An Advaita Menu?

Miguel Angel Carrasco nisargadata at MX3.REDESTB.ES
Sun Dec 21 13:27:01 CST 1997

After three months in the List, I get the impression that there are
different tendencies within Advaita. Previously, I had thought that it was
such a simple, radical position that it admitted only slightly diverging
presentations of the same principle:
^ÓThere is only the Absolute, and I am That. All else is imagination^Ô.
But now I see there is a sort of (limited) Menu, from which one can choose.

I have tried to make up a list of some of the various opinions I have found
so far, omitting those that seemed to me outright dualist, and also those
regarding Creation. Please don^Òt be too strict with how I have presented
each position (summarily and no doubt not very correctly). That was not my
purpose now, just to point to the different possible interpretations, which
we could refine much more later on.

What now I would like is to get (brief) comments from as many members as
possible on the following Menu. To begin with, just answers like, for
^ÓI think Positions I-B,  II-A  and  III-C are not Advaita (because...).
I subscribe to I-A, II-B and III-C.^Ô

I will be the first in this sort of survey:
I personally subscribe to I-A and II-B, but doubt between III-A and B.

I think it would be interesting to get many answers, even very brief, in
order to 1) better know how the others think; and 2) further clarify these
imo fundamental issues.

The Advaita Menu :


  A.  Nirguna is Pure Awareness, contentless Consciousness.
  B.  Nirguna is self-less, unlocalized Consciousness with contents
(knowledge of past and future).

II) In Saguna Brahman, regarding the WORLD :

  A.  The World is just an erroneous illusion, the product of Maya (a
mysterious creative power which occludes Brahmans^Òs true nature). The very
perception of multiplicity is the result of a positive, misleading
nescience (Avidya). With enlightenment (Moksha), the illusory plurality and
self-identification with the body-mind disappear.

  B.  The World is Brahman^Òs wonderful manifestation, though only existing
contents of its Consciousness (Saguna) and not as real, independent being.
Avidya consists in: 1) taking the World as really existing outside
Consciousness, which results in 2) self-identification with the body-mind
(bondage). With enlightenment, both mistakes are removed, and the World is
seen as Brahman^Òs lila.

III)    In Saguna Brahman, regarding THE SELF :

  A.  The Self (Atman-Brahman) is the un-embodied Witness of the imagined
World, which is experienced only once. Jivas are merely empty name-forms
without life or consciousness, like the characters in a film. Therefore
there is no avidya, no bondage and no liberation. Just a showing-watching
of the World by only one spectator.

  B.  Part 1.  The Self (Atman-Brahman) is the embodied Witness of an
imagined World that is experienced many times, in the many jivas, which are
the body-mind apparatus that the one Atman uses to watch the common
imaginary plurality. As these body-minds are different, the experience that
Atman gets through each is different, resulting in different though
imagined individual lives, like many varying versions of the same film.
Part 2.  Nonetheless, in all experiences the Self remains the unaffected
Witness. Therefore avidya, bondage and liberation are just part of the
film, imagined. All ideas of freedom, choice, morality, etc. are equally

  C. Part 1. Same as in B. Part 1.
Part 2. In most (or all) of these experiences, the Self is the victim of
self-identification with the imaginary body-mind, and is open to
self-realization and enlightenment depending on the use it makes of its
freedom. The ideas of avidya (self-delusion), responsibility for one^Òs
actions (karma), spiritual search (sadhana), liberation (moksha), etc have
all their usual meaning and are real events. The Self is here like an actor
playing different roles in different versions of the same theatre play
and with some freedom to improvise.

Thanks for your answers, and HAPPY CHRISTMAS, my friends !

--Miguel Angel
>From ADVAITA-L at TAMU.EDU Mon Dec 22 09:09:42 1997
Message-Id: <MON.22.DEC.1997.090942.0330.ADVAITAL at TAMU.EDU>
Date: Mon, 22 Dec 1997 09:09:42 -0330
Reply-To: "Advaita (non-duality) with reverence" <ADVAITA-L at TAMU.EDU>
To: "Advaita (non-duality) with reverence" <ADVAITA-L at TAMU.EDU>
From: Gummuluru Murthy <gmurthy at MORGAN.UCS.MUN.CA>
Subject: essence of advaita (was Re: solipsism and advaita)
Comments: To: "Advaita (non-duality) with reverence" <ADVAITA-L at TAMU.EDU>
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On Thu, 18 Dec 1997, Chelluri wrote:

>                                          Brahmaiva Satyam
> Namaste!
>                      YOU ARE REAL     OR     YOU ARE IT!
> This is the essence of advaita as I understand.  I am willing to learn if it
> has different meaning.
>                                                                  Nageswar

Again, in the absence of response from learned members, I would like to
come forward with my view.

Shri Shankaracarya put the essence of advaita in the following verse:

Brahmah satyam jagan mithya
jeevo brahmaiva nah parah

The Brahman (of the upanishhads) is the only Reality; and everything else
is unreal. The individual soul is identical with Brahman and is nothing

Advaita, as I understand it, is that Nirguna Brahman is the substratum of
all and all is Nirguna Brahman. Advaita also includes the statement, that
you and I, and the snake and the mirage are all Nirguna Brahman. The
statement above, by Shri Nageswar, is only part of the advaitic essence.
The recognition "You are It" includes that YOU are not the intellect, the
discriminator between Real and unreal, YOU are not the flow of thought
that makes Shri Nageswar's statement appear on the advaita-list, nor YOU
are not the body that moves from work to home to work to participate in
the daily activities. YOU are the consciousness, that resides in the deep
cavity of the heart, the same as the consciousness of Gummuluru Murthy or
any other List-member. The recognition "You are It" also includes that
"Everything is IT".

In this context, I have two questions to the list-members:

1. Re the verse "Brahmah satyam jagan mithya ....", ascribed to Shri
Shankara: where did this verse appear (in which grantha or bhAshhya) ?

2. For an intellectual advaitin, which is more difficult to grasp ?

   Brahmah satyam jagan mithya


   Jeevo brahmaiva nah parah

Gummuluru Murthy
... aham bhAvodayAbhAvo bodhasya paramAvadhih ...
                        Shri Shankara in Viveka ChuDAmaNi (verse 424)

The end of the rise of the sense of "I" of the ego is the culmination
of knowledge.

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