[Advaita-l] Advaita and other philosophies

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at braincells.com
Wed Apr 21 17:22:31 CDT 2004

On Wed, 21 Apr 2004, Kiran B R wrote:

> How can you have faith in any AchArya before you
> examine his answers and find out for yourself if the
> answers are right?! Following the AchArya blindly is
> utter foolishness, and is nowhere advocated for.

Least of all by me.  But I personally have and found examined the answers
(Proof: see some other things I've written on this list :-)

> You should care about what they taught only if you have found out for
> yourself that what they taught is worth caring about! If on the ohter
> hand you have programmed yourself to receive everything the AchArya says
> as absolute Truth, that itself gives rise to ahaMkAra where you see that
> the AchArya's teaching seems to hold not: "How can MY AchArya be
> wrong?!"

Point of information: ahamkara means ego or sense of "I" if someone is
"programmed" they are not acting from conscious volition so the question
of ahamkara does not arise.  Some of our yogic techniques are specifically
designed for such "programming."

Of course it has its drawbacks too so the Advaitic approach to
epistemology is more sophisticated than "receive everything the AchArya
says as absolute Truth"

What if after all this my beliefs are wrong?  I'll cross that bridge when
I get to it.  One should be flexible enough to admit when one is wrong.
But to to keep wondering "what if I'm wrong?" is just a rhetorical pose
and not necessary.

> Having bhakti in the AchArya does not mean accepting everything he says
> even before hearing it or analyzing it! Similarly, not accepting
> everything he says does not mean that one's bhakti in the AchArya has
> reduced!

Well yes it does.  Acharya means one who shows achar or the right way.  If
one doesn't believe a particular person is showing the right way either
because one knows a better way or because one doesn't care for it, then
that person is not an acharya.

> Oh what a beautiful reason for considering other
> AchAryas inferior! What a wonderful reason indeed!!
> Just because the actions of Jaldhar are impelled by
> shankarAchArya, other AchAryas are inferior! Hear men!
> Hear ye all!

You are reading way too much into the word "inferior" Though it can do so
it needn't imply that I think the inferior others are totally useless or
can be ignored or that sort of thing.  Tolerance is a great thing and I
don't want to go back to the days of e.g. the Mughal emperor Shah Jehan
when Dashanami and Tridandi sannyasis fought pitched battles.  But it
seems to me the Moderns have a malady that's equally harmful -- a deep
fear of committing to anything.  To be "judgemental" is the new deadly
sin.  But that only leads to paralysis.  If one believes there is such a
thing as truth, then one has to find a way towards it and just as
importantly *away* from untruth.  What I'm claiming is that Advaita
Vedanta is that way.

> How easily you assume that following "a particular spiritual discipline
> to the hilt" simply includes considering other AchAryAs as inferior!
> There are infinitely many radii that reach the centre of a circle.
> Parading on one radius which you haven't even chosen as an adult, you
> proclaim that every other radius is inferior!

Kiran, the thing is the other darshans don't even agree there is a circle
to reach the center of.  Now geometry has its own innate charm but if I'm
looking for a circle, I can't substitute a pentagon can I?

> Ultimately, the mumukShu smiles when he recalls that
> he had desired mOkSha for so long. Doing this is the
> characteristic of a true mukta.
> Ultimately, the shishya smiles when he recalls that he
> had praised his Guru and patted on his own back for so
> long. Doing this is true praise of the Guru.

Then "ultimately" that's what I'll do.  But in the meantime it's time for
Shankara Jayanti!

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>
It's a girl! See the pictures - http://www.braincells.com/shailaja/

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