ADVAITA-L Digest - 10 Sep 2002 to 11 Sep 2002 (#2002-230)

Stig Lundgren slu at CHELLO.SE
Thu Sep 12 10:23:43 CDT 2002

Namaste to Michael and you all,

Well, I know I have been silent on this list for quite a while
(due to lack of time, not lack of interest!) but I would like to
comment upon parts of Michaels posting:

1.) Different philosophers have different ways of saying the same
at different times.  For example, this list is for the study of
teachings of Shri Shankaraji; but WHICH teachings of his?

There are no different teachings of Adi Shankara. Apparent
contradictions are due to the fact that many readers of Shankara
seems to be ignorant of that Shankara describes reality from two
different standpoints: vyavaharika (empirical standpoint) and
paramatmika (absolute standpoint). This is for pedagogical
reasons only; Shankara never claims that there are two different
absolute realities! From the vyavaharika standpoint, reality
seems to consist of an endless plurality of objects; that is the
world as we see experience it with our ears, eyes, etc., in other
world with our senses. According to Shankara, this empirical
world is due to avidya (nescience). In fact, Brahman is all that
truly exists. The empirical world is just a misconception of
Brahman. But since we are ignorant of this fact, we believe that
the world of plurality is the real world. Moreover, we identify
ourselves with our body, feelings and thoughts. But this is all
due to avidya. From the absolute standpoint there is only
Brahman. The purpose of Advaita Vedanta and Adi Shankara´s
teachings is to dispell this avidya. According to Shankara, this
is also the purpose of the Upanishads. When avidya is dispelled
then only Brahman is left.

Yet to a purist, that's outright dualism (WHAT Shiva??) ... and
from the MASTER of advaita!

This is one of the most common misconceptions of Advaita Vedanta.
Many people seems to think that a jivanmukta have ceased to
experience differences with their senses, as if everything
suddenly turned completely black, completely white, completely
void or whatever. Apparently, the great masters of the Advaita
Vedanta tradition have no problems talking to their disciples, or
to other people as well for that matter. Apparently, they still
experience the world with their senses. They still see the same
world as any other human being. But there is one major and
fundamental difference: They are no longer attached to the world.
They know (really KNOW) that this world is only due to avidya.
They are liberated from the bounds of the material world. They
can still see and talk to you, but they really knows that you,
themselves and everything else in this world is actually Brahman.
And they know that the world of manifold is due to avidya. So if
Shankara talked about Shiva, this does not imply that he actually
believed in plurality and dualism.

Bottom line: Studying a philosophy or spiritual science is
for bringing a sense of peace and guidance to one's life

Well, the the ultimate goal of the study of Advaita Vedanta is to
get liberated from samsara, not for gaining anything mundane such
as guidance or peace. Of course, Advaita Vedanta can bring you
peace of mind, but that´s actually just a side-effect.

-- and
especially to one's last breath -- not merely for microfinite
and disputation.  To those who argue "how many angels dance on
the head
of a pin?" -- that is, for the disputationally-oriented -- I hope
trust that such dissection brings the sought-for contentment.

Don´t you think that analysis and sharply defined concepts
actually helps the serious student of Advatia Vedanta? How can we
know what Gaudapada, Shankara, Sureshvara and others actually say
if we don´t care to dwell into details sometimes? Anyone who has
read Shankara´s original writings knows that he is very, very
accurate and elaborate. He is extremely careful to be logically
consistent and to make use of clearly defined concepts. He is
totally alien to the view that details and logic doesn´t matter.
Many westerners of today seems to think that only "experience"
counts. They prefer a weekend-course for a couple of hundred
dollars in order to learn how to talk to God, how to stare into
crystals, how to experience earlier lives etc. etc. They also
prefer to visit a couple of so-called satsangs in order to
experience non-duality. Of course, this is much easier and more
time-saving than learning sanskrit or/and actually study the
writings of Shankara. It is also very popular to claim that this
"alternative" way actually leads to the same non-duality that
Shankara is talking about. The only problem is that Shankara
himself would never, ever had agreed on this. :-)

 According to Sai Baba, this Nalin / Narin is no less
than the reincarnation of Swami Vivekananda!
Whether or not this is true is unimportant.  That Sai Baba would
a person he even just  BELIEVES to be so clearly traced -- via
Ramakrishna lineage -- to Shankaraji, is statement enough of his
for Shankaracharaya's teachings.

Vivekananda is anything but traditional Advaita Vedanta, so maybe
it doesn´t says that much after all...

7.) If the Self is the same in all beings -- see Krishna in the
Gita --
the "setting hen" is perfectly fine as an analogy representative
"samadhi in action."  Watch one and learn.

Whether a sitting hen is comparable to samadhi or not, the fact
is that Adi Shankara clearly says that samadhi is not the way to
liberation (moksha). We all experience non-duality in deep-sleep
every night, but we are still ignorant when waking up in the
morning. The same is true - according to Shankara - of samadhi.

8.) At the highest level, the Buddhists and advaitins are saying
same thing ... as are yogi/nis and Hindus ...

No they are not. There are several important and vital
differences between Buddhism and Advaita Vedanta, as pointed out
by Jaldhar in his response to you yesterday. If Shankara and the
buddhists were actually saying the same thing, why do you think
that Shankara makes such an effort in order to refute the
different schools of Buddhism?

Warmest regards
Stig Lundgren

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