Experience and Knowledge

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at BRAINCELLS.COM
Mon May 3 10:53:58 CDT 1999

On Wed, 28 Apr 1999, Dennis Waite wrote:

> On the face of it, it does seem strange how so-called 'Self-realised'
> Advaitins can say one thing and 'Self-realised' Dvaitins something
> apparently contradictory. One might have thought that 'Not two' or 'Two'
> were mutually exclusive and not open to misinterpretation.

They are mutually exclusive.  The apparent contradiction goes away not by
ignoring it but by realizing that Advaitins and Dvatins are opereating
from different definitions of 'self-realization'.

> But we are using the old patterns and standards by which to judge. And how
> can they report their experiences to us except through the medium of words -
> one step further removed from the thoughts which triggered them. (And those
> one step from the perceptions -  and those one step from the reality.)
> Indeed isn't it amazing that any sense whatsoever can be communicated via
> such inadequate means? Perhaps they are both right (and both wrong). Or

The mainstream of Hinduism would not support such skepticism as to the
power of language.  Look at the meticulous care with which the Vedas have
been preserved, the early development of linguistics, grammar, and
Mimamsa.  Even the influence of Tantra shows what esteem language has been
held in.  Far from being an obscuring veil over reality, it is in fact the
_only_ method for apprehending reality.  It is far superior to experience.

> perhaps we should just follow the advice of Wittgenstein - "Whereof we
> cannot speak, thereof we should remain silent."

But Advaita Vedanta insists we can speak of the ultimate.  It is something
that can be known and that knowledge can be communicated to others.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>

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