Philosophical views and certain knowledge

nanda chandran vpcnk at HOTMAIL.COM
Mon Apr 26 18:33:37 CDT 1999

>But does experience always deliver certain knowledge in a way that is
beyond question or interpretation?

If we say "yes", will you accept it to be so? No, your mind will still
hanker after some form of "confirmation" or another. There're two ways
out of this : 1. Faith - no, not blind faith. Faith in the AchAryAs
complemented with reason. 2. To go by reason alone and complement it
with personal experience (this is but an improvisation of the first).

The first comes pretty easy for those born into the tradition. With
the path already difficult, the ancient AchAryAs are indeed a great
source of inspiration. The second is indeed the hard path - since
we've only ourselves to rely upon - but it's the path taken by those
pioneering sages themselves, who first established the truth.

The path you choose is totally dependent on your background,
predispositions, temperment, beliefs, convictions etc

>If it does, then how do we account for the other schools of Indian
thought that are in opposition to Advaita >Vedanta?

But why should that concern you? None of the schools deny the Reality.
All of them agree on moral perfection and yogic practices for
spiritual progress. Most schools disagree only in their views on the
nature of the ultimate reality. Well, go the whole way and decide for
yourself, who is right.

>A great deal of importance is laid upon feelings and impressions. "I
>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
>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?

Why is it people think that the moment of Truth arrives with a great
bang! Why should it be fantastic and supernatural? Are you fantastic
and supernatural? So if nirvAna is fantastic and supernatural, it
cannot be  you. So if it's apart from you, of what use is it to you?
If you think you can move from your normal state to this imagined
fantastic state, then you can move back to your original state or to a
even worse state too! NirvAna is you and you'll know its nature, when
you realize yourself.

You mind runs endlessly. In the process one experiences both pleasure
and pain. The sages say that it's actually the latter, which is the
dominant factor in the chain. They go further and state that even
pleasure over a period of time results in pain.

The world that you know is only a product of your mind. Hence the
pleasure and pain which are caused due to your contact with the world
is also due to the mind. So imagine a state where the mind becomes
quiescent. The result is a state where neither pleasure nor pain
exists. What's left is only You. This might at first strike one as a
dull and unexciting objective. But to really understand the bliss of
this state, you've to first truly realize the intensity of the
suffering experienced by you in empirical life. This you'll understand
when you develop vivekam - to discriminate between you and the not

You as you are, live in dependence on the world - subject - object. As
long as you're dependent on something else, you leave the gates open
to disappointment and misery. NirvAna is devoid of any dependencies.
It's the life of the spirit. This is not anything apart from you to
experience, but yourself.

>But could they not at least move us to wonder
>whether it is valid and legitimate to base so much on an experience?

Advaita VedAnta is not some hocus pocus, quick fix solution. Vidya or
knowledge is the liberator. Even I used to wonder whether I was being
conditioned and systematically brain washed by all the VedAntic texts.
But consider this - the VedAntists do not ask you to experience an
OTHER, where one can be easily misled. They only insist on Self
Knowledge. To know who YOU are. Here there can be no mistakes as
you're the means as well as the end. If you maintain your integrity
and reason, there can be no going wrong. True sAdhana requires such an
attitude. And Truth is something, which will definitely stand this

>Someone issued the invitation to "ask all the questions you want,"
and I am now doing so.

Nothing wrong with that. But once you understand, you should have the
courage to go by what reason shows to be true. Advaitam is not merely
subtle dialectic and inspiring metaphysics. When you truly understand
what Advaitam means, you'll realize the importance of control and
virtue and the value of a  purified mind. You should be well prepared
to tread the path.

A piece of advice - if you're really earnest, put in fifteen minutes
of practice daily in Self Inquiry - Atma VichAra. Sit in a quite
spot, close your eyes and try to know who you are. You can improvise
on this practice even while going about your normal life - in the bus
or train, at work, lunch etc. Within a short time this will prove more
to you than years of reading books.

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