Dennis: The first part does read as though
you are suggesting that man ‘invented’ advaita
in the same way that it has been said we invented
God, in order to provide some sort of cushion
against the harsh realities of the world.
In a way, yes. But I would like to replace
the word ‘invented’ with “realized.” The
realization could also be to those who wrote
Upanishads. As you know the classical orthodox
Vedanta says that Vedas were God given. Every
Vedantin starts with the four Mahavakyas, upfront
with Brahman, with a priori assumption of God,
as the starting point and works downwards explaining
evolution of world in steps of mahat, maya
etc. In contrast, Buddha, JK, Nisargadatta
start with man and what he observes and work
need to bear in mind here that there has never
actually been any creation at all. Ideas about
upwards or downwards, evolution etc. are just
games played by the mind.
The feeling of ‘I am, I exist’ that
we have IS brahman; IS consciousness – it
is not an ‘epiphenomenon’. It is
the identification of this ‘I’ with
a body and a mind which is a mistake and could
be called ‘ego’. I.e. ‘I’ am
not a ‘person’ and ‘personality’ or ‘individuality’ is
associated with this mistaken body-mind, not
you said is perfectly true. I am making explicit
an intermediate step. It was getting subsumed
in the way the sentences are expressed by you.
That step is: “It is the identification
of the “I” with body and a mind
which is a mistake.” Agreed
that my consciousness, my “I” is
Brahman. Who then is committing the mistake?
Who is the doer of that “mis-identification?
Our so-called mind (which includes ego) itself
plays tricks on us by splitting itself into
two as repeatedly pointed out by Mr. J. Krishnamurti,
UG and also Sri Nisargadatta. When the mind
plays that duplicating role, we can easily
confuse between “I” Brahman and
I, the duplicate.
confusion is between paramArtha and vyavahAra.
Any ‘schizophrenia’ on the part
of the mind is all at the level of vyavahAra
and only complicates the matter. The question
of ‘who is it who has the ignorance’ is
also one that the mind can play with for a
long time. I think Ramana simply asked ‘who
is asking this question?’
it was famously put, “Who am I.” This
particular “I” is the duplicate I
was referring to in my above statement.
In association with this, it is not the neuronal
activity that generates this ‘I’ feeling.
by “I”, you meant the “Universal
Self” (as per the terminology in my paper),
I do have to admit that there are no neuronal
studies on such a subject. If “I” represents
the thinker in me, we do have corresponding
neuronal activity in certain networks of neurons
as fMRI studies have shown (some citations
were provided in my paper.) EEG is the cumulative
electrical activity of thinking. This electrical
activity of ‘thought’ is now being
exploited in robotic movement: “I-want-to-turn-right” thought
moves the robotic arm to right side. Macaque
monkeys could feed themselves moving a robotic
arm by thought, without moving their own limbs.
bottom line regarding all such scientific analysis
has to be that scientists, science, brains
etc. are all equally mithyA. What is the point
in spending time on such pursuits? Certainly,
if the dream self is feeling unwell then go
to the dream doctor and take some dream medicine.
But, when you awake, it is all seen to have
been irrelevant and meaningless. Seeking explanations
for paramArtha in vyavahAra is futile.
the dream analogy is appropriate as a metaphor,
a model, to bring in the ephemeral nature of
the world, fortunately or otherwise, we are
all (including the liberated individual) are
governed by its space-time dynamics. Science
is a tool in understanding that space-time
dynamics which cannot be avoided even after
being “awake” (= liberated).
*body-mind* of the liberated individual is
still subject to time and space but ‘who-I-really-am’ was
never subject to time and space to begin with.
The point I am making is that science can never
investigate or comment upon or understand ‘who-I-really-am’.
last sentence above is the real crux of the
issue and catches the jugular of my essay.
It is one thing to foreclose the issue with
a firm conclusion. But it is another to be
open and continue to investigate. As Feynman
famously said, “I wonder why; I wonder
why I wonder why.”
The Cartesian dichotomy of mind and matter, spirit and science
makes us to bundle science and push it away with we-they approach.
No doubt in the past, that attitude helped to keep at arms
length the authority of the Church in scientific investigations.
But it is no more so as bemoaned by philosophers like Prof.
Searle. Science is not any more just a dead tool; it is an
organismic, live, dynamic methodology, an approach. It does
not deal with merely objects and objectivity. Even ‘subjective’ methods
of investigation are objectively being pursued.
True at one time, scientists kept themselves aloof from subjects
like consciousness, self. After “The Decade of Brain”,
supported by the latest technological improvements, reputed
neuroscientists are researching these topics. Famous theoretical
Physicists like Penrose, Henry Stapp, Evan Walker are not averse
to tackle nebulous issues of consciousness. Very good experimental
investigations are being done at Wisconsin, Arizona and many
well-known universities. The Dalai Lama too has been cooperating
in the investigation of so called spiritual matters. Physicists
are now going beyond the space-time restricting physical laws.
They are not afraid of talking about extra dimensions, 96%
of missing universe or calling even gravity to be an illusion
(Maldacena, J., Sc Amer, 2005)!
It is time we come out of the impermeable boundary Descrates
created and see mind-matter as continuity; we cannot afford
to think in fragments closeted by walls. “Among things
conducive to liberation, Bhakti alone holds the supreme position”,
says Shankara. The real Bhakti, as defined by Shankara is “a
continuous investigation, the seeking after one’s real
nature or an inquiry into the truth of one’s own Self” (Vivekachudamani,
Verses 31-32. With all the advises he gave and methods he prescribed,
he had no clue how the real change to “Universal Self”,
the death of ego in a man occurs. He said it had to happen
just by “Grace”, tat prasadat (Vivekachudamani).
Sage Vasishta too said something to that effect. Apte interpreted
Gita saying that the Pandava – Kaurava war was symbolical
of our own internal conflicts. He said that ‘Ego’ symbolically
represented by Bhishma in the story, could not be killed; it
had to die by itself, on an appointed day.
We cannot incessantly brand everything as mithya and shut light
out. After all, the guy who called it ‘mithya’ was
using his mithya mind! The dream world of a dreamer is mithya
compared to our wakeful state. But we do see the repercussions
of that dream world reflected and recorded on instruments in
the wakeful world. So also the Jivanmukta state must obviously
be able to leave some footprints, sing some signature tunes
somewhere in the wakeful world. (Of course I am not talking
of colourful auras, magnetic fields, energy beams etc -- the
parapsychological stuff. Sue Blackmore made extensive study
An open mind, in fact so open that nothing, no prejudice sticks
to it, is the true key. Science, with all its fallibilities,
is an open inquiry, not a closed box. It is okay if we cannot
reach the goal tomorrow. Millennia and millennia of years of
the so called Teachers have not led the humanity to it. (Remember
the python worship started over 70,000 yrs ago). I am carried
away. I already seem to sound like a preacher. I guess I should
I'm not clear what you mean by ‘unconscious
and conscious together constitute Consciousness’.
Certainly, ‘I’ am present during
the three states as the ‘background’ in
which everything appears to arise.
again. The confusion is arising because of
terminology. The Consciousness which you are
equating to “I” is ‘Awareness’ in
my paper. ( I followed the usage adopted in “I
am That” of Shri Nisargadatta Maharaj.)
I did realize that – sorry! I do wonder
why Nisargadatta had to do that, in contradiction
to the general usage of everyone else, causing
other thing I wish to mention: The Freudian
sub-conscious has anyway gone out of use. ‘Consciousness’ is
a word that carries much baggage in terms of
different connotations of this word as used
by Indian authors. Though popularly, ‘conscious’ and ‘unconscious’ are
taken as two distinct parts, there is no such
fragmentation as pointed out by Mr. J. Krishnamurti.
Modern neuroscience also tends to define being ‘conscious’ is
more like focusing a search light on small
area within the totality of conscious + unconscious.
You say ‘the world is a seamless part
of you’. The world is mithyA – it
has no existence separate from you; it is only
name and form. That is not quite the same thing.
this is terminological. As long as I see my
body, in the existential sense, I see distinct
entities out there, a hill, a road, a house,
a girl etc separate from one another. This
separation is illusory; it is all a seamless
You say that there is no knowledge to be acquired.
This is to confuse self-knowledge and objective
knowledge and indeed is the crux of the problem
of thinking that science can throw light on
advaita. Self-knowledge is most certainly NOT
ignorance in advaita. Indeed, self-knowledge
is the only remedy for self-ignorance and is
essential if we are to become enlightened and
so realize the truth of advaita.
I have to beg to differ here. Bhagavad-Gita,
Shankara’s Vivekachudamani and many other
texts do point out that all knowledge, including
scriptural knowledge does not help. Saying
that ‘acquisition’ of Self-knowledge
will result in dissolution of ‘mithya’ is
also not correct as you are aware. It will
sound as if ‘realization’ is a
result of that acquisition. As Shankara pointed
out in his commentary on Gita, perhaps there
is an in-built awareness about Self, I do not
but the knowledge that ‘does not help,
including scriptural knowledge’ is the
objective knowledge to which I refer. (I don’t
believe I ever suggested that anything resulted
in the dissolution of mithyA. The world still
appears as the world to the self-realized.)
‘Acquiring’ knowledge in this manner is not the
same as immediate, self-knowledge of the bhAga tyAga lakShaNa
type. This most certainly does help; indeed it is the only ‘way’ of
obtaining enlightenment. In fact, ‘enlightenment’ and ‘self-knowledge’ are
synonymous. Self-knowledge is not acquired – we already
have it; it is just ‘covered over’ by self-ignorance.
This is why it is ‘recognized’ (known again) when
presented by the teacher.
7) The paragraph beginning ‘However, a lurking doubt
persists...’ also betokens some misunderstanding. The
dream is prAtibhAsika, the world is vyAvahArika. This is why
the world does not evaporate when we awaken. But the world
is mithyA as already pointed out. The jIvanmukta knows this
and this is why he is no longer overwhelmed by the apparent
suffering – he knows that, IN REALITY, no one suffers.
There is no question of being ‘lost in a noumenon’!
Certainly, the body-mind continues to pay taxes etc. but it
is known that ‘I am not the body-mind’ and that
is the crucial difference.
the ‘being knowledgeable’ that “I
am not body” does have the shades of ‘being
lost in a noumenon’. It all depends on
how a state is expressed and the unfalsifiable
this standpoint, one would have to say that
the waker is ‘lost in his waking state’,
having recognized that he is not the dream-person
in the dream from which he has just awoken.
8) Achieving states of bliss has nothing to do with enlightenment.
true. I hope I have not called those two words
as equivalent in my write up.
but you speak of “the ineffable bliss
and inexplicable happiness” of a Jivanmukta”.
The word ‘Ananda’ is potentially
misleading and, to avoid such mistakes, it
is better to use the word ‘ananta’ (unlimited).
To produce a drug that brought about a state
of ecstasy would mean absolutely nothing in
respect of enlightenment or the jIvanmukta.
phrase – ineffable bliss and inexplicable
happiness – is used in a qualitative
way to describe Jivanmukta. In practical terms,
the phrase has to be taken to mean he not affected
by the pairs of opposites. The ineffable bliss
does not represent a state of arousal or altered
consciousness as obtained by use of drugs like
It is not true that the jIvanmukta ‘lives
in a world undefined by any bounds or dimensions’.
I meant was he does not have limitations, confining
boundaries, he is spread everywhere, he exists
everywhere, beyond time, he is Brahman. (a
point made by Yogavaasishta, Shri Nisargadatta,
but the body-mind still lives in the world
and is just as subject to the laws of nature
as it was before. A jIvanmukta is a person
whose mind has realized that who-he-really-is
is brahman. At the level of vyavahAra, everything
carries on as before.
10) It is not true that ‘actions and experiences do not
get recorded as memories’ How would the jIvanmukta teach
if he could not remember what he had told the students the
have to answer this based on some references
occurring in literature:
Shri Ramakrishna after he became a Paramhansa
told one lady that he had to force himself
to come out of the state of One with God in
order to be able to communicate with visitors.
For conversing etc. he said he had to use his
ordinary mind (‘self’ node as per
the terminology of my article); otherwise he
was not useful for anybody, as he put it. Therefore,
only ordinary mind stores info. and is used
in conversations and communication.
is not a ‘state’. Here, Ramakrishna
is referring to samAdhi. He did, indeed spend
much of his time in this state. Using the mind
in the waking state does not affect turIya
or the jIvanmukta’s realized status.
Mr. J. Krishnamurti repeatedly pointed out
in his talks that mind is required for day
to day living, remembering the way back home
after attending his talks etc. He even said, “Look
the beauty of it, Sir, to know when to remember
and when to just observe without forming a
record in brain” and variations of this
It comes out clearly in the conversations of
Shri Nisargadatta and also UG (and sometimes
in JK) that when questions were asked, they
do not use any thinking (a process of memory).
They themselves observe that words get mouthed
by them as if a tape-recorder was playing elsewhere.
Thus they distinguish the “Universal
Self” they were in and the memory apparatus
within their brain.
is acknowledging that they themselves are not ‘doing’ anything;
the answers are simply ‘arising’.
But it is not a denial of the existence of
memory. The teaching is heard or read and recognized
(or not) and passes into memory. It then ‘emerges’ again
in response to the question. The ‘tape
recorder’ *is* the memory within their
brain. The ‘universal Self’ is
answering the question via that mechanism,
if you like.
After the attainment of Jivanmukta state, a
seeker does not remember a thing. He becomes
so silent, a muni (from mauna). Accounts say
that it happened so with Buddha. Vivekachudamani
also says that a seeker becomes absolutely
silent after ‘realization’. UG
had to relearn everything as graphically described
by him after his ‘calamity’, (in
1969) a word he used.
The ‘silence’ refers
to the fact that the absolute cannot be directly
spoken of; it has nothing to do with forgetting
everything on realization. I don’t know
about UG – presumably his brain was damaged?
Last, but not the least: In the Bhagavad-Gita,
Arjuna becomes completely dumb when he experienced
the Jivanmukta state or equivalent in the eleventh
chapter. Vyasa, the great story teller that
he was, used Sanjay to describe Arjuna’s
condition. In that state Arjuna did not have
the ordinary mind where memory of language
was available. Therefore, he was speechless.
Having ‘seen’ the ‘form’ of
Krishna, being ‘struck dumb’ is
understandable. Similarly having envisaged
the terrible defeat of his enemies. Neither
of these suggests loss of memory to me.
it appears to me that our normal mind has to
be used for memory. A Jivanmukta has the benefit
of being in the “Universal Self” calling
for ‘mind’ for day to day memory
functions, including his teachings.
jIvanmukta is not ‘in’ the Universal
Self; he realizes that he is brahman.
But the names and forms continue as before.
The mind is just as much available as it always
was. In fact the knowledge that he is brahman
is itself in that mind.
should clarify one point. The statement “actions
and experiences do not get recorded as memories” refers
to actions done as Jivanmukta.
By definition, there is no “doership” to
a Jivanmukta. When there is no doership, there
is no ‘experiencer’. If there is
no experiencer, there is no experience. If
there is no experience, it means there is no
record forming, i.e. no memory. This is more
clearly explained by Mr. J. Krishnamurti.
think you are being too literal here. The jIvanmukta
knows that he is neither a doer nor an enjoyer.
But the body-mind still effectively ‘does’ things
and, if it preferred coffee to tea before,
it will still prefer coffee to tea. If asked
whether he want tea or coffee, he will answer ‘coffee’ – and
there will be enjoyment of the coffee. This ‘drinking
tea’ and ‘enjoyment’ are
experiences in the same way that we normally
use the term. Furthermore, if you ask him two
hours later whether he drank tea or coffee,
he will answer ‘coffee’ by resorting
to memory in just the same manner has he has
that you have said seems to address the basic,
and to my mind irrefutable problem concerning
a scientific investigation into Consciousness.
This is that it would always be you (the subject)
doing the investigation and, no matter what
you find, the findings would always be about
something objective. Any tool that you devised
could only look at some object. E.g. you might
have some ultra-sophisticated computer linked
into your brain to monitor everything (you
could conceive of) and correlate the findings.
But this would all be about the brain and its
functions. You are not the brain. Even supposing
that you could find some way to investigate
such things as memory and volition (i.e. the ‘subtle’ aspects
of the ‘mind’), this would still
only be telling you about subtle objects. It
would tell you nothing about you, the ultimate
subject who is the witness of all of this.
actually acknowledge this yourself when you
say: “Science is not any more just a
dead tool; it is an organismic, live, dynamic
methodology, an approach. It does not deal
with merely objects and objectivity. Even ‘subjective’ methods
of investigation are objectively being pursued.” You
cannot pursue any investigation other than
objectively by definition – you, the
subject, are investigating something, the object.
And it will necessarily always be so. Nor can
you attempt to circumvent this problem by investigating ‘someone
else’s subject’; this would still
be you investigating an object. There is no