Is enlightenment an event in the mind?

This is an interesting question which was initiated through the blogging of Ramesam and Martin on the need for both analyses and synthesis to arrive at knowledge and the conversation between Dennis and Anonymous. It might be interesting to explore this further?

The ‘traditional’ school of Advaita seem to argue that jnana is based upon knowledge that can be gained from scriptures and a competent teacher, together with a period of ‘purification’.

The realised masters of Advaita – most notably Sri Ramana and Sri Nisargadatta – but also the likes of Sw Chinmayananda, JK, Francis Lucille – would argue that mind is a necessary first step, but then it has to be discarded. If I can synthesise my understanding of their pointers – I think it is that the mind itself is just thoughts and this is the cause of the maya / illusion. Therefore to get out of the maya, to become a jnani, mind itself needs to be set aside; but of course a mind / thought cannot volitionally do this.

I’ve already set out some quotes in a previous thread with Martin under “Buddhi is also something perceived”, which includes one on ‘no mind’ from Gaudapada.

Here is what Vasistha had to say (from “The Vision and the Way of Vasistha” by BL Atreya):

139: The Wise understand Self-knowledge (alone) as knowledge. On the contrary, those other knowings are (only) false knowledge on account of non-perception of the real truth (or essence).

218: Without reflection (or investigation) the Truth is not properly understood even a little. The Truth is known by investigation. By knowing the Truth there is repose in the Self.

219: “Who am I?” How was this evil called worldly existence obtained?” Reflecting thus through logic is declared as investigation.

450: Know imagination as the mind. It (the mind) is not different from imagination as water (is not different) from liquidity and as motion (is not different) from wind.

759: When the mind is swiftly restrained by the intellect through human effort, (this) illusory wheel is stopped due to the arrested propelling of the hub.

1613: The dissolution of the mind of its own accord, on account of absence of attachment to all desires, is described by the name liberation by the knowers of Truth who have realised the Self.

1617: The state consisting of imagination (or desire) of the Supreme Self is called the Mind. On account of the absence of imagination (or desire), there arises the state of no-mind (or absence of thought). Liberation arises from that.

1732: Wise men consider the firm and abundant conviction that there exists here the Supreme Self of the nature of beginningless and endless Light (or Consciousness) as right (or true) Knowledge.

1740: One perceives the Self by the self by pure investigation. The manifold thinking relating to the world vanishes by investigation.

1935: Rama! This investigation of one’s own self, bearing the form “Who may I be?” is considered as the fire in the burning of the seed of the evil tree that is the mind.

1947: The knowers (of the process) of imagination declare only the I-thought (or the feeling of “i”) as imagination. Contemplation of that (I-thought) in the sense of the space (of Consciousness) is called the renunciation of imagination.

So it seems Vasistha emphasised self-investigation (“who am I?”) as the means to true Knowledge and thence Liberation (which is equated to no-mind), and scriptures as a pointer to help purify the mind. [Very much in accord with Sri Ramana’s teaching – and in stark contrast to Sw Dayananda’s and Sadananda’s misunderstanding / misrepresentation of the latter.]

73 thoughts on “Is enlightenment an event in the mind?

  1. The following comment is partly copied from the ‘Awareness of Self’ thread, since it is more relevant here:

    If you accept that reality is non-dual, you have to accept that there are no people and no world in reality. Empirically, it is obviously the case that there seem to be people but again, if you accept non-duality, it must be the case that everyone is already free, liberated. So the only meaningful way of looking at this is to posit that most people are ignorant of this truth. Where does ignorance and knowledge take place?


    The term ‘no mind’ cannot be interpreted literally. See my essay on manonAsha for an explantion of this statement –

  2. Dear Dennis,

    “Where does ignorance and knowledge take place?” Both are thoughts that occur in the mind / to the Jiva. That is the point. Ignorance arises with the arising of the individual ‘I’. The knowledge that one is not a separate ‘I’ constitutes a significant step forward, but there is still an ‘I’ that has the thought / knowledge that it is non-separate.

    But is liberation the presence of the knowledge that there is no ‘I’ or the absence of any sense of ‘I’?

    Sri Ramana, Vivekachudamani when they talk about annihilation of mind / ego imply more than just a knowledge that there is no separate ego. Vivekachudamani talks about even a trace of ego (like that of poison) needing to be eradicated.

    Perhaps this is best understood through Mandukya Karika 2.16:
    First of all is imagined the Jiva [mind?] and then are imagined the various entities, objective and subjective.

    Hence with the death of ego / mind / Jiva, then indeed there is only ajata vada, advaita.

    Best wishes


    PS This is what Sri Ramana had to say about this topic.

    In Upadesa Undiyar he wrote:
    17: When one scrutinises the form of the mind without forgetfulness (slackness of attention), it will be found that there is no such thing as mind; this is the direct path of all.
    18: The mind is only (the multitude of) thoughts. Of all these thoughts, the thought ‘I’ (the feeling “I am the body”) alone is the root. Therefore what is called mind is (this root-thought) ‘I’.
    19: When one scrutinises within this: “What is the rising place of ‘I’?, the ‘I’ will die. This is Self-enquiry or Self-attention.

    And in Ulladu Narpadu he wrote:
    30: Therefore when the mind reaches the Heart by inwardly scrutinising “who am I?” in the above manner and when he who is the ‘I’ (the ego or mind) dies, the one (existence-consciousness) appears spontaneously as ‘I-I’ arises.

  3. Dennis

    Here are some further verses of Vasistha which I think corroborate Sri Ramana, and the line of argument above:

    755: When your mind, devoid of its inward working (or thought constructs), has gone to the state of absence of thoughts, then you will obtain that extended (or full) Existence consisting of liberation within you.

    1164: The perceptions of knowledge and ignorance do not exist. Be one whose feet are firmly rooted in the residual Reality. There is neither ignorance nor knowledge. Enough of this fancy.

    1168: Rama! These two vanish and what ought to be attained is left remaining. Due to the destruction of ignorance, even the state of knowledge is destroyed.

  4. If we are talking about an individual, enlightened or not, we are talking about reflection of Consciousness in a mind. That mind may either be ignorant or have Self-knowledge. It is still a mind. Consciousness can only express in this way. Read my articles on chidAbhAsa to appreciate this. and

    Whilst the j~nAnI still has a body, he still has a mind. You or Ramana or Yoga Vashishta will never convince me otherwise. Not sure what you are getting at by quoting kArikA 2.16. There never has been any creation from an absolute perspective. As Gaudapada states in K2.32: “There is no birth or death (creation or dissolution); no one is bound, striving to become free, or already liberated. This is the ultimate truth.” If your comments are grounded in ajAti vAda, you cannot say anything at all about mind!

  5. Dennis,

    Chidabhasa is another theory to explain the world, but how do you know that it is true?

    Eka jiva vada is seen by many – including Sri Abhinava Vidyatheertha , a Sankaracharya of Sringeri, by Ramana, and by many of the active participants of the yahoo advaita group as a model for the most advanced seekers. This as you know, basically says that there is only one jiva that is witnessing the world.

    A bit of reflection will tell you, that you do not and cannot know for certain, that there are other ‘existing’ jivas out there, who would continue to exist in your absence. That is a position that is irrefutable.

    Hence the “who am I” enquiry starts and ends with the only thing of which you can be certain – ‘your’ existence / consciousness. Is it not intriguing that Vasistha, Ramana, Atmananda, Nisargadatta and JK all advised to enquire into yourself, and all argued that liberation would arise as desires and thoughts subsided as a result of this enquiry?

    The danger of advaita is that it is such a comprehensive set of concepts, it can easily result in a sense of confidence that one has the knowledge of how and why the world works, and that I am Brahman. One can readily post detailed answers to queries, with confidence in references.

    But remember, vedanta also means the end of knowledge.



  6. How can liberation ‘arise’? There is only brahman; I am brahman. I must be already free! The only question is ‘do I know this to be so?’. If I do, I am enlightened; if not, I am still seeking this knowledge. And this Self-knowledge has to occur in the mind. Where else could it occur? Stop looking for answers from Ramana, Nisargadatta, Yoga Vasishtha. Ask yourself – what is in accord with reason? As Gaudapada puts it: “That which is settled by the shruti and supported by reasoning is true, and not anything else.”

    Best wishes,

    • Dennis,

      Try not to take this the wrong way. It seems to me that you have put together an intellectual construct of a world view and not by your direct experience of this. You have seemingly fallen into the trap of holding on to a conceptual understanding of what self knowledge might be, what Brahman might be, and the ‘correct’ approach or understanding of it. It is incredibly dogmatic, dry, and defensive, if I may say. ‘Stop looking for answers from all these sages, you mention’? Yet in your next sentence, you find an answer in another sage for yourself. None of these sources will survive your own death nor have anything to do with our true nature. All life-savers that we cling to need to be abandoned. That’s just the way it is. I didn’t make the rules and no one else did either.

      • ‘Dogmatic, dry and defensive’ seems to be a belligerent way of admitting that you are unable to counter the arguments using reason! 🙂

        You are still talking about ‘experience’. Experience cannot tell you who you are. You are obviously ‘experiencing’ who you really are all of the time and yet the vast majority of people are not enlightened. How do you explain that?

        The only way to realize the truth is for someone to tell you and for you to then use reason to validate it. Hence the statement, though made by a sage, is not saying anything that you could not work out for yourself.

  7. Dennis

    The mind, the jiva, the ego is itself the illusion. The illusory thought of a separate ‘I’ occurs on the screen of consciousness / Brahman that we are. And with that illusory thought ‘I’, is projected all the other thoughts, as per MK2.16 that I quoted earlier.

    So, reason tells you that if all thoughts subside then there is only the ever-free screen of consciousness. Whereas if the thought that I am Brahman occurs, then that is just another thought attaching to the I-thought, overlaying the screen of consciousness. This is entirely consistent with MK3.32 per Sw Chinmayananda:

    “When the mind does not bring forth any more of these imaginations because of the knowledge of Truth which is Atman (Pure Consciousness), then it ceases to be mind, and that (mind) becomes free from the idea of cognition for want of objects-of-cognition”

    And his comment thereon:
    “An empty mind is a ‘non-mind’; thus in that plane of Consciousness, when awareness is perceiving nothing other than awareness, mind cannot exist”

    If you accept that what we are is Brahman = Consciousness, then reasoning through Occam’s Razor gets you to eka jiva vada / drsti-shrsti vada. The world is a creation of my mind, which itself is a creation of consciousness (as per MK2.16). The world ceases when my mind ceases. Why all these elaborate models about the universal mind which projects the world and the individual jiva-minds / reflected consciousnesses running around therein?

    Furthermore, have you not reasoned that if ajata vada is the ultimate truth, then the closest expression of that truth can be that everything, including the mind, is an illusion. And therefore a ‘thought’ of being the ever free Brahman arising in the mind is meaningless; only that the illusion must cease. Hence why Gaudapada can say there is no one bound, no one seeking to be free – because there is NO ONE, NO MIND.
    I don’t think Gaudapada meant ajata vada to be a theory of reality; it must have been for him an experiential reality.


  8. You are still confusing paramArtha and vyavahAra. There is the reality of the sand and the undeniable experience of the mirage. Shankara acknowledges that all of the ‘theories’ – even ajAti vAda, even advaita, even brahman – have to go in the end. All are mithyA. But what is left is not the emptiness of shunya vAda but the fulness of the un-nameable reality. It is nonsense to assert that Gaudapada’s ‘experience’ was ajAti vAda. He was the teacher of Shankara’s teacher; he authored the Mandukya kArikA-s. He lived in a dualistic, empirical world. He exercised the most exquisite reasoning – using his MIND, knowing all the time that this was just chitta spandita, movement of Consciousness.

  9. As Dennis says, saying ‘There is no one, no mind’ (Venkat) is paramartha, and when Gaudapada wrote what he wrote he was using his mind, and language to boot – how else could he write or say anything? Why having allergy to concepts, to ‘conceptual thinking’, if it is ineluctable and, at the same time, they are pointers to truth? Granted, ‘truth’ (the word itself being just a symbol) is not conceptual. The only Truth or reality is ‘Atman-Brahman’ (paramartha), symbolized by these two linked up words. When using this expression in communication, we are in vyavahara.

    One way out of the possible confusion regarding ‘mind’ is to consider it not as a container or something real in and by itself, but as a function, as Sri Atmananda does (Notes, # 133). Mind, then, is the thought itself, or the feeling itself: “when there is no thought, or no feeling, then there is no mind”. With this understanding one can make sense of the quotations given above by Venkat.

    When are there no thoughts and no feelings? In deep sleep, under general anesthesia, and in the short intervals between thoughts (also in deep meditation or nirvikalka samadhi). Need we, though, can we, annihilate the mind the rest of the time – in wakefulness and dreaming)?

    But there should be no problem, because whenever the ‘I’ thought or ‘ego’ arises, one need not attach to, identify with, or dwell in, it – which seems not to be quite clear in the minds of some of the discussants here — The thoughts are in Me but I am not ‘My’ thoughts.

  10. Thank you Martin for your response – and the willingness to explore and investigate.

    Dennis – I don’t believe that I am confusing paramartha and vyavahara. Rather it is your means to avoid a discussion through reason. I note that you have not responded to a single point I made – you simply said I was confused.

    I was under the impression that this was a forum to not only help newcomers, but also to challenge and test our understanding of what is true. Rather than fall into the complaceny of dogmatic assertions.

    So let’s review some of the basics. I am aware of my existence, my thoughts / feelings, my body and the world outside. I try to make sense of all this and the misery and happiness that comes to me and those other body-minds that i am aware of. And I try to understand what it is all about; what it is that is true. I don’t really give a damn about relative or absolute truth. I just want to know what is true.

    Now without any scriptures, FROM MY DAILY EXPERIENCE, I can see that everything might be a projection of my consciousness, and I can see that fundamentally ‘I’ am not separate from, and am interdependent with, everything else in the world (and science further verifies that).

    Advaita vedanta provides a series of conceptual models (which are not rocket science, however much terminology you wish to garb it in) as well as a ethical guidelines (at your relative level) that try to explain that EXPERIENCE. So we gain the knowledge that we are not separate, and are consciousness.

    Some proponents of advaita (Ramana, Nisargadatta, Vasistha, Ashtavakra, JK etc) go further and say that it is possible to go beyond this simple knowledge of non-separation, and for that sense of separate ‘I’ to be wholly (or at least significantly) eradicated, which will in turn radically alters how one experiences the world. Rather than exercise any intellectual curiosity about this, you fall back into comfortable belief structures, that Shankara said this, and Gaudapada said that.

    Of course we cannot investigate everything that someone brings up. But it is easy to reason that the “i” is just a matter of conditioning, and that there is no god-ordained need that that ego-sense is required to function in the world. And science has shown that thoughts occur to consciousness AFTER the decision to act has been made; hence it is redundant. So perhaps, just perhaps, Ramana et al had managed to have an insight on living that was replicable (albeit not easily). Perhaps worth investigating?

    Furthermore, Gaudapada comes along and says the ultimate truth is that there is no creation and no destruction (the rest, that there is no one bound and no one liberated, follows logically from there is no separation). But he has already said that the world is an illusion; so it this what he means by no creation – but then surely the illusory world is ‘created’ by its perception? So what does he mean – how does he come to this insight? Could eka jiva vada be an explanation of this? Or is it just a matter of scriptural doctrine, a comfort blanket, for you to believe?

  11. Venkat,

    Can we please omit the personal remarks – ‘complacency of dogmatic assertions’, ‘comfort blanket’ – this is not how we discuss things here and is not acceptable.

    I am quite deliberately not saying ‘this is how it is – I say so (from my own knowledge or experience)’. Instead I am endeavoring to substantiate any statements by references to such as Gaudapada and Shankara. I fail to see how this is ‘falling back into comfortable belief structures’, since these are far more authoritative than modern teachers, however respected.

    We have already had the discussions on eka jIva vAda two or three months ago. It may well be that we did not reach any conclusion (hardly surprising since a number of significant Advaitins post Shankara failed to do so). I really have neither time nor inclination to revisit it – sorry! I freely admit that it is a plausible theory but it it clearly does not correspond with our experience. And, since no theory can be ultimately true, why bother?

  12. You can say I’m confused, but I can’t say you are complacent. Good to get the ground rules clear. Thanks.

    • Saying that “You are still confusing paramArtha and vyavahAra” is a comment upon what you wrote. saying that I am complacent is an ad hominem statement. I hope that you can appreciate the difference.

      Sarcasm is also an unacceptable idiom in these blogs.

  13. Martin

    You might want to have a look at Atmananda’s note 312:
    “Jnyanan takes you step by step, by the use of discrimination or higher reason; attenuating the ego little by little each time, until the ego is dead at last. By this process, you transcend mind and duality, and reach the ultimate Reality.”


  14. Venkat,

    It must be clear to you now, that discussion about what others said is only a kind of entertainment that will either lead to discord or ‘high-fives’. Neither serves a useful purpose when it comes to our own direct experience of our true nature. None of this kind of debating enlightens anyone. It can’t. We can’t hold on to anyone else’s words or experience and not even our own. If you want to remain a scholar, an academic, with a memorized view of how the universe works that you have gleaned from books, you can follow that path. I don’t think anyone of these people, you or anyone else quotes, came to their own realization by following what they said. Maybe, just maybe Nisargadatta might have, but he certainly threw everything away in the end. All this is figurative, of course. Reminds me of the stories of Jesus railing against the priests, knowing they knew not what they spoke of. Reminds me of UG blasting anyone who came near him with these theories. Ultimately, it is all pointing to an admission that we know nothing. How many here are going to admit to that? lol.

  15. Dear Venkat,

    If manonAsha is literally true, as you seem to be saying, then please explain why there are videos of Sri Ramana sitting and reading the daily newspapers. How did he do this without thought, without a mind? And why? Further, if he no longer had an operational mind after moksha, then how did he appear in court and give testimony in a local property dispute as he once did? Surely the mentation process must have remained intact, or he would not have been able to engage or converse with others?

    Best Regards,

  16. Charles, I have no idea. I am under no illusions that I am a jnani. I do know that the widely recognised masters – Vasistha, Ashtavakra, Ramana, Nisargadatta, Atmananda, JK UGK, Jean Klein, Francis Lucille, the tradition of Zen and the tradition of Dzogchen, have all expressed the idea that freedom is related to the death of the ego / mind and of no-mind / absence of thoughts. I also know that science has now demonstrated that the conscious realisation of the thought of acting arises AFTER the actual initiation of action, implying that the thought and any decision-making process is redundant.

    The force, frequency and commonality with which these sages have expressed this suggests to me that this is more than just metaphorical. I don’t know – but I have an open mind and am willing to enquire. It is apparent however that I have raised that enquiry in the wrong forum.

    Best regards


    • Dear Venkat,

      If you are referring to the Libet experiments on the readiness potential, please note that not all researchers in the field of consciousness studies accept those results. Read the criticisms, for example, of Dr. Raymond Tallis. The importance of Libet’s results have been exaggerated into an argument against volition or free will, which as we all know is a treacherous subject for discussion in any context. In truth, his results speak to a much narrower interpretation than is commonly assumed. It is an enormous leap to dismiss thought as being merely useless or redundant. This is the “epiphenomenal” theory of consciousness, which asserts that consciousness is no more relevant to what actually happens in our brains than the whistle of a tea kettle is to the boiling of water. There are many other theories which refute epiphenomenalism, and it is but one theory among many. Confer, for instance, recent research into electromagnetic theories of consciousness, such as that of McFadden or Pockett.

      To me this is a fascinating topic for discussion, but one that is not possible to fully resolve, simply because all arguments about non-thought or no-mind must take place within the context of thought, just as all discussions of the deep sleep state must take place from the waking state stance. I’ve just been reading some passages in Talks with Ramana Maharshi that lead me to think his statements on this were very much more subtle than is apparent on first reading. But of course, I’m reading the English translation, which may or may not faithfully reflect his meaning.

      Anyway, I don’t think you have raised this inquiry in the wrong forum. I think you are just trying too hard to get Dennis to agree with you. 🙂

      Best Regards,

    • Venkat,

      In the jnani, it seems mind is no longer related to an ‘entity’, a ‘me’, a ‘person’. Thought continues if the body survives, but thought functions only as a simple means to an end, ie., to solve a mechanical problem. When it is not needed, it is not busy interfering with the senses. It is part of the life of the senses, the body. Without it, the body dies.

      This is not an imaginable state to someone who is not a jnani, hence the difficulty in explaining what life is like ‘after’ realizing one’s ‘true nature’. Indeed, one’s true nature has nothing to do with mind, Mind, self, Self, etc, Etc. This is why it is important not to believe in conceptual thinking. No matter how you think of true nature, realization, enlightenment, you can never capture what that is. Realizing the impossibility of mind to understand this is a big, first step. This attempt at understanding is the movement of ego, and desire is at its core. Only a deep inspection of yourself reveals this. Knowing thyself is to forget the self. What a powerful statement!

  17. Dear Martin

    As you seem to like Atmananda, I came across this from his Atma Darshan:

    “If Reality is conceived of as beyond all thoughts, and contemplation directed accordingly, words may help to lead one to a stage where all thoughts cease and Reality is experienced”

    “Doubts may arise whether it is possible to contemplate anything beyond all thoughts. It is possible. The difficulty is only apparent.”

    “This contemplative thought itself will automatically come to a standstill in the end, and in that stillness will be seen shining one’s true nature”

    Even VS Iyer, who was one of the greatest proponents of vedantic knowledge (as opposed to mysticism) said:

    “In advanced Vedanta, we use neti, neti, which is the negating of every thought or idea that can possibly arise. “Neti” means “don’t think”. It is not a new thought to be added. All thoughts are useless in truth. Find something uncontradictable in Absolute silence where ideas there are none.”

    “Discussion and learning about truth are not useless although they cannot yield finality, because they are riddled with duality, drsyam, ie contradiction. The best explanation is silence. To understand an idea means having a duality, ie a knower and a known, drik and drsyam. To rise to a higher level, Brahman, there is no question of understanding for there is no duality there. So long as we speak or write we can never leave duality; hence the only genuine expression of Truth is perfect silence.”

    And for what it is worth here is Jean Klein:

    “When you emphasize intellectual understanding you can never understand. You must go further. When the intellect has really understood it knows it has no more role to play and spontaneously eliminates itself. Then you live in open light.”

    Salaam Alaikum Martin.


  18. Charles,

    The Question on manonasha and the functioning of the body in post-realization phase of its remaining life seems to be a perennially interesting topic! It was raised at this site too in the past a few times.

    The main reason for us to come back again and again to the same question, perhaps, is that our minds are unable to wrap around the answer which relates to that sort of a situation which is non-conceptual.

    Venkat has to be appreciated, IMO, in standing humble and yet firm in beaming the message of stalwart Sages without equivocation.

    In the voluminous 32,000-verse-strong treasure house on Advaita philosophy, viz. the highly regarded Yogavasishta, the same question is asked by Rama at least half-a-dozen times or so. Sage Vasishta replies to it each time formulating his response in a unique way depending on the advancement of Rama in understanding the Advaitic Knowledge.

    Without going into all those involved philosophical nuances, I may be allowed to point out four issues here:

    1. The English word ‘mind’ encompasses within it four functional aspects, each of which is treated to be an independent unit in the Vedantic system. The four aspects, as you may be knowing, are thoughts-counter thoughts; memory, intellect and ego. So when ‘manonasha’ is referred to, one should be able to discern which part of the omnibus word ‘mind’ is subjected to nAsha and which parts survive.

    2. The word ‘nAsha’ in Sanskrit is popularly translated into English as destruction, annihilation etc. But these words convey very poorly what nAsha really connotes.

    Imagine an ocean in the fiercest of storms, high winds blowing, huge waves lashing, whirlpools swirling, vortices spinning and immense turbulence all round. Stay with it for sometime. Now imagine the calm ocean with its dancing waves and gentle breeze shimmering in pleasanrt sunlight. While the former scenario is comparable to the state when the mind rules the roost, the latter gives you an idea of the quietude after ‘manonAsha.’

    Note neither the ocean, nor the waves nor the wind were annihilated after nAsha. They are all there — but now gentle and spreading warmth and love (in a figurative sense). Pardon me if I sound poetic, but that should give you a rough idea of what manonAsha would imply.

    3. We often forget that the body has its own natural strength and intelligence to ‘live’ without a “me” being in charge. So we imagine (so did Rama too in Yogavasishta) that the body will collapse like a limp balloon from which the air is sucked out, if ‘me’ (which is nothing but a bunch of thoughts = mind) is not there. But that is NOT the case. Without a ‘me’ there, interfering and creating conflict, the body lives happily and naturally as a part of the Infinite. It is the fictitious ‘me’ that claims ‘ownership’ to the body and ‘doership’ to what the body does and feels that the body cannot work in its absence though it is ‘me’ only that always is miserable in the process. The body does not lose anything if its fictitious ‘owner’ dies!

    4. Subject to correction by more knowledgeable Vedantins, as far as I can decipher, ‘manonAsha’ is a word we do not come across in the Upanishads. Shankara used it rarely – he used ‘amanaska’ when he discussed yoga methods. But we see this word appearing in Yogavasishta very much and in the literature of Swami Vidyaranya. Ramana adopted it from laghu Yogavasishta, if I am right. Has he studied the full Yogavasishta – I don’t know.


    • The word manonAsha only occurs in muktikopaniShad (4 times), where I believe it has the sort of meaning implied by you and Venkat (though I haven’t studied it and, of course, it could be figurative). Gaudapada actually uses the word amanIbhAva, which Monier-Williams translates as ‘the state of not having perception or intellect’. This only occurs in the Maitri Upanishad (6.34) and the relevant passage (I think) is: “Having made the mind perfectly motionless, free from sleep and agitation – when he passes into that state where the mind itself vanishes, then is that the highest place.” One should always be careful about taking quotations out of context – this is an extremely long verse – but, again, it would seem to support your interpretation. But it also sounds like nirvikalpa samAdhi…

      Best wishes,

      • Thank you for the additional Info., Dennis.

        That helped me to take a look at the Maitri and Muktika Up.
        [Of course, as you might have guessed, my observation re: occurrence of ‘manonAsha’ was confined to the major Upanishads, though I failed to make that point explicit in my note.]

        Muktika is a short text and I could quickly read it. In addition to the word ‘manonAsha’, Muktika also used ‘chittanAsa’ at a couple of places. All in all, as you said, the sense in which it is used is the same as we are discussing here. Further, it seems to me that this Upanishad follows pretty much the same explanations as given by Sage Vasishta. For example, one mantra refers to the mind with form and without form after attenuation to distinguish jIvanmukti and videha mukti as was done in Yogavasishta (See my article at:
        The quote you have given from 6-34 in Maitri Up. is not matching with the version I have looked into. Comparatively this is a large Upanishad and so, I will have to check more carefully again.


    • Shri Ramesam
      ” Now imagine the calm ocean with its dancing waves and gentle breeze shimmering in pleasanrt sunlight. While the former scenario is comparable to the state when the mind rules the roost, the latter gives you an idea of the quietude after ‘manonAsha.”

      What you described is a very soft Mano-Nasha. The extreme is when UG claims that a conversation between him and a seeker is “seeker’s imagination” and he is not saying a thing!
      “it is dog’s bark or Cat’s opera; i dont know why you are glorifying what i am saying is brahmajnana. Even i do not know what i am saying; infact i have no clue who is saying that?”

      • Dear Vijay,

        I am not sure how you mean it.
        I am unable to see ‘grades’ in ‘manonAsha.’

        UG’s shout and shooing away, the apparent indignation of UG, a desire to know on the part of the questioner are all, as a matter of fact, NOT out there somewhere outside, external to the listener! The sights, sounds and the sensations of one’s own body etc. are all happenings in the mind of the listener, his mind projecting them ‘as though’ they are outside. It is his own mind providing a dualistic entertainment to him (the questioner). In other words, his mind is at the helm and in control. And as long as it is splitting itself as the ‘listener’ and the scene, it is in control.

        So all that is within the “turbulence” in the metaphor. Even after UG’s shouting has ended, that ‘absence of sound,’ the misery/anger/disappointment of the listener are all still a part of turbulence only!

        The real “calm down” in the mind is when all ‘craving’ for an answer has evaporated from the listener’s mind. It is rid of all seeking because there is no ‘lack’ within it. That is ‘manonAsha.’ So I do not see varieties in manonAsha, if you know what I mean.


        • Ramesam
          I was talking from UG’s mind point of view. Your metaphor of calm ocean, dancing waves & gentle breeze – in case of UG’s mind i get a feeling that there is no ocean, waves or beeze; there is nothing.

  19. Dear Ramesam,

    Thanks for your detailed comment. I had the impression that this no-mind theory in the context of moksha was rather more “digital,” as though the mind supposedly just switches from “on” to “off” at the point of enlightenment. I am glad to see you are proposing a more subtle interpretation, and your metaphor of the turbulent vs. calm ocean is a good one in that regard. I was going to suggest that it makes more sense to speak in terms of attenuation rather than total cessation of mental activity. But this also amounts to saying that Sri Ramana became greatly becalmed following his realization, and is not the same as saying his mind no longer existed or functioned!

    Let me try another tack that involves the direct application of logic. Are we saying that this “absence of ego” or “no mind” state of being is a necessary condition of enlightenment, a sufficient condition, or both? If I want to win the lottery, I must purchase a ticket, which is the necessary condition. But buying the ticket does not ensure I will win, so it is not a sufficient condition by itself. If my numbers come up at a time when I hold a ticket, both necessary and sufficient conditions are satisfied. Absence of thought, or even greatly attenuated thought, cannot possibly be a sufficient condition of enlightenment, else those in coma would be enlightened, which is absurd. We could argue that it is a necessary condition, if not sufficient, but then any trance state involving absence of thought, or even the gap between thoughts, would become tantamount to realization, which is also an absurd conclusion. If we are talking about something that is neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition for moksha, then we are talking about nothing at all. An infinity has crept into our equations somewhere, which is to be expected when we try to capture the Absolute using names and forms. Or as you put it, “our minds are unable to wrap around the answer which relates to that sort of a situation which is non-conceptual.”

    Best Regards,


    • Dear Charles,

      Thank you for the observations.

      Sorry, I couldn’t come back sooner.

      I shall try to spell out my understanding on the interesting question you raised about ‘absence of ego’ and ‘liberation.’
      IMHO, absence of ego is liberation! Period.

      It is not that the ‘absence of ego’ is a means to get something ‘attractive and covetable’ called moksha. After all, you see, when the ego is lost the fictitious ‘me’ is not there anymore, who then is to covet or what? When a water droplet loses in a huge ocean its defining boundary membrane which gives an ID to itself, it automatically stands as one with the ocean. It has then nothing to do ‘as a separate entity’ to be as the infinite ocean. It is itself identical with the ocean.

      Let us be first clear about a couple of things. Liberation is not any big fancy imaginary condition that exists in a remote inaccessible high pedestal. It is simply the most ordinary natural state.

      Let me put it this way:
      What does moksha or liberation imply? Liberation or Freedom from what? — From suffering.
      Who is the sufferer? — The ego which gives me a separate ID.
      What is suffering? — Anything happening that is not wanted and something that is desired not happening.

      If the ‘ego’ is removed, who is there to suffer? Does anyone exist even to be judgmental about things as ‘desirable’ or to be ‘avoided’? Is there then an entity that classifies and fragments “Whatever-that -IS” into ‘good-bad’ ‘acceptable-rejectable’ etc.etc. anymore?


      • Ramesam,

        I write this rather reluctantly because what I will write is not a provable point and can easily be turned into a conceptual fantasy by anyone inclined towards this.

        What I wrote to Charles about ego-death not being the end of the ‘fictitious me’ (your words), was gleaned from the writings of the Christian contemplative, Bernadette Roberts in her book ‘What Is Self’. It was also echoed in past readings of Ramana, and from conversations with UG. Bernadette calls her own experience of loss of ego an irreversible event where ego is turned to the divine, and not habitually turned in upon itself. She calls this Unity Consciousness where the self experiences ‘Oneness’ and ‘Unity’. She is adamant about there still being a ‘self’ that is experiencing all this. In a way, it is the saint’s everyday communion with god. She goes on to write about this life in Unity and what transpires in her own life to bring this Unity Consciousness to its ultimate conclusion, the event of no-self. Please don’t get lost in the terminology. It also wasn’t easy for me to follow along with her book.

        If memory serves me, I remember reading about Ramana and his two death experiences. The first, I believe, was his ‘loss’ of ego.

        UG would never speak in these terms. His insistence that the search had to come to an end before anything ‘might’ happen. The search is also a metaphor for personal desire. Bernadette states that desire is at the core of the ego. In UG’s life, something had already taken place before his so called ‘catastrophe’. According to some, he was already changed in some fashion. He wasn’t ‘in charge’ so to speak.

        All three of them state there is nothing to be done about Moksha. It happened to all of them without any doing on their part.

        So, when you say if the ego is removed, who is there to suffer?, you are really talking about some theoretical point of view that has been constructed only by your intellect. I encourage you to read Bernadette’s description of what self is, not that it is going to make any visible difference, but because you seem interested in this kind of thing. Sorry for the ramble.

        • Dear Anon,

          Thanks for the interesting notes and comments.

          I am aware you did not intend a debate and I know also that much of what you wrote is not amenable to argument. So I would like to share some thoughts as they occur to me:

          I thought of writing earlier but forgot about ‘death.’
          Maybe Charles raised that point.

          In Advaita, ‘death’ is not real!
          All forms being mere appearances, when a form is not anymore seen, death is referred to as the ‘disappearance’ of a form. Likewise, birth is when a form that has not been there thus far makes an appearance.

          2. I read UG’s Bangalore dialog – the only one he ever delivered about his “Calamity.” I had some correspondence with Prof. MVN Moorthy also. But I do not recall any conversations of two deaths. In fact, he mentioned about dying and living every moment and what we call ‘death’ is when the body loses its capacity to renew itself anymore.

          3. I have never read much of Ramana. I always felt that there is a lot written by others on what he is supposed to have said than what he himself wrote or said.

          4. I looked for the book by Bernardette at the local Library. It is not there. I shall take a look at her web site. Though it may be presumptuous on my part, from the little description you gave, I felt that her Christian monotheistic background is reflecting in her philosophical formulation. We have a Teacher whose upbringing was in Qualified Non-dualism (Ramanuja theory) and though he knows, talks and practices Advaita, he much more easily falls back on the Vibhuti-s (manifestations) of the Lord and devotional invocations to Him. It is so even after his own Guru told him that he should not forget the understanding of “aham brahmasmi (I am brahman – there is no Lord separate from me).”

          5. As the Great Advaita ajAti vAda (nothing is ever born) exponent, Revered Gaudapada said, if a thought that I am born (hence I experience) occurs even for a fraction of moment, that means the abidance in brahman is lost (in that moment, I guess we should add). To come to think of it, out of the 86400 seconds in a day, how many times does any one consciously, wantonly and purposefully place his egoistic “I” up in front in his/her actions? If the body feels thirsty and the feet walk to a fountain for a sip and the lips automatically swoosh some water, is ‘ego’ involved in this? Even as Gita said, there are plenty of actions that take place and are necessary as a part of life (of the body). These do not count as actions to be concerned about for after-effects (i.e. they do not involve an ego).

          So the thumb rule advised is to perform all actions without invoking ‘ego’ (that means let all happenings be) and that itself is ‘ inaction in action and therefore, liberation.’


          • Ramesam,

            I can provide you with a pdf file of her book if you pass me your email.

            From what I can glean, she has had a falling out with the ‘church’. Hers is not an ‘official’ view of the Christian way, but I do not think that anyone could write such a book who has not had a profound ‘awakening’ or ‘death’ as she describes.

            UG never talked about 2 deaths. He wouldn’t have because for him, the only thing he could do was describe how he functioned, not a path towards this state which the death of ego would fall under.

            In any case, don’t worry yourself too much about this sort of thing. There is no way to prove or disprove any of it and any attempt does not lead to our true nature, only to true debate. It would make a funny reality show to focus on scholars, priests, and gurus fighting it out for the best explanations!

      • Dear Ramesam,

        Thanks for your comment. You always manage to say something useful or thought-provoking! However, I cannot agree with your statement that “absence of ego is liberation.” If that is the case, then in order to be fully consistent, you would have to say that a person in a state of coma would be a jnani, and that deep sleep is equivalent to moksha. That said, I do fully agree that, “Liberation is not any big fancy imaginary condition that exists in a remote inaccessible high pedestal.” If reality is nondual, we are already liberated but are simply ignorant of this fact.

        In my view, this relentless searching for some high “state” in which jnanis supposedly dwell is a reflection of the original problem we all face — deep ontological insecurity! Our primary sensory datum is that we are separate individuals, small and incomplete beings, and through various means we try to overcome the agonizing insecurity generated by this perception. This primary datum is wrong, however, which is precisely what the Rsis have taught us via the shruti. We are not small and incomplete. We are already whole and complete, and therefore any suffering is merely an illusion born of ignorance. But this has nothing to do with ego, non-ego, thought or absence of thought, mind or no-mind. These are all merely more thoughts arising in Consciousness, which of course is not affected in any way by such appearances.

        Best Regards,

        • Dear Charles,

          Thank you for your observations.

          There are multiple issues raised in your post each of which needs to be viewed and answered from multiple angles!

          Not that I am an Oracle, nor that I have all the answers, but let me try if I can bat.

          Let us start with the easy parts. For convenience I shall juxtapose my comments with yours.

          C: “If reality is nondual, we are already liberated ……………………”

          What is exactly understood by “we”? Does it refer to a ramesam and a Charles, the tree in the yard, the girl next door, the dog on the street …….?
          Absolutely not. These are all individual life forms — that the One Infiniteness Consciousness aka brahman chooses in Its freedom to manifest as. The forms have NO redemption. They will go through whatever they have to go through. That does not and CANNOT be changed. The ‘Freedom’ is, thus, at the level of the “substance,” the One thing that makes up all these forms, that the qualities of Infiniteness, Beingness, Knowingness, Freedom, Immortality etc. exist. It is NOT at the level of individual life-form.

          So the “we” which is already free is NOT the separate life-form. What is “already liberated” is that One substance.

          C: “…………………….. but are simply ignorant of this fact.”

          Who is ignorant and what exactly is this ignorance ?
          The answer to “Who” is very easy. It is the individual life-form. It thinks it has its own ‘knowing’ (sentient) separate-self which is distinct and different from all the rest (the rest being not only other creatures but whatever is considered ‘not-me’) and therefore feels it has to protect and save itself against disease, decay and death.

          Ignorance stands for, as Peter Dziuban explains so well, that basic “substance” ignoring momentarily its Infiniteness and identifies Itself with a limited life-form, assuming to itself all those limitations.

          C: “We are not small and incomplete. We are already whole and complete, and therefore any suffering is merely an illusion born of ignorance.”

          The moment a label is assigned calling a part in the “Entirety-that-IS-happening” as ‘suffering’, what is labeled as suffering is not anymore ‘illusory’ for that limited entity. The limited entity and the suffering belong to the same order of reality. Because both the entity and suffering are born of Consciousness “ignoring” Its True nature.

          Now the difficult parts:
          C: “…… a person in a state of coma would be a jnani, and that deep sleep is equivalent to moksha.”

          I would rather like to postpone a detailed comment re: a patient in coma. But please remember at the outset that all Advita philosophical teaching is for a ‘whole and healthy’ body-mind. If a pathological condition pre-exists, that should be attended to first before venturing into Advaita. Having said that, I may say that “a jnAni could be like a person in coma,” though the reveres is not true!

          Yes, Deep sleep is equivalent to liberation. Taittiriya and Brihadaranyaka Upanishads also say so. Gaudapada’s introduction of ‘turIya’ is more of a part of an ‘upAsna krama’ (exercise for practice). This topic is too controversial and volumes are written on this. Atmananda Krishna Menon and the Direct Path people go by the model that Deep sleep is itself freedom.

          The second and more important point is that the ‘waker’ in the awake state is the one who craves for ‘liberation.’ Has anyone ever come across a ‘Deep sleeper’ who asked for liberation?! That means, a body has to be active and acting. In moksha all things happen in total ‘freedom’ without let or hindrance, no ‘one’ being there ‘judging’ things, liking and disliking.


          • Dear Ramesam,

            Thank you for going to the trouble of writing out your observations in such detail. I think we can agree that it’s nearly impossible to make a point in one of these posts without another taking exception to how certain words are being used, etc. It’s like we are arguing (in the positive sense) about something we are actually in agreement on, but the debate continues anyway because we are suspicious or skeptical of what hidden meanings the other may be attaching to certain words or phrases.

            For example, you challenge my statement, “If reality is nondual, we are already liberated …” with a focus on the slippery meaning of the word “we.” Yet when I wrote that comment, I was quite aware that any personal pronoun used (I, we, they) might lead to possible confusion and provide room for argument. In Reality, of course there is no we, I, or they. Certainly, there is no redemption for the forms, because the forms are Brahman and do not require any redemption. There are no separate life forms in Reality, only apparently so. Anyway, I think we could probably discuss this from any angle you wish, but there will still be a paradox someplace in the discussion, because the best words can do is provide pointers to nonduality from within a framework of duality.

            My undestanding is that all opposites, all forms of polarity or complementarity reside squarely within the relative order and do not describe the Absolute. If you agree with that assertion, then I would point out that “absence of ego” and “presence of ego” are merely two ends of the same dipole. I may be reading you incorrectly, but it seems to me that you have “promoted” one end of this dipole and granted it the status of moksha.

            LOL, I’m not going to even think about wading into a discussion with the very erudite Sri Ramesam on the locus of Avidya! Volumes have been written on this without resolution. 🙂

            Ditto any discussion of deep sleep as equivalent to moksha. 🙂 Yes, I know this is the Direct Path teaching, but I respectfully disagree and won’t be bothered one bit if 1,000 Direct Path teachers claim otherwise! However, I have precisely zero motivation to convince anyone on this point, so we can simply agree to disagree.

            Best Regards,

            • Dear Charles,

              Thanks a lot for the great post. It is a pleasure conversing with one who could so delicately balance serious discussion with good humor!

              Deep sleeper and coma patient are incidental to the main point and, IMHO, it is immaterial whether we agree or disagree. We can let them rest where they are!!

              I can also see very clearly that we are on the same page as far as the basics are concerned.

              Prof. Niels Bohr once said that “the opposite of a profound truth,” not falsehood as one might lazily assume, “may well be another profound truth.”

              So one quick clarification from me re: dipoles. Yes, there are monopoles!

              Imagine a base level datum line. That is the resting position, the background. As the line moves and rises up, the rising is an anomaly – a sign of perturbation. In other words, the absence of the rise itself is the resting position. No bipolarity involved.

              Another example from Advaita: The absence of unhappiness (the anomaly above baseline) is itself Happiness. There is no-thing extra to be done for Happiness by swinging to another extreme! Just remove the anomaly above baseline and rest at baseline! LOL LOL


  20. Charles,

    Your points are well put. Some say ego-death is an ‘irreversible’ event, but is not the end of the story. That it is a ‘union with god’, with ‘true self’, but not the end of the story. There is still an experiencer, but the experience is ‘divine’. This also is happening to a sense of self, therefore, no winning ticket, but a contender.

    Then there are those who say that there is not even this union or experience of the divine any longer. All of it disappears in a blink of an eye. It reminds me of the Buddhist schools of sudden vs gradual enlightenment. But it sounds like you are familiar already with these conceptual explanations. Your last sentence captures my sentiment best.

    • Dear Anonymous,

      Thanks for your comment. I’ve read your posts with interest and wish I had more time to participate in these discussions. My focus is squarely on Vedanta via the traditional sources, but from prior study I’m loosely familiar with the Prajnaparamita literature of Buddhism, such as the Diamond Sutra, etc. Your “blink of an eye” reference reminds me of the Zen master who described his experience of Satori as “body-mind dropped!”. Yet there he was using his body-mind to explain his realization. 🙂

      I don’t believe in this “death of the ego” concept simply because I no longer believe that egos are Real to begin with. Like any other object arising in awareness, egos appear to exist because we perceive them, but existence and Reality are not equivalent.

      James Swartz makes the point that moksha is freedom FROM the person, not freedom FOR the person. But ultimately, if Reality is nondual, all these concepts must be negated, including the concepts “mind” or “no-mind,” personhood, and even the concept of enlightenment itself.

      Best Regards,

      • I don’t think reality is either dual or non-dual. These are more concepts to get lost in.

        Taking it further, there is no person to be free from. So there, James Swartz. lol


        • LOL, I appreciate the humor, and think these discussions could use a little more of it sometimes. 🙂

          “Non-dual” is just another word, and all words are relative (i.e., dualistic) by definition, which is why the Upanishads tell us that “words fall back from it.”

          Yes, no person to be free from is precisely the point!


  21. Even before we can talk about enlightenment, we need clarity on a more basic idea. There was a remark earlier in this thread by Anonymous.. ‘Ultimately, it is all pointing to an admission that we know nothing. How many here are going to admit to that?’. I have to say that I cannot admit to that .. because I do happen to know something. In fact every other person I know also knows something. How can one be a human being and not have the faculty of knowing ? How can one know ‘nothing’ ? That also would be knowing only ?

    Moreover, all of us who have knowledge of anything have indeed quite deliberately acquired that knowledge .. through some system of learning or the other. Even Anonymous above is speaking from a position of acquired knowledge only. We were not born with the knowledge of the english language, using a computer, writing up a blog on the web etc .. the very fact that this query was raised on this blog is evidence of that acquired knowledge. Even the nihilist who says ‘there is nothing to know’ is speaking from that knowledge state only. We acquire knowledge deliberately for a specific purpose .. a purpose that can surely differ from one individual to another. The problem comes only when I say to someone “I do not have any interest in subject matter xyz. I do not want to know xyz. Nor should you have an interest in xyz. You will never be able to know xyz. Anyone who says he knows xyz is deluded.”

    Now, it is a legitimate question to ask “Is xyz worth knowing ?”. Even for that a curiosity about xyz is required. How does one get a curiosity about xyz ? Do not know. It just happens, I suppose. But when xyz is my own self, seems to me, the curiosity for most people is inevitable !!


  22. KR,

    Of course, we all know something. We have information that we acquire through our experience. But, that knowledge is about experience, not about what is not known. We only speculate about what is not knowable.

    In context to what I said, our true nature is not knowable using this instrument of knowledge. No amount of acquiring or conceptualizing is going to change that. So, by all means, go ahead and try to know ‘the unknowable’. At some point, you may find that you are wasting your time, or that you think you’ve understood something, or, you move on to some other form of entertainment that you are interested in. In all cases, you are only involved with yourself, with your desires, what you think you need, want, in order to satisfy this supposed need. This is part of knowing yourself.

    The company policy of our true nature is, ‘Don’t call us, we’ll call you’. lol.

  23. Anonymous –

    This is exactly what I am trying to point out to you. If someone were to have said a 1000 years ago, “We are trying to make box, by merely looking into which you will be able to see and speak to another person on the other side of the world” .. our initial reaction would have been one of scepticism only. Or my cardiologist sitting in a different country, ‘knowing’ the ‘nature’ of my heart by merely looking at my faxed ECG chart and prescribing a medication. This is because we do not understand the workings and methodologies of science. A student of science, even before himself learning these techniques, is not at all surprised at these possibilities .. like us ordinary laymen. Yes, there is no doubt a difference between that and speaking with someone accross the table .. or going in person to the doctor’s office .. but the effective benefit is the same. It is in this way that Vedanta also has developed methodologies to ‘know’ the ‘unknowable’. Like science this also has to be learnt. I hope this explanation helps.

    There is no practical benefit in posing questions that cannot be answered .. like “What happens when an immovable object meets an irresistible force ?”. Vedanta, like science, answers difficult questions in the minds of ordinary human beings like you and me, here and now, on this earth.

    Surely, we can wait by the phone to ring .. and hope that happens soon .. for in the long term we are all dead 🙂


  24. Uff! How much of interest has been said (whether challenging, provoking, or illuminating) so far… I really should refrain from adding more grist… particularly after the elocuent and opportune clarifications by Ramesam and KR on the ‘death – or attenuation – of the mind’, and Charles’ contributions with the truism, ‘all arguments about non-thought or no-mind must take place within the context of thought’, and also ‘I don’t believe in this “death of the ego” concept simply because I no longer believe that egos are Real to begin with’.

    Venkat has underlined the significance and central position of experience, and the impossibility of the ‘ego’ to come to terms with its own annihilation (which is true… at the vyavaharika or empirical level… but, is that necessary?). I would certainly not wish to have even the penultimate word, only to reiterate what I wrote in one of my earlier comments above: “whenever the ‘I’ thought or ‘ego’ arises, one need not attach to, identify with, or dwell in, it…. The thoughts are in Me but I am not ‘My’ thoughts.” (This last utterance from paramartha).

    “Thus have I told you how to lay this ghost of ego-sense which vanishes on being rightfully understood. The ego-sense has thus been clearly understood by me. Hence, even though the ego-sense seems to arise in me [Vasishta], it is inoperative, like a painting of fire.” – Yoga Vasishtha

  25. “Mind is created if you accept the meaning of words. Your silence must be led to the extreme . . . Does the mind recognise you, or is it you who recognises the mind?”
    – Nisargadatta

    “If there are no thoughts there is no thinker. When you have thoughts, is there a thinker? Perceiving the impermanency of thoughts, thought itself creates the thinker who gives himself permanency; so thought creates the thinker; then the thinker establishes himself as a permanent entity apart from thoughts which are always in a state of flux. So, thought creates the thinker and not the other way about. The thinker does not create thought, for if there are no thoughts, there is no thinker. The thinker separates himself from his parent and tries to establish a relationship, a relationship between the so-called permanent, which is the thinker created by thought, and the impermanent or transient, which is thought. So, both are really transient.Pursue a thought completely to its very end. Think it out fully, feel it out and discover for yourself what happens. You will find that there is no thinker at all. For, when thought ceases, the thinker is not. We think there are two states, as the thinker and the thought. These two states are fictitious, unreal. There is only thought, and the bundle of thought creates the ‘me’, the thinker.”
    – Krishnamurti

  26. Agreed that the value of this kind of conversation is quite subjective .. and may not hold the same interest for all .. let me just say that experience and a conclusion derived from that experience are two different things .. ‘sight’ and ‘insight’ .. one does not have to be a swami to have had personal familiarity with these two entities and more importantly, have understood the difference between their value and benefit.


  27. In the spirit of मननं (mananam, logical reasoning) and निदिध्यासनं (nididhyAsanam, contemplation), as mentioned by Shri Ramesam in a previous thread (which is also my aim in these threads), I would like to re-visit a Mundaka Upanishad mantra, which can be useful in the context of our current discussion:

    नायमात्मा प्रवचनेन लभ्यः न मेधया न बहुना श्रुतेन ।
    यमेवैष वृणुते तेन लभ्यः तस्यैष आत्मा विवृणुते तनुं स्वाम् ॥

    nAyamAtmA pravacanena laByaH na medhayA na bahunA shrutena |
    yamevaiSha vruNute tena laByaH tasyaiSha AtmA vivruNute tanuM svAm ||

    This Atma is not attained by the words of the scriptures, or by intellectual understanding of the meaning of the scriptures, or by repeated listening of the scriptures –
    The Atma is attained by he whose only desire is to attain the Atma, to him this Atma itself reveals its highest nature in totality

    Obviously, the mantra’s meaning is profound .. but not mystical. The key word in the mantra is ‘only desire’, in the second line. This is set as a condition for attaining the Atma, From this it is clear that Atma does not just flash up in our mind suddenly as a random event. The process of ‘desiring’ requires some analysis .. for this, we look at our own worldly experiences .. from there we see that we do not desire all things .. even in the things we desire, there is a gradation in the intensity of desire. But most importantly, in all cases where we desire, we have some idea of the object of our desire and its perceived benefit to us. Once the desirability of an object is established, we then make the effort to attain that object.

    जानाति (jAnAti, knows) इच्छति (icCati, desires) यतते (yatate, makes effort)

    Mere desire is not sufficient. Effort is also required. The Gita has emphasised that this ‘desire’ and ‘effort’, must be ‘right’ – with all its connotations

    In this context, I would also like to share a story from the Mahabharata, which brings out the significance of the above.

    There was once a sage who was intensely desirous of Brahma-Vidya .. Self Knowledge. So, he sat in penance and prayer to the Creator Brahma. After a period of such penance, Brahma appeared before him and told him how his penance had pleased the gods and asked him what he wished for. The sage replied – ‘Self Knowledge’. Brahma said – ‘So be it. Go to a Guru who can teach you Self Knowledge and you will be successful’. The sage said – ‘No sire, I want you to give me Self Knowledge directly’. Brahma tried to explain to him why that was not possible but to no avail. So Brahma left.

    The sage continued with even more intense penance .. this time to Lord Shiva. Shiva also appeared and the conversation went along the same lines. Shiva tried to persuade the sage – ‘This is the only way for Self-knowledge. You have the blessings of all the gods. Study Self-Knowledge under a Guru. You will be successful’. No avail.

    The sage did not relent. He resolved to do extremely intense penance. Every day, early in the morning, the sage would go to the river Ganga, take his bath in the river, return to his ashram .. stand on one foot and without food or water, do the penance till sun down.

    One such day, as the sage was walking upto the river, he saw a man sitting on the banks of the river, throwing some sand into the river Ganga which was in flood. The sage became curious and asked him why he was doing such a thing. To which the man replied – ‘I want to cross the river. I am building a bridge’. The sage burst out laughing and said – ‘Is that the way to cross the river ? How foolish of you to think you can build a bridge in this manner ? Go find a boatman who can ferry you across’. Suddenly, the man disappeared and in his place Lord Shiva appeared. The sage suddenly realised his actions were not very different from the man who was throwing the sand in the water. He begged for the Lord’s pardon. Lord Shiva blessed the sage, wishing him well in his quest for Self-Knowledge and departed.


    • Dear Shri KR,

      Nice story that you cited.
      A similar story occurs in Zen teaching too, as many may have heard. One of the Zen Masters makes light of the intense meditational effort of a disciple by setting an example. He takes up the hard labour of polishing 24/7 a piece of rock. When the disciple asks him why he has been carrying out such a strenuous job, the Master replies that he wanted to change the rock into a mirror! The student gets the message that an effortful approach with a desire for a result will never reveal the ultimate Truth.

      But all these stories still, IMHO, miss the real thrust of the muNDaka mantra quoted by you. In a way, the key message is what Anonymous keeps on emphasizing. The very presence of a seeker, a ‘me’ is the biggest impediment!

      If one can express, in a way it is up to that Consciousness for the implosion to occur. Even the igniting desire to “seek” has not happened because of a ‘me’ wanting it. One analogy I like is that of a Fisherman on the boat. It is he who spreads the net (creation) and folds and pulls it back (implosion/dissolution); the net or the fish in the net have no role, however they may struggle.

      It is so because a separate ‘you’ does not exist anywhere. It is Consciousness (brahman) that has manifested as ‘you’ and It folds up the show by Itself. The muNDaka mantra is saying as much by : आत्मा विवृणुते तनुं स्वाम् | If I feel, I am separate and I have to take action, I am only reinforcing my ‘separate entity-hood’ (pardon this awkward word).

      In fact, the pairs of words in another post — experience-conclusion; sight-insight; value-benefit — have a flavor of retaining that separate entity. After all, ‘conclusion’ is also an experience for an ‘experiencer’. If a meaning is ascribed to a ‘sight,’ an insight is already lost – the raw uninterpreted perception is insight. Benefit implies some ‘one’ who is desirous of a specific outcome.

      Maybe more detailed write up is required than the space allows here in order to make it much less muddy; but I am sure you have the pulse of it.


  28. Dear Shri Ramesam

    Permit me to respectfully make a few observations. In general, any meaningful discussion we have must be contained within a well defined boundary, known to all. Nothing can enter this boundary from an place unknown to some or escape to an unknown place outside that boundary. No transactions can transgress this boundary. What I mean is, it is meaningless to make any reference to any object that exists outside this boundary. It would be like saying, “Let us consider an object which is not in the universe”. Let me illustrate with an example.

    #1 – a discussion I am now having on this blog
    #2 – a discussion taking place in a dream that I had
    #3 – a discussion taking place in the dream of a person in a dream that I had
    … ad infintum

    Please note the significance of the nesting of these planes of discussion. Only Plane #1 is objective – all the objects of discussion are available to all participants. This is ideal to have a meaningful discussion. Plane #2 and #3 are subjective .. available only to me. So, if I bring my subjective ideas and mix them up with the objective ideas of the group in #1, this will surely cause confusion. If other participants also do the same, then the confusion will be even more. My “realization” will not be the same as another person’s “realization” etc etc

    Connecting this to our current discussion, we are in #1 Discussion Plane. The items we discuss should ALL be in this plane only .. else we cannot even talk about them. This includes you, me, all the participants, the world, vedanta, god, ignorance, knowledge, concepts, realization .. everything. Even Brahman. This is the only plane there is. Of course, within THIS plane each participant is free to create sub-divisions, visible to all, and re-arrange the objects of discussion between them to illustrate a particular point of view.

    But this will take us back again to the “About” section, which is perhaps better avoided. 🙂


  29. Dear Shri KR,

    I guess, by your above reply, you would like to convey that I have succeeded in making myself unintelligible by transgressing the ‘planes’ of discussion.

    If my above inference is right, I would like to submit as follows:
    If we are concerned in the discussions here with a transactional issue (say construction of a bridge), we should all naturally confine ourselves within the bounds of the world within the ‘transactional reality’ plane. But to my understanding the aim of the discussions here is to somehow ‘catapult’ ourselves into a different level of reality – from the ‘transactional’ to the ‘Absolute.’ If we dither from reaching the needed ‘escape velocities’, don’t you think we will be going round and round in circles and never leave the transactional level?

    Or is it that you are hinting something altogether different? I am a bit lost.


    • Ramesam & KR
      Another metaphor for what Ramesam is saying is the “second order solution” used in management books. “A tiger is chasing me in my dream and the goal is to save myself from the tiger. The first order solution is to run faster if i could; the second order solution is to “wake up””. If i rule out the second order solution from my discussions then i have limited choices to solve my problem.

      But I have a question for Ramesam —
      We all know that the intellectual understanding of “there is no separate i” has to be transformed into realization.
      Traditional way is paroksha jnana acquired thru shravan- manana is turned into jnana-nishtha thru constatnt Nidhidhyasana (shravan-manana where brahman is now replaced by I – I am eternal, nirguna..)

      Nisargadatta way is “Abide in I am – the state you were in mother’s womb”: This way “I am” will also drop away eventually.
      Each one of these involves “i” and some prakriya till i drops away.
      From what i understand you are suggesting that all these prakriyas and meditations will not get rid of separate i but only reinforce separate i to create a perpetual cycle. But then what do you suggest? – completely stop the pursuit? drop the shruti?…… Like a retired person do not show up for work again (ignore this metaphor if it does not make sense)

      • Dear Vijay,

        If I am not painting myself into a corner, I will say, “Yes!”

        What you have raised is an involved or thorny issue, depending on how you see it. Even Advaita stalwart Swamis debated on how the mediated info on Non-duality gets converted to immediated jnAna. They divided themselves into two warring groups – the vivaraNa and bhAmati schools. Of late some scholar Advaitins want to reconcile both schools by saying that mind and practice on the message are required and neither the mind by itself nor the message by itself can achieve the result.

        A courage is really called for to “drop” everything, including the shruti, once the message is ingested. As long as a ‘desire’ to do something persists, as pointed out by Anonymous quoting someone, there is a ‘separate self’ in operation. “One has to be very vigilant on when the ‘ego’ pops up. And do not wrestle with it, if it does – just notice and ignore it” is the advice given by some experienced teachers and Sages.

        The only “to do” thing that is a must is to maintain a healthy body and a sane mind. And create / live in an ambience that promotes, enables and facilitates egoless actions. Keep as many reminders as possible to serve as ‘Aide memoirs’ of the Non-dual message.

        Maybe other experienced readers can answer you authentically than I can.


  30. It seems that we are circling around 3 models of reality.

    Model 1 is a materialistic model, which says there was creation, from which the basic building blocks of life coalesced to form increasingly complex and evolved forms, that eventually evolved to body-minds and consciousness (though not clear how matter manifests as consciousness). In this schema, the thoughts, sense of ego, etc are essentially a programming of the body-mind, a conditioning driven by the genes and the environment – none of which is in the illusory ego’s control. There is, in reality, no ego – just conditioning / programming. Therefore to be free of the suffering inherent in the ego-self, this knowledge can be assimilated, so that the mind essentially re-programmes itself to be less enamoured of the ego-sense. [JK used to talk about the possibility mutation of the brain cells]. The comprehensiveness of this re-programming is essentially the indicator of the extent of liberation from the self. In this sense, I guess enlightenment is an event in the mind.

    At the other end, model 3 would be a solipsistic dristi-shrsti model, wherein the one Brahman-consciousness imagines the one jiva-mind from which is projected the whole world. In this model all other body-minds (including those of gurus, etc) are just imagination; and what we are is only ever the Brahman consciousness. But this consciousness is over-run by dreamed thoughts, which include a sense of ego. Ignorance is the presence of these thoughts, over-running the Conciousnessness. In this dream, the dream-ego could be exposed to dream scriptures that say that it [the ego] is illusory, and so it acquires a new set of knowledge-thoughts that it is free. And thereby its suffering may be ameliorated. Or, more fundamentally, these ego-thoughts (and all thoughts, including those of the world) could spontaneously cease, leaving only the ever present consciousness=Brahman. And the world would cease to exist.

    In between, model 2, there is a universal consciousness, which projects individual jiva-consciousnesses plus the world. So each jiva sees a consistent world. In this model it seems that a ‘individual’ spark of consciousness has apparently separated from the universal , and ‘thinks’ itself to be separate and limited. But consciousness is free of attributes; it is just that which is aware. So actually, individual jivas can only be ‘separatist’ thoughts/dreams/experiences that arise locally within limitless consciousness. So an attenuation / absence of ‘I’-thoughts will, as in model 3, leave only an uninhibited, unsullied consciousness. The presence of the thought ‘I am Brahman’ is still a thought that must be limiting, separatist factor that localises and limits consciousness.

    Saying all this in a different way, we cannot ever be anything perceived – we are that which is perceiving. (Yes, in the final instance, there is no duality, in this either). Consequently, since thoughts are perceived, we cannot be the thoughts, including the I-thought. Therefore any thought, including the vedantic thought that I am Brahman, is a thought which takes one away from pure consciousness that we are. So only the subsidence of thoughts leaves us as we really are.

    It seems to me that the discussion we are having assumes a materialist reality of model 1, rather than the illusory, dream-like illusion of models 2 and 3.

    Does that make sense?

  31. I wonder if the problem in seeing enlightenment as an event in the mind results from a misunderstanding of the nature of ahaMkAra. It is so often portrayed that the mind (antaHkaraNa) ‘consists’ of four ‘organs of mind’ – manas, chitta, buddhi and ahaMkAra – that there is a tendency to think that these are actual (empirically of course) parts or aspects rather than merely functions.

    If we define ‘enlightenment’ in a slightly different way, maybe the confusions will resolve. The aj~nAnI makes the mistake of thinking that he/she is a person rather than the Atman. What is happening here is that the aj~nAnI is saying ‘I am a man/woman’, ‘I am fat/unhealthy/pale’, ‘I am angry/sad/stupid’ etc. I.e. he/she is attaching attributes to ‘I am’ and thinking that these are defining characteristics. This is all that ahaMkAra is: saying ‘I am’ but associating it with some mithyA element of creation.

    What happens on enlightenment is simply that I no longer make this mistake in my mind. When I think ‘I am’, I do not attach any attribute. I know that, although the body has certain physical aspects and the mind contains particular thoughts and emotions, I am not any of these things. I.e. That particular function of the mind no longer takes place.

    Thus (carried to its extreme), it really could be regarded as ‘death of ahaMkAra (or ego)’, although I prefer the term ‘attenuation’, as Charles mentioned, since extreme situations may still trigger an ego-like response. What it does not mean is that there is no longer a mind.

    Best wishes,

  32. Dennis
    That still assumes a physical body and a mind that is a container of thoughts – essentially model 1 that I outlined above. But does Vedanta say that there is a mind that generates and contains thoughts – and, the corollary, that there is a consciousness that is contained by / arises from the body-mind?

    Or, are there just thoughts (and perceptions) that arise within consciousness – a consciousness which has no attributes and is not limited to a locus of the body mind? If the latter, then there is no mind container to be talking about?

    To use logic / reason, one needs to have a consistent, uncontradictable ontological schema. I think ‘traditional’ vedanta ducks this by creating ultimate and relative truths, and not really answering the exam question – which is how can this experience of the body/mind/world be best explained?


  33. Hi Venkat,

    The place of mind and consciousness in the relative world is explained (as far as anything can be explained) by the concept of chidabhAsa. The metaphor of the mirror reflecting light into the dark room gives the sense of this very well. All the gross and subtle ‘objects’ are inert but are ‘illumninated’ by the reflected light.

    I don’t know of any better model by which to be able to talk about all of this. And all you are ever going to have is ‘relative truths’ since the nature of reality is forever beyond concepts. If you can provide an explanation, you know that it cannot be true unltimately.

    Best wishes,

  34. HI Dennis

    I’m not sure why you need to postulate inert gross and subtle objects that are illumined by reflected light / consciousness. There is just consciousness and dream-like perceptions of body/mind/world that arises within it. That is what Gaudapada says when he equates the waking state with the dream state.

    Examination of our own experience of our body / perceptions / thoughts / feelings shows that these all simply arise in consciousness which cannot be described or known in itself. As per Brhadaranyaka’s “through what should one know That owing to which all this is known”.

    So how can this reflected consciousness be deemed to be any different from universal consciousness. The difference between jivas (taking my model 2) only arises because of the thoughts/feelings that arise in that particular body/mind locus of consciousness. The nature of my consciousness is not different from yours – it is just that which is aware – only the thoughts / feelings that are experienced in your ‘location in time / space’ vs mine are different.

    Shankara’s commentary on Brhadaranyaka Up that I have posted puts it most simply and elegantly, in talking about particular consciousness dissolving into universal consciousness for a jnani.

    Best wishes


    • Hi Venkat,

      I am just attempting to explain our empirical experiences in terms of those experiences. We do seem to have thoughts and see objects so it makes sense to try to explain those. To say that there are only dreams in Consciousness does not tally with general belief (irrespective of whether or not it is true). We have to take things one step at a time.

      You say that only the thoughts/feelings differ from one jIva to another; that Consciousness is the same. But the chidabhAsa model is also saying exactly this. It is simply saying in addition that the non-dual Consciousness is as though reflected in the mind in order to illumine those thoughts/feelings. This has the added benefit of explaining why it is that each jIva seems to be separately conscious.

      If one Consciousness was directly illuminating the thoughts/feelings in your mind as well as mine, wouldn’t I know what you are thinking? Surely location in time and space could not limit Consciousness in any way?

      Best wishes,

  35. Dear Shri Ramesam / Venkat
    Let me try to answer it this way .. I cannot be inside a room and outside it at the same time. It is just not possible. I can, however, jump in and out of the room .. i.e jump between two states transactional and absolute, in the context of our discussion topic. Please note that ‘absolute’ is also not absolute ‘absolute’ .. because ‘outside the room’ also has to be ‘in’ some other room only. I think this is what Anonymous has been energetically arguing.

    Consider an example. In medical school, the student is taught about the human brain. How ? Through a model of the brain. Why ? Because the actual brain organ is not available for any transaction. This model, the student is able to study, split apart, rotate etc etc and through this ‘non-real’ brain understand the ‘real’ brain. After years of study, the student becomes an ‘expert’ on the ‘real’ brain and not the ‘non-real’ brain model. He is then able to use this expertise in all transactions requiring knowledge of the brain eg treating patients etc. This is a very important idea to keep in mind. Similarly, according to Advaita Vedanta, the unknowable Brahman can be known ‘completely’ by a model of Brahman called Atma. Recall the famous विद्या-सूत्रं (Vidya Sutram, Knowledge Capsule) in the Brahadaranyaka ‘आत्मेत्येवोपासीत’ (Atma-iti-eva upAsIta , May you know Brahman thru this Atma).

    How can this knowledge of Brahman obtained through a ‘secondary’ model be direct knowledge ? We can discuss this possibly in a follow-up, else it will become a very long post.

    Now, returning to our brain expert .. because he is now an expert, he has no residual questions in his mind about the ‘real’ brain .. therefore he has no further need for the ‘non-real’ brain. He is in an ‘absolute’ state as far as this knowledge goes. However, should he become a teacher in the same medical school, he will once again need the ‘non-real brain to teach the ‘real’ brain to his students. He will then be in a ‘transactional’ state .. even though he is a Gyani with complete knowledge of the ‘real’ brain.

    You will enjoy the following verse by Sri Vidyaranya Swami
    चोद्यं परिहारं च क्रियतां द्वैत भाषया । अद्वैत भाषया नास्ति चोद्यं नापि तदुत्तरम् ॥
    Chodyam parihAram ca kriyatAm dvaita bhAShayA . Advaita bAShayA nAsti codyam nApi taduttaram.
    A question and its answer are done in the language of Dvaitam only. In the language of Advaita there is neither question nor its answer.


  36. Dear Venkat

    I thought I would add my thoughts on the main topic of this thread you started and the idea of Mano-Nashah.

    At the outset, we have to examine the word ‘Nashah’ .. the commonly understood meaning is ‘destruction’ i.e destruction of the mind. This raises another question .. No object can alter its state without an external change agent. It cannot happen spontaneously. So, what is it that caused this destruction ? And any destruction also must have a locus. Where did this destruction happen ? Also, when and how did this happen ?

    I shall try to address this with an example – remember it is only an example. Imagine a heated argument between two groups of people about shampoo .. one group supporting the benefits of organic shampoo and the other that of non-organic shampoo. As you can imagine, any argument of this nature can turn real ugly.. Now – as an observer of this argument – I am, however, absolutely unperturbed. Why ? I happen to be a bald person, who has no need for either kind of shampoo. For me, shampoo as a hair-product is destroyed, non-existent as it were. Obviously, not physically. But made totally irrelevant. I may continue to see different brands of shampoo on the shelves in a super market, may even be employed in a company that does research on hair products .. but will have no mental attitude towards them .. either positive or negative. The ‘shampoo-thinking-mind’ is thus also ‘destroyed’. When I develop a similar dispassion, ‘vairagya’ towards ALL objects of experience, my ‘experiential-mind’ is ‘destroyed’. Note carefully, dispassion is also a mental process only .. which when supported by discrimination (‘viveka’) is accomplished by the mind effortlessly. That is, what we call Mano-Nashah, is also accomplished by the mind alone.

    We find a different word in the literature for this: “बाधः” Badhah / Made Irrelevant. So Mano-Nasha = Mano-Badhah.

    What is the use of this Mano-Badhah ? To transcend the mind using the mind itself .. to its causal state. The mind of the mind. The state of the Witness .. of ultimate unattachment. ‘मनसेवैदं आप्तव्यम्’ (ManasA-eva-idam Aptavyam .. this has to be achieved only through the mind) – Kathopanishad

    Sri Vidyaranya has written a verse for this:

    देवत्वकामाः ह्यगादौ प्रविशन्ति यथा तथा । साक्षित्वेनावशेषाय स्वविनाशं स वाञ्चति ॥
    devatva-kAmAH hyagnAdau pravishanti yathA tathA, sAkshitvena-avasheShAya sva-vinAsham sa Vancati.
    Just as we see (in the puranas). fire is entered into for the destruction of one’s human body and to gain the glowing, celestial body of the Deva, so also this Self-seeker desiring to remain only as a Sakshi, seeks the ‘destruction’ of his body.


    • Dear KR,

      Just catching up on the posts in this thread. I haven’t quite finished yet but just had to say: “what excellent metaphors here, and in the previous post – thank you!”


  37. Dear Anonymous

    In one of your posts .. while commenting on the discussions on this site .. you had dismissed the whole thing as serving no grand purpose at all .. and is mere entertainment. I admit I was a little taken aback by your solid intuitive reasoning .. even perturbed .. and did ask myself .. “Is that really the case ? Is there nothing more to it than that ?” ..

    But, only for a moment. A counter question popped up in my mind for you. Do you personally, Anonymous, have the same attitude towards all objects of your experience .. eg your car, house, money, career, family ? I have to ask that, because I cannot read your mind. If your answer is “yes”, then you are indeed a person of the highest worship in the tradition of Advaita. If you said, “No, but I am trying to get there” .. even then you are entitled to a very high standing. But if you are honest enough not to claim either of the above, then your comments will have to be termed doublespeak only .. may be not intentionally .. but effectively that.

    All of us human beings are essentially driven by the seeking of happiness only .. why ? Because we have all experienced it and find it very desirable. We want it. We want to remain in it. But we find that in reality, it is not possible. Every experience of happiness comes .. lasts for a while .. and goes away. The search for a permanent ‘state of happiness’ is the human being’s ultimate search.

    The scriptures talk of a means to achieve this ‘permanent happiness’. Those who have a reasoned-faith in the scriptures, those who are exploring this means for happiness .. also find a joy in thinking about this all the time, talking about it all the time and discussing it with other like minded people all the time. The Bhadavad Gita says this: तच्चिन्तनं तत् कथनं अन्योन्यं तत् प्रबोधनं .. tat cintanam tat kathanam tat praboDhanam .. That thinking, that talking, that mutual teaching .. I submit this is what you see happening in our blogs here.

    If you say .. ‘All this is OK .. but it is still a relative happiness only .. absolute happiness is never possible’. I will agree with you. There is a verse by Sri Vidyaranya Swami

    कूटस्थोऽमीति बोधोऽपि मिथ्या चेत् नेति को वदेत् ।
    न हि सत्यतयाभीष्टं रज्जुसर्पविसर्पणम् ॥
    kUTasthosmIti bodhopi mithyA cet neti ko vadet ? na hi satyatayABIShTam rajjusarpavisarpanam.
    If it is urged that the knowledge ‘I am Brahman’ is also a transactional experience only, who says that is not so ? There can be no reality attached to the ‘going-away’ of the snake from the rope !

    Then he adds, तादृशेनापि बोधेन संसारो हि निवर्तते .. tAdrushenApi boDhena samsaro hi nivartate .. But even with such a relative (i.e. non-absolute) happiness there is benefit in the removal of samsara (the discontent, unhappiness in the human experience) in the transactional human existence.


    • KR,

      That is an interesting question you pose. You ask:

      “A counter question popped up in my mind for you. Do you personally, Anonymous, have the same attitude towards all objects of your experience .. eg your car, house, money, career, family ? I have to ask that, because I cannot read your mind. If your answer is “yes”, then you are indeed a person of the highest worship in the tradition of Advaita. If you said, “No, but I am trying to get there” .. even then you are entitled to a very high standing. But if you are honest enough not to claim either of the above, then your comments will have to be termed doublespeak only .. may be not intentionally .. but effectively that.”

      My answer to you is that I have basically the same attitude towards all the things you mention, but that attitude is not that all those things are mere entertainment. I take my responsibilities seriously. I didn’t come to the point of view that what is talked about here is mere entertainment spontaneously. I engaged in it for years until I began to seriously look at what I thought I was doing. I would have moments when serious cracks began to appear in my ‘persona’. I wasn’t who and what I thought I was. It got to a point where I couldn’t engage in this any longer. I don’t think about this stuff like you and many people here do. You still think in terms of getting something, so you keep trying to organize yourself. What else is going on here? It’s a club. No one is talking about what is really going on with them. It is all philosophical and conceptual. What can one expect? At some point, you have to take a look without all these concepts interpreting what you are experiencing. It’s the only way to live. You’ve got to throw it all away (figure of speech!). That’s NOT entertainment. Hope this made some sense.

      • Anon,

        It is fundamental to Advaita that ALL concepts have to be ‘thrown away’ eventually – it’s called adhyAropa-apavAda; the most fundamental part of the teaching in fact.

        ‘If you can experience it, it is not real’ – Shankara and Gaudapada.

        And I think I already quoted Wittgenstein quite recently: “My propositions are elucidatory in this way: he who understands me finally recognizes them as senseless, when he has climbed out through them, on them, over them. (He must so to speak throw away the ladder, after he has climbed up on it. What we cannot speak about we must pass over in silence.)”

        And of course we do talk about all of this stuff because we ‘enjoy it’. Or – perhaps a better way of putting it – trying to think/talk about reality seems more interesting/useful than anything to do with what is known to be unreal. And I don’t think most of us are trying to get anything (else) out of it.

        You obviously don’t find any of it helpful but I know that others do (from the Q &As over the years). So why are you engaging in these dicussions now? What are you trying to achieve?

        • Dennis,

          I am not trying to separate the real from the unreal. I don’t see any difference. Talking about reality has as much meaning for me as deciding on my shopping list.

          I don’t think for one second that people here are not trying to get something out of this. You can tell yourself that, but it is clearly not the case. Seekers are trying to get something. If you saw the ‘senselessness’ of it as Wittgenstein quotes, you couldn’t engage in it any longer.

          I’m not against talking. I just can’t comprehend the statements that people make here and don’t live by. You quote this and that, but you don’t live it. If you think someday that you will live it by doing what you do, try to have another look at it, if you can.

          • Anon,

            Do you have Ishvara’s sarvaj~na that you are aware of the motives of other people and know how they live? Such arrogance is astounding!

            As I mentioned once before, ‘ad hominem’ statements are not acceptable on this list and continued use of them will lead to exclusion.

            Wittgenstein’s quote is saying is that you use the propositions to ‘climb’ to an understanding. Only when you have got there, can you discard them as no longer needed and ultimately ‘sensless’. Moreover, just because one might have realized their ‘senselessness’, this does mean they will not prove equally useful for someone else.

            • If they are ultimately senseless, how do they make sense now? Why would you even think about them if they are ultimately senseless? Makes no sense to me. lol.

              Please don’t answer and continue this nonsense.

  38. Dear KR

    Thank you for your thoughtful series of comments.

    “When I develop a similar dispassion, ‘vairagya’ towards ALL objects of experience, my ‘experiential-mind’ is ‘destroyed’. Note carefully, dispassion is also a mental process only .. which when supported by discrimination (‘viveka’) is accomplished by the mind effortlessly.”

    I totally agree. Dispassion is sort of a mental process . . . though I would suggest it is the absence or at least significant attenuation of desire-thoughts. Which as you say leads to peace / removal of unhappiness. And as Astavakra says:

    “There is no attachment or aversion in one for whom the ocean of the world has dried up. His look is vacant [no inner motive], his action purposeless, and his senses inoperative [sense objects do not leave any impressions on his mind].”

    Our mind itself cannot know Brahman (“through what should one know That owing to which all this is known?”). It can however negate all that which is not Brahman.

    Best wishes,

  39. Dear Venkat –

    Quite so. Recall the Gita verse from Ch 14 .. ‘उदासीनवत्-आसीनः ..’ (udAsInavat-AsInaH .. he transacts ‘as though’ unconcerned .. note the ‘vat’)

    So, in your quote, we can add this ‘as though’ ..
    ” .. His look is vacant [no inner motive], his action purposeless, and his senses inoperative .. as though” 🙂


  40. Anonymous –

    In response to my query, you have clearly stated that you have achieved a state wherein you see all experiences arising from your transactions with the same attitude of equanimity. This is indeed the absolute state that advaita also postulates – as a limit – for all human beings seeking self-realization. What more is there to say !!


    • I am not in any absolute state, KR. This is all in your imagination. You are building sand-castles in the sky. Just put your attention on yourself and stay there. By-pass all this conceptual pollution and you will be much better off. I guarantee it! lol

Comments are closed.