Katha upanishad verse I.2.23
gmurthy at MORGAN.UCS.MUN.CA
Wed Apr 16 07:12:13 CDT 1997
Most of the threads in this List seem to be ending up in the debate of
whether there is free-will. We all seem to have our own view about it.
On Tue, 15 Apr 1997, Charles Wikner wrote in the introductory sentence:
> On the persistent sub-thread about non-volition, Gummurulu Murthy wrote:
and in the concluding sentence
> ... and return to the original purpose of the thread, namely ....
If Charles implies by this that there is much more in Katha u. I.2.23 - 25
than non-volition, I fully agree.
> The ego loves the idea of non-volition because that implies that
> there is no choice, no chooser, things just happen. It is a
> marvellous cop-out! The ego can do as it pleases -- mark that,
> it can do whatever it desires -- and (here is the attraction)
> without taking responsibility for the consequences of its actions.
> Isn't that appealing? It's so simple!
I expect the ego would love the idea of volition, because it gives
kartR^tva, a subject who does action and the ego identifies with that
If the ego loves the idea of non-volition for the reasons which Charles
gives above, then it indeed is a cop-out of the highest order for the
ego. Such ego is not even honest to itself. As I mentioned in my previous
posting, such ego (or jeeva) has a long way to climb before it is ready to
face the question "Who am I ?".
> Now let a whole society (say USA) put this philosophy into practice,
> and what is the result? Since things just happen, there will be no
> need for laws; since there is no responsibility, you can dispense
> with the police and the courts. Where things just happen without any
> responsibility, the whole concept of justice is superfluous. Does
> this sound like an attractive society to live in?
> Now enlarge the view to the whole of mankind: there would be no
> dharma, no karma, no sa.mskaara; there would be no place for
> morality, or religion, or philosophy. It is all arbitrary;
> it just happens. Still sound attractive to the ego?
> It might go well while it is you that is doing as you please, but it
> may not be so pleasant when you are on the receiving end of others'
> "non-volitional" activities. To get around this inconvenience, you
> need the world to behave lawfully while you brush up on your charisma:
> then you convince a bunch of dimwits to serve you (non-volitionally
> of course), and to supply you with mansions and Rolls Royces (also
> non-volitionally). Lacking any volition of their own, these fools
> are free to be your slaves.
> That sounds a bit more attractive, doesn't it? Freedom at last!
Katha u. verses I.2.1 to I.2.6 aptly describe the scenario given by
Katha u. I.2.1 to I.2.6 describe sreyah and preyah (the good and the
pleasant. Both the good and the pleasant approach the man. The wise one
discriminates between the two having examined them well. The wise man
"prefers" the good to the pleasant, but the fool "chooses" the pleasant
through attachment. [I put "chooses" and "prefers" in quotations above
because I think it is an apparent choice only. There is no choice left for
the jeeva. Jeeva only _thinks_ it is making a choice.]
Lord Yama says in Katha u. I.2.6
"To the ignorant people, befooled by the delusion of wealth, the path of
the hereafter never appears. The person who thinks "This is the only world
and there is no other" thus falls into my (Lord Yama's) control again and
> But to return to some semblance of sanity: so long as there is
> not-Self, there is ego; and where there is ego, there is volition.
> (Or, if you prefer, where there is prak.rti, there is rajas.)
I would amend this to say "... and where there is ego, there is a
thinking that there is volition. ...."
> Gummurulu continues, using the chariot analogy of Katha 1.3.3--4:
> > Acceptance of non-volition by the jeeva is a dharmic concept.
> Surely non-volition and dharma are contradictory?
I do not see them to be contradictory. If the buddhi is dharmic, I mean
by being dharmic, that it has purity, it has control of the senses, in
which case, the mind, which is a conduit between buddhi and the senses
behaves in a sattvic way]
> > In this, mind is always under control of the buddhi.
> How can there be control without volition?
I do not understand. How can a mind kept under check by pure buddhi imply
> The concept of non-volition is pure poison at the vyaavahaarika level;
I would like to know why it is pure poison at the vyavahaarika level.
Please keep in mind, unless we reach paramaartha level [unless the Self
chooses to reveal Itself to Itself], we are all in the vyavahaarika level.
We cover a wide spectrum ranging from where the jeeva thinks it is doing
everything to where the jeeva is in perfect harmony with non-volition.
Not only non-volition, any view is at vyavahaarika level only. However,
would you not agree that, of all the views held at vyavahaarika level,
non-volition may be the noblest. At least, it recognizes that no
accomplishment is due to individual's own effort, but due to something
beyond. Non-volition (if honestly accepted) recognizes the limitations
of the ego.
> it does, however, have a useful explanatory function at the praatibhaasika
> level. Consider someone having a particularly intense "spiritual experience"
> (for lack of a better phrase) so that the effects of the altered state of
> consciousness run on for days and weeks afterwards, with the senses operating
> at such a fine level that one can for example, see the inside of things,
> i.e. the surfaces which limit the physical senses, are quite transparent;
> when there is direct perception that there is no solid physical world at
> all, that it is just a trick of the light, then praatibhaasika descriptions
> are resorted to, and "non-volition" is simply a statement of the obvious.
> However, on returning to the vyaavahaarika level, the praatibhaasika
> descriptions revert to theory (i.e. they are not directly perceived),
> and concepts such as non-volition must be abandoned as inapropriate.
> Sadly, it can easily happen that the ego claims the experience as a
> mark of its spiritual development, and thereby stores up great trouble
> for the future: one effect of this claiming is to cling to a concept,
> such as non-volition, as a core belief. You need not accept my word
> on this, just examine earlier posts on this thread, and you will find
> the admission that non-volition is a _belief_ that is based on a _past_
> spiritual experience.
Aren't all concepts based on belief only ? Whether it is by past spiritual
experience, or by intuition, they are still beliefs only. Even advaita is
a belief. The only tool which the human has to try to understand the Self
is logic. The human tries to fit it into his/her logical scheme. But
understanding the Self is beyond logic and beyond the perception of the
> May we simply cease speculating about non-volition and return to
> the original purpose of the thread, namely the elucidation of the
> apaurushheya words of your own Self, the Master of the chariot?
With this, I fully concur.
> Regards, Charles.
Sarvaagamaanaa maachaarah prathamam parikalpathe !
Sage Vyasa in Maha Bharatha
For all (incoming) knowledge, discipline is the most fundamental.
More information about the Advaita-l mailing list