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Science is not a pramANa (means of knowledge)
While philosophy may remain satisfied with the conceptual comprehension of the absolute and science with the never-ending search for it, religion points out the way to its immediate apprehension. Swami Satprakashananda (Methods of Knowledge according to Advaita Vedanta, Swami Satprakashananda, Advaita Ashrama, 1965. ISBN 81-7505-065-9. Read Extract from this book, which is highly recommended.)
Science relies on making observations as its fundamental starting point. From these, inferences may be made, theories postulated, predictions made on the basis of those theories and experiments devised to test those predictions. But, again, those experiments rely upon further observations. No definite, conclusive statements may be made because further observation might show them to be false. A classic example of this was the belief that swans were white. So entrenched was this belief up to the end of the eighteenth century, because every swan that anyone had ever seen had always been white, that one text book on logic used the statement ‘All swans are white’ as an example. And then an exploration to Australia found a black swan… Continue reading
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The world is mithyA
The universe and everything in it, including the objects that are being investigated, the person doing the investigation and the discipline of science itself are all mithyA – they are not themselves real at all. Here is a short definition of mithyA that I give in the new edition of ‘Book of One’:
Literally, the word means ‘incorrectly’ or ‘improperly’ and this refers to our treating things as independently ‘real’ when they are not. The word ‘independently’ is important here, because we are not saying that the chair on which you are presently sitting is illusory – obviously it is not! What is being pointed out is that it is not a substance-in-itself. It is probably made of pieces of wood, connected together by special joints and adhesive. The final form is designed to be suitable for sitting upon comfortably. In theory at least, you could disassemble the chair and use the pieces to build a table. ‘Chair’ is simply the name that you give to this particular form. The actual substance is wood. Continue reading
(Note that this was published to the restricted distribution for my ‘akhaNDAkAra’ journal in Jan 2010)
As an adolescent…I craved factual certainty and I thirsted for a meaningful vision of human life – so I became a scientist. This is like becoming an archbishop so you can meet girls. M. Cartmill
There seems to have been a growing trend (since the publication of Fritzjof Capra’s book ‘The Tao of Physics’ in 1975) to claim that science is both willing and able to investigate and understand the non-dual status of reality. More and more, science-based books and essays are appearing, but none seem to be actually founded in the proven methodology of Advaita. This is understandably symptomatic of the present time, in which science is seemingly able to supply all of our needs – if not already, then at least as a promise for the near future. Philosophies such as Advaita on the other hand are based on ancient scriptures, written in Sanskrit which no one can understand. ‘Where is the contest?’ the uninformed seeker is clearly going to ask. Continue reading
The word OM is probably more likely to be recognized by its symbol, even though it is the sound of OM that is the point of focus whenever it is used. It comes from the Hindu scriptures known as the Vedas, which are as old as the Indian culture itself.
What is the language and derivation of OM? The word is in Sanskrit, the language of the Vedas, which according to tradition originated at the same time as the Vedas. OM as both a sound and a written symbol is deeply revered in the Hindu tradition, a fact that can be readily understood once its meaning and power are known. The repetition of the word produces a sound that emanates in the form of a benign and beneficent resonance. The symbol, when reverentially visualized, creates a steadying and calming influence on the mind. Moreover, it has these effects even when the meaning may not be fully understood. Continue reading
Questioner: “I am Brahman” is the simple and straightforward message of Advaita. Brahman is synonymous with Beingness, Consciousness and Happiness. If I = Happiness, I should be always happy, should never be depressed. But I am overcome by the feelings of unhappiness, I get depressed. How come?
Well, the answer is “You” (I) can never not be Happy.
Out of Beingness – Consciousness – Happiness, the first two are self-evident. We do not require an external proof to tell me that I exist or that I am conscious. Can you ever say “I am not here” or “I am not conscious”? You have to be there and be present to say, “I am not here.” Similarly, I have to be conscious to say, “I am not conscious.”
In the same way, “I” can never ever be other than Happiness.
What is then the “feel” of unhappiness or depression that arises?
The “feel” cannot be “I” nor can it belong to “I”. That “feel” must obviously be something other than “I”. That is to say that such a feeling cannot be real because Brahman is the only “thing” that is Real. If the feeling is not real, it has to be an imaginary thing for, “I” would never say: “I am unhappy.”
But a Ramesam or a Tom or Dick do “feel” unhappy and say: “I am unhappy; I feel depressed. I am suffering.”
Advaita Vedanta looks at death from 3 angles: as death of the gross body, death of the subtle body and no-death. All of us agree that the gross body dies, meaning that with death its present form is gone for good. It goes back to its basic components, in vedantic terms “to the elements”, which then take the shape of different forms: ash, earth, plants, worms etc.
In Christianity there is the belief of „resurrection in flesh“ which is supposed to happen for the virtuous ones after the last judgment day – although hardly anybody seems to take this seriously anymore, at least in Europe. In increasing numbers, people have taken to a sober viewpoint, basing their existence entirely on matter and considering themselves as merely flesh. For them there is only gross body, even what Vedanta calls subtle body functions – i.e. sense perceptions or thoughts or feelings – are believed to be operations of the gross body, nerves and brain in action. Continue reading
[As students of Non-duality, we often come aross situations that apparently seem to be at variance with the Non-dual teachings. Here is such a Question raised by a friend of mine and felt that it would be interesting to share our exchange with a wider audience for possibe further discussion — ramesam.]
Questioner: How could there be no cause and effect? How can things happen randomly with no purpose? I just can’t accept that meeting you was random, or that I found nonduality, and fell in love with it. It seems to appear everywhere. Jesus said seek and ye shall find. There is no randomness in that. We set goals, work hard, then accomplish them. Some people live for fun, engage in risky behavior, then get in trouble, how could it be completely random that some people are in the wrong place at the wrong time, then others are in the right place at the right time. Then there are the people who seem to do everything “right”, then some horrible fate befalls them. Have you ever read anything by Malcolm Gladwell? He wrote The Tipping Point, Outliers, and some other books. His research into why some people are successful and others are not is fascinating.