About Advaita, self and Jivanmuktha

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at BRAINCELLS.COM
Thu Dec 23 17:35:50 CST 1999

On Sat, 18 Dec 1999, Carex Marketing Private Limited wrote:

> A few questions for the list members from us. Maybe you people had
> discussed these things before (If so direct me to the correct
> archive), otherwise help me solve these issues.
> 1. Is there any difference between God-realisation and
> self-realisation? To our understanding Savikalpa samadhi leads to God
> and Nirvikalpa samadhi to self. Any one who has realised his or her
> self becomes a Jivanmuktha and upon death fuses with the Brahman and
> there is no rebirth. But people who realise God, or see God through
> the devotional approach and other sects which also claim Moksha as
> their goal, do they really attain true Moksha state?? Or they will be
> born again to enjoy the fruits of their actions?

It depends on whether one considers God to be a seperate and external
entity or not.  If one believes there is a difference, the best one can
hope for is to be reborn in Vaikuntha etc. where presumably the
circumstances are more conducive to moksha.  The only direct way to moksha
is to realize that there is nothing other than Brahman and Brahman is your
own inner self.

> 2.It is true that all who are born die. Also whoever dies is reborn.
> But there is a contention that the next birth can take place immdtly
> or after few months or years. If this is true what is the state in
> which the person will be during this transition? Is it what people
> talk of as spirits (Aavi in Tamil). And there are people who claim to
> speak to these spirits and also say that they can speak with anybody's
> spirit. Is it possible and true ? Also I heard a person say in an
> interview that the Spirits also have a longing towards the families
> from which they parted and things of that sort. How can that be?

The shastras describe various koshas or layers of the body of which the
physical one of flesh and blood is only the outermost.  As long as their
is any kind of a body there is a location for karma which is the actions
of the past and for all save the jivanmukta the potential for actions in
the future.

> Aavi or spirit and Atman or Brahman of Advaita, are surely not the
> same. That is what I believe. Kindly clarify the difference.

No even the Devas, Gandharvas etc.  whose bodies are different from Humans
can suffer from the notion "I am so-and-so, different from
others."  Brahman is that which is free of all such notions.

> 3. A Jivanmuktha is all-knowing and is not subject to ignorance. He
> views everything with an equal eye.
> Is this true? Also is it true that he knows about his previous births
> and can also find out the previous and future course of Births of the
> people who approach him?

The reason a Jivanmukta is still attached to a body is due to the
lingering effects of his past karma.  He may know the details or he may
not.  But why would he care?  All that is behind him.

> 4. It is said that the Goal of human life is self-realisation. that is
> to attain the state of Birthlessness. While in this world we talk and
> do things mainly to attain the state of deathlessness or immortalaity.
> Why this paradox?

Because at the time of Birth we do not have the viveka to understand what
is happening.  But by the time we are old enough to die we hopefully
do.  In the Bhagavata Purana there is a section called Garbha Gita in
which the garbha (embryo) laments the fact he will be entering
samsara.  Most of us are not that smart!

> 5. To attain the state of Birthlessness (Moksha), self realisation
> (Atmajnana) is the only way. Is it true that only a few people can
> achieve it? If a persons desires for Atmajnana and if he sincerely
> works for it can he achieve it? Is there any difference of sex in it?
> A Guru is very essential for this purpose. But we do not know where He
> is. How can we find our Guru?

Really everyone already has moksha.  But most do not realize
it.  Shankaracharya gives the example of someone who is tricked into
buying something made of mother-of-pearl instead of silver.  He is so
pleased because it is nice and shiny but lacks the knowledge to realize he
has something worthless instead of something real.

Unlike some other philosophies, Advaita Vedanta is optimistic that moksha
is real and something the sincere seeker is able to achieve.  For some it
may be easy, for others there may be a long road ahead but it is possible
for all because it is ones own nature.

For different types of men and women the Vedas prescribe different routes
but for all people, actually for all beings the possibility for moksha is
there .

> 6. Atmajnana or self-realisation is a state of Advaita. How can we
> acheive that? If there is an object of desire(here Atmajnana), there
> will be a person desirous of it (here, the Mumukshu). When it is like
> this it becomes Dvaita. In this condition how can one truly understand
> Advaita? People say that Atmajnana will come on its own and nobody can
> say when it will come. If this is true, if we remain as such and hope
> for it to happen, will it happen? Or should we go after and seek?

In the shastras and the Guru parampara, we have a trusty guide to
understanding Atmajnana.  At first the sadhaka seeks understanding
as if it is external.  At that point it is necessary.  But eventually it
becomes unnecessary.

> The aforesaid are some doubts which have arisen in our minds regarding
> Advaita. We have limited knowledge and experience of this system and
> maybe some of our doubts are impertinent.

Doubt and ignorance are the enemies.  There is never any impertinence in
combatting them.

Your post reminds me I have to start up my postings of the Jivanmuktiviveka of
Swami Vidyaranya again.  It covers many of the questions you have raised.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>

bhava shankara deshikame sharaNam

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