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’.


According to Vedanta, Brahman is the Absolute Reality. The universe is a lower order of reality drawing existence from Brahman and is mithya. Maya is the power of Brahman with two aspects, namely, projecting power and veiling power. The former projects the universe and due to the latter a jiva forgets that his essential nature is Brahman. Indeed, maya is powerful. What is it made of?
There is a clue in verses 8.18 to 8.20 of Bhagavad Gita. A day and a night of Brahmaji constitute one calendar day of Brahmaji which is made of two thousand maha-yugas. During his daytime, when Brahmaji is awake, the universe is in manifest form and when he is asleep during the night it is in unmanifest(resolved) form resting in potential form in the unmanifest Brahman. It is again manifested at the dawn of Brahmaji’s day. The universe has two states: manifest and unmanifest and the cycles of creation continue.
It follows that maya is the unmanifest universe. It is also called Prakriti. A jiva takes rebirth because of the causal body which is the sanchit karma, i.e., the karmic balance at the time of death. At the time of dissolution, i.e., at the end of a cycle of creation, the aggregate causal body of all jivas is the unmanifest universe resting in Brahman. Maya is the cosmic causal body. Brahman owes maya power to jivas.

mANDUkya upaniShad Part 12

*** Read Part 11 ***

Mantra 11 (and kArikA K1.21)

सुषुप्तस्थानः प्राज्ञो मकारस्तृतीया मात्र मितेरपीतेवर
मिनोति ह वा इदं सर्वमपीतिश्च भव्ति य एवं वेद॥ ११॥

suShuptasthAnaH prAj~no makArastRRitIyA mAtra miterapItervA
minoti ha vA idaM sarvamapItishcha bhavati ya evaM veda || 11 ||

tRRitIyA mAtra – The third mAtra (of OM)
makAra – the letter ‘m
prAj~na – (is) prAj~na
suShupta sthAnaH – the deep-sleep state
miteH – because (it is like) a ‘measure’
va – or
apIteH – on account of absorption.

ya evaM veda – Whosoever knows this
ha vai – verily
minoti sarvam – measures everything
cha bhavati – and becomes
apItiH – (one who) understands.

The letter m, the third mAtra of OM, is prAj~na, the deep-sleep state because both have the characteristic of a measure and are as though absorbed into the final part. Whoever knows this will be able to assimilate and comprehend everything.

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Q.531 Consciousness and reality

(Question posed in Quora  forum.)

Q: What is reality in the absence of consciousness? (Someone responded: ‘I’m beginning to be convinced that in the absence of consciousness, there is nothing. Can anyone shed some light on this?

A (Martin): That is an impossible, or a self-defeating, question. If there were no consciousness in the world, you could not write that sentence. What is more, no communication would be possible (books, newspapers, radio, etc.). Still more, no life and no evolution of life, because life depends on the communication of information (DNA, neuronal synapses, etc.), which itself derives from what is no less than a conscious universe. There is no need to believe in a personal (anthropomorphic) god to have this understanding or realization.

It is the same if we say, ‘absence of intelligence’. It is consciousness/intelligence which originates the universe and inheres in it. In Dante’s words, “l’Amore che muove il sole e l’altre stelle” (the Love which moves the sun and the other stars) – and that is so because without love there is no life, Love being a synonym of Being and of Light. The supreme triad is Being-Consciousness-Will, or Being-Consciousness-Bliss (or Beauty). — And Beauty and Love are the same.

mANDUkya upaniShad Part 2

*** Read Part 1 ***

Mantra 1

हरिः ॐ।
ॐ इत्येतदक्शर्मिदं सर्वं तस्योपव्याख्यानं भूतं भवद्ः भ्विष्य्दिति सर्वमोंकार एव।
यच्चान्यत्ः त्रिकालातीतं तदप्योंकार एव॥ १॥

hariH OM |
OM ityetadakSharamidaM sarvaM tasyopavyAkhyAnaM bhUtaM bhavadH bhaviShyaditi sarvamoMkAra eva |
yachchaanyatH trikAlAtItaM tadapyoMkAra eva || 1 ||

OM iti etad akSharam – Thus, this syllable OM
idam sarvaM – (is) all this.
tasya upavyAkhyAna – The explanation begins with this:
oMkAra – the syllable OM (is)
iti eva – thus truly
sarvaM – everything –
bhUta – past,
bhavat – present
bhaviShyat – (and) future.
yat cha anya – and what is other than
atIta – transcending these
trikAla – three time periods
tat eva – even is that only
oMkAra – OM
api – as well.

The syllable OM is everything. The explanation follows (with this Upanishad). All that is past, present and future is OM. And, whatever is beyond the three periods of time, that too is only OM.

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Consciousness and the world

What is the scriptural basis for Advaita consciousness being an awareness preceding the universe?

That’s an ‘easy’ one. 1)  Consciousness and awareness are the same for Advaita Vedanta. 2) Atman-brahman, or Consciousness, is the sole reality – the universe is, in essence, not other than Atman (Consciousness or ‘Spirit’). 3) Consequently, there is no creation – no causation, including space and time, which, like everything else, are phenomena, appearances.

Mundaka Upanishad 2.1.10: ‘the world is brahman alone’. 

K 3.18. In this karika Gaudapada demonstrates that creation is only apparent because reality is unchangeable (and it is taught that the effect is not other than the cause).

Katha Up. 2.1.10: ‘Whoever sees difference between what is here (individual Atman/’soul’) and what is there (brahman) goes from death to death’.

Brihadaranyaka Up. 2.5.19: ‘The supreme being is perceived as manifold on account of Maya’ (magic).

Taittiriya Up. 2.6: ‘Brahman, which is the absolute reality, became reality (satya) and unreality/appearance (asatya)’. That is, the cause itself appears as various effects due to superimposition, which is itself the core, or definition, of ignorance (avidya). Cf. Tai. 2.6, Chandogya Up. 2.8.4, and Bhavagad Gita 4.13 and 13.2.

The Illusion of Reality

Did Einstein write: “Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one”?

Albert Einstein actually wrote:

“People like us, who believe in physics, know the distinction between past, present, and future is only an illusion, albeit a stubborn one.”

That quote has itself been a recurrent one, but, as a very accomplished acquaintance of mine, Tom McFarlane, has written:

“There is no source for that, because Einstein didn’t say it. It is not consistent with his views. For Einstein, reality is what is true, not what is illusory.

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Why can’t science explain consciousness?

SL (a contributor to Qwora) & M (Martin)

SL. Consciousness is the most foundational pre-requisite for science.

M. This is obvious, as also that consciousness is a pre-requisite for all human transactions – language, literature, etc., etc.

SL. I believe that consciousness should be included as a part of science and not as something separate.

M.  No, because consciousness is a metaphysical entity not amenable to scientific (empirical) investigation, which is quantitative and measurable..

SL. … we ourselves are part of that universe, and our experience is a tiny fragment of the experience of the larger universe around us.

(Qwoting) “What we call ‘experiences’ is usually equated with the experiential phenomena – with the experiential contents as such – again, with what exists in being subjectively experienced. Now the point is: consciousness (in the Advaitic sense) is the very subjective experiencing itself. It is, as the Advaitins formulate, the witnessing of the experiences.” – ‘On the Advaitic Identification of Self and Consciousness’, Wolfgang Fasching.

M. Now, that is metaphysical or philosophical – prior to or other than empirical science.

SL. “To admit that we are matter and mechanism is to ground ourselves in the wholeness of the cosmos. In the new physics, self coalesces from the stuff of the stars, exists briefly… ” (quoting ‘Skeptics and True Believers’).

M. This is not even science – it is a physicalist or materialist philosophical position.

Q.489 Creation and reincarnation

Q: Is Ishvara/mAyA the one responsible for the form of the universe or is the jiva responsible for it?

If Ishvara/mAyA:

  • then who/what is Ishvara and how does it create the universe?
  • then how does adhyAsa come into the picture because if Ishvara is the creator then even if adhyAsa is removed then the appearance of the world will still be there.

If the jiva

  • then why does the world not disappear upon enlightenment (a jiva is responsible for the dream at night whilst asleep, therefore the dream disappears upon waking)

I have heard many examples of gold/ornament with regards to the universe and Brahman (Gold being brahman, the names/forms being the ornaments). I’m not sure I have fully grasped this comparison, in what sense does matter depend on Brahman?

I see that all things are experienced IN consciousness and therefore in that sense the world of objects/atoms/quantum fields etc depends on consciousness/Brahman because the world can not be experienced without consciousness. It doesn’t seem right to me, because it’s not something you could ever refute. Obviously we can’t experience the world without consciousness. Continue reading