Advaita Vision

Advaita for the 21st Century

The mokSha ladder
by Peter Bonnici

flower picture


Peter Bonnici

Peter is a London student of traditional vedAnta teacher, svAmini AtmaprakAshAnanda,
a disciple of svAmi Dayananda Saraswati.

1. mokSha is nothing other than total freedom from the sense of smallness, inadequacy and unhappiness that results from believing that I am something that I am not. Total freedom is permanent and not just a temporary respite from the wrong belief as we get in deep sleep or snatches of pleasure. mokSha and permanent happiness are, therefore, synonyms.

2. Without an understanding of who I truly am there is no mokSha. mokSha and self-knowledge are, therefore, synonyms.

3. Without a valid means of self-knowledge there can be no self-knowledge. Valid means are single and non-interchangeable. Eyes, for example, are the valid means for the perception of light and colour; ears won't do.

4. Without words of scripture, which describe the true nature of universe, individual, lord, mokSha, bondage and requisite means, self-knowledge is not available. The most succinct encapsulation of the required knowledge is: tat tvam asi. The systematic understanding of each of these words separately [see footnote 1 below] and the connection between them [see footnote 2 below] is essential.

5. Without being unfolded by a qualified teacher, in accordance with sampradAya (the traditional teaching methodology, handed down by teacher to student who then, as teacher, hands down the vision exactly as received) the words of scripture are unlikely to lead to self-knowledge.

6. Without a qualified mind the words of the teacher will be ineffective. A qualified mind is one that is steady and pure.

7. Without upAsana and karma yoga there will not be a steady and pure mind. upAsana is a theistic inclination, characterised by prayer, worship and meditation on the Lord as a symbol of reality. karma yoga is a devotional attitude to activity, characterised by strict adherence to a life of values, the performance of every activity as worship and the acceptance of the results of activity – pleasant or unpleasant – as the grace of the Lord. There can be no upAsana or karma yoga without a sense of the Lord.

8. Without puruShArtha nishchaya, i.e. clarity that the ultimate goal of human existence is mokSha, there can be no karma yoga or upAsana.

9. Without critical enquiry into the world of activities that shows up the limitations of the world as a source of permanent security and happiness, there will be no puruShArtha nishchaya.

10. All the time that mokSha, self-knowledge, is not recognised as the primary aim in life, one will continue drowning in misery, trapped in the cycle of death and rebirth... And, needless to say, discontent and fear and smallness will persist. Back to Point 1 above…

Footnote 1. Understanding each word separately means that their primary and implied meanings have to be understood in the context of the statement. Eg. tvam = jIva = Consciousness manifest as the five kosha-s (primary meaning, vAchyArtha) or = Consciousness free of the mithyA upAdhi-s (implied meaning, lakShyArtha). In context of the statement 'I am coming', 'I' = the whole jIva, body, mind, senses, Consciousness, etc is meant. In context of the sentence, 'I am unhappy', only the implied meaning of 'I' = mind is meant.

Footnote 2. What type of connection is there between tat and tvam? Adjective-substantive? Implier-implied? Synonyms of the same vastu?

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Page last updated: 10-Jul-2012