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The Unity and Indivisibility of the Self - Brahman

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Sankara, like Wittgenstein, feels that the mere fact of being human traps man within the linguistic games devised by his culture. Though both philosophers part company in their conclusions, they remain very close in their analysis of language, and of the magic spell it casts over man.

 

Sankara, also like Wittgenstein, aims at liberating philosophy from the strongly atomistic emphasis that language impose upon experience and thought in every sentence. Nonetheless, man cannot live without language and its conditioning effects. Therefore, both philosophers take it to be the role of philosophy to provide a liberating knowledge – although, of course, the Eastern tradition takes this liberating activity to further lengths than does the West.

 

Sankara starts his Brahman Sutra Bhashya (see appended translation of the whole introductory chapter) by investigating the nature of language usage:

 

"It is a clear fact that the object and the subject, whose respective areas are the concepts of Thou and I, and whose natures are opposed to each other as much as light and darkness, are irreconcilable. So also their respective qualifications…"

 

Yet language functions in such a way that we can only make meaningful statements by "superimposing upon the subject the qualities of the object and vice versa ... and this is false (mithya)."5

 

The resulting confusion is no more than this characteristic linguistic superimposition of natures and attributes, "thus mixing reality and unreality by saying things like: "That I am" or "this is mine."6

 

Not only is the individual man caught in this trap; Sankara sweepingly concludes that this faulty superimposition, "is the presupposition upon which are based all distinctions of practical life, of the Vedas, [in the religious and ritualistic sense], between the means of knowledge, objects of knowledge and the authority of Scripture."7

 

Furthermore "the means of right knowledge cannot operate without the aspect [nature] of knower, which is of the sense of "I" and "mine" imposed or united with the body and the senses. For by taking away the use of the senses immediate perception does not occur nor do other activities of knowledge."

 

Even more, action itself would be jeopardized without this superimposition: "Nor does anyone act without having the aspect of the self superimposed on the body."8

 

Sankara concludes this Introduction by stating clearly his philosophical aim:

 

With a view of freeing one's Self from this wrong notion, the cause of all misery, attaining thereby knowledge of the absolute unity of the Self, the study of the Vedas is begun. That all the Vedas have the above mentioned purpose we shall show in this so-called Sariraka-mimansa."

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Already I feel I have made a good decision by joining this forum. :-)

 

Definitions have become a recent fascination for me. It's good to see someone attempting to resolve the definition of 'real'. It is true that language, time and translation have combined to make much of these ancient philosophies beyond our understanding. We can only hazard a guess at what much of it actually meant. These days people tend to use the translated ancient terms haphazardly. Words are used undefined. The result is mysticism and superstition. There is mimickery without clear understanding and little attempt is made to discover the definition behind the words.

 

A word such as Brahman could just as easily be aether, without clear definition it serves as nothing more than a kind of totem for the ignorant to hawk around and on which they rely to shore up a faulty belief system.

 

I recently came across two examples 'moving silence' and 'beyond the mind'. I pointed out the silence usually described the absence of sound and therefore, to then give that absence the quality of movement was highly dubious.

 

 

 

 

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"Brahman" is a pointer to that which is beyond "mind", thus it will never have a definite mental definition to box it up and nail it down with.  Good luck with your "fascinations" perhaps they will lead beyond same.

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 I recently came across two examples 'moving silence' and 'beyond the mind'. I pointed out the silence usually described the absence of sound and therefore, to then give that absence the quality of movement was highly dubious.

Haha...the paradox of syntax. Yes, but we deal with similarly outwardly paradoxical statements in the internal arts all the time. For instance, "Stillness in Motion" or "Motion in Stillness"...or "Anahata dhwani - aka Unsounded Sound" etc.

 

They are ways to describe experiences that are labeled by the brain/mind approximately to something familiar. 

 

:)

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Haha...the paradox of syntax. Yes, but we deal with similarly outwardly paradoxical statements in the internal arts all the time. For instance, "Stillness in Motion" or "Motion in Stillness"...or "Anahata dhwani - aka Unsounded Sound" etc.

 

They are ways to describe experiences that are labeled by the brain/mind approximately to something familiar. 

 

:)

 

I used to talk like that.

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I used to talk like that.

Haha...:)

 

How do you talk now?

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