Wednesday, July 21, 2010


"If Self is Brahman and if all is one, there is only Brahman and everything else is Maya. Why then if we are able to transcend all the Gunas, including Sattwic Gunas, we are able to find a place amongst the "heavenly denizens". Does it mean another level of consciousness, maybe at a different frequency, exists, and is that the reason we talk of different Lokas? Does this not go against the philosophy of Advaitism? I mean if there are different Lokas inhabited by celestials, then where does the oneness principle go?"

The three gunas are part of the illusion created
by the Maya of Shakti. In order to understand the
relationship between the three gunas and the different
Lokas, and also their relationship to consciousness,
it is necessary to know something about Shakti.

Maya means magic. Maya is the magical power of Shakti.
Many western scholars translate the word Maya into the
English word 'illusion', 'the whole universe
being an illusion', but really Maya in Sanskrit means magic,
the power to create illusion, not the illusion itself.

Shakti awakes when Brahman sleeps, and conversely
Brahman awakes when Shakti sleeps, and the two
are each other, although they do not appear to meet. Shakti
is usually regarded as a chimaera, and Brahman as the only
real. You are Brahman and Shakti is your coeval companion.
You can never divorce her. How can you divorce yourself?

It takes three things to produce a universe... energy,
awareness and law. Shakti is the energy, Brahman
is the awareness, and the manifestation is accomplished
through the enactment of two laws: The Law of Three,
which is the three gunas, and the Law of Octaves, which
is the law governing the succession of forms, or levels, of
which the universe is composed. Shakti first creates an
octave of sucessionry forms and then enters into the octave
at every level. Therefore, although you may not realize it,
you encounter her at every level. The octave of levels that
Shakti-Maya produces consists of the five elements of:
akasha (space = mind), vayu (air = prana, life ),
tejas (fire = light and the forms), jala (water = nature),
prithivi (earth = the physical manifestation).
Beyond akasha-space there are three further
higher levels completing the octave which are said to be
beyond the range of human consciousness.

Sankara refers to the octave in his
Bhagavad Gita Bhasya VII.4

"This prakriti (primordial nature) thus described, is my
divine power of Maya, divided eightfold."

You, being Brahman, are awareness only and are timelessly
still. You never move. Shakti, being energy, is
responsible for all movement. Without her energy you
can not move. When you become weary of being
still, never moving, Shakti hears your request, your cry,
and creates the universe and everything and
everyone in it. The universe is infinite response to
request, and I regret to have to inform you... You must
have requested it. The universe isn't going to go away until
you become thoroughly disinterested in it. The disinterested
witness is that awareness within us which does not move,
nor is attracted towards the universe, nor becomes entangled
in it.

Maya has produced the universe for you,
as a Lila, a drama, with yourself playing a part in it,
even appearing to move, talk, gesticulate, love, desire,
and hate. It is a very very subtle and convincing illusion.
The part you are playing in the universe does not suspect
that it is in a complete illusion created by the magical
power of your own Shakti. Worse, the part you are
playing does not realize that he himself is a fictitious
character, a mere part in a play. You may prefer to think
you are at least an actor, or a director, or even the author
of it. Being a mere part is not a very flattering.
In fact most people cannot bear being a jiva, which is
inevitably only a minor part in the drama, a severely
limited nature. All this discomfort is because we have
identified with the part, a jiva, and do not realize that
'who we think they are' is actually non-existent.
It is as if Hamlet believes that he is a real person, and
no longer has any intimation that he is merely a part in
a play. How can Hamlet know that he is a part in a play?
He cannot, unless that is written into the script of the play?
Who is the actor? The actor is your own spiritual self,
the buddhi. Your spiritual self lives in the higher intellect.
He is standing behind you, projecting you, projecting your
nature, in exactly the same manner that an actor projects
his part in a play. You ordinarily have no idea that he
is there.

How can a part in a drama, in the theatre of the universe,
realize that it is nothing more than a part in a drama?
You, the part, cannot know you are a part, only the audience
can. The audience in the theatre of the universe is the witness,
which in the language of advaita is the Sakshin. In the entire
theatre only the audience, the witness, is real. There are two
witnesses, Sakshin and Purusha. Sakshin is in the stalls
and Purusha is high up in the upper circle, looking down.
The Sakshin observes the Law of Octaves, and with the help of
citta, memory and understanding, sees that it is all a mechanism,
and completely unreal. Purusha looks down and sees that
everything is merely the action and interaction of the three gunas,
wrestling with each other in the arena of the universe, like
the three strands that compose a rope. Purusha realizes that
the three gunas interacting are Prakriti, Nature. Purusha sees
the Law of Three.

You are the Absolute outside of the universe and you are
the witness inside the universe. But contrarily, you believe
you are your nature, your character, your 'I', your 'me',
and the theatre prompt puts your words, your lines, into
your mind and you speak them, believing they are your
own thoughts and words and actions. As you are only in the
universe as the witness, how can anything be your own?

The Law of three is the gunas. Brahma is the personification
rajas guna, Siva is the personification of tamas guna, and Visnu
is the personification of sattva guna. In Western language
they represent the positive, the negative and the neutral.
Creator, Destroyer, Maintainer-Preserver. They each have
their own Loka or world.

Brahma Loka is heaven, a benevolent place where the positive
is believed to be the good, and where all support all. It is
subtle air. You ascend to it by understanding alone. Siva Loka
is Hell, a malevolent place where the negative is believed
to be the good, and where the jivas smash each other into myriad
fragments, it is subtle earth, and you descend into it by your
attraction to the truth. It is the destination of the yogis.
Visnu Loka is a Great Mass of Being, subtle water,
the Ocean into which everything real dissolves without trace
and is preserved. There is a horizontal way to Visnu Loka
which is followed by the bhogis who slowly accumulate enjoyment.
Enjoyment evolves being and your being is in reality part of
the Great Mass of Being which is Visnu Loka. The action and
interaction of the three gunas, the warfare between the three
great gods, is Prakriti. Prakriti is something that Purusha, the
highest witness within you, realizes it should not become
entangled with.

If you find yourself entangled in, and sojourning in, any of
the three Great Lokas, you will not be able to stay there for ever.
Eventually you have to leave and take another birth. None of
the Lokas is absolute. Some advaitins state that Brahma Loka
is a half-way house.

So to attempt to answer your question:

"Where does the oneness go?" It never goes
anywhere, it has never moved. If you seem to be moving
you can be sure you are engulfed in Shakti's illusion.
Being still, being perfectly still, is a sadhana recommended
for approaching Brahman, for approaching yourself.
The Self is stillness so how can you possibly approach it
other than being still?

The Loka with heavenly denizens is Brahma Loka,
a golden world of heavenly light. O brave new world
that there are such people in it. It is part of the illusion.
You are still in the realm of the gunas and haven't
transcended them. The Parabrahman is the One Alone,
there are no others there, no celestial beings cohabiting
with you as separate entities for you to socialize with.

Advaita teaches that consciousness is One, there are
no levels of consciousness. Consciousness is light,
Isvara's light, dancing in the brain, which reflects upon
the screen of the mind, producing the world, which
you find interesting. Light is associated with sattva,
and also with Isvara, his light, consciousness, the world,
the Atman... all indicate that you are still in the realm of
the gunas, and still in the illusion. The Absolute is awareness
of awareness, and stands behind consciousness. When you
become aware of consciousness for what it is, you realize
that consciousness is a temporary condition, which will leave
you at death and it will rejoin the universal consciousness.
A jnani once said: "Consciousness is normally associated with
an individual. But it is not really the individual that has
consciousness, but it is the consciousness that assumes
innumerable forms." Consciousness produces the world,
including the suffering. Consciousness is merely a subtle
form of energy, and energy is indicative of Shakti, the creator
of the illusion. Consciousness merely illuminates the forms,
and if there are forms then you are still in the illusion,
because the Absolute, including Shakti, has no form.

You are not consciousness nor anything within its contents.
It is difficult to accept that consciousness is part of the illusion.
The Atman identifies with a form within consciousness.
The form that the Atman identifies with is your nature,
the jiva. The Atman is being tricked by Shakti. Why?
That is the ultimate problem which can only be
resolved by knowledge and understanding of the error.

Maya Shakti is particularly associated with arousal
and manifestation of the Aham (I am) and animation
of the buddhi (intellect) in man, in the sense of evoking
the illusion of the ego, and the formation of an image of
a natural self in the mind, which is merely a projection
of the intellect, and with which the pure consciousness
so automatically identifies as itself. "Identity occurs only
when there is the `I am'. The Parabrahman is without
identity. The concept or thought `I am' is not there in
the Parabrahman. Everyone assumes a certain image
of themselves, believing I am so and so. The image is
merely an intellectual concept about oneself. When this
is seen for what it is, and understood to be the source of
one's actions, one becomes free of it by seeing it as false."

But why the Shakti produces an illusion in front of our
consciousness knowing we will identify with it.... is an
interesting question. I do not know the answer, but I offer
an hypothesis that it is connected with the separation of the
Atman from Brahman. It is perhaps an attempt to remove
ignorance associated with the Atman? Atman has separated
from Brahman and as a result the entire illusory manifestation,
Prakriti, comes into being with the object of helping the
Atman to return to the Self. In man the Atman is pure
consciousness that is looking out. In ignorance Atman
identifies with something in Prakriti, something illusory,
a nature, a person, and the identified Atman is now known
as the jiva. Atman's identification with what it is not.... is
ignorance. The jivaatman having become enmeshed in
Prakriti is played with mercilessly until it disengages itself
from Prakriti. The entire universe, Shakti's illusory universe,
is playing with you.

The Brihadaranyaka Upanisad states that you, the Atman,
couldn't stand being one alone. You wanted a companion.
Shakti is your companion, and by her power she turns you
into a multitude. Jnanis say yes, this occurs at the threshold
of your being, which is the I-am state, but the ultimate state is
beyond the grasp of both the mind and the Upanisads. In the
ultimate there is no desire. Therefore Shakti is the companion
of Brahman but the Absolute has no companion and is the
One Alone. Shakti is Brahman's desire but the Absolute is
desireless. It may be concluded that Brahman and the Absolute
are not the same. The Absolute is beyond Brahman.

Conceptually, Shakti cannot be understood unless the Absolute
is transcendental to, and beyond, Brahman. For this reason
the concept of the Parabrahman is formulated, as that which
is transcendental to Brahman. The Sanskrit word para means
transcendental, into the remotest extreme, that which is faintly
detectable only at the extremity of consciousness and which
then is realized to be located beyond the range of human faculties.
The Parabrahman is absolute, whereas Brahman is not an absolute.
Brahman is in fact Visnu Loka, a transcendental Mass of Being
into which everything real is preserved, into which all the beings
disssolve without trace, everything dissolving into impersonal being.
Some advaitins may have confused Visnu Loka with Brahman,
that is with Saguna Brahman? Advaita is a philosophy which
is almost impossible to understand but it becomes slightly more
easily understood if three levels of Brahman are formulated:
Saguna Brahman, Nirguna Brahman, the Parabrahman. Only
the Parabrahman can be regarded as Absolute.

Brahma Loka is for those who understand, but understanding
is only a stage. Some jnanis say "you must go beyond this
understanding stage, to a stage beyond, you must come to
a state of "I have not understood anything". "The ultimate point
of view is that there is nothing to understand, so when we try to
understand, we are only indulging in flights of concepts across
the sky of the mind."

Understanding is the realization that the truth is beyond the mind.
Understanding is the realization that one has to go beyond the mind.
At a certain significant point the mind has to be abandoned, and at
that moment there has to be an expansion into the greater. In
Sanskrit the word Brahman derives from a verbal root 'brh' which
means to expand. One goes beyond the mind when the mind
expands instantly, explodes, into a greater dimension that intimates
its presence by knocking on the walls of one's small confining
consciousness. Hearing the sound coming from the Paramarthika,
one gives it attention.... and the same instant you expand.... you
become everything, everything becomes you. That is the oneness
you speak of. It has not gone anywhere. It is always there. It is
you who has gone somewhere... you have moved away, just a
little, from Brahman.

Atman believes he is Atman. Atman believes he is individual
awesome pure consciousness looking out. Atman believes he is
everything and everything is himself. The ignorance is in the Atman.
Shakti has through her intermediaries, Maya and Ahamkara, animated
the Buddhi which is part of Isvara's light, bringing it to apparent
illusory life. The Buddhi projects the jiva, your nature. The Atman
within you, your pure consciousness, believing it is everything,
sees the jiva, and moves towards it, identifying with it. Once your
consciousness identifies with the jiva you become it. You are glued
to it for endless transmigratory existences. The ignorance involves
moving, identifying with what one is not, believing oneself is
an individual, consciousness looking only outwards, failing to
discriminate between the real and the not-real. If you can see it,
you cannot be it.

Atman has separated from Brahman.
Atman is pure consciousness... yes.
Consciousness is One... yes.
I am pure consciousness that is One... no.
You are the awareness that is aware of consciousness.
Awareness stands behind consciousness.
Atman is not Atman. Atman is Brahman.
Ultimately you are neither Atman, nor Brahman.
They are all part of the illusion, highly refined and great parts
of the illusion. First you become them, then you transcend them.
You are transcendental awareness.
You are awareness of awareness.
There are no more words.

John Ward

Sunday, July 11, 2010


|kuntimaddi sadananda to advaitin

There is saying – God helps those who can help themselves.

Realization involves clear understanding of the truth since according to Vedanta, it is the ignorance generated misunderstanding of the truth is the root cause for suffering. When I proceed to take a path, and do not have either clear understanding of either the destination or knowledge that the path leads to the intended destination, then there is finite probability that I my get lost in the path or I may luckily end up in the destination. Randomly one cannot arrive at the goal since the obstacles for the path are many and some are dangerous too – hence scriptures says – kshuraya dhaara duratyayaa, durgam pathanaat kavayo vadanti – it is a razor-edge path and therefore it is easy to fall down, if one is not vigilant.

In the Ch. Up. 6th chapter the teacher Uddalaka provides his son, Swetaketu, what is the means for knowledge of the truth - in the form of a story. A man from Gandhari desham or place was tied and blind-folded, taken to a forest, was robbed and was left behind in that dense forest, unharmed. The man in a state of helplessness, keeps screaming for help, turning in all directions – saying that he was tied and blind-folded and needs help to get back to his town. Some kind soul passing by runs to him, unties, and removes the blind-fold, and thus sets him free, pointing the direction to his town and distance involved, and guides him to proceed in that direction. This mans proceeds in the pointed direction and using his intelligence, medhaa (the forest-foot paths being zig-zag, therefore he has to move zig-zag path, while not loosing sight of the general direction for the goal that was pointed by his savior). On the way, he confirms that he is in the right
path by inquiring with passers by to insure that he will reach his destination. With his rightful efforts and with the help he received initially and later, he eventually reaches his destination. If he vigilent, he reaches faster without getting lost in those zig-zag paths.

Shankara points out that the scriptures provides the map and the direction and teacher comes in the form of a savior and removes his blind-fold of ignorance and directs him to proceed in the direction pointed for abiding in the knowledge of the truth. The ups and down along the zig-zag path due to the praarabda has to be endured without forgetting the goal and direction to proceed. He has to use his medha or intelligences all along to insure that he does not loose sight of the goal and the path, taking the help of the passersby without loosing is discriminative power to insure the suggestions of the passers by are not contradictory to the goal that was originally pointed out by his teacher or the savior.

We need to have a full faith in the words of the savior – that what he said in terms of goal and the path are indeed correct before we can proceed. There are many intellectual giants – all scholars of Vedas – yet have misinterpreted the scriptures as we have many Veda-based philosophies. Since they themselves vehemently criticize the other Vedantic teachings saying that they are all wrong interpretations (in our story pointing to wrong direction and distance to reach the goal), question arises as to which teacher is right and whom to follow : we have besides advaita, vishiShTaadvaita, dvaita with various sub-sects – all claiming Vedas and puraNaas as authority.

Goudapaada in his kaarki- 2nd ch. vaitatya prakaraNa – lists many philosophical doctrines that are based on the truth that is objectifyable, which is other than the subject, I – all taking Vedas as pramaaNa. All these philosophical positions are dismissed as untrue because they prescribe the the truth as objective, different from the subject, I. Any object is mithyaa since it can be perceived or reached or gained or known or conceptualized, etc. The logic is any objectifiable truth is finite, therefore limited, and therefore anityam or temporary (was not there before and will not be there later and therefore is not really there in the present also- adaavante yannasti vartamaanepi tattadhaa). That which is anityam cannot be real it is only mithyaa. On the other hand Advaita rests on the nithya vastu or eternal entity that can never be dismissed – it is the turiiyam – beyond any states and that pervades all the states. It is only forth in the sense
that it different from the three yet it pervades the three as the substantive for the three. Hence in spite of how great giants those philosophers or daarshanikaas are or were, if they think that the truth is objectifyable entity different from the subject, then all those philosophies constitute only confusions.

Having dismissed all those philosophies – GouDapaada makes an interesting statement - which is important from our perspective- since we get into heated discussions as which is right or which is worng.

Yam bhaavam darshayedyasya
tam bhaavam sa tu pasyati|
tam caavati sa bhuutvaa22sou
tadgrahaH sumupaiti tam|| II-29.

Seeker recognizes only those ideas which are presented to him by his teacher (in our story the savior). The all pervading aatma being the substantive of all ideas, including the confused ones, it too pervades them too and thus supports them too. Hence having faith in those ideas, when a seeker proceeds in that direction with faith (even if they are not correct) he ultimately reach the goal, that it is one without second and pervades every second.

Hence Krishna statement: yo yo yam yam tanum bhaktaH .. whoever whoever he may be and whatever whatever form (here form includes ideas or concepts) he worships I give him with full faith and eventually he will grow out of the path to reach that which is pathless.

The idea is not disturb the others who are in the wrong path or wrong understanding, since if they have full faith in that understanding, the Lord will help him see the truth in one way or the there if not in this life in the life after.

From the point of our discussions, it is important to present the correct understanding and show if possible the incorrectness either logically or scripturally or by both and leave it with that. Goudapaada establishes what is the correct understanding and why the others are confused. In the above sloka he, however says that every sincere seeker ultimately gets the help he needs later if not now and will eventually reach the destination, if not in the life, in the life after.

Hence Goudapaada says – tam sumupaiti – They will eventually reach the goal, even though their current understanding of the goal and the means is incorrect. It is the faith that takes them to the ultimate goal – is the promise of the Lord.

Hari Om!