[Advaita-l] adhyAsa - part III

Jay Nelamangala jay at r-c-i.com
Sat May 31 05:25:04 CDT 2003

If Atma-anAtma is taken to be jeeva-jada in the common parlance
then superposition is not possible.

If Atman is taken to be substratum of knowing,  and anAtman as that which
is not Atman,  then also superposition is not possible.

Next we will consider what these words mean according to advaita vEdaanta.

Atman is partless chaitanya and the other things antahkaraNa, body etc are
anAtman.  Of these,  anAtman is denoted by "you" (yushmat).  It is not
from the point of usage that anAtman is described like this.  As it is already
stated, the body etc come under anAtman.  Normally no one describes his
own body as "you".   This is done in advaita technicality.  "You" is that which
is made known by chit  (chidavabhAsya).   Since everything that is other than
Atman is given by chit ( or Atman),  all such things,  even including body etc
can be termed "you".

One may say,  Atman denoted by "I" (asmat) and anAtman by "non-I" or "you"
these two are of opposite characters just as light and darkness are.  Atman is
one's own self,  and anAtman is all that is different from it.  How can anyone
get confused between these two?  So their superposition is impossible.

Advaita answers that question as, Atman is self-evident and therefore it can not
be denoted by "I" (asmat).   To understand this properly,  we need to take a
closer look at the fundamentals of advaita.   Here is an attempt towards the same.

It is ordinarily thought that knowledge happens to the entity that we call 'ego' 
or 'I'.  This is wrong.  If knowledge happens to 'I',  then we have to hold that the
two are different.  This is impossible because knowledge is akhanda and has
nothing outside of it.  So,  'I' independently of knowledge is not possible.  
Knowledge is infinite.  But 'I' is an individual thing and as such it is limited by
external entities.  Knowledge has no internal distinctions.  But 'I' is not so.  
In the experience "I know this"  'I'  it is the subject and in the self-consciousness
as 'I' it is the object of consciousness.  Thus it is both subject and object.
So,  'I' is not self-evident.  But knowledge is.  

Therefore,  because Atman is self-evident,  and 'I' is not self-evident,
therefore Atman can not be denoted by 'I'.   Therefore,  to say that 
the superposition between asmat ("I") and yushmat is impossible is wrong
since there are no such things as are denoted by asmat and yushmat.

One may criticize this position as :

Atman may be self-evident,  but yet it is something that can be spoken of.
If something can be spoken of, then it must at least be indicated by some 
name, if not denoted by it.  We may regard it as indicated by 'I' (asmat)
since no other term is suitable for it.  If so,  the opposition between 
asmat and yushmat remains the same,  and this makes the superposition
of Atman and anAtman impossible.

It is not merely the opposition between asmat and yushmat that renders
the superposition impossible,  but the opposition in themselves.
Atman is the subject (visayI) and anAtman is object (vishaya).  So one
must be opposed to other, just as the perceiving eye and the perceived
color are.  Just as eye and color can not be superimposed on each other,
Atman and anAtman likewise can not be superimposed.

Atman is chit and anAtman is given by chit.  So, when we say they are
opposed,  it does not mean one destroys or excludes the other.  It simply
means one can not be the other.  A positive entity can not be a negative
entitiy,  so we regard them as opposed to each other.

So the main argument against superposition is this:  Atman and
anAtman can not be superposed on each other, because one can not be
the other;  for example,  of the two entities light and darkness, one can not
be the other and therefore one can not be superposed on the other.

( to be continued).

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: </archives/advaita-l/attachments/20030531/17e4e4a4/attachment.html>

More information about the Advaita-l mailing list