Ramakrishnan Balasubramanian ramakris at EROLS.COM
Mon Aug 9 19:59:04 CDT 1999

Greg Goode <goode at DPW.COM> wrote:

> 1. A non-dualist philosophy doesn't entail dualism.
> 2. A non-dualist philosophy entails unity.
> 3. A dualist philosophy entails dualism.
> 4. A dualist philosophy doesn't entail unity.
> I was interpreting dualism and non-dualism according to (1) and
> (3).  Especially for the definition of non-dualism, the emphasis
seems to
> be on not-two. It seems that you are interpreting Shankara as
> according to (2) and (4).  I read Nagarjuna as not asserting unity
> dualism, and Shankara as asserting unity.  Interesting.  Thanks!

You are correct. However, I would modify 2 above to "A non dualist
philosophy entails unity which implies negation of duality" just to
make things more clear. This is because we have the bhedAbhedavAdins
(unity-cum-difference folks) who argue for a real duality, but which
disppears on attaining unity! However advaitins say that the duality
is only a superimposition of the unreal onto the real. We Indians have
all kinds of stuff going in our philosophies just so that we can
confuse all other folks :-).

You correctly pointed out that Nagarjuna would not assert unity or
dualism as that would go against his middle-path. In fact he is quite
true to the Buddha here. Even in the relatively old
KaccAyana-gotta-sutta (in Pali) the Buddha is supposed to have
emphasized the importance of the "middle-path" (See David Kalupahanas
book for details on this).

The confusion is because of interpretations of words like advaita into
English. Some of the implications are lost.

Regarding scriptural reference for the outlook of sha.nkara:

sarvaM hi etat.h brahma, ayamAtma brahma (All this is indeed brahman,
this Atma is brahman): mANDUkya 2. Sha.nkara points out that when it
said ayam AtmA (ayam = this, used in the sense of something which is
immediately present) a gesture of the hand (to the heart) is used.
This brings out  "unity"

Also look at bR^ihadAraNyaka upanishhad 2.4.14. It says (paraphrased)

When there is duality *as it were*, one would smell, see, speak, etc.
But when the to the knower of brahman *everything has become the
self*, what would one see and through what? Through what can one know
the knower?

A very profound verse. The implications of unity are clearly brought
out here along with negation of duality by the use of  "as it were"
(the enclitic iva).

Further bR^ihadAraNyaka 4.3.23 (translated by Swami Madhavananda)

That it does not see in that state is because though seeing then, it
does not see, for the vision of the witness can never be lost, because
it is imperishable. But there is not that second thing separate from
it which it can see.

A most important verse indeed!  BTW, the above describes the state of
deep sleep, when the Atman attains unity (not from the point of view
of the waking state though!).

There are many other phrases like "ekAtmapratyayasAram", whose proof
is the belief in a single self (in the three states). Just before this
phrase turIya is described as unthinkable, uninferrable, ungraspable,
etc. So we can see that in many places duality is denied and unity is
asserted. The most obvious is the 2.4.14 I quoted above. See
sha.nkaras bhAshhya for all these. It's most illuminating.


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