Q.508 Direct Path vs Traditional – Pt. 1

Part 1 – Prerequisites for Enlightenment

Q: I’ve been on the direct path (Krishna Menon, Jean Klein, Francis Lucille, Greg Goode, Rupert Spira) for about 3 years now and the journey has been incredible. Recently, while browsing your website, I came across Shankara’s sAdhana chatuShTaya, which, if my understanding is correct, are the prerequisites for self-realization according to Shankara. But I’m confused as to how some of these are prerequisites. I feel like some of them can only be fulfilled once one has realized their true nature, not before.

I can see how viveka and mumukShutva can be considered prerequisites – that is very reasonable. However, if we take vairAgya, or uparati, I cannot fathom how an apparent, separate self can satisfy or practice these requirements. How can it be possible for an apparent, separate self to be indifferent to joy and grief, like and dislike? A separate self is, almost by definition, strongly affected by likes and dislikes, joy and grief. In order to be indifferent to pleasure and pain, joy and grief etc., I feel like one has to have at least tasted the truth a few times and be able to (through something like self-inquiry) ‘walk back’ to and ‘rest’ as one’s true self, and only then be able to successfully practice uparati.

Then why are things like vairAgya considered prerequisites for self-realization, if (in my book) self-realization is a prerequisite for being able to satisfy the vairAgya requirement? How can an apparent separate self prepare or practice something like uparati (one of the shamAdi ShaTka sampatti), without it being completely fake? In my experience, uparati is only possible (and completely effortless) once you have realized the self. So the whole things seems backwards to me.

One explanation is that here Shankara is talking about final Self-realization in which there is no falling back to the old conditioning. But that implies that it is possible to realize the self clearly but, out of conditioning, fall back to the old patterns. (I’m not sure what traditional Advaita’s stance on this is yet). I may have answered my own question but I’d love to hear what you have to say about it!

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Advaita Vedanta

A) Advaita Vedanta can be called a mystical path, a spirituality, science of reality, or a combination of both (which I prefer). It can be called nonduality or ‘Monism’ (preferably the first): monism because it takes reality as being One (“without a second”). Nonduality because – though reality is one in essence or ultimately – it presents itself as apparently two: purusha-prakriti, Self- not self, sat-asat, subject-object, Atman-brahman. That apparent dichotomy, as stated, is reducible to the one reality which can be called variously ‘pure consciousness’, ‘the absolute’, ‘sat-chit-ananda’ (being-consciousness-bliss)… the unnamable. Words – language – are secondary, needed to express what is in itself inexpressible. What is inexpressible can be/is a (self) realization of ‘what is’  (anubhava) arrived at by intuition and (Vedantic) reasoning. Continue reading

‘shruti’ support for ‘eka jIva vAda’

boxing  ‘eka jIva vAda,’ the Doctrine that says “I Alone Am” is a perpetually  fascinating as well as a perplexing topic in Advaita. It has been debated at many Non-dual discussion fora in the past, both online and offline. Enthusiastic seekers no doubt will continue to do so in the future, if for nothing else, at least as a part of their manana (reflection on the shruti vAkya learnt by them about jIvabrahmaikatva (Identity of the individual and brahman). We are no exception here at this site, thanks to the indulgence from Dennis.

Even though neither Dennis desired nor I anticipated, willy-nilly another round of discussion on ‘eka jIva vAda‘ got opened up triggered by a few observations Dennis made at his latest Post on “Q.394 – Becoming One.” First he raised a few questions, then two, and then one more. The last question was the inevitable left hook: What are the “scriptural references for EJV?”

That’s off my kilter. I jumped out of the rink. Had to look for succour. Fortunately there is help available from redoubtable experts, highly knowledgeable Advaitins. Instead of presenting them in the ‘Comments’ section of the thread, I felt that their answers to the query deserve to be posted as a separate Blog.

I am very grateful to Shriman LalitAlAlitaH, Shri Venkataraghavan and Shri Praveen Bhat for their kind and prompt response and for their ready consent to letting me post their views here. Continue reading

Foundation Sources for Advaita

Below is a compilation of two dozen + one of the Mantra-s/shloka-s from various shruti /smriti sources which form the Basic Foundation for the Concepts of Advaita. The selection is arbitrary and purely based on what appealed to me to be significant. Other learned seekers may like to add to or delete from or suitably emend this list in order to make it comprehensive and authentic. If any authoritative lists are already available in public domain (preferably online), a reference and a link to them will be appreciated. Continue reading

Review of article on Shankara – part 6, and final.

RB (Ramakrishna Balasubrahmanian) continues to take  SSS to task in the final two sections of his article: 5) ‘AVIDYA and MAYA’, and 6) ‘“COMPARATIVE BASHYA STUDIES” AND OTHER SUCH DISEASES’.

Under 5) RB sees an inconsistency in SSS, since the latter had previously stated that avidya and maya are not synonyms, while in another context he had stated that “To avoid confusion, we shall restrict the use of words avidy¯a and m¯ay¯a to denote ignorance and name and form respectively”. The author insists in the equivalence of both terms, as they occur in many texts: “… note that even in these passages avidy¯a is not a “subjective” ignorance, but something which transcends subjectiveness and objectiveness. Otherwise we will be placed in the absurd position of claiming that a subjective error, i.e., avidy¯a, is causing an objective reality, i.e., m¯ay¯a (name and form)”.

By ‘objective reality’ one understands, of course, phenomena, and this is nothing else than mithya, even though RB considers maya as both ontic and epistemic, unlike avidya. In this connection, SSS would agree with his statement: “While the terms are used to mean different things in some contexts, they can also mean the exactly same thing in some other contexts”. Continue reading