin says above at the end of his first paragraph:
    “[…] What this means is that the mind can be transformed at the moment of that intuition […]”.
    That is – “seeing/being/knowing” – is a dynamic process and is always in the active present, experiencing, not experience. It is neither “positive”, nor “negative” IMHO.

    I brought up a quote that seemed relevant and this led to this:

    “Shishya says that ‘even more important is the following’:
    “The understanding of oneself is not a result, a culmination; it is seeing oneself from moment to moment in the mirror of relationship – one’s relationship to property, to things, to people and to ideas.”

    What has this got to do with Advaita? How can continuing to see duality help one to understand the nature of reality?
    ———————————————-
    This is the Venkat method of learning as in:
    ….
    I have learnt more about Sankara’s advaita from trying to find quotes to annoy Dennis, than I would have otherwise.

    Warm wishes,
    Bruised son of a barren woman.
    ——————————————-

    Good luck to all, that is the only thing that will help.

    Shishya

  3. Thank you Venkat.

    I believe what you have given in your essay is a fair and accurate presentation of Shankara’s position with reference to the appearance of a world.

    Thanks to Shishya for his well-articulated summary.

    I submit that Dennis is taking the mantra at 3.14.1, chAndogya out of context.

    Neither the Upanishad nor Shankara are trying to make any ontological statement at that stage of the Upanishad, nor are they describing the nature or cause of the appearance of a world.

    3.14.1 of chAnd is out and out an instruction to “meditate,” even forcing oneself (VOLITIONALLY)!

    As Anandagiri points out (mentioned in Dr. G. N. Jha’s translation), the preceding sections in the chapter dealt with worshiping brahman through proxy. In the section # 14, the seeker is “directed” to meditate on brahman thinking of his ‘powers.’

    In fact, Shankara introduces the mantra 3.14.1 with the following words:
    “the Text now proceeds to lay down the meditation, as equipped with certain special qualities and powers.”

    The mantra itself “DIRECTS” the seeker that s/he “SHOULD” consciously “TAKE A DECISION” to contemplate each and every percept as brahman. This is NOT saying that each perception is brahman.

    Shankara ends his commentary with clear stipulation: “Therefore, the said
    exercise of meditation should be performed.”

    Thus it is NOT a teaching about the nature of the perceived things.

    Yes, in the FINAL sense, Dennis is right — all that is, IS brahman. But only finally. When does that “FINALITY” occur?

    Not as long as a sense of a separate me hangs on there. The finality comes with:

    1. The individual “me-ness” has TOTALLY collapsed.
    2. Everywhere one SEES the UNDIVIDED infinite brahman ONLY, and not deduce post hoc intellectually that “I see objects but I have to take them to be brahman.” (Dennis’s mistake).

    Our apologies, if Dennis really is “seeing” brahman everywhere and making his comments from that clear cognition as, say, kena says, ‘pratibodha viditam.’

  4. Ramesam,

    Sankara actually does make an ontological statement about ‘this’ in Chandogya 6.2.2, in the following exchange:

    Objection: Then it stands established that before creation there was only non-existence, but not the entity denoted by the word idam, this. ‘This’ has been born now (after being created).
    Reply: No, since it is Existence itself that was there as the object denoted by the word and idea ‘This’. It is just like the continuance of earth itself as the object denoted by the words and ideas ‘lump’, ‘pot’, etc.
    ********
    How can it be logical that Existence which is partless can have a changeful configuration?
    Reply: There is no such fault because, as from the constituents of rope etc. there can appear shapes like snake etc. Similarly it is logical that from the constituents of sat, Existence, IMAGINED BY THE INTELLECT, there can appear a changeful configuration.

    So yet again we have Sankara repeating what he said in BSB preamble and what Gaudapada wrote in MK2.16
    ‘First of all is imagined the jiva, and then are imagined the various entities, objective and subjective”
    {as per SSSS’ comments in the article)

  5. You are very right, Venkat, IMHO.

    For people who MISINTERPRET 3.14.1 of chAnd, the Sage Sandilya in the Upanishad and also Shankara in his bhAShya make it abundantly clear at 3.14.4 saying that:

    A seeker attains the Self “ON DEPARTING FROM HERE” – i.e. the phenomenal world!

    In order to preclude any sort of misgivings and self-certification, Shankara explicitly writes in his commentary:

    “What is taught here DOES NOT EXALT THE MEDITATOR TO THAT ‘SELF-SOVEREIGNTY’ which is attained by the realizing of such truths as ‘That Thou Art’, ‘The Self is all this’, as described under Discourses VI and VII ; in fact what the text says here is that ‘Such is my Self, I shall surely attain this on departing from here’, which clearly indicates distinction between the human self and the Supreme Self, and it is clear that the term ‘self’ here does not stand for the counter-self ( human self). ‘ [Translation: Dr. G N Jha, accent by me.]

    I hope Rick too reads this part rather than selectively quote from one section in the Upanishad. Please NOTE Shankara wants you to wait for chapters VI and VII to learn about the actual nature of the things. At the chapter 3, it is all about upAsana.

    regards,

  6. The only thing I have read that comes close to — “Everything is Brahman, and you are IT ” — are the following words of a mystic; may not meet with everybody’s approval but here goes:
    ———————-
    “There was a man mending the road; that man was myself; the pickaxe he held was myself; the very stone which he was breaking up was a part of me; the tender blade of grass was my very being, and the tree beside the man was myself. I almost could feel and think like the roadmender, and I could feel the wind passing through the tree . . . I was in everything, or rather everything was in me, inanimate and animate, the mountain, the worm, and all breathing things.”
    ———————–
    Leaves me speechless and almost disbelieving, but John Wheeler the physicist may have nodded his head in agreement, who knows. Even though he didn’t think much of parapsychology.

  7. Thanks Shishya for the comment.

    One has to be careful in understanding such mystical statements as quoted by you. It could be the subjective experiential statement of “Non-difference” at that moment by the mystic – but when written and expressed gets the “hues” of duality.

    One who attained Absolute Unity with the Supreme Self (i.e. who is Totally Self-realized), will find only the Self everywhere. S/he being herself the Self, what she ‘sees’ would be herself everywhere. That is to say, a Non-difference.

    IOW, it CANNOT be a ‘seeing’ like us, because our eye can see only “difference” and NOT “Non-difference.” I think I mentioned this fact in one of my responses to Dennis.

    Your quote, however, reminded me the BG verse 4.24. It goes like this:

    “Brahman is the offering, Brahman the oblation ; by Brahman is the oblation poured into the fire of Brahman; Brahman verily shall be reached by him who always sees Brahman in action.”

    I wanted to discuss that verse in my Article “The “I-am-realized” Delusion – 3,” but missed. One should read Shankara’s commentary on it in order to correctly understand the verse.

    When one says, and describes, each of the “perceived” objects as Self, it cannot be and should not be interpreted to imply that brahman has divvied Itself into multiplicity. The indivisible and impartite brahman CANNOT become multiple objects with separating space in-between.

    Secondly, unless and until I am myself a “finite” object, I cannot cognize “other” finite objects. That is to say, if I am the “Infinite,” I will not be able to see “finite” objects because that perceived object will be “limiting” my Infiniteness. A tricky situation, indeed 🙂 !

    regards,

    • Fully agree with what you say, Ramesam but here are some more Wheelerisms bearing on the issue:
      —————————–
      It from bit. Otherwise put, every it — every particle, every field of force, even the space-time continuum itself — derives its function, its meaning, its very existence entirely — even if in some contexts indirectly — from the apparatus-elicited answers to yes-or-no questions, binary choices, bits. It from bit symbolizes the idea that every item of the physical world has at bottom — a very deep bottom, in most instances — an immaterial source and explanation; that which we call reality arises in the last analysis from the posing of yes-no questions and the registering of equipment-evoked responses; in short, that all things physical are information-theoretic in origin and that this is a participatory universe.
      ———————————
      We are participators in bringing into being not only the near and here but the far away and long ago. We are in this sense, participators in bringing about something of the universe in the distant past and if we have one explanation for what’s happening in the distant past why should we need more?

      Martin Redfern: Many don’t agree with John Wheeler, but if he’s right then we and presumably other conscious observers throughout the universe, are the creators — or at least the minds that make the universe manifest.
      —————–
      Wheeler, John Archibald (1990). A Journey Into Gravity and Spacetime. Scientific American Library. New York: W.H. Freeman. ISBN 0-7167-6034-7.

  8. Thank you Shishya.

    Dr. J.A. Wheeler was truly a great Physicist. He gave many colorful phrases like the “It from the bit” that you quoted.

    Here is a short article, over five years old, about the concept of the ‘participatory universe’ of Wheeler that I closed with these words:

    “It maybe ‘participatory,’ yes; but is it a universe? No! We can only talk in terms of a participatory universe per a reference frame — one at a time. We create a universe every instant.”

    You may take a look at this Series titled “Physics of Reality” at:
    https://beyond-advaita.blogspot.com/2015/07/physics-of-reality-1.html

    regards,

    • Thank you, Ramesam.

      Managed to get all 9 parts together in one place and will start reading them shortly….fascinating series, to say the least.

      Shishya

  9. Dear All,

    Apologies for not commenting earlier. I have in fact only just seen the post today. I had the site open at the page for Part 2 of Ramesam’s ‘I am realized delusion’. I had posted the final comment repeated below and I kept checking to see if anyone had responded. No one did.

    So I now have several brief points top make:

    1) Venkat – I see that you have ‘recapped the discussion to date’ very well for your side of the argument but I am bound to say that I do not see what I have said being equally well summarized! (I DO appreciate the effort that you clearly expended in providing the summary of your interpretation however.)

    2) There is no way that I am going through all the new discussion and laboriously tracking down all of the quotations, determining what I understand to be the interpretation according to Shankara, and fomulating responses. I seem to have been doing this, on this topic, for a long time now. I’m afraid that my patience has expired. And it does become a little tedious arguing with everyone and receiving no support from anyone! Sorry if this seems defeatist but I have neither energy nor enthusiasm to continue, despite still being convinced of the intepretation I have argued.

    3) I would just repeat the last comment I made (as mentioned), since no one responded to that. I have been accused of misrepresenting Shankara regarding the statement of ‘brahma satyam…’ in Candogya 3.14.1. I pointed out that, in his introduction to Chapter 6 of Chandogya (Som Raj Gupta translation). He says:

    “It was said (3.14.1): ‘Verily, all THIS (world) is Brahman. From THAT (Brahman) is THIS (world) born, into THAT (Brahman) is THIS (world) dissolved, in THAT (Brahman) does THIS (world) breathe.’ Now, how THIS world originated from THAT (Brahman), how it dissolves into THAT (Brahman), how it lives by it is to be explained.’” (My capitalization to point out the unambiguity of what he is saying.)

    Best wishes,
    Dennis

  10. Dear Dennis,

    It is unfortunate that you could not have time/patience to read the comments under this thread. As Venkat’s post came as a continuation to the previous discussions on the subject, we segued seamlessly to here in our comments too.

    Anyway, the long and short of it is that, you have to read Shankara’s commentary on the full section 14 of the chapter 3 of chAndogya in order to be able to see the full import of 3.14.1.

    Having “worshiped” brahman through proxies in the preceding sections, the Sandilya vidyA at 14 continues with “Meditation” of brahman and 3.14.1 is an injunction on “how to do the meditation.” It is NOT an ontological statement of fact. It is a directive. Shankara uses the words “should” etc.

    The mantra at 3.14.4 and Shankara’s commentary clearly dispels all doubt in this connection. I am copying below some of my previous comments in this regard.

    In order to preclude any sort of misgivings and self-certification, Shankara explicitly writes in his commentary:

    1. A seeker attains the Self “ON DEPARTING FROM HERE” – i.e. the phenomenal world!

    2. “What is taught here DOES NOT EXALT THE MEDITATOR TO THAT ‘SELF-SOVEREIGNTY’ which is attained by the realizing of such truths as ‘That Thou Art’, ‘The Self is all this’, as described under Discourses VI and VII ; in fact what the text says here is that ‘Such is my Self, I shall surely attain this on departing from here’, which “CLEARLY INDICATES DISTINCTION BETWEEN THE HUMAN SELF AND THE SUPREME SELF,” and it is clear that the term ‘self’ here does not stand for the counter-self ( human self). ‘ [Translation: Dr. G N Jha, accent by me.]

    Hope the above quotes provide enough incentive to take a second look at your stand re: 3.14.1, chAnd.

    regards,

  11. Hi Dennis

    I responded to your Chand 3.14.1 comment on 17 Oct at 11.31 above. The sense of how Shankara talks about THIS in Chandogya 6.2.2 is very much in line with Ramesam, and dismisses the world as imagination. To repeat:

    Sankara actually does make an ontological statement about ‘THIS’ in Chandogya 6.2.2, in the following exchange:

    Objection: Then it stands established that before creation there was only non-existence, but not the entity denoted by the word idam, this. ‘This’ has been born now (after being created).
    Reply: No, since it is Existence itself that was there as the object denoted by the word and idea ‘This’. It is just like the continuance of earth itself as the object denoted by the words and ideas ‘lump’, ‘pot’, etc.
    ********
    How can it be logical that Existence which is partless can have a changeful configuration?
    Reply: There is no such fault because, as from the constituents of rope etc. there can appear shapes like snake etc. Similarly it is logical that from the constituents of sat, Existence, IMAGINED BY THE INTELLECT, there can appear a changeful configuration.

    So yet again we have Sankara repeating what he said in BSB preamble and what Gaudapada wrote in MK2.16
    ‘First of all is imagined the jiva, and then are imagined the various entities, objective and subjective”
    {as per SSSS’ comments in the article)

  12. Still seems to be a repetition ignoring what I have been saying. I have never disputed that we impose name and form upon the non-dual reality (adhyAsa). As I already said somewhere, I frequently quote vAchArambhaNa sutra in support of this. I have never accepted creation as a literal event, frequently quoting ajAti vAda.

    So, yes, it is the mind that effectively creates the appearance of the world (which is in reality Brahman). (Advaita teaches that it is Ishvara, the samaShTi mind, that effectively creates the world, which ‘explains’ for the beginning to intermediate seeker why the appearance is shared between jIva-s.)

    The point is that the jIva’s mind is still there after enlightenment and remains until death of the jIva, even though that mind now knows that the reality is the non-dual Brahman. And that mind continues to perceive the world appearance. The world does not disappear on enlightenment.

    No one has yet addressed the unambiguity of Shankara’s introduction to Chapter 6 of Chandogya. Chapter 3 may be a meditation chapter but that 6 introduction sounds pretty ontological to me!

  13. So you manage to reconcile Ajata vada with the concept that there is a non-existent mind / jiva which continues with the knowledge that it is non-existent???

  14. OOOOOFFFFF, Finally!

    After so many posts and so many comments by so many of us, Dennis admits with his typical British understatement that his stance was after all incorrect with regard to 3.14.1, chAnd.
    Thanks.

    As far as the “mind of a so-called jIvanmukta” is concerned, it had been discussed and debated for centuries and the discussion will surely continue into the coming centuries – so nobody need to hurry or worry on that.

    However, I am intrigued about Dennis’ reference to the Ch 6 of chAnd. Was there any post on that topic? None to my knowledge and if Dennis likes to make one, we will be happy to join.

    And lastly, but not the least, I want to share my sympathies with Dennis’s mother, if I ever get to meet her, and tell her that I too have a son who could hardly be convinced about anything and how tough it had been bringing up such kids!

    🙂 🙂 🙂

    regards,

  15. Ramesam,

    I have to say that I do sometimes wonder whether my posts are actually read before comments are made.

    I have NOT admitted that my stance regarding Chandogya 3.14.1 was incorrect! What I said is that, regardless of whether 3.14 is an upAsanA section or not, Shankara’s introduction to Chapter 6 makes it clear that the world does not ‘disappear’ on enligtenment.

    I said that my Chapter 6 introduction point was made as a comment on your Part 2 of ‘I am realized delusion’. It’s just that no one ever responded!

    Venkat,

    You are being very silly for some reason! In Advaita teaching (which is what this website is concerned with), there is a clear distinction made between paramArtha and vyavahAra. No progress could ever be made in teaching someone about Advaita if it was simply stated throughout that there is no creation, no on has ever been born etc. This would immediately, and rightly, be ridiculed on the grounds that the seeker was being told this by a supposed teacher!

    Best wishes (with associated frustration),
    Dennis
    😉

  16. Dennis

    You are not seeing the point – perhaps because you are not reading the posts properly?

    The point is very simple. Vyavahara concept is there to help the beginner – fine. But in the end, Vedanta has to be able to reconcile our vyavahara experience with the paramartha reality that it posits – no creation, no jiva.

    Simply saying that there are two levels of reality or that “the jIva’s mind is still there after enlightenment and remains until death of the jIva, even though that mind now knows that the reality is the non-dual Brahman” . . . does not explain anything and contradicts Gaudapada. It is just as weak as saying ‘who created the world? God did’ . . . begging the follow-up ‘so who created God?’

    The interpretation that Ramesam is articulating is the only one that is capable of reconciling this.

    venkat

  17. Oh, No! Seems, we are back to Square 1! ):

    “The only interpretation that can reconcile the apparent contradiction is one that is congruent with our (undeniable) experience.”

    Who is it that is saying so – the individual ‘ahamkAra’?
    And, secondly, how can the “experience” of that delimited ‘ahamkAra’ be the uncontestable and infallible “Touchstone” for Truth?

    That leaves the whole issue uncertain and open.

    That is why Advaita says that what is within one’s own individual experience belongs to the domain of time-space-causational empirical world only, and the real evidence for what Advaita posits is beyond that realm.

    Hence, Advaita insists that the evidence cannot be cross-checked against one’s own limited thought process and experience obtained through his/her sensory apparatus (5 senses + mind). It asks us to rely on shabda pramANa – testimonial from a well-wisher (Apta vAkya) like the Upanishads and the words of the Sages. When once we are able to go beyond and expand our mind breaking down the walls of our puny limitations of the individual ‘ahamkAra,’ the true experiential realization (aparokSha anubhUti) of the Reality happens.

    Till then, alas, one has to set aside one’s egoistic thought of assessing the Truth against one’s experience which is nothing but a bundle of records from the phenomenal world.

    ***

    “the world does not ‘disappear’ on enlightenment.”

    That’s right.
    It doesn’t have to!
    As Venkat rightly observed, there wasn’t any to begin with so that it has to disappear later.

    What disappears on “Enlightenment” is the “imagined” world before enlightenment. This comes out very very clearly from Shankara’s commentary on the beginning parts of Ch 8, chAndogya.

    regards,

  18. The sentence that says: “What disappears on “Enlightenment” is the “imagined” world before enlightenment”

    may also be read as: “What disappears on “Enlightenment” is the “imagination.”

    IOW, “Enlightenment” is NOT about adding another subtler layer of imagination by the same old ‘ahamkAra’ mind to say that “I now know it is all an imagination.”

    All that is still a mind-game.

    Ending “imagination” is Enlightenment and that’s all – Period.

  19. I give up, Ramesam! Clearly no-one has ever been enlightened or ever will be according to you. There never was a world. There are no seekers or gurus. No Advaita teaching, no scriptures. Let’s rename this website ‘shUnya vAda vision’. Oh, I forgot – there is no website…

  20. Ha Ha Ha

    It’s a Great Day and Great Time to Celebrate, Dennis.

    Today is the Pious Day of the start of the Revered Navratri (Nine-nights) Worship of the Mother Goddess Shakti – The Power.
    tithi is shukla saptami
    Star is pUrvaShADha
    Very Auspicious Day.

    And You declare: “… … there is no website…”

    CONGRATULATIONS
    You have enshrined yourself, in one stroke, as the Modern Day Gaudapada of England.

    🙂 🙂 🙂

    And how do you advise us to get there?
    You tell us: “I give up.”
    Excellent again!
    Yup, that is the blemishless, sure-to-succeed route. To utterly giving up – vairAgya.

    As Shankara would suggest, from that position of being the completely transparent, colorless, formless and bodiless (ashrIratva) Self, one can “intend” to “see” diversity – even visit the world of forefathers, wine and dance with the choicest of women and experience everything — (see Chapter 8, sections 2 onward. I hope to summarize in the series I am presenting currently).

    If one experiences duality as a limited entity, s/he is subject to the sways of the polar pairs of opposites and the cycles of births and deaths. If one realizes to be the formless and bodiless Universal Self, experiencing duality will be something similar to the dreaming of an ignorant man.

    regards,

  21. “No, Venkat. The only interpretation that can reconcile the apparent contradiction is one that is congruent with our (undeniable) experience”

    So Dennis, what is that interpretation that reconciles the apparent contradiction??

    Sankara tells us that ‘our experience’ is not real – neither the ‘our’ nor the ‘experience’. The ‘our’ is a superimposition and ‘experience’ only arises after the superimposition of the notion on body-mind-senses. And, as you have rightly pointed out (albeit sarcastically) Gaudapada says that there is no jiva, no jnani. Full stop.

    So if you set some stock in our (undeniable) experience, you are disagreeing with Gaudapada, or have some reconciliation still hidden up your sleeve.

  22. Venkat,

    Do you deny that Gaudapada WROTE the work to which YOU are referring? How do you explain this? If he didn’t, what are you talking about (and who are you anyway)?

    Please pardon the continuing sarcasm but, since logical argument was getting nowhere, it seems the last resort!

    Can you not see that all of the apparent problem in this ongoing ‘discussion’ revolves around the distinction between paramArtha and vyavahAra? You cannot avoid the issue by denying the latter. Of course it is appearance only and not reality but that is the point!!

    Best wishes,
    Dennis

  23. Dennis

    You are not answering the question. The onus is on you to reconcile vyavahara and Gaudapada’s statement of ajata vada – which you have not yet done.

    Best,
    venkat

  24. On the contary, Venkat. My first sentence is an implicit reconciliation, clarified by the last sentence.

    You are effectively answering the question yourself with your last statement. You speak of “reconciling Gaudapada’s statement”, which can only take place in vyavahAra. And then refer to ajAti vAda, which is a vyAvahArika concept of paramArtha.

    Everything you think and say about paaramArtha is in vyavahAra. You, the jIva, inevitably function in vyavahAra, whether or not you have gained knowledge about the truth behind the appearance.

    Best wishes,
    Dennis

  25. In that case Dennis, the ‘truth behind the appearance’ is a matter of belief in the scriptures; and no more than that. You as an individual are still there, with or without knowledge, and despite Gaudapada’s radical avowal of no jiva.

    Your so-called reconciliation is simply based on the fact that you and I are debating, and we are pointing to an entity called Gaudapada. But that is in an illusory subject-object duality. What Ramesam is saying is that subject-object duality must dissolve on realisation.

    If you look at it, your mental model is not different from one that science can give you – we are all made up of the same building blocks, and consequently we are not really different, although for the brief time that we appear we seem to be. What need is there of studying advaita if that is your position?

  26. Vyavahara and paramartha are from the standpoint of vyavahara. Jnana is the recognition that vyavhara is illusory. Which means that the vyavahara/paramartha distinction is illusory as well. That very recognition is the paramartha ‘standpoint,’ which of course is not a standpoint at all. And from that non-standpoint standpoint, there are not two standpoints — there may be said to be no standpoints.

    This “mobius strip” quality of what’s going on in the Search is the meaning of maya. It necessarily appears paradoxical to the mind, because what is being referenced is beyond mind.

    The *meaning* of vyavhara being an appearance is not that “it exists but only as appearance” or “it appears separate but is really Brahman” — these are merely provisional statements. Their real import is that there is a profound misconception at work in the very idea even OF appearance.

    Appearance proceeds from ego; ego is appearance. When they are mutually found out as false, there is no one to say that there is an appearance; so there is nothing appearing to say that there is anyone there to see it.

    Why does this matter? Only because otherwise the seeker risks getting caught in a mere thought OF jnana and considering the search done before actually dissolving ignorance.

    So the search must include the provisional concepts of vyavahara AND the recognition that until and unless these concepts are seen through NOT merely as false but as incoherent… that what needs to be ‘understood’ has not in fact been understood.

  27. Dennis,

    You write:

    On Oct 23, 2020 @ 07:43:

    “Can you not see that all of the apparent problem in this ongoing ‘discussion’ revolves around the distinction between paramArtha and vyavahAra?”

    On Oct 23, 2020 @ 10:44:

    “Everything you think and say about paaramArtha is in vyavahAra. You, the jIva, inevitably function in vyavahAra, whether or not you have gained knowledge about the truth behind the appearance.”

    Will you please clarify, without any scope for doubt, two questions that arise as a follow up on the above two quotes from your comments:

    1. Are you impressing us that “out there” are two distinct and clearly distinguishable spheres or fields called vyAvahArika and pAramArthika (either intermixed or stratified or interpenetrating) and one moves or hops between the two?

    Yes or No please.

    2. Could the statement @ 10:44 be that of a Self-realized Advaitin?

    Just Yes or No please.

    regards,

  28. Akilesh,

    “Vyavahara and paramartha are from the standpoint of vyavahara.”
    Correct.

    “Jnana is the recognition that vyavhara is illusory.”
    Incorrect. vyavahAra is mithyA, not illusory. A very significant difference!

    “Which means that the vyavahara/paramartha distinction is illusory as well.”

    As you see, this does not follow because your second statement was incorrect. Consequently, your final conclusion is equally incorrect.

    • ‘“Jnana is the recognition that vyavhara is illusory.”
      Incorrect. vyavahAra is mithyA, not illusory. A very significant difference!’

      Whether you call it mithya or illusory is irrelevant; the question is what those words mean.

      As the rest of my response mentions, the point is the misconception at the heart of the idea of appearance.

  29. Ramesam,

    Your questions are not amenable to ‘yes/no’ answers.

    The paramArtha/vyavahAra distinction is obviously a conceptual one, which is only possible in vyavahAra.

    ‘Self-realization’ is an event in the mind which, equally obviously, takes place in vyavahAra.

    Best wishes,
    Dennis

  30. The question here is whether:

    1. “Post realization” the world keeps appearing and is simply known to be Brahman or

    2. whether “Post realization” there cannot be said to be any world appearaing and anyone there to see it.

    Clearly both positions must, as positions, both be incomplete. But unless it is clear why the second position has a profound and very valuable truth in it, not merely as a figure of speech, something is not being grasped.

  31. Dennis,

    Thank you.

    What I asked were not any trick or clever questions. I was merely trying to assess where your thinking appears to differ from what my understanding of Advaita is.

    As you agree that the vyAvahArika/pAramArthika are only conceptual, I take that your answer to my first question is in the negative.

    It looks to me that your answer to the second question too is in the negative because the post-Realization position is beyond concepts (by definition), and the so-called ‘event’ in the mind now does not exist (having happened in the past).

    As we noted earlier on, already couple of times, an important criterion for the appearance of a world has to be satisfied. As Shankara says at:

    अविद्यामात्रं संसारः यथादृष्टविषयः एव । न क्षेत्रज्ञस्य केवलस्य अविद्या तत्कार्यं च । — 13.2, BGB.

    Meaning: “samsAra is only based on avidya and exists only for the ignorant man who sees the world as it appears to him. Neither avidya nor its effect pertains to Kshetrajna, pure and simple.” Translation: Alladi M. Sastri.

    अविद्याप्रत्युपस्थापितनामरूपकृतकार्यकरणसङ्घातोपाध्यविवेककृता हि भ्रान्तिर्हिताकरणादिलक्षणः संसारः, न तु परमार्थतोऽस्तीत्यसकृदवोचाम etc. || — 2.1.22, BSB.

    Meaning: “We have stated more than once that the mundane existence, characterized by the nonaccomplishment of beneficial results etc., is an error arising from the non-recognition of the difference (from the soul) of the limiting adjunct constituted by the assemblage of body and senses which are a creation of name and form called up by ignorance. It does not exist in reality. ” Translation: Swami Gambhirananda.

    In my Post on “The “I-am-realized” Delusion – 3,” I have already shown that a finite mind is the one that projects and shows a world; and with a change in the mind, one sees a different world.

    If one recalls what Peter Dziuban says in Ch 13 of his book, Consciousness Is All, one can note that he establishes clearly that no solid or physical object (his famous ‘Apple’ example) exists “out there” and what one sees is none other than one’s mind itself.

    Mind here means, a finite thought, a vibration, that says “I am separate.” Whether one describes the situation by a name like vyAvahArika or whatever, the presence of that ‘thought’ has got to be there.

    I shall expand on the above thesis in my subsequent posts on “The ‘I-am-realized’ Delusion.”

    Next I shall posit that like one may wear a colored glasses when needed or discard them if not needed, one may use a mind or not. As Shankara says in the last parts of chAndogya commentary, the “treasures” of all the experiences, ancestral worlds, enjoyments are always available to one right in his/her “heart-space” covered up by ignorance. After the realization of the Self, s/he sees them all “as himself” and non-different from him. IOW, the microcosm and macrocosm will be one and the same post-Realization.

    In contrast, in the vyAvahArika that you talk about, a person always sees every percept to be different from him/her.

    regards,

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