Advaita Vision

Advaita for the 21st Century

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

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Part XXI - Questions related to Perceptuality (part 2)

Perceptuality of internal perceptions

Q. If we accept the perceptibility criteria as stated above then we cannot extend this to internal perceptions. If we extend it to internal perceptions involving mental states then we may run into an infinite regress of mental states themselves having mental states. Since that is not admitted, the perceptuality criteria cannot be validated for internal perceptions.

Internal perceptions involve having a mental state as an object of perception. For perceptuality, the object should be the same as the consciousness-existence of the subject (knower), together with a vRRitti consisting of the attributes of the object. A vRRitti is a mental state and the situation for internal perception reduces to a mental state having a mental state as an object and thus it leads to infinite regress.

A: That is not so, says VP. Even though we avoid infinite regress by not admitting a metal state to be an object of another mental state, a mental state is allowed to be its own object. Hence the object is not separate from the mental state itself. We have consciousness-existence of the subject not different from the object, which is consciousness-existence as a mental state. The contents of the mental state are the attributes of itself as an object, such as happiness, anger, compassion, etc. The mental state itself is the object of perception and there is no need of a separate object. Either way the end result is the same. The subject or knower perceives these emotions directly and immediately, as these mental moods arise in the mind. VP states that the criteria for perceptuality are validated even in internal perceptions of emotions: happiness, anger, love, etc.

Further explanation about the mental states

Here, VP extends the definition of a mental state. Up to now, we have considered a mental state to be a vRRitti, a perturbation in the mind which has its substantial content as the existence and consciousness of the knower and its transactional content as the attributes of the object. One can think of a vRRitti like a wave in the ocean which, when it arises, is illumined in the light of consciousness of the sAkshI. The reflected light of consciousness from the illumination is the knowledge of the vRRitti or mental state. Hence, all mental states are illumined by the sAkshI, the witnessing consciousness, and are known because of the reflection, as in the analogy of light falling on a body and the reflected light revealing the object. We have next extended the mental state to include internal perceptions, the contents of the vRRitti being emotions such as happiness, anger, etc. A mental state itself is an object of perception since, unlike in the case of external perceptions, there is no object external to the mind. This concept is now extended further to include even the mind with its attributes as an object of perception.

The mind, as we know, is (subtle) matter and thus an inert entity. It is not self-effulgent so that it might know itself. For it to be known, it has to be illumined by the light of the illuminating consciousness of the sAkshI and the reflected light of consciousness forms the knowledge of the mind. Hence, mind itself is an object of knowledge. Thus mind is a peculiar entity, which acts as both the subject as well as an object. (Because of this, there is lot of confusion, particularly in western philosophies, trying to consider mind as the conscious entity, a subject, whilst at the same time considering it as an object for analysis.) Mind can act both as a subject and an object. When I say ‘I know my mind’ or ‘I changed my mind’, I am treating the mind as an object that I know and that I can change. Thus, the mind and its attributes are directly illumined and cognized as such. VP says that, in considering the mind with its attributes as objective knowledge, we can consider the mind as though it is also a mental state with its attributes as the contents. Hence, perceptuality criteria can now be applied in the cognition of the total mind and its attributes. Thus, the definition of perceptuality is quite broad.

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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