The Mind and its Death

(K3.31 – K.32) Everything that we perceive, we perceive through the senses; everything that we ‘know’, we know through the mind. Consciousness functions through the mind – the concept known as chidAbhAsa, explained in Appendix 3. When the mind is inactive – for example, in deep sleep or under anesthetic – we are conscious of nothing. It is the mind that effectively imposes duality on the non-dual. We see the forms and, by naming them, it is as if we create separate things where there is really only brahman. Once this apparent duality is imposed, all of the negative emotions of desire, fear, attachment, anger and the rest follow. It is the mistaking of the really non-dual as dual that brings into existence all of our problems, which Advaita summarizes as saMsAra.

Having recognized that it is the mind that is the effective source of our problems, it is only natural to conclude that, by somehow ‘getting rid of’ the mind, we will solve those problems. This is the concept called manonAsha, which found favor with Ramana Maharshi in particular, who is claimed to have stated that this should be the aim of the seeker. (manas refers to mind in general; nAsha means loss, destruction, annihilation, death.) Once we have ‘destroyed the mind’, it is said, there will be no more duality.

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The Disappearing World

The recent post by Ramesam – Ignorance goes, but mAyA remains? – continues to draw discussion. It has now reached nearly 50 comments! Ramesam’s last comment kindly referred to Gaudapada’s kArikA 1.17 and, looking this up in my book ‘A-U-M: Awakening to Reality’, I found that I had put together a very useful post to the Advaitin E-group back in 2009. Accordingly, it seems appropriate to post this here and, since it is longer than a simple comment, I am starting a new thread.

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 A favorite topic on the Advaitin discussion group (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Advaitin/) (where I am one of the moderators) has been what exactly happens when a person is enlightened or ‘gains mokSha’.  A popular, although somewhat incomprehensible, belief is that the world somehow ‘disappears’; that, for the j~nAnI, there simply is no longer any duality. Quite how the j~nAnI (apparently) continues to eat, drink and converse is not adequately explained by those who hold such a view. But Gaudapada approaches it from a different and even more dramatic angle. Continue reading

Debate with a crypto-Buddhist – 3

You raise a lot of questions, and I will go about them one by one, hoping you won’t mind.

1). Everything is a belief until the belief is replaced by a conviction based on an experience – or experience-knowledge – , the experience (intuition + reasoning) needing no proof.

2). Consciousness and intelligence are prerequisites for understanding what any concept (e.g. ‘matter’) means. Without consciousness, nil. That is why it is logically, ontologically, and epistemologically prior to any enquiry or investigation. Can this be contested?

3). When writing or reading, are you and I conscious? Is there need of a proof for this (which I call reality or fact)? The fact of being conscious as a living being is irrefutable. Another question is whether it is the brain, or consciousness/mind, that which is causal in this ‘binomius’ – subject-object (thinker-thought). Continue reading

Debate with a crypto-buddhist

‘How many of you agree with the theory that our consciousness ends when we die?’

A commentator: (There’s of course nothing called ‘Soul’ of a person that goes on to live forever in afterlife. I’m an atheist. I person believe that when we die, our brain and the entire body shuts down, and we meet an end. Those of us who experienced anesthesia knows how it feels when our brains are inactive.)

M. I for one do not agree. Bodies decay and die not so consciousness. The whole is greater than the part, and that whole can be called ‘life’, ‘existence’, or ‘consciousness’ – none of it reducible to the physical or material. All bipolar concepts, such as life-death, good-bad, one-many, mind-body, ‘you and I’ (‘me and the other’) are false in themselves– just concepts. There is only totality (‘what is’), namely, existence or being – not many existences (existents), but one existence; not many loves, but one Love . And all of us are in essence, that is, in reality, existence and love – they are not ‘two’ (love being Plato’s ‘higher Eros’ or desire) once plurality is ‘seen’ for what it is: a deception or narrow vision. Continue reading

Teacher and Seeker – Jan Kersschot

Q: One of the things that bothers me massively is that certain Indian masters are so popular that people start to worship them as if they are divine beings. I run away from that because I don’t feel comfortable while seeing that on YouTube. On the other hand, I talked with people who were on a retreat with such a master, and they had gained a lot of insights in his presence. They also experienced authentic moments of deep recognition and clarity. So, I am a bit hesitant about how I should cope with this. I feel I have a deep desire to devote myself to something or someone. I am attracted to go and see such gurus, but I also have some pride inside me. What would my husband and colleagues say if they would see me bowing for an Indian master? What is going on in these places?

JK: You see, this is a nice example to illustrate the difference between duality and dualism. Duality is the difference between the person in the front who is the teacher, say of mathematics, and his or her audience, the pupils listening to him or her to learn the basics of mathematics. From an outsider’s point of view, the teacher is standing in front of the classroom and the pupils are sitting in the rest of the room. That separation is duality. And it is totally fine. In spiritual circles, a similar situation may occur. There is a duality between the master on the one hand and the followers on the other hand. That is again totally fine, it is just a distinction made by the mind. And if there are a lot of followers, it is normal that the teacher is sitting on a platform so that everybody can see him or her. When a spiritual leader like the Dalai Lama gives a speech to the United Nations, it is also similar. And people can be touched by his words on many levels as well. Continue reading

Conversation with ‘H’ – & 6th part

You (H). ‘…… perhaps we both ought accept that Planck was right: matter exists. Or are you saying that matter does not exist; is that really your position, Dr. M? Are you saying that not only is consciousness the substrate of matter and of the world, but that ultimately, matter and the world do not exist, and all that does exist (whatever that might mean within such a definition) is consciousness?……’

Me (M): A3. Plank was an empirical scientist with a philosophical bent. Was he a thoroughgoing or pure non-dualist? His position seems to be like yours, except when he adds (or is attributed to him): ‘non-duality implies the universality of consciousness. Concomitantly, it implies that consciousness is the ‘stuff’ everything is made of.”  YES! Continue reading

Q. 378 – Existence and Experience

Q: Without hot, cold doesn’t exist. Without up there is no down, without in there is no out etc. The basic nature of duality. However if you apply this to the non-dual Brahman…

In the absence of that which is not (Brahman), that which is (Brahman), is not (doesn’t exist.)

My idea is that the Relative Reality is not only dependent on the Absolute (Brahman) but that actually both are interdependent on each other. I know this is counter to Advaita and forgive me and my lack of knowledge, especially of the Sanskrit terms, and I’m sure it makes your skin crawl to continually refer to things such as relativity as a reality.

Why do I say something can’t exist without it’s opposite? I will do my best to explain my ideas.

A thing cannot exist without it’s opposite because it cannot be experienced without it’s opposite, or rather awareness of it’s opposite. If a thing cannot be experienced then it does not exist, to the one experiencing it.

Ultimately, everything exists in one of two ways, either as a potential or possibility, or as a realized form. Continue reading

Vision Of Truth (saddarshanam) – Part 13

बोद्धारमात्मानमजानतः यः

बोधः स किम् स्यात् परमार्थ बोधः ।

बोधस्य बोध्यस्य च सम्श्रयम् स्वम्

विजानतस्तद् द्वितीयम् विनश्येत् ॥—१३

boddhAramAtmAnamajAnataH yaH

bodhaH sa kim syAt paramArtha bodhaH

bodhasya bodhyasya cha samshrayam svam

vijAnatastad dvitIyam vinashyet—13

बोद्धारम् = knower आत्मानम् = oneself; अजानतः = of one who knows not; यः बोधः = whichever knowledge (other than self knowledge);  परमार्थ बोधः = highest knowledge;  स्यात् किम् = is it;  बोधस्य बोध्यस्य च = of knowledge and the object of knowledge; सम्श्रयम् = basis; स्वम् विजानतः = for one who knows oneself;  तद् द्वितीयम् विनश्येत् = for that (person) the two are negated.

Is any knowledge( other than self knowledge) the highest when the knower knows not oneself? For the one who knows oneself, the basis of the knowledge and the object of knowledge, the two are negated.

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Vision Of Truth (saddarshanam) – Part 12

विद्या कथम् भाति न चेदविद्या

विद्याम् विना किम् प्रविभात्यविद्या ।

द्वयम् च कस्येति विचार्य मूल

स्वरूप निष्ठा परमार्थ विद्या ॥—१२

vidyA katham bhAti na chedavidyA

vidyAm vinA kim pravibhAtyavidyA

dvayam cha kasyeti vichArya mUla

svarUpa niShThA paramArtha vidyA—12

 

विद्या कथम् भाति = how does knowledge shine? चेदविद्या = if there is no ignorance; विद्याम् विना = without knowledge; किम् प्रविभात्यविद्या = does ignorance shine; द्वयम् कस्येति = the two; विचार्य = having enquired; मूल स्वरूप = original nature; निष्ठा = abidance; परमार्थ विद्या = knowledge that ‘I am the self’

 

If there is no ignorance, how does knowledge shine? Without knowledge, does ignorance shine? And whose are the two? Having enquired thus, abidance in the original nature is the knowledge that ‘I am Atma’.

 

Everything in the universe is in duality. When one talks of happiness, it is a relative term, relative to sorrow. With respect to sorrow, we can say there is happiness. The term happiness has no meaning in the absence of sorrow. Light is opposed to darkness. It exists since darkness also exists. No darkness implies, there is no existence for light. This is the world of opposites, the world of duality. Joy-sorrow, victory-loss, peace-agitation, like-dislike, worry-security etc are some such antithetical couples. They mutually exist because of the other and have no meaning without the other.  Continue reading

Vision Of Truth (sad darshanam) – Part 11

 

द्व्वन्द्वानि सर्वाण्यखिलास्त्रिपुट्यः

किन्चित्समाश्रित्य विभान्ति वस्तु ।

तन्मार्गणे स्याद् गलितम् समस्तम्

न पश्यताम् सच्चलनम् कदापि ॥—११

 

dvandvAni sarvANyakhilAstripuTayaH = all dualities and triads; ki~nchit = some

(indescribable); samAshritya = due basis;  vibhAnti = appear; vastu = reality; tanmArgaNe =

when that is inquired into; syAd galitam samastam = (dualities and triads) all resolve;

na pashyatAm sachchalanam kadApi = there is no wavering for those who see the truth.

 

All dualities and triads appear due to some indescribable basis, which is the reality. When that is inquired into, all (dualities and triads) resolve. There is no wavering for those who see the truth.

 

Any appearance needs a basis to be experienced. For e.g., a rope snake in semi darkness, needs the substratum of either a rope, or a hose or a crack on the ground. In the absence of these, the snake will not be perceived. So also, a mirage needs a dry land and silver seen on nacre cannot be seen without it. All these, the snake, mirage and silver on the mother- of- the- pearl are not really existent, nor can they be called absolutely non-existent (since they can be experienced). They appear by borrowing their existence from the substratum. In other words they have dependent existence….no existence of their own.

To arrive at the truth, meaning to arrive at the basis of these appearances amounts to the appearances getting resolved. Once the rope is enquired into, the snake vanishes. The preconceived notions of, whether the snake was a cobra or not etc, will become irrelevant. Did the snake run away on gaining knowledge of the rope? The snake did not run away. The snake was an appearance. It is no longer seen as the truth. The enquiry into the basis resolves all wrong notions of reality given to appearances. Rope enquiry is not the same as snake enquiry.

So also, if one enquires into the world or the ego while being attached to them, one will not gain anything. It is the substratum that one has to enquire into. Many people get misled by the ‘who am I’ question. If one is overly attached to the body mind, the “who am I’ question is only going to give him material answers like; I am 6 ft tall, father of so and so etc. The enquiry is deeper than this; it is an enquiry into the very basis of the material existence.  Hence, enquiry into the self is enquiry into the substratum of the ego. That substratum has to be the reality.  Once that truth is known, the appearances of the world, body and mind are resolved. Do they disappear? Does a wise man see no world? A wise man does perceive a world. Just as we see the sun rise in spite of knowing that it actually does not rise, so also a wise man will see a world, will have a functional body and mind but will clearly know them to be unsubstantial.

 

Will the knowledge keep wavering? Will one face misery again? Knowledge once gained is permanent. The misery was born of ignorance. The appearances of duality and triads were taken as the reality. Post knowledge, the substratum is known as the reality. A wise person will never waver. He has gained a firm conviction of the truth as his own self. Though he transacts in the world, he can never regard it as real.