Experience and Knowledge

Vaidya Sundaram shambho at GEOCITIES.COM
Mon Apr 26 17:11:35 CDT 1999


Ganesh Deivashikamani  on Monday, April 26, 1999 wrote:

> I would like to answer to one portion of ur question
> Particularly regarding the Experience?
> Everyday when we sleep we are one with the Atman that is at our true
> real state.
> Since layer of ignorance('I' being identfied with body and its
> desires) is covering we are not aware of that state. But we do say
> that 'I had a sound sleep'(no disturbance,no dreams)and enjoyed a
> bliss immediately afer waking up etc.
> This is called a 'Brahma Sukha'-The bliss of dreamless sleep;
> and 'Vasana Sukha'-The remembrance of the above for a few minutes
> immediately after waking.

 I beg to disagree. You seem to be referring to the state of deep, dreamless
sleep "shushupti" as the state where distinctions between the individual
Atman and Brahman vanishes. This is not so. In deep sleep, the mind and the
organs of perceptions cease to function. That is all. There is no "conscious
awareness" of Oneness. This stage of "being aware" of the "One-ness" is the
turiya state, and is reached in nirvikalpa samadhi.

> That the Bliss of deep sleep is 'Brahmananda', is the statement of
> scriptures.

 I have not seen any references to deep dreamless sleep being interpreted
the way you are doing. Please provide the reference. In the VivekachUdAmani,
our ShankarAcharya says that turiya state is this state, and deep sleep is
only a state where the mind and the organs of perception do not operate.

> That some persons take elaborate care to provide
> themselves with downy beds to sleep on,is that fact which supports it.
> That in that state,all sense of right and wrong,of man or woman,of in
> or out is totally lost as at the time of the embrace of the
> beloved,is the experience which confirms it. So it is
> 'Brahmananda',sure and certain.

 Far from being certain, you example quite contradicts the claim of
"Oneness". If someone takes extra care to make sure that his sleep is good,
then you are necessarily "creating" conditions suitable for the attainment
of that state, thereby implicitly qualifying the state as that which can be
"attained". This is not true in the case of samadhi where, by the knowledge
of the unity of the individual Atman and Brahman, is meant the shedding of
the apparent multiplicity and not other wise.

> The next obvious question that arise in your mind will be
> "In that case,why should any one lose hold of that non-dual Bliss of
> Brahman and come out of it?"
> Well 'The person is drawn out by the forces of his past karma.

No. Even if you are here talking about being drawn back to mundane existence
from a brief initial experience with samadhi, it is not because of Karma.
Our BhagavatpAda has stated clearly that this is due to the residual vasanas
in the aspirant, and must be gaurded against. The aspirant has already shed
karmas in the process of tivra mumukshutva. Karma cannot drag him to the
world again.

> the man who has just  wakened from deep sleep,does not immediately
> lose the happiness of sleep for hes does not bestir himself at once
> nor forget the happiness. This short interval of peace which is
> neither sleep nor waking,is the Blis of  remembrance. The moment your
> mind rest on the desires this bliss is lost and you are engulfed by
> worldly thoughts.

 again, can you please provide references to these ...

> Now what is the difference between Experienced person and an ordinary
> man.
> When any human being realizes,or go through this Universal
> Consciousness his life is changed forever

 Your language is suggestive of a "transformation" happening in the
"experiencer" of this "state of awareness". It is far from it. brahmavit
brahmaiva bhavati - the knower of Brahman realises that he has always been
Brahman. In this sense he becomes brahman, but remember, he is Brahman at
all times. So there is no "change" ...

Parisi & Watson  on Sun, 25 Apr 1999 wrote:

> >I'm confused about the relationship between experience and knowledge,
> >especially when the experience is of a 'mystical' nature. We commonly
> >say that reason and discrimination can take us only up to a certain
> >point, and after that one must experience the truth directly. But
> does
> >experience always deliver certain knowledge in a way that is beyond
> >question or interpretation?

When sruti and AchArya say that the teachings are to be validated in
experience, they mean experience of the "mytical" nature only. Experiencing
pain and pleasure and other worldly events is not a part of the discussion.
Hence, by the very nature of the argument, truth is not "seen" or obtained,
and is never absolutely true because we "experienced" it.  But this is not
to say that experience is not proof. Sri Shankara has himself stated "When
one feels in his heart that he has realised Brahman and yet hoilds the body,
how can this be denied by another?" (BSB vi.1.15)
 What I am trying to say (and not confusing you at best :-)) is that,
experientlial reality (by which mean vyavahArika, the mundane worlds we all
see) and "real experience" (by which I mean pAramArtika) are two separate
entities and should not be confused with each other. The experiences of each
realm should be clearly demarcated, and analysed with respect to the laws
that apply to that realm.

> >If it does, then how do we account for the other schools of Indian
> >thought that are in opposition to Advaita Vedanta? Dvaita Vedanta
> comes
> >particularly to mind, but I'm sure others could mention many more
> >examples. Do we say that the founders and followers of these other
> >schools never experienced nirvikalpa samadhi (I hope I have the term
> >right), or that they did, but they misunderstood and misinterpreted
> it?

The distinction the way I see it (atleast between the Dvaita school you
mention and Advaita) is that Dvaita is elaborating on the saguna aspect of
brahman, in the form of an all poweful, all knowing, all merciful God, who
is kalyANa guNa sAgara - ocean of all the guNas which are auspicious. Sri
Shankara and advaita in general are talking about the nirguNa aspect of
brahman. I guess for now we will have to take it on faith that they are
speaking of the same thing and tread on the path we most resonate with. That
does not either disprove the observations of the other Guru's, nor does it
categorize it as right and wrong.

> > a great deal of importance is laid upon feelings and impressions. "I
> felt
> >blissful and infinite, that I was everything and everything was me."
> >Does the fact that I feel infinite mean that in fact I am, or could
> this
> >intepretation possibly be mistaken? Are these 'peak' experiences of
> >bliss and oneness really glimpses of the inner truth of existence, or
> >are they merely induced anomalies? How can we be sure?
> >

 You cannot. That is why every one is saying that you have to experience it.
Again, keep in mind the above observations pertain (mostly) to the level of
vyavahArika ... The fact of the matter is that "I" want to know. Hence "I"
have to find out. And "I" can find out only if I walk the walk and talk the
talk and follow the spritual discipline laid down, as it were, as
injunctions in the sruti and in the teachings of the Guru.

> >There are many people out there making very dubious claims on the
> basis
> >of their experiences and the interpretations they have chosen for
> them.
> >Near death experiences and out of body experiences, for example.
> >Particularly the former can be very powerful and can transform the
> lives
> >of those who have them. But there is a large amount of convincing
> >evidence that in fact these experiences are not at all what they
> >imagine, and that they tell us nothing about what, if anything, lies
> >beyond physical death. We also know that certain drugs can induce
> what
> >seems to the individual involved to be a mystical experience of
> oneness
> >with a cosmos of bliss. These drug experiences are typically (but not
> >always) transitory, since they are not preceded by years of study and
> >disciplined practice. But could they not at least move us to wonder
> >whether it is valid and legitimate to base so much on an experience?

 In a discussion between CharuvAkan and our Achaarya, he asked our aachaarya
what the difference between "vishaya sukham" and "brahma sukham" was. The
pridominant feature of the former is that it never satisfies you, and one
thing leads to another and you are drawn in cycles, of birth and death,
without any end or liberation. The latter is basically that which fulfils,
and once fulfilled, all desires fall away, and you are free and in your
"natural" unborn undying state ...

> >I'm pouring out a lot of negative seeming questions at once, but
> please
> >bear in mind that if I didn't find Advaita Vedanta at least
> plausible, I
> >wouldn't be here. But I have to deal with these issues in order to
> move
> >forward. Someone issued the invitation to "ask all the questions you
> >want," and I am now doing so. Please accept my assurances that my
> >motivation is only a sincere and careful search for the truth.

 Advaita and it's pursuit is beyond "plausibilities" and "preferences" (not
with standing the fact that I made a statement above that we had better
follow that which best resonates with us). It demands absolute faith in the
teaching of the Guru and the will and vigour to strive for it. This list is
one such venture by all of us in it.

 To be able to put these teachings in perspective needs proper
understanding, and if that is lacking, then we must do what ever it takes to
understand. I am not, by any stretch of imagination, saying that what I have
said above is all correct. This is obviously what i understand today. The
more knowledgeable members will point it out if I am worng (I hope).

 As a pointer to such better understanding on this topic, I refer you to the
discussion of "ko'sou anAtman?" (what is anAtman?) in the vivekachUdAmani.
If you have to distinguish the Atman from the anAtman, you must first know
what anAtman is!! That is which is attainded, or obtained by purifications,
or is born (made), or modified or effectuated ... are some rules to classify
something as anAtman. Staring at you in the face is this physical, gross
human body, which fits each and every one of the above mentioned rules. You
also realise by your self, certain emperical facts about yourself, which
confirm to you that you are not the body. Such a conviction is a must. If
you are not convinced that you are not the body, then, Sri Shankara Himself
says, "take it easy my friend" ...! (verse 86 of the vivekachUdAmani). Every
book on vedanta makes the assumption that you are convinced about this fact.
 Any sadhana comes after this. If this convinction arises, then (atleast to
Shankara!!), what is stopping you from going all out to find this out? He
says, take up sanyAsa ... to be convinced is not to say, "well, yeah, I know
that!", or even "of course ..." to be convinced is to feel it to the point
where you are disgusted with the body as a place where you (the Atman) is
residing in a bag filled with fluids, sweat, excretions, and waste. To top
it off, there is a mind which makes you think these are in fact pleasureable
... if this conviction is there, you would be at the feet of a Guru already.
 Most of us lack this conviction. Most of us even dont "see" it, far less be
convinced of it. To develop this we first start with bhakti to the Guru
Shankara, and to the many ishta devatAs that we have ...

bhava shankara desikame sharaNam.

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