Q. 378 – Existence and Experience

Q: Without hot, cold doesn’t exist. Without up there is no down, without in there is no out etc. The basic nature of duality. However if you apply this to the non-dual Brahman…

In the absence of that which is not (Brahman), that which is (Brahman), is not (doesn’t exist.)

My idea is that the Relative Reality is not only dependent on the Absolute (Brahman) but that actually both are interdependent on each other. I know this is counter to Advaita and forgive me and my lack of knowledge, especially of the Sanskrit terms, and I’m sure it makes your skin crawl to continually refer to things such as relativity as a reality.

Why do I say something can’t exist without it’s opposite? I will do my best to explain my ideas.

A thing cannot exist without it’s opposite because it cannot be experienced without it’s opposite, or rather awareness of it’s opposite. If a thing cannot be experienced then it does not exist, to the one experiencing it.

Ultimately, everything exists in one of two ways, either as a potential or possibility, or as a realized form.

Brahman is the non-dual changeless reality, and in being All That Is, it is therefore the potential for everything that ever could be. In and of itself, Brahman is nothing, i.e. no-thing; it is nothing that is realized as a form, or a potential realized.

I’m not sure how Advaita deals with experience at all, but my idea is that just because Brahman is All That Is, it cannot exist because there is nothing that is not Brahman, and this is the one desire of Brahman. You could say that Brahman has no desires because there is no other and therefore has everything (which is really nothing), but you can still be all yet have desire. Since desire is what drives duality, my idea from this comes from the fact that you could be enlightened, realize you are brahman and all is brahman, and yet still have desires.

Brahman’s only desire then would be to exist; this is also true of all life. Every being has the single primal desire to exist; it is why all organisms strive to survive, and why the greatest fear from which all fears stem from is the idea of not existing.

The only way Brahman could exist is if it could experience itself, because being everything wouldn’t mean anything without something that was not everything to be everything to. Brahman could conceptually know itself as we know things but experience is different. You could read about the majesty and size of the California Red woods, you could see pictures and watch videos, even measure out their size, but until you are actually there and see them, and experience them for yourself, you never truly know.

Brahman experiences itself through the ignorance of itself, which is why Brahman is beginningless, and the Ignorance is beginningless because both have always existed, because without either one, the other would not exist. This is why both states, both Brahman and the Jiva are equally real because depending on which perspective you are speaking from, that is what is real.

I guess what I’m getting at is that if Brahman is Pure Awareness, that Pure Awareness doesn’t exist without something to be aware of, and since Pure Awareness is All That Is (Brahman) it has no choice but to be aware of itself, which is what consciousness is, and therefore experiences itself through its awareness of itself. Pure Awareness doesn’t exist without something to be aware of because what would be the point then? There would be no purpose, and the idea that Brahman exists as the non-dual reality, for no reason, doesn’t makes sense to me because everything else we experience does have a purpose.

I admit I am not studied in advaita and have immensely enjoyed reading the questions and answers on the site (I’m still getting through them) and have lots of questions of my own, I guess more to confirm what it is I’m believing.

So for the sake of questions, and your willingness to answer them, I’ll ask one more.

Conceptually speaking, after a person is enlightened, and the body dies, then what? Does that awareness just remain in undifferentiated nothingness/ Oneness forever more? Or is that just an experience which comes to an end, and the enlightened awareness then again finds itself in the illusion again to continue the process of living now from the realized perspective?

A: Hot and cold, up and down etc are attributes. Brahman is attribute-less. You cannot apply logic here. Brahman is outside of time, space, causality (or rather these are mithyA concepts appearing in Brahman). One of the definitions of mithyA is being dependent upon something else for its existence. Everything is dependent on brahman; brahman depends on nothing. Also, brahman cannot be experienced so your reasoning about needing an opposite falls down. But it is not non-existent because I, the witnessing Consciousness who cannot experience it AM Brahman and it is not possible to deny my own existence. Brahman is also changeless, and without limit of any kind so the concept of ‘potential’ has no meaning. There isn’t anything that ever could be that isn’t brahman.

How could you ‘be all’ yet ‘still have desires’? (Are you speaking from experience?) The rest of your ‘first’ (!) question doesn’t really make sense. It reads as though you are using words which have special meaning in Advaita yet trying to apply everyday reasoning to them. ‘Consciousness’, for example, is used as an English ‘equivalent’ to Brahman. But it is not the simple consciousness of the person that we say is lost under anesthetic. Consciousness (with a capital) is always there, no matter what the state of body and mind. And it is not the same as the ‘awareness’ to which we refer when someone is cognizant of some object being present. (Unfortunately, Nisargadatta uses these terms the other way round, just to confuse you!)

Your last question has been covered in the archives. If you are working your way through, you should get to it eventually!