[Advaita-l] A Perspective -24

Kuntimaddi Sadananda ksadananda108 at gmail.com
Fri Mar 19 10:44:18 CDT 2010

*Obstacles for Spiritual Knowledge – 3.*

We are discussing the obstacles to our spiritual progress. Krishna says in
Gita- 4th chapter – sloka 40 that there are three main obstacles for
spiritual progress: - 1. avidya (ignorance) 2. ashraddha (lack of faith) 3.
samshaya (doubts about the goal and the means). Shraddha or faith is the
most essential for knowledge as Krishna says shraddhaavan labhate jnaanam.
The major obstacle for spiritual knowledge is therefore the lack of
shraddhaa that Krishna points out again and again. We discussed in the last
post that mahaavaakyas are not descriptive type but introductory type in the
sense that as in any introduction, it introduces all about who I am that is
directly present all the time. Still the knowledge does not take place
immediately for many because of the lack of faith in the pramANa or in the
Vedanta mahaavaakyam that shows the identity of the self and the universal
self.  This is discussed below taking the 10th man example where the
knowledge is also direct and immediate, since the words are also of
introductory type. That is, the missing 10th is directly and immediately
present, when the teacher says – you are the 10th man – tat tvam asi.

*Lack of Shraddhaa that I am the missing 10th man*:  In the 10th man story,
the seeker himself is the sought. As long as the seeker and the sought are
one and the same, any amount of seeking will be a failure since in the very
seeking, one has already resolved that the sought is not there where the
seeker is. This very conclusion that the 10th man is not here and is lost
hinders the discovery of the 10th man, since one is looking outward for the
missing 10th man. 10th man is neither inside the seeker nor outside the
seeker – He is the very seeker himself. Discovery of the 10th man is
hindered because of the following reasons

1. One is mechanically receiving the message from a teacher. His mind is not
abiding in the knowledge given by the teaching that you are the 10th man
that you are seeking. In this case the seeker is busily absorbed in
searching for the 10th man outside, thinking that he must be somewhere
out-there.  That very conclusion will hinder the discovery of the 10th man.
He has preconceived notions about the missing 10th man, that he is not
anywhere around here, but somewhere out there outside the range of one’s
vision, for if he is inside the range of vision, he would have seen
the 10thman.
 The seeker is not paying attention to the teaching because his mind is
preoccupied in looking for the 10th man outside as an entity different from
himself. In addition, he is very much engulfed in sorrow for not finding the
10th man, and concluding that he is lost. Thus, he is busy objectifying the
10th man and trying to locate him somewhere. His very desire to locate the
10th man out in front as recognizable entity separate from the nine that he
is seeing right now, prevents him to see himself as the 10th man.

Similarly in the case of the self-knowledge one is busily engaged in what
Swami Paramarthanandji calls it as PORT – Possessions, Obligations,
Relations and Transactions or busy with the five-fold anaatma - profession,
family, body, mind and intellect – the five anaatmas that one cannot but
encounters during day to day transactions. Hence Krishna says- asaktiH
anabhiShvangaH putradaara gRihaadiShu| - for the knowledge to take place the
mind should be free from any longing attachments towards the sense-objects,
towards those on whom one depends, and those who depend on the one.  That is
to get rid of all the attachments that result in raaga and dweShas or likes
and dislikes or those that give pleasure and pain – shukam and duHkham –
that is what Krishnas says – dvandvaas - the experiential dualities.  Krishna
gives examples - hot and cold (seetam and uShNam) at the body level,
pleasure and pain (sukham and duHkham) at mind level and praise and insult
(maanam and upamaanaama) at the intellect level. Because these distract the
mind, they contribute to the lack of shraddhaa or faith in the teaching of
mahaavaakya. At the BMI level they are difficult to avoid. At the same time
one should be vigilant not to get carried away by them. Hence scripture says
it is a razor-edge path – kshurasya dhaaraa.  Krishna says – aagamaa paayino
anityaaH, tan tithikshava bhaarata| - they come and go. Therefore they are
impermanent and have only temporal validity. One has to forbear them, and
keep the mind not to get carried away by those temporary inconveniences. No
one can avoid them, since praarabda brings in what is destined – that
includes all dvandvaas or all ups and downs.  One has to develop an attitude
of karma yoga and prasaada bhuddi or acceptance without any reaction, which
helps in developing the samatvam or equanimity – samatvam yogam uchyate –
says Krishna. Looking for Brahman out there or a statement I have Vedanta
knowledge but now I want to experience Brahman indicates that one has not
understood the truth of Brahman. I am reminded of JK’s statement – it is not
the understanding as an understanding as a thought but the understanding as
an understanding as a fact. Until then mahaavaakya is not understood. A
similar statement is made by a student of Kena Up.

In the missing 10th man story, the one, who has desire to know the 10th man,
has already negated in counting all the nine people as they are not the
missing 10th man. The teacher has already assured that the 10th man exists
and hence the search for the 10th man is not going to be futile. In counting
the 9 people one has already negated that they are not the 10th man. Thus
no. 1 man means he is not the dashamaH or the 10th man. No. 2 is not the 10
th man. Thus by neti, neti or not No. 1, not No.2, etc he has already
negated all the men that are countable, and there is still a hunger as well
as anxiety to know the whereabouts of the 10th man. In the very counting of
the nine and in dismissing that they are not the tenth, there is the
10thman inherent in the counting, since he is the counter present in
all the
counting of nine-men. That which is there inherently in all the counting,
yet different from the counted ones, is the very counter that the counter
missed to count.  The 10th man is inherently present in all the negation of
the first second .. ninth man as not the 10th. When the teacher says you are
the missing 10th man, the knowledge can be direct and immediate as in the
introductory statement, where counter encounters the missing man directly
and immediately, provided he pays attention to the teaching and stops
looking for the 10th man elsewhere where he can never find him. I want to
know the 10th man and I am the only one left after excluding the nine
persons as not the 10th . After excluding the nine, there is no one else
left out there to exclude from the list as not the 10th. He has done his
saadhana by rejecting, neti, neti, of all the countable ones, namely1 to 9
persons as na dashamaH – as not the 10th person. He is mentally distressed
also indicative of samsaara. Fortunately or unfortunately he happened to be
the 10th man. When the teacher introduces the 10th man as you are the
10thman, words are direct and definitely produce doubtless knowledge
since all
other possibilities for being 10th are already eliminated. He does not have
look for the 10th man any more or meditate to experience the 10th man.  Does
he have to do Nidhidhyaasana as I am the 10th man to discover the 10th man,
since the scriptures says so?   He does not have to say now I know where the
10th man is and I need to sit down and do meditation on the 10th man to
recognize him.  The knowledge is immediate and direct when the teacher
introduces the 10th man by pointing to the person as you are the missing 10
th person. In the discovery of the 10th man one also recognizes that
10thman was never lost at any time in the past when everybody thought
that he
was last. The problem for not finding 10th man is only because that
everybody objectifying the 10th man as something different from the subject
who is doing the counting. Hence the fundamental problem in the lack of
recognition is the very objectification of the subject.

In the same way the Vedantic student after discarding everything else as
neti neti, what is left is only the existing-conscious entity, the self that
he is that he forgot to recognize. He does not have to wait to experience
Brahman, nor he has to gain some separate Brahman knowledge after gaining
self-knowledge via mahaavaakya that the self that you are is nothing but
that Brahman. (VishiShtaadvaita says one can gain self-knowledge but that is
only an intermediary step. Subsequently, and more importantly, one has to
attain Brahman by surrendering himself to the Lord.  Better thing to do is
to skip the intermediary self-knowledge step (since nothing much is
accomplished in this step) and go directly to attain the abode of the Lord.
For vishiShTaadvaitin self is of atomic size different from all the
pervading Vishnu).  In advaita, self is Brahman, and there are no two as
self and Brahman. From advaita point, no other corroborative experience is
required since the self is present directly and immediately and all the time
is being experienced. The mahaavaakya provides the pramANa vaakyam or
statement of fact introduces the self as the one is constantly present or
existent in all things because of which I am aware of the things in the
waking, dream and deep sleep state. PramANa alone by definition is a means
of knowledge, and without it no knowledge can take place. It is similar to
the fact that eyes can alone see the colors and forms as soon as one opens
the eyes, and if they are functioning. The knowledge gained by one pramANa
in its field of operation cannot be negated by another pramANa. For example
eyes see the colors and forms and the knowledge of colors and forms gained
by the eyes can not be negated by ears since their field of operation is
different from that of eyes. Similarly for the knowledge of the self which
is of the nature of the existence-consciousness-limitless, mahaavaakya alone
is pramANa. It is direct knowledge since it is of introductory in nature.
Vedanta vaakya pramANa is apurusheya pramANa, which is unquestionable. Other
pramANas can not either prove or disprove the Veda pramANa, since their
field operation is different. They are pramANa for anaatma and not for
aatma. Science which operates in the field of anaatma can never therefore
prove or disprove the existence of the self, the aatma since the filed of
operation for the instrument of knowledge is different.

Hence intense faith in the pramANa vaakyam namely tat tvam asi is essential
for knowledge to take place. For the knowledge gained to become firm or
abiding in spite of unavoidable transactions with the world of plurality
where raaga and dveshaas at transactional level are unavoidable even for a
jnaani, nidhidhyaasana on the knowledge gained is required, as prescribed by
the scriptures- nidhidhyaasitavyaH. Nidhidhyaasana is not going to give new
knowledge but helps to internalize the self-knowledge gained through
shravana and manana.

Hari Om!


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