The classical Advaita Vedanta explains all reality and everything in the experienced world to be same as the Brahman. To Advaitins, there is a unity in multiplicity, and there is no dual hierarchy of a Creator and the created universe. All objects, all experiences, all matter, all consciousness, all awareness, in Advaita philosophy is not the property but the very nature of this one fundamental reality Brahman. With this premise, the Advaita school states that any ontological effort (proof of existence) must presuppose a knowing Self, and this effort needs to explain all empirical experiences such as the projected reality while one dreams during sleep, and the observed multiplicity of living beings. This Advaita does by positing its theory of three levels of reality, the theory of two truths, and by developing and integrating these ideas with its theory of errors (anirvacaniya khyati).
Shankara proposes three levels of reality, using sublation as the ontological criterion:
- Pāramārthika (paramartha, absolute), the Reality that is metaphysically true and ontologically accurate. It is the state of experiencing that "which is absolutely real and into which both other reality levels can be resolved". This reality is the highest, it can't be sublated (assimilated) by any other.
- Vyāvahārika (vyavahara), or samvriti-saya, consisting of the empirical or pragmatical reality. It is ever changing over time, thus empirically true at a given time and context but not metaphysically true. It is "our world of experience, the phenomenal world that we handle every day when we are awake". It is the level in which both jiva (living creatures or individual souls) and Iswara are true; here, the material world is also true but this is incomplete reality and is sublatable (borrows existence from Brahman).
- Prāthibhāsika (pratibhasika, apparent reality, unreality), "reality based on imagination alone". It is the level of experience in which the mind constructs its own reality. Well-known examples of pratibhasika is the imaginary reality such as the perception of a snake on a rope in the dim light conditions.
Advaita Vedanta acknowledges and admits that from the empirical perspective there are numerous distinctions. It states that everything and each reality has multiple perspectives, both absolute and relative. All these are valid and true in their respective contexts, states Advaita, but only from their respective particular perspectives. This "absolute and relative truths" explanation, Advaitins call as the "two truths" doctrine, with the example of light and darkness. From the sun's perspective, it neither rises nor sets, there is no darkness, and "all is light". From the perspective of a person on earth, sun does rise and set, there is both light and darkness, not "all is light", there are relative shades of light and darkness. Both are valid realities and truths, given their perspectives. Yet, they are contradictory. What is true from one point of view, is not from another. To Advaita Vedanta, this does not mean there are two truths and two realities, but it only means that the same one Reality and one Truth is explained or experienced from two different perspectives.
There are three planes of existence according to classical Advaita Vedānta: the plane of absolute existence (paramarthika satta), the plane of worldly existence (vyavaharika satta) which includes this world and the heavenly world, and the plane of illusory existence (pratibhāsika existence).
The two latter planes of existence are a function of māyā and are thus illusory to some extent. A pratibhāsika existence, such as objects presented in a mirage, is less real than a worldly existence. Its corresponding unreality is, however, different from that which characterizes the absolutely nonexistent or the impossible, such as a sky-lotus (a lotus that grows in the sky) or the son of a barren woman. The independent existence of a mirage and the world, both of which are due to a certain causal condition, ceases once the causal condition change. The causal condition is avidya, or ignorance. The independent existence and experience of the world ceases to be with the gain of knowledge of Brahman. The nature of knowledge of Brahman is that “I am pure consciousness.” The self-ignorance of the jīva (individuated self) that “I am limited” is replaced by the Brahman-knowledge that “I am everything,” accompanied by a re-identification of the self with the transcendental Brahman. The knower of Brahman sees the one non-plural reality in everything. He or she no longer gives an absolute reality to independent and limited existence of the world, but experiences the world as a creative expression of pure consciousness. The states of waking (jāgrat), dreaming (svapna) and deep sleep (susupti) all point to the fourth nameless state turiya, pure consciousness, which is to be realized as the true self. Pure consciousness is not only pure existence but also the ultimate bliss which is experienced partially during deep sleep. Hence we wake up refreshed.
Ishwara's Vikshepa shakti creates the universe of forms, that we (all jivas) have to accept as is (including the body/mind we are given). Maya's avarna shakti confuse Ishwara as there is Self awareness (Brahman).
For the Jivas, the avarna shakti tends to give a sense of apparent comfort which leads to a sense of limitation and hence the me/mine isolation. This causes delusion, and subjective projection in waking world (pratibhasika sat), and the dream state.
Method to loosen the grips of Maya :
- Abide in /catch hold of satva guna, that diminishes the attraction of rajas and tamas activities.
- with Ishwara sharanagati, allow the mind to focus on the bigger goals
- with 4 step method, V+V+6 qual+M steps, progress all the Vedantic path to be free.
In the case of a rope appearing as a snake, there is no real transformation. The snake is only a vivarta or apparent modification of the rope. The appearance of the snake is due to ignorance of the rope. Similarly, the world is only a vivarta of brahman. Maya (power of Brahman) conceals brahman and projects the world. At the same time, power is not identical with its possessor, because even when the power is obstructed, its possessor remains the same. Power cannot be directly perceived, but can only be inferred from its effect. Maya manifests as action, knowledge and will. The supreme unconditioned brahman is eternal, infinite and non-dual. When associated with Maya, brahman is described as omnipotent.
Brahman becomes manifest as Consciousness in all living beings. Its power appears as movement in air, hardness in stone, liquidity in water, and heat in fire. Just as a tree with its branches, leaves, flowers, fruits, etc., is latent in the seed, so is this world latent in brahman (before manifestation). When brahman assumes the power of cognition it is called the mind. The notions of bondage and liberation arise in the mind.
Maya is different from its effect as well as from its substratum. It can only be inferred from its effect, just as the burning power of an ember can be inferred only from the blister caused by it.
The world is superimposed on brahman. Even after the realization that brahman is the only reality the world continues to be perceived by the realized person, but it is not accepted as real by him. He is not affected by the joys and sorrows in the world. It is in this sense that the world is said to have ceased to exist when brahman is realized.
By knowing brahman the whole phenomenal universe is known. brahman is existence, Consciousness and bliss, whereas the world consists of name and form. The whole universe is only the projection of names and forms in brahman by Maya. When one realizes that all names and forms have no reality and rejects them he remains as the pure brahman. Even if he continues to be engaged in worldly matters he is not affected by the joys and sorrows arising from them. Realizing that brahman is existence, Consciousness and bliss, one should keep his mind fixed on brahman and restrain it from dwelling on names and forms. Thus the bliss of non-duality will be realized.
Why Maya?. Why Maya the manifestation of world, in immortal, nirguna Brahman?.
- Is it Brahman-NO,
- is it apart from Brahman-NO (dependent on Br, without Brahman, Maya cannot exist).
Question itself is wrong! Maya itself is S, T causation. Asking for cause is wrong question for causation itself (which is the dimensions of S, T, causation).
Similarly, Before big bang?? is not valid, because time is associated/starts with big bang itself.
As Ajnanis, there is this question, but no satisfactory answer possible
For Jnanis, there is no such question of Why.. It is just a WONDER and they enjoy it.
Vedaanta saara,ch.5. para 185—The term ‘ the beginning and the conclusion’ means the presentation of the subject matter of a section at the beginning and at the end of the section. For example, in the sixth chapter of the Chhaandogya Upanishad, Brahman, which is the subject-matter of the chapter, is introduced at the beginning with the words, “One only without a second”, etc. (6.2.1). At the end of the chapter Brahman is again spoken of in the words, “In It all that exists has its Self,etc. (6.8.7). Para 186—Repetition is the repeated presentation of the subject-matter in the section. In the same chapter, Brahman, the One without a second, is mentioned nine times by the sentence “Thou art that”. Para 187—‘Originality’ means that the subject-matter of the section is not known through any other source of knowledge. For instance, the subject matter of the above section, namely, Brahman, cannot be known through any source of knowledge other than the s’ruti. Para 188—The ‘result’ is the utility of the subject-matter. For example, in the same section, we find the sentences” One who has a teacher realizes Brahman. He has to wait only as long as he is not freed from the body; then he is united with Brahman”. (6.14.2). Here the utility of the knowledge is attainment of Brahman. Para 189—Eulogy is the praise of the subject-matter. The words in this section, “Did you ask for that instruction by which one knows what has not been known, etc” (6.1.3) are spoken in praise of Brahman. Para 190—Demonstration is the reasoning in support of the subject-matter, adduced at different places in the same section. An example is—“My dear, as by one lump of clay all that is made of clay is known, every modification being only a name, and being real only as clay”—(6.4.1). This shows that the universe has no reality except as an apparent modification of Brahman, the only Reality. Para 191—Reflection is the constant thinking of Brahman, the One without a second, already heard about from the teacher, by making use of arguments in a constructive manner. Para 192—Meditation is keeping the mind fixed on the thought of Brahman, uninterrupted by any other thought. The result achieved by ‘hearing’ etc. ‘Hearing’ removes the doubt whether the upanishadic text which is the pramaaNa purports to teach about Brahman or about some other entity. This doubt is known as pramaaNa-asambhaavanaa, or the doubt about the pramaaNa itself. ‘Reflection’ removes the doubt whether Brahman and the jiiva are identical or not. This doubt is called prameya-asambhaavanaa.
‘Meditation’ is intended to keep off wrong notions such as “ The universe is real; the difference between Brahman and jiiva is real”, which are contrary to the teachings of the upanishads, by developing concentration of the mind. Such wrong notions are known as vipariita-bhaavanaa. Thus the purpose of hearing, reflection and meditation is the removal of obstacles in the form of doubts and wrong notions that stand in the way of the origination of Self-knowledge.
Chapter 13 of B Gita explains the Values that help purify the mind so that one can realize the truth of the Self. Only when the importance ("the value") of these Values is recognized, then a Vedanta student becomes a serious student.
This article expands on these values as a study guide.
The four requisites are— (1) discrimination between the eternal and the non-eternal (nitya-anitya-vastu vivekaH), (2) detachment towards all enjoyments in this world as well as in higher worlds like heaven (iha- amutra-arthabhoga-viraagaH), (3) possession of the six virtues commencing with control of the mind (s’amadamaadisaadhanasampat), and (4) yearning for liberation (mumukshutvam). Each of these is explained in VivekachuuDaamaNi as below.
1) Viveka: The firm conviction that Brahman alone is real and that the universe is illusory (mithyaa) is discrimination between the eternal and the non-eternal.
2) Vairagya: Detachment is revulsion towards all objects of enjoyment in this world as well as in higher worlds, including one’s own body.
3) Six Virtues: shama, dama, uparati, titikshaa, shraddhaa, samaadhaana. Withdrawing the mind from all sense- pleasures by realizing their harmful nature, and making it rest on one’s objective (namely, the Self),is shama. Restraining the organs of sense and of action (jnaanendriya and karmendriya) is known as dama. When the mind ceases to function through the external organs, that state is Uparati (samatvam also). Enduring all adversities without lament or anxiety and without seeking to counter them is titikshaa. Firm conviction about the truth of the scriptures and the teachings of the Guru is shraddhaa. The mind remaining firmly fixed in the attributeless Brahman is samaadhaana.
The fourth requisite, 4) mumukshutvam is the yearning to become free from nescience and its effect, bondage, by the realization of one’s true nature. It is impossible for a person to be a seeker of liberation and also a seeker of the fruits of action at the same time. From this it is clear that only a person who has attained total and intense detachment can be called a mumukshu.
Of these, detachment and the yearning for liberation are the most important. Only if these two are strong, will the others like shama, etc, be fruitful along the way. Internal Sannyasa (Vairagya) plus equanimity / samatvam of the mind helps navigate the world of opposites.
Vedanta jnanam can be gained in either of the two different “way of life”. However, the general rule (by Adi Shankara) is that sannyasa is ideal to gain jnanam and exception is that you can remain in grahasthasrama and observe sadhana shad sambatti and gain moksa. Four factors/steps are needed for jnanam, Sravanam, Mananam, Shad sampatti, and Mumukshutvam.
Viveka and vairagyam samadhi Shadka sampatti can be acquired through grahasthasrama. grahasthasrama is ideal for Viveka Vairagya prapti. Andeven Mumuksutvam. All the three can be gained through grahasthasrama. In grahasthasrama alone there is scope for pariksa lokan karma titam. There is scope for experience, maturity, and experience for learning seeing the limitation of things. Therefore, 3 parts of sadhana shad sambatti can be gained through grahasthasrama. But Shamadi Shadka sambatthi is difficult (sama:peaceful mind, dama:sense control, Uparati:ceasing unneeded activities, titksha:endurance, shradda:faith on the journey, Samadhana:equanimity to opposites and what is). This primarily stands for non-extroverted mind, a relaxed mind a mind with concentration. In fact concentration can be taken as quality time in which I can do something serious. All these three are important for self-enquiry. There are many extroverted obstacles disturbing the mind (duties, responsibilities -leading to anxiety, distractions, etc) in grahasta ashrama, and hence sannyasa is ideal.
Some grahasta exceptions are possible (e.g. Janaka), who are able to remain non-extroverted and maintain focused enquiry into Vedanta vichara.
Vishesha jnanam is knowledge of specifics (objects,concepts etc) as mental thoughts (mana vritti). Samanya jnanam is understanding of underlying awareness consciousness (swarupa atma) that makes all mental thoughts possible.
Even a glimpse of this general awareness, existence principle is considered awakening (enlightenment) and has the ability to transform one’s understanding of the relationship to the world. With that basis of samanya jnanam (of pure awareness), it is easier to see the projection of the apparent worldly phenomenon that can create binding interactions.
Niddidhyasanam with this knowledge, helps dissolve the habitual vasana (tendencies) of body and mind, which leads to moksha freedom.
In this journey of discovery of “who am I”, the subtle thought “aham brahmasmi” also needs to be dropped to abide in the pure awareness, and that is “enlightenment”.
Jnani’s who have realized, may continue to “enjoy the mental experience” of atma ananda in deep nirvalpaka samadhi and thereby diminish any discomforts of Prarabda on body/mind.
This doubt is answered by giving two examples. When water is in contact with fire, only the heat aspect of fire is absorbed by the water and not the light of fire. But when a log of wood comes into contact with fire, it absorbs both the heat and the light aspects. Similarly, only the Consciousness aspect of brahman is reflected in an agitated mind, but both the Consciousness and the bliss aspects are reflected when the mind is calm.
When there is some desire in the mind, there is anxiety about whether the desired object will be attained or not. In such a condition there can be no happiness. But as soon as the desired object is attained, the mind becomes calm. The bliss of brahman is then reflected in the mind. The happiness experienced then is wrongly attributed to the attainment of the desired object, while it is really due to the mind becoming calm. This happiness continues only till another desire arises and agitates the mind. When a person has attained complete detachment towards worldly pleasures and is free from desires, his mind is absolutely calm and then supreme bliss is experienced.
When the non-dual, self-luminous, attributeless brahman is known, there is no triad of knower, knowing and known. Then there is infinite bliss.
All Vedanta texts culminate in the final teaching of the mahavakya Tat Tvam Asi (That Thou Art) or Aham Brahma Asmi (I am Brahman). The relationship between That and Thou has to be analyzed through 3 steps
1) Samanya adhikaranam: Are all the words in the sentence referring to the same thing or do they refer to different things. Since we are discussing non-dual reality and that You are Brahman, then ultimately we are talking about one reality. The words all point to the same reality, same locus (adhikaranam). E.g. blue lotus, the word lotus and the word blue both refer to that same flower.
) Visheshana Vishesha bhava: Is the meaning of the words a noun- adjective relationship, substance (Lotus) and quality (blue). Or is it noun to noun? Ishvara (God) and Jiva (You) are one (connection to infinity). This noun (infinite Ishvara) to noun (limited Jiva) as a direct meaning excludes other names and forms, that Ishvara (not Vishnu, shiva etc) are Jiva (you or me). However, such direct meaning also has glaring contradictory qualities and are equitable (Ishvara are omniscient etc and Jiva as limited). Therefore, we need a 3rd step of investigating the implied meanings.
3) Lakshya (pointed/implied) lakshana (pointer/defn) bhava: What is the Tatpariya/intended and Implied meaning of That and This after discarding any "qualities" superimposed on them. Eg. that devadatta (young one from different city) is this (elderly, coming towards me). Any contradictory qualities (include space-time effected) are discarded and the intended meaning "person" is understood. Eg. That blue lotus (month ago in the pond) is this blue lotus (aged and in a pot). or Ganga river implies the same river whether it was a trickle in the Himalayas or flooding at the mouth in bangladesh.
So now analyzing the sentence Tat Tvam Asi. Tat is implying to Nirguna Brahman, pure consciousness without the upadhi of universe created by maya. Tvam - Nirguna Atma - Self Consciousness without the upadhi of body-mind-senses. Asi - The Consciousness substram is non-dual, one without a second, the same. The sentence is before the universe was manifested it was one existence without a second.
However, Nirguna brahman is beyond language of words. Soa word (written on spoken) has a direct meaning (through pratyaksha pramana through vachya artha), it must refer to something within this manifested union with this universe ( created by maya), it could be the cause of the universe Ishvara, because cause and effect are manifestations in the same order of reality. The range of a language can only indicate manifested cause and effects and therefore it can only directly denote Ishvara, as saguna Brahman. However Ishvara (all pervading, etc) and Jiva (limited, insecure) can never be equated. So there has to be deeper meaning to the words.
The vedas use a variety of strategies to reveal something which cannot be revealed by language with the hope that we intuitively will understand what is being pointed to, intentions of the words (Tatparya) . e.g.
1) neti neti (not this not this) if you cannot directly say what it IS, you can you can say what it is NOT. So nirguna Brahman can be expressed by neti neti (not doer, enjoyer etc)
2) use adhyaropa apavada superimposition and removal of qualities and attributes (e.g. all pervading Ishvara, limited Jiva "attributes/qualities" etc).
3) use paradoxical language to describe something beyond normal language a) greater than the greatest (e.g. space-like), b) smaller than the smallest (space like) c) further than the furthest d) nearer than the move nearest e) it moves but it moves not (all pervading space like) f) independent of space-time etc. and with the hope that we will understand what the paradox points towards. Words can only take us to the edge of knowledge.
4) Lakshana - intuitive understanding (lakshya artha) of the implied meaning of the words is the way to understand the equality of Brahman Consciousness and Atma Consciousness. It is the same non-dual Consciousness.
The differences will continue to "appear" to us in the transactional reality, but intuitively we understand that there is only one underlying reality, Consciousness. So just BE in that understanding.
Process to understand Tatvamasi (THAT IS THIS)
I as Jiva is THIS, and the world, jagat is THAT (out there). So there is no direct clarity/understanding of one-ness, needs deep and subtle enquiry.
Enquiry starts with me the Jiva, as it is easiest to access and
Jiva-atma enquiry process:
THIS person (body mind sense complex ) is Jiva. But who am I?
From Taittiriya upanishad study, we understand that beyond the changing/objectifiable koshas (coverings ) - I come to appreciate the non-changing Awareness Chit
From Mandukya upanishad study , we understand that the common factor to all 3 states (waking/dream/sleep), is the Turiya/ consciousness/ awareness - Chit.
(So Chit/Conciousness is the main focus of enquiry).Sat-Chit ananda - atma ( unchanging self of Jiva)
I am - I exist (Sat)
I know I am - I am awareness of my existence (Sat + chit)
I know I am and complete in myself - I am unaffected by changes in body/mind/senses. ( Sat + chit + ananda)
Ishvara- Brahman enquiry process:
Ishvara is the creative principle of the cosmos; both the intelligence that shapes the universe (efficient cause) and its very substance (material cause). Ishvara means ‘Lord’ and refers to Saguna Brahman; the Self associated with Names/Forms,(Maya shakti).
Brahman is the formless, unchanging substratum. Satyam, Jnanam, Anantam - Brahma.
Issness (Being) is common to all changing Names/forms of objects (object IS, idea IS). - Satyam
Knowing that N/F are changing, and 'appearance' only, is the Jnanam. Forms and objects appear to have a static "transactional reality" in the time space that human's interact with and appreciate (this is the power of Maya shakti)
Scientists continue to prove that what is observed / measured is momentarily static otherwise it is constantly in flux - quantum theory
However the Issness/being of all objects and ideas of the world is space and time independent. Satyam is nityam (even space -time is changeable).
(Issness /being is the main focus of enquiry)
The process of THAT is THIS enquiry, understanding Tattvamasi.
THAT outside world of Names/Forms and ideas (Ishvara's creation), is sensed/perceived by me as Thoughts in my mind (e.g. Pot exists as a Pot Thought in me, otherwise the world does not exist for me, as in deep sleep). this is very important to understand and validate for oneself. Every individual's perception of the world is unique to oneself due to the mind's conditioning baggage from the past.
Similarly, I am, I exists is also in me.
Now applying the process of bhAga tyAga lakShaNa. The oneness that is pointed to (lakShaNa) is understood by ‘giving up’ (tyAga) the contradictory parts (bhAga) in the perception of world and I. By discarding the Names and Forms added (adhyasa) to the issness of world and also to I, one comes to understand the oneness of the Being/Issness.
This way the mahAvAkya "Aham Brahmasmi" points out that "I am Brahman" (removing the superimposition of the saguna Ishvara and Jiva ). Also "Tattvamasi"- That (Brahman Conciousness without Maya) Thou (Atma Conciousness) Are (the same oneness)"
From Drk-Drshya Viveka, we understand the subject/ object relationship, and discard what is observed, and continue to investigate the subject, who am I. Even at the level of witness thought of the mind, there is duality of witnessing subject and thought movement in the mind. But mind itself is an appearance and object too. For complete non-duality, one needs to understand the Beingness and Knowingness that is beyond any thoughts contained in the mind. This is transcending the mind and abide in that understanding. So just BE.
The jiva identifies himself with the subtle and gross bodies and thinks of himself as an agent (doer) and an enjoyer. The names and forms in the universe are looked upon as objects of enjoyment. When the jiva realizes that he is the supreme brahman and gives up identification with the bodies, there is neither enjoyer nor objects of enjoyment. It is the identification with the bodies that is the cause of all desires, since all desires are for the comfort of the body. Sorrow results when a desire is not fulfilled. The knower of brahman realizes that worldly objects have no reality and so he has no desire for them.
Just as water does not stick to the leaves of the lotus, actions performed (due to situations given by Prarabda karma) after realization do not attach to the knower, because actions are performed by the body and the knower of brahman has no identification with the body. The accumulated actions (sanchita karma) are burnt by the fire in the form of the knowledge of brahman.
a) Prajnanam Brahma. (Rg veda) Brahman is consciousness. This is classified as Definitional mahavakya (Lakshana vakya)
b) Tattvamasi (Sam Veda, Ch Upa) ), Instructional mahavakya (Upadesha vakya)
c) Aham Brahmaasmi (yajurveda - Br upa), I am brahman. that is what I realize. (Anubhava vakya,)
d) Ayam atma brahma (Atharva veda, Mandukya Upa), this very self is Brahman. A This is the state of realization. (nusandhana vakya)
Ref: Vedanta Sara verses 168 onwards.
a) Some statements say realization can happen in the mind only, others say mind cannot understand Brahman.
b) What is enlightenment?
c) What is knowledge of Brahman? What is Knowledge in wider terms
Different approaches by religions to understand the truth.
God oriented religions - Christianity, Islam, etc - weakness because of Belief / Faith approaches, based religions. (dont ask from proof). effort to demonstrate existence of god. Practice is rituals, devotional bhajans, celebrations as servants of God.
Self enquiry based religions - strong point is "I exist", weakness - I am limited with all kinds of issues. Practice is meditation and enquiry.
Vedanta has both approaches. by saying Brahman is You and You are Brahman, it takes the advantages of both paths and excludes the disadvantages of both. It takes the certainty of "I exist", I am Consciousness (independent of body /mind and space-time). it then expands it to "infinity of brahman" as one Consciousness/Awareness. Space-time are in Awareness (playground of maya).