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Advaita - For Layman

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sravna

sravna

Well-known member
Dear Shri Sarma,

I am not able to understand the purpose of the post except for your question asking whether is it the aim that the reality should not be a perfect reality?

See only when both good and bad experiences are mixed you learning becomes complete. So in such a reality you find good as well as the evil. That is what I was trying to say that the physical reality or the lower reality has to be such a reality. To remove any excesses positive or negative. Does this make sense?
 

saidevo

Active member
namaste everyone.

We use the following terms very often in our discussions, so here is a compilation of their right meanings and definitions, obtained from the Advaita introductory books such as in the list that follows the definitions:

1. sat in Advaita means 'absolute reality', the equivalent Sanskrit term being pAramArthika satyaM (supreme/whole/essential truth).

2. asat is the other extreme, the 'absolute unreality' that neither exists ever nor has any scope for existence at any point of time, space or other reference, such as 'a hare's horn' or 'the son of a barren woman'.

3. That which is neither sat nor asat has two kinds of impermanent existence: vyAvahArika satyaM, the operational reality and prAtibhAsika satyaM, the subjective reality.

4. The term mithyA includes all that comes in between sat and asat, that is, both the operational and subjective reality.

5. Thus mAyA is neither sat nor asat but only mithyA, since it belongs to the order of the mithyA type of reality.

6. sat as the absolute reality never changes but serves as a substratum of all that is mithyA. The question of sat serving as the substratum of the asat never arises because asat as absolute unreality is a non-entity.

7. sat as the absolute reality remains the same at all levels of existence (jAgrat, svapna, suShupti--waking, dreaming, deep sleep, turiya and behond), unaffected by any other kinds of reality (mithyA) experienced in the different levels.

7. Since sat is the only (absolute) reality, any other kind of (impermanent) reality can only be an appearance, mAyA in other words. The world that appears uniformly real to the entire mankind disappears in sleep. The dream world that appears as the subjective reality to the dreamer disappears when he/she wakes up. Any 'reality' experienced in deep sleep also is not sat because of the fourth level (turiya) of existence.

8. Creation also belongs to the mithyA category of reality: everything is 'made up' from something else and has a lesser permanence than what it is made of (e.g. the pot and the clay). Relentless pursuit of this idea of permanence not only reveals the underlying sat or absolute reality but brings up the knowledge that it is the sat that appears as the universe and its beings at all levels of existence.

9. The wrong and empirical perception is due to avidyA (nescience), which is the imposition of name and form (or in other words an abuse of speech) to the temporal reality of the illusory mAyA. In realizing the Self as Atman or Brahman, the avidyA is not removed but only cleared and dispelled; it vanishes like darkness on which the light is shone.

10. Thus mAyA and avidyA are synonyms. They exist since creation started, but in the Hindu philosophy creation and dissolution are cyclic and eternal, so both mAyA and avidyA are anAdi (beginningless).

Here is a quote that has some bearing on our discussions in this thread:

The Gaudiyas have concluded that Brahman is both one and different simultaneously, and that this is possible because the Absolute possesses inconceivable power (achintya-shakti). Others have developed terms such as anirvacanIya (Sankara), apRuthaka-siddhi (Ramanuja), svabhAvika (Nimbarka), visheSha (Madhva), and samavaya (Vallabha) to bring logic to bear on the oneness and difference of Brahman, when in reality the simultaneous oneness and difference of the absolute is achintya (inconceivable). Indeed, careful study of these other doctrines of Vedanta reveals that they implicitly acknowledge the ahcintya-shakti of the Absolute but are unable to identify it as such.
(http://www.gaudiyadiscussions.com/in...ic=2973&st=150)


*****

Some Advaita books
Practical Introduction
Advaita: step by step: V.kriShNamUrti
http://www.advaitin.net/Articles/advaitadialogue.pdf

Advaita for Beginners: D.kRShNa aiyar
http://www.sankaracharya.org/library/AyyarAdvaitaVedanta.pdf

Advaita: A Bird's Eye View: D kRShNa aiyar
http://www.telugubhakti.com/telugupages/Adwaitam/Advaita.pdf
Advaita Vedanta

Advaita Sadhana: kAnchi mahA svAmigaL
http://www.advaita.org.uk/discourses/downloads/sadhana.pdf

I am That: Nisargadatta Maharaj
http://home.earthlink.net/~grharmon/I_Am_That.pdf

Advanced
Advaita Bodha Deepika: ramaNAsramam
http://www.sriramanamaharshi.org/downloads/advaita_bodha_deepika.zip

drg-drshya vivekaH
http://www.archive.org/download/drgdrsyaviveka030903mbp/drgdrsyaviveka030903mbp.pdf

Lights on Advaita: V.subrahmaNya aiyar
http://wisdomsgoldenrod.org/publications/iyer/iyerbook.pdf

History and development
The Advaita Vedânta Home Page
Advaitin Homepage is under const

Practice of yoga mediation for eventual Self-Realization
Yoga Meditation
 

tbs

0
Dear ozone,

Bhagavad Geeta has the answer to this:

“You must know that whatever belongs to the states of sattwa, rajas and tamas, proceeds from me. They are contained in me, but I am not in them. The entire world is deluded by the moods and mental states which are the expression of these three gunas. That is why the world fails to recognize me as I really am. I stand apart from them all, supreme and deathless. (Bhagavad Gita 7:12, 13)
hi renuka,
i did ph.d in advaita vedanta....still im learning advaita lah....i dont know much abt advaita....please translate much in english...
 

tbs

0
Dear Sravna,

I will contribute more next week cos I am busy studying now and by next week I will be more free.
In fact I was planning to rope in some verses from Ashtavakra Samhita cos it has lots of salient points on Advaita.
hi renuka,
astavakra samhita is basically a advaita ....i studied astavakra samhita.....a lot of verses are a basically from advaita siddhanta..
 

prasad1

Active member
The Main Ideas of Advaita Vedanta
According to Advaita, only the innermost part of you is aware or conscious. No other part of you can feel or see or know anything. The name in Sanskrit for this awareness is atman. It's the part of you that's really you, and it corresponds to the soul in Western philosophy.
Now here's where it gets interesting. According to Advaita, your atman (and mine and everybody's) is the same as the underlying absolute reality of the whole universe, which is called Brahman. Brahman corresponds to the Western idea of God, except that it isn't a a super-powerful person. It's impersonal; it's the source of everything; it's what the universe really is.
In short, your inner self — the true "me" — is God.
This idea, which is the fundamental idea of the Upanishads on which Advaita is based, can be expressed in the form of an equation:
Atman = Brahman
Or, in Western terms:
Soul = God.
What distinguishes Advaita from other interpretations of the Upanishads is this: Advaita asserts that since there is only one Brahman, there is only one Atman. There's only one "me" and we all share it. We're all one "thing" — Brahman.
Moreover, only Brahman is real. The other things in the universe, like bicycles and umbrellas and our bodies, aremaya. Maya is illusory because it seems to be different from Brahman but it's not. Since maya misleads us in this way, and because it's impermanent, Advaita says that maya is unreal.
The most important way that maya fools us is with regard to our selves. We think we are our bodies, our thoughts, our desires, and so forth. But those things are maya. They seem to be "me" but this is an illusion. Actually, our awareness (the part that is really "me") is something else: Brahman.
This is an enormously strange and radical idea. It means that you aren't you; you aren't any kind of person, really. You are the supreme reality that underlies the entire universe. The person who seems to be in your head, the person you believe yourself to be, is merely a psychological illusion.
The best overviews of Advaita Vedanta that we've seen are contained in the following books: S. Radhakrishnan,Indian Philosophy, Volume II; and S. Dasgupta, A History of Indian Philosophy, Volumes I and II.
 
Dear Shri Sarma,

I am not able to understand the purpose of the post except for your question asking whether is it the aim that the reality should not be a perfect reality?

See only when both good and bad experiences are mixed you learning becomes complete. So in such a reality you find good as well as the evil. That is what I was trying to say that the physical reality or the lower reality has to be such a reality. To remove any excesses positive or negative. Does this make sense?

http://www.tamilbrahmins.com/general-discussions/8242-advaita-layman-8.html#post122127






Dear Shri Sarma,

I am not able to understand the purpose of the post except for your question asking whether is it the aim that the reality should not be a perfect reality?

See only when both good and bad experiences are mixed you learning becomes complete. So in such a reality you find good as well as the evil. That is what I was trying to say that the physical reality or the lower reality has to be such a reality. To remove any excesses positive or negative. Does this make sense?

The purpose of my citing your posts was to let you know that due to lack of coherence, the totality of your exposition is not lucid for brains like mine.

Now from what you write, I get the following doubt:

1. Why should lower reality be created with the express or implied purpose of making that lower reality undergo "good and bad experiences" under the impression, correct or not, that only such "good and bad experiences" will make the learning of that lower reality complete? (I presume that the real or higher reality has never undergone such "good and bad experiences" in the world of lower reality; if this is correct then why a different rule is being applied to the jeevas in the lower reality? Or, is it the position that the higher reality itself is composed or consists of many quanta of the lower reality which have made their learning complete, by undergoing such "good and bad experiences" at an earlier period of time? If so, is the higher reality also subject to the Time dimension?

You say here:
http://www.tamilbrahmins.com/general-discussions/8241-advaita-scholars-5.html#post122106

Why nirguna brahman is considered attributeless?

Something is an attribute of someone when it is marked by its presence in that person. For example when you say that someone is beautiful, the attribute of beauty exists in that person. There may be positive attributes and negative attributes. An attributeless state is one which has neither positive attributes or negative attributes. We consider something as positive if it is unnecessarily or detrimentally excessive , the case with negative attributes is obvious. Someone being neither fat nor lean is a good balance because both the extremes are not desirable. But saying someone is neither intelligent nor dumb is not a good balance because a lot of balance has already gone into the attribute of intelligence. It can be said to be naturally balanced largely. An even better balanced attribute is being wise. So a better balance is obtained when, someone is more intelligent than dumb.

It is in this backdrop that the attributeless state of nirguna brahman has to be considered. An attributeless state is something that represents perfect balance in all the attributes. There is nothing that can be called a feature or a characteristic. As I said calling brahman for example say as intelligent is more or less like calling it balanced or attributeless and hence cannot be said to be a feature.


Hence, it seems to me that you hold the NB to be "wise" in order that there is "better balance" of positive and negative attributes. Does this not destroy the original concept of Nirguna Brahman?



 
OP
OP
sravna

sravna

Well-known member



The purpose of my citing your posts was to let you know that due to lack of coherence, the totality of your exposition is not lucid for brains like mine.

Now from what you write, I get the following doubt:

1. Why should lower reality be created with the express or implied purpose of making that lower reality undergo "good and bad experiences" under the impression, correct or not, that only such "good and bad experiences" will make the learning of that lower reality complete? (I presume that the real or higher reality has never undergone such "good and bad experiences" in the world of lower reality; if this is correct then why a different rule is being applied to the jeevas in the lower reality? Or, is it the position that the higher reality itself is composed or consists of many quanta of the lower reality which have made their learning complete, by undergoing such "good and bad experiences" at an earlier period of time? If so, is the higher reality also subject to the Time dimension?



Good points actually Sri . Sarma. It is not possible to easily juxtapose concepts from timelessless with concepts that work under the constraints of time especially when expressed in language. Ok let me try to elucidate to the best of my ability. I agree with you partly when you ask,
"is it the position that the higher reality itself is composed or consists of many quanta of the lower reality which have made their learning complete, by undergoing such "good and bad experiences" at an earlier period of time?" I agree with the first part. But to the second part my answer is, the spiritual reality and the physical realities are concomitant the former being just a projection just like a shadow. It just indicates to you the nature of the spiritual reality and why it is the way it is.






You say here:
http://www.tamilbrahmins.com/general-discussions/8241-advaita-scholars-5.html#post122106

Why nirguna brahman is considered attributeless?

Something is an attribute of someone when it is marked by its presence in that person. For example when you say that someone is beautiful, the attribute of beauty exists in that person. There may be positive attributes and negative attributes. An attributeless state is one which has neither positive attributes or negative attributes. We consider something as positive if it is unnecessarily or detrimentally excessive , the case with negative attributes is obvious. Someone being neither fat nor lean is a good balance because both the extremes are not desirable. But saying someone is neither intelligent nor dumb is not a good balance because a lot of balance has already gone into the attribute of intelligence. It can be said to be naturally balanced largely. An even better balanced attribute is being wise. So a better balance is obtained when, someone is more intelligent than dumb.

It is in this backdrop that the attributeless state of nirguna brahman has to be considered. An attributeless state is something that represents perfect balance in all the attributes. There is nothing that can be called a feature or a characteristic. As I said calling brahman for example say as intelligent is more or less like calling it balanced or attributeless and hence cannot be said to be a feature.


Hence, it seems to me that you hold the NB to be "wise" in order that there is "better balance" of positive and negative attributes. Does this not destroy the original concept of Nirguna Brahman?




Can you elaborate what is the problem here? I said wisdom is a more balanced attribute than intelligence. And the state of being realized is perfect balance and so is the state of NB.
 

Good points actually Sri . Sarma. It is not possible to easily juxtapose concepts from timelessless with concepts that work under the constraints of time especially when expressed in language. Ok let me try to elucidate to the best of my ability. I agree with you partly when you ask,
"is it the position that the higher reality itself is composed or consists of many quanta of the lower reality which have made their learning complete, by undergoing such "good and bad experiences" at an earlier period of time?" I agree with the first part. But to the second part my answer is, the spiritual reality and the physical realities are concomitant the former being just a projection just like a shadow. It just indicates to you the nature of the spiritual reality and why it is the way it is.

When it is said "concomitant" does it not imple consequence, and hence cause and effect, and therefore, a sense of "time"?

Can you elaborate what is the problem here? I said wisdom is a more balanced attribute than intelligence. And the state of being realized is perfect balance and so is the state of NB.
Nirguna has been interpreted and understood all along as "featureless". A brahman which is "wise" gets a certain feature, viz., wisdom, even though it may be just abstract wisdom alone, not supported or associated with any material "upAdhi". That is the difficulty.
 
OP
OP
sravna

sravna

Well-known member
When it is said "concomitant" does it not imple consequence, and hence cause and effect, and therefore, a sense of "time"?

By concomitant I meant simultaneous occurrence , that is the reason I gave the example of shadow. That is just as brahman is in its higher timeless reality, the time bound reality exists. In essence they are one and the same, the lower reality being a time bound perspective of the higher reality.


Nirguna has been interpreted and understood all along as "featureless". A brahman which is "wise" gets a certain feature, viz., wisdom, even though it may be just abstract wisdom alone, not supported or associated with any material "upAdhi". That is the difficulty.

That is exactly the reason I mentioned that the nature of attributeness itself disappears in the case of "attribute" which is intrinsically totally balanced. By intrinsically balanced I mean something which cannot be considered excess. Kindly go through the original post and let me know if there is difficulty in understanding it.
 
When it is said "concomitant" does it not imple consequence, and hence cause and effect, and therefore, a sense of "time"?

By concomitant I meant simultaneous occurrence , that is the reason I gave the example of shadow. That is just as brahman is in its higher timeless reality, the time bound reality exists. In essence they are one and the same, the lower reality being a time bound perspective of the higher reality.


Nirguna has been interpreted and understood all along as "featureless". A brahman which is "wise" gets a certain feature, viz., wisdom, even though it may be just abstract wisdom alone, not supported or associated with any material "upAdhi". That is the difficulty.

That is exactly the reason I mentioned that the nature of attributeness itself disappears in the case of "attribute" which is intrinsically totally balanced. By intrinsically balanced I mean something which cannot be considered excess. Kindly go through the original post and let me know if there is difficulty in understanding it.



The word concomitant means, as per dictionary, "Following or accompanying as a consequence". That is why I feel the example of shadow will not hold good, because, first, we have to clearly state whose shadow; if it is the shadow of brahman itself, then there must be something like a source of light in order to create a shadow, and thirdly you just cannot have a shadow or projection visible for the human eyes on mere emptiness - there must be some thing on which the said shadow is cast. Hence the only way to justify whatever you are trying to say (because the term 'former' is not clear) will be to call this also as anirvacaneeya (indescribable).

According to traditional advaita, brahman is (1) formless, (2) indivisible, (3) devoid of all characteristics (nirviSEshaNatvam), (4) one that is a substrate only, (5) admits of no difference, (6) devoid of qualities - you may refer texts if necessary. A wise, and therefore well-balanced brahman (as per the 'twist' you are giving now to advaita - and I say so because you are not citing any reference or authority for this "well-balanced" concept of nirguNa brahman, which does not appear to have been the concept adopted by advaitins till now).
 
OP
OP
sravna

sravna

Well-known member
The word concomitant means, as per dictionary, "Following or accompanying as a consequence". That is why I feel the example of shadow will not hold good, because, first, we have to clearly state whose shadow; if it is the shadow of brahman itself, then there must be something like a source of light in order to create a shadow, and thirdly you just cannot have a shadow or projection visible for the human eyes on mere emptiness - there must be some thing on which the said shadow is cast. Hence the only way to justify whatever you are trying to say (because the term 'former' is not clear) will be to call this also as anirvacaneeya (indescribable).

OK, the shadow was not intended to be an analogy but only to show
(1) they are simultaneous. (my dictionary shows the meaning of concomitant "naturally accompanying or associated. Anyway that's not the issue as I think you get what I try to say.)
(2) the shadow is a derived or secondary reality
But as you say language may not be able to capture precisely what we are trying to say and even mind may find it difficult to grasp the idea because it requires reconciling timeless and time constrained concepts by essentially time constrained mind.

Anyway, the question really is "why does brahman require the lower reality?". I can only say that the lower reality brings out what cosntitutes sat-chit -ananda , the essence of brahman, I will do the analysis if possible later. I think existence, consciousness and bliss being the essentials of a reality and we can see things that negate these only in a lower reality, and hence avoid these pitfalls and secure the essentials of reality, lower reality exists. Thus it is inseparable from brahman. But it is only relatively real in the sense it is transient and fails the test of reality as it is not perceived when the soul merges with brahman

According to traditional advaita, brahman is (1) formless, (2) indivisible, (3) devoid of all characteristics (nirviSEshaNatvam), (4) one that is a substrate only, (5) admits of no difference, (6) devoid of qualities - you may refer texts if necessary. A wise, and therefore well-balanced brahman (as per the 'twist' you are giving now to advaita - and I say so because you are not citing any reference or authority for this "well-balanced" concept of nirguNa brahman, which does not appear to have been the concept adopted by advaitins till now).

I think this is where we need interpretations though it should be consistent with the spirit of the philosophy. I don't think we should interpret (3) and (6) literally. As I said the problem is with the language as language is designed for mundane exchange of thoughts and not particularly suitable for expressing certain concepts. When you say featureless , I want you to clarify how can something be without feature. Let us talk more in terms of logic than in terms of semantics.
 
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The word concomitant means, as per dictionary, "Following or accompanying as a consequence". That is why I feel the example of shadow will not hold good, because, first, we have to clearly state whose shadow; if it is the shadow of brahman itself, then there must be something like a source of light in order to create a shadow, and thirdly you just cannot have a shadow or projection visible for the human eyes on mere emptiness - there must be some thing on which the said shadow is cast. Hence the only way to justify whatever you are trying to say (because the term 'former' is not clear) will be to call this also as anirvacaneeya (indescribable).

OK, the shadow was not intended to be an analogy but only to show
(1) they are simultaneous. (my dictionary shows the meaning of concomitant "naturally accompanying or associated. Anyway that's not the issue as I think you get what I try to say.)
(2) the shadow is a derived or secondary reality
But as you say language may not be able to capture precisely what we are trying to say and even mind may find it difficult to grasp the idea because it requires reconciling timeless and time constrained concepts by essentially time constrained mind.

Anyway, the question really is "why does brahman require the lower reality?". I can only say that the lower reality brings out what cosntitutes sat-chit -ananda , the essence of brahman, I will do the analysis if possible later. I think existence, consciousness and bliss being the essentials of a reality and we can see things that negate these only in a lower reality, and hence avoid these pitfalls and secure the essentials of reality, lower reality exists. Thus it is inseparable from brahman. But it is only relatively real in the sense it is transient and fails the test of reality as it is not perceived when the soul merges with brahman

According to traditional advaita, brahman is (1) formless, (2) indivisible, (3) devoid of all characteristics (nirviSEshaNatvam), (4) one that is a substrate only, (5) admits of no difference, (6) devoid of qualities - you may refer texts if necessary. A wise, and therefore well-balanced brahman (as per the 'twist' you are giving now to advaita - and I say so because you are not citing any reference or authority for this "well-balanced" concept of nirguNa brahman, which does not appear to have been the concept adopted by advaitins till now).

I think this is where we need interpretations though it should be consistent with the spirit of the philosophy. I don't think we should interpret (3) and (6) literally. As I said the problem is with the language as language is designed for mundane exchange of thoughts and not particularly suitable for expressing certain concepts. When you say featureless , I want you to clarify how can something be without feature. Let us talk more in terms of logic than in terms of semantics.

Shri sravna sir,
I have no comments to make because you seem to be intent upon distorting the advaita philosophy in tune with your perceptions. But when you say "Let us talk more in terms of logic than in terms of semantics.", where is the logic or rationale in what you are outlining as 'your brand of advaitam'. For example,


  • what is the origin of jeevAs?
  • what is the relation between jeevAtmA and brahman?
  • what happens to a jeevA when it attains brahman realization; does it exist as a separate entity within brahman, gets indistinguishably merged into brahman or something else?
  • how does the brahman "project" itself onto a lower reality? And in what way is this lower reality created by brahman?
  • if the brahman itself is wise to some extent, why (for what purpose) does it require the jeevAs to acquire complete wisdom by experiencing pleasures and pains in this relative reality which itself is like a dream? Is this not like expecting a human being to learn and qualify for some academic degree through study during dream?
I do not propose to spend more time on both threads of yours. I am sure there are others who will ask the appropriate questions.





















 
OP
OP
sravna

sravna

Well-known member


Shri sravna sir,
I have no comments to make because you seem to be intent upon distorting the advaita philosophy in tune with your perceptions. But when you say "Let us talk more in terms of logic than in terms of semantics.", where is the logic or rationale in what you are outlining as 'your brand of advaitam'. For example,


  • what is the origin of jeevAs?
  • what is the relation between jeevAtmA and brahman?
  • what happens to a jeevA when it attains brahman realization; does it exist as a separate entity within brahman, gets indistinguishably merged into brahman or something else?
  • how does the brahman "project" itself onto a lower reality? And in what way is this lower reality created by brahman?
  • if the brahman itself is wise to some extent, why (for what purpose) does it require the jeevAs to acquire complete wisdom by experiencing pleasures and pains in this relative reality which itself is like a dream? Is this not like expecting a human being to learn and qualify for some academic degree through study during dream?
I do not propose to spend more time on both threads of yours. I am sure there are others who will ask the appropriate questions.






















Dear Shri Sarma,

Thanks anyway for sharing your thoughts.
 
OP
OP
sravna

sravna

Well-known member
One final thought to wrap up the argument with Sri.Sarma. In a physical reality we see a totally ignorant soul inevitably becoming completely realized. So (1) The realized knowledge being the knowledge of brahman is imprinted in the consciousness of brahman. But (2) the lower reality is not your enduring experience because you cease to perceive it once you are one with brahman.

(1) shows why lower reality is inseparable and essential to brahman.
(2) shows why it not a reality from the point of view of brahman

You can even think of illusion being essential for accomplishing something but that doesn't make it a reality.
 

how does the brahman "project" itself onto a lower reality? And in what way is this lower reality created by brahman?

I read the following from a link provided by sri saidevo
So an eternal, changeless Brahman cannot be the material cause of the world (“upadhana karanam”).
Since the changeless Brahman is amanah, It cannot be the intelligent cause of the world
(“nimitta karanam.”). So, the question arises, how does creation come?
Advaita Vedanta says that in Brahman, there is, as a lower order of reality, an entity and
power, called “Maya”. Maya is inert matter, consisting of undifferentiated names and
forms. Brahma caitanyam gets reflected in Maya, to constitute an entity called
“Iswara”. Iswara has the caitanyam aspect of Brahman in the form of reflected
consciousness as well as the matter aspect of Maya. Therefore Iswara has in himself
the capacity to think, visualise and plan creation and the raw material to evolve the
objects of creation. Just as creation is mithya, Iswara is also mithya, belonging to
the vyavaharika order of reality. Creation is only unfolding of forms with
corresponding names (nama roopa) on a substratum. The substratum is Brahman, the
non-dual existence, the sat. Sat does not undergo any change.
 
OP
OP
sravna

sravna

Well-known member
I read the following from a link provided by sri saidevo
So an eternal, changeless Brahman cannot be the material cause of the world (“upadhana karanam”).
Since the changeless Brahman is amanah, It cannot be the intelligent cause of the world
(“nimitta karanam.”). So, the question arises, how does creation come?
Advaita Vedanta says that in Brahman, there is, as a lower order of reality, an entity and
power, called “Maya”. Maya is inert matter, consisting of undifferentiated names and
forms. Brahma caitanyam gets reflected in Maya, to constitute an entity called
“Iswara”. Iswara has the caitanyam aspect of Brahman in the form of reflected
consciousness as well as the matter aspect of Maya. Therefore Iswara has in himself
the capacity to think, visualise and plan creation and the raw material to evolve the
objects of creation. Just as creation is mithya, Iswara is also mithya, belonging to
the vyavaharika order of reality. Creation is only unfolding of forms with
corresponding names (nama roopa) on a substratum. The substratum is Brahman, the
non-dual existence, the sat. Sat does not undergo any change.

Let me attempt a rephrase.

Nirguna brahman, the higher reality of brahman, being amanah (mindless. here mind in the sense of being a limitation and not concerned with thinking and therefore not being the intelligent cause of creation), eternal (hence the concept of "causing" doesn't make sense) does not create the physical world. Brahman, in its lower reality as saguna brahman using the power of maya creates the world. The physical world is the form and the substratum is brahman just as illustrated earlier in the example of pot and clay.

Note: I have given my view in my earlier posts on the purpose of this physical world and also why it is only a relative reality.
 
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I read the following from a link provided by sri saidevo
So an eternal, changeless Brahman cannot be the material cause of the world (“upadhana karanam”).
Since the changeless Brahman is amanah, It cannot be the intelligent cause of the world
(“nimitta karanam.”). So, the question arises, how does creation come?
Advaita Vedanta says that in Brahman, there is, as a lower order of reality, an entity and
power, called “Maya”. Maya is inert matter, consisting of undifferentiated names and
forms. Brahma caitanyam gets reflected in Maya, to constitute an entity called
“Iswara”. Iswara has the caitanyam aspect of Brahman in the form of reflected
consciousness as well as the matter aspect of Maya. Therefore Iswara has in himself
the capacity to think, visualise and plan creation and the raw material to evolve the
objects of creation. Just as creation is mithya, Iswara is also mithya, belonging to
the vyavaharika order of reality. Creation is only unfolding of forms with
corresponding names (nama roopa) on a substratum. The substratum is Brahman, the
non-dual existence, the sat. Sat does not undergo any change.

Shri ozone,

I am responding to your post because I expect some convincing answers to my doubts from you. Sravna's postulates sound hollow to me.

an eternal, changeless Brahman cannot be the material cause of the world (“upadhana karanam”).
the changeless Brahman is amanah, so, It cannot be the intelligent cause of the world (“nimitta karanam.”).

Advaita Vedanta says that in Brahman, there is, as a lower order of reality, an entity and power, called “Maya”. Maya is inert matter, consisting of undifferentiated names and forms. Brahma caitanyam gets reflected in Maya, to constitute an entity called “Iswara”.

My doubt is what is actually meant by "material cause" in the above? If mAyA consists of inert matter (what excatly this means is not clearly stated - is it like sand? or glass?) and this mAyA is there in Brahman, and if it is this mAyA which reflects Brahma caithanyam (that will mean the nirguNa brahman has two certain and identifiable "guNas" viz., 1) it consists, partly at least, of some inert matter called mAyA, and, 2) it has something called caitanyam, whatever it may mean. Thus it is no longer nirguNa Brahman, is it not?

Next is, from where does mAyA get its power of "reflection" if it is just inert matter?

Iswara has the caitanyam aspect of Brahman in the form of reflected
consciousness as well as the matter aspect of Maya. Therefore Iswara has in himself the capacity to think, visualise and plan creation and the raw material to evolve the objects of creation. Just as creation is mithya, Iswara is also mithya, belonging to the vyavaharika order of reality. Creation is only unfolding of forms with corresponding names (nama roopa) on a substratum. The substratum is Brahman, the non-dual existence, the sat. Sat does not undergo any change.

If the nirguNa Brahman (NB) by itself cannot be the material or intelligent cause of the world, it follows naturally that it cannot have any power of creating the world. Then, how is it that the reflection of this NB becomes more intelligent and capable than the reflected entity NB? Is this a strange case of the 'shadow' (a la sravna's explanation) being more intelligent and capable of many activities than the person himself whose shadow it is? Students will definitely yearn for such a shadow at least during their exam times!

Again, where is the need for a substratum in this case? Since there is no gravitational force etc., being considered and since Iswara, the created world, etc., are beyond this ordinary world level, a substrate to "hold" the creation and/or the Iswara from falling down, etc., cannot be visualized. The only justification for a substrate is to provide a layer on which this reflected Iswara, world, etc., can grow, if necessary by taking nourishment from that substrate. Is that what advaita says?
 
OP
OP
sravna

sravna

Well-known member
Since Sarma has developed this habit and liberty of profusely using my name , as he has done in this post, I am responding to it.
Guess who sound hollow? Sri. Sarma says ,"If mAyA consists of inert matter (what excatly this means is not clearly stated - is it like sand? or glass?)" :)

Really funny interpretation. By inert matter I believe, one would interpret it as maya being the basis of matter (in the lower worl
d)
Maya, to my understanding of what is stated, doesn't get the power of reflection. The caitanyam or consciousness of brahman is reflected on maya or activates maya, and we have Ishvara or saguna brahman at work. That is, according to my understanding, brahman + maya is called ishvara or saguna brahman. The two gunas attributed by Shri.Sarma (1) caitanyam meaning consciousness is an essence of brahman and (2) maya, is better understood as a power of brahman.

If the nirguNa Brahman (NB) by itself cannot be the material or intelligent cause of the world, it follows naturally that it cannot have any power of creating the world. Then, how is it that the reflection of this NB becomes more intelligent and capable than the reflected entity NB? Is this a strange case of the 'shadow' (a la sravna's explanation) being more intelligent and capable of many activities than the person himself whose shadow it is? Students will definitely yearn for such a shadow at least during their exam times!

I think Sri.Sarma has to introspect on his own ability for meaningful discussions before anything else. What he states above is what is I think a shallow understanding of what is stated. When the word "intelligence" is used it is used in subordinate way to the capabilities of NB which is beyond that realm of thinking, acting etc. The state of NB is totally still, not even thoughts exists. In that sense it has to be taken that it cannot be the intelligent cause of the universe.

Again, where is the need for a substratum in this case? Since there is no gravitational force etc., being considered and since Iswara, the created world, etc., are beyond this ordinary world level, a substrate to "hold" the creation and/or the Iswara from falling down, etc., cannot be visualized. The only justification for a substrate is to provide a layer on which this reflected Iswara, world, etc., can grow, if necessary by taking nourishment from that substrate. Is that what advaita says?[/QUOTE]

No comments:)
 
Sir, with the caveat that I am more layman (more in terms of less) than you and with the awareness
that you are aware of my lower IQ in advaita philosophy, I refrain from attempting at providing any answers.
You will notice that my questions in the same thread are similar or along the same lines as yours.
I am also looking around for more plausible explanations. I visited a couple of sites, and there again I could
see only similar fights. I definitely feel this subject cannot be understood from a logical reasoning or mathematical
questioning point of you.
As an example can we equate non-dualism as it called, to mean monoism?
 
Sir, with the caveat that I am more layman (more in terms of less) than you and with the awareness
that you are aware of my lower IQ in advaita philosophy, I refrain from attempting at providing any answers.
You will notice that my questions in the same thread are similar or along the same lines as yours.
I am also looking around for more plausible explanations. I visited a couple of sites, and there again I could
see only similar fights. I definitely feel this subject cannot be understood from a logical reasoning or mathematical
questioning point of you.
As an example can we equate non-dualism as it called, to mean monoism?

Shri ozone,

My knowledge or familiarity with advaita vedanta is whatever I have been able to assimilate from elders in the immediate family circle, others who were knowledgeable, etc., and very little could I grasp from books. I do not know why, but it looks to my dense brain that without a person who has really traversed the path and reached the destination, it will be difficult for others, even with high intellects, to really grasp this advaita; it is a recipe which can be learnt, not from reading, but only by repeated practice of cooking this curry! imho, if one is in the right route, advaita is very logical but then I do not think it is correct to write about it here; may be "yet another time, yet another train!".

non-dualism is not monism; while the former rests on only one reality in the whole of this existence, the latter deals with only one godhead and refuses even a second. There is no discussion about reality or sat (that which exists) in monism and both this world and the single god are "sat" for them imo.

Thank you for your kind response.
 
Dear Sri Sarma-61ji,
thank you for the responses
I do not know why, but it looks to my dense brain that without a person who has really traversed the path and reached the destination, it will be difficult for others, even with high intellects, to really grasp this advaita; it is a recipe which can be learnt, not from reading, but only by repeated practice of cooking this curry!
Given the current situation that it is hard to find one, and even if we find one, impressing on them to invest their time for us,
do we have options other than reading books and web pages?

imho, if one is in the right route, advaita is very logical but then I do not think it is correct to write about it here; may be "yet another time, yet another train!".
I will look forward to this. Hopefully it is soon.
non-dualism is not monism; while the former rests on only one reality in the whole of this existence, the latter deals with only one godhead and refuses even a second. There is no discussion about reality or sat (that which exists) in monism and both this world and the single god are "sat" for them imo.
Isnt that monotheism? or am I confused ? Anyway, my point was this: Since the philosophy is called non-dual (meaning not dual, and not mono ), we could start from there to find out why it is named that way?
 
Isnt that monotheism? or am I confused ? Anyway, my point was this: Since the philosophy is called non-dual (meaning not dual, and not mono ), we could start from there to find out why it is named that way?

Yes, it is 'mono theism' not 'monism'; advaita is better translated as non-dualism as it admits of only one single reality, "monolithic" you may say if you so want.
 

saidevo

Active member
namaste shrI ozone and all others.

This has reference to your post #90 wherein you have quoted from the book Advaita: A Bird's Eye View. It seems the author has not properly explained the position of Advaita with respect to God, creation and the individual soul.

A better explanation is given here, resolving all the issues (mainly of causality) involved:
The Advaita Vedânta Home Page - The Philosophy of Advaita

The physical world we see around in our waking state and the subtle world we make up in our dreams are both in our consciousness. There is a Tamizh proverb: 'If the cat closes its eyes, would the world go dark?'

• Aren't there moments in our daily life, when we are totally absorbed in something dear to our heart, we completely forget the world around us, as if the world did not exist during that time? If we can prolong such moments of blissful oblivion of the surroundings at will, then we could find that we create the world only when and as we see it: in other words, cognition and creation would be simultaneous. This theory of creation is called dRshTi-sRshTi vAdam.

• The theory that Ishvara created the world, so it pre-exists our cognition of it, is called the sRshTi-dRshTi vAdam. This is the most common view that we cannot let go easily, although we might intellectually know that if there is nothing other than Brahman, then That Brahman should be the substratum of everything that it appears as.

• For jnAnis who are rooted in the Self--Atman at all times, no creation occurred ever. This is the view of AjAti vAdam. RamaNa maharShi was one such jnAni (among many others like KAnchi ParamAchArya and Shringeri Jagadguru Chandrashekhara BhArati), who would readily dismiss the apparent reality of the world and say that there has been nothing else ever other than Brahman.
 
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OP
OP
sravna

sravna

Well-known member
Let me attempt to give a summary, of my view of realities:

Brahman exists at different levels of reality:

1. As nirguna brahman, without form or attribute. It is beyond conception to the limited human mind. This is the highest reality of brahman
2. As saguna brahman, a lower reality of brahman. The omnipotent Brahman with the power to diminish its own reality forms the saguna brahman.
3. As space and time, created by the higher reality of saguna brahman, the physical world being the diminished reality of brahman
4. As jivatmas flowing from space and time

No.1. is the original one.
No.2. exists for a specific purpose.
No.4. has to transcend the effects of No.3. to become No.1 again.

The ultimate purpose of all this is to maintain the essence of reality being sat-chit-ananda
 
OP
OP
sravna

sravna

Well-known member
An analogy for different levels of reality I could think of is this:

Consider an ocean. Assume a disturbance is created in some part of it. The disturbance does not affect the rest of the ocean. It is localized in space and time. This disturbed reality we can take to be the reality of the physical world. The disturbance is superimposed on the reality of stillness and and is transient and the original reality returns. The jivatmas are like the drops arising due to the disturbance that become one with the ocean again.

Thus something that is infinite can allow for local realities without its own reality being affected. The point to be noted is whereas in the analogy we talk of localization in space and time , in the actual case, the space and time themselves are localizations and keep appearing and disppearing.
 
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