Many of the current popular Non-dual teachers in the West, both from the USA and UK, seem to present a version of Advaita which is a mix of Shankara’s philosophy and Kashmir Shaivism. Their audience, who are usually less inclined to accept the requirement of a prolonged prior mental preparation (called the “Purification of the mind” (cittasuddhi) insisted by the traditional Advaita, savour this mix essentially for two reasons. One is that the Karma theory and the concept of rebirth which are very much an integral part of Shankara’s teaching gets rarely mentioned by the Western teachers. The other is that the Western tech-savvy mind appears to prefer a world that is One seamless Whole without divisions (a–dvaita) as the Reality in preference to a world which becomes totally apparitional as Shankara avers, post Self-realization.
A recent publication titled “Liberation and the World- in Advaita Vedanta and Pratyabhijna” by Klara Hedling** attempts to pin point precisely where the Advaita philosophy of Shankara differs from the Non-dualism of Kashmir Shaivism. An excerpt from it follows: Continue reading
M. Thank you for your well-argumented comment. Empirical science is one thing; philosophy another. Other than Monism there is Non-duality (‘not-two’). Ultimately there is no essential distinction between matter and consciousness which latter, logically and epistemologically, is prius; equally, no distinction between subject and object, observer and observed. The existence and reality of consciousness, which is independent of all phenomena, doesn’t need a proof. Continue reading
Experience versus knowledge – a brief look at samAdhi (Part 2)
Here is the 364th verse of the vivekachUDAmaNi, as translated by Swami Ranganathananda, of Ramakrishna Math: “Reflection should be considered a hundred times superior to hearing, and meditation a hundred thousand times superior even to reflection, but the nirvikalpa samAdhi is infinite in its results.” The verse is referring to shravaNa, manana and nididhyAsana initially and, traditionally, this is the ‘complete set’, taking one all the way to realization and jIvanmukti. But here, it goes on to imply that nirvikalpa samAdhi is vastly superior. As Swami Ranganathananda puts it: “Our first hand experience of the non-dual reality is infinitely greater than meditation. They can’t be compared… no wise man would give up the infinite bliss of non-dual experience and revel in unsubstantial things like reading and thinking. Reading, thinking and meditation are nothing compared to the direct experience of the reality.”
But here, one has to ask the question: who is experiencing what? And, if it is an experience (i.e. in time), it has a beginning and necessarily an end also. How does this stack up with the idea that NS equates to Self-realization? Swami Satprakashananda even says later in the book that few seekers attain NS and even fewer return to ‘normal consciousness’ subsequently. “Their experience of NS is, as a rule, of short duration and hardly repeated. They leave the body in that state and attain Liberation (videha mukti). In exceptional cases the body stays alive in NS for twenty one days at the most, and then drops like a dry leaf.” Continue reading
Whenever we have an “experience,” like I see, I walk, I do and so on, we should remember that the entity “I” has first separated out from the “Whole” that-IS and positioned itself as the “subject” (agent) of the action. Thus, at the moment of experience, it is not anymore a single entity, Oneness. There are two — the experiencer, “I,” and the experience. But the “experience” in turn consists of the object experienced and the act of having the experience (experiencing). So whether we are aware or not, a multiplicity got introduced. Continue reading
We have from kaTha upaniShad:
नायमात्मा प्रवचनेन लभ्यो न मेधया न बहुना श्रुतेन । — I-ii-23, kaTha upa
Meaning: Atman (brahman) cannot be attained by the study of the Vedas, or by intelligence, or by much hearing of sacred books.
Shankara’s special treatises too make that point abundantly clear declaring:
न स्नानेन न दानेन प्राणायमशतेन वा ॥ — verse 13, vivekacUDAmaNi
Meaning: Neither sacred baths nor any amount of charity nor even hundreds of breathing exercises can give us the knowledge about Self.
अविरोधितया कर्म नाविद्यां विनिवर्तयेत् | — verse 3, Atmabodha
Meaning: Any action cannot destroy ignorance, for action is not a negator of ignorance. Continue reading
You (H). ‘…… perhaps we both ought accept that Planck was right: matter exists. Or are you saying that matter does not exist; is that really your position, Dr. M? Are you saying that not only is consciousness the substrate of matter and of the world, but that ultimately, matter and the world do not exist, and all that does exist (whatever that might mean within such a definition) is consciousness?……’
Me (M): A3. Plank was an empirical scientist with a philosophical bent. Was he a thoroughgoing or pure non-dualist? His position seems to be like yours, except when he adds (or is attributed to him): ‘non-duality implies the universality of consciousness. Concomitantly, it implies that consciousness is the ‘stuff’ everything is made of.” YES! Continue reading
Discussion from Quora
(Different from above) Prof. Donald Hoffman – The Case Against Reality .
A professor of cognitive science argues that the world is nothing like the one we experience through our senses.
Evolution has shaped us with perceptions that allow us to survive. They guide adaptive behaviors. But part of that involves hiding from us the stuff we don’t need to know. And that’s pretty much all of reality, whatever reality might be.
Snakes and trains, like the particles of physics, have no objective, observer-independent features
Gefter: I suspect they’re reacting to things like Roger Penrose and Stuart Hameroff’s model, where you still have a physical brain, it’s still sitting in space, but supposedly it’s performing some quantum feat. In contrast, you’re saying, “Look, quantum mechanics is telling us that we have to question the very notions of ‘physical things’ sitting in ‘space.’” Continue reading
If you click on ‘About’ in the menu bar at the top of the page, you will be taken to the page that lists the aims of this blog and the associated website at www.advaita.org.uk. This page was written by Peter Bonnici (with assistance from Ramesam), with whom I initiated Advaita Vision around 4 years ago. (As most readers will know, Peter is unfortunately no longer with us.) Despite its ease of accessibility, one wonders how many visitors actually read it. Certainly it would seem that some have never done so. Accordingly, I reproduce it below, since its content is so important.
This site provides a platform for all who are attracted to the vision of non-duality and like to share their views and their approaches.
Here’s why Advaita Vision will be an open platform for all committed to self-enquiry:
- People are at different points on their spiritual journeys.
Therefore different expressions of the fundamental principle of advaita are needed to meet their specific different needs. Continue reading
“The intellectual life of the whole of western society is increasingly being split into two polar groups…literary intellectuals at one pole – at the other scientists, and as the most representative, the physical scientists. Between the two a gulf of incomprehension.”
“A good many times I have been present at gatherings of people who, by the standards of the traditional culture, are thought highly educated and who have with considerable gusto been expressing their incredulity at the illiteracy of scientists. Once or twice I have been provoked and have asked the company how many of them could describe the Second Law of Thermodynamics. The response was cold: it was also negative. Yet I was asking something which is about the scientific equivalent of: Have you read a work of Shakespeare’s? “- C.P. Snow (in the 1960s)