Katha upanishhad verse I.2.23

Cameron Reilly cjreilly at OZEMAIL.COM.AU
Wed Apr 9 21:14:59 CDT 1997

At 16:57 09-04-97 -0700, Vidyasankar wrote:

>On Thu, 10 Apr 1997, Cameron Reilly wrote:
>> The Destiny of a particular organism is created by everything that
>> has happened in the history of the universe. The actions and thoughts of
>> this particular organism have been defined by everything that came before
>> it, its biology and its conditioning... which are both out of its control.
>Is there a particular organism that has a destiny? However provisionally
>you admit of such an organism, that organism is a who, that organism
>decides, that organism considers itself to be distinct, and that organism
>does not know that there is *no* duality.

My friend, you are absolutely correct.

Which is why advaitic teachings exist in the first place, no? To lead
organisms to the source.

>Is non-duality nothing more than the fact that the entire universe is

Much, much more.

>But to really know brahman is to know brahman as having no parts.
>So long as one makes such distinctions of parts and interactions, one does
>not know non-duality.

You are absolutely correct. But any discussion about 'volition',
'scriptures', 'study', etc is based in phenomenality, no?

As I have said before, it has been my experience that understanding certain
phenomenal aspects of the manifestation (such as volition) can lead one to
*know* the non-dual brahman. Then there is no need for questions, for
words, for discussion... for ADVAITA-L. We can all go home and watch the

>Does the body define all there is to the person?

Yes I believe so. Is there a person without a body? Is there a mind without
a body? Consciousness? Awareness? But we, of course, are much much more
than just a body.

>> I continually point out to people that they have *never* had any volition -
>> and have they been lethargic? Have they felt anarchic?
>Let's see. I'm feeling hungry and have to eat today. I can go home and
>cook, or eat out. I decide to eat out. There is an Italian restaurant and
>a Thai restaurant next to each other in my town. I like both kinds of
>food, and both restaurants are equally inexpensive. I choose to eat at the
>Thai restaurant. Do you mean to say that my decision not to cook today and
>the decision to eat at the Thai restaurant were all out of my control, and
>had all been decided beforehand by the entire history of the universe?
>This is exceedingly hard to believe.

Perhaps hard to believe but absolutely true and correct. And observable in
an instant by any of us.

Example:  You state "I decide to eat out."  Where did that thought come
from? Did you choose to think the "eat out" thought? Or did it appear
spontaneously in your consciousness?  "I choose to eat at the Thai
restaurant"... again, did you choose to think this thought? And if you
claim you did, I ask again - The thought "I choose to think this 'Thai
restauarant' thought" - where did *it * come from? Did you choose it or did
it appear spontaneously?

It has been my experience that thoughts, *all* thoughts, appear
spontaneously, are acted upon, and are retrospectively regarded as 'a

>It seems to me that your position leaves no room for the question, "who is
>the I that decides?" The real "I" is the Atman. The "I" that says, "I am
>hungry" results from a misidentification of the real I with the body.
>Given this basic misidentification, which is avidyA, decisions are made.
>Decision always implies choice among alternatives, and along with it comes
>what is called free will. It doesn't seem very useful to deny free will,
>without first removing the avidyA that results in the false "I".

I agree. Decision *are* made. But not through free will. They are made
automatically by the mind as a result of conditioning and biological
instincts. I urge everybody who hasn't already, to witness the thought
process carefully and ask yourselves the question: do I choose to think a
particular thought or does it appear spontaneously?

Thank you Vidyasankar for a very carefully thought out response. I am
enjoying this thread. However, I will be offline for about two weeks. Look
forward to continuing it when I return.


Cameron Reilly

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