Q.546 – Mind and Soul

A: There is nothing OTHER THAN Consciousness in reality. (‘Beyond’ implies that there are other things.) Consciousness is the foreground as well as the background! It is the mind that grieves when it thinks that ‘I am the body’. Consciousness never ‘does’ anything at all (including thinking).

A: There is no universe in reality; there is ONLY Consciousness (Brahman). Please do not ask why there is the appearance of a universe, when there is only Brahman. Advaita does not really have an answer for this. The j~nAnI still sees a world but knows that it is Brahman. It is the mind that perceives ‘form’ and gives this a ‘name’.

Q.545 – How can I ‘do’ anything?

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Advaita Gurus and Critics – part 3

by Prof. Phillip Charles Lucas

<Read Part 2>

TMA proponents strongly disavow these claims and emphasize the necessity of lifelong, sustained sadhana. An essential aspect of this sadhana is mental preparation, which entails the development of habits of discrimination (discerning what is real from what is only appearance), detachment (releasing attachment to the world of forms), calmness of mind and a profound desire for liberation. Only once this preparation is well underway can the student’s mind fruitfully engage with advanced Advaita teaching. As put by American TMA teacher/author James Swartz, a one-time student of Swami Chinmayananda:

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Who “Listens” to the Vedanta vAkya – ‘tattvamasi’?

[Background: This Post is a sequel to the Discussions at Q: 541 with regard to “Who or what is that which listens to the mahA vAkya ‘tattvamasi’ and Who really gets “It”?” My reply to that question, based on 18.114, upadesha sAhashrI of Shankara,  was that “It is the Inner Self Itself which “listens” to the Non-dual message.” Dennis and Venkat made some significant observations on this issue and I found myself inadequate to answer their points.

So, I took the liberty to refer the matter to three highly knowledgeable and well-read Vedantins who are also proficient in Sanskrit. They had been extremely kind to readily spare their time amidst their own preoccupations and to  share their views on this profound subject. Their in-depth analysis and exposition backed by authentic citations is too valuable and important to stay tucked in my files and deserve wider dissemination. Hence, I present below, as an expression of my gratitude, their Comments which will undoubtedly be beneficial to many seekers.]

Smt. Manjushree Hegde Ji (India):

You’ve chosen the toughest chapter of the toughest text! Continue reading

Bhagavad Gita ( Topic-wise)Pt16

Part 15

Part 17

6 Moksha
6-1 Preparation
6-1-2 Preparatory Action

6-1-2-15 More on preparatory disciplines 2(41 to 45,60 to 68), 4(39,40), 16(21 to 24) 18(50 to 53)

6-1-2-15-1: 2 (41 to 45,60,61) A person is required to prepare himself adequately to undertake jnana yoga. Karma yoga is one such preparatory discipline. All religious practices like puja, charity, and sacrifice come under karma yoga. An essential ingredient of karma yoga is selfless action resulting in the purification of the mind. A seeker does not long for enjoyment and affluence. He has the one-point conviction that his goal is Self-knowledge. Vedas prescribe various rituals for the fulfillment of desires in this world and worlds post-death. The desires are different permutations and combinations of three qualities. If the desire is fulfilled, there is happiness. It is not permanent because the object of desire is subject to change. Worldly objects and related desires exist in pairs of opposites.

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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.

Ignorance Goes, but mAyA remains – Revisited

Ask any teacher of Non-duality the question “Why we see a multiplicity of objects instead of Oneness in the world?,” pat comes back the reply that “It is all due to mAyA, an inexplicable and indefinable power of the Creator God, Ishwara. mAyA is so much reified and deified in some texts that they present it almost as a given “fact.” They romanticize mAyA; sing paeans in lilting poetry as a Divine Goddess vested with special powers – that of concealment of the Truth and projection of an unreal world filled with variegated objects (e.g. 110-111, vivekacUDAmani).

But Gaudapada in his kArikA-s on mANDUkya and Shankara in his commentary on them regard mAyA to be no more than an explanatory artifact. Gaudapada mentions ‘mAyA‘ in the sense of a magic-show in the last chapter of his kArikA-s. For example: Continue reading

What is Truth or Reality?

Neti, neti.

Reality is ‘everything there is, all in a bundle’ (a tentative definition) – inner, outer, manifest and unmanifested, known and unknown, thought of and imagined. Reality is not a bundle of separate truths, though, since ‘everything’ is interconnected in mutual dependency. Reality is indefinable; ungraspable by the mind (it requires a silent mind and a ‘leap of faith’ – a constancy of purpose). ‘Those who think they know know not’ (Upanishads and common knowledge). Reality is subjective and objective at the same time (nay, there is no such dichotomy in it). Reality is Knowing and Being, beyond the seeming individual, the latter as partaking of it. Reality, truth, cannot be transmitted or expounded – it is at the same time ‘personal’ and impersonal, or neither of them. Only metaphysics (non-duality) and contemplation, love of truth, not mere philosophizing, can take one to it.

Subject-object dichotomy

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 reality

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Consciousness & AI

We are in the midst of a technological civilization or culture the consequences of which at long range are unpredictable; a future where technological growth could become uncontrollable and irreversible, resulting in unforeseeable changes to human civilization. This conditioning would bring about an ‘explosion’ in intelligence resulting in a powerful superintelligence that qualitatively far surpasses all human intelligence. This change or event has been called a ‘technological singularity’, as a result of which, it is stipulated, the human race could not continue.

What follows is an exchage on the ‘Quora’ forum from Oct. 2015 – anticipating today’s current concerns by over 7 years. The question asked was: “Could the technological singularity occur without computers ever becoming conscious?” And the following are comments by David Eager (Zen seeker, metaphysical tweaker) and myself.

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