[Advaita-l] Permanence of the self

Venkatraghavan S agnimile at gmail.com
Tue Feb 17 08:53:59 CST 2015

Dear Subrahmanian-ji,

Thanks very much for the prompt response and your advice is well
taken. However, I am pursuing this in the spirit of manana, so I hope
you will permit me to take this forward.

I did make the argument on these lines to my boss:

1) His contention is not that "nothing exists", but that "nothing
exists independently". That is, by shunyata he was referring to no
independent existence, not the absence of existence per se.

To which my question to him was, if he believed that, then how does he
agree to the Buddhist's idea of nirvana being permanent, because
according to him, nirvana could not have an independent existence? He
said that nirvana was permanent, but not independent - it was mutually
dependent on samsara! My only answer was that such a nirvana,
dependent on what is an illusion from a paramArthikA point of view,
seems neither permanent nor desirable!

2) His second point was that if something did have true independent
existence, it would be impossible to cognize it. That is, the very act
of knowledge implies an observer and the observed, and then it no
longer is a non-dual system. Without being able to cognise that
existence, it would be as good as it not existing at all.

My response to this was that Brahman by its very nature is Sat and
Chit - and therefore knowledge, the knower and the known are all the
same entity that is in permanent existence. Secondly, as you are
Brahman, even if you do not know it (because of avidya), a lack of
knowledge does not imply the absence of existence (this is circular
logic though!). Not particularly satisfied with my answer, but that is
probably because it is dry ratiocination, as Swami Vidyaranya says.

Any further thoughts?



On Tue, Feb 17, 2015 at 05:10 AM, V Subrahmanian S via Advaita-l
<advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org
<http://lists.advaita-vedanta.org/cgi-bin/listinfo/advaita-l>> wrote:

>The BG 2.16:  Sat, Existence, never goes out of existence. [Nor does it
>come into existence; it is ever-existent]

>This can never be proved wrong, that is, never denied, by anyone.   However
>much can one try, one can never imagine a situation where existence is
>not.  After denying existence, Sat, what will be? Such a question might be
>answered: Nothing will be.  Still that nothing is admitted to exist, in
>that reply itself: nothing will 'be'.  He is only giving another name or
>no-name for that situation which still 'is'.  He is only vehemently against
>the word 'existence', sat, since it comes from the Veda.
>In the Panchadashi 2nd chapter, verses 25 onwards, Swami Vidyaranya has
>pointed out that the term 'shūnya' is only another name for Sat, Existence:
>( भूतविवेकोनामद्वितीयः परिच्छेदः |)
>भगवत्पूज्यपादाश्च शुष्कतर्कपटूनमून् |
>आहुर्माध्यमिकान्भ्रान्तानचिन्त्येऽस्मिन्सदात्मनि ||२५||
>अनादृत्य श्रुतिं मौर्ख्यादिमे बौद्धस्तपस्विनः |
>आपेदिरे निरामत्वमनुमानैकचक्षुषः ||२६||
>शून्यमासीदिति ब्रूषे सद्योगं वा सदात्मताम् |
>शून्यस्य न तु तद्युक्तमुभयं व्याहतत्वतः ||२७||
>न युक्तस्तमसा सूर्यो नापि चासौ तमोमयः
>|****सच्छून्ययोर्विरोधित्वाच्छून्यमासीत्कथं* वद *||२८||
*>*वियदादेर्नामरूपे मायया सति कल्पिते |
>शून्यस्य नामरूपे च तथा चेज्जीव्यतां चिरम् ||२९||
>30. The highly respected Bhagavatpada Sankara also refers to the Madhyamikas,
>  experts in dry ratiocination (contradicting the vedic view), as
>confused regarding
>  the self-existent Brahman who is beyond thought.
>    31. These Buddhists, merged in darkness, and seeing through the
>one eye of inference
>  and neglecting the authority of the Vedas, reached only the 'nothingness'.
>  32. (We ask the Buddhists): When you said, 'nothing existed' did you mean it
>  (nothing) was connected with existence (Sat) or it (nothing) was of
>the nature
>  of existence ? In either case its nothingness is contradicted.
>    33. The sun does not have the attribute of darkness; nor is it
>itself of the
>  nature of darkness. As existence and non-existence are similarly
>  (you cannot predicate something about nothing, so) how do you say
>'nothing existed'
>  ?
>  34. (The Buddhists retort): (According to you Vedantins) The names and forms
>  of Akasa and other elements are conjured up by Maya in (or on) Sat,
>the existence
>  or Reality. Similarly (according to us) they (names and forms) are illusively
>  produced by Maya in (or on) non-existence, Asat. (Reply): Our answer is, 'May
>  you live long', i.e. you have fallen into a logical trap.
>    35. If you affirm that name and form attributed to an existing
>thing: are both
>  creations of Maya (an illusory principle), then tell us what is the
>  upon which Maya creates names and forms; for illusion without a substratum,
>  is never seen.
>End of translation.
>My advise is to first understand the above concepts thoroughly and
>engage in an argument.
>If he does not agree with the above, leave him at that.

On Tue, Feb 17, 2015 at 3:59 PM, Venkatraghavan S via Advaita-l
<advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org
<http://lists.advaita-vedanta.org/cgi-bin/listinfo/advaita-l>> wrote:

>* Dear all,
*>* I work in an office where my boss is a Buddhist, of the Madhyamaka
*>* tradition of Nagarjuna. We tend to have several lively debates on the
*>* nature of reality, and one of the questions that we have recently engaged
*>* on is the concept of a permanent Brahman (self) onto which this universe,
*>* including the BMI, is superimposed due to avidya.
*>>* Unsurprisingly, he opposes the very notion of a self, and more
*>* fundamentally, the idea of permanence itself (even on a parAmArthika
*>* basis). His view, coming from the Nagarjuna school is of shunyata, or
*>* emptiness (mutual interdependence of everything). And that emptyness itself
*>* is empty.
*>>* What are the arguments that I can make to prove the existence of the
*>* Universal self to him?
*>>* I am aware of Sri Shankara Bhagavatpada's argument in the Brahma Sutra
*>* Bhashya that to deny the self is illogical - the denier would have to have
*>* a self in existence with which to deny the self. And if he didn't have a
*>* self, then the denial wouldn't exist. However, and my understanding is
*>* limited here - How does this in itself establish the permanence of the
*>* self? At best, it seems to me that this argument proves that the denier's
*>* ego at a fixed point in time, not the universal, permanent self. I suspect
*>* he could also reject the idea of an individual self, instead saying that it
*>* is the momentary mind that denies, in that example.
*>>* I can point him to shruti vAkya pramAna, but to someone that denies the
*>* prAmanyam of shruti, that wouldn't be effective. Any suggestions?
*>>* Regards,
*>* Venkat
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