Confusion regarding Sankara’s commentar

egodust egodust at DIGITAL.NET
Wed Jan 22 15:30:18 CST 1997

Dennis Waite wrote:
> I understand that Sankara is distinguishing between a thing and what he
> terms 'existence' of that thing, and is saying that the former is unreal and
> the latter real. I think I can appreciate what he trying to say, but he
> doesn't seem to define exactly what he means by 'existence'. Without any
> such definition we are bound to use the word in the way we normally use it,
> and expect others to be doing so as well. We use the word even for
> admittedly transient phenomena. I might take exception if you denied that my
> headache existed. Certainly most people would express disbelief if anyone
> claimed that the pyramids did not exist. We might be persuaded that the
> latter has more 'existence' than the former or we might think that perhaps a
> flower has more existence than a stone, by virtue of being alive (whatever
> that means) but one presumes that all this is irrelevant to the way in which
> Sankara is using the term.
> One can accept the working definition of 'real' or 'true' as something which
> always exists and 'unreal' or 'false' as something which is only transient.
> ( e.g. true love, real effort). Then we can see that the pot, flower,
> elephant and the ideas and feelings about these etc. are all unreal. And we
> can imagine that there might be some 'thing' which always has and will
> exist, though on analysis, we will probably conclude that there could only
> be one such thing - the Self - and we haven't yet realised that! But none of
> this seems to quite tie in with the idea of 'existence' being real.
> And that still leaves the unanswered question of this 'twofold'
> consciousness. What is Sankara talking about?

If I may comment on this...

If we have a clear grasp of Sankara's triadic [advaita] formula, we would
see that what He set out to do was provide a means whereby we can effectively
diffuse the vasanas (latent obsessive-compulsive thought relationings based
on the attitude of the self/not-self world-view) within the Mind.  It's only
a method to this end, and not an end in itself.  That is, to settle upon the
activity of defining things, events and egos, as illusory, is a means to
re-condition the Mind's insistence to conceive/perceive notions of such
phenomena as *things in themselves*, being mutually exclusive of Brahman.
This is why His 3rd axiom states that the jiva is not-different from
Brahman.  Yet, we're told that this axiom doesn't represent the words of
Sankara, but was formulated posthumously.  It seems more technically correct
to say the triple aspect of prakrit (the sohamidam: saguna aspect of God,
jiva and world) and not merely the jiva aspect of prakrit, is what is
non-different from Brahman.  That maya is a result of considering a thing
as real *unto itself*, otherwise it is quite real, being Brahman Itself.

So the "two perceptions" are a strategy and not a sanctioned duality.
If this were better understood, there wouldn't be such heated protest of
the so-called mayavadin philosophy attributed to Sankara.  It would be
better to refer to it as sathyavadin philosophy!  Reality is omnipresent
except when notions of isolationism are superimposed on it.



Frank Maiello
"Who am I apart from Thee?"

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