Should I stop enquiring???????
(मुञ्डकोपनिषत्) MundakaUpanishat 3-2-9
“Anyone who knows that supreme Brahman becomes Brahman indeed……….”
My search for Brahman started with aparokshAnubhUti (supposedly written by Shankaracharya) where it is stated that knowledge of liberation is obtained through enquiry. It then goes on to explain what constitutes enquiry: (अपरोक्षानुभूती) aparokshaAnubhUti (Shloka #11 & #12) (translation by Vimuktananda)
“Knowledge is not brought about by any other means than Vichara (Enquiry), just as an object is nowhere perceived (seen) without the help of light”.
“Who am I? How is this (world) created? Who is its creator? Of what material is this (world) made? This is the way of that Vichara (Enquiry)”.
Advaita – prescribed Self Enquiry is done through shravanam (listening) & mananam (reflection) of Upanishads & Prakaran Granthas (expert commentaries). As i started digging deeper into Shruti & commentaries, i am beginning to feel that the very Enquiry itself is turning into an obstacle.
PanchadashI by Vidyaranya, one of the advanced Prakaran Grantha, cautions that dwelling on this world which is mithya (not real) and annirvachniya (beyond real and unreal) will only suck you into more confusion. The best thing to do is to ignore it!
(पञ्चदशी श्रीविद्यारण्यमुनि) panchadashI by Vidyranya – Chitradeep 6.0 (Swahananda translation) – 138. By raising objections to the wonderfulness of Maya we do not solve the mystery. Besides, we also can raise serious counter objections. What is essential is that we should eradicate Maya by systematic enquiry. Further arguments are useless, so do not indulge in them. 139. Maya is an embodiment of marvellousness and doubt; the wise must carefully find out means and make effort to remove it. 143. Even if all the learned people of the world try to determine the nature of this world, they will find themselves confronted at some stage or other by ignorance. 146. In the end you will have to say, ‘I do not know’. ….
And regarding Brahman, Shruti seems to be saying to me that i can never know Brahman:
(केनोपनिषत्) kenaUpanishat 2.3 (Nikhilananda translation) – “He by whom Brahman is not known, knows It; he by whom It is known, knows It not. It is not known by those who know It; It is known by those who do not know It”.
(बृहदारण्यकोपनिषत्) brihadAraNyakaUpanishat 4.5.15 (Madhavananda translation) – “When to the Knower of brahman, everything has become the Self, then what should one see and through what, what should one smell and through what, what should one taste and through what, what should one speak and through what, what should one hear and through what, what should one think and through what, what should one touch and through what, what should one know and through what? Through what should one know that owing to which all this is known? This self is That which has been described as ‘not this, not this.’ It is imperceptible, for It is never perceived….”
In fact, the very concept of bondage & liberation is being ruled out:
(मान्डुक्योपनिषत गौडपादकारिका) mandukyaUpanishat gaudpAdkArikA 4.98 (Gambhirananda translation) –“All jIva-s are ever free from bondage and are pure by nature. They are ever illumined and liberated from the very beginning. Still the wise speak of the jiva-s as capable of knowing (‘the Ultimate Truth)”.
(मान्डुक्योपनिषत गौडपादकारिका) mandukyaUpanishat gaudpAdkArikA 2.32 (Gambhirananda translation) –“There is neither dissolution nor creation, none in bondage and none practicing disciplines. There is none seeking Liberation and none liberated. This is the absolute truth”.
(वसिष्ठयोग) vasisthaYoga 6-2-192 sums it all: Rama said ….”There is no seer, no object, no creation, no world, and not even consciousness; no waking, nor dreaming, nor sleep. What seems to be is also unreal. If one enquires, ‘How has this illusory perception of unreality come into being’, such an enquiry is inappropriate. Illusion does not rise in consciousness which is incorruptible”.
I understand that experts can qualify and interpret these verses in different ways to come to different conclusions. But for me personally, i see a message that is coming loud and clear: Any attempt to know Brahman (as an object) will only create more duality and therefore ignore/drop desire to know Brahman and the same thing goes for the maya. In other words, just ignore what was said in the beginning (about Enquiry) and just drop it! Only then you will REALLY KNOW IT or BE IT.
The question for me now Is ~
Is there anything to-do/not-to-do to know/not know/be Brahman???????????????
Bloggers and visitors please respond!
Here is my quick response (maybe more when others get involved):
The purpose of Self-enquiry is not to reach an objective understanding of the nature of the Self. As you point out, this is intrinsically impossible. Rather it is to attain the certainty that ‘I am brahman’. There is then no need of explanation or ‘facts’. I have often compared it to Wittgenstein’s Tractatus ending – you throw away the ladder when you have climbed up it. The bottom line is that you cannot reach the understanding that you are already free without the ladder of Advaita.
(1) The purpose of asking questions such as “who am I”, “how did the world come about”, is surely because you are fundamentally interested in understanding these questions; not because some scriptures told you to pursue self-enquiry.
Therefore, if you passionately want to go to the limits to try to find the answer to those questions, you cannot stop self-enquiry, even if you wanted to. If you are not that bothered about those questions, then yes you should stop, and do whatever else interests you.
(2) If you understand vedanta – and its not that complex – the message is that your ego, and the world is illusory, and there is never any separation, any duality. Self-enquiry is only to test – more than just intellectually – the truth of that position. If you even intellectually understand this, then ‘you’ realise that any question of anything to do is non-sensical, since there is no one to do anything. How can an illusory character ‘created in the brain’ do anything?
(3) So you keep thinking this out, until thinking itself is seen to be limited and can never ‘attain’ the Infinite. So use the statements in the Upanishads, as pointers or challenges to understand the import behind them; how they could be true.
“Nothing stands in the way of your liberation and it can happen here and now, but for your being more interested in other things . . .
“Remember yourself, watch your daily life relentlessly. Be earnest, and you shall not fail to break the bonds of inattention and imagination . . .
“Do not try to know the truth, for knowledge by the mind is not true knowledge. But you can know what is not true – which is enough to liberate you from the false. The idea that you know what is true is dangerous, for it keeps you imprisoned in the mind. It is when you do not know, that you are free to investigate. And there can be no salvation without investigation, because non-investigation is the main cause of bondage.”
-Nisargadatta Maharaj, “I am That”
“Meditation is to find out whether the brain, with all the activities, all its experiences, can be absolutely quiet. Not forced, because the moment you force, there is duality. The entity that says, ‘I would like to have marvelous experiences, therefore I must force my brain to be quiet,’ will never do it. But if you begin to inquire, observe, listen to all the movements of thought, its conditioning, its pursuits, its fears, its pleasures, watch how the brain operates, then you will see that the brain becomes extraordinarily quiet; that quietness is not sleep but is tremendously active and therefore quiet. A big dynamo that is working perfectly, hardly makes a sound; it is only when there is friction that there is noise.”
– J Krishnamurti
STOP ENQUIRING?? How can enquiry itself be ‘an obstacle’? Enquiry into ultímate Reality, involving discrimination and much reflection, normally for many years, is no easy task. Much effort and perseverance (earnestness and sincerity, dispassion, etc.) – as per the teaching – is required. It is also admonished that one should not leave that effort too soon. Not until there is certainty based on assimilation of the essential truth or truths. And, as Dennis frequently repeats, this happens primarily in the mind. It is called anubhava (direct experience), by which the mind itself merges with Consciousness. Please understand that the mind is more than the ego. The mind without thoughts is non other than Consciousness – this is a clue.
“No direct experience of Atman other than this is conceivable. Fort he shruti says ’It is unknown to those who know it (objectively)’”. Ke Up. 2-3. You correctly make this point at the end of your post.
In my opinion, Nisargadatta’ s injunction “Do not try to know the truth, for knowledge by the mind is not true knowledge… It is when you do not know, that you are free to investigate” provided by Venkat has to be taken with a grain of salt. The advaita way is different, albeit it incorporates the partial truths just quoted… well understood, as hinted in the previous para..
The very relevant excerpt from Br.Up. 4.5.15 you include, where it is said the the Self is imperceptible, has the same purport. It can be complemented with ‘It is the eye of the eye, ear of the ear, mind of the mind, speech of the speech, breath of the breath’ (Ke Up. 1.2). In other words, It (Brahman) is the witness of all these faculties of the mind. Knowingness, etc., happen in Its Presence. And ‘Thou art That’.
Concerning Bondage & Liberation, the Man Up. K 4.98: ‘the wise speak of the jiva-s as capable of knowing (‘the Ultimate Truth)’, this is often repeated in the shruti/s, and so there can/should be no quarreling with it, only understanding what that knowledge consists of, and finding the appropriate method towards that end.
Let me explain why I say Enquiry itself is turning into an obstacle.
Knowing ‘I am’ was easy –I simply know. I am witness of BMI was also easy.
Knowing (i mean really knowing) “I am Brahman” through Enquiry is taking me to a wild goose chase and Shruti seems to be saying don’t feel bad you are not alone – you will never know it the way you managed to know the previous answers. The fact that you do not know means you know! So you need not know.
My choices are:
Drop the Enquiry at this stage – (then do what?)
Keep on enquiring until Enquiry drops away by itself – (this may take several janmas (lives)?????)
What should i do or what would you do?
I understand. At times it is preferable, in my opinion, to withdraw and rest for a while when one experiences much resistance in whatever one is engaged with and do something else – or nothing – instead. If one has that feeling or prompting, it may be wise to do in consequence.
The translations of Ke 2-3 that I know of (x3) do not make explicit that it is not knowledge or understanding of Brahman or the absolute Reality that is an error, but ‘knowing’ or pretending to understand It ‘objectively’. We are all clear on this. By the way, the jiva (one who sees her/himself as a separate entity, cannot arrogate himself to be a/the witness. It is dangerous to do so.There is only one Witness: the absolutely Real.
We can appreciate the fact that the only way to arrive at a real comprehension of the Truth or Reality is by direct intuition ; and this is gratuitous, it does not depend on ‘me’. It is a realization of the Real by the Real (the Real in ‘me’, to be precise).
The Nisargadatta quote that you say is only a partial truth (and ALL words are only partial truths, pointers) is no different from the upanishad saying that “It is unknown to those who know it objectively”. Nisargatta’s “knowledge by the mind is not true knowledge” is pointing to such objective knowledge, and therefore duality.
And by saying “It is when you do not know that you are free to investigate” – is is implying two things. Firstly, everything that we think we know is an assumption (such as an existent ego) – and therefore should be investigated. Secondly it is pointing to the ultimate method of neti, neti – namely the negation of superimposed attributes on the Atman. Through this negation, you come to a state of not-knowing, no-mind.
Thereafter the Knowledge that the upanishads talk of, is what remains, which is Pure Consciousness. i.e. Knowledge = Pure Consciousness, which is what I think you imply by the mind merging (I would say dissolving) into Pure Consciousness.
Martin – I have just added a separate post on Sri Ramana’s pointers on Knowledge, which I don’t believe contradicts the upanishads.
Venkat, I agree with all you say. I have learned (or unlearned) much from Nisargadatta myself over the past few years. There is nothing missing in his teaching (he uses ‘awareness’ and ‘consciousness’ differently from traditional advaita, but this is unimportant.
There is a question, not of individual preferences, but rather, call it destiny, vocation, opportunities, etc. For myself, I find inspiration in the Upanishads and the three-step method of traditional advaita: ‘listening’ (or studying the texts), reflecting on them, and meditation on what one has understood (nididhyasana).
Sorry, I cannot find your separate post on RM.
The other day I came across the following excerpt while reading The Transparency of Things, by Rupert Spira. It seemed apposite to your query, so I thought I’d post this in case it may be of any value to you:
“*Many teachings tell us that there is nothing one can do to reach enlightenment.*
It would be disingenuous to believe that there is nothing to do, that Consciousness is all there is, that there is no separate entity, simply because we have heard or read it so many times.
Such a belief leaves us worse off than we were in the first place. Not only do we still harbour the original belief in separation and its attendant feelings, but we overlay it with a veneer of ‘non-dualism,’ embedded in which is the deep belief that the mind only perpetuates ignorance.
If we make the statement that there is nothing that we can do to reach enlightenment, we make it either from understanding, from our own experience, or we make it from hearsay, from belief.
If the statement is made from experience, then it is true.
However, if it is not our experience that there is nothing to do to reach enlightenment, then, by definition, it implies that there is still an apparent personal entity present. That personal entity *is* the apparent doer, feeler, thinker, enjoyer, sufferer, etc.
So if we believe ourselves to be such a doer, it is disingenuous to say that there is nothing to do. It is a contradiction in terms. We are already doing something. To that apparent one it would be more appropriate to say, ‘Yes, there is something to be done.’
What is there to be done? Investigate the belief and the feeling as to whether or not what we truly are is a separate entity, an individual doer. When that issue is resolved, the question as to whether or not there is something to be done will not arise.
So the formulation ‘There is nothing to do’ and the formulation ‘There is something to do,’ can both be either true or untrue, depending on the understanding from which they are derived. In the end both are irrelevant, but in the beginning both can be helpful.
If we think that either one is truer than the other, then we are stuck at the level of mind. We condone and substantiate mind either through denial or through assertion, and there is not much to choose between those two positions. In fact they are the same position.
However, if we explore the relative truth of *both* statements, we free ourselves from the dogma attached to either position and, in this case, the issue is transcended in Understanding rather than resolved in knowledge.”
Thanks for taking time to read my dilemma & wrting your response. “Apposite” is an understatement – you really opened this up for me: “So the formulation ‘There is nothing to do’ and the formulation ‘There is something to do,’ can both be either true or untrue, depending on the understanding from which they are derived. In the end both are irrelevant, but in the beginning both can be helpful.” This statement really brings out the meaning of kena Upanishad 2.1 for me:
(केना उपनिषत्) kena upanishat २.१
“I know & I do not know Brahman as well – he amongst us understands that utterance knows that Brahman”
I think I said once that Rupert’s teaching was too intellectual. Based on the above extract, that seems almost an understatement!
Everything he says seems to stem from the original assertion that: “Many teachings tell us that there is nothing one can do to reach enlightenment.”
This seems to embody the frequent, mistaken understanding of what ‘enlightenment’ is, and which is why many traditional teachers will not use the word.
Enlightenment means the certain knowledge that there is only Consciousness and this knowledge takes place in the mind. In order for it to take place, certain conditions must arise:
. There must be a source for that knowledge, usually the spoken word of a teacher.
. The mind must be able to take that spoken word and ‘convert’ it into knowledge. This, in turn, means a number of things. Hearing must be functioning and unimpeded; the mind must be still and receptive; there must be ability to comprehend what is said, discriminate, analyse, question, etc.
All of this means that there has to be some sort of preparation, disciplining of the mind etc; and the owner has to make him/herself available to receive the information. That might mean going to a teacher, acquiring (and studying!) certain books and so on.
All of this requires ‘doing’ on the part of the jIva. And the jIva has to want to do it in the first place (which is another form of doing).
The confusion is with the concept of mokSha or freedom. It is this that we cannot do anything to reach – because we are already free.
Why make all of this complicated and mystical? It really isn’t!
I’ve only read this one book by Rupert Spira, but I certainly didn’t find his approach therein to be complicated or mystical, nor did I think it overly intellectual. The book is really just a series of meditations on nonduality, some of which I found helpful or thought-provoking. I think in the above extract Rupert was simply talking to those who had been exposed to the “there’s nothing to do” teachings of Neo-Advaita and found it frustrating.
“What is there to be done? Investigate the belief and the feeling as to whether or not what we truly are is a separate entity, an individual doer. When that issue is resolved, the question as to whether or not there is something to be done will not arise.”
This seems very straightforward to me. Rupert is recommending self-inquiry. How is this mystical or complicated?
I understand and agree with what you say here. Was Rupert saying that too?
I also agree that ‘mystical’ is not the right word – I did not mean to imply that what Rupert says is mystical. But I still maintain that you really have to concentrate to see what he intends. It need not be like this.
I have now re-read the passage several times and the conclusion is still quite unclear. I know what he means, but then I am not a naive seeker. If I were, I feel that I would find it just as frustrating as the neo-teaching you say he is criticising for that very reason.
If the passage isn’t clear to you, I don’t know what else to say! Perhaps the problem is he is not using any Sanskrit terms? 🙂 I do agree it requires a lot of concentration to read Rupert. Anyway, I posted it for Vijay’s benefit, and he seems to have found it useful, so I guess I will leave it at that.
There is a clue as to why Dennis finds that excerpt of Rupert Spira’s book to be unclear. And the clue, as I see it, rests in what is understood by the role of ‘mind’ by Dennis – and traditional advaita – on the one hand, and Rupert (as well as his own teacher Francis Lucille) on the other – which last is that of the ‘Direct Path’.
.Dennis: ‘Enlightenment means the certain knowledge that there is only Consciousness and this knowledge takes place in the mind.’
Rupert: ‘(If we think that either one is truer than the other, then) we are stuck at the level of mind. We condone and substantiate mind either through denial or through assertion… ‘
For Rupert, Francis, and the Direct Path, understanding takes place in consciousness, not in the mind, which is a superimposition on consciousness, and an object that comes and goes; mind is represented by the moon, not being self-luminous. ‘It is in fact consciousness and consciousness alone that enables objects to be known… Only consciousness, the Self, truly has the perceiving power’.’ (F. Lucille – ‘The Perfume of Silence’, pp. 106-7.)
On the question of consciousness recognizing itself, that does not take place in the mind. ‘The mind is an agency that can formúlate this recognition. However, in the absence of a mind, there cannot be any formulation. However, this doesn’t imply that the recognition has not taken place’ (ibid., p. 18).
In view of the above, it seems to me that for the Direct Path followers consciousness is the sufficent condition for knowledge or understandins, whereas for traditional advaita mind is a necessary, if not a sufficient, condition. However, this should be unproblematic, for is mind – seen from a different angle – not but an extension of consciousness or, in essence, consciousness itself?
Interesting analysis… but is this really the case? If so, then my respect for Direct Path plummets!
Do they, then, not accept that there is ONLY Consciousness? Surely they do (otherwise it is not non-duality). In which case, how can ‘understanding’ take place in Consciousness? That is ‘doing’ and also there must be something to be understood… and that must be duality.
Of course it must be true that understanding cannot take place without Consciousness (since that is all there is in reality). Similarly the mind must be Consciousness in reality. But this entire topic relates to vyAvahAra only and there we must acknowledge mind as a separate entity. And it only makes sense for the ‘understanding’ to be there, in the mind.
Francis’ view of mind and consciousness is nothing if not sofisticated, quite subtle. Of course, any ‘account’ or discourse necesarily is vyavaharika, but Francis does seem to be speaking from experience. He says that when something is understood it immediately disappears (coming from consciousness it goes back to consciousness). Consciousness alone speaks, though it may be, usually is, through a number of veils. Is this correct?
‘The mind wants to know, but cannot…
Understanding understands itself. It returns us to our true nature, consciousness. It is the answer.
Understanding does not take place somewhere. It is our true nature…
… the truth of our experience is that when the understanding took place, in the moment when consciousness recognizes itself, the ‘I’ was not present, the mind was not present…
Our actual experience is a flow of thoughts, sensations, and perceptions. They are not contained in the mind; they are what we call mind, and they appear in consciousnes.
Everything that is perceived is mind stuff, phenomena, appearances, objects, whereas consciousness is the perceiving element, the witness of the mind stuff…
When understanding is present, the thought is not. We cannot say, therefore, that we understand a thought. Understanding has no object. It understands itself.
Understanding is one of the ways in which consciousness reveals itself to itself.
… whatever is known ceases to exist as an apparent object and merges with consciousness. That is what knowing is. All we ever truly know is consciousness.’
I’m not sure who to reply to in this interesting thread, but the key to me for understanding what Spira is ultimately trying to get his listeners to come to terms with lies in the following passage:
“What is there to be done? Investigate the belief and the feeling as to whether or not what we truly are is a separate entity, an individual doer. When that issue is resolved, the question as to whether or not there is something to be done will not arise.”
Doing or not doing has no bearing on the sense of separate self or doer. Trying to decide whether to do something or not to do something is a struggle of the very mechanism which needs to be explored. The resolution of this sense that there is a separate self or doer, is what the Buddhists call ‘Entering The Stream’. They call it the First Stage of Enlightenment (there are 4 stages). If this is the case in your life, your point of view becomes altered in a way where the belief in a journey with an ending, along with all its attended desires for fulfillment begin to fall away. That sense of separateness with all its cravings (including enlightenment) begin to be replaced with a deepening, a sort of communion with what you really are. At this stage, what is illumined more brightly is what you are not and the entanglements of analysis and thinking there is someone living your life.
Spira is pointing to this and no one who has not ‘entered the stream’ can understand this with their so called intellect. The conviction that there is no one there who is called me, ends the argument of doing and not doing, not by being in favor of one or the other. I applaud him for not using all the Sanskrit terminology that can really drag someone down with its weight of remembrance. I also think that this is a ‘beginning point’ of real enquiry into our true nature.
Dennis, Charles, Martin, Anonymous & Venkat
You guys are one step ahead of me in this “should i stop enquiring?”. I am partially rephrasing my question one more time.
I am the witness of this world & BMI; Brahman is the substratum of this world including this BMI; Aham Brham Asmi Aikyam. For Jiva-Brahman aikyam, in traditional advaita the most popular process is paroksha jnana through aptavakya of Acharya and then the Jnana-nishtha through nidhidhyasanam leading to realization & Jivanmukti.
On the other side, Spirra explains (i will post the link upon request) this with an example: A tingling on face exists – existence or being is common to all other sensations itching, stinging etc. If one takes tingling out there is an empty space of “Being”. Then this tingling is known – take the tingling out of the knowing and there is another empty space of “Knowing”. There seem to be two empty spaces. Through a group meditation his group discovered that there is no line between “Being space” and “Knowing space”. They are one. This is the ultimate realization that forms the basis of all religions – me and my father are the same….
I have no problem understanding either one method up until the realization of the aikyam – i zipped though isolating drik & drisya ; knowingness & beingness in no time. It is the realization of the oneness!– i seem to be stuck between two empty spaces! More enquiry though scriptures or meditation is leading me to question the enquiry itself. Hence the dilemma –enquire or stop enquiring?. I intellectually know that this question or any question should not arise once i cross the gap. Some of you who seem to be not bothered by this dilemma how did you achieve this? through intense enquiry (where enquiry itself disappeared one day) or by dropping stopping the enquiry at some stage.
I feel sure that, if you really understand the concept of chidAbhAsa, then there is no problem. It is the ‘reflection’ that knows, understands, gains enlightenment etc. And you, Vijay, are just a reflection. But who-you-really-are is the original, non-dual Consciousness, which is the substrate for the seeming play.
(There is an article called ‘The ‘Real I’ verses the ‘Presumed I’ – An Examination of chidAbhAsa ‘ – http://advaita-academy.org/pages/NewSingleArticle.aspx?ContentId=985 and there is a follow-up blog called ‘Continuing Reflections on Reflection’. which you can find in the list of blogs at http://advaita-academy.org/pages/BlogSingle.aspx?BlogId=16#.)
Some great responses to your questions – not sure I can add much to them – apart from saying that for me, oneness (/ no-self) can be understood fundamentally at an intellectual level. If it is deeply subscribed to, it leads to a greater awareness of the non-sensical nature of thoughts that arise that pertain to the ego and any expectation of attainment of any goal by the ego – as Charles and Anonymous point out. This in itself means that such thoughts are detected earlier, before they proliferate – and confers a level of stillness, peace.
This for me is consistent with Sri Ramana’s teaching. I think there probably is a point at which the ego itself dissolves, leaving just the experiencing of what is. But given that we have the intellectual understanding that there really is no ego, there can therefore be no one to claim such an experience – and so it logically shouldn’t matter to you if ‘you’ attain this state.
So for me, the key is to convince yourself of non-separation, no-ego, non-duality, and then intellectually take this to the limits in how your awareness of, in your attitude to and in your (non-)reaction to the subtle or gross ego-driven thoughts that arise. Which means, as Ramana says, strive constantly to watch the I-thought as and when it arises and take yourself back to the fact that you know (intellectually) that it is not real. That then just leaves the background stillness that you are.
Apologies for the rambling.
Venkat, I’m not sure what you actually mean by ‘convincing’ yourself of non-separation. What you are describing is an intellectual approach that is not the same as being ‘convinced’ that there is no separation. Being convinced is a bodily experience that has a reflection in thought and every other sense organ. The stillness is also something reflected as is every other experience that you may have. The stillness is there but it is part of the whole, not the whole. Too many people get caught in the experience of stillness, but it is part of the duality, just another aspect of it. All experience has to be viewed as essentially ‘self-less’. No resting place. The very idea of ‘self realization’ has no place to take hold. Only words, words, words………….:-)
I am not sure how “being convinced is a bodily experience”, when any experience is part of the duality, which you also then go on to say.
For you, a conviction of non-separation is merely an intellectual affair and not the ‘real’ thing. Fair enough – that is your concept about it.
All I’m saying is that for me it is a good place to start.
“Too many people get caught in the stillness . . . . words, words, words”
I would submit to you, that you can have no idea of what and how I (or anyone else) experience(s) the world and stillness, and what I / they make of it. You only have your own experience, and your assumptions about other people’s experience. Don’t you see – the very fact of assuming (‘too many people get caught in stillness’), has a whiff of arrogance in it – the idea that ‘I’ know, and you don’t.
How do I know that what you say is your experience is reality? And how can you convey it to me, without the intervention of intellects?
I concur with you, that there is no way to convey one’s own experience or be sure of another’s. My words are not the gospel and they are only meant to be contemplated regarding one’s own experience. If you feel that what I’ve said doesn’t apply to you, so be it. I’m not here to wrestle my view with yours or anyone else’s.
I’m afraid that many people do get caught up in ‘stillness’. It is not arrogance that says this, it is personal experience. Are you attached somehow to ‘stillness’? This is a basic teaching that many traditions talk about.
Regarding ‘bodily experience’…I can only say that the ‘insight’ of there not being a self, a ‘me’, allows the senses to be more and more present as this basic insight deepens and the sense of doing or wanting anything for one’s own dissipates.
Vijay, allow me to approach your question of ‘how to achieve a sense of freedom from the dilemma of whether to enquire or not enquire’ from a different view point. All these concepts, desires, etc., that are in your brain are all part of how you are identifying yourself as a ‘me’, a ‘person’ that is trying to achieve something, in this case, peace of mind. You keep identifying with what is arising as thought and emotion and you think this is you. What you have not ‘understood’ is that there is no ‘you’ that is thinking and feeling these things. It is all what you have learned from your life and culture. True insight comes when you penetrate this bubble of ‘self’. All your struggles are useless to escape this. All it takes is a moment of clarity to actually have a look at what you are doing to yourself. Never mind any philosophical approach of doing or not doing. Just take a look at what you call ‘you’.
I don’t want to pretend that it is a simple thing to do because we have been taught very deeply to believe in ourselves, our existence. You will have to participate in this quest, sometimes more intensely than at other times. But, if you have the right approach to this first, it becomes a lot simpler.
I also wanted to say that by discovering that there is no ‘me’, it doesn’t mean that nothing arises that will disturb you any longer. With most people, it will take years to deepen into the next ‘phase’, which the Buddhists call ‘A Once Returner’ and the insight of ‘no self’. And, that’s not even the end of the story. 🙂 All of it is predicated on the same realization that is deepened, that there is no one there that is having an experience. This is a profound experience which cannot be rightly explained and understood with the intellect, hence all the books, gurus, and diy-ers, that have given us all our ideas and knowledge about being alive. Good Luck.
I’m certainly no expert or scholar, but I can try to answer as someone who considered himself a seeker for many years and no longer does. Your complaint is that you have fallen short of the realization of oneness, jIva-Brahman-aikyam, and you wonder if the inquiry itself has become an impediment. Yet the manner in which you express the problem (i.e., “once I cross the gap”) leads me to wonder whether you are still trying to turn that realization into an object in the form of an experience. Are you waiting for something to happen? Are you expecting “oneness” to feel like something? I hope you are not insulted by these questions. I ask only because in my own experience the expectation of a major epiphany proved to be an obstacle to Self-Knowledge.
If that is the purpose of your inquiry, then perhaps it does indeed make sense to drop the search! On the other hand, if you’re doing nothing of the kind, not waiting for anything, etc., then why not let the inquiry just develop of its own accord? It’s not really up to “you” anyway, right?
I believe the Ishvara teaching of traditional Advaita may be of value here. As I understand it, the vasana to inquire or cease inquiring isn’t something that comes from the jIva anyway. If Reality is non-dual, then “you” don’t make this decision in a vacuum. You make it as part of the Totality of the Dharma-field, i.e., Ishvara. So why not take it day by day, moment by moment? Take the Karma Yoga attitude and leave the outcome up to the Totality. Better yet, dedicate or consecrate the outcome to Ishvara and then let it go. You will be prompted to continue further self-inquiry, or not, as the vasana appears in the Causal Body.
You slip between vyavaharika and paramathika quite seamlessly, and actually impart a sort of reality to vyavaharika. If I have not misunderstood you, vyavahirka is all that we can know / perceive, but the mind can understand and be convinced that it is actually not real, and that paramarthika is in fact the absolute truth. However it seems that paramarthika is a matter of conviction in the mind as opposed to an actual state that can be experienced (I tried not to use the word experienced, as it implies a duality with the experiencer, but clearly failed!). So your interpretation seems to say: make the best of the vyvaharika world, but remember paramarthika (aka heaven) is the reality that awaits.
I take vyvaharika (and the two realities are not particularly elaborated on in the upanishads) to be a recognition of how most people see the world – and so represents an intermediate teaching step before they are shown paramarthika.
Brhadaranyka and Mandukya Karika passages – and Sankara’s commentary thereon – clearly point to a non-dual ‘state’ – turiya – that is the substratum consciousness. MK even says that first is created the illusory jiva and thereafter the world. And both (together with Vasishtha) imply that liberation / knowledge involves a dissolution of the mind / ego, which leaves the substratum pure and simple. So ignorance is associated with the mind / I-thought; and liberation is the dissolution of this I-thought, such that the substratum / knowingness / consciousness shines undimmed. So, liberation does not represent an understanding that takes place in consciousness (as you say, how can consciousness ‘understand’ something?) but is the removal of the veil of ignorance – which is the mind / ego / I-thought.
This is the certainly the gist of what Sri Ramana says – who equates mind with a bundle of thoughts, the root of which is the ‘I-thought”, and does not give any reality to a noun called “mind”. As you note, non-duality says there is only consciousness: so logically, anything that appears on consciousness, including thoughts, is just an appearance / dream, and shouldn’t erroneously be given a form by conceptualising it as “mind”.
The quote that I set out elsewhere from the 35th Sankaracharya of Sringeri (“the mind is like a pure crystal; the effulgent Atman manifests in it clearly . . . After realisation becomes stable, the mind is destroyed”) would also tend to support this interpretation that mind = ignorance. So I’m not sure one can even say that this is “neo-advaita”, as opposed to “traditional” advaita.
Further, from Astavakra Gita and commentary of Sw Chinmayananda (hardly a “neo”):
12.7: Thinking on the Unthinkable One, one resorts only to a form of one’s own thought. Therefore giving up that thought, thus do I, indeed, abide in myself.
Chinmayananda: The Infinite Self is the very ‘light’ of consciousness that illumines all our thoughts, and without which our intellect becomes an inert equipment of matter. Naturally, the intellect cannot by its activities comprehend the Self, the very essence behind it.
17.20: An indescribable state is attained by the Sage whose mind has melted away, its functions having ceased to operate, and who is free from delusions, dreaming and dullness.
Chinmayananda: In the Liberated One, his mind is completely dissolved.
vyavahAra will always seem to be real but paramArtha is always the actual, ‘really real’. The difference between the j~nAnI and the aj~nAnI is that the former knows this, whereas the latter still has doubts (or believes the world and his/her body-mind to be real). (Incidentally, vyavahAra is the noun, vyAvahArika is the adjective; paramArtha the noun, pAramArthika the adjective.)
The body-mind continues until physical death (in vyAvhAra), whether there is Self-knowledge or not.
Apologies for – and thanks for correcting – my poor knowledge of Sanskrit! A bit like the message when you click on a blind link, and come up with an error “This is somewhat embarrassing isn’t it?
No criticism intended, Venkat! I added that for everyone’s benefit, since most are unlikely to be clear on the distinction.
“Should I stop enquiring?”
My 2c to add.
The question betrays the fact that there is a “you” somewhere there to stop (or not) the enquiry. Obviously, then, the enquiry has not reached the true terminus when the realization that there is no finite (and separate) “enquirer” anywhere there dawns. With the ending of an “enquirer,” the ‘process’ of inquiry drops by itself. There is no “you” to stop or drop the enquiry.
2) The word “Should?” in the title of the Post suggests that the Questioner is looking for a “mandatory injunction” given by shAstra with regard to “inquiry.” To the best of my understanding, Advaita DOES NOT talk in terms of ‘injunctions.’ An interesting discussion is currently on at Advaita-L if there are scriptural injunctions for the seeker. I recommend that the Posts of Shri Ananda Hudli should be read by anyone desirous of knowing what the scriptures and Shankara bhAShyA-s say on the subject matter. (Link to the discussion: here)
Thanks for your response.
The conclusion based on most of responses is that if the question still lingers then there is an “enquirer” left – enquirer disappearing is the end of the enquiry.
Also, thanks for pointing out that Shruti WILL NOT give any specific steps or injunctions on this – it does not prescribe any Vidhi to show something that is already known.