Mulavidya – Real or Unreal? IV


70. Lot has been said so far; false allegations and baseless surmises were brought to light; statements factually incorrect were exposed; citations substantiating certain statements were shown to be out of context and in some cases self-defeating; statements attributed to Swamiji, but not found in the originals were discovered; incomplete and incorrect understanding of not only Śan@kara and Swamiji but also the views of traditionalists were enumerated; quotations made partially and out context were pointed out; issues raised, even though extraneous to the admitted scope were reviewed; withholding of complete facts and resort to partial reporting were singled out; how finding fault in Swamiji amounts to finding fault in Śan@kara was shown; translations not faithful to the original were pointed out; self-contradictory statements were laid bare; most important of all, how not a single ground of Swamiji against the tenability of Mūlāvidyā is controverted, was shown; however, what is yet to be shown is the final outcome of the question – fidelity to Śan@kara, admitted to be the main focus of M’s paper. In this regard attention of readers is drawn to the following statements of M.

(a) He (Swamiji) bases this (avidyā means mutual adhyāsa of the self and the not-self) on a definition of avidyā given by Śan@kara in his introduction to BSBh. (Page 215)

(b) It (Swamiji’s understanding of mithyā) is based on satya and anr.ta in the Taittirīyopanis_ad Bhās_ya (2.1) BSBh (2.1.11), Kāt_hakopanis_ad Bhās_ya(1.2.14) and Upadeśasahasrī – prose (2.81) (page 224)

(c) For Satchidanandendra, on the other hand the focus is entirely on Śan@kara.

(d) The question that informed his entire life’s work can be formulated as “What did Śan@kara say?” (Page 236).

(e) He deals with possible points of contentions in the wake of other commentaries by measuring them against Śan@kara. (Page 236)

(f) The difference between Satchidanandendra and the tradition on this point (measurement with reference to Śan@kara) is a radical one. (Page 236)

(g) Satchidanandendra effectively places Śan@kara above the tradition and is willing to separate Śan@kara from tradition on a point of conflict. (Page 236)


The verdict is clear. M has vindicated Swamiji, though inadvertently, by stating that Swamiji follows Śan@kara out and out. No qualms on account of Swamiji being treated as an outcast from the ‘Advatic tradition’ so long as he is admitted to follow Śan@kara. What more can the earnest seekers want, than the confirmation of unflinching loyalty of Swamiji to Śan@kara and Śan@kara alone?


  1. From ‘Vedantins Meet’, by SSSS

‘Adhyasa is mistaking one thing for another, and avidya is the mutual superimposition of the Self and the not-self… there is no other Ignorance worth the name… since no human thought process is possible without the presupposition of adhyasa, this latter is pre-eminently entitled to be called avidya… thinkers who assert that the source of all ills spoken of by Shankara is the Mullavidya alone [the traditionalists], have to maintain their position only by going against the express statement of Shankara, and shrutis, and quietly ignoring the essential nature of knowledge which can never destroy exisiting things… All human proceeding, whether secular or sacred, is prompted by, and is wholly within, the sphere of this avidya… . Enlightenment… is also within the purview of this avidya… All this distinction of vidya and avidya, avidya and maya, is only a concession to the empirical view, and only a device adopted for the purpose of teaching the truth… [they] never existed… nor is there any need for vidya to destroy either of the two… [then quotes Gaudapada: “There is neither dissolution…”]


(from a different source & Dennis W.) ‘P.S. SSS did write a much shorter, earlier version of his ‘Method’ and A. J. Alston has also translated this under the title ”The Heart of Sri Shankara’. It is, relatively speaking, much more readable! Here is a quote:

  1. ‘The existence ot Ignorance is itself imagined.
    Perhaps you will suggest that Ignorance can have a positive and existent object and locus. These, you may say, do not come to an end when Ignorance does.
    Well, that might have been possible if Ignorance was a reality which actually came to an end. But the reality of Ignorance itself is something that is merely imagined. How could one speak of it (properly) as coming to an end? Not only is Ignorance not found in dreamless sleep and similar states – but even in waking and dream, when there is belief in its existence, adequate reflection shows that in reality there is no ‘Ignorance’ over and above different forms of (wrong) knowledge.’ Dennis  (To be continued)

63 thoughts on “Mulavidya – Real or Unreal? IV

  1. Dear who-ever-you-are that wrote this,

    I belong to the same school of thought i.e, Swami Satchidanandendra Saraswathi. I am thankful to you for bringing out this post. Probably the only school of thought that adheres to traditional Shankara Vedanta. The beauty of Shankara Vedanta lies in teaching “Superimposition”. Any other talk that deviates from this sole truth is not of much help to the seeker.

    Some teachers here are vehemently holding on to an “unreal creation”, Shankara sidelines bhagavan’s lila in his BSB as a reason for any creation, refer lokavathulilakaivalyam. And Swamiji holds this superimposition to be “adventitious” than an intelligent design. Ultimately, it should not matter whether it’s creation or otherwise. What-ever-it-is, is Superimposed on the eternally pure Atman, which is devoid of all such conditioning associates. One only needs to “understand” what superimposition means. Then, it’s game over.


  2. Vikram,

    Superimposition is certainly the case. This activity (superimposition) is put in place by the culture of each person, belief systems, traditions, etc. When you say ‘understand’ what superimposition means, it is not an analytical process that takes place that somehow helps you. What most people mean by understanding is some sort of way of bringing this superimposition to an end. But, there is nothing you can do to bring this to an end. The desire to bring it to an end is more of the same superimposition. Anything that you attempt to do about it is doomed to fail. That is understanding to me. It is to stop trying to change what is not necessary to change.

    You also say that this superimposition somehow obscures the eternally pure Atman. I don’t know how you can deduce this unless it is through this superimposition. Take away the activity of superimposition, and there is nothing interpreting anything as pure, unconditioned, or eternal. This is all part of the superimposition which is everyman’s inheritance through cultural input that you call unreal. Both the problem and the cure originate from the very same superimposition.

    Whether Sankara is right or not, you can never know. The desire to know and construct a conceptual understanding IS a deception. Mind can never know anything other than itself. No window or door exists in which to ‘see’ or ‘pass through’. There is nothing to be done except to stop engaging in this circular thinking. It leads nowhere.

  3. Dear Anonymous,

    “Unreal” is a word. Since avidya is strong, we’d have to resort to calling that which is superimposed as “unreal” when actually there is no such thing as a superimposition or “unreal”. It’s like a child being taught what “1” is through a slate with a string and a bead tied to it. Is it really “1” ? There’s no obstruction also, but only due to ignorance which the seeker has not understood resulting in something of an obstruction and the notion that S/he is trapped which itself is a superimpostion.

    From the standpoint of Atman, there can be no superimposition or an unreal appearance also. As you have pointed out, it is through the activity of the superimposition that all such concepts are speculated. The very purpose of the sastras is to take away this “activity”. And what remains, simply IS. Nothing needs to be brought to an end as it has not begun, THAT IS SUPERIMPOSITION.

    I was talking to someone on quora last night, and I’d like to borrow something that transpired during the talk… i.e, Brahman evolves into a world is only a prakriya, Knowing what simply is, IS… is a standpoint. AKA Ajatvada.

    Superimposition is due to Avidya, once this is gone there can be nothing second to the brahman, not even Ishvara. If you call it an “unreal” creation, then you’ll have to blame Ishvara for bringing in Avidya, if he is not the cause for avidya, then I alone am the reason for this wrong identification with something that does not exist (superimposition). So, logically, Ishvara is also superimposed. This is Adhyaropa. For we have the gita shlokas affirming this – As for the material nature – that is a superimposition.

    Point to be noted: Avidya as I have pointed out here does not simply mean the removal of an empirical ignorance, but the complete cessation of the notion that I am the doer or I am bound. Only such a person is a Jivanmukta. To wit, Jivanmukta is no person.

    • Vikram,

      I fully agree with your “Point to be noted: Avidya as I have pointed out here does not simply mean the removal of an empirical ignorance, but the complete cessation of the notion that I am the doer or I am bound. Only such a person is a Jivanmukta. To wit, Jivanmukta is no person.”

      If this is the case for someone, I use ‘someone’ figuratively here, all his or her cultural background which contains Vedantic models as well as all models of creation theory, universal truths and such, will no longer be operating as they are also the content of superimposition. If the game is over, all of this philosophical talk and conceptual banter is over, too. Why would one continue it? It would be impossible to continue it. The standpoint of Atman is the very same imposition. It doesn’t exist because ‘you’ don’t exist. There is no problem to solve and therefore no cure or philosophy to understand. The activity is simply not there.

      • If this is the case for someone, I use ‘someone’ figuratively here, all his or her cultural background which contains Vedantic models as well as all models of creation theory, universal truths and such, will no longer be operating as they are also the content of superimposition. If the game is over, all of this philosophical talk and conceptual banter is over, too. Why would one continue it? It would be impossible to continue it

        There’s nobody continuing…. That is Superimposition ! He appears to be teaching to you when actually, he’s not doing anything.

  4. Hi Vikram and Anon,

    There is just one word to say on the points made by you:


    Anon: “The desire to know and construct a conceptual understanding ….”

    That is also a built-in drive.
    Why quarrel with it;
    Why preach to resist it, Anon!

    “….IS a deception.”

    You never know that, Dude (:

    “Mind can never know anything other than itself.”

    Very good. That’s all the game in the town.
    When the mind really knows itself, that’s the end of the mind.

    “No window or door exists in which to ‘see’ or ‘pass through’.”

    Once again, how do you know that, Dude!


    • Ramesam,

      Not sure why you think I’m preaching resistance? What we call ‘ourselves’ IS that built in drive to construct a conceptual understanding. It is all part of the mind thinking there is something to achieve, to understand. The mind can’t know itself. It doesn’t know that it is not possible to achieve what it thinks it must. That is the game.

      How do I know this? Blood, sweat, and tears, dude. The mind is always a step behind the flow of life. It is an interpreter of a language that you have already learned, not what is living. What is living is impossible to know. Mind cannot grasp it, try as it may. Is this not clear to you? Perhaps you still think that there is something to realize, to experience. Maybe that is why you indulge the philosophy game and draw up maps and schemes and write blogs about ways and means. Why do you do it? You still live in hope. Hope of what? What you’ve heard and read. What your culture has put in you. This is not living to me.

      • Hi Anon,

        1. Anon says at 04:17 Hrs (GMT, I guess) on Aug 19, 2016:

        “Mind can never know anything other than itself.”

        Anon says at 17:17 Hrs, exactly in 13 hours to the minute (!):

        “The mind can’t know itself.”

        Does that betray a contradiction in a confused mind?

        2. “The mind is always a step behind the flow of life. It is an interpreter … …”

        Why introduce (mind-think) a dichotomy by trying to exclude something? Why to decompose that ‘Whatever-Is,’ using your words, into two: the “impossible to know living” and “an interpreter mind.”

        Oneness is not exclusive. It’s all-Inclusive.

        3. “This is not living to me.”
        Are there a ‘ramesam-type-living’ and an ‘Anon-type-living’?


        • Ramesam, Anon charges you with indulging in the ‘philosophy game’. What is his if not a philosophy game? Game or not, what it reveals (the way he plays it) is a type of philosophy called nihilism. No problem with that, but the ring of hostility, animosity, and superciliousness in his exchanges is not very reassuring. No wonder no-one follows him in his game. He does not seem to understand that mind can bring its own ending – a blessing – and become No-mind: something entirely different – a secret or revelation that can be discovered once the mind has gone to the end of his capabilities. Philosophy, then, along with the mind, has changed into something else – but if one dares to call it ‘contemplation’, Anon will, reassuringly, laugh it off..

          • Yes, Martin. Anon is an asshole who knows nothing. There is nothing to gain by listening to him. I will be the first to admit it.

            Enjoy your secret revelation. It will be gone soon as everything must. I wish you well.

          • Very well put, amartingarcia, the mind becoming no-mind is something that Swamiji uses quite often…In his own words… “manas becoming amanas”.

            What really happens though is that we get to know that there is no-mind though it runs like an undercurrent at that time of knowing…

  5. Nice observation ! I have left a comment on advaita vision earlier and it appears that it is the same ‘Anonymous’ who has replied to my comment now.
    Who be this follower ?

  6. Ramesam,

    Because you look at the words and try to find some ‘meaning’ in them that fits your own way of interpreting, you think there is a contradiction. They are two different statements that in fact do not contradict.

    There are no summary statements that one can attach to. Life is moving, not Anon or Ramesam. The cognition changes from the conceptual to the actual. The present moment replaces what the memory, the culture, wants you to be and experience. Oneness/twoness is not this flow of life, it is an image of what you ‘think’ it is, not what is. To be stuck with the words and their meanings is to suffer separation from life, that which is present. It has nothing to do with analysis, meaning, or image making.

  7. From “The basic tenets of Sankara Vedanta” by SSSS:

    “As long as the mind continues to be a mind, it becomes distracted or gets disturbed and keeps on hovering from one object to another. But when the mind starts flowing inwards towards Atman alone, then by virtue of its contact with Atman, the mind is rendered to be a ‘no-mind’ . . . The chitta (mind) merging in this Atman becomes verily Chit (Pure Consciousness) – just as it is rendered to be one with It in deep sleep; that alone is the really real Samadhi. For those who have cognised or intuited Atman’s chitswarupa properly, sahaja samadhi accrues.”

    “How at all can we cognise, know such a (subtle) Atman by means of Jnana (intuitive knowledge)? The answer is: by means of Adhyatmayoga . . . We should make a sincere and assiduous attempt needed to give up our vain pride in, or sense of identification with, not-selves like the body, the sense, etc; we must also make all efforts to acquire, earn Pratyagdrishti (inner vision, introspection, introvertedness). Only such a person who has thus cognised Atman by himself, within himself, by means of Adhyatmayoga goes beyond, nay conquers Harsha-Shoka (the pairs of opposites like happiness and misery).”

    So he effectively advocated the sadhana of atma vichara, by which he means introvertedness / introspection, rather than sastra vichara. And this leads to mind touching Atman, and becoming no-mind.

  8. Venkat,

    There is no question that one needs to make an attempt at understanding themselves. The problem arises when mind tries to approach or cognize something that is not within its field. I don’t know anything about Atman other than what Vedanta writes about it. It becomes a goal, which is another concept of what mind creates to try and satisfy itself. Of course, mind itself is nothing substantial in the sense of an object, and neither is Atman. So how can cognition, which is an activity of mind, know anything other than its own content?

    To me, this is part of the superimposition that is mentioned above. The ‘seeing’ of the inadequacy of mind happens when you make an effort to ‘understand’ oneself. But what you wind up understanding is quite different from what you originally thought. Mind or thinking, begins to see it chasing its own tail. It will create any amount of experiences, high and low, to keep its continuity going. If there is any truth to the mind touching Atman, it might be exactly the opposite, Atman touching mind. I know this is just a concept, too, so I just don’t indulge it. Since Life is present no matter what you are thinking, cognition is aware of this separation. Intellectually, you know this, but it is not lived organically with the whole being. The body must go through its own transformative process to truly begin to live what it intuits. Otherwise, it all remains within one’s thinking, Mind. Mutation, as the 2 K’s talked about it, has nothing to do with one’s effort or understanding. It is transcendental.

  9. ‘I don’t know anything about Atman other than what Vedanta writes about it. It becomes a goal, which is another concept of what mind creates to try and satisfy itself.’
    — So you don’t know what Vedanta says about Atman.
    ‘mind itself is nothing substantial in the sense of an object, and neither is Atman’
    — Obviously so. What about the other sense of ‘substantial’?
    ‘So how can cognition, which is an activity of mind, know anything other than its own content?’
    — a) what is it that knows – cognition or the mind?
    — b) if it is the mind, then the mind is other than its contents, which are its objects.
    ‘The body must go through its own transformative process to truly begin to live what it intuits’
    — Is it the body that which intuits? Not the mind, or consciousness?

    • Cognition is a mental activity. It is not apart from thinking, although it sometimes gives the impression that it is. Mind is not a thing, but an activity of thought/feeling. For communication purposes, we refer to the process of thinking as mind.

      Intuition is also a mental process that incorporates memory, feeling, etc. I think it is an easy mistake to make to regard intuition as something that is going to lead you into a transformative event. What you intuit, you already know. The very things you’ve read about and studied are used by mind to give itself ‘continuity’. Even this insight cannot produce the necessary transcendence/transformation of body/mind that various people have talked about and testified to. To me, that is the natural state, not any kind of identification with concepts and the world of ideas through Vedanta or any other teaching. There is no separation between body and mind as it is one unit with various functions. Other than total cessation of the sense of self, which means your literal death, both body and mind, while alive, can the transformative event take place. This is not philosophy, Martin. It seems to be only for those who have given up everything, even those secret revelations you hold dear. Jesus said something about ‘blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven’.

      • Anon.: ‘Intuition is also a mental process that incorporates memory, feeling, etc’

        NOT SO. Even the Dictionary def. of intuition will prove you wrong. No one will agree with you on that.

        It is intuition, insight, or direct apprehension (all of them synonyms), precisely, what alone can transform one’s mind at the very moment of that apprehension or direct experience. Nothing to do with body transformation.

        You should forget about UG, a bad influence on you (talking about influences and conditionings, which you always bring up). Advaita Vedanta or other types of non-dual teachings, on the other hand, are a good influence.

        • Full Definition of intuition. 1 : quick and ready insight. 2 a : immediate apprehension or cognition b : knowledge or conviction gained by intuition c : the power or faculty of attaining to direct knowledge or cognition without evident rational thought and inference.

          What faculty is intuition associated with, Martin? Your liver?

          Your comments about U.G. are silly and show your mind to be very much caught in dualities. Have you forgotten your ‘secret revelations’?

  10. Dear Venkat,

    Atman can never be known objectively, the reason why we fail is because we try to identify with the ‘idea’ of Atman…. To put it in simple terms, everything we know is only through the trinity of knower/known/means to know.

    Atman can only be known through negation. When everything is negated, one thing remains, That is the Atman, that thou art. The other way of putting it would be… when everything has been negated…you’d realise there’s nothing left to negate. There… the one who knows that there is nothing there… there… the person is simply ‘mute’ as Atman is devoid of any specific feature or experience.

    Unless you rebel against duality and when I say ‘rebel’, I mean, have a conviction that there is no duality and start negating it, you’ll not know what it is… EVER. This is how it has worked for me. Not sure about others.

    An example of this would be, as one of my gurus, Shri Gopinath told me… A kettle holds water, the kettle is held by a handle… the handle is held by another holder… and a person then holds it… Here, the water cannot know the kettle, the kettle cannot know the handle, the holder cannot know the person… The person knows all these though….In the same way, Consciousness holds the mind, the mind holds the world, the world in turn is just a mix up of various ‘images’ that give input to the mind and then we keep circling. Unless, you negate all that consciousness holds… you cannot know what YOU truly are.

    Theoretically, this is very simple. Problem starts with negation i.e, HOW TO NEGATE ?. This I have discovered that many do not teach and instead engage in talking about real and unreal, permanent and transient, EEGs, swoon, coma, reincarnation, metaphysics, Quantum mechanics and some other sketchy things like Panchakosas… (As if there’s such a thing as panchakosas). While these may help to a certain extent… Even the way I have described consciousness to be holding everything in its bosom ….Ultimately… negation alone is the way to know the truth.

    Know that by which the mind also functions to be Brahman, not that which people worship here… Kenopanishad.

    I’d like to see someone post what goes on in the ‘mind’ of a jnani or rather, how s/he negates to arrive at the truth, than simply talk about what Atman is and What Prakrti is. I hope I can post this process of ‘negation’ and how I proceed by “thinking out loud” so to speak so others can hear and understand how I negate and do the same. Everything else is just an example, an input to the mind… A story to be precise.


  11. Vikram,

    With all respect, whatever someone does cannot be duplicated by another. It just doesn’t work that way. Why? We are composites of so many different influences that whatever we say becomes another influence. All influence falsifies you, in Krishnamurtian lingo. Each person must come to this in their own way. If it were a matter of laying it out from start to finish, Humanity would look quite different. Real negation is transcendence which one can never ‘do’. Everything else is a mental activity or control in some sense. You can achieve some interesting states with insight, intuition, and some abilities, but this is not the same as transcendence.

    • Hello Anon,

      A friend of mine once told me… I quote what he said…”Why is the world called an illusion or likened to a dream or even called a superimposition ? It is to know the basis. That’s all”

      Truth is very simple everything else as I have mentioned and every other “state” as you have mentioned including “Krishnamurthi’s Lingo” is just a story.

      What is the use of all this talk if you are not able to go beyond the mind …..”Go beyond the mind and see” – Nisargadatta Maharaj .

      • Vikram said: Truth is very simple everything else as I have mentioned and every other “state” as you have mentioned including “Krishnamurthi’s Lingo” is just a story.

        What is the use of all this talk if you are not able to go beyond the mind …..”Go beyond the mind and see” – Nisargadatta Maharaj .

        So, Vikram, are you saying that you have gone beyond mind? Or, is that still your hope?

        • Go back to what I stated earlier. Forget me, what am I but a projection of your own innate avidya ?

  12. Thanks Vikram.

    I’d agree with you on negation . . . it follows from everything is a superimposition. Beyond that, what is to be known and who is to know it? Hence Ramana’s summa iru.



  13. Hello Venkat,

    You will only know it, who else will know it ?

    I am sorry that my words seem “crude” and not very polite, I hope you don’t take it that way though. That is how my mind is “conditioned”.


  14. Vikram – not at all.

    But what is “it” that “I” will know, if there is no one to know?

  15. Venkat

    Who is the one who does not know that there’s nothing left to be known ?

    • I guess Venkat, as usual, will respond wisely with the most appropriate and authentic quote of a Knowledgeable Sage.

      If a simpleton may reply, well, I would say, “It is who or what that still needs (external) food to appease hunger, requires a doctor to mend a broken bone, looks for a shelter to secure the body-organism and, when the hormones are on a high, searches a mate to create and procreate.”


  16. Dear Ramesam Sir,

    Thanks for the reply, Shankara writes a rejoinder when asked “To whom does this Avidya pertain to…”

    “YOU – the person who is asking this question”

    In a way, for shankara, Brahman was always swayam prasidatwat.

    In his sutra bhashya – Anandamayobhasat – He mentions about the Panchakosa Prakriya by explaining it through an example….

    The priest after the marriage of the couple, takes them out and points out to different stars calling them “Arundhati” – This is Arundati….For the sake of keeping the example as simple as possible, I’ll put it in my own words. Arundhati being the least brightest is difficult to spot as there are 15 other stars – each brighter than the other. The priest starts calling each one of those as Arundhati. This one is Arundhati and then That one is Arundhati and then says, the one in between is Arundhati … so on and so forth… and finally arrives at the real Arundhati…. The couple are easily able to spot it because the mind simply ‘blocks’ out the 15 other stars and looks at THAT one star.

    In the same way, for the dull minded, the sastras explain it as “Body” as the self and then “Mind”… “Buddhi” etc as Brahman because Brahman is the inner most self of all and is difficult to attain for the ignorant who is “outward”. When Brahman is known,… well… It’s game over.

    I hope this example will help some genuine seekers to understand.

    Thanks and Regards,


  17. Vikram

    You’ve answered your own question in your original excellent comment on mutual superimposition.

    Ramesam said it clearly. In a similar vein, SSSS quotes Sutra Bhasya 4.1.3 regarding the locus of avidya:

    If it be asked ‘To whom does this non-enlightenment pertain?’ we reply ‘To you who ask this question’.
    Objection: But the Sruti says that I am verily Isvara Himself!
    Reply: If you are thus enlightened, then we say ‘There is no ignorance belonging to any one’.

    And with regard to Final Release, SSSS writes, quoting Sutra Bhasya 1.1.4:
    ‘These and other Srutis teach that the effect of Atmajnana is only the removal of (nescience) the obstacle to Release.’
    Release, which is already there, manifests itself as soon as ignorance is removed. Knowledge does not create Release.

  18. Venkat – There was no question there… I wasn’t asking anything, but merely indicating that it is not “Shunya”.

  19. Vikram, Shunya is just as good a word as Brahman. The point is it is unknowable.

  20. Then who is it, as Ramesam puts it …”that still needs (external) food to appease hunger, requires a doctor to mend a broken bone, looks for a shelter to secure the body-organism and, when the hormones are on a high, searches a mate to create and procreate.”

  21. UG: There is a feeling there there is a centre inside of us, that there is a thinker who is thinking these thoughts, who is feeling these feelings, who is experiencing these things. You call it the thinker, the I , the self, the mind. But does it exist?

    Q: The ego.

    UG: Something which is linking these thoughts…that is what it is. There is always a link between these two thoughts, there is continuity. How do you know that you are the same person that you were 5 or 7 years ago, or yesterday? Because of this linking, this continuity of thought and feelings.

    These two thoughts are linked together. This is the self;this is the I-not the first person singular ‘I’ in the English language which is only a mode of expression. But inside of you there is something you feel. But is there any such thing at all?

    It doesn’t exist in the sense you think it is there. But it has taken such a hold on you that it is shaping every moment of your life in terms of its own experiencing, in terms of its own ideas, in terms of its own ideations.

    Anonymous: If you haven’t understood this about yourself, you are on the wrong track. All you are doing here is thinking about thinking, presenting one set of ideas against another set of ideas. All of this is designed to keep you going , to keep the continuity in place. It is all that you are and there is no stopping it. Nothing you attempt to do about it will change it, try as you may. You will always think you are getting something, closer to the truth, more this, more that, less this, less that. Always measuring, comparing, analyzing. It’s all that thinking can do. Nothing more. You refuse to face this. What else is there to be said? More quotes? More hoping?

    • Hello Anonymous,

      This view is not new or unique to “UG”. It can be found in Buddhism. You can also see Sam Harris and some others saying the same thing over and over again. “There is no person… there is no person”….

      That is only when you ‘know’ and not before. when I say ‘know’, I mean ‘literally’ know…. Saying that there is ‘no person’ is not going to alleviate one’s suffering nor is it going to take away the fact that you are ‘experiencing’ something whether it be your mind or physical pain or whatever.

      If you want to really stop ‘experiencing’ all of those then the only way to stop it is to get established in the ‘self’.

      what matters is the end of physical/mental suffering. If you think UG has given you that and are satisfied with it, then there shouldn’t be any problem.

      Goal is always been the same, only thing is… the method of the sastras are not only the means to liberation, but also the truth. If you don’t want to hold on to the fact that it is the truth, that is just fine. What ultimately matters is the literal end of all suffering i.e, being in deep sleep while still awake. Whether it is the truth or not should not matter to you.

      Thanks and Regards,


      • Vikram, I have always maintained that repeating what you’ve heard or read from others will not alleviate suffering. We agree.

        The rest of your reply, however, is something that I cannot sign up for. For example:

        ‘Really wanting to stop to suffering is to get established in the self’.

        In my view, really wanting anything has already missed the point as this view is self created and self perpetuating. I don’t doubt the intentions are honorable, they are just uninspected and part of the circular thinking whose continuity continues and creates more suffering, subtler perhaps, but the same.

        Any goal that you choose to pursue is created by the sense of a separate self. But, somehow you don’t seem to see this and what the inevitable result is, is more suffering. Like you admonish others that repeating what you’ve heard does not produce anything, it is the same thing in your case when you repeat these phrases about deep sleep while awake. It is not your experience, only what you’ve heard or read. If you admit to this, you are left with what you actually are. There is no further advancement needed. No phrase will be able to describe this or motivate you to head in any other direction.

  22. Anonymous: You cannot cut everyone under the same standard of measurement – that is, the image you have of yourself – as revealed by your metaphysical or intellectual position.

    Some time ago I wrote something about J. Krishnamurty – and I hope I was not too unfair (or plain wrong). Here are my, and others’, opinion concerning OSHO and U.G., and I couldn’t say who was the better or the worse of the two, in more than one respect.

    On OSHO, someone wrote: “This is not b.s. new-agey stuff; it is the essence of great spiritual writing.”… “… the most original thinker that India has produced: the most erudite, the most lucid, and the greatest innovator”… “pure and charismatic figure, rejecting all rational (sic) laws and institutions, proclaiming his subversion in front of any hierarchical authority.

    On the other hand, Bob Mullan, sociologist: “Without doubt he is an eclectic usurper of truths, and half truths, of the great traditions. Frequently also suave, flawed, false, and extremely contradictory….. sharp commercial instinct in marketing strategy, to which he knew how to adapt his teachings so as to satisfy the changing wishes of his audience… his potpourri of doctrines from several religions was most damaging, because Osho wasn’t a mere amateur philosopher”.

    To that I added my opinion: ‘Favourable opinions seem to have predominated concerning this guru (or pseudo-guru). Obviously, whatever he said or wrote that was (intrinsically) true cannot be questioned, but whatever came from him (in my opinion) has to be taken with a grain or two of salt.’

    As to U.G., I wrote (in 2009): ‘After reading [in ‘StillnessSpeaks’] the article on U.G. Krishnamurti, one wonders how is it possible that anyone (including the author of the article) can take the man seriously. A non-thinker that “thinks”, or rather, a “thinker” who does not think. A second and “improved” version of J. Krishnamurti, who taught humanity (or so he believed) to think, who discovered single-handedly what no other thinker or sage had discovered in the whole history of humanity (i.e.,“the thinker is the thought”)? U.G. does it again! Here is an un-rationalist who turns out to be not only, and by definition, an illogician besides being a materialist, but also a philosopher of the absurd – since he reduces everything he touches to the absurd. It would be all right, of course, if it all was meant as a joke. His are at best half-truths, and at worst simplistic pseudo-arguments and blatant self-contradictions.

    The gall, the pretence, the arrogance of this reductionistic peripatetic author – called by the author “a unique teacher” – are without measure. It would be easy to demonstrate one by one the string of such contradictions in what he says, but, is it worth the time?’

    • Martin, it’s interesting for me to observe how much U.G. disturbs you. All he is doing, IMO, is telling what happened to him and how he functioned. He had no teaching and did not bother to construct any kind of ladder to somewhere. He only pointed out the illusions that so many of us run around with.

      Like I said in the above post, if you haven’t understood what your own thinking is, you are on the wrong track. Thinking about thinking and how thinking links itself to form a sense of continuity, the sense of self, is the great deception. Why focus on the messenger? Again, your view seems very dualistic, judgemental, and maybe a bit hateful. I don’t know why this should be the case. It is usually a sign of beliefs in a person that conflicts with someone else’s statements. Somehow, your view is the ‘right’ one. You haven’t stepped out of this conundrum yourself. This is because you choose to identify with a set of beliefs. Can’t you see this? Try harder, Martin.

  23. Hi Martin

    In defence of Osho and JK, I would say that they attracted many to find out more about Eastern philosophy. So we can at least credit them with helping to stimulate the growth of Eastern philosophy as a counter to Western materialism. I first read Osho’s “No water, no moon” as a teenager which stimulated, for me at least, a journey into Ch’an, Tao, and Dzgchen, and finally back to advaita.

    And in addition, JK played an important role in anti-authoritarianism, in getting people to think for themselves, rather than following blindly like sheep. Incredibly important then (at a time of immense political propaganda and nationalistic fervour), as it is now, sadly.

    Do you recall the upanisdic story (I can’t recollect which) of a jnani who was asked who his guru was . . . and he listed 20+ gurus (from the natural world) who each played a part. Each step in the ladder is as important as the final step.

    And thank you for getting me immersed in SSSS, which I had hitherto refrained from doing, for fear of not being able to make it through his Method!

    Best wishes,

  24. In my humble (obligatory!!!) opinion, it can’t be said better than this: What is it, then? Well, you tell me.

    Extract from Talk 28, Feb 4, 1935

    Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi

    D.: What is the relation between my free-will and the overwhelming might of the Omnipotent?
    (a) Is omniscience of God consistent with ego’s freewill?
    (b) Is omnipotence of God consistent with ego’s freewill?
    (c) Are the natural laws consistent with God’s free-will?

    Maharshi: Yes. Free-will is the present appearing to a limited faculty of sight and will. The same ego sees its past activity as falling into a course of `law’ or rules – its own free-will being one of the links in that course of law. Omnipotence and omniscience of God are then seen by the ego to have acted through the appearance of his own free-will. So he comes to the conclusion that the ego must go by appearances. Natural laws are manifestations of God’s will and they have been laid down.

    • May be not better, but more clearly (without recourse to the term ‘God’), as by Philip Renard:

      ‘Advaya or non-duality is the insight that reality is not something ‘outside’ a human being, neither only ‘inside’, but unseparated, ‘not two’. One’s true nature is not separate from a higher Principle, whatever this may be called.

      Realisation of this non-separateness as one’s own nature is what this is all about.’

      • Dear Dr. Garcia:
        Thank you for taking the time to respond.
        I can see why one would prefer capital P (principle) instead of capital G.
        A young physics student once said to me:

        One first realizes that one is inside the frame until one realizes that one IS the frame.

        Age, it seems, has nothing to do with this insight which, sadly, has eluded me thus far.

        Of course, I am not in any way depreciating the pleasures of scholarship and study.

  25. Dear Martin,

    Please listen to this final 20 minute extract from JK’s last talk in Malibu in 1970.

    He essentially talks, in non-technical, non-spiritual terms about wakeful sleep – echoing Ramana’s ‘self-enquiry / self-attentiveness’ and Swami Satchidanandendra’s ‘the quiet, introverted mind touches the atman and becomes no-mind’.

  26. Since J Krishnamurti has just come up, I hope I will be allowed to quote from Aldous Huxley’s Foreword to The First and Last Freedom, 1954.

    “In every region and at every period of history, the problem has been repeatedly solved by individual men and women. Even when they spoke or wrote, these individuals created no systems – for they knew that every system is a standing temptation to take symbols too seriously, to pay more attention to words than to the realities for which the words are supposed to stand. Their aim was never to offer ready-made explanations and panaceas; it was to induce people to diagnose and cure their own ills, to get them to go to the place where man’s problem and its solution present themselves directly to experience”.

    I hope no one will be offended if I also append the words of the good British doctor who said -” In the tropics, if you encounter philosophy, suspect malaria.”

    Of course, this joke is largely false, but I find it extremely funny.

    Again, I am not in any way depreciating the pleasures of scholarship and study.

    • Ja Guruji (and thank you for quoting James Boswell!). One doesn’t know what to do with that quote of Aldous Huxley – such an undefined and broad generalization! (one would have to read it in context, obviously). Who are or were those ‘individual men and women’ who were so wise and presumably influential? How do we know about them? On the other hand, if they ‘induced people to diagnose and cure their own ills and .. get them to… the place where man’s problem and its solution present themselves directly to direct experience’, some of them at least – being bona fide gurus or teachers – must have been well known. Otherwise, all that is just speculation.

      • Dear Dr. Martin,

        I am sorry to parrot the words of others but I find Einstein long ago said it better than I could hope to:

        “The only progress I can see is progress in organization. The ordinary human being does not live long enough to draw any substantial benefit from his own experience. And no one, it seems, can benefit by the experiences of others. Being both a father and teacher, I know we can teach our children nothing. We can transmit to them neither our knowledge of life nor of mathematics. Each must learn its lesson anew.”

        This, I think, applies to ALL “teachers”, including the unfortunate UGK (just winding up Anonymous, heh, heh).

        • The problem with organisation, which Einstein knew, is that it requires ever increasing complexity,which becomes increasing difficult to manage, until it collapses. That is pretty much the key to the rise and fall of civilisations.

          Bertrand Russell had a nice quote, which is probably as true for metaphysics as it is for science:

          “Not only will men of science have to grapple with the sciences that deal with man, but — and this is a far more difficult matter — they will have to persuade the world to listen to what they have discovered. If they cannot succeed in this difficult enterprise, man will destroy himself by his halfway cleverness.”

  27. Well, Guru, your quote of Huxley and the good intentions of JK and others throughout history, have all contributed to confusing and misleading humanity into thinking that if they follow the thoughts and statements of these people that have somehow ‘solved’ the human ‘problem’, they too will solve it. What a contradiction in intention!

    If we take this statement that every system was to induce people to diagnose and cure their own ills, then the posters here are guilty as charged because they constantly use the symbols and words of others, Vedanta, to further their beliefs that the symbols and words will lead them to an understanding.

    To me, this is the first understanding that has to be discovered by each person. They can never rely on a teaching, teacher, system, but on their own inspection and discovery of what is actually taking place in their experience. One key word in this investigation that is essential is ‘attention’. Attention is a natural function of the brain that is not tainted through thought and feeling and the past. It is always present and impartial. Belief systems destroy the power of attention and never allows the living power of life to manifest. JK, in his ever-wordy dialogues, eventually leads to this. But, in the meantime, either his listeners have fallen asleep or are daydreaming about themselves. UG always said I have nothing to give you and listening to anyone will always mislead you. Undoubtedly, someone will argue that they are full of shit, but no one here wants to admit that they are full of shit. So shit happens and we have shit wars and shit debates. We are left only with shit. It really stinks here.

  28. Dear Anonymous:

    Let me hold my nose and reply to you:

    I find it impossible to get riled up about this whole matter.

    Strong assertions, claims of infallible insight, implicit/explicit disparagement of opposing view points (they may well be wrong, for all I know) etc, etc, etc… EVERY SINGLE “teacher” does this, it is part of the territory.

    There are civilized people on this board who enjoy scholarship and study and hope it will lead them where they want to go…(I can’t make it more definite or clearer than that, I just don’t know.)

    Whatever floats your boat, is my motto in this regard.

    You might find this from David Mermin (Shut up and calculate!) interesting….

    Take it easy, and don’t go calling others dilettantes.

  29. A snippet of dialogue from a conversation with UG some months after his ‘calamity’.

    Questioner: There is no way. It seems everything I imagine, everything I try is an escape, and that is another thought.

    UG: You have said that already–that it is another thought and so on. If there is no other way, there is no other life but the life I am living today, with such thoughts I am creating more problems for myself. I have created this misery because of that unfortunate myth–that there is another real life which I must live. Some chap like me says that there is another state of being. It is this image that makes your life miserable. So you cut off that image once and for all; and then what is there is only life.

    Questioner: Yes. You found the way yourself. Something is different for you now.

    UG: Yes, because I am not comparing myself, because there is no comparative structure inside of me any more.

    Questioner: So, as you said a little while ago, what happened to you, maybe that will happen to me……..

    UG: Certainly it will happen. It’ll happen the moment you see that the other processes, the images you are building for yourself, the image maker, comes to an end; it is already there inside of you. What is that I have that you don’t have? The living quality. This living quality is not able to express itself because you are running away from this, thinking that there is another way of life.

    Questioner: But then, you also said that there has been a mutation–that everything, including the cells of the body, has changed.

    UG: The moment you see this, everything will change inside of you.

  30. If one compares UG’s ‘calamity’ and the attendant mutation of all his body cells (which would happen to anybody who follows his teaching and example, according to him), with what follows underneath, which one of the two accounts would anybody (potential seeker) find more direct, sensible, persuasive, uncomplicated (and understandable)?

    ‘Advaita is different’ – It might be thought that Advaita must also suffer from the same defects as other faiths… The difference is crucial: while all the philosophies mentioned… have ‘objects’ – ideas, gods, rituals or whatever – as their basis, Advaita deals only with the subject Consciousness. All objects are mithya; only the ultimate subject, Atman, is satyam… All other philosophies and religions maintain the subject-object duality… Gaudapada says that duality is only appearance, like the magician’s illusions.’ AUM – Awakening to Reality, Dennis Waite, p. 165.

  31. Martin, what is paramount to understand is that there is ‘no teaching’ that UG has put forth, and there is no goal or ultimate state to achieve. It is all a myth created through the hand me down culture of man/mind.

    Please tell me what ‘object, ideas, gods or rituals does UG hold up? None. I’ve said before, ‘UG is Advaita on steroids’. In fact, I would say he was beyond Advaita in the sense that he didn’t even posit an Atman as you seem to do. It is mind that posits these ideas and chases them.

    Again, I remind you that what happened to UG was a physical transformation that took place when all these ideas were dropped. The body, then, was able to function in what he called the ‘Natural State’, which was devoid of a self, ego, and all comparative states of mind. In other words, a total harmony with life itself.

  32. “Devoid of a self, ego and all comparative states of mind” and yet a “body able to function in what he called the ‘Natural State'”. So rather than deifying the ego or Atman, UG is just deifying the body, ‘in harmony with life itself’. Somewhat antithetical and hair-splitting?

    • It seems that this is an interpretation based on your own separateness that your beliefs have created. Why would anyone deify anything? This is certainly not what UG was all about.

      My question to you, Venkat, is what is left when all of your seeking for ‘something else’ comes to an end? Mind is no longer churning out myths and ideas about life, but life itself does not end. What ends is only that which is separate from it. The body still functions, but in a new way. It is impossible to convey as the mind will only create more images to chase.

  33. Well seen, Venkat! The body and its ‘physical transformation’. Down to physicalism or materiality, i.e., reductionism to the grossest level, even though with psychological and/or spiritual repercussions. It is well known that some people suffering from epilepsy arising from a focus or lesion in the temporal lobe had such transformations (mystical experiences), possibply St. Teresa of Avila among many others. In any case, this is dualism through and through.

    I don’t see here my reply to Anon. written last night re “‘no teaching’ that UG has put forth”. Did Anon. not understand (and follow) whatever he got from the former – which by itself constitutes teaching? Unless he just parrots him or otherwise is a confirmation of what he already knew. I leave all these possibilities open.

    Anon. imputes me, and I am sure, you and everyone else in AV, with having desires and pursuing a goal. How does he know?

    • Martin, take away all your ideas about anything, all of it, and what are you left with? Your mind fights with anything that it does not agree with. This is what is important to see. It is agitated and will defend whatever it believes.

      Take all of your analysis, all your ideas about philosophy, all your beliefs in whatever, they have nothing to do with life and what is present. It is all learned and dead. What is alive is not of the past and what others have said. Breathe deeply and feel it.

  34. Anon

    The sad thing is you don’t see the arrogant, sanctimonious crap that you have to peddle. Breathe deeply and feel it.

    • To peddle, is to sell something. I’m not selling anything. It’s free, and no need to be sad. Why get angry about it and accusative?

  35. UG: A thought can penetrate into a thing that it knows. It cannot penetrate into the unknown. Unknown is not a mystical concept I am talking about, but is a thing that I don’t know. Because the living quality of life is a thing which the thought cannot look at.

    That is why I asked the question: how do you know you are living? The moment you have an idea, that means that is the end. You don’t know. You will never know. You have no answer to that question at all. So to describe the incredible depths of life is a thing that the thought can never do. It cannot penetrate. So it always remains unknown.

    Therefore, the search for the unknown is an absurd thing. A thing that I do not know–how can I search for it? How can I seek it? How can I want it? Whatever I want, whatever I seek, whatever I pursue, is a thing which I have already known, experienced, or accepted as the experience of somebody or have created an image of that. And so I am running away from what you call the actual, real life. This is the real life. That is the unreal.

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