[Advaita-l] adhyAsa - part XII - its cause

Jay Nelamangala jay at r-c-i.com
Thu Jun 12 06:00:26 CDT 2003

The knowledge of reality may be regarded as an obstruction
to superposition or as something opposed to superposition.

So far we have seen that it is  irrelevant to take the knowledge of 
reality into consideration in explaining
the appearance and disappearance of superposition.
So, it must be true that knowledge of reality is not an obstruction to 
superposition, but knowledge of reality  is opposed to superposition.

    Let us now take the other case that the knowledge of reality is
opposed to superposition into consideration,  and examine how the 
thing that is opposed causes the disappearance of the effect.  We
always explain the disappearance of an effect  by the
presence of something that is opposed to it,  only when the effect is
likely to appear in the absence of the opposed thing.  This implies
that the effect has always a cause that is seperate from the thing 
that is opposed.  Applying the same consideration to the case of
superposition we are now in a position to say explicitly that
superposition,  the effect in question,  has a cause which is seperate
from the knowledge of reality that is opposed to it.

    Of these two entities, the cause and the thing opposed, with reference
to production of the effect, the cause is more important than the thing
that is opposed.  Consistently with these considerations, it is always
natural to explain the presence and absence of an effect by the 
presence and absence of its cause.   The presence and absence of
other things are of secondary importance and they do not help us
when we are concerned with the production of an effect from its cause.

    From these considerations it follows that it is quite correct to hold
that the appearance and disappearance of superposition pre-suppose
those of its cause.   This implies that superposition has a cause.
We term this cause "nescience".

    We can not consider the defect of sense-organ itself as the 
material cause of superposition.  For the material cause of something
does reside in the same place as the effect.   But  superposition
and the defect of the sense do not occupy the same place.
Superposition resides in Atman and the defect lies in sense-organ;
and therefore the latter cannot be the material cause of the former.

( Sometimes it is stated in Advaita works that the superposition of
silver on a shell resides in the shell   and the nescience that is the
material cause of that superposition resides in Atman.  In all such
cases,  we have to understand that the superposition is really in
Atman and it has only some relation to the shell ;  and in this sense
it is stated that the superposition of silver is in the shell ).
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