If advaita stands, all other systems(including dvaita) fall]

Anand Hudli ahudli at APPN.CI.IN.AMERITECH.COM
Thu Jan 9 12:53:01 CST 1997

             M Suresh wrote:
>   But the non-dual Brahman is beyond knowledge, experience and description.
>   Because knowledge implies a knower and the known which is dual,
>   experience implies experiencer and experience which is dual and
>   description implies description about an object which is again duality.
>   Thus the non-dual Brahman would be the same as emptiness.

   No, the nondual Brahman is not experienced as something other oneself.
   It is realized as the Self. So there is no duality. And the Self is not
   a nonexistent thing or void. Jiivanmuktas who have experienced Brahman
   do not say that it is a state where they experience emptiness. Rather they
   say that it is full of bliss. There is obviously a difference between
   emptiness and bliss.

>   Sri Ramana Maharishi modified the Upanishadic definition of Brahman "Soaham"
>   meaning "That I am" to just "I am" where the subject and object dissappear
>   and just the "I" is there. IMO "I am" would be the same as "I am NOT" as
>   conveyed by emptiness.

    "I am not" is not the same as "I am", for the reasons I mentioned above.
     Absence of experience of any kind is different from experience of
> >     a purely fictitious entity. But according to advaita, the world is
> >     an illusion superimposed on Brahman. The argument is that an illusion
> >     must have a real substratum. The illusory snake has the real rope as
> >     its substratum. No illusion can occur without a basis in reality or
> >     in other words, no illusion can be based on an unreal entity.
>   If all duality is illusory as stated by advaita then everything can be
>   considered to be illusory or non-existent because knowledge or experience
>   of anything implies duality.

   All duality is of course illusory, but that does not imply the
   non-existence of everything. It is made abundantly clear in advaita
   that the world *as*we*commonly*perceive*it* is an illusion and is
   false. But *the*world*as*Brahman* is true and true eternally. The
   duality in the world can be negated but not the world as its substratum,
   Brahman. So not everything is false.

> >     The shruti says "neha naanaa .asti kinchana." There is no variety
> >     whatsoever. It only negates duality. But there is an implied
> >     nondual reality. If the ultimate reality were void or nothingness
> >     it would have said, "neha kinchidasti" (there is nothing here).
>   I think both are essentially same and it is only a choice of words.

    Both may be the same from a commonsense point of view. Shankara in
    his commentary on the MuNDaka upanishad says that Brahman when
    explained to lay people appears as "asat", meaning nonexistence.
    It is to remove this wrong notion that the Vedas lead to Brahman in
    stages. When a person follows these stages, he will understand that
    Brahman is not a nonexistent or fictitious entity.

> >     You cannot selectively accept parts of the Vedas and reject others.
> >     The whole of Vedas is usually divided into karma and jnaana kaaNDas.
> >     Each kaaNDa has a role to play and the relation between the two
> >     kaaNDas is extensively dealt with in Sureshvara's sambandha-vaartika,
> >     an introduction to his monumental vaartikaa on the brihadaarNyaka.
> >     The advaitins don't reject the karma kaaNda outright as the Buddhists
> >     do. What I am trying to say is that karma kaaNDa has a role to play
> >     in Brahman realization, in that it purfies the mind and makes it fit
> >     for inquiry into Brahman. We see two extreme positions on the karma
> >     kaaaNDa by the miimaamsakas and the Buddhists. The mimaamsakas treat
> >     the karma kaaNDa as the true import of the Vedas, thereby relegating
> >     the jnaana kaaNDa to mere arthavaada. The Buddhists take the other
> >     extreme position, completely abolishing the karma kaaNDa. It is only
> >     advaita that recognizes the importance of both the karma and jnaana
> >     kaaNDas.
>   If you agree that Buddhism has borrowed Jnaana Kaanda then the truth of
>   the Brahman expounded in it is the same as the emptiness which is the
>   highest doctrine in Buddhism.

     Buddhism has borrowed from the jnaana kaaNDa but has probably missed
     the essence of what the jnaana kaaNDa says. Besides, for the very reason
   that Buddhism selectively borrowed some ideas from the Vedas and rejected
      others, it cannot be the same as advaita.
>   I do not disagree that Buddhism and advaita vary in their approach to
>   Nirvana.
    I am not sure what the concept of nirvaaNa or moksha is in
   Buddhism. In advaita, moksha is not just absence of misery. Sureshvara
   differentiates between absence of misery and happiness in his sambandha
   vaartika. Every person wants to avoid all misery, but also wants
   happiness. Absence of misery and happiness are not the same. If moksha
   were to be just absence of misery, then you could say that mokshha is
   a state of void. But mokshha is a state where the superexcellent bliss
   of the Atman is tasted. It is a positive not a void.

> -Suresh.


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