Topic of the Month – Creation



The ‘original’ topic for discussion! Lots of potential material here. I have a number of interesting extracts to post, as soon as I can get around to scanning them in.

Meanwhile here are a couple of my favorite quotes, which I used in ‘Book of One’:

In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and is widely regarded as a bad move. Douglas Adams

In the beginning there was nothing and God said ‘Let there be light’, and there was still nothing but everybody could see it. Dave Thomas (This one especially for budding Buddhists)

16 thoughts on “Topic of the Month – Creation

  1. Some particularly good/excellent quotes:

    “It evolved itself (I am severely scientific) out of a chaos of scraps of iron and behold! — it knits. I am horrified at the horrible work and stand appalled. I feel it ought to embroider — but it goes on knitting. You come and say: ‘this is all right; it’s only a question of the right kind of oil. Let us use this — for instance — celestial oil and the machine shall embroider a most beautiful design in purple and gold.’ Will it? Alas no. You cannot by any special lubrication make embroidery with a knitting machine. And the most withering thought is that the infamous thing has made itself; made itself without thought, without conscience, without foresight, without eyes, without heart. It is a tragic accident — and it has happened. You can’t interfere with it. The last drop of bitterness is in the suspicion that you can’t even smash it. In virtue of that truth one and immortal which lurks in the force that made it spring into existence it is what it is — and it is indestructible!

    “It knits us in and it knits us out. It has knitted time space, pain, death, corruption, despair and all the illusions — and nothing matters.”

    —Joseph Conrad, 1897 letter to Cunninghame Graham

    “Did God have any choice when he created the universe?”

    —Albert Einstein

    “The world that is initially claimed to be separate is eventually seen to be the same non-dual reality. We deny the world only in order to realize our own Self. The seeming separation is only a mistaken view of the mind yet causes untold suffering. It is therefore necessary, provisionally to distance ourselves from it until more knowledge has been gained. Finally, it is seen that the world is not ‘other.’ The Self is complete – unlimited existence-knowledge – and the world is but a manifestation of that same reality, also necessarily perfect and complete. Since nothing has been created, there is no diminution of the whole despite the seemingly endless variety of form in the universe. Similarly, brahman remains unaffected by bliss and suffering, births and extinctions, just as the sun is unaffected by the multifarious events on the earth that it illuminates.”

    —Dennis Waite, Back to the Truth

    “All the fascinating places and magnificent scenery in the world, all the beautiful plants and flowers, the enormous variety of species of animals and the multitudes of human beings – none of them have any effect on the Self. They do not add anything to reality when they appear and they do not take anything away from reality when they go away. Reality, the Self, is the base of all that appears, the source. It remains full and complete in Itself if there are a billion worlds, and it remains full and complete if there is no manifestation at all. The Sanskrit prayer at the beginning of the Isha Upanishad expresses this great truth.”

    —Andrew Vernon

    “The birth principle, the chemical around which the body formation takes place, has no form or design and actually didn’t exist. That non-existing thing suddenly came into existence. What is the validity of its existence? It is an apparition only, it can’t be the truth. That’s why I dare talk like this. This is a big hoax, a big fraud, created out of nothingness. Can you create something out of nothing?”

    —Nisargadatta Maharaj, Consciousness and the Absolute

    “… We see in every-day life that certain doings of princes or other men of high position who have no unfulfilled desires left have no reference to any extraneous purpose, but proceed from mere sportfulness, as, for instance, their recreations in places of amusement. We further see that the process of inhalation and exhalation is going on without reference to any extraneous purpose, merely following the law of its own nature. Analogously, the activity of the Lord also may be supposed to be mere sport, proceeding from his own nature, without reference to any purpose. For on the ground neither of reason nor of Scripture can we construe any other purpose of the Lord. Nor can his nature be questioned.—Although the creation of this world appears to us a weighty and difficult undertaking, it is mere play to the Lord, whose power is unlimited.”

    —Adi Shankara, Brahmasūtrabhāsya

    This one is off-topic, but if anyone familiar with Buddhism cares to answer: why did Adi Shankara call the Buddha “the emperor of yogis in the Kali age”? Lately I’ve been pondering the relationship between Advaita and Buddhism and the extent of the influence of the latter over the former. Shankara has been called a “crypto-Buddhist” by detractors, for one thing. I’m aware of one article at the Advaita Academy that addresses that last issue.

    Was not the Buddha emphatic in his denial of the reality of Atman/brahman?

  2. Dear PtN,

    Thanks for collection of interesting quotes (did I really write that one?) – certainly more than enought to start us off!

    I’m afraid, though, that discussions on Buddhism (even in contrast to Advaita) are too off-topic for discussion here. I will leave your comments above and anyone who wishes to have an off-list discussion with you is invited to contact you directly.

    I don’t feel that the subject is helpful to seekers trying to find out about Advaita. I did not, for example, discuss the subject of whether Gaudapada was a Buddhist, or influenced by them, in my latest book. Is it not the case anyway that all we know about the Buddha’s views come from writings many decades later – hence the widely diverging beliefs of the various schools? (Don’t answer that!)

    Best wishes,

    • Fair enough, Dennis. I can respect your judgment on the matter.

      For my part I tend toward the opinion that comparisons with other traditions (Kashmir Shaivism and Tibetan Dzogchen, for example) can indeed be helpful for seekers. I understand that Shankara himself spent quite a bit of time engaging rival schools in written criticism and oral debate.

      The thing is, it seems to me, that many seekers (specifically part-time or full-time students of Advaita Vedanta) will inevitably be confronted with the bewildering diversity of schools — from Advaita to Vishishtadvaita to Dvaita to Dvaitadvaita, and everything in between — and find themselves perplexed as to which one is the “correct” or “best” one, possibly to the point where they may find themselves questioning their path of choice. Given this scenario, I would think that differences with other schools would need to be addressed.

      Some commentators, such as Krishnananda Saraswati, believe that all major perspectives are correct in their own way, but if Advaita’s supremacy as a method of Self-realization is more than a matter of relativity and taste, then comparative analyses — and even debates — may be in order.

      Last but not least, comparing/contrasting can be a good aid for learning.

      That said, I think I can see why you would be reserved about discussing other schools. The simple fact is that this is a blog about Advaita proper, and mentioning other schools can lead to an excessive amount of advertisement for the latter. And there may be some cans of worms that had best be left unopened. Furthermore, such discussions may be best left to face-to-face, one-on-one conversations (preferably with a Guru), given the sheer number of questions that one could raise on the matter.

      So let us return to the topic at hand, shall we? I’d like to include a Ramesh Balsekar quote (found in Back to the Truth) to the above list:

      “The lIlA is the only answer to the question, “Why has God created this universe?” You can either say “Why not?” or you say “It was just a game God is playing.” Just a game of hide-and-go-seek. Just a game of the observer and the observed, each considering itself the subject, and therefore there are human relations and the problems of human relations. Basically, it simply means it’s a game that is going on. And we ask, “Why?” There is really no answer. You can see this if you watch a couple of children on the seashore with a spade and a bucket. They create a castle or whatever and they spend a lot of time over it, a lot of trouble over it and at the end of the day, when the parents say that it’s time to go home, they just kick it and go! You ask the child, “Why did you build the castle and then demolish it?” The child wouldn’t understand your question! If you persist, he would say, “Because I like to create. I created a castle because I like to create the castle. I demolished it because I like to demolish it.”

      And in case you were still wondering, I found your quote in the “CODA” section of the book. It comes right after Swami Dayananda’s excerpt (Ref. 352).

  3. I agree with what you say, PtN. But none of us are qualified to discuss other systems of philosophy so would only be likely to confuse others and ourselves! People wanting to compare should go to a comparative religions site.

    Advaita accepts all other religions/philosophies as being valid ‘introductions’; everyone has to come to Advaita eventually!

    I came across some material from Shankara only a day or so ago which was almost identical to what Ramesh is saying here. But of course this sort of ‘explanation’ for creation is just another adhyAropa to be apavAda’d at some later date. You have to come to ajAti vAda in the end.

    • I seem not to tire of reading and ruminating on Gaudapada’s grand proclamation. It is possibly the most confounding statement I’ve ever come across:

      “There is no dissolution and no creation, no one in bondage and no one who is striving for or who is desirous of liberation, and there is no one who is liberated. This is the absolute truth.”

      By the way, I have been working (struggling) through your book on Sanskrit. Do you happen to have a transliteration of the above quotation?

  4. Yes, certainly:

    na virodho na chotpattirna baddho na cha sAdhakaH |

    na mumukshurna vai mukta ityeshhA paramArthatA || kArikA 2.32||

  5. I guess it is a small typo.

    The kArikA II-32 reads: na nirodho (not virodho).

    na = no
    nirodhaH = dissolution
    na cha = not even
    utpattiH = origination (creation)
    na = no
    baddhaH = (anyone) bound
    na = no
    sAdhakaH = seeker
    na = no
    mumukshuH = (anyone) yearning for liberation
    na vai = not surely
    muktaH = (anyone) liberated
    iti eSha = thus is
    pramArthatA = the supreme Truth.

  6. Gaudapada, who wrote that statement .. was he a human being like all of us ? Was that statement born out of his ‘reaching’ some state of knowledge ? A state that resulted from the ‘displacement’ of a previous state of ignorance ? if ‘yes’, did he have a motive to pursue this path of knowledge ? How was he able to determine that this was valid knowledge ? What benefit might he have achieved through this pursuit ? Does such a motive exist within each one of us also ? Can each of us ordinary human beings also be equally successful in attaining the knowledge state that Gaudapada reached ?

    It would be interesting to know what you all think.

    • Answers to your questions the way “I” understand Mandukya karika 2.32 based on a well wishers explanation:

      ???Gaudapada, who wrote that statement .. was he a human being like all of us ?
      +There is no Gaudpada .. no human beings just ME

      ???? Was that statement born out of his ‘reaching’ some state of knowledge ?
      +No statement, no state of knowledge, no reaching just knowingness

      ???? A state that resulted from the ‘displacement’ of a previous state of ignorance ? if ‘yes’, did he have a motive to pursue this path of knowledge ?
      +There was never any ignorance no motive

      ????How was he able to determine that this was valid knowledge ? What benefit might he have achieved through this pursuit ?
      +There was never anyone separate to determine knowledge or ignorance or achieve any benefit

      ????Does such a motive exist within each one of us also ? Can each of us ordinary human beings also be equally successful in attaining the knowledge state that Gaudapada reached ?
      +There is no separate human being to attain any knowledge

      Brihad. Up.2.4.14
      But when to the knower of Brahman everything has become self, then what should one see and through what, what should one smell, through what, what should one taste, and through what, what should one speak and through what, and what should one touch what and through what, and what should one and through what, what should one know and through what

  7. From David Godman’s “Be as you are”

    Bhagavan Sri Ramana: “I do no teach only the ajata doctrine. I approve of all schools. The same truth has to be expressed in different ways to suit the capacity of the hearer . . . To such as find it difficult to grasp this truth and who ask ‘How can we ignore this solid world we see all around us?’, the dream experience is pointed out and they are told ‘All that you see depends on the seer. Apart from the seer there is no seen’. This is called drishti-srishti vada or the argument that one first creates out of one’s mind and then sees what one’s mind itself has created. Some people cannot grasp even this and they continue to argue in the following terms: ‘The dream experience is so short, while the world always exists. The dream experience was limited to me. But the world is felt and seen, not only by me, but by so many others. We cannot call such a world non-existent.’ When people argue in this way they can be given a srishti-drishti theory.”

    Bhagavan: “Become independent and solve the riddle for yourself. It is for you to do it. Where are you now that ask this question? Are you in the world, or is the world within you? You must admit that the world is not perceived in your sleep although you cannot deny your existence then. The world appears when you wake up. So where is it? Clearly the world is your thought. Thoughts are your projections. The ‘I’ is first created and then the world. The world is created by the ‘I’ which in its turn rises up from the Self. The riddle of the creation of the world is thus solved if you solve the creation of the ‘I’. So I say find your Self. . .

    “There is no creation in the state of realisation. When one sees the world, one does not see oneself. When one sees the Self, the world is not seen. So see the Self and realise that there has been no creation.”

  8. Vijay –

    Surely, you will recognize the many contradictions that are inherent in your own statements .. these being inevitable in any plane of transaction.

    You are able to provide answers to my questions .. only because you ‘know’ the answers to my questions. How did you know these answers ? Because someone ‘told’ you those answers. How do you know the answers you give me are the right answers ? Only the ‘faith’ that the person who told you is a ‘well wisher’ and would not have told you otherwise. That may be so .. but this well wisher also must have gotten this answer from another person .. how can you be sure that this other person was also a ‘knowledgeable’ well wisher .. and so. Merely being a well wisher is really not of much credit. Shankaracharya, in one of his upanishad commentaries, describes the Vedas as being better than ‘a thousand parents’ when it comes to your ‘real’ wellness. All parents are indeed well wishers for their children .. but are ‘ignorant’ well wishers. The very fact that you use this description ‘well wisher’, indicates that what this person told you is of ‘value’ to you .. and you think will be of value to me also ! Of course, I do not for a moment doubt your sincerity in this thinking 🙂

    I hope you catch the drift of what I am trying to convey.


    • Dear KR
      I appreciate your comment on my sincerity.
      A few clarifications:
      +“I am not a separate self” is my understanding (like understanding fire burns fingers) and not a belief based on faith
      +I use the term “Well-wisher” because the person took time to explain it to me the core meaning of the shruti and after a few dialogs “I am not a separate self” understanding clicked
      +I did not know the Well-wisher before and only by chance i had this dialog with him/her
      +After my understanding i did not see any need or urge to find out who the Well-wisher is/was or who his/her guru was; whether he/she was brahmavid/shastry/anubhavi or self realized soul…
      +My understanding is clear but many times gets covered by the clouds of habitual ignorance. In this case all i do is then recall my understanding to remove these clouds. And that is what i was doing through answering your questions.

  9. Vijay –

    You use the term ‘Bhagawan’ to refer to Sri Ramana Maharishi .. Is this out of respect for someone you consider an extremely exalted human being or are you conveying some other implied significance ?


  10. HI KR,

    Bhagavan was the name by which he was referred to by many, out of respect; and from all that I have read of him, I share that respect.

    BTW, as you know, your critique of Vijay’s comments – “how do you know?” – applies also to Shankaracharya and the upanishads – and before you say it, of course to Sri Ramana as well.



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