[Advaita-l] Is enlightenment a myth?
svidyasankar at hotmail.com
Mon Jan 27 12:36:47 CST 2014
> I am not attacking any teacher, just a general doubt.
I will go a bit further and say, when it comes to this or that master whom people claim to
be enlightened, because of some unique and special transformative experience, keep your
hat of doubt on! Such experience may not be as transformative as they make it out to be,
nor so unique nor special. It depends on the person and you would do well to observe
what they do and say very keenly, before reposing your trust.
> People often say 'this man is enlightened' or 'she became enlightened after doing this sadhana' etc. etc. Basically, they're referring to some 'big experience' that the person concerned has had - they don't refer to book knowledge such as tat twam asi or aham brahmasmi. When they use the word 'enlightenment', they go way beyond knowledge and point to some sort of radical experience.
tat tvam asi and ahaM brahmAsmi are not merely elements of book knowledge. The very
upanishad texts that give us these sentences also tell us that such brahman is sAkshAt and
aparokshAt. So, inasmuch as these books are concerned, one has to grant the possibility
that people exist or have existed, for whom ahaM brahmAsmi is/was not just book jnAna.
> But isn't this misleading? There couldn't possibly be an experience of the nondual Brahman - there is no subject or object. Whatever we experience is going to be reduced to the three states like waking etc. The 4th is not a state but more like a basis of three states, so that isn't something one can experience, especially not in our current state with body/mind.
You have to make up your mind whether the turIya is merely a theoretical construct that
serves as the basis of the jAgrat-svapna-sushupti states or if it really exists. If it really is,
then the only way to know it is to be it. There is no reason to think that those who tell
us about the turIya did not have a body/mind. On the other hand, if it is only a theoretical
construct, then it follows that the turIya is nothing more than a mental creation. In this
case, it is already something real, which has been perceived by at least one human mind
or it is a completely unreal thing, like the SaSaSRnga.
Barring that last possibility of complete unreality, it follows that one has to cast aside the
notion that the person in the body/mind is incapable of experiencing oneself as turIya. So,
enlightenment in this sense is not just a myth.
It boils down to this. If you conclude that bondage never exists, then enlightenment
also never happens. If you conclude that bondage always exists, and there is never any
escape from it, for anyone, then enlightenment is a total impossibility for everyone. If
you conclude that bondage itself is a myth, then enlightnment is a myth as well. If you
conclude that bondage appears to exist, then enlightenment also appears to happen.
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