The Sanskrit term that is interpreted by many modern teachers as ‘experience’ is anubhava. And indeed ‘experience’ is one of the translations given by Monier-Williams, along with the expansion “knowledge gained from personal observation or experiment”. (Ref. 179) But words such as ‘understanding’ and ‘apprehension’ are also given and these are much closer to the intended meaning.Continue reading
Here are the definitions for the word ‘experience’ in Chamber’s dictionary:Continue reading
Any Advaitin worth their salt knows that the dichotomy of subject-object is not transcended by the unsupported mind, which in itself is inert.
Empirical experience seems to be undeniable, and with it that polarity, but one knows from Shankara – and only from Shankara – that it is based on ignorance, that is, failing to distinguish between the Self and the intellect or mind, which leads to the superimposition of either one on the other. Thus, the non-dual and undifferentiated Self – alone real – appears to be an agent and a knower, whereas, in reality, It is a ‘witness’ (a witness that is none other than pure Consciousness); and It is so by Its mere presence, not actively. The dichotomy referred to above does not exist – in realityContinue reading
One of the greatest teachers of the twentieth century
by Philip Renard
I am pleased to present the first of a two-part article from Philip Renard, about the Direct Path master, Atmananda Krishna Menon. See Philip’s lineage at https://www.advaita.org.uk/teachers/atmananda_parampara.htm
It is a pity that until this day the great Advaita teacher Shri Atmananda (Shri Krishna Menon, called Gurunathan by his disciples) remains a rather unknown figure to many people. With this article I hope to contribute to the recognition of the importance of him as a Source for direct understanding of ultimate Truth.
Two small books written by him, Atma-Darshan and Atma-Nirvriti, form together in fact a modern Upanishad. Upanishads are classical texts that have been added to the Vedas as concluding parts since about the eighth century BC. The term Vedānta (Veda–anta) indicates this; it means ‘the end (anta) of the Vedas’, and is a reference to the Upanishads.1 A modern Upanishad is a collection of statements so definite that the Vedanta tradition begins again, as it were. Not a commentary on something existing, but a text that has emerged from current, ‘ever fresh’ Consciousness.Continue reading
‘In truth, Anubhava [Intuition, Intuitive experience] alone is the fountainhead or substrate for all Pramana Vyavahara – transactions involving valid means of knowledge… pursuit of the Absolute Reality, Self-knowledge… culminates in Anubhava, Intuitive experience… the substratum for everything’. (It is the same as saying that Pure Consciousness is behind the apparent individual mind). – From ‘The Basic Tenets of Shankara Vedanta’, transl. from Kannada’s SSSS by D.B. Gangolli, pp. 51,55.
Q: What does this mean: You can’t experience brahman, but everything you experience is brahman?
A (ChatGPT): This statement is an expression of the non-dual nature of reality as understood in Hindu philosophy, particularly in the Advaita Vedanta tradition.
According to this view, Brahman is the ultimate reality that underlies all existence. It is an unchanging, infinite and eternal principle that is beyond all concepts and categories. However, because of the limitations of our minds and senses, we cannot directly experience Brahman as an object or as a concept.
Despite this, everything we experience is seen as an expression or manifestation of Brahman. In other words, all the objects and phenomena we encounter in the world around us are ultimately a reflection of the underlying reality of Brahman. In this sense, everything we experience can be seen as a kind of pointer or signpost that can lead us towards a deeper understanding of the nature of reality.
Thus, the statement “You can’t experience Brahman, but everything you experience is Brahman” is a way of expressing the non-dual nature of reality, in which the ultimate reality is both beyond all experience and yet present in everything we experience. It suggests that while we may not be able to directly experience Brahman as an object, we can still recognize its presence in the world around us and use that recognition as a means of coming to a deeper understanding of the nature of reality.
Q: Can we still hold that modern science is far from realizing the unreality of the world, the basic teaching of Advaita? (Quora)
A (Martin): Clearly, philosophical statements such as “the world is unreal”, “life is a dream “or “reality is spiritual” express not empirical but a priori propositions or enunciates. As such, they are independent of sense experience in that their truth or falsity is not determined by the facts of sense experience. Such statements can neither be confirmed nor confuted by sense experience. Observation and experiment are simply irrelevant to their truth or falsity. Thus, they fall outside the realm of the empirical sciences, whatever be the speculations of individual scientists when assuming the role of members of the laity. Further, in the contexts in which they most often occur, such statements are not regarded as provisional truths subject to refutation or revision as in the sciences, but as absolute and irrefutable truths.
Q: In ‘The Book of One’, you say: “If our true nature were allowed the freedom to experience to the full, what then? The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad tells us that “All the joys of the entire cosmos put together would be only a small drop of the bliss of this Supreme Being. Whatever little satisfaction we have, whatever pleasures we have, whatever joys we are experiencing, whatever be the happiness of life – all this is but a reflection, a fractional distorted form, a drop, as it were, from this ocean of the Absolute.” (Ref. 7)
Is there a way to get a taste such an ocean of joy while not ‘realized’?
A: This is a good question and highlights the dangers of attempting to relate the more ‘rapturous’ statements of the scriptures to the mundane experiences of life! When the Upanishad talks about the ‘bliss of this Supreme Being’, it cannot mean this literally. Brahman is non-dual, part-less, changeless, does not ‘experience’ or ‘know’ etc. In fact, whenever the word ‘bliss’ (Ananda) is encountered, it is a good idea to substitute ‘eternal’ (ananta) so as not to risk such a thought process. (See discussions at the AV site on ‘satyaM j~nAnamanantaM brahma’.)Continue reading
Confusions in Advaita Vedānta: Knowledge, Experience and Enlightenment
This is being published by Indica Books at Varanasi and may be purchased directly from them (PayPal accepted) at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It will also be available to buy from Amazon and I will post the links as soon as this is possible. (Note that it may still be cheaper to buy from Indica, even with postage costs, but it will obviously take longer to arrive in the West.)Continue reading
Part 4 – Experience
Q: While I agree with your statement about philosophers over intellectualizing the truth, there is something about Greg’s writing that is so magnetic to me. I really think he is the most articulate writer I have ever come across. Usually when I write, I feel a big part of what I’m trying to get across gets lost, whereas with Greg, I feel like 100% of what he’s trying to express comes through perfectly. I’m going through Standing as Awareness at the moment and the clarity with which he writes is so so beautiful.
But as you can probably sense by my emails, I’m a bit disappointed with the direct path. It is without a doubt the clearest and most direct teaching I have come across (so far), and the teachers themselves are brilliant, and I have no doubt that they understand the truth, and also live their understanding, but I feel I am craving something more systematic and formalized, that can answer these questions I have without confusion.Continue reading