pratibandha-s – part 10 of 10

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Other Related Teachers

bhAskara was mentioned briefly earlier in respect of the related philosophy of bhedAbheda vAda. He was probably approximately contemporaneous with Shankara and addressed similar issues. Regarding the continuation of ‘obstacles’ post-enlightenment, he had this to say (in his commentary on the Brahmasutras 1.3.20):

“There is no escape from experiencing the whole of the portion of merit and demerit which initiated the body through which liberation is attained. And one who supports a body inevitably undergoes pleasure and pain. Therefore those who say that there can be no liberation for one who is yet alive go beyond the teaching of the Veda. They also contradict perceived experience.” (Quoted in Ref. 100)

Dayananda

Swami Dayananda’s influence today is considerable, so it seems perfectly admissible to include his views on the subject here. After Self-knowledge has been gained from shravaNa and any doubts have been removed by manana, it is necessary to eliminate any habitual modes of behavior that prevent enjoyment of the fruit of that knowledge (j~nAna phalam). Swami Paramarthananda, one of his direct disciples, says:

“And then comes fifth and final stage of sAdhana called nididhyAsana, which is meant to remove my habitual reaction; the removal of vAsanA, because of my regular unhealthy responses in life, I have developed a habit. And habit is developed in-time and habit can go only in-time. This deliberate invocation of the Vedanta, so that I can get rid of un-Vedantic reactions in life. Every disturbing reaction is un-Vedantic reaction. So anxiety, frustration, self-pity, sense of insecurity, fear, attachment; all of them are unhealthy vAsanA-s. This vAsanA nivRRitti or viparIta bhavana nivRRitti is the fifth and final stage called nididhyAsana.” (Ref. 208) [The first 4 stages are karma yoga, upAsanA, shravaNa and manana.] Continue reading

pratibandha-s – part 5 of 10

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vij~nAna

Shankara differentiates what might be called ‘ordinary’ or ‘intellectual’ knowledge (j~nAna) from ‘transformative’ knowledge (vij~nAna). The knowledge becomes transforming – i.e. making it efficacious in conveying the status of jIvanmukti – when the gaining of it has been preceded by successful sAdhana chatuShTaya sampatti. In his bhAShya on muNDaka upaniShad 2.2.8, he says:

“Wise, discriminatory people (dhIrA) see through vij~nAna; vij~nAna is a special (vishihtena) knowledge (j~nAna), born out of the teaching of shAstra and AchArya (shAstra AchArya upadesha janitam), and received in a specially prepared mind, born (udbhutena) out of total detachment (vairAgya), having control of inner and outer organs (shama and dama), and which is therefore capable of upAsanA to begin with and later of nididhyAsana which together are called meditation (dhyAna). Through such a vij~nAna, wise people realize that the nature of the Atman (Atmatatvam) is non-different from the nature of Brahman (brahmatatvam)…” (Ref. 10)

‘Who am I?’ in communication

Who are we speaking of when we use the words ‘I’ and ‘you’ in writing and speech?

Since we are Advaitins, there are actually three possibilities:

  1. ‘I’ could mean Atman/Brahman, if used from the ‘as if’ pAramArthika viewpoint;
  2. ‘I’ could mean the reflected Consciousness (chidAbhAsa);
  3. ‘I’ could mean the usually understood ‘named person’.

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pratibandha-s – part 4 of 10

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j~nAna phalam

Here is the sequence of events that I believe represents the traditional understanding:

  • A would-be seeker practices sAdhana chatuShTaya sampatti for a length of time in order to gain the qualities of mind (and the overriding desire to attain mokSha) needed to qualify for ‘approaching a qualified teacher’.
  • The seeker gains Self-knowledge from listening to a qualified guru, i.e an enlightened shrotriya [someone with deep knowledge of the shruti, including Sanskrit], who belongs to a qualified sampradAya [teaching lineage]), as he explains the scriptures. This is the stage of shravaNa.
  • When there are no further doubts, the ‘final hearing’ triggers akhaNDAkAra vRRitti (same as brahmakAra vRRitti, but used more frequently) and the seeker thereby immediately becomes a j~nAnI.
  • Whilst there are still doubts, the seeker asks questions of the teacher to clarify and explain. This is the stage of manana. shravaNa and manana are then repeated for as long as needed.
  • The gaining of Self-knowledge simultaneously means that the seeker now knows that he or she is already free. (You can say that they are ‘simultaneously liberated’ if you really want, but this conveys the erroneous notion that they were not free before.) Note that the phalam of ‘j~nAna phalam’ cannot simply refer to mokSha (mukti) because you cannot gain as fruit something that you already have!
  • If the seeker had done sufficient sAdhana chatuShTaya sampatti (SCS) previously, he or she also simultaneously gains the phalam (= become a jIvanmukta). (See Section 3o for a discussion on the topic of jIvanmukti.)
  • If their SCS was insufficient, they do not immediately gain the phalam. I.e. they have pratibandha-s and they need to do more nididhyAsana in order to remove them. Thus, they may get the phalam later in life. If they do not, they get videha mukti at death of the body-mind (when the prArabdha karma is used up). (see section 3p)

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pratibandha-s – part 3 of 10

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nididhyAsana

nididhyAsana is recommended to remove any mental impediments that remain. This may consist of any activity that serves to consolidate the knowledge and fully assimilate the teaching – e.g. reading scriptures, listening to talks from qualified teachers, writing about Advaita oneself, discussing with other seekers and so on. The logic is simple: these activities produce puNya karma which ‘cancels out’ the pratibandha-s.

The vivekachUDAmaNi (267 – ) speaks about this at length:

“Even after knowing that substance (the Atman), powerful desire, which is beginningless (in the form of ‘I am the doer and enjoyer’), which is the cause of the world, does not die. It remains there. What can be done with that? You must do away with that desire carefully, because that is freedom – the lessening of desire. That should be done even after realization.

 “The idea of ‘me’ and ‘mine’ remains in the body and in other things that are non-Self. This is called adhyAsa, and should be given up by the sage identifying himself with the Atman.

 “Knowing the real Self, which is the witness of the intellect and its actions, by this thought, ‘I am That’, conquer the false idea of ‘I am’ in the non-Self.

 “First, give up following the world, then following the body, and then following the scriptures and, in that way, do away with your ignorance of identifying the Self with the non-Self.” and so on… (Ref. 62)

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Jivanmukta and Jivanmukti – 12/12

[Part – 11/12]

NDM:  R.D. Laing said “True sanity entails in one way or another the dissolution of the normal ego, that false self competently adjusted to our alienated social reality… and through this death a rebirth and the eventual re-establishment of a new kind of ego-functioning, the ego now being the servant of the divine, no longer its betrayer.”

In the west, when this happens it is referred to as when an ego collapses, fragments, or disintegrates and when the shadow and archetypal contents flood in from the personal and collective unconscious causing psychosis, or a psychotic break from reality.  

In the east, its considered Self-realization or God-realization, seeing the face of God, Shiva and so on?  

How do you make the distinction between a psychotic break like this here and a satori or awakening experience? 

Ramesam Vemuri:  Any of the psychological phenomena, hallucinations, lack of control, inability to filter diverse and dissonant signals coming to the brain (schizophrenia) are all related to the activity of the mind.  So also visions etc.  These have a clear signature in the brain.  Orgasmic or epiphany states are also clearly seen in the activity of different cortical regions (see: Pleasure of Sex vs. Bliss of Self in Brain Scans, Religion Demystified, 2008, p: 86-88).

In contrast, Advaita is about when the activity of the mind is zeroed.  Continue reading

Jivanmukta and Jivanmukti – 11/12:

[Part – 10/12]

NDM: Ok, what about the belief in karma? Reincarnation? Whatever the incorporeal essence is that some believe transmigrates.   

It is known in different spiritual traditions; “the most sacred body” (wujud al-aqdas) and “supracelestial body” (jism asli haqiqi) in Sufism, “the diamond body” in Taoism and Vajrayana, “the light body” or “rainbow body” in Tibetan Buddhism, “the body of bliss” in Kriya Yoga, and “the immortal body” (soma athanaton) in Hermeticism.  

Karana-Sarira – causal body, subtle body, Jiva, “Atman” and “Purusha”  in Vedanta.  Budhuta, Linga Sharira in  Theosophy.  Rudolf Steiner’s Anthroposophical teachings usually referred to the Etheric and Astral Bodies. American Indians and indigenous peoples from around the world refer to this as aspirit, animism, or guide.  

Others like James Hillman call this psyche.  These are the various ethereal bodies that some believe contain samskAra-s, or sin and so on?  Do you believe that such an ethereal essence or a thing exists?  

What are all these various traditions talking about or pointing to exactly?
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Jivanmukta and Jivanmukti – 10/12:

[Part – 9/12]

[NDM: Also what about this sensitive money issue that seems to hit a raw nerve when ever it’s raised. 

Is there anything right or wrong with doing this?  Is there anything right or wrong with making a few , rupee’s on this ancient non dual teaching?  What is your take on this controversial and almost taboo question?]

Ramesam Vemuri:  First of all no question need be a taboo.  If a particular doubt posits itself as a stumbling block, well, it should be attended to.

The ancient Indian system advises a student to redeem his indebtedness to the teacher by rendering service, by payment in kind or cash or in the absence of any other means of repaying, by passing on the wisdom obtained by him to others after taking Guru’s permission.  This obviously shows the necessity of some accepted social structural norm to preserve and propagate the knowledge to others.  Does this mean that the ‘wisdom’ is on sale or available for prostitution by the highest bidder?  Moreover, a seeker had to be eligible to receive the wisdom, the most important criterion being his single minded unswerving devotion for liberation in exclusion to any other desire (including food, clothing, wealth, status etc.).

The ancient sages foresaw a danger also in throwing open the knowledge for one and all because it can be detrimental to the very health of the individual and the society, if it is misunderstood and/or incompletely understood. Continue reading

Jivanmukta and Jivanmukti – 9/12:

[Part – 8/12]     

NDM: So without a teacher/guru of some kind, how does one navigate a path through this non-dual jungle? How did you do this without falling into all the traps like getting stuck in the absolute, or only seeing half the picture and the other pitfalls?

Ramesam Vemuri::  Non-duality is not the jungle.  Non-duality is clarity.  Information on it, about it and around it is the jungle!

One of the derivative meanings for the Sanskrit word Guru is, as you may have known: “the dispeller (ru) of darkness (gu).” In the ancient times when knowledge is transmitted through oral tradition, a human Guru (dispeller of darkness or ignorance) was necessarily required because the Guru was the only information source. Each Guru developed, used and expanded certain terminology to explain the Truth as realized by that Guru to a lineage of his disciples.

Fast forward to the present day.  We have now multimedia storage devices as information resources and satellite communication technologies for its dissemination.  These do dilute the mandatory requirement of a human Guru (dispeller of ignorance).

The more important question is how do we manage with the information ‘overload’ and distinguish the grain from the chaff. Continue reading

Jivanmukta and Jivanmukti – 8/12:

[Part – 7/12]      

NDM:  Did you ever formally study traditional Advaita Vedanta?  

Ramesam Vemuri:  I should at the outset say that other than as a matter, perhaps, of curiosity, me or what I did is utterly inconsequential; it need not to be considered important. I never studied Advaita formally under a Guru-sishya sampradAya (tradition) nor did I pursue any particular teacher or Ashram.  In fact, I feel repulsed to “follow” any organized system that upfront demands obsequious obeisance, dictates a belief structure, creates a hope and promises a distant carrot.

My spiritual inquiry, if I may use that term, has been more like the pursuit of research in science – define the problem as it arises, do a literature search, then investigate, check and cross check to the extent possible and so on.  In this process I was exposed to Zen, a wide variety of teachers in Advaita (from traditional to Direct path to Neo) and also bits and pieces of other systems. Undoubtedly there is a greater influence of Advaitic thought of the ancient Indian texts on me simply because they are some of the finest philosophical texts based on logic and were also the more readily accessible resources for me.  I am truly indebted to each one of them and also to the innumerable people who helped me in arriving at a clear understanding.

NDM: Is there any particular method or study out of all these various ways that clicked with you over the others?
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Jivanmukta and Jivanmukti – 7/12:

[Part – 6/12]                                         

NDM: What would you say are the odds of someone being “enlightened” also becoming a Jivanmukta?

Ramesam Vemuri:  Advaita holds that everyone is already a Jivanmukta.  Some scriptures unequivocally declare that the mind is most important.  If it knows clearly that it is unbound, it is free.  If it thinks it is bound, it is in bondage!

And incidentally, the Advaita teaching does not say one “becomes” a Jivanmukta. The teaching is that “You are That.”  It is not to ‘become’ but just to ‘be.’

Enlightenment or the first glimpses of ‘realization’ may entitle one to be called as a Jivanmukta.  But to be unceasingly in/as brahman, one has to overcome several of the distractions that the mind keeps posing.

NDM: The one question that really interests me is what someone can do about their vAsanA-s if they are enlightened, but still have problems with them?  Continue reading