Agony of the soul (?) etc

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at BRAINCELLS.COM
Sun Jan 5 20:44:58 CST 1997

On Sun, 5 Jan 1997, Gummuluru Murthy wrote:

> The Advaita List is very quiet for the past few weeks. May be, the members
> are following the dictum of the last thread "Silence is best" too
> literally. I am sure, all of us interpret Shri Ramana's teaching "Silence
> is best" as the silence of the mind that is to be strived for.

Call me uncharitable but it's more likely due to lingering embarrasment
over the inability to answer Shrisha Rao.  At least some good has come out
of it.  I have begun reading Advaitasiddhi of Swami Madhusudana Saraswati
which answers those criticisms in detail.

> Anyway,
> both to re-start discussions in this group, and also to clarify some
> points for myself, I like to put forward the following questions for
> members' views.

> 1. Agony of the soul (?)
>                 ^^^^
> During my readings of some commentaries, I came across statements that
> attribute the feeling of the suffering and the agony to the soul. I give
> some references below.
> (a) "Brahmasutras" by Shri Vireswarananda [Advaita Ashrama publication],
> while discussing Shri Shankara's Bhasshya, says that the soul feels the
> agony (chapter 2)
> (b) The Religion correspondent of newspaper The Hindu from Madras, India
> (considered the National Newspaper of India) in his/her reports on talks
> given in Madras, India by various religious/philosophic leaders.
> (c) Shri Sadananda of this List in discussing maaya says in part "....
> How did sat chit ananda get deluded into jeeva notion and undergoing
> suffering - This is one of the famous question. ....." [Advaita Digests
> log9611B]
> Now, my question is "Is it the soul that feels the agony or suffering or
> joy or happiness ?  I think it is the ego that feels the suffering or
> happiness and not the soul. The soul is a witness to the feelings and
> does not participate in these emotions.

Sukha and Dukha are only felt by the jiva enveloped in maya.  At this
point the atma and ahamkara are indistinct.

> 2. Seeking happiness and sadness
> In some books [Shri Ramanaashram letters, Nisargadatta Maharaj's I AM
> THAT, Shri Chandrasekhara Saraswathi of Kanchi Peetham] it is stated
> that we seek happiness and avoid everything that is sad. My question is:
> Why should we seek anything ? What is happiness and sadness anyway ?
> Do not seek anything. Then one can take things in stride as that
> pre-ordained to us.

The only way to avoid sukha and dukha is through sannyasa.  For a
grihastha (like Arjuna who asked a similiar question) such fatalism is a
shirking of ones duty.  Far from being a neutral act, such inaction
destroys Dharma and brings about evil.

> 3. Concept of re-birth and carry-over of karma
> My understanding of Advaita concepts is that there is no creation and
> hence the concept of re-birth does not even arise. The concept of karma
> is not there at the highest level of understanding of Advaita.
> Then, how are the fruits of action (good or bad) carried forward in the
> Advaitic thinking ?

The deluded jiva thinks rebirth is real.  It thinks these births are
caused by the fruits of karma.  When jnana is achieved, then only can you
say there is no creation and no rebirth.

> 4. Shri Nageswara Rao, one of the List members, wants me to put the
> following question to the Group, as presently his computer is
> unavailable.
> We all know the ithihaasic story of Jaya and Vijaya, the gatekeepers at
> Vaikuntha, Lord Vishnu's abode. Once, they were cursed by the sages
> Sanaka and Sananda to live their lives on the Earth. Lord Vishnu took
> pity on the gatekeepers and gave them a choice "Do you want to be my
> enemies and come back to Vaikuntha after three lives or do you want to
> be my devotees and come back to Vaikuntha after ten lives ?" Of course,
> they chose to be enemies for three lives and returned back to Vaikuntha.
> Now, Shri Nageswara rao's question is "Why does it take shorter time to
> reach God by being an enemy than by being a devotee ?
> Is there any inner  meaning in this ? "

It doesn't neccessarily take shorter.  Vishnu Bhagawan offered the choice.
If He had said 3 lives as a devotee and 10 lives as an enemy, Jaya and
Vijaya would have chosen to be devotee.  Because a true Bhakta wants
nothing more than to remain at Bhagawans feet and if perchance he should
be dislodged, he desires nothing more than to return there by the quickest
route possible even if it should be at great personal cost.  This is the
inner meaning.

Jaldhar H. Vyas [jaldhar at]   And the men .-_|\ who hold
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