Collection of Insightful Discovery materials
Swami Paramarthananda, Summary Talk on gaining Moksha
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.
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.
An example. A pot made of clay is full of the all-pervading space as soon as it is made. Filling it afterwards with water, rice or any other substance is due to human effort. Though the water, etc, in the pot can be removed, the space inside can never be removed. It continues to be there even if the mouth of the pot is hermetically sealed. In the same manner, the mind, in the act of being born, comes into existence full of the consciousness of the self. It takes on, after its birth, due to the influence of virtue and vice, the form of pots, cloths, color, taste, pleasure, pain, and other transformations, just like melted copper, cast into moulds. Of these, the transformations such as color, taste and the like, which are not-self, can be removed from the mind, but the form of the self, which does not depend on any external cause, cannot be removed at all. Thus, when all other ideas are removed from the mind, the self is realized without any impediment. It has been said-“One should cause the mind which, by its very nature, is ever prone to assume either of the two forms of the Self and the not-Self, to throw into the background the perception of the not-Self, by taking on the form of the Self alone”. And also—“The mind takes on the form of pleasure, pain and the like, because of the influence of virtue and vice, whereas the form of the mind, in its native aspect, is not conditioned by any extraneous cause. To the mind devoid of all transformations is revealed the supreme Bliss”. Thus, when the mind is emptied of all other thoughts Self-knowledge arises.
Unlike a "Junior Student" (who may have been studying Vedanta for many years, the "Senior Student" understands the true meaning of Vedanta Mahavakyas.
- is witness (sakshi) centric [as opposed to ahankara centric]
- so able to keep a distance with the ups/downs of the Body Mind Sense complex
- thereby has controlled/decreased FIR (Frequency, Intensity, Recovery time) from any temporary "reactions" to worldly transactions
- is able to "enjoy" the movement of thoughts in the mind, and issues with the body
- is able to remain largely at peace as a witness
Here is a compilation of insightful thoughts and discussions from vedantic texts e.g.
- Insights of various methods (prakriya) used in vedantic teachings to teach the truth, remove doubts and help abide in the knowledge and awareness.
- examples from everyday life used to explain subtle concepts beyond normal understanding
- explanation of the Mahavakyas that are the Paradoxical statements
- also a collection of insightful websites,
- and videos with Scientific enquiries of mind that are starting to align with Vedanta teachings.
Vedanta Hub wonderful resource for many Swami materials
To be studied
Defending Advaita by Madhusudhana advaitasiddhi
Scientific enquiries into Consciousness and Body-Mind.
Some scientists have only recently started research on consciousness. Mental interactions are subjective qualitative behaviors, unlike quantitative measurable aspects of matter. Unlike functional zombie AI robots, conscious beings have full and “spontaneous experiences” like smelling a cup of coffee in the morning or “falling in love, hate or sorrow”etc. The distinctions are being explored.
- Scientists describe the "quantitative properties and behavior" of aspects of the universe. i.e. in terms of measurable quantities, mass, speed, time, space, volume etc. Using Math as the language.
- Science and Math describe the "behavior"- (swabhava) of matter, but cannot describe the "instrinsic" nature (Swarupa) of nature.
- Newtonian laws describe the classical physics, and they are still true at that gross level of objects, F=MA etc,
- Einstein laws operate at relative levels of space/time / motion etc.. True at deeper cosmic level and indicate that space and time are not fixed, they are "adjustable" elements of matter
- QFT (quantam level, particle, waves) laws describe randomness of appearance/manifestation of particles from waves and vice versa. "observation snap shot" indicates the instant value of the wave at that instant. it could be a wave or a particle.
- Nuro-scientists have mapped the brain that correlates parts of the brain segments triggered by different external stimuli (seeing, hearing etc).
- According to current brightest scientists themselves, still open questions:
Material scientists have not figured out What "intelligence" causes the wave functions to collapse into measurable physical particles (with mass and properties). "Panpsychism" hypothesis of universal intelligence is one theory being developed now.
- Neuro scientists have not explained, how we "spontaneously experience the smell of fresh morning coffee, or the experience of wonder of a beautiful sunset". (or any other experiences). This requires a much more than a cohesive operation of the all parts of the mechanical brain. Considered to be a "mental capacity".. "Mind" cannot be quantified (weight, volume etc), only qualified.
- western Scientists are just beginning to explore how we as "conscious beings" (Not zombies like robots) experience, measure, study, interact with the world. This is the only thing that matters to everyone one of us in the end.
Please check out the videos on "hard problem of consciousness" and other playlists below.
Extracted from video https://youtu.be/6Uy5-mOGgC8
- The conscious Mind
- Humans have a mental “subjective experience” of the world. They smell, taste, feel, and remember experiences in the world.
- Why Consciousness?
- It is the most important thing for our living. It is the reason we do anything, enquire into science, biology, philosophy. No good studying this for a zombie.
- The “hard problem”
- It is the hardest problem in science and philosophy
- Understanding Consciousness is key to understanding the universe and ourselves
- What is the problem?
- How can mere matter originate Consciousness. Evolution does not explain this.
- Is it a new kind of “reality” injected into the universe, instead of just a re-combination of the old realities.
- Major gap between “qualitative experiences” and “quantitive measurements and analysis”
- Traditional solutions in scientific circles: a) Materialism or b) Dualism (and their limitations)
5.1 Materialism (and its limitations)
- Evolutionary theory explains material changes to body and brains. It lacks in bridging the gap to “experiences”)
- “Conciousness is illusion theory” e.g. our experiences of blue sky or experience of sunset are not the reality. The fact is that experiences exists, and needs to be explained, and humans and others live by experiences.
- neuroscientists (as reductionists) have mapped activities of specific parts of the brain that are stimulated by external events. However there is no observed part/whole of the brain that integrates all the stimulated brain parts into one whole experience! There is no “agent” inhabiting the brain – like “Catesian theater”.
- AI, Zombie is defined as having “behavior” identical to humans but devoid of “conscious experiences”, a mindless “robot”. Conscious beings are obviously not zombies.
5.2 Dualism (and limitations)
- Many scientists are spiritual and understand that the universe is material for quantitive measurements. So they put universe and Body as “matter” and “Soul” as “spirit” in completely separate domains.
- Property dualism theory. A theory that the separate “Mental experience is Consciousness ” is somehow connected with a loose property or a feature. Consciousness as a fundamental element (as irreducible element alongside space, time) in the universe and in beings.
- Panpsychism Hypothesis
- coined by Thomas Nagel, 2012 (now gaining acceptance in some scientific circles.)
6.1. A “metaphysical “description of the world, - which is the attempt to explain “how the world works in general”. It must include the conscious human subject! The aim would be to offer a solution of “how we fit into the world”
6.2 “Matter” must have a “proto-mental” potential to produce consciousness!
6.3 This metaphysical hypothesis is usually call “Panpsychism”. “pan”-all, and “psych” -mind
- everything living or not has a nature that is both physical and nonphysical. All elements of the physical world are all mental.
- Does panpsychism really claim that consciousness is everywhere?.. i.e. in sticks, stones etc. Ans: There are gradations: “Simple” (sticks, stones), “Compsite” (plants, protozoa etc), “compound “ (animals, humans with more developed minds). Only ‘genuine individuals’ that show signs of full spontaneity (to experience).
- Quantum physics gives only randomness. Ans: QFT only gives randomness, and not mind for free will. Could randomness (as seen from outside) be a “choice or decision” of QFT field collapse from inside the field itself?. The universe shows evidence of the operations of mind on 3 levels:
- Frist level. Even at quantum levels, matter is not inert substance, but an active agent. nature forces choices (e.g. orbit of electron) between alternative possibilities or potentials based on probabilistic laws. Interaction between observer and observed forces the choice (collapse of wave function). A proto-mind exists at quantum level.
- Second level. Development of Human mind as an amplification to the choices made at quantum level.
- Third level, by extension the mental component of cosmic universe is also present (can be called God).
‘Actuality’ or manifestation is due to decision (of a mind) amid ‘potentiality’.
6.4 The most important “panpsychist” or “experimentalist” was Alfred North Whitehead 1933
- “Actual/final” events, entities, occasions are drops of experience, complex and interdependent. Actual “things/objects” are “societies of drops”, ie collection of decisions leading to actualities.
- “Actuality is the decision amid “potentiality”- Consciousness may be a factor.
- Consciousness remains the mystery and panpsychism is a metaphysical hypothesis. Colin Mcgin 1999
- metaphysical hypotheses (as a general theory) is required. This can be followed by metaphysical research programmes.
Extracted from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RJ4Uv-5_3VM&t=1571s
Conciousness as a unified field. - John Hagelin (PhD, Harvard) at Stanford
Satvichara youtube channel, scroll down to all playlists
Discussions with Gurus, Scientists and related documentaries
Scientists grappling to understand Consciousness in relation to Matter and What is reality.