Anand Hudli anandhudli at HOTMAIL.COM
Mon Apr 20 10:41:47 CDT 1998

 Robert wrote:

>I think I have come full circle. Like most people, at least in the
>I began by thinking of self realization as a dazzlingly discontinuous
>event that would instantly change everything. Then slowly, mostly
>through the teachings of Ramana Maharshi, I became comfortable with the
>idea that we already are the Self here and now, and always have been,
>and that all that is needed is to clear away our confused
>of ourselves with the body/mind; but the I-am, the sense of self
>awareness as we experience it every moment, already is the Self. So
>instead of being like a stroke of lightning, realization might be more
>like a gradual clearing of the mist that makes plain what is already
>there. Then I began to think of Advaita as something that could be
>explained to anyone in just a few simple words, calling upon everyone's
>sense of contentless consciousness or self awareness as a strong
>indication of its truth.
>But the danger of this way of thinking, of putting Advaita in a sense
>almost the same level as any ordinary concept, is that equally ordinary
>objections to it start to seem legitimate and relevant. In other words,
>once it has been brought into everyday life, it no longer seems to
>reside on an unapproachable mountain top, far above the issues of daily
>living, and it becomes as assailable as any other idea. I'm afraid I
>not be expressing this very well, but I can't think of other words.
>So at this point I am at a loss to find the proper balance between
>discrimination and experience, and between working constructively
>eventual realization and contending with nagging practical doubts. If
>is true that everything about human life can be understood (at least in
>principle) without Advaita, then it becomes very difficult to keep
>and hold doubts at bay. If, on the other hand, there are aspects of the
>human condition that don't make sense in their own terms, then I would
>think that one legitimate role of discrimination would be to point them
>out, even if only as an aid to the ongoing work toward the direct
>experience of realization.

 I sympathize with your doubts. Advaita, unlike purely theological
 systems, encourages us to use our intellect to discern the truth.
 But the important distinction between advaita and purely intellectual
 approaches is that in advaita all reasoning is to be guided by what
 is the called the shruti, Vedanta or the upanishads which form the
 basis of the system. Reasoning independent of the Shruti can only
 point out that advaitic conclusions are plausible, not certain.
 As you have rightly pointed out, conclusions contrary to advaita
 may also be similarly plausible, provided we take the purely
 intellectual approach. As such, reasoning independent of some kind
 of a prop or arbiter, such as the Shruti, will be inconclusive and
 doubts will always remain.

 For most Westerners, the difficult thing to understand is that
 advaita is not established on grounds of logical inference alone,
 although logic plays a crucial role, far more crucial than you see
 in many other systems.   One should not forget that Advaita is also
 a system based on the exegesis of Vedanta.
 Thus the sources of knowledge,
 apart from perception and inference which form the bed-rock of
 all means to knowledge of the material world, also include the
 testimony of the Vedas/Vedanta. In this connection there was
 disussion here about the precise role of the means of knowlegde in
 advaita. Please see, for example, (in the archives)


 You may also search the archives for similar articles.

 Now, an objection may be raised: By making the intellectual approach
 depend on the Shruti, advaita is trying to suppress the inquisitive
 spirit of the seeker of Truth. In reply, advaita would say that
 truth is not reached by using the intellect alone. What is needed
 is a wholistic approach that combines intellectual inquiry with moral
 behaviour and virtues, faith in the Guru and Shruti, dispassion,
 right discrimination, and a desire for liberation.


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