[Advaita-l] Permanence of the self

H S Chandramouli hschandramouli at gmail.com
Wed Feb 18 01:51:31 CST 2015

Dear Sri Venkataraghavan,

 Reg 2) His second point was that if something did have true independent
existence, it would be impossible to cognize it. That is, the very act
of knowledge implies an observer and the observed, and then it no
longer is a non-dual system. Without being able to cognise that
existence, it would be as good as it not existing at all.

 Yes. Any act of knowledge implies an observer and the observed. However
when the observer and the observed are jada ( inert ) , that is incapable
of the act of cognition by themselves, an enabling entity is needed to
enable such cognition. For such an entity there need not be any action
needed to enable it. Just its presence itself could enable it. The nearest
illustration is that of the Sun. In the absence of sunlight no visual
cognition occurs. The presence of the Sun enables such cognition without
any action by the Sun. Just its presence enables it. We can now consider
the experience of all of us. We are aware of the Creation in our waking
state. When we pass on to the dream state, we cognize the dream creation.
Even though there is nothing in common between these two creations, we do
have the knowledge ( in the waking state where this analysis is being done
) that it is the same cognizing entity ( namely ourselves ) which
experienced both the creations. We can now consider the deep sleep state.
We only have recollection of that state. The recollection is that no
creation was experienced. Not even Time. Also we enjoyed unalloyed pure
happiness. Note that this is only a recollection in the waking state. Also
our cognition is that it is the same entity ( namely ourselves ) which had
earlier experienced the two types of creation that is having this
recollection also. This is not logically possible unless there was some
other entity which “ witnessed “ all these three states independently and
enabled us to cognize the same as such . This enabling is not done as an
act on its part but happens just by its proximity or its presence because
it happens all the time automatically as it were and is universal. Your
Budhist friend also can vouch for it.

 We can now consider our experience with the passage of time. Right from
our childhood days through to our last days we change so much both mentally
and physically that it is practically impossible to recognize that it is
the same single entity ( namely ourselves ) which has experienced all these
changes unless that is brought to our attention automatically and all the
time by a “ Witnessing Agent “ who is independent of the experiencing
entity ( namely ourselves ) . This again confirms what was concluded
previously that such a “ Witness “ is “ existent “ all the time and in all
the states ( waking/dream/deep sleep ) which by its mere proximity or
presence enables such cognition. This being a universal experience it can
be logically postulated that a “ permanent “ conscious entity exists which
is what your Budhist friend is disputing. It is not necessary that such an
entity must itself be cognizable. It can be inferred. Even Budhists admit
inference as permissible in a postulation. If your friend does not agree
with this postulation he needs to logically refute such a possibility.

 Having said this, I would like to add that going by pure logic this can at
best be a postulate only and not an assertion. That is the limitation of
logic by definition. The assertion that it IS so is possible only through
the Shrutis. But that is a different story. I am very sorry if this has
become too long. Please bear with me. I really did not want to make it too
brief as I thought it could be misunderstood as it usually happens in
forums like this where we do not know each other personally.


On Tue, Feb 17, 2015 at 3:59 PM, Venkatraghavan S via Advaita-l <
advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org> wrote:

> Dear all,
> I work in an office where my boss is a Buddhist, of the Madhyamaka
> tradition of Nagarjuna. We tend to have several lively debates on the
> nature of reality, and one of the questions that we have recently engaged
> on is the concept of a permanent Brahman (self) onto which this universe,
> including the BMI, is superimposed due to avidya.
> Unsurprisingly, he opposes the very notion of a self, and more
> fundamentally, the idea of permanence itself (even on a parAmArthika
> basis). His view, coming from the Nagarjuna school is of shunyata, or
> emptiness (mutual interdependence of everything). And that emptyness itself
> is empty.
> What are the arguments that I can make to prove the existence of the
> Universal self to him?
> I am aware of Sri Shankara Bhagavatpada's argument in the Brahma Sutra
> Bhashya that to deny the self is illogical - the denier would have to have
> a self in existence with which to deny the self. And if he didn't have a
> self, then the denial wouldn't exist. However, and my understanding is
> limited here - How does this in itself establish the permanence of the
> self? At best, it seems to me that this argument proves that the denier's
> ego at a fixed point in time, not the universal, permanent self. I suspect
> he could also reject the idea of an individual self, instead saying that it
> is the momentary mind that denies, in that example.
> I can point him to shruti vAkya pramAna, but to someone that denies the
> prAmanyam of shruti, that wouldn't be effective. Any suggestions?
> Regards,
> Venkat
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