Advaita Vision

Advaita for the 21st Century

Critical analysis of vedAnta paribhAShA Part XIII
Dr. K. Sadananda

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Now we address some of the objections and provide responses (this is a format commonly used to clarify the concepts that have been presented).

Part XIII - Some Clarifications Regarding Internal Perceptions

Q. If happiness is a mental mood that is perceived directly, then the recollection of that happiness from one's own memory should also be considered as perception of happiness directly and immediately.

If we recall, the definition of a pramANa when recollection is allowed is 'abAdhita arthaviShayaka jnAnatvam' – (a) 'non-negatable' and (b) objectifiable entity. However the question here is, does this recollection of happiness come under direct and immediate perception, since there is no object ‘outside’ and recollection involves some kind of mental mood or vRRitti which is perceived as it forms. It is somewhat similar to the original vRRitti that was formed when we perceived the happiness. But, since the original mental mood of happiness that was perceived is now stored in the memory, the question is whether the recollection also involves a vRRitti j~nAnam or knowledge of mental mood.

A. VP says that is not so. The recollection of the mental mood is not the same as the experience of the original mental mood. The recollection involves recollection of the previously ‘collected’ event. Recollection is occurring in the present while the object of recollection is from the past. There is no corresponding 'object' (state of happy mental mood) in the case of the recollected vRRitti. The recollection is 'I was happy' rather than 'I am happy'. To state this more clearly, the limiting adjunct for the recollected mental vRRitti and the limiting adjunct of the happy mental mood when it was experienced relate to two different times. Hence the corresponding limiting consciousnesses of the two vRRitti-s are different. Therefore, the criterion for perception is that the two limiting consciousnesses must occupy the same space and time, in order for the union of the two to take place.

Emotional moods such as happiness (pleasure), anger, hatred, love, etc are experienced internally. They are called internal perceptions, since they are direct and immediate. They are perceived and experienced as they arise in the mind. When I am angry, I do not think first and then deduce or infer that I am angry. The experience of anger is immediate and direct, just as with the perception of an object. I may have to reflect and analyze in order to discover why I am angry but the fact that I am angry is immediate and direct.

Hence these moods are immediately perceived, known and experienced. As we discussed before, the perception of objects occurs through vRittis, with the attributes of the objects as their contents. Similarly, anger and other emotional moods are perceived by their corresponding vRittis, with the associated attributes of those mental moods as the contents. When an emotion arises as a vRitti of the object, the witnessing consciousness illumines the vRitti and the reflection of the consciousness by the vRitti becomes the knowledge of the vRitti. The happiness that results from sense enjoyment is considered to be a vRitti because it is a conditional happiness with the associated knowledge that 'I am happy'. Hence, these pleasures or pockets of happiness are conditional happiness due to the limiting reflecting consciousness of the vRitti that is formed. When one says 'I am happy', that is a thought in the mind and it is a recognition of the knowledge of the happiness that one has just experienced. The 'I am happy' thought is different from being happy when the knowledge of the mental mood of happiness occurs. ‘I am happy’, ‘I was happy’ or ‘I will be happy’, etc are vRitti-s that are different from the emotion of happiness that is experienced when the internal perception of happiness occurs.

'I was happy', for example, is a recollection of a past happy mood. Recollection of the happy mood does not necessarily have in its vRitti the original contents of the happy-emotion. The recollection of happiness can only be a vRRitti in the thought form, since one cannot regenerate the same mental mood via recollection. Experience of happiness is in the present, by direct perceptual experience, while the recollection of the thought of the experience 'I was happy’ does not have the same attributive contents in that vRitti-thought. This is viewed by VP as non-unity of the limiting consciousnesses of the two vRRitti-s (the past and the present), since unity of limiting consciousness is the criterion for direct perceptual knowledge. I.e. 'I was happy' is a recollective vRitti and is not identical with the vRitti formed when I was happy. There is no unity in the limiting consciousness of the two vRittis for directly perceiving the two as one.

Here we raise an important issue: If we consider that emotions are some kind of mental perturbations expressed as vRRitti-s in a general sense, then how are these ‘emotional’ vRRitti-s stored in the memory, so that one may recollect them in the future? I recognize that some of the discussions can border on speculation, since I do not know how the mind stores any sort of information in the memory for subsequent recollection. There is a similar problem in respect of storing the genetic information coded in genes for passing on to the next generation. We just marvel at the programmer and bow down at this intelligence and speculate how it is done.

In the case of perception of external objects such as ‘this is jar’, ‘that is a cow’, the attributive knowledge is stored as information in the memory together with information about time and space as conceived by the mind (in relation to previous or subsequent events). In the case of emotions such as happiness, fear, anger, etc, it is our experience that we do not store those mental perturbations directly but as thoughts associated with the feelings. However, thoughts are not feeling per se. Hence, the thought that ‘I am happy’ is not the same as being happy. It is our experience that we cannot be happy by recollecting that ‘I was happy’, since recollection of ‘I was happy’ does not generate the same mental, emotional happiness that I had at that time. The same is true for anger and other emotions. Hence, it appears that what is stored in the memory is not the exact content of emotional moods of the mind but knowledge as a subsequent thought about those moods. The memory therefore involves recollection of the thought of happiness and not the state of happiness experienced in the past. Hence we can say that the contents of the 'I was happy' thought and the mental mood of happiness that existed when I was happy are different - there is no unity in contents.

Essentially VP says that by recollecting that I was angry, I cannot be angry now. I might be angry again if I recapitulate all the thoughts or situations that led up to the original anger, providing that I still feel that those accounts have not been settled. This time the anger could be more or less intense depending on how strong the rekindled emotions are. Negative emotions like anger, hatred, or frustrations etc can be stronger since they are intense, and continuous recollection would only reinforce those emotions. One can get cocooned in these repeated emotions and frustrations to the extent that one can become neurotic or mentally depressed. In such cases, it is not the recollection of the emotions but recreation of those emotions, which are perceived immediately as they rise in the mind.

Proceed to the next essay.

Other Essays in this Section (Perception):
01. Introduction Part 1. 28. Perception at the Individual Level.
02. Introduction Part 2. 29. Perception at the Cosmic Level.
03. Analysis of Time and Space. 30. Summary so far.
04. Knowledge is Continuous. 31. vAchArambhanaNaM.
05. Whatever you perceive is Brahman! 32. Re-examination of the Perceptual Process Pt.1.
06. Attributes and Substantive. 33. Re-examination of the Perceptual Process Pt.2.
07. Mechanics of Perception. 34. Re-examination of the Perceptual Process Pt.3.
08. Some Objections. 35. Re-examination of the Perceptual Process Pt.4.
09. Internal Perceptions. 36. Re-examination of the Perceptual Process Pt.5.
10. The Criteria for Cognition. 37. Nature of ‘ego’ and Self-realization.
11. Unity of limiting consciousness for perception. 38. Erroneous Perceptions Pt. 1.
12. Internal Perceptions (cont.) 39. Erroneous Perceptions Pt. 2.
13. Some Clarifications Regarding Internal Perception. 40. Analysis of Error - Part 1: khyAti vAda-s.
14. Some Clarifications Regarding Character. 41. Analysis of error - Part 2: vedAnta paribhAshA analysis.
15. Question related to jAti [species]. 42. Analysis of error - Part 3: naiyAyika objection.
16. Relation between an attribute and its substantive. 43. Creation as Transformation.
17. brahman is the changeless substantive. 44. Questions on ‘Creation as Transformation’.
18. Perceptuality of Objects: Definition vindicated (part 1). 45. Ontological Status of 'This'.
19. Perceptuality of Objects: Definition vindicated (part 2). 46. Two Layers of Ignorance.
20. Questions related to Perceptuality (part 1). 47. Conclusion of silver-nacre analysis.
21. Questions related to Perceptuality (part 2). 48. Perception in Dream.
22. Mind as Subject. 49. Negating false perception.
23. Self-realization. 50. Counterpositive.
24. Application to Illusions. 51. Summary of Mechanism of Perceptual Knowledge.
25. Determinate and indeterminate perceptions (part 1). 52. vyAvahArika vs. prAtibhAsika Pt. 1.
26. Determinate and indeterminate perceptions (part 2). 53. vyAvahArika vs. prAtibhAsika Pt. 2.
27. The position of vishiShTAdvaita.  
The next section in this series continues with the pramANa of anumAna (inference).

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