Living In The Moment Eternally – 2

[Nobody has obviously noticed or pointed out that the continuation articles have not been posted for two years! So I am proceeding with the Series of articles here a bit hesitantly as I am not sure of the Reader-interest. In these two years my computer lost the “memory” of my notes and files stored on the subject (thanks to the hackers from Nigeria). I am hence obliged to go by whatever material I could harness in the ‘now’ from my computer. Part – 1 here.   Part – 3 here .  ]

The main question of interest for us here is “How does the body of a Self-realized man live eternally in the ‘Now’ and function in the day to day life of eating, moving, acting and interacting in the absence of ‘memory’ of past experience/knowledge for recognition? What does “Now” mean for him/her? Is the “Now” on a temporal dimension?”

Whether we are consciously aware of it or not, it is impossible to lead a normal life in the world without memory. Maybe it is simply responding to when your name is called or you have to find a solution to a much more complicated problem of technology, memory plays a significant role. Therefore, before we venture to answer the questions on the functioning of a jIvanmukta‘s body, one could be curious to know about the lives of those who are  at a disadvantage in their worldly life because they do not have an access to their memory anymore . I shall list briefly a few such cases which are well studied by scientists. Their lives may look yet times hilarious and often poignant and heartbreaking but always harrowing to their care givers.Wearing - HM Continue reading

Awareness of Self

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs you know, it is difficult to assess what another person ‘experiences’. It is also difficult to equate various words that might or might not mean the same thing to one person or everyone. Not sure if this is possible. Probably not. So, the following is not the gospel. I could be mad, mistaken, and a fool. Being foolish is not the worst thing. Feel free to call me names like Martin does.

For me, the word awareness has to constitute both subject and object. Someone or thing is aware. It is a function of the human being. We all have it and it is functioning right now. For me, all awareness functions within the context of self and consciousness, self and consciousness being virtually the same thing. I am talking about what constitutes self, not about self’s true nature. Self’s true nature has to be devoid of self completely and therefore out of the realm of all consciousness. Thus, it is also devoid of awareness as this is a function of our human nature, not our true nature. Normal death erases all experience and awareness but not our true nature.

Our human efforts can only concern itself with our human nature and that lasts maybe 70-90 years. To know thyself is a human endeavor that involves using observation. How else can we understand anything? Mind is involved to be sure. Everything we know is reflected in the mind. But this doesn’t seem to be the case with our true nature. Our true nature is not a reflection of our human life. No human faculty can know its true nature, only the human nature can be known. The only way we can ‘know’ our true nature is through the ending of this separate self that we call ‘me’, ‘I’, etc. And, it is not possible for our human nature to bring an end to itself. From what I have read of the sages, conversations I have had with sages (of course, the ones I think are sages!), it happens in a blink of an eye. You are simply swept away. It is a revelation, not an attainment. It is not a result. There are no levels of attainment, only levels of self. No true self. The body may remain, but no person inhabits it. True nature and human nature are not compatible. You can’t have your cake and eat it, too, as the saying goes.  To know the self is to forget the self. But forgetting the self is not erasing it from memory. It’s erased from your whole being.

As others have said our own existence is common to us all. By observing this sense of existence, me, self, being it, breathing it, living it, you by-pass all the mental analysis and duality that most are involved with. The sense of problem is relieved and a kind of centeredness that focuses this observation can be felt and deepened. This centeredness is a  gateway that our true nature reveals itself through and brings an end to all forms of self.

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The Purpose of Life, Part 6

 

Inquiry 6:  What is the Purpose of the Apparent?

 
And even if reality is non-dual, why this seeming duality? Why does this mithyA of life exist?

 

As has already been established, there is no creation.  The word “creation” implies that something that previously did not exist has been somehow brought into existence, that something new has entered the arena of the old or already-previously-established.  Since, however, there exists nothing other than consciousness/awareness and therefore such is the sole substratum of the entire field of manifestation and all the objects inhabiting it, it is not possible for anything new to arrive on the scene.  All apparent objects, including those making their first appearance in a given form, are nothing other that a reconstitution and/or reconfiguration of the same one substance of which the entire apparent reality consists.

 

From perspective of both the apparent individual and God/Isvara/the macrocosmic causal body (though it should be understood that the latter is not a personal entity) there is, nevertheless, an apparent creation.   There is, however, a difference between the apparent individual’s projected interpretation of reality (i.e. jiva shrishti) and God’s appearance as “creation” (i.e. Isvara shrishti).

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The Purpose of Life, Part 5

Inquiry 5:  What Validity Has Vedanta?

 


The root problem is that in the end, even Advaitic teachings finally rely on ‘blind faith’ to put their point across. There’s nothing wrong in having faith. All religions ask for blind belief in the almighty to get you your promised ‘Kingdom of God’. It’s only in Advaita that folks try to push their case by saying: “No, it’s not pure faith, it’s by reason and discourse that we reach the truth etc”.

To quote Gaudapada in his Mandukya Upanishad kArikA, “That which is stated in the scriptures ‘and is supported by reason’ is true and nothing else”. The ‘reason/discourse’ argument for following Advaita is pure bunkum, in my opinion. It relies on blind faith not on a deity, but in an obscure ‘Self’.

 

The implication of this series of questions is that the self is wholly theoretical, that it is some philosophical conjecture cooked up and served to the mindless masses as a means of pacifying their angst over an apparently purposeless existence.  It further suggests that the self is either a half-baked notion to be accepted on blind faith or an intricate intellectual construct whose validity is so be settled through argument alone.

 

Vedanta, however, is neither a faith-based religion nor a theoretical philosophy.  True, its method of self-inquiry does require faith in its initial stages because the student’s understanding is still clouded by ignorance.  But the truth revealed by Vedanta is verifiable through a conscientious examination of one’s own experience.  This isn’t to say, of course, that self-knowledge is a discrete experience, but rather that the knowledge contained in experience and which can be culled from it through thoughtful, logical inquiry does serve to reveal the truth when it is properly understood and assimilated.

 

Actually, according to Vedanta, the quest for a discrete experience of the self is completely gratuitous.  The fact of the matter is that we are already experiencing the self every moment of our lives.  If reality is non-dual – which it is – then quite obviously there exists nothing other than the self that can be, ever has been, or ever will be experienced.

 

This assertion, of course, voicing as it does the fundamental understanding upon which the whole science of self-inquiry is based, begs an answer to the question, “How do we know that the nature of reality is non-dual?”

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The Purpose of Life, Part 4

Inquiry 4:  Is There Any Proof That The Self Exists?

This then raises my more fundamental query. This ‘Self’ on which reams have been written – what is the proof that such a ’Self’ exists? 

I know that the self is by virtue of the fact that I am.  Simply put, the self is – I am – self-evident.  More to the point, I know the self because I am the self.

“Still,” you might ask, “how do I know that my self is THE self?”

Some suggest that there may be more than one self.  The singularity of awareness, however, can again be verified by yet another meticulous examination of one’s own experience.

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Mithya, Mythology, and Metaphysics – an exchange

(Under part 4 of my ‘Review of article on Shankara’ 9 ‘thoughts’ or
comments were made, the last one on May 8th, 2013. Following that,
Peter and I continued our dialogue, which took us in different
directions, resulting in a 12 page thread. We both thought that our discussion might merit publication in AV. Quite sadly, Peter passed away one week after he wrote his last reply within our exchange. This is the first part, to be followed sequentially).


Martin (M) – How interesting that myths (different from ‘mithya’) give rise to different interpretations, perhaps mostly due to one’s cultural background and held views on life, etc. When you say ‘literal’, in this context, I understand something like an interesting story, mostly for children; but if myths say something about man’s life, his struggles, aspirations, etc., how can they be just nice, imaginative stories? (‘literal’ x2 is for those who believe – in the recounting of The Garden of Paradise – that that is how it actually happened; I don’t count you among them, of course).

 About your points (Peter’s (P):

  1. Right, not unity, but union (Creator/creature, lover/beloved, etc.); therefore bhakti, with its bond of love and surrender on the part of the creature – which can lead to a state of unity (advaita) once Knowlege or realization has dawn. No?
  1. a) “with us” is not plural; it is first person singular when the subject is God, a king, or someone in authority speaking for the law or from a chair of authority, which is impersonal. If you have the KJ version of the Bible, it reads: “man is become as one of us, to know good and evil” Gen., 3, 22.

      b) P: “Before Adam was ‘one with’ God, (i.e. before he knew right from wrong), what was he?” My (M) answer: ‘one of us’ sounds rather sarcastic, No? Yes, man knew duality by his ‘individualistic’ act, but was not like God; this cannot be the meaning of the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament). With the New Testament, things are no longer oppressive, based on fear and ‘the law’: Jesus brings liberation through knowledge, love, and compassion, and man is seen as theomorphic (capable of assuming his divinity in Oneness). cf.  St. John’s Gospel and the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas.

  1. a) M: The serpent “presaging Jesus”? At one time Jesus said: “you must be wise as serpents”, meaning to discriminate between acts (and people), but, other than that, the serpent is ‘the Tempter’ and the representation of evil (egotism?), and henceforth there will be enmity between it and mankind (“it  shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel” (Gen., 3,15).

        b) P: “what’s wrong with having the knowledge of right and wrong?”.

M: ‘Seeing’ duality everywhere*, precisely – the pairs of opposites – and thus becoming judgmental and stuck in that limited, constricted vision, the consequence being the loss of Paradise in union with God. “You will be like gods” was the promise of the serpent. Duality (plurality) pertains to the dimension of God or Ishvara (‘I’ and ‘other’, heavens, hells, etc.). Right and wrong belong to thinking (vritti/s), as you well know, and it can be a problem unless you just observe it as such (i.e., an object for Consciousness). Did the couple know that they were immortal? I don’t know, and probably they did not know either. Continue reading

The Purpose of Life, Part 3

The Purpose of Life, Part 3

Inquiry 3:  For What Purpose Would the Self Want to Play?

Question:  How can we believe in lila? What could be its purpose? There is no convincing answer – I am sure you will concur.

Our initial inquiry concerning the purpose of life is, of course, valid only from the perspective of the apparent individual entity questioning life’s purpose and making inquiry into the nature of reality.

But what about the self?

What possible reason could the self have for assuming the appearance of the universe and seemingly enacting its continuous and seemingly interminable cycle of pleasure and pain, joy and sorrow, success and failure, triumph and tragedy, birth and death?

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Living In The Moment Eternally – 1

Appayya Dikshitar - (1520-93)

Appayya Dikshitar – (1520-93)

We, the traditional Advaitins, are a prejudicial lot – aren’t we?  Appayya Dikshitar’s words uttered in delirium when his brain was under the influence of the hallucinogenic Datura seeds are for us a beautiful AtmArpaNastuti in praise of Lord Shiva. But the mutterings of some other ordinary mortal with a differently affected brain is mere meaningless chatter unworthy of any notice. Let us not forget that both are actions done under conditions of an altered brain. And in both cases, an external agency is responsible for causing the change in the brain.

It was UG who famously said once that whether it was Beethoven’s 9th Symphony or pulling the chain in the WC sounded the same to him.  Some of the Zen Masters used to respond to the simple questions like “What is the time now?” with an answer that the mountain was running or some such response – totally frivolous and meaningless on the face of it. But their effort was to draw our attention to the way our mind functions in assigning ‘meaning and significance’ (which are actually not there) ever caught up in a habituated pattern which we  normally fail to detect.

Over six years ago, I prepared a comparative statement of the characteristics of an ordinary person and a ‘Self-realized’ man. I used the information  collated from many sources  that I could lay my hands on in preparing this tabulated compilation — almost like what a Purchase Officer does with the quotations (s)he obtains. There were several reasons behind this exercise of mine. Continue reading

Musings on Life and Death

656152_web_R_by_luise_pixelio.deHearing of our friend Peter’s death, Dhanya commented Death is a strange phenomenon in our world.  One minute the person is alive and available, and the next minute totally gone, thereby summing up in simple words how it feels to experience the death of another person.

Reflecting on her statement, I came to look at death from the perspective of the dying one – noticing that life turns into as strange a phenomenon as death.

Perceiving with these mithyA-senses and this mithyA-mind a mithyA-body-mind entity called Sitara that is part of a mithyA-universe, whirling and twirling around in orderly beauty. All of this is obviously ‘here’ and yet also dreamlike, for neither Sitara nor the universe has always been here, nor will they eternally remain here in this form. All phenomena are in a constant flux, forever appearing and disappearing to something that is itself neither alive nor dead nor even different from the appearances and disappearances themselves.

Life is such a colorful, diverse, multidimensional phenomenon and, to almost everyone, it seems to be absolutely real. Yet it does not serve any purpose except for one peculiar one: to realize that this full explosion of creativity is no more real than the moon’s shining.

What a strange phenomenon is life – and how blessed is everyone who knows him/herself as life, death and beyond.

 

Photo credits: luise@pixelio.de

 

The Purpose of Life, Part 2

The Purpose of Life, Part Two 

Introduction

Recently, a question – or rather a series of questions – was submitted to Advaita-Vision whose fundamental concern was the seeming purposelessness of life.  This series of questions and comments also directly expressed or implied various other doubts that beg for clarification in order to better understand and more fully appreciate the existential predicament in which we find ourselves as apparent human beings.

The entire series of questions was included in the introduction to “The Purpose of Life, Part One” and can be reviewed therein if you would like an overview of the issue as a whole.  The series has subsequently been divided into several sections, each of which focus on a different aspect of the fundamental doubt concerning life’s purpose, to facilitate a thorough and coherent analysis of each of the issues raised.

What follows is the second in a series of inquiries through which we will progressively consider each aspect of the rather complex and enigmatic issues of whether or not life has a purpose, and if so what it could possibly be.

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