Q.446 satyam, j~nAnam anantam brahma

Q: Does the phrase satyam j~nAnam anantam brahma means truth-knowledge limitless or Existence-consciousness limitless? (The latter is the definition given by Swami Dayananda in one of the summer camp tapes.)

A: Strictly speaking, sat means real, existence or being; sattA means being or existence; satya means truth or being. If you look up ‘existence’, you will probably find asti or astitvam. If you look up ‘sat’ in Monier-Williams, one of the meanings is ‘that which really is, entity or existence, essence, the true being or really existent’. If you look up ‘sattva’, you get ‘being, existence, entity, reality, true essence’.

So the answer is that both are used in either context and there is no clear meaning associated with either (and I have come across both being used in both meanings. I am fairly sure that Swami D has used both to mean ‘existence’ and both to mean ‘truth’. Sanskrit is a very versatile language! (But, if you ever come across me using it clearly in one way and Swami D using it in another, take Swamiji’s meaning! He knew Sanskrit inside out; I don’t!) Continue reading

Q.486 Desires

Q: No one wants desires. When we get a desire, what we really want is for it to go away. The usual way to achieve this is by following the desire and fulfilling it. But an alternative way must be to ‘dissolve’ the desire somehow. Then it goes away without having the trouble of giving in to it and trying to satisfy it. Can advaita do this?

A: Here is what I said in ‘Advaita Made Easy’:

“Life is a never-ending cycle of desires followed by actions followed by results (usually disappointing ones because we expected too much). It is a cycle because, once we have attained the desired objective, we quickly supplant the old desire by a new one and the process begins again. We thought that we would be happy when we got whatever it was that we believed that we wanted – but it always turns out that we were mistaken.

“Why do we do it? It is because we feel that we are limited in some way and that the desired object will make us complete. This applies to all desires, from the most basic to the most sophisticated. But there is only one desire which, once achieved, will bring us the fulfillment that we seek and that is to realize our true nature. This is because that realization will bring with it the discovery that we are in fact unlimited. We are already complete.”

Q.485 Enlightenment is Self-knowledge

Q: I read your answer to  the question “Enlightenment is not an experience” here:  https://www.advaita-vision.org/q-389-enlightenment-is-not-an-experience/

You mention, “It is not about experience at all, it is about self-knowledge – the direct knowledge that you are already that which you seek.”

Let’s say I don’t know what 2+2 equals.  Then you teach me that it equals 4.  Is that knowledge?  (intellectually knowing more stuff?) Or is knowledge (Self knowledge) something different? Continue reading

EXISTENCE / ESSENCE 

Why do we exist? (Answers in Quora)

You could equally have asked: Why do stones and trees… the earth, the universe exist? There is no answer to any of those questions – other than by the various theologies. Existence is, and is the way it is, how it is – it is a given. No reasons can be given, in the same way that we cannot find a meaning to it all.

But we can assert with confidence that there is intelligence in the world, in the universe and, by extension, in all it contains; intelligence is participated in by all beings. By persistent questioning, it is possible to find an answer as to what is the nature of the universe, of existence, and of ‘me’. That answer is both personal and impersonal. Find out what the rishis of old revealed, which goes way beyond religion. Continue reading

Consciousness – Not such a Hard Problem (2 of 2)

Read Part 1

Without Consciousness, nothing can be known. But Consciousness itself cannot be an object of knowledge, just as in a totally dark room, a torch may illuminate everything but itself. Knowing requires both knower and known. For Consciousness to be known, it would have to be a knowable object but it is the knowing subject. We ‘know’ Consciousness because we are Consciousness. Consciousness is our true nature. The ultimate observer (which is who you essentially are) is simply not amenable to any type of objective investigation: who could there be beyond the ultimate observer to do the investigating?

Numerous attempts have been made to define Consciousness. Most seem to revolve around the assumption that a person’s behaviour indicates its presence or absence. It is argued that consciousness is present during the waking and dream states but not in deep-sleep or under anaesthesia, for example. But this is again to confuse Consciousness and awareness. When we awake from a deep-sleep, we are able to state with confidence that we were ‘aware of nothing’. This is a positive statement – there were no gross objects, emotions or thoughts present for us to perceive. Continue reading

Being with Nisargadatta Maharaj

A student of the teachings of Nisargadatta Maharaj who was also a friend of Jean Dunn (the editor of a number of his books) has kindly submitted a PDF of her ‘diaries’ for free download. Here is his introduction:

Jean Dunn was an American woman who lived for some years in Tiruvannamalai, India, where Ramana Maharshi’s ashram is, by the foot of the sacred mountain Arunachala.  She was devoted to Ramana Maharshi and followed his teachings. In 1977, after numerous invitations to go to meet the great sage, Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, (who became known through the book of dialogues titled “I Am That”), she finally made the trip from southern India to Bombay and met the man whom she recognized as her Guru.

These journals are the notes she made during the time she was with Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj.

These are the complete journals of Jean Dunn from 1977 to 1981, in which she writes in detail of her time with Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj. It includes dialogues that Jean and others have had with Maharaj that have never before been published. Copies of these journals have been informally and freely circulating for decades, among those who are students and practitioners of Advaita Vedanta.

Besides being of particular interest to those who have met Nisargadatta Maharaj, (or to those who have met others in the Inchigiri Navnath tradition that Nisargadatta Maharaj belonged to, such as Ranjit Maharaj and Ramakant Maharaj), it is also of value and interest to the many who have been inspired by “I Am That”, and the three books of dialogues with Nisargadatta Maharaj, which Jean Dunn edited. Nisargadatta had the highest regard for Jean Dunn, and her devotion to him and the teachings, and their palpable impact on her, shine forth in these journals.

 After Nisargadatta Maharaj’s passing, and on his authorization, Jean would meet with, and give guidance to those who would come to her, sharing the wisdom and grace that flowed through her, in her words, her silence, and her whole way of being. This edition of Jean’s Journals is complete, and unaltered.  Nothing is left out from the original manuscript that has been circulating widely among students of advaita from various traditions. As in the original edition, this edition includes the article that Jean wrote on Nisargadatta Maharaj that was published in the Mountain Path magazine in the October 1978 issue, and also includes the interview with Jean done by Malcolm Tillis which was published in his book “Turning East”.

Here is the link to the download (467K).

Consciousness – Not such a Hard Problem (1 of 2)

This is an article I wrote for a Philosophy magazine 5 years ago but it was not published. It was included in my book ‘Western Philosophy Made Easy’, which was based upon the 18-part ‘Overview of Western Philosophy‘.

ABSTRACT

The studies by neuroscience into the functioning of the brain will tell us nothing about Consciousness. We must differentiate between Consciousness and awareness. Consciousness enables the brain to perceive just as electricity enables the computer to process data. The computer does not generate electricity; the brain does not produce Consciousness.

*****

Ever since the ‘study’ of consciousness began to be an academically acceptable area of research amongst scientists, both they and Western philosophers have been heading deeper and deeper into a conceptual cul-de-sac. At the root of the problem is the tacit assumption that science will (one day) be able to provide an explanation for everything. But, more specifically as regards this particular issue, the big ‘C’ of Consciousness must be differentiated from the little ‘a’ of awareness. The conflation of the two means that the true nature of Consciousness will forever elude them.

Below, I address some of the various misconceptions that are misleading many of the neuroscientists and philosophers in the field of Consciousness Studies. It is accepted that not all of these investigators will hold such ‘extreme’ positions (and a few are much more liberal in their approach). Continue reading

The Great Indian Rope Trick:

The famous Indian Rope Trick is Shankara’s favorite to illustrate how the world or an individual separate ‘self’ originates. He says that it is like the mesmerizing show created by a Magician, himself being unaffected and uninvolved and standing unseen, “veiled magically,” on the ground. Here are three instances where Shankara refers to the Rope Trick in his Commentaries:

Shankara @ 7, Ch 1, Gaudapada kArikA on mANDUkya:

The magician throws the rope up in the sky, climbs by it with hands, disappears from sight (of the spectators), engages himself in a fight (in the sky) in which his limbs, having been severed, fall to the ground and he rises again. The onlooker, though witnessing the performance, does not evince any interest in the thought in regard to the reality of the magic show performed by the magician. Similarly, there is a real illusionist who is other than the rope and the one that climbs up the rope. Continue reading

Ashtavakra Gita Chalisa: 40 verses from Ashtavakra Gita

Part 2 of 2

21
अष्टावक्र उवाच –
आचक्ष्व शृणु वा तात नानाशास्त्राण्यनेकशः।
तथापि न तव स्वास्थ्यं सर्वविस्मरणाद् ऋते॥ 16.1॥
aṣṭāvakra uvāca-
ācakṣva śṛṇu vā tāta nānāśāstrāṇyanekaśaḥ;
tathāpi na tava svāsthyaṃ sarvavismaraṇādṛte.

Ashtavakra says: My child, you may have heard from many scholars or read many scriptures, yet you will not be established in Self unless you forget every single thing.

22
इदं कृतमिदं नेति द्वंद्वैर्मुक्तं यदा मनः।
धर्मार्थकाममोक्षेषु निरपेक्षं तदा भवेत्॥16.5॥

idaṃ kṛtamidaṃ neti dvandvairmuktaṃ yadā manaḥ;
dharmārthakāmamokṣeṣu nirapekṣaṃ tadā bhavet.

Ashtavakra: When mind is free from pairs of opposites such as ‘this is done’ and ‘this is not done’, it is free from the desire of religious merit, worldly prosperity, sensuality and liberation.

Continue reading

Ashtavakra Gita Chalisa: 40 verses from Ashtavakra Gita

 Part 1 of 2

 Introduction

Asshtavakra Gita (also known as Ashtavakra Samhita) is a conversation between the king Janaka and sage Ashtavakra. Vakra means crooked. Ashtavakra’s body was crooked since birth because of a curse from his father. The Gita has 298 verses in twenty chapters. Chapter 18 has the maximum number of 100 verses. As Janaka is a jnani student (he is known as Janakvideha) the conversation is of the highest order and most of the verses are declaration of bare non-dual truths from the Absolute standpoint. There is no recourse to reason and explanation. It is tailor made for a seeker who has got reasonable success in shravan (listening) and manan (contemplation) and has crossed the intellectual threshold and his heart is ready to throb. The verses can be used for nidhidhyasana (vedantic meditation). With this view, 40 verses are selected with meaning and presented here. One can as well make another set of different verses.

Note: 1.2 means verse 2 in chapter 1            

1

जनक उवाच –
कथं ज्ञानमवाप्नोति, कथं मुक्तिर्भविष्यति।
वैराग्य च कथं प्राप्तमेतद ब्रूहि मम प्रभो॥1.1॥

Janaka uvāca
kathaṃ jñānamavāpnoti kathaṃ muktirbhaviṣyati;
vairāgyaṃ ca kathaṃ prāptametadbrūhi mama prabho.

Janaka asks the sage Ashtavakra. How is knowledge acquired, how is liberation  attained and how is renunciation possible? Please tell me all this; O great one. Continue reading