Advaita Vision

Advaita for the 21st Century

(From) Self-ignorance

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Traditionally, the root cause of the beliefs that we are separate, that there is a dualistic world, that we are unhappy and so on is self-ignorance – avidyA.


Given the fact that, in reality, there is only brahman, the existence of ‘self-ignorance’ is not easy to explain. It would seem that either brahman or the jIva must be the locus of the ignorance but either poses problems. The post-Shankara vivaraNa school claims the former while the bhAmatI school claims the latter. The essential reason for the diverging views is the ultimate irreconcilability of absolute reality with the empirical world – a problem which will crop up again and again in this book.


The bhAmatI-s attribute two aspects to avidyA: a ‘veiling power’, called AvaraNa (which prevents us from seeing the reality of the rope, in the rope-snake metaphor) and a ‘projecting power’, called vikShepa (which projects the appearance of the snake). Our experience is already non-dual; we already are brahman but the fact is covered over by AvaraNa, allowing the mistaken mind to project the illusion of duality.


Only self-knowledge can dispel self-ignorance.


The self-ignorance is in the mind. The appropriate use of the means of self-knowledge (i.e. presented according to proven, traditional methods by a skilled teacher to a prepared and receptive mind) automatically removes the ignorance.


But receipt of unsupported statements, without any method (e.g. the bare statement that ‘This is it’) is effectively only adding more ignorance about the nature of the self and reality to that which is already there.


In truth, we are already the Self; it is the mind that thinks otherwise.


Consequently, ‘enlightenment’ is that ‘event’ in the mind that dissolves this self-ignorance once and for all.

"By mind alone can That (brahman) be attained, There is no difference between the two (brahman and the world). He who sees them as different goes from death to death.” Katha Upanishad II.1.11 (Ref. 93)


Extracts from the Book
Summary and Endorsements
List of Contents
1. From 'Foreword' - NonTraditional advaita
2. From 'Purpose of the Book (and Disclaimers)'
3. From 'Self-Ignorance'
4. The 'Person'
5. From the 'Scriptures'
6. From 'What Enlightenment is Not'
Page last updated: 07-Jul-2012