Unreality of the world: a further analogy

Gummuluru Murthy gmurthy at MORGAN.UCS.MUN.CA
Thu Jun 19 20:36:55 CDT 1997

On Thu, 19 Jun 1997, Allan Curry wrote:

> 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.

May I point out here that advaita is not a religion, but a
philosophy. People have adopted advaita not because it is a
religion, but because it gives sound explanation for the human
perceptions. It is true that upanishhads are the base on which
advaita was developed. The upanishhads are the wise statements
put forward by people who experienced sat-chit-ananda, the
eternal bliss. While upanishhadic statements have been
interpreted in other ways, advaita still gives the sound basis
for understanding the upanishhads. We are in search of
understanding the root cause of birth, death, misery, pleasures,
affection, hatred etc; why do we go through this and is there
anything beyond that ? Advaita says that we go through these
opposites because of our ignorance. Recognize what is real and
what is unreal and seek what is real. One need not seek; It comes
to you.

We recognize the limitations of human. To explain happenings
beyond human ability and logic, we invoke God. But, is there
really God and creation ? Advaita philosophyy goes beyond God and
to universal non-duality and permanence. The concept of God is
required to practice humility, humbleness and for the melting of
the ego, which are fundamental pre-requisites for understanding
advaita. Once a person is ripe for understanding advaita, there
is no turning back. Advaita stands on its own independent of
Sruti. However, upanishhads being wise statements of experience
(I am sure no one can deny the wisdom of the upanishhads),
advaita has to be tested against the statements of the
upanishhads. Advaita being theory, upanishhads being statements
of experience, in case of conflict, naturally, the statement of
experience will take precedence over theory.

> 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.

Obviously the joy that was experienced by the brain at one moment
was replaced by the misery of the world the next moment. In my
view, what was experienced was not the ontological foundation of
the universe but simply a brain-function. If it were what you
call the ontological foundation of the universe (I will use sat-
chit-ananda for it), it would be permanent and not a function of

> 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!

I do not know this historical statement. I would be grateful for
reference to this statement.

> best to all,
> Allan Curry

Gummuluru Murthy
Yadaa sarve pramucyante kaamaa ye'sya hr^di shritaah
atha martyo'mr^to bhavatyatra brahma samashnute   Katha Upanishhad II.3.14

When all the desires that dwell in the heart fall away, then the mortal
becomes immortal, and attains Brahman even here.

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