The Self

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at BRAINCELLS.COM
Thu Feb 4 23:01:39 CST 1999

On Mon, 1 Feb 1999, Harsha (Dr. Harsh K. Luthar) wrote:

> Harsha: You raise a number of good question about who is an Advaitin and who
> belongs to the school of Advaita, etc. I do not know if I am qualified to
> answer those questions other than to say that I am a devotee of Ramana
> Maharshi who is usually considered an Advaitin.

I don't want to get too much into "who is an Advaitin" because that kind
of thing inevitably degenerates into a personality clash but I should
point out that Advaita is an adjective.  In this case, the non it modifies
is Vedanta.  There are other philosophies both Indian and foreign which
are non-dual and there are interpretations of Vedanta which are not.  This
Advaita Vedanta stands for some philosophical positions and against
others.  It is ridiculous to try and shoehorn everything into it.

> Here is something that I
> wrote earlier which might be helpful for understanding my perspective.
>  "Any statement about the experience of the Self or Reality can only be from
> the point of view of the individual and implies duality. Some point of
> reference is implicit in any such perspective out of sheer necessity due to
> the mode of communication using language.

Agreed up to a point.  It is true that our sensory perceptions and the
language that stems from it are very crude instruments for the
apprehension of right knowledge but consider this:  We are two people
who have never met and have very different backgrounds but we are still
able to talk about this Self.  And there are any number of other readers
who are also able to comprehend at least to some extent what we are
talking about.  This means there must be at least some common reference
point that we share that extends beyond our personal viewpoints.  Rather
than becoming skeptics of ultimate knowledge, saying "We cannot possibly
know", the fact of the unreliability of mundane knowledge spurred our
sages in a different direction.  They asked instead "How is it that we
know even this little amount?"  The Advaita Vedanta solution to this
problem is that it is because eternal and self-luminescent Brahman is the
substratum of knowledge.

>  Heart seems to be often mentioned
> as a point of reference for the "experience" of Self-Realization. Sahasarara
> is as well.

This is because Vedanta is firmly based on the Upanishadic texts which
often mention this.  But it doesn't imply that this is the _only_ point of
reference.  Indeed from the Advaita Vedanta perspective, there can be no
place which is not a point of reference for Brahman.

> Ramana Maharshi often talked about the Spiritual Heart on the
> right and carefully distinguished it from Anahata (The Psychic Heart Center
> of Kundalini Yoga). That is my experience as well. My feeling is that the
> Upanishads are referring to the Spiritual Heart as everything else including
> Anahata, Sahasarara, etc., exist in That only.


>  But regardless of the
> location emphasized in various traditions, it should be clear that
> Self-Recognition itself (Original Nature or Reality) admits of no point of
> reference and cannot have a locus.

No, you are overreaching again.  The Advaita Vedantin would say it admits
of every point of reference and is every locus.

> It might be viewed as an experience and
> as a non-experience and as that which forms the foundation of such. "

A non-experience cannot be viewed at all!

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at>

"bhava shankara deshikame sharaNam"
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