Confusion regarding Sankara s commentary on 2.16 of the giitaa

Anand Hudli ahudli at APPN.CI.IN.AMERITECH.COM
Tue Jan 21 15:12:19 CST 1997

      Dennis Waite wrote:
> [...]

> The confusion arises in respect of the term 'twofold consciousness'. It is
> understood that, in the same way that a pot is just name and form
> superimposed upon the 'reality' of clay, so is everything, in this apparent
> creation, name and form superimposed upon the reality of the brahman. It is
> also understood that nothing exists (or appears to exist) without the
> sustaining power of brahman or, in this context, 'consciousness'. However,
> there seems no reason to suppose that our 'consciousness' of anything, be it
> thing, thought or emotion, is different from our 'consciousness' of any
> other thing. (After all, even Berkeley - a mere western philosopher! - has
> pointed out that we perceive everything in our minds anyway. i.e. a
> so-called physical object is only actually perceived in the mind, in just
> the same way as an idea or emotion, so we cannot really differentiate.)
> [...]
> And that still leaves the unanswered question of this 'twofold'
> consciousness. What is Sankara talking about?

  Shankara here is meeting the objection of the nihilist (shuunyavaadin)
  who might argue that since all causes and effects are unreal, nothing
  is real.

  Previously, in the thread titled "If advaita stands, all other systems
  (including dvaita) fall", I tried to paraphrase the same argument by
  Shankara in making an argument against identifying Brahman with
  emptiness or void. I am reproducing the relevant part of that article

  (The claim was what shuunyavaada calls void is the same as
   Brahman of advaita.)

  Not so. According to advaita, even in cognitions in the
  vyaavahaarika world, there is a permanent something that is common among
  all cognitions. In the cognition, "this is a pot", the permanent factor
  is "this is" which indicates the underlying existence. What is an illusion
   is "a pot". What is cognized is just this permanent  factor
  but it is falsely understood to be a pot. In another cognition, "this is a
  cloth", again the common, permanent factor is "this is." What is an
  illusion has to do with "a cloth." In other words,
  between the cognitions "this is a pot", and "this is a cloth", what is
  common, constant, and permanent is the factor, "this is."
  What we see above is a cognition where the cognizer gives a name to a
  cognized object, such as a pot, cloth etc. Another type of cognition
  tries to assert an adjective or attribute of an object. In the cognition,
  "this is a blue pot", again what is common, constant, and permanent
   is the factor "this is." What is illusion is "a blue pot." So what
  is being denied ultimate reality is the "blueness" and "potness" of the
  object (but not pure existence indicated by "this is").

  this to all cognitions, all objects are real as far as they are treated as
  pure existence, but the moment you start associating them with names and
  forms, the illusion begins.
   This existence is the common, unchanging, and
  permanent factor among all cognitions. This is according to advaita.

  Now, according to the philosophy of Buddha, there is no constant,
  and permanent factor among all objects. Everything is impermanent
  and momentary. This is in sharp contrast to the above theory of advaita.

> Dennis
> dwaite at


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