Philosopical views and certain knowledge

nanda chandran vpcnk at HOTMAIL.COM
Thu Apr 29 12:46:53 CDT 1999

>You have just outlined what bothers me. In fact I can draw
>about myself and my attributes (or lack of them) that are mistaken. I
>can have an experience that I describe as feeling one with an
>ocean of bliss, and yet still not be infinite. I am inevitably the
>expert on what my experience felt like, but that does not necessarily
>qualify me to interpret it or describe its significance. I can
>potentially have a near death experience and believe that it informs
>about life after death, but this interpretation can also be mistaken.
>Mystics down through the ages have had remarkably similar and
>experiences, which they have done their best to describe to us. But
>this fact necessarily mean that their philosophical or religious
>understanding of those experiences is correct? Could the experiences
>perhaps have a mundane neurological explanation? If we can't rule out
>this possibility, then drawing conclusions about the ultimate nature
>ourselves and reality seems premature.

This is a pretty astute observation. But this is a result of not
understanding the core of what Indian philosophy offers.

Take Patanjali's Yoga SutrAs. The AchArya talks of the Self underlying
the mental states and how if one can control the mental states one can
realize the Supreme Being within. Then he outlines the procedure as to
how to go about the task.

As he does so, he also explains the powers or siddhis that one may
acquire in the process. But he warns the one should not be distracted
by these powers and should set one's mind firmly on the Goal - which
is realizing the Self. And he also says, that when one realizes the
Self, one realizes all - thereby indicating that the Self is the sum
total of all - the siddhis included too.

So when the scriptures talk about bliss, fantastic experience etc one
has to be very careful about all this. One can get bliss or any such
fantastic experience from other sources too - drugs, alcohol etc -
whatever the duration of such experiences may be. But the bliss or the
fantastic experience is not the true criterion and that isn't what
truly characterizes the Truth. Even if an experience is such great
bliss, so of what use is it to me, when the bliss itself is not me?

The true Goal is only to know the Self - which is nothing but you in
essence. When you know the Self, you would know all - and there will
be no doubts about anything. And all the AchAryas hammer this in, in
all their works.

When one goes about the arduous task of trying to realize the Self -
one meets with a lot of difficulties. My personal experience has been
that I've sometimes come out of meditation very depressed. To be One
is not a very comforting psychological experience. It may be that as
an encouragement to the aspirants against such obstacles, that the
AchAryas might have characterized the Truth as bliss.

But this is not to say that the Truth is not bliss. It may well be.
One can well imagine what it would be, to be spirit, unbound,
unfettered etc

But to stress again, this is not the true Goal. It's to know oneself,
which is - whether it be bliss or misery - but the AchAryas thankfully
state it's the former.

>It does give insight on how the mind works. It also gives
>some relief from tension and a measure of dispassion with which to
>our anxieties and desires without being their slave.

But what about the prime motive of your exercise? What did you know
about yourself?

>But what it has not done is reveal anything fundamental about the
ultimate nature of
>ourselves or reality.

What's it you expect to be revealed? Is it that you want suddenly wake
up as Krishna ParamAtma in his vishvarUpam in the MahAbhAratham?

Let me ask you a question : Why can't you be the absolute as you are
now? What makes you think you're not so? If you think, you're
imperfect, then why is it that you think so? And why is it that you
think at all?

See if you can sit in one place without doing anything - without
thinking anything - just being yourself - for five minutes. No, your
mind will churn, you'll become restless, you would want to do
something. Why is this so?

Why can't you sit for a while in a place without acting - in bliss -
and be the absolute?

The Rig Vedam says that it's desire that makes the world go around.
Desire is nothing but the will to act - karma. Why is it that you
always want to do something?

Think about the quote from KathOpanishad : "When all the desires that
dwell in the heart fall away, the mortal becomes immortal and attains
brahman even here."

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