The link between Vyavaharika and Paramartika

Prashant Sharma psharma at BUPHY.BU.EDU
Sat May 2 09:39:04 CDT 1998

On Wed, 29 Apr 1998, Chandran, Nanda (NBC) wrote:

> We've been discussing on the nature of the Self for more than two weeks
> now and I've been coming up with incoherent arguments without a clear
> understanding of what I'm not clear about!
> Fifteen minutes outside on a beautiful day like today with a printout of
> Rama's post, helped to clear my thoughtsand my doubts - to some extent.
> Let me try to state clearly my understanding and my doubts :
> Brahman is Eternal. Brahman is the Absolute. Hence Brahman is incapable
> of change and action.
> The standard theory is that 'I' get influenced by the mind and the
> senses, which doesn't allow me to realize my true nature. So this 'I'
> cannot be the Brahman, which is Eternal and Absolute and incapable of
> being influenced.
> The further theory is that this 'I' is a composite entity. It's made up
> of the mind, the senses, the Ego and the Consciousness. OK, Meditation,
> self-observation and logic does prove that the mind and the senses are
> apart from the "I". That leaves the Ego and the Conciousness.
> Ego is generally defined as the "I" in the doer. It has been my
> practical experience that "I" am able to be in a state without the sense
> of the doer. So is this the Consciousness? But why can't "I" who can
> have a sense of doership change into a state without a sense of
> doership? Inshort why can't the entity we define as the Ego itself
> transform into a sense of non-doership? So how far is it justified in
> trying to have two seperate entities - the Ego and the Conciousness.

        Having no sense of the doer doesnot imply that the doer is absent.
For if the doer is absent then clearly no *thing* is done, which is
contrary to your observation. If you analyse things a bit further you will
realise that there is always a doer, for the way we operate everything is
done for something.  There is nothing which is done for "its own sake".

> And if the Conciousness is infact the Ego without a sense of doership,
> it still cannot be Eternal and Absolute, as it's being influenced by the
> mind, the senses and there by it's transformation as the Ego.

        There is no way of "knowing" that you are consciousness (I mean
the way one knows that one is 'alive and kicking').  All these things are
more often inferred.  Also there is a sense in which AtmaAn is considered
the basis of it all which is not simply an equality. An oft quoted example
is that of light.  One cannot recognise white light, unless it disperses
into its constituent colours. And one says that "this is red or that this
is green".  One cannot equate white light to any one colour, but can do so
to all of them collectively.

> The Conciouness that we have is said to be the reflection of the Self.
> But the Self is defined as being incapable of action - so how can it
> cause a reflection?
        Again in the sense of the example given above.

> As I stated in my mail earlier today, if indeed all that we experience
> in the Vyavaharika level is Maya - then Maya is all encompassing. So
> even the Conciousness is only in the realm of Maya. I'm unable to
> understand how anything Eternal and Absolute can exist in me in the
> realm of Maya? If it indeed does exist I cannot understand a connection
> between it and "I".

        mAyA is not all encompassing.  mAyA is limited to the word, which
is knowledge.  Since there is no thought without word it follows that in
our present avatAr we cannot see beyond mAyA.  This is also why we have to
realise that eventhough the sages tell us that we are of the nature of
AtmAn we will never be able to know that in the same way as we know other
things around us.  The reason you cannot understand the connection between
AtmAn and what you are currently is because we understand things
piecewise (because our understanding is through words, which are
discontinuous). For example how do we claim an understanding of the world.
We do so by knowing the laws of nature.  But there is another level of
understanding involved in infering that a particular system behaves in the
way it does on the basis of those laws. Infact in this level of
understanding new laws are propounded (which are central to the observed
phenomenology), connections to the basic laws are then shown.  And it is
concluded that we understand the system to some extent.  Of course the
understanding is rarely complete (for real systems it simply cannot be
complete).  All this because the way we understand things is piecewise.
That is the way we function one has to accept these limitations.

> It's stated that in the Paramartika level it's Non-Dual. There is only
> an experience of being "One".

        For a "jnani" there can be no experience.  That is why it is
non-dual. All experiences start a cycle of activity which is avidyA.  For
example a "bad" experience implies that next time similar situations shall
be avoided and so on.

> So how can the link be made to the Vyavaharika, where the everything is
> an illusion and the Paramartika, where there's only Non-Duality?

        Clearly none can be made.  Think about what you are trying to do.
You think that you are something more than what you currently are.  And
you have to achieve that.  But you don't even know that you are currently
something, so how can you be something else?  One has to accept that what
we are is really only limited to what we know (memory, word ...).  Then it
follows that there is no*thing* else that you can be. The problem is are
you dissatisfied with this limitation, or do you want to boost your ego by
saying that you are more than this, that you are consciousness sublime and
all these hot-shot new age terms.  Or do you want to follow your vedic
dharma and realise this limitation and thus eventually attain brahmAn.


> The crux of my whole argument lies in the question as to how "I", who am
> Eternal and Absolute, can exist in the realm of Maya?

>         Because e-mail can be altered electronically,
>         the integrity of this communication cannot be guaranteed.

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