[Advaita-l] Cotard Syndrome and Brahman Realisation

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Wed Jun 13 02:36:35 CDT 2012

On Tue, Jun 12, 2012 at 7:16 PM, <rajaramvenk at gmail.com> wrote:

> BTW, there are two views expressed here. One is Sakshi is able to see
> without the instrument of the mind. Second is it is not able to see
>  without the instrument of the mind. What is the advaita position(s)?

Both views are possible and I mentioned this only based on what is present
in works like the Panchadashi.  For example, in the BG 13th ch. opening
verse: idam sharIram kaunteya....etad yo vetti ...kshetrajnaH...  Here
Shankara says: the one that knows this body from head to toe as an object
is the kshetrajna.  Surely this knowledge is possible only in the waking
and dream and while the mind apparatus is available.  Yet, in the later
parts of this chapter the kshetrajna is finally taught as the Pure Atman.

> We all witness the mind as in "This is what is going on in my mind or I am
> thinking about brahman". Is it sakshi or ahankara that we all talk about in
> these cases? As ahankara is also inert and we see that we objectify ego, I
> suppose it is Sakshi?

When we express as above, certainly the mind is involved.  The sAkshi does
not verbalise any experience.  Also to be noted is the sakshi is not
judgmental; it simply reveals what is there as an object. We have
expressions such as 'sAkshi vedyam', sAkshi bhAsyam, etc. There is no
discrimination as to this is wrong/bad, good/right, etc. and it aught to be
so and so on.  It does not take sides.   We should also remember that the
mind is not a one entity; it has vrtti bheda of buddhi, manas, ahankara and
chitta. So, one 'part'/function of the mind can be aware of the other. In
the BG verse uddharet AtmanA AtmAnam....the teaching is to uplift oneself
by oneself.  The aviveka-riddled buddhi/manas is to be repaired/restrained
by the viveka-endowed buddhi/mind. In all these places we do not see the
separate role of the sAkshi. It is the informed mind acting on the errant
mind. Psychiatrists also say that people with mind-related problems
express/think in  'pockets'.  In other words, there are some odd moments
and some sane moments.  This shows that the person passes through
alternating states. Whether one takes the saakshi or the mind that
witnesses it is only prakriyA bheda.  The sadhaka can take it as sAkshi for
it gives more impetus to the sadhana by relating oneself to the sAkshi,
separating oneself from all anAtmaa.  The intellectual analysis of this, by
someone tuned that way, will be to bring in the mind element also.

> The main question is why does a jnani not always witness his
> (mal)functional mind? This is what leads to the suspicion that sakshi bhava
> could be the result of only neurological change. If it is indeed so, we
> should be able to induce it in interested persons without the need for
> traditional practices just as we alter memory using drugs. Is it not?

Actually even for ajnanis whenever the mind functions it brings about an
awareness. For, thought activity, if not 'awared' by the thinker jiva, is
meaning/purposeless. What makes a Jnani a special one is that he, by dint
of sadhana, has become an expert in 'watching' the mind.  It might happen
in some cases, owing to extreme adverse prarabdha that a certain jnani's
mind is badly afflicted by one or the other diseases that medical people
identify.  In certain cases the jnani may not be able to exercise the same
witnessing on / of the mind as he used to when this disease had not set
in.  What makes a very special Jnani is that he is able to witness even
this, as I said in an earlier note.

I do not know how induced treatments work.  The time-tested method is 'sa
tu dIrgha kAla nairantaryena satkAra Asevito dRDha bhUmiH' as the Yoga
sutra teaches.  It is only an ardent practice, over a length of time,
without breaks, that results in the firm establishment.  I do not know if
there are drugs that can implant in an interested person's brain center the
knowledge that an Engineering student gains after a four year course.

It is better to walk the beaten path than experimenting with drugs.  There
are certain traditions that use drugs to gain greater concentration for
meditation.  Such practices are not advocated by Acharyas of the

I have nothing more to say on this topic.



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