‘Tipping Point’ in Advaita Vedanta

Question:  “I’m curious what is the ‘Tipping Point’ in the Advaita philosophy.”
Answer:
Just as it is easier to say what the Self is apophatically, perhaps, the “Tipping point in Advaita” too can be expressed only by stating what it cannot be!

4.4.5, BU clearly establishes how everything, including objects, actions, interactions, thoughts, emotions, feelings etc. etc., in short our entire ‘perceptual knowledgebase’ gleaned from the time-space-causational world we are familiar with and live in, is merely upahita caitanya (conditioned Consciousness). Continue reading

Fear of annihilation

A (Martin): I have made a life-long search for the meaning and reality of ‘myself’ and the world.

Apart from the advice (and different diagnoses) given by others, I am thinking of something else, which has a psychological as well as a philosophical side to it. It is not just fear of death but self-annihilation, an emptiness or void where there is no longer an experience of selfhood or continuity (“What if I don’t wake up?”).

This can become an obsession – an existential angst – one of the worst kind. A sensitive child may (I experienced it) entertain the idea of nothingness, including that of *me/myself*, that is, my very personal, intimate consciousness not existing or vanishing into nothingness. It may or may not be associated with the thought “Why is there something (a world) rather than nothing?”.

If that strikes a chord – and it is a question of temperament and inclination – there is an answer, which can be obtained at the end of a lengthy, arduous journey: ‘Know thyself’, as it was written on the frontispiece of the oracle of Delphos in ancient Greece. After a lifelong search, I found the most complete, satisfying answer in Advaita Vedanta. According to this philosophy or discipline, deep sleep is the most blessed state short of full awakening – that is, awakening from the ‘darkness’ of the awake state and its narrow ego-centered vision, shot through with doubt and suffering.

Q.541 Knowledge in the Vedas

A (Martin): I’d say the Vedas contain the most fundamental and ‘advanced’ knowledge there is, though usually portrayed in the form of paradox (analogy, metaphor, story, etc.), so that one has to crack the code in order to find the wealth hidden in them. That knowledge is not like empirical science, which is cumulative and provisional, and which could be said to be somehow contained in it, even if in embryonic or potential form.

The knowledge inherent in the Vedas is metaphysical rather than mystical. According to it there is one and only reality: consciousness (Brahman, or the Absolute), which pervades the whole universe; it is immanent in it as well as transcendent… “the smallest of the small, the largest of the large”. It cannot be measured or understood by the mind, for which it is ineffable, but it is that by which the mind comprehends… it cannot be expressed in words but by which the tongue speaks… it is eye of the eye, ear of the ear, mind of the mind, as expressed in the Upanishads.

Modern physics is having a hard time trying to explain away what consciousness is in terms of physical phenomena (neuronal activity in the brain), but consciousness is not an irreducible phenomenon or datum; it is reality itself or a name or symbol for reality – since the referent of the symbol is unfathomable – everything being comprehended in it (theories, doubts, projections, emotions, things, thoughts, intelligence, observer and observed, you and I). For the Vedas reality is one, and present physics is trying to find out in which way it is so (‘theory of everything’, ‘unifying theory…’). Not all physicists are reductionist, some of them having seemingly mutated into philosophers with an understanding of the core of Vedic teachings.

“sadyomukti” (Instant Liberation) – 2/3

Part – 1

2.  ‘sadyomukti‘ in Shankara bhAShya:

Shankara tells us at over a score of places in his bhAShya-s that brahman by Its very intrinsic nature is:

नित्यशुद्धबुद्धमुक्तस्वभाव:  |  — Shankara in his commentaries at BSB; BGB; BUB; muNDaka B; mANDUkya B; &c.

Meaning: By nature eternal, pure, intelligent and free.

What we are in essence being non-different from brahman, we are also ever “free.” But, unfortunately, lacking a sense of ‘discrimination,’ as Shankara explains in his Intro (called ‘adhyAsa bhAShya’) to the Vedanta sUtra-s, we mix up what is “Real” with the “unreal.” As a result, we feel we are “bound and limited.” In addition, we take it for granted that we are, by birth, bound within a beginningless and apparently endless nescience. However, having received instruction from a compassionate teacher (vide 6.14.2, chAn.U,), and working diligently with discrimination, we shed our imaginary shackles and figuratively attain our natural freedom. Continue reading

Q.540 Following Bhakti Yoga

A: There are two main points here.

First, since you are asking a question about Advaita, you must appreciate that, in reality there is only Brahman, or Consciousness. From the empirical standpoint, of course, you see a dualistic world with other people etc. and, from this point of view, it is not unreasonable to speak of a god, or gods. But anything to do with this empirical point of view has to be provisional only. It all has to be acknowledged as simply name and form of that non-dual reality eventually. That ‘acknowledgement’, and the firm belief that it is true, is what we call ‘enlightenment’.

Continue reading

I am the Light

A (Matin): Realization of witness consciousness is not brought about by anything or ‘anybody’. Consciousness does not perform any function, and there is nothing beyond or other than it. Finally, however, only intuition can nudge one towards it.

I am the Witness-Self; I am the basis of all experience; I am the light that that makes experience possible. – Yoga Vasishta.

“sadyomukti” (Instant Liberation) – 1/3:

What Shri Shanakara bhagavat pAda exhorts us in his commentary at the kaTha Upanishad, IMHO, is that we should try to “realize” the Self right in this life and not defer it to a later time because it involves a much more arduous effort to attain liberation with a stopover in some other loka (which involves continuing in the subtle body (or an AtivAhika sharIra)) after the gross body is dead. For example, Shankara writes:

तस्माच्छरीरविस्रंसनात्प्रागात्मावबोधाय यत्न आस्थेयः यस्मादिहैवात्मनो दर्शनमादर्शस्थस्येव मुखस्य स्पष्टमुपपद्यते, न लोकान्तरेषु ब्रह्मलोकादन्यत्र । स च दुष्प्रापः ॥ — 2.6.4, kaTha bhAShya Continue reading

Q.536 Experience of death

A: Advaita is a teaching that has various ‘interim’ explanations, which are given to seekers at different ‘levels’. Ideally you would ally yourself with a living, traditional teacher who would take you from the ‘beginner’ level to the ‘advanced’, probably over many years.

The final truth is that there is only Brahman (Consciousness). The world and all of the people – past, present and future – are not real in themselves; they are simply name and form of Brahman. A ‘person’ appears to exist as a separate entity because Consciousness ‘animates’ the inert body-mind. Who-you-really-are is that Consciousness and NOT the body-mind. Now and always, you are that Consciousness. It is an interim teaching that speak about karma and reincarnation.

(Note that Nisargadatta, Ramana and Vivekananda, as well as all the modern ‘satsang’ teachers who travel around giving short talks and Q&A session are not traditional teachers. They often have some good and helpful things to say but unfortunately also frequently cause confusion. You should also note that Nisargadatta uses the word ‘awareness’, when practically all other teachers use ‘Consciousness’. That, alone causes much confusion! Also, you should pay no credence to so-called NDEs. Modern science has far more reasonable explanations for them, such as flood of neurotransmitters as the brain functions fail.)

Bhagavad Gita (Topic-wise) Part 2

Part 1

Part 3

3    Jagat 2(28), 7(4 to 7), 8(3,4,17 to 19), 9(7 to 10), 13(6,7,26), 14(3,4), 15(1 to 3)

3-1: 2(28)                                                                         

  Sri Krishna has talked about different facets of creation at various places in BG. Some are contextual. For example, when Arjuna does not want to fight to kill the enemies who are his relatives, Sri Krishna says in 2(28) that creation is cyclical and there is no death. At the end of one cycle, it becomes unmanifest, rests in Brahm in potential form, and is manifested in the next cycle due to the maya power of Brahm. This process continues. There is no beginning, there is no end. A jiva is a part of creation and undergoes a similar process. Death of a jiva is followed by rebirth and so on. A clear understanding of the cyclical nature of birth and death has a sobering effect on the prospect of death.

Continue reading

Loss of consciousness

Q (from Quora): Why do I have this fear? How can I solve it? For as long as I can remember I’ve been afraid of going unconscious because I lose control. Even though I know that, when I fall asleep, I always wake up some hours later.

A (Martin): I have made a life-long search for the meaning and reality of ‘myself’ and the world.

Apart from the advice (and different diagnoses) given by others, I am thinking of something else, which has a psychological as well as a philosophical side to it, and it is not just fear of death, but fear of self-annihilation, emptiness, or void where there is no longer an experience of selfhood, of continuity (“what if I don’t wake up?”).

This can of course become an obsession – an existential angst – one of the worst kind. A sensitive child may (I experienced it) entertain the idea of nothingness, including that of *me/myself*, that is, my very personal, intimate consciousness not existing or vanishing into nothingness. It may or may not be associated with the thought “Why is there something (a world) rather than nothing?”

If that strikes a chord – and it is a question of temperament and inclination – there is an answer, which can be obtained at the end of a lengthy, arduous journey: ‘Know thyself’, as it was written on the frontispiece of the oracle of Delphos in ancient Greece. After a lifelong search, I found the most complete, satisfying answer in Advaita Vedanta. According to this philosophy or discipline deep sleep is the most blessed state short of full awakening – that is, awakening from the ‘darkness’ of the awake state and its narrow ego-centered vision shot through with doubt and suffering.