Modern knowledge and the Vedas

Do the Vedas really contain any advanced knowledge as so many people claim they do?    QUORA

15.3.15 – I’d say the Vedas contain the most fundamental and ‘advanced’ knowledge there is, though mostly 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. That knowledge or perspective is metaphysical rather than mystical. According to the Vedas there is one and only one reality: consciousness (brahman, the Absolute, etc.), 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 out 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 just an irreducible phenomenon or datum; it is reality itself, everything being comprehended in it (theories, doubts, projections, emotions, things, thoughts, intelligence, observer and observed, you and I). The part (for instance, an ‘external’ observer) cannot understand the whole into which he/she is enclosed. For the Vedas, to repeat, reality is one, and contemporary physics is trying to find out in which way it is so (‘theory of everything’, ‘unified field’…). Not all physicists are reductionist, some of them having seemingly mutated into philosophers with a workable understanding of the core of Vedic teachings.

 

Mithya, Mythology, and Metaphysics – an exchage lll

I think that all these points or clarifications are important in our discussion, and are directly related to the 5 sections or categories listed above. We can see, in particular, how exoteric monotheism (The Old Testament of Christianity) tends to authoritarianism and rigid views… and persecution of ‘heretics’ and infidels. The same thing applies to Islam (Sufism is “for the few”, and it is peaceful). Pneumatic temperaments are a minority, the majority being either psychic or hilic (or a mixture).

3. “Can the knowledge of good and evil be viveka, the ability to distinguish ātmā from anātmā?” I think the answer is No, from what I said re morality vs. knowledge (jñana).

This leads me to what you write concerning Iswara (section 4): “Īśvara is pure limitless existence-consciousness together with its intrinsic potential for manifestation (māyā)”. It represents all cosmic laws and, clearly, is not the stern, authoritarian God of  Old Testament Christianity, or the God  of Islam, who appears as more generous and loving. Jesus, on the other hand, can be said to represent the logos (buddhi) of Neo-Platonism and Gnostic Christianity. Is Iswara not impersonal, unlike Krishna and Rama? One difference is that God’s laws are decrees and ordinances (commands), whereas Iswara’s laws are cosmic and impersonal; “it is what it is”, as you say; obedience has a different tinge in either case.

Coming to the nitty-gritty – for all the forgoing is as a preamble – I have to make a confession: I have been associated, perhaps for too long, with a Sufi organization led by F. Schuon, whose platform is traditionalism (called perennialism in N. America). The originators were R. Guénon and FS; important figures, among others: Ananda K. Coomaraswamy and Titus Burkhardt. You can check on this, but, evidently, there is an element of romanticism or nostalgia (for times passed), as well as anti-modernism (favoring, among many of its adherents, homeopathy, anti-evolutionism, and anti-Vatican II). Tradition did nothing wrong; the longer you cast your gaze back, the purer, uncontaminated it is (a sort of Arcadia). I don’t want to be ironic (nor repentant), but, simply, I took their views in that realm as quasi-ontological principles, with a heavy emphasis on the ugliness and deviancy of modern civilization. That can explain the quasi-traditional interpretation of the Garden I offered you, relieved by the metaphysical bent within it.

5. I accept the account you give of the Garden in terms of the significance of the serpent, with its promise of knowledge of “good and evil” (what you write about the “awakening of the feminine” is wonderfully inspiring). I think it is correct on the whole, and reminds me of some other instances in mythology to that effect (recently attended a performance of the Ring of the Nibelungs, by R. Wagner, where Faffner, a giant (a dragon or serpent in other Germanic stories), makes its appearance. This being is avaricious but has supra-human abilities, like understanding the songs of birds. The Titans of Greek mythology were also benefactors of mankind. So, knowledge? Yes, but it comes with a price… and a risk. The risk is that  serpents and dragons are ambivalent beings; they are not just friendly, or helpful to man; some danger may lurk hidden in them, like a poison, or a fiery breath. Myths have the characteristic of being polysemic (having several meanings)

The price to pay is that none other than a hero can conquer them before they release their boon/treasure.

Science and technology come at a price, which may be too high; time will tell. I am not in favor or against science and technology; it is here, and is still making in-roads, as something that had to happen: inevitable, given man’s abilities and ambitions: “to conquer Nature”, “discover its secrets”. How many are looking inside themselves, would be followers of Jesus, or of the dharma? A few are. The final point I wanted to make is to ponder on the meaning of the Greek word ‘hubris’, and I would leave you there. But before that, I would also make a plea for exoteric religion, including the bhakti way: from what we saw before, it is not all negative; it is, for a majority of people, the only way of advancement in a meaningful, spiritual way, and it brings cohesion, as well as beautiful art (painting, music, mystical poetry, etc.)

 

 

What is Death – part 6 and final (metaphysics or spirituality – non- duality)

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Meditation

‘There is doubt concerning a man who has departed. Some say, “He is”, and others say, “He is not”. Taught by you [Yama, god of death], I would know this. This is the third of my boons’.

‘Do not, do not insist: release me from this’…. Choose a hundred years, sons and grand sons… elephants, gold, horses… Naciketas, enter a great realm of desires: I will make you the enjoyer of your desires… but do not ask me about dying’.

Naciketas, the young seeker, will have none of that.

‘Since you, Death, tell me it is not easily understood, and no one else can be found who can teach this as you can, there is no boon to equal this’.

…………………………………..

‘Yama continues: ‘The wise one [inner self] is not born, nor does it die. [Hidden in all beings] it is not from anywhere, nor was it anyone. Unborn, everlasting, eternal, primeval, it is not slain when the body is slain.’  Continue reading

What is Death – Part 2

In the case of the human being, is death – whatever meaning we give to it – an ending, a transformation (in psychological terms), a recombination of parts (physics and biology), or a transfiguration, such as what is called reincarnation, transmigration  or metempsychosis (religious tradition)? Is it terminal, or a new beginning, a renewal – in someone of the senses enumerated above?

Or is death simply illusory? In the restricted sense we are now having in view (related to a human being), what is the meaning of ‘death’ – a question which, whether it has a precise answer or not, must have been asked countless times, at least ever since one or more individuals started to ask these kinds of questions, that is, to philosophize? It is frequently said that according to Plato philosophy begins in wonder. With such a broad view or approach of the problem we can appreciate how many possible answers, or rather areas of research and inquire are open to ourselves. We saw that, whether a (“short-lived”) event or a (gradual) process,  death can be defined in simple terms in what concerns the body, in fact the body of any organism, as was stated in Part 1. Going beyond this, and entering directly into the realm of philosophy – the philosophy of Vedanta in particular – the problem is also simplified by just saying that the only ‘things’ that ‘die’, or are annihilated, are forms, phenomena, which are impermanent. Essence or substance, being changeless, does not die. Continue reading