samAdhi Again – 2

Part 1

  We shall present in this Part – 2 how the word samAdhi is used in Yogavasishta (Yogavasishta  is available as a pdf at this site). The word samAdhi occurs very ubiquitously in this text. It is used both in its Yogic and Advaita Vedanta meaning. A few select citations are illustrated below.

[We may, however, note that the original Commentator Shri Anandabodehndhra Swami Ji and also the current author Shri K. V. Krishna Murthy whose version is followed here belong to the tradition of Shankara. Hence we can expect the influence of Shankara in their interpretation.]

***

 1.  samAdhi is obtained through the practice of controlling the mind. Control of the mind can help to bring about the arresting of the senses from running after the worldly objects. So the Yogi’s desires for worldly things may disappear. Unless one realizes that all percepts are unreal and non-existent, practicing only samAdhi will not stop the yogi from going back to the worldly things when he is out of samAdhi. Just being in samAdhi will not bring about the knowledge that the visible world is untrue. It is necessary that one has to realize the false appearance of the world in order to be liberated. So one cannot attain liberation from the practice of deep meditation alone. It requires the Knowledge of Self.”

–  Way to Attain The Self-Knowledge, Ch 3, Origination.

2.  “The yogis practicing the nirvikalpa samAdhi understand brahman as follows:

i)   Yoga is control of thoughts. If one succeeds in the technique of controlled samAdhi, all the thought waves in the mind will subside. The yogi then witnesses the self-luminous Beingness. That Itself is brahman.

ii)   The triad of meditator, the meditated and meditating will end for a yogi who attains nirvikalpa samAdhi. There will be a Witnesser to the ending of the triad. That Witnesser is brahman.

iii)  During samAdhi, in the state before his mind gets back to its tendency to go towards the objective world, the Yogi’s mind stays pure and serene. That Itself is brahman.

iv) During deep samAdhi state, the Yogi’s mind attains the form of infinite brahman. He is alive; but he does not feel the touch of the wind or the smell of the flowers. During that stage, whatever is experienced in his mind is brahman.

– Two Facets of brahman, Ch 3, Origination.

3.  “For the present, I shall confer on how to annul impressions. Rama! Please know this:

बद्धो हि वासनाबद्धो मोक्षः स्याद्वासनाक्षयः
वासनास्त्वं परित्यज्य मोक्षार्थित्वमपि त्यज ।। —  shloka 19, sarga 57, Ch 4, sthiti prakaraNa.

(Being tied down with impressions is bondage; eradication of impressions is liberation. Eradicate the impressions and drop even the desire for liberation).

Cultivate the four qualities that are talked about in standard Yoga Books. These four are “Friendliness, compassion, cheerfulness and indifference.” Be friendly towards happy people; be compassionate to those who are in sorrow; be cheerful with meritorious people; and be indifferent towards sinners. Contemplating in this manner brings calmness to the mind. A calm mind facilitates abidance in deep meditation (samAdhi niShTa).

शेषे स्थिरसमाधानो येन त्यजसि तत्त्यज ।। —  shloka 22, sarga 57, Ch 4, sthiti prakaraNa.

(When once established like that, leave even this contemplation).

Enter firmly into Supreme Consciousness through asamprajnata samAdhi. asamprajnata samAdhi is the topmost of the variety of samAdhi-s (deep meditation) propounded in yoga books.

You will see then for yourself your true nature as Supreme Consciousness.”

—  Annihilation of Impressions, Ch 4, stihti prakaraNa

4.   “What is samAdhi (deep meditation)? It is not sleep. It is not deep sleep (suShupti). samAdhi stands for a steady, unwavering mind! It is not a mind which merely appears to be stable. It has to be truly balanced, composed, and steady. Such a steady state is unobtainable as long as impressions exist in mind. Hence samAdhi is a state when impressions are annihilated. It is the same state as “Non-doership.” Even if the body acts in this state, the mind does not get ‘doership.’ In other words, the mind in such a state does not have ‘doership’ whether the body is moving, or not moving, gets involved in worldly affairs or in deep meditation. A mind lacking ‘doership’ is the mind of a Self-realized man. Hence the mind of a Self-realized man is forever in the state of ‘non-doership’, in a state of perpetual samAdhi. It can be easily concluded from this that it makes no difference at all whether a Self-realized man is in deep meditation or immersed in worldly affairs.”

–  Meditation-centered and Transaction-centered Knowledge, Ch 5, The Calm down.

5.   “Sage Vasishta provided another definition for samAdhi.

प्रशान्तजगदास्थोऽन्तर्वीतशोकभयैषणः
स्वस्थो भवति येनात्मा समाधिरिति स्मृतः ।।   –  shloka 20, sarga 56, Ch 5, The Calm down

(samAdhi is that state when one does not consider world as real and therefore loses desires, has no fears and sorrows and has the mind in its own natural state (swastha).

Sage Vasishta offers a couple of examples for clarity. Suppose a person is seated alone on a high mountain in a thick forest. His mind is fully occupied with the phenomenal world. Can anyone say that he is in samAdhi (meditation)? Another person though stays in a house, does not concern himself with any of what is going on in his house. Can we call him a householder?

Here is yet one more example. A person was told that a snake entered his room in which the iron safe was kept. He ran away leaving all his money, valuable, jewelry and gold. Can we describe his act as detachment for wealth? It does not amount to renouncement at all if a person leaves the worldly things out of fear, anger or excessive attachment for something else. True sacrifice is rejecting the worldly things without fear, anger or attachment to something else.”

–  Meditation-centered and Transaction-centered Knowledge, Ch 5, The Calm down.

6.  “Physical transfers involving give and take exist in worldly affairs. We cannot just because of that say that a mind is involved in worldly affairs. We cannot also describe that person to be in meditation, because meditative state involves withdrawal of senses from external objects and continued experience of a distinction between the meditator and the thing meditated upon. We cannot describe the state of such a mind by any name other than samAdhi. Only in a state of samAdhi does the mind lose its movement; will be free of acceptance or rejection; and has no sense of differentiation. Therefore, we have to call the state of mind obtained after realizing the falsity of the world as samAdhi only. There is no other way of describing it.”

–  Meditation-centered and Transaction-centered Knowledge, Ch 5, The Calm down.

7.  प्रोक्तः समाधिशब्देन नतु तूष्णीमवस्थितिः ।।  —  shloka 8,  sarga 62

(samAdhi is not sitting in one position with eyes closed and without budging. It is also not that the senses stay fixed).

samAdhi is a state when the stored impressions in the mind are totally annihilated. Knowledge of Truth is essential for this to happen. Only then does the mind stay established in the Supreme. That is one-pointed attention. That is true samAdhi. It is not possible that such an individual could be in any other state than that of samAdhi. Is there any need to make an effort to be in that state? It is all the same whether he continues in worldly affairs because of his previous habit or in yogic meditation of samAdhi. It cannot be samAdhi if an individual forcefully controls his senses and sits frozen without realization of the Supreme Truth.

My Friend! You have been enquiring whether I could obtain a thoughtless state in samAdhi. When do I have any thoughts? One goes into a thoughtless state intermittently only in case thoughts continue to be present. If thoughtless state defines samAdhi, I am always in samAdhi.

What I said thus far sounds as if there is a distinct mind of mine which goes to merge with the Supreme Self and that state is samAdhi. Let me hasten to add this. That is not correct representation. Mind does not exist at all. Looked at from this angle, there is no samAdhi for me. ‘What is’ is only the non-dual Oneness! The whole visible world is Me! When that is the Truth, where is the question of samAdhi or non-samAdhi state? ”                                             –  Could Knowledge be Permanent?, Ch 5, The Calm down.

8.  “Rama: After reaching the final stage on the Knowledge Path making so much of effort, won’t the mind come back to its original ways when dealing with the world like a bow springing back to its curved shape after the release of the arrow? The mind cannot but act in the empirical world.

Vasishta: No, no. You are mistaken. Mind does not behave like a bow. It is more like a Garland of Flowers. In whatever shape we may bend and keep it, it would stay that way only. But, by the way, what is your idea of samAdhi?

द्रष्टृदृश्यैकतारूपः प्रत्ययो मनसो यदा
तदेकसमाधाने तदा विश्राम्यति स्वयम् ।।  —  shloka 38, sarga 45, Book 2, Ch 6, Nirvana.

samAdhi is the internalization by the mind of the Truth (Knowledge) that the observer (drasTa) and the observed (dRishya) are non-different. No sooner than this Truth is realized, the mind becomes tranquil within the Self. Such tranquility is possible only for one who discarded the three desires. This Knowledge comes naturally to him.

[Note: Sage Patanjali calls such a mind as one-pointed mind (samyama). Commentator, Shri Anandabodhendra Swami says that the samAdhi mentioned in Yogavaasishta matches exactly with the samyama of Patanjali Yoga Sutras.]

Vasishta (Continuing):  Rama, you seem to be under the impression that samAdhi may be lost after a while in spite of the fact that a lot of effort has gone into obtaining it. Your effort has a meaning only till Pure Knowledge arises in you. Once the realization takes place, it will never be lost. You need not try again and again to get it. There is no end to the Samadhi obtained by a Knower of Truth.

The fundamental prop for the entire process is the higher detachment. When once one is detached, Realization of Self and Samadhi automatically follow without exception. Nobody can stop the process. People sometimes describe the higher detachment itself as samAdhi for this reason.”                                                                                                                                                          —    samAdhi, Book 2, Ch 6, Nirvana

9.  Expressing in simple words,

ज्ञानाद्विषयवैरस्य समाधिर्हि नेतरः ।।                —  shloka 15, sarga 46,  Book 2, Ch 6, Nirvana.

(samAdhi is the highest detachment obtained from Knowledge).

Any other definition is redundant. Meditation is useless without detachment. Meditation is meaningless with detachment. Utter detachment is the most fundamental thing of all for Nirvana.

श्रुतपाठजपान्तेषु समाधिनिरतो भवेत्
समाधिविरतः श्रान्तः श्रुतपाठजपाञ्छ्रयेत् ।।             —  shloka 23, sarga 46, Book 2.

(For a good practice of samAdhi, study Vedas along with your teacher and co-students. Understand Upanishads by yourself. Recite Aum repeatedly. Conducting yourself thus, gently get into samAdhi. In case you feel tired and come out of samAdhi, take recourse to studying Vedas, reading Upanishads and recitation of Aum; but do not lose your focus).”

samAdhi, Book 2, Ch 6, Nirvana.

(To Continue … Part – 3)

55 thoughts on “samAdhi Again – 2

  1. Just a couple of observations:

    2 i) “If one succeeds in the technique of controlled samAdhi, all the thought waves in the mind will subside. The yogi then witnesses the self-luminous Beingness. That Itself is brahman.”

    The yogi then witnesses a still mind without thoughts. That cannot be brahman; that is still duality. In any case, everything was, is and will be brahman, irrespective of thought or samAdhi.

    2 iii) “During that stage, whatever is experienced in his mind is brahman.”

    This cannot be the ‘brahman’ spoken of in Advaita, then. Presumably it is not just that the ‘samAdhi’ is the Yoga version but that what it reveals is the Yoga version of reality also (i.e. duality of puruSha-s, prakRRiti and Ishvara).

  2. The First and Last Freedom Chapter 4 ‘Self-knowledge’ J Krishnamurti.

    (Unfortunately, have to resort to cut and paste but it seemed relevant, direct, limpid. By no means doest it detract from the pleasures of scholarship, though)

    The fundamental understanding of oneself does not come through knowledge or through the accumulation of experiences, which is merely the cultivation of memory. The understanding of oneself is from moment to moment; if we merely accumulate knowledge of the self, that very knowledge prevents further understanding, because accumulated knowledge and experience becomes the centre through which thought focuses and has its being. The world is not different from us and our activities because it is what we are which creates the problems of the world; the difficulty with the majority of us is that we do not know ourselves directly, but seek a system, a method, a means of operation by which to solve the many human problems.

    Now is there a means, a system, of knowing oneself? Any clever person, any philosopher, can invent a system, a method; but surely the following of a system will merely produce a result created by that system, will it not? If I follow a particular method of knowing myself, then I shall have the result which that system necessitates; but the result will obviously not be the understanding of myself. That is by following a method, a system, a means through which to know myself, I shape my thinking, my activities, according to a pattern; but the following of a pattern is not the understanding of oneself.

    Therefore there is no method for self-knowledge. Seeking a method invariably implies the desire to attain some result – and that is what we all want. We follow authority – if not that of a person, then of a system, of an ideology – because we want a result which will be satisfactory, which will give us security. We really do not want to understand ourselves, our impulses and reactions, the whole process of our thinking, the conscious as well as the unconscious; we would rather pursue a system which assures us of a result. But the pursuit of a system is invariably the outcome of our desire for security, for certainty, and the result is obviously not the understanding of oneself. When we follow a method, we must have authorities – the teacher, the guru, the saviour, the Master – who will guarantee us what we desire; and surely that is not the way to self-knowledge.

    (Even more important, IMHO, the following paragraph)

    The understanding of oneself is not a result, a culmination; it is seeing oneself from moment to moment in the mirror of relationship – one’s relationship to property, to things, to people and to ideas. But we find it difficult to be alert, to be aware, and we prefer to dull our minds by following a method, by accepting authorities, superstitions and gratifying theories; so our minds become weary, exhausted and insensitive. Such a mind cannot be in a state of creativeness. That state of creativeness comes only when the self, which is the process of recognition and accumulation, ceases to be; because, after all, consciousness as the `me’ is the centre of recognition, and recognition is merely the process of the accumulation of experience. But we are all afraid to be nothing, because we all want to be something. The little man wants to be a big man, the unvirtuous wants to be virtuous, the weak and obscure crave power, position and authority. This is the incessant activity of the mind. Such a mind cannot be quiet and therefore can never understand the state of creativeness.

  3. Thanks Dennis for the kind observations.

    Yogavasishta, though talks of two different approaches, and calls them the Yogic Path and the Knowledge Path, the Yogic Path has no relation to the Patanajali Yoga.

    The Yogic paths described in Yogavasishta do use some of the “to do” actions like prANAyAma (breath exercises), fasting rituals and austerities etc. but they seamlessly segue into the Knowledge path. Much like in Shankara system, Sage Vasishta too is not opposed to using Yogic practices in the beginning phases by a seeker. Sage Vasishta too holds that the “realization” happens from Self-knowledge only.

    We notice a similar distinction of two paths made in Bhagavad-Gita. For example:

    Krishna says in 2.39: “This, which has been taught to thee is wisdom concerning Sankhya. Now listen to wisdom concerning Yoga, which possessing thou shalt cast off the bond of action.”

    Further BG 3.3 says: “In this world a twofold path was taught by Me at first, – that of Sankhyas by devotion to knowledge, and that of Yogins by devotion to action.”

    We have a very similar verse in Yogavasishta also about two paths being available. But the yogic path does not talk of independent Purusha, Prakriti etc.as Patanjali Yoga does. [I have to locate that verse in Yogavasishta.]

    In the specific context I have quoted the part from Ch 3: Origination, Sage Vasishta was explaining the nature of brahman from two perspectives – from that of those who realized the Self and from that of those yogis who had not.

    I quoted the portion which spoke about the nature of brahman from the perspective of the “Realized” Yogis.

    regards,

  4. Hi Shishya,

    Thanks for the quote.

    There is nothing to disagree with or dispute in the excerpt quoted by you from the POV of Advaita.

    Advaita fully endorses what is said.

    Perhaps, though you have not clearly pointed it out, you are referring to the word “knowledge” that is common to what we are talking and what JK referred to.

    By “Self-Knowledge” what Advaita talks about is not the memory based accumulative dead mass of information acquired either through experience or book-learning. It is ever fresh, historyless “Knowing” of one’s “Reality” which is, famously, inexpressible by words and unthinkable by (or inaccessible to) the mind.

  5. Hi Dennis,

    Here is the verse about the two paths I was referring to from Yogavasishta.

    द्वौ क्रमो चित्तनाशस्य योगो ज्ञानं च राघव । — shloka 8, sarga 78, Ch 5, The Calm down.
    [There are two ways to end the mind – The way of Yoga and the Way of jnAna…]

    This topic was discussed again in the next Chapter: Nirvana (First part). The advice given by Sage Vasishta comparing the two paths is quite illuminating.
    An excerpt follows:

    “Sage Vasishta: Rama! As a matter of fact both methods are called as ‘Yoga’, because both can bring forth a unity of the individual and the Supreme Self. However, the path involving the control of life-breath is usually referred to as Yoga method. Therefore, elders call one as the Path of Yoga and the other as the Path of Knowledge.

    “Your question is about the relative merits of the methods. As a matter of fact, there is no difference between the two paths. Some find the Yoga path more convenient and some may find the Knowledge path more suitable. I find the Knowledge path to be more convenient for me.

    “Knowledge path is better suited to one who can, with no bias and without prejudices, analyze things and stick to the conclusion arrived at logically. This path is relatively free from externally imposed restrictions. It may not be possible for some to be able to adhere to strict logic. Such people will find the Yoga path to be easier. The Yoga path stipulates many conditions. Yoga path has to be followed for a long time without interruptions. From this angle, this is somewhat more difficult between the two.

    “But be forewarned of an important thing. Individuals pompously proclaiming to be following Knowledge path will not have an iota of benefit if they cannot hold on to the logically derived deduction that “I am not the body” and go about internally craving for worldly comforts. It is better such persons adopt the Yoga path. By doing so, any of their remnant hidden desires will be eliminated and they will eventually realize Oneness with Self…..”
    — Knowledge and Yoga, Ch. 6: Nirvana, Book I, Yogavasishta.

  6. I feel obliged to take issue with Shishya’s J. Krishnamurti quote.

    He (JK) says: “The fundamental understanding of oneself does not come through knowledge… if we merely accumulate knowledge of the self, that very knowledge prevents further understanding…”

    This is nonsense. It seems that, no matter how many times one repeats the essential points, still similar claims are raised. Please identify any of the following points that are incorrect.

    1. Since there is ONLY brahman in reality, we must already BE brahman.

    2. So what is the problem? Clearly it must be that we do not KNOW this to be so.

    3. No action (whether karma or upAsana) can bring about this knowledge.

    4. We have to acquire this knowledge from somewhere.

    5. Since it is totally counter-intuitive, it is not going to arise in the course of our daily activities – everything in our perception and action is dualistic. We have to acquire it from somewhere. It is ‘contained’ in the scriptures and traditionally explained by a guru. We have to listen to this (shravaNa) and ask questions until we understand it (manana). We probably then have to assimilate it until it is completely accepted (nididhyAsana). [Action is now relevant because we have realized the truth through knowledge. The rest is down to prArabdha.]

    6. We NEVER experience it. Brahman has no attributes that could be sensed in any way. And we ARE brahman, so there is nothing objective that could be or need be ‘experienced’.

    7. JK presumably never came across bhAga-tyAga-lakShaNa. If he had, he would appreciate that the appropriate bit of knowledge triggers a realization that is PRECISELY a “fundamental understanding of oneself “. ‘Tat tvam asi’ is one such bit of knowledge and there are many others in the shruti. These ‘very knowledge’, far from ‘preventing further understanding’, open up the mind to the limitless realization of our Self as the true reality. They work by removing at a stroke the false knowledge (which is really ignorance) laid down by exposure to such ideas as those expressed here by JK.

    8. Actions of any kind can never destroy ignorance.

    9. Without the advent of this knowledge, we may indeed live ‘moment to moment’, but it will be with the support of the same ignorance that has kept is in saMsAra so far and will continue to do so.

    Shishya says that ‘even more important is the following’:

    “The understanding of oneself is not a result, a culmination; it is seeing oneself from moment to moment in the mirror of relationship – one’s relationship to property, to things, to people and to ideas.”

    What has this got to do with Advaita? How can continuing to see duality help one to understand the nature of reality?

  7. Hi Ramesam,

    I don’t actually agree with you regarding the Bhagavad Gita quotes. My understanding is that ‘yoga’ generally means ‘topic’ in the Gita. Sankhya means ‘knowledge of the Upanishads, AtmA’. BG 3.3 is not saying that there are two alternative paths but that there is a two-fold discipline of the karma yoga of the karma kANDa to prepare the mind to be able to follow the j~nAna yoga of the j~nAna kANDa – shravaNa, manana, nididhyAsana. As I keep saying: ONLY knowledge can convince us that we are already liberated.

    If you believe otherwise, can you tell me what exactly is the ‘yoga path’ and how does it remove Self-ignorance?

  8. Dear Dennis,

    When I referred to the two BG verses, I did so based on what Shankara himself said in his commentary.

    First about the word “yoga”:
    As you are well aware ‘yoga’ has multiple meanings. Standard dics like Monier etc list “a means , expedient , device , way , manner , method.”
    (See: http://spokensanskrit.org/index.php?tran_input=sAGkhya&direct=se&script=hk&link=yes&mode=3
    or
    https://www.sanskrit-lexicon.uni-koeln.de/cgi-bin/tamil/recherche

    One may translate it contextually as “topic.” But, IMHO, “path or means or method etc.” fit better in the present context of the usage in the Gita.

    About the two paths:

    While introducing the verse 2.39, Shankara writes:
    “शोकमोहापनयनाय लौकिको न्यायः ‘स्वधर्ममपि चावेक्ष्य’ (भ. गी. २ । ३१) इत्याद्यैः श्लोकैरुक्तः, न तु तात्पर्येण । परमार्थदर्शनमिह प्रकृतम् । तच्चोक्तमुपसंह्रियते — ‘एषा तेऽभिहिता’ (भ. गी. २ । ३९) इति शास्त्रविषयविभागप्रदर्शनाय । इह हि प्रदर्शिते पुनः शास्त्रविषयविभागे उपरिष्टात् ‘ज्ञानयोगेन साङ्‍ख्यानां कर्मयोगेन योगिनाम्’ (भ. गी. ३ । ३) इति निष्ठाद्वयविषयं शास्त्रं सुखं प्रवर्तिष्यते, श्रोतारश्च विषयविभागेन सुखं ग्रहीष्यन्ति इत्यत आह —

    Translation by Alladi:
    “Worldly considerations have been adduced (ii. 31 etc.) to dispel grief and attachment ; but they do not form the main subject of teaching. On the other hand, it is the realization of the Supreme Reality that forms the main subject of this portion of the discourse ; and this, which has been treated of already, is concluded in (ii. 39) with a view to exhibit the division of the whole subject of
    the sastra.

    For, by making such a division of the whole subject of the sastra as has been shewn here, that portion of the work which will treat of the two paths later on (3.3) will proceed the more smoothly; and the hearers also will understand it the more easily for this division of the whole subject.”

    And at the verse 3.3,Shankara comments:
    “लोके अस्मिन् शास्त्रार्थानुष्ठानाधिकृतानां त्रैवर्णिकानां द्विविधा द्विप्रकारा निष्ठा स्थितिः अनुष्ठेयतात्पर्यं पुरा पूर्वं सर्गादौ प्रजाः सृष्ट्वा तासाम् अभ्युदयनिःश्रेयसप्राप्तिसाधनं वेदार्थसम्प्रदायमाविष्कुर्वता प्रोक्ता मया सर्वज्ञेन ईश्वरेण हे अनघ अपाप । तत्र का सा द्विविधा निष्ठा इत्याह — तत्र ज्ञानयोगेन ज्ञानमेव योगः तेन साङ्ख्यानाम् आत्मानात्मविषयविवेकविज्ञानवतां ब्रह्मचर्याश्रमादेव कृतसंन्यासानां वेदान्तविज्ञानसुनिश्चितार्थानां परमहंसपरिव्राजकानां ब्रह्मण्येव अवस्थितानां निष्ठा प्रोक्ता । कर्मयोगेन कर्मैव योगः कर्मयोगः तेन कर्मयोगेन योगिनां कर्मिणां निष्ठा प्रोक्ता इत्यर्थः ।

    Translation by Alladi:
    “In this world-with reference to the people of the three castes, for whom alone are intended the teachings of the sastra (Scripture), a twofold nishtha or path of devotion was taught by Me, the Omniscient Lord, when at first, at the beginning
    of creation, I created people and revived the tradition. Of the Vedic doctrine for teaching them the means of attaining worldly prosperity and Bliss.

    What was that twofold path of devotion? One of them was jnana-yoga, the devotion of knowledge — knowledge itself being yoga – suited to the Sankhyas, to those who possessed a clear knowledge of the Self and the not-Self, who renounced the world from the Brahmacharya (the first holy order or asrama), who determined the nature of things in the light of the Vedantic wisdom, who belonged to the highest class of samnyasins known as the Paramahamsas, whose thoughts ever dwelt on Brahman only. The other was karma-yoga, the devotion of action, — action itself being Yoga or devotion — suited to Yogins, to karmins, to those who were inclined to action.”

    You can see thus, the word meaning here for Yoga, Yogi etc. refer to the “To do” types and not to the practitioners of Patanjali Yoga.

    regards,

  9. Dennis,

    You also asked : “… can you tell me what exactly is the ‘yoga path’ and how does it remove Self-ignorance?”

    Shankara himself answered that in his commentary at 2.39:

    “एषा ते तुभ्यम् अभिहिता उक्ता साङ्‍ख्ये परमार्थवस्तुविवेकविषये बुद्धिः ज्ञानं साक्षात् शोकमोहादिसंसारहेतुदोषनिवृत्तिकारणम् । योगे तु तत्प्राप्त्युपाये निःसङ्गतया द्वन्द्वप्रहाणपूर्वकम् ईश्वराराधनार्थे कर्मयोगे कर्मानुष्ठाने समाधियोगे च इमाम् अनन्तरमेवोच्यमानां बुद्धिं शृणु । ”

    Translation by Alladi:

    This, which has been taught to you, constitutes wisdom (buddhi) concerning Sankhya or the true nature of the Absolute Reality, that wisdom by which may be brought about the cessation of the evil (i.e. the ignorance of the true nature of the Self) which is the cause of samsAra, — of grief, attachment, and the like.

    Now, listen to the teaching (which follows presently) concerning Yoga, which is
    the means of attaining wisdom concerning Sankhya. This Yoga which constitutes the worship of Isvara consists in practicing samAdhi or in performing works without attachment, after killing all pairs of opposites (such as heat and cold).

    [Please note the use of the word “samAdhi” by Shankara in the above sentence.]

    regards,

  10. Dennis,

    About the Talks of J. Krishnamurti.

    I know you and perhaps Martin also have some reservations. Having read many of his writings and having attended a full course of his talks, I can say the following:

    He talks of the Ultimate Reality as something inexpressible and also inaccessible to the human mind. He also says It is One and not many. That’s what precisely Advaita too tells us.

    In order to “understand” and imbibe that final “Truth,” various teachers have come up with different approaches. As you know the Upanishads predominantly followed the method of adhyAropa – apavAda.
    Shankara adopted the same method in his Commentaries on brahma sUtra-s and the Upanishads. However, in the shorter treatises, he adopted a different approach.

    Kena Upanishad (first 2 parts), aShTAvakra samhita, aparokShAnubhUti etc. chose a more direct path. Ramana, Atmananda K Menon,Nisargadatta Maharaj and a few others followed on the direct method.

    Of course, even in the good old times, the two methodologies were known and they were referred to as the Path of Bird’s Flight (vihanga mArga) and pipIlikA mArga (The Ant’s Way).

    Sureshwara famously declared that there were thousands of ways and what is important is that one should realize the essence of the “I-principle.”

    Thus, it is not mandatory that a seeker has to follow a particular “mandated” method for Self-realization.

    J. Krishnamurti’s, because of the dogmas existing in his times or whatever the reasons, adopted a completely “iconoclastic” approach. Having arrived at that final “Understanding” following no particular path and having not depended on the ancient Indian scriptures, he developed his own way of expressing the “same Truth of Oneness.” that the scriptures refer to.

    You may ask me how I know it is the same Truth. The answer lies in a few of the “key phrases” of his which exactly echo what is contained in BG or the Upanishads. (Listing them deserves a separate Post).

    Viewed from the angle of the final “message” and not the methodology, it is difficult to say that what he talks is not what Advaita tells us. Of course, it is granted that not many will appreciate his “song” (as he himself refers to his talks sometimes), but by that itself we need not condemn what he talks as antagonistic to Advaita.

    I hope Venkat can add more convincing explanation.

    regards,

  11. Ramesam,

    Regarding Gita 2.39, I would argue that this supports what I have been saying if correctly interpreted. Shankara is saying that what was said earlier in Chapter 2 (verses 11 – 30) has all been about knowledge being the only remedy for ignorance of the true nature of the Self (sAMkhya). But he now needs to address the issue that not all minds are suitably prepared to receive this knowledge. The Gita mirrors the Vedas in the sense that there is a karmakANDa equivalent teaching of means and ends and a j~nAna kANDa equivalent of Self-knowledge. karma done for the end of purifying the mind in order to be able to obtain Self-knowledge is a ‘yoga’. The rest of Chapter 2 addresses this. Without a ‘pure mind’ (i.e. one which can be controlled, exercise discrimination etc.), there will be no mokSha because an impure mind cannot ‘take on board’ the teaching of Advaita.

    There is no ‘either-or’ situation here, and a combination of the two is not what is suggested (I have written an article about samuchchaya vAda elsewhere). It is simply that karma yoga must be done first before taking on j~nAna yoga.

    There are two lifestyles – that of the karma yogi and that of the saMnyAsin – but only one means of gaining Self-knowledge. And it is this that is addressed in 3.3 – niSThA means ‘committed lifestyle’, not ‘path’! And, for the karma yogi, there IS a combination of karma and j~nAna, unlike the saMnyAsin who has renounced all actions-for-ends. Arjuna is obviously a karma yogi because, although he is listening to the teaching of Krishna, he is also about to go into battle. He ‘becomes’ a karma yogi, rather than just a performer of actions, because his aim is now mokSha. The karma that he does, performed with the attitude taught by Krishna, will purify his mind.

    As you must know, I have always used ‘reason’ as the arbiter of which interpretation to accept for any text or teaching in Advaita where there are several opinions. And this attitude I believe is in line with Shankara’s guidance. In this particular situation, I have still to encounter ANY reasoning to explain how anything other than Self-knowledge could eliminate Self-ignorance. No action or experience could ever give mokSha according to my understanding of Advaita.

    Best wishes,

  12. Dear Shishya, Ramesam & Dennis

    If I may interject . . .

    I think it is worth starting with two quotes from Sankara:

    “The Self is the last word of it all, arrived at by the process of ‘not this, not this’, and NOTHING ELSE IS PERCEIVED EITHER THROUGH REASONING OR THROUGH SCRIPTURAL STATEMENT, THEREFORE THE KNOWLEDGE OF THIS SELF BY THE PROCESS OF ‘NOT THIS, NOT THIS’, AND THE RENUNCIATION OF EVERYTHING ARE THE ONLY MEANS of attaining immortality”

    “When the mind is withdrawn from all duality of objects, and when it does not attach itself to any objects — as no objects exist — then the mind attains to the state of immutability which is of the same nature as Brahman”

    To summarise, Sankara is saying a mental process of ‘not this, not this’ to all perceptions / experiences – taken to the extent of utter detachment / renunciation – is what is required to remove ignorance. But this utter detachment / renunciation cannot be forced – it deepens with understanding, and understanding deepens with detachment. When this is achieved the mind is naturally quiet / silent (rather a controlled quietitude) because it has lost interest in what is unreal. This is samadhi – knowing / being Brahman. And as Katha Up says, atma’s grace is required to take you there.

    So if you agree with the above comments on Sankara, then JK is essentially consistent with this. I think he would say:
    1. The ego is a fictitious entity that is the result of the accumulation of experiences, conditioning, knowledge – and this leads to the duality of likes / dislikes etc that arise.
    2. Consequently accumulation of [positive] knowledge even if it be related to liberation, simply reinforces the ego, as a another layer of conditioning.
    3. Therefore, positive knowledge cannot describe reality. It can only be got at through negation.
    4. This requires an attentive, moment-to-moment, choiceless awareness of what is ‘outside’ and the physiological / psychological response that arise ‘inside’, without volitionally escaping / rejecting / pursuing it.
    5. This awareness leads to a degree of sensitivity that deepens understanding – that your responses are not different experientially from the sense objects perceived, and that ‘you’ have no real control over your senses; they are automatic, driven by your conditioning. And this leads to a natural degree of detachment and equanimity. Note that this choiceless awareness is akin to the concept of the witness; it also is implicit in utter detachment / renunciation.
    6. When the mind deeply understands that anything that it thinks is limited (and a result of its conditioning, etc) then it naturally falls quiet, and in that silence grace MAY act further.

    The crux of the matter is whether you believe that Sankara’s ‘not this, not this’ is an intellectual knowledge that is just taught through scripture (re 5 sheaths etc) and that his prescription of renunciation was simply a purification sadhana prior to receiving knowledge; or whether scriptural ‘not this, not this’ is a pointer to a deep contemplation of experience concomitant with detachment. This then is very similar to JK’s choiceless awareness and negation.

    • Correction: in the last para:

      “whether scriptural ‘not this, not this’ is a pointer to a deep contemplation of experience concomitant with detachment”

      should read:

      “whether scriptural ‘not this, not this’ is a pointer to a deep contemplation of everything experienced as ‘not this, not this’, concomitant with detachment.”

  13. Some relevant quotes from JK illustrating my previous comment:

    “In this total maturity there is austerity – that casual, unpremeditated indifference to the things of the world, its virtues, its gods, its respectability, its hopes and values. These must be totally denied for that austerity which comes with aloneness. Aloneness is a life in which all influence has come to an end. It’s this aloneness that is the essence of austerity”

    “To deny and stand alone, without tomorrow, without a future. To stand alone without being committed to any course of action, to any conduct, to any experience, is essential, for this alone frees consciousness from the bondage of time. Every form of influence is understood and denied, giving thought no passage in time . . . Love is beyond and above thought and feeling. The total denial of the known is the essence of freedom.”

    “When there is stillness, when there is no desire, no longing, when the mind is absolutely quiet with a stillness that is not induced, then reality comes. And to find that reality is not to seek it, but to understand the factors that agitate the mind, that disturb the mind itself.”

    “To know myself, I need not have belief; I only have to watch myself clearly and choicelessly – watch myself in relationship, watch myself in escape, watch myself in attachment. In that passive awareness, one discovers this extraordinary sense of aloneness. It is only in abiding in that state when all values have utterly ceased, only when we are capable of being alone and facing that aloneness without any sense of escape, only then that reality comes into being.”

    “The dispelling of ignorance is all-important, not the acquisition of knowledge, because the dispelling of ignorance is negative while knowledge is positive. And, a man who is capable of thinking negatively has the highest capacity for thinking. The mind which can dispel ignorance and not accumulate knowledge such a mind is an innocent mind, and only the innocent mind can discover that which is beyond measure.”

  14. Dennis

    I think this idea of two lifestyles that can be pursued to attain knowledge is rather confused – and I have only come across it in Dayananda’s writings.

    Sankara’s commentary on BG says that for those who are not sufficiently ready for knowledge (which he says from my earlier quote is about negation plus detachment), they should strive to perform action without hankering after the fruits thereof. To do this requires self-awareness in action, which is the cause of “purification” (de-conditioning?) of the mind.

    Once the karma yogin has achieved this level of detachment s/he is then ready for the pursuit of knowledge, which then involves the negation plus renunciation that Sankara consistently propounds. And both Gaudapada and Sankara state the jnani is very unlikely to act in the world (because there is no reason to do so, save for the minimal maintenance of the body), will be a renunciate, and will only act for the good of the world.

    I would posit that Dayananda is expounding a diluted form of Sankara’s Advaita, to make it more acceptable to a large audience – such that they do not get put off by the prospect that the goal (realisation) can only ultimately be reached by utter renunciation.

  15. Dear Dennis,

    You say towards the end of your last comment: “I have still to encounter ANY reasoning to explain how anything other than Self-knowledge could eliminate Self-ignorance.”

    While I have no major disagreement with the thrust of what you say, I would like to respond for now in a general way without going into too much of specificities a few points that one needs to bear in mind while discussing any recommended “method” of Advaitic study.

    The first thing that is most salutary to be kept high and in front is the fact that we cannot be fixated by any “one single” method because all suggested methods necessarily depend on a ‘conceptual model’ based on which the so-called “reason and logical steps” of the method are designed. The conceptual “model,” alas, is not even an approximation to the Truth, because what we are modeling is fundamentally “unimaginable, unthinkable and non-conceptualizable.”

    Let me clarify what I mean taking the example of what you said.

    If one holds that only learning Self-knowledge will eliminate ignorance of the Self, the operative “model” behind is that of one is in a dark room not knowing what exactly is around and that procuring a ‘lamp’ will remove the darkness and show the truth of what is around. The operative “model” here is based on the following analogies. The darkness is comparable to ignorance, the lamp to Self-knowledge, learning the Knowledge to the procurement of the lamp etc.

    Instead, suppose I go by another “model.” Here the darkness is because of the fact that the glowing lamp is obscured by a curtain (or covered by an earthenware chimney). Self-knowledge (the lamp) is already there and in fact, one is able to see the obstructing veil because of the very presence of that lamp. Therefore, one need not procure a lamp but just break the obscuring earthen shade or pull down the veiling curtain.

    So the prevailing darkness gets dispelled by pulling down the curtain or breaking the earthenware shade. We do not have to bring a Sun, the obstructing cloud has to go away.

    Thus, to me it appears that we cannot frame a rigid deterministic formula, much like what we do in Chemistry in order to get a specific end-product.

    Likewise, we cannot always view the meaning of a Sanskrit word imprisoning it within an inflexible iron cage, and try to make sense of that word everywhere it occurs by measuring with that rigid scale. It is more so when it comes to the Vedantic words.

    Thus Yoga, Yogin, samAdhi etc. could mean widely different things.
    As you and many others here know well, Shankara himself was never antagonistic to the use of Yoga or yogic methods. On the contrary, “in various places, he explains how various practices generally associated with yoga help towards realization.”

    For example, in BSB 2.3.39, as you know, Shankara says, “samAdhi, taught in the Upanishads, as a means to the realization of that Self that is known from the Upanishads alone, is spoken of in such texts as, …” (Swami GAmbhirananda translation).
    As example of those texts the famous brihat upa mantra 2.4.5, chAndogya 8.2.1, and meditating on Aum (muNDaka 2.2.6) are quoted by Shankara.

    But I hope to get into this a little later.

    For now, my simple submission is that there is a need to be very very flexible and malleable with regard to the word meanings and methodologies for Self-realization and we cannot formulate something like rigid chemical equations, however “reasonable” that may sound to our ‘finite’ mind when we talk of a Thing that is beyond ‘reason.’

    (After all “reason” belongs to the mental regime).

    regards,

  16. Thanks Venkat for the quotes from JK.

    I remember a few one liners from his talks that are compelling – I may be wrong in exact words. They resonate the scriptural statements very precisely.

    1. The world is you and you are the world.
    2. A mind that knows the truth can neither be hurt nor hurt anyone.
    3. A mind that is continuously seeking can never find the truth.
    4. Truth is one.

    Perhaps, you can give the exact quotes.

    regards,

  17. There are rapidly becoming too many aspects and points being made here to cope.

    I would like to exclude JK altogether from any discussions. I am not aware that anyone classifies him as an Advaitin so whether or not what he says corresponds with what Shankara said is largely irrelevant. (I agree that there is only ‘one truth’ and that numerous ‘teachings’ may point to it. But it is the same principle as I made to Anon – if he wants to talk about Buddhism or UGK, there are other sites for that.)

    One thing that I would like to pick up on, from a first reading of all the recent posts, is Ramesam’s ‘model’: “Here the darkness is because of the fact that the glowing lamp is obscured by a curtain (or covered by an earthenware chimney). Self-knowledge (the lamp) is already there and in fact, one is able to see the obstructing veil because of the very presence of that lamp. Therefore, one need not procure a lamp but just break the obscuring earthen shade or pull down the veiling curtain.”

    I suggest, Ramesam, that you are confusing two things here. The ‘lamp that is already there’ is Consciousness, not Self-knowledge. Self-knowledge is a condition of the mind, knowing that ‘brahma satyam etc.’. Initially, the mind does NOT know this. What is needed in order to bring about that Self-knowledge is a pure mind, scriptures and a qualified guru to explain them.

    I agree entirely about the ‘variability’ of Sanskrit words. I don’t believe I have ever said differently, although I am pretty sure I have said the same thing. Context is so important. It is because of these aspects that I do not like quotations out of context without references. Accordingly, Venkat, could you please supply the references for your Shankara quotations so that I may look them up.

    And I believe that this problem is highlighted by your quotation, Ramesam. Here, with BSB 2.3.39, it is not only the context of the word in the sutra but more especially the context of the sutra in the adhikaraNa.

    Topic 14 in BS 2.3 is about ‘The Soul as Agent’. And it is effectively an argument with the Sankhya philosopher. According to Sankhya, the jIva is a bhoktA but not a kartA. He says that prakRRiti is the kartA and, in this instance, it means that the mind (specifically buddhi) is said to be the doer. Of course, we (the Advaitin) say that the jIva IS a doer (from the perspective of the world) and the mind is an instrument, reflecting Consciousness as per the chidAbhAsa theory. So the mind functions as though it were conscious. It is not inert as the Sankhya philosopher says.

    When we say that the mind thinks, the Sankhyan claims that this is actually what happens – the mind is doing it under its own steam, as it were. We would say that the jIva USES the mind (as an instrument) to think. So there is pAramArthika Consciousness, vyAvahArika jIva (the doer), and mind, according to Advaita. Sankhya would say that there is just Consciousness and the mind. We, the Advaitin, USE the mind as an instrument, i.e. ‘modification’. The word ‘samAdhi’, IN THIS CONTEXT, means ‘modification’; the jIva is an ‘agent’ of Consciousness for this purpose.

    (An analogy here is that, when we say ‘the car is coming’, what we mean is that a person is driving the car towards us. The car cannot do anything on its own; it is an instrument of the agent person.)

    In conclusion, 2.3.39 – samAdhyabhAvAchcha means ‘(the Sankhyan theory of the mind being a kartA is rejected) because of the impossibility of modification (if mind is a doer)’. I.e. the word ‘samAdhi’ in this context has nothing to do with Yoga’s nirvikalpa/savikalpa samAdhi’.

  18. From Dennis’ comment near the beginning of this thread –
    ———————-
    1. Since there is ONLY brahman in reality, we must already BE brahman.

    2. So what is the problem? Clearly it must be that we do not KNOW this to be so.

    3. No action (whether karma or upAsana) can bring about this knowledge.

    4. We have to acquire this knowledge from somewhere.

    5. Since it is totally counter-intuitive, it is not going to arise in the course of our daily activities – everything in our perception and action is dualistic. We have to acquire it from somewhere. It is ‘contained’ in the scriptures and traditionally explained by a guru. We have to listen to this (shravaNa) and ask questions until we understand it (manana). We probably then have to assimilate it until it is completely accepted (nididhyAsana). [Action is now relevant because we have realized the truth through knowledge. The rest is down to prArabdha.]
    —————————————
    “Shishya says that ‘even more important is the following’:

    “The understanding of oneself is not a result, a culmination; it is seeing oneself from moment to moment in the mirror of relationship – one’s relationship to property, to things, to people and to ideas.”

    What has this got to do with Advaita? How can continuing to see duality help one to understand the nature of reality?
    ——————————————-

    Points 1 and 2 are in contradiction – you assert something is so (true) and then claim that we don’t know it is so (true). What is the basis of your assertion then?

    On the other hand, your facile (effortless) assertion may be because you “grok” this stuff better than I do, and can really “see” it….unfortunately beyond me.

    It is not clear to me what you mean by “know” because you have consistently denied any mystical connotation to the word in this context.

    I will not bring up JK again but I think there is a large overlap between your points and what he said, except for Point 1 as above.

    • Points 1 and 2 are not in contradiction. c.f. It is a fact that the earth rotates on its axis, making it appear that the sun is orbiting the earth. Nevertheless, people once did not know this to be the case and really believed the appearance was truth. Knowledge in this case is having the justified, true belief that day-night is really caused by the earth’s rotation.

  19. BG Chap 2, Verses 23, 24, 25 translation from internet site:

    https://www.beliefnet.com/quotes/hindu/bhagavad-gita/b/bhagavad-gita-2-23-25/the-self-cannot-be-pierced-by-weapons-or-burned-by.aspx
    —————————
    The Self cannot be pierced by weapons or burned by fire; water cannot wet it, nor can the wind dry it. The Self cannot be pierced or burned, made wet or dry. It is everlasting and infinite, standing on the motionless foundations of eternity. The Self is unmanifested, beyond all thought, beyond all change. Knowing this, you should not grieve.
    —————————
    How is this item (heh, heh) to be “known” ?

      • For me, this is too serious a matter to be facetious about…
        I think “knowing” is indeed being as Ramesam said Self=Knowledge.

        Here are verses 25/26 from Atmabodha.
        ——————
        25. By the indiscriminate blending of the two – the Existence-Knowledge-aspect of the Self and the thought-wave of the intellect – there arises the notion of “I know”.

        26. Atman never does anything and the intellect of its own accord has no capacity to experience ‘I know’. But the individuality in us delusorily thinks he is himself the seer and the knower.
        ————–
        http://www.swamij.com/shankara-atma-bodha.htm

  20. Thanks Dennis.

    Recapitulating the development of our discussion, it got kicked of by your observation on the usage of the words “yoga” and “samAdhi” in the quotes I have given from the Ch 3 of Yogavasishta.

    You thought that those words are indicative of Patanjali Yoga (PY) and that what was realized by the Yogi in that samAdhi was a duality. I attempted to clarify that what Sage Vasishta was referring to in that quote was actually ‘brahman’ as per Advaita and not PY.

    From there our discussion digressed to the flexibility of words / models used in Advaita in order to describe the Ultimate Truth which is anyway indescribable.

    I am happy there is no disagreement on that.

    But it looks to me that a much more significant point, perhaps the cause at the very root of many of our discussions and differences in perspective came to light when you said: “The ‘lamp that is already there’ is Consciousness, not Self-knowledge. Self-knowledge is a condition of the mind, knowing that ‘brahma satyam etc.’. Initially, the mind does NOT know this. What is needed in order to bring about that Self-knowledge is a pure mind, scriptures and a qualified guru to explain them.”

    I have been operating with a different understanding.
    I have been taking:
    Self-knowledge Itself is Consciousness = brahman.
    An absolutely “Pure mind” is Itself = brahman.
    IOW, any impurity is a limitation, a conditioning, that delimits the Infinite (Un-dimensional) brahman.

    If Self-knowledge is just a “condition” of the mind, it would be an inert thing and it cannot do anything. Self-knowledge has to be luminous or self-effulgent so that things are “known” in Its illumination.

    Or, to put it differently, a mind (which is no different from brahman but for its imagined ‘limitations’) which has Self-knowledge is one which has shed Its limitations and by that very shedding, “knows” Its Infinite nature.

    So when the mind is already “Pure,” there is no need to add anymore to It so that It “will become” brahman.

    Of course, one may ask why redundantly use two words as Self-knowledge when Self = Knowledge (uppercase ‘K’) = brahman. Well, it is another, IMHO, classic example for pleonasm like burning fire, free gift, true fact, chai tea etc. for Shakespearean effect!

    Maybe you would like to discuss the above issue in an independent thread.

    And finally, a little clarification for my referencing the BSB 2.3.39.

    I quoted it just to say that Shankara himself has no hesitation to use the word “samAdhi” to refer to what is taught in the Upanishads for the realization of the Self. Such a usage for the word may have caught up in later times making it more popular. It was not my intention to go into the actual sUtra. (I agree we may not extend our discussion on this point).

    regards,

    regards,

  21. Dear Ramesam,

    It seems to me that my understanding/explanation of BSB 2.3.39 is precisely applicable here. Consciousness is the reality, the ‘enabler’ that enlivens the inert mind; jIva is the kartA – the ‘knower’, with the mind as its instrument; and the truth of Advaita is what is (eventually) known.

    How can ‘Self-knowledge’ BE brahman? Initially the seeker has Self-ignorance. After shravaNa, manana, nididhyAsana, he/she hopefully has GAINED Self-knowledge. If Self-knowledge was Brahman, the jIva would have it all the time. It is freedom that he has all the time but this is not known. Hence the term ‘realizing’ the Self. Self-knowledge is not the illuminatOR; it is the illuminatED.

    Best wishes,
    Dennis

  22. Dear Dennis,

    Let me up front say that there is no right or wrong “model” nor even a superior vs inferior model to point out successfully the Infinite brahman to the finite mind of the jIva.

    As you may appreciate, the efficacy of a “model” depends on :

    — how much scriptural support it has;
    — how simple it is in formulation;
    — how parsimonious it is in its assumptions;
    — how less it invokes more and more unprovable concepts;
    — how large is the range of its applicability without contextual ‘fixes’;
    and, finally,
    — the X-factor of “elegance.”

    We have Shankara himself teaching us that “jIva is brahman Itself and none other.” Therefore, the jIva is of the same nature (svabhAva) as brahman.
    That “nature” is described as nitya (eternally) suddha (pure), buddha (knowing) mukta (free).

    Hence it is not merely ‘freedom that he has all the time,’ as you said, but jIva has all the other aspects of brahman too. But he thinks that he does not have. IOW, he ignores his own Infinite-ness (br upa 1.4.10; GK 2.12) and in that way manifests, as though (iva), as many.

    Manifesting as the many, it’s not only that he does not know his ‘freedom,’ as you said, he also does not know that he is Infinite, he is the knower etc. All of this happens because he “imagines” that he is finite.

    Some authors describe that “imagined finite-ness” as:
    — ignorance (avidya) or
    — dosha (defect) or
    — stain (mala) or
    — forgetfulness.

    Accordingly, those authors advocate a corresponding antidote which could respectively be:
    — being told of his true nature or
    — shedding the imagination of finiteness or
    — purification, or
    — remembering the original nature (exemplified by the misplaced necklace/tenth man story).

    It is not that the jIva acquires something new which he had thus far did not have by being “told” about the Self-knowledge.

    As Gita says what truly is, is never not there; and what is not, can never be. Therefore, Self-knowledge is ever there but covered up like the dirt on the mirror or the ash on an ember (vide BG).

    The mind (subtle body) as well as the motor organs (gross body) are all part of the “imagination” of the jIva – as much as it imagines that it is limited and there is a world external to itself.

    Shedding the imagination, jIva is back as Infinite brahman. Shedding is actually “giving up.” Giving up what? Surprisingly by giving up what he never had! Simply drop the belief “I am a limited this” experientially, viscerally (so to say), at each cell level. Such a deep ‘dropping’ makes what is “Real” to really be, and that is “Real – ization.”

    I suggest that the above model may be used and tested for one’s own understanding of what Advaita teaches.

    regards,

  23. You seem to be complicating things unnecessarily here, Ramesam. I feel I can ignore pretty much all that you have said after reading your first sentence: “Let me up front say that there is no right or wrong “model” nor even a superior vs inferior model to point out successfully the Infinite brahman to the finite mind of the jIva.”

    It is precisely the finite mind that has the ignorance and needs the ‘pointing out’ by the teaching of Advaita in order that its vyAvahArika ‘owner’, the jIva, may realize that it is, in pAramArthika reality, the non-dual brahman.

    Whether we use, for example, a chidAbhAsa model or an upAdhi model is irrelevant as far as the basic fact-of-life is concerned.

    Best wishes,
    Dennis

  24. Dennis,

    Yea, it looks as complicating the things when I try to put it in words for public consumption.

    Actually when one gets a hold on it, what I am talking is all pretty simple.
    Hope the edited version of what I wrote earlier comes out to be more intelligible.

    regards,

  25. Ramesam,

    I do not disagree with anything that you say here but you still seem to be missing the point. Of course everything is Brahman from a pAramArthika viewpoint. So, from that absolute standpoint, nothing further needs to be said. But, here in vyavahAra, the jIva initially does not realize that to be so. He/she has Self-ignorance.

    Because of this, there are all these models and ‘explanations’ to choose from, which ‘educate’ the mind (literally ‘lead it out’ from that ignorance) until the time comes when Self-knowledge dawns IN THE MIND. This is the Self-realization or enlightenment of the jIva.

    The precise detail of the models and teaching is irrelevant (it is all mithyA anyway); it is whether or not it brings about Self-knowledge in the mind that is important.

    When the jIva finally ‘gets it’, he has not acquired anything new as far as his true nature is concerned – he was always the unlimited Consciousness. But he HAS acquired something new in terms of the understanding in the mind. Previously he did not have Self-knowledge; now he does.

    Best wishes,
    Dennis

  26. Dennis

    Could you address the unequivocal statement by Gaudapada, and commentary by Sankara in MK4.80 neither of which talk about the acquisition of some new understanding in the mind, but rather the mind becoming still, undistracted. From Sw Nikhilananda’s translation:

    Gaudapada:
    The mind, thus freed from attachment (to all external objects) and undistracted, attains to its state of immutability. Being actually realised by the wise, it is undifferentiated, birthless and non-dual.

    Sankara:
    When the mind is withdrawn from all duality of objects, and when it does not attach itself to any objects — as no objects exist — then the mind attains to the state of immutability which is of the same nature as Brahman. This realisation of the mind as Brahman is characterised by the mass of unique non-dual consciousness. As that condition is known only by the wise who have know the ultimate reality, that state is supreme and undifferentiated, birthless and non-dual.

    Thanks

    venkat

    • Venkat,

      I believe you are taking out of context again – the problem I explained above using BSB 2.3.39.

      MK 4.78 and 79 talk about ‘having realized the truth’. I.e. Once one has gained Self-knowledge, THEN the mind is freed from attachment to objects etc. because one now knows that ‘all this is brahman’. You seem to be claiming that the mind frees itself from attachment WITHOUT having to gain Self-knowledge first (presumably from samAdhi or some other action).

      Best wishes,
      Dennis

  27. Further to my previous comment enquiring into your Self Knowledge, as a [positive] understanding in the mind, here is Sankara’s Upadesa Sahasri:

    2.1 Because the Self cannot be negated, it is that which remains after saying ‘not thus, not thus’ to all else. It is directly apprehended through the practice of saying (to all else): ‘I am not this, I am not this’.

    5.5: When the ‘this’ (objective) element has once been eliminated from the ego-sense (though metaphysical discrimination) the latter is no longer an object illumined by pure consciousness and no longer exists for its sake. The immediate experience that then ensures is the Supreme Self.

    • Venkat,

      The previous section of Upadesha Sahasri ends (1.25): “Therefore this Upanishad is begun for the removal of ignorance, for the ending of reincarnation and as a means to the realization of Brahman.”

      So it is really the same argument as above. The Brihad. Up. ‘neti, neti’ is one of the techniques/methods/models for helping remove the Self-ignorance from the mind. Once this has been accomplished, Self-knowledge is what is left (“the Self is that which remains”).

      Narasimhan’s translation of 2.1 is: “The scriptures end up with ‘not this, not this’ by negating all else but finally ending up with the Self. So the Self becomes clearly known on reflecting that the Self is what cannot be negated.” This is perhaps a less confusing translation.

  28. I get what you say, Dennis.
    Let me make just one more attempt to point out what I am trying to say.
    Promise, I will not belabor on this any further.

    In the last para of your comment, you say: “When the jIva finally ‘gets it’, he has not acquired anything new as far as his true nature is concerned – he was always the unlimited Consciousness. But he HAS acquired something new in terms of the understanding in the mind. Previously he did not have Self-knowledge; now he does.”

    Subjected to all the usual caveats and niceties etc. etc., the above para translates to:

    1. Unlimited Consciousness = brahman = jIva
    2. jIva + (mind – Self-knowledge) =/= brahman
    3. jIva + (mind + Self-knowledge) = brahman
    But because jIva = brahman, we can rewrite Eqns # 2 and 3 as,
    4. brahman + (mind – Self-knowledge) =/= brahman
    5. brahman + (mind + Self-knowledge) = brahman

    (Eqn # 4 violates “pUrNa midam … mantra.”
    In addition a mind different from jIva is introduced as a placeholder for Self-knowledge. Self-knowledge is shown to be something newly acquired, violates taittirIya. The symbol * =/= * stands for “Not equal to” ).

    *****

    The alternate “model” suggested is:

    1. Unlimited Consciousness = brahman = Self-knowledge
    (Based on taittirIya 2.1.1, satyam = jnAnam = anantam = brahman)

    2. brahman + vibration = jIva
    (Based on taittirIya 2.6.1, “so ‘ kAmayata.” And GK 4.72 which says “citta spanditam evedam” (verily an act of mind)).

    From which it follows,
    3. jIva – vibration = brahman
    (Based on GK 4.80 etc.
    Also Yogavasishta says Consciousness in motion is mind; mind at rest is Consciousness – I have to locate the verse).

    regards,

  29. Ramesam,

    You seem to be trying to make everything very complicated. Without giving myself a headache to try to work through your formulae, it appears that you are making the mathematical version of the levels fallacy – mixing up paramArtha and vyavahAra.

    Everything we think and speak about is necessarily vyAvahArika but the idea is that, after absorbing the teaching of Advaita, our mind makes the cognitive leap to appreciate the pAramArthika truth. But this is all still necessarily vyAvahArika – it is inescapable. That we are literally brahman is a pAramArthika truth but, I suggest, it is NEVER going to be a vyAvahArika experience! How could it be? On realization, it is totally accepted, BY THE INTELLECT, that this is the true state of affairs.

    I would still go with the statements in my last post (Jan 11 09:10). I would like to bet that the majority of readers (if there are any left! 😉 ) will follow this and agree with it. With all due respect, I’m not sure they will say the same about your formulae…

    Best wishes,
    Dennis

  30. Hi Dennis

    Sorry for the multiple lines of argument you are having to deal with, but it is an interesting discussion.

    I’m not disagreeing with you that pointers to Self knowledge are necessary. But these pointers require contemplation in the sense of adhyatma yoga or nidhidhyasana. And this contemplation takes the form of net, neti, and its concomitant renunciation / detachment. As this process continues the mind becomes naturally still, and which Sankara equates to Brahman. Surely that is the sense of the Sankara quotes from MK and US that I set out above?

    Best,
    venkat

  31. Dennis

    Earlier you wrote, ignorance is of the jiva, which has to be removed by ignorance:

    “How can ‘Self-knowledge’ BE brahman? Initially the seeker has Self-ignorance. After shravaNa, manana, nididhyAsana, he/she hopefully has GAINED Self-knowledge. If Self-knowledge was Brahman, the jIva would have it all the time. It is freedom that he has all the time but this is not known. Hence the term ‘realizing’ the Self”

    Suresvara’s comment in Naikarmya Siddhi – from Book 3.1 (Alton):

    “The very nature of the not-self is ignorance, and ignorance cannot experience ignorance on its own . . . Nor is the attainment of knowledge possible in the not-self. Further the not-self is born of ignorance . . . Therefore the not-self is neither the locus of ignorance nor the object concealed by ignorance. Hence we conclude as the only remaining alternative, that it is the Self alone which is both the locus of and the object concealed by ignorance”

    So the logical consequence of this is that self-knowledge conveyed by vedanta serves to initiate the process of ‘not this, not this’ by the mind, until the mind itself has to fall silent, detached, unaffected. This is the removal of ignorance. And this is Brahman. This, it seems to me, then puts into proper context Sankara’s MK4.80 comment:

    “When the mind is withdrawn from all duality of objects, and when it does not attach itself to any objects — as no objects exist — then the mind attains to the state of immutability which is of the same nature as Brahman.”

    Hence ‘to know the Self is to be the Self; and to be the Self is to discard what is not-Self’ – from SSSS’ Adhyatma Yoga

    best
    venkat

  32. Hi Venkat,

    I agree it is an interesting discussion. I’m just getting somewhat frustrated because I only meant to join in briefly to make a quick point. I have loads of other stuff to do. But it is also an important topic – I believe the source of many of the seeming disagreements that we have on the site – so don’t worry about it!

    I’m sure that you will know that, in deep meditation, one can see the thoughts arise in the mind and just let them go, until eventually one can also ‘see’ the stillness. I suggest that this is the way that we use the words, and all meditators will agree with that usage. The thoughts arise in the mind. We see them arise and fall away.

    There is clear duality here, and it takes the form of the BSB adhikAraNa that was mentioned above: Consciousness is the enabler, jIva is the doer, mind is the instrument.

    This cannot be understood (by the mind) while lots of other thoughts are going on. When the mind falls silent, there is a chance for the realization to dawn (providing the knowledge has been given via shravaNa previously of course – it is extremely unlikely to arise of its own accord).

    It is that sense that the texts you quote must be communicating. The mind cannot BE brahman, can it (except in the obvious pAramArthika sense that EVERYTHING is brahman)? ‘Undivided’ is certainly a (pointer) attribute of brahman, so that an undivided mind will share that ‘attribute’. Hence we use the phrase akhaNDAkAra vRRitti for the ‘enlightenment event’ – taking on the form of the undivided. But this is still a vyAvhArika event, taking place in seeming duality. It is just that the result of the event is that we subsequently know that it is ONLY seeming.

    I think the problem with quotes such as the Sureshvara one you give is that they are trying to explain the ‘reality’ (i.e. paramArtha) of an ‘experienced’ (vyavahAra) situation. This is extremely difficult but becomes almost impossible in just a short sentence or two, especially when these have been translated from Sanskrit! In order to understand, it is is necessary that speaker and listener have discussed each word and concept at considerable length until both are certain that they have the same understanding of them.

    I suppose that is what we are doing here, slowly but surely… (hopefully!)

    Best wishes,
    Dennis

  33. Hi Dennis

    Thanks for this. I think that Suresvara is simply saying there are two categories, Self and not-Self, and the task is, through discrimination, to see that the mind and intellect, are also part of the not-Self, and when all of these are negated, what is left is the Self. As Sankara says in US 6.4:

    “The Self should ever be apprehended as the bare knower to the exclusion of the knowable. Even that which is known objectively as ‘I’ must be rejected. It is like a discarded limb.”

    I understand that you are saying that this is a knowledge / conviction that arises in the mind that all these thoughts are not-Self. So one sees difference, but negates it. To be fair, Suresvara says something comparable in NS 4.51:

    “The enlightened man accepts everything and also negates it. The (apparent) rise of distinctions constitutes his acceptance; the fact that they are by nature not-Self constitutes his negation of them”.

    Though he also says that this negation is inevitably associated with renunciation of all action, given that there is no identification with the not-Self and therefore nothing to achieve.

    Martin – would be great to hear your perspectives, and what SSSS would make of this.

    best wishes
    venkat

  34. Kena Up. 2.4 says that ‘Brahman is known through every cognition (pratibodha viditaM).” Consciousness is the substratum of every (mithyA) thing, including the ‘knower’, the ‘knowledge’ and the ‘known’. There is apparent distinction between them but the reality is that there is only brahman – brahman is not ‘divided’.

    Swami D says that “Therefore, the knowledge is that I am thoughtfree (nirvikalpa) in spite of the experience of vikalpa. This is entirely different from a state wherein there is absence of thoughts.”

    “The notion that, when there is no more thought then there is enlightenment implies a duality such as AtmA and thought – when thought is, AtmA is not; when AtmA is, thought is not. Both become equally real because one exists in the absence of the other.”

    “One’s shadow is not a problem. mithyA is not a problem – it is useful; mind is useful and that is all there is to it.”

  35. I am afraid Dennis, that this is where you and I part company.

    Dayananda has nothing useful to say about realisation. All of his statements are his mundane interpretations that don’t reconcile to anything that the great masters from Gaudapada and Sankara have said. Yes, you may be able to do some (quite significant) mental acrobatics to support D’s contentions. But they are not the gist of vedanta as I have read it.

    D was clearly deeply into his scholarship, and no doubt believed that he had understood the Self knowledge and as such he could promulgate it to a wide audience, because it was quite mundane, and that folk could quite easily continue in their lifestyles as is, whilst also learning this knowledge. So you could continue to have your usual thoughts, continue to live the way you live, and still be a jnani. There is obviously a larger market opportunity for that relative the austerity and renunciation prescribed by Sankara.

    Sorry Dennis. but quoting D and his followers sheds absolutely no light on anything.

  36. Sorry to hear you say that so bluntly, Venkat. But I fear it is your loss! What exactly is your own situation, then? The fact that you are communicating via the Internet seems to imply that you have not taken to ‘austerity and renunciation’, even though you claim that is necessary.

  37. Thanks Dennis. My “claim” on renunciation is just based on a straight-forward, non-acrobatic reading of what Sankara has said in innumerable places, as it being a logical inevitable consequence of realisation, and as a extremely helpful precursor.

    As for my situation, I don’t believe I have made any claims, other than trying to find and understand what is true.

    Could you provide a couple of quotes from Sankara to support your Dayananda comment:
    “Therefore, the knowledge is that I am thoughtfree (nirvikalpa) in spite of the experience of vikalpa . . . mithyA is not a problem – it is useful; mind is useful and that is all there is to it”

    This seems to say that if I have the thought that – despite my thoughts, desires, fears etc – I am actually thoughtfree, then that’s fine. I look forward to the support from Sankara, because that would confirm I have in fact been a jnani for some time now.

    Must dash, to set up light_of_venkatacharya.com

  38. To begin, with the paragraph “The notion that, when there is no more thought then there is enlightenment implies a duality such as AtmA and thought – when thought is, AtmA is not; when AtmA is, thought is not. Both become equally real because one exists in the absence of the other.”

    (that paragraph) seems confusing to me. I cannot see how Swami D could assent to it, if he did. At worst it is a sophistry and, in any case, it appears to be clearly wrong and unacceptable. Can self-realisation not co-exist with the occurrence of thoughts? As Dennis wrote,”‘Consciousness is the substratum of every (mithyA) thing, including the ‘knower’, the ‘knowledge’ and the ‘known’”.

    Dennis: ‘… a vyAvhArika event, taking place in seeming duality. It is just that the result of the event is that we subsequently know that it is ONLY seeming.’

    I would rephrase that as, ‘the result of the event is that subsequently (actually instantly) the mind becomes no-mind, and only Consciousness remains’.

    Dennis: ‘Consciousness is the enabler, jIva is the doer, mind is the instrument.’ No objection to this (on the contrary), since it pertains to vyavahara.

    January 11, 2019 at 09:10 https://www.advaita-vision.org/samadhi-again-2/#comment-7256. Very good! Can anyone disagree with it?

    • ——
      Swami D says that “Therefore, the knowledge is that I am thoughtfree (nirvikalpa) in spite of the experience of vikalpa. This is entirely different from a state wherein there is absence of thoughts.”
      ——————-
      What a subtle way of holding on to the ego under the label – “knowledge in the absence of thoughts”.

      I think Venkat put it very well.

      “D was clearly deeply into his scholarship, and no doubt believed that he had understood the Self knowledge and as such he could promulgate it to a wide audience, because it was quite mundane, and that folk could quite easily continue in their lifestyles as is, whilst also learning this knowledge. So you could continue to have your usual thoughts, continue to live the way you live, and still be a jnani. There is obviously a larger market opportunity for that relative the austerity and renunciation prescribed by Sankara.”

      Amen to that.

        • Dennis, I regret that I find myself unable to change my opinion of Swami Dayananda. The following is a comment I made nearly a year ago and I have, unfortunately, not progressed beyond it…
          ———————-
          “Enlightenment” has a strong mystical component that, I am convinced, will forever elude me as it eluded even prominent politico-spiritual diplomats like Sri Dayananda who insisted that you could soar into nirvana through keen textual analysis and correct understanding of the Vedanta….I know, I know, some will object strongly to this characterization but it is the impression I have formed.

          To quote one of my favourite philosophers…

          I believe there is no source of deception in the investigation of nature which can compare with a fixed belief that certain kinds of phenomena are impossible.
          William James
          ——————

  39. Venkat,

    I am still in the process of locating quotations from Shankara to support what I have said above and what Swami Dayananda has said (in case anyone should think that there aren’t any!). I will post these in due course.

    But I would like to ask Shishya, in the interim, what exactly do you think is the problem with thoughts anyway. Are thoughts not brahman also (since there is ONLY brahman in reality)? You cannot say that brahman is ‘beyond’ thought – ‘beyond’ is also another thought!

    Brahman ‘transcends’ thought in the same way that clay ‘transcends’ pot; but, just as the pot depends upon clay, so thought depends upon brahman. It is simply that brahman is the satyam for the mithyA thought. Kena Up. 2.4 says that brahman is pratibodhaviditaM – known through every cognition. So, as Venugopal puts it in http://www.advaita.org.uk/discourses/venugopal/venugopal53.html#elimination, “Therefore, the knowledge is that AtmA is thought-free in spite of the experience of thoughts by the I-sense.”

    And, in the same reference, “Nirvikalpa does not mean the absence of thought but refers to the fact that there is no real difference between the knower, knowledge and known.” “Elimination of thoughts is not knowledge. It is also not self-discovery as thoughts do not cover AtmA. Thoughts come, I am. Thoughts vanish, I am.”

  40. Dennis writes:

    “But I would like to ask Shishya, in the interim, what exactly do you think is the problem with thoughts anyway.”

    I don’t think there is any problem with thoughts in their proper place, in fact life cannot go on without thinking. As Martin asks rhetorically:

    “Can self-realisation not co-exist with the occurrence of thoughts? ”

    It MUST, for bodily maintenance even of the most exalted gnani, etc…

    Apologies for this tardy, short reply will say more; appreciate the question.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.