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  1. A question that I’ve asked and others I know also have — in fact it is a frequent question in the process of nidhidhyāsanam (Advaita Vedantic practice/meditation) : “How can I stay constantly aware of my True Nature?” Swami Sarvapriyananda answers beautifully —
  2. The Radiant Light

    Chandogya Upanishad .
  3. According to Vedanta, any object that is known to us has five characteristics. They are — asti - “Is-ness”/existence bhati - shining/illumination (ie is known) priyam - desirability (which is actually a trigger for experience of/seeking pleasure) nama - name rupa - form This Article does a very good job of explaining the subject ( I am quoting from it below...
  6. I have great respect for the philosophies and teachings of Sri Ramanuja. Even when I subscribed completely to Advaitic views, I still held Sri Ramanuja and his vedantic works in highest regard. He was a leader who led from the front, his life and the way he lived were an example and illustration of his teachings. In this post, I want to share Sri Ramanuja's views on Vedanta, Brahman, Atman and certain Upanishads that I find very interesting. Not just Ramanuja, there are so many other greats from the Sri Vaishnava tradition that have contributed so much to Vedanta and to Hindu thoughts in general. So often their thoughts and views get completely neglected or overlooked because of the perception that Advaita is the only explanation to Vedanta in the west. Interestingly Sri Ramanuja himself studied Advaita Vedanta for several years with the teacher Yadava Prakasa, who was considered the most advanced Vendantin during that period. Rest assured Ramanuja knew and understood what he was talking about and found as different. Brahma Sutras authored by Veda Vyasa is considered as the foundation and authority of Vedanta by everyone. Ramanuja's commentaries on Brahma Sutras called Sri Bhashya is considered as one of his major contribution to Vedanta. We can get into how Ramanuja justifies his interpretation of Vedanta as accurate in a little bit. Let's first take a look at Brahman and Atman as explained by Sri Ramanuja. This quoted part above feels like the core difference in Ramanuja's philosophy from that of Advaita teachings. The Ultimate or universal is not the same as the parts it comprises. Sounds quite simple and nice. It is actually as simple as it sounds. All individual or local jivas constitute modes or are qualities of the universal body of Brahman. So there is the local body, mind and intellect collectively as 'jiva' which is not exactly the same as the universal collective body, mind and intellect of all, aka 'brahman'. Read further and he states that jiva or local is identical with the ultimate or universal self (paramatman). Identical does not mean they are essentially the same. Here lies the major difference in the views. The word 'self' can be also misleading in this context. Our likeness with Brahman does not imply we are that entirely. In Vaishnava tradition, one can become like or in the image of Vishnu, but not exactly as the same one exact Vishnu. To continue.... Edit: Forgot to mention that Ramanuja's teacher Yadava Prakasa later changed his views and become one of Ramanuja's disciples accepting his explanation of Vedanta.
  7. There is a distinction -- in my view -- between the non dual Brahman that Vedanta talks about and the nondual that Abhinavagupta describes in Monism of the Kashmir Shaivism. The first one states that Brahman alone is real and everything else is unreal. This seems to be about subject and object. It concludes that Brahman is the only real thing and all else is mithya, false or unreal. Whereas the Abhinavagupta's nondual seems to be stating consciousness and energy are not two separate phenomenon, but they are one.
  9. Now you might accuse me of flogging an already dead horse, but I'd like to suggest that "this" is not the same as the "horse" that is considered already dead. The Vedantic Atman is not the same as that which is considered "self" in the general sense of the word. Atman and Nairatman (Anatta) is a massive "bone of contention" between Advaita Vedanta and Bauddha dharma, but it is rooted in half-understood concepts of what specifically Atman means from the point of view of Advaita Vedanta. In Vedanta there is the concept of Jiva (a generic concept found in other systems of Hindu Dharma as well). Jiva literally means "living being". The key features of Jiva are as follows -- Jiva is born and therefore must die (has a beginning and an end) Jiva the personality that transmigrates from one lifetime to another (or in other words, re-incarnates) Jiva comprises of the five sheaths or panchakoshas -- the annamaya kosha or the sheath of food (anna means rice, literally), or the physical body The pranamaya kosha or the sheath of prana (life force), or the energy body the manomaya kosha or the sheath of the mind, or the mental body the vijnanamaya kosha or the sheath of the intellect the anandamaya kosha or the sheath of bliss As one goes from outward focus (of the mind) to inward focus (towards finding the source of the mind), one encounters each of these sheaths or layers in meditation. Just as one clearly experiences and operates with their physical body and the thinking mind, one also experiences their energy body, their intellect (which is different from the mind in the indic tradition) or even the blissful nature at a higher level of experience. The jiva predicates Ishwara, or God as the source of creation. With the help of the mind, body and intellect, jiva lives it's limited life, with one of several (or combinations thereof) of positions - There is no ishwara and all of this (material world) is a result of happen-chance interaction of matter. There is an Ishwara who is the creator, maintainer and destroyer and one's actions in their lifetime predicates whether they go to heaven (eternal joy and pleasure) or hell (eternal suffering and pain). This type follow specific doctrinal guidelines which are purported to be resultant in their being able to go to heaven or hell, depending on how faithfully they have followed said doctrines. There is an Ishwara who does create, maintain and destroy the universe, but the Jiva has the ability to unite with this Ishwara through devotion, right action, yoga, etc etc. They still hold a separation between themselves and Ishwara, and their union with Ishwara is that of a benevolent Lord and devotee (or a parent and child). Atman points to something else completely. Unlike the limited nature of the jiva who lives in a body, and depending on one's belief -- transmigrates across lifetimes or goes to heaven or hell for eternity or starts as matter and ends as matter, the Atman -- is pure subject predicate, without which no manifestion can happen. At least that much is verifiable intellectually, from an "individual" perspective. It is neither a soul nor a personality. It is pure consciousness. It is empty as it is not a thing which takes up space or exists in time. However, both space and time appear in it. It is not something that can be experienced using the normal faculties and apparatuses (like the mind and the inner and outer senses). It can be directly known - Aparoksha Anubhuti. What Emptiness means in this case, is that it is empty of "thing"ness. It cannot be captured with any of the sensory apparatuses. It cannot be described by the mind. If the mind tries to find it, it fails and finds only stillness and silence instead. The question that many people ask is "if that is the case, why call it Atman or Self?". The answer is because there is nothing more intimate than this. It is the root and the basis of everything we know. Knowing (with the mind and intellect) cannot be without it. What else can something so intimate be called? That which is called "nairatman or Anatta" is the jiva itself. It is the non-self. Atman is the selfless Self. It is the lightless light. However, it must be pointed out that ultimately, the Jiva is not different or separate from the Atman, because then, that would clearly be dualistic in nature. Jiva is a phenomenon that occurs as a result of mistaken identification with one of the five koshas, and primarily the lower 3 koshas. More questions follow after this -- Why does that happens? It doesn't really happen. It only appears to happen... How can you explain the fact that you (and others) wrote so many pages and commentaries on this topic. If it doesn't really happen, who and what is writing, and who and what is reading this? The appearance of separate beingness (jiva) is reading this. The jiva who appears to have been awakened, is writing this. So the Self is reading what the Self has written. Or no one is reading nothing, ultimately. It doesn't really matter In my humble opinion and experience, irrespective of what one sees or experiences, the root of one's consciousness in the manifest state, is the "I-ness" (aka I AM or I-I). This exists as witness to all things rising and falling, and staying with it, all things appear as part of it itself. The road, the landscapes, sky, people, animals, trees etc all are it's very own Self. This I have experienced before starting with the mind expansions and also after the mind expanded. This root does not change -- it remains empty and ever-present.
  10. In context of self-inquiry and self-realization, when one starts down this path, one is ignorant of their self-nature (this ignorance is called avidya). The ignorance is because one identifies as their "Self", the body and mind, and the various things that the body-mind allegedly possesses and does (profession, possessions, passions, talents, skills, so on and so forth). So one might say, they are blissfully unaware of the "reality" and live mired in drama of samsara. As one starts the journey of self-inquiry, eventually they will encounter the fact that all that they had previously thought of as being their "self" is not actually that at all. Not everyone gets there quickly. Some suffer and struggle as a result of the inherent lack of knowledge of the fact that, IT, that which observes the body, mind and the countless objects of the universe ebb and flow, is the Self. But this Self has no properties that can be really observed, as it is the very subject that is the source of all experience, and all objects. In the period between embarking on this path and realizing what one truly is, is a painful period (at least was for me). It is rife with suffering of a special kind (some call it the "dark night of the soul"). It really is a "trial by fire", a "rite of passage" and paying debts with "blood"...but I wouldn't have it any other way, in retrospect. However, what drives me to write about this, is the news of that poor kid who committed suicide after going to a vipasana retreat for a week. That was really tragic. But we know that karma has a role to play here. As I reflect upon my "suffering" during the period when I was clearly in witness state and yet did not know my real identity (or a lack thereof, in the common sense), it was a struggle. I was unable to stand crowded places, unable to look people in the eye as the contents of my mind would rise forth as I was having a conversation with them and "negative" thoughts involving them would fleet through my brain. I truly thought I was a bad person, as a result of the contents of my mind (and habits that were driven by the stuff I was living on - social, nutritional, etc). As a result of this (for almost 6 years), I struggled every day. I would still stubbornly do my taiji forms, my standing meditations, my yoga asanas, pranayama, etc. As much as I knew that if I stopped these things, I would probably over time go back to being blissfully more ignorant, or oblivious; still, I could not stop. Eventually, I entered a phase, where I grew numb and oblivious to the world around me. It didn't matter whether I had a job or not. Whether I was with my family or not. Even whether I did my practice or not. During this period, I would intermittently stop practice and then start again, when I felt like it. Maybe, I was comfortably numb. In retrospect, becoming numb actually helped me handle the energies and process the goings on. But then my first teacher moved (it was his guidance and twice a week of contact (for several years) that kept me sane during this period and kept me going), and introduced me to Master Jose. Even before meeting Master, I had met him in dreams and he worked on me (for stuff I had asked him to help me with). When I finally met him in person, and he transferred his consciousness to me with a touch of his index finger to my 3rd eye, he literally kicked my butt across the line and I spent about 15 days subsequent to that in a state of ecstasy/bliss. After that, for almost another year and a half, I stayed in a split state of being completely Self-aware and in the local-mind/ego state (Master calls it the Spiritual Mind and the local mind). During this period, for the most part, the Ego was unable to flex its muscles - it stayed a humble servant to the spiritual mind. And around 6 months after meeting master, my friend who had seemed like a died-in-wool materialist started practicing self-inquiry too, in the classical advaita vedanta mode. As he and I started discussing this, I started to try and articulate what was happening to me, to explain in words my "experiences". This started a process of categorization and rationalization, which resulted in my "dropping out of the split-state" eventually. There was a decay going on, as the old habits and grooves started to re-appear. I was rather depressed as I realized that, thinking "huh! I knew that it was too good to be true...". So I asked Master, to which he said "two things are happening. Your body is getting used to the energy and emptiness and old habits are re-appearing. But this is the opportunity for you to work through them and get back to the blissful state". And true to his word, the return to bliss is working, steadily and surely. The old "cold and indifferent" state (Stone Buddha?) has been replaced by awareness of the awareness of being, which is so completely ordinary, that I would have never even imagined that it is that way. We read so many glorified and idealized descriptions of this becoming "Self-aware" that it is almost anti-climactic when the realization occurs. And along with that realization the other thing that happens is the realization that there is no moment that one is not that (Self). Old habits and samskaras that used to bother me quite intensely, have become amusing. The "blissful" state is really a non-state. It is always there. It is just that before the mind-body identification had so total a hold on me, that it was constantly masked (except for those fleeting moments when the mind would stop). I won't even say that the mind stops completely. Just that, by being aware of the etherealness of the mind and not identifying with the body, the background looms large and it's ever-present nature is apparent. This too is a stage, I know now. The dive is going to keep getting deeper...
  11. Brahman comes from the sanskrit root sound "Brh". Brh means to expand. I observed a great expansion springing forth from a point of resting in the "I" or the "I AM" feeling. But this expansion is also non-expansion (if that makes sense). The mind expands constantly, springing forth from the "I" and creating the manifest reality. But the "I" is still, silent. Thoughts?
  12. Hello, How does all of this Neidan/Neigong/Qigong/Energy stuff relate to Non-Dual Truths/Enlightenment? Enlightenment as explained, and axiomatically acknowledged/intuited by myself (and many others), in (some/most) Zen/Advaita/Self-Inquiry/Jnana Yoga approaches is seeing realising what is True, is seeing through the illusion of Self, realising no-self, etc (I could go on and/or make it more specific, but, if you know self-inquiry, you know the jist of what I'm talking about). I have heard/read that these insights/seeing through the illusions/bullshit/labels/separations, etc, leads to a purifying of energy in itself as a sort of side effect. Through bouts of extreme insight I have felt something akin to this. How does this approach of inquiry and realisation relate (if at all) to Neidan/Neigong/Qigong/Energy stuff, according to you? As I have mentioned before, I am relatively new to Taoist/Chinese terminology but I have heard the phrase of Ghost level of realisation tossed about, or something, when referring to this approach, as if it's inferior, but, to me, realisation of Truth, of no self, of pure awareness, of pure being and non-being, everything/nothing seems to be self evidently final. From my preliminary reading it seems that the aim of energy work is to maintain the memories of this incarnation and then go about your business, just like someone who's enlightened on earth, but, as an immortal forever. So, someone who DOESN'T do this stuff that realises no self, what's supposed to happen to them? They just cease to be and rejoin Tao/One/Brahman/Totality completely? Superior and inferior aren't really the words I like to use, but they're all I have here. This ceasing to be/becoming one with Tao seems simultaneously superior and inferior. Superior in its sense of ultimate letting go and finality, ultimate Truth. Inferior in terms of utility and not being able to go on helping others, BUT, the cosmos/karma/one/Tao/Brahman, etc, does this, provides exactly what we need to wake up all the time anyway, so, we don't really need teachers in some regards. Also, there're reports about ascended masters, etc, who seem to have practiced this self inquiry approach themselves but are then still travelling around the different planes of existence/that are still contactable, implying that they don't just fade away or cease to be, but they are still going about their business, not identified with their form, but, also still able to operate. Anyway. Your thoughts on this would be interesting.
  13. http://medhajournal....adic-terms.html