Unreality of the world: a further analogy

Allan Curry un824 at FREENET.VICTORIA.BC.CA
Thu Jun 19 11:13:27 CDT 1997

Vidyasankar writes:

>Traditional advaita vedAnta has no problem here, because it accepts Sruti
>as a valid source of knowledge. Note that the entire set of questions you
>ask is based on the possibility of knowing things through perception. But
>advaita vedAnta gives valid epistemological status to Sruti, and things
>that are not perceived or inferred can be taken as given truths if
>scripture says so. And numerous Sruti statements make it a logical
>necessity that the world-Self is identical to own-Self. (I avoid
>world-in-itself because of its possible dualistic implications here.)

It seems most religions base themselves on some kind of scripture which
gives valid epistemological status to "things that are not perceived
or inferred" in any other way. Most religions feel quite certain that their
scripture is correct and the other fellow's scripture is "make believe".
I had hoped Advaita Vedanta could establish its truth independently of
Sruti (if that means scripture) and perhaps it can although it seems
a little doubtful to me at this point.

>Without scripture, one has to rely on a mystic insight. However, one has
>to be careful about what kind of mystic insight can be granted
>epistemological validity, or otherwise. For example, when Sri Lakshman Joo
>describes the non-dual experience in Pratyabhijna Saivism as one where the
>world is 'digested into oneself', this rings true to my ears, if only
>because it sounds remarkably like the 'prapancopaSamam' described in the
>mANDUkya upanishad. But frankly, the mystic insight claimed by a number of
>other teachers in the world today makes me suspicious, to say the least.
>However, I have not come across any criteria by which one mystic's insight
>is acceptable as more true than another's. It is only the "gut" feeling
>(the manas with its function of samSaya) that I am describing here.

I am reminded of Nietzsche's comment, "fine feelings are not arguments".
I myself have experienced non-dual awareness in waking and sleep states
countless times over a period of several years and it is not clear to me
why this "state" should be interpreted to be more ontologically basic than
any other. It does seem profoundly peaceful, joyously complete, and
perfectly simple, but so what? Why should I assume it is the ontological
foundation of the universe rather than a very enjoyable mode of brain
function?  It may be either I suppose or even some other possibility.

When Sankara was asked how he knew he was Brahman he replied,
"because my guru said I was". How lucky he was to have recourse to such
a simple ending of doubt!

best to all,

Allan Curry

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