upadeSha sAhasrI – part 18

Part 18 of the serialization of the  presentation (compiled by R. B. Athreya from the lectures given by Swami Paramarthananda) of upadesha sAhasrI. This is the prakaraNa grantha which is agreed by most experts to have been written by Shankara himself and is an elaborate unfoldment of the essence of Advaita.

Subscribers to Advaita Vision are also offered special rates on the journal and on books published by Tattvaloka. See the full introduction

Atman- mirror

1.19. Just as a mirror exists within and without the image reflected in it, so the Supreme Self exists inside and outside this body.

The idea is this: The image in the mirror has no real existence. It is a mere appearance. Only the mirror exists. Similarly, only the Self exists. Body, mind, etc have no real existence. It is only by being superimposed on the Self that they appear to exist. Just as the reflection cannot affect the mirror, so body, mind etc cannot affect the Self.

aShTAvakra saMhitA, Swami Nityaswarupananda, Advaita Ashrama, No ISBN.

Q. 358 – mAyA and avidyA

Q:
1) If Atman is perfect, how can it ever be deluded by mAyA?

2) What is the source of avidyA? If there is only brahman, how and why does avidyA exist?

Answers are provided by: Ted, Martin, Shuka, and Dennis.

A (Ted):
1) Atman (i.e. pure limitless awareness) is never really deluded by mAyA (i.e. ignorance), but rather only apparently so.  Given the non-dual nature of reality and, thus, the fact that Brahman-Atma is the only thing — though, of course, pure awareness cannot be said to be a “thing” at all due to its attributeless and unobjectifiable nature — that exists, mAyA is nothing other than Brahman-Atma itself.  That is, it is a power inherent in the very nature of Brahman-Atma.  Ironically, if Brahman-Atma, whose nature is limitless, were limited by the inability to apparently delude itself, it would not be limitless and, therefore, would not be Brahman-Atma :-). Continue reading

Topic of the Month – Atman derivation

The word Atman is derived from the root Ad which means to pervade (Ad vyApane). Atman thus means the invisible reality or substance that pervades the individuated visible forms, just as gold is the substance that pervades the visible form of an ornament. This visible form in the case of living beings includes in it the physical phenomenon called body as well as the phenomenon known as the soul.

From Karma and Reincarnation, Swami Muni Naryanana Prasad, D.K. Printworld (P) Ltd., 1993, ISBN 81-246-0022-8. Buy from Amazon US, Buy from Amazon UK

Witnessing Consciousness – Q.340

Q: What is the difference between the witness, witness consciousness and consciousness? I know myself as the witness or maybe as witness consciousness but I do not know myself as all there is which, I guess, would be knowing myself as consciousness. But how can I ever not see the world of objects? So do I not remain a witness choicelessly?

A (Sitara): Contained in your question are seven questions (which I have passed on to the other bloggers, so some may refer to them):

 1.            What is the difference between the witness, witness consciousness and consciousness?

This will be answered below along with the last question.

 2.            (implied question) Is there a difference between the witness and witness consciousness?

Answer: no, not in the way I use the terms. But there is the possibility of a flawed use of the term ‘witness’. Witness means the ultimate subject that cannot be objectified. If witnessing is attributed to the mind, the so-called witness is nothing but a thought, i.e. it is just another object. And the so-called witnessing is nothing but an experience.

 If, however, witness is used in the sense of ‘ultimate subject’, you can use ‘witness’ and ‘witness consciousness’ interchangeably. I prefer the term ‘witness consciousness’ (or simply ‘witnessing’) because the term ‘witness’ suggest too much of a personality. Continue reading

upadesha sAhasrI – Part 3

Part 3 of the serialization of the  presentation (compiled by R. B. Athreya from the lectures given by Swami Paramarthananda) of upadesha sAhasrI. This is the prakaraNa grantha which is agreed by most experts to have been written by Shankara himself and is an elaborate unfoldment of the essence of Advaita.

Subscribers to Advaita Vision are also offered special rates on the journal and on books published by Tattvaloka. See the full introduction and part 1 of the new series.

Experience and Knowledge (Q. 321)

Q: ‘Experiential’, seemingly, is becoming a stumbling block in current discussions within spirituality and non-duality. There are the ‘experiential’, usually ‘anti-intellectual’ types (who deprecate ‘merely intellectual’, or ‘conceptual’ approaches), and those who defend the proper use of mind and the intellect, without denying the validity of experience.

 Would it be possible, though, to dispense with either of the two concepts: ‘knowledge’ and ‘experience’?; they appear to overlap, practically being synonyms and, indeed, one can say “I know pain in the belly”, or, “I know such and such emotion”, “I know (I am acquainted with) life”, etc., without resorting to the word ‘experience’ – the word ‘acquaint’, conveniently, is derived from the Latin via old French: cognoscere, gnoscere. The other alternative would be to dispense with the word ‘knowledge’ and use instead ‘real’/’unreal’, ‘reality’, which is, precisely, sat/asat in sanskrit – and expressions using these terms are quite frequent, as everybody… realizes (‘is cognizant with’, then, would have to be ruled out). Just today I wrote in a comment that true understanding is an experience, but now I have my doubts. Ultimately, certainly, the only Experiencer/Knower is brahman/atman (though he remains ever unmoved). Continue reading