Understanding Sada's position - 2

nanda chandran vpcnk at HOTMAIL.COM
Thu Aug 9 06:14:15 CDT 2001

Sada, though you say both the subject and object are only produced by
consciousness you've not stated as to how how/why it produces them. How can
consciousness produce the diversity of the objects that we see? And what's
the logic in the predictable order in which it produces them? ie right now I
have this computer in front of me, if I close my eyes and open them, why is
the computer still there? Why does not consciousness produce a sailboat in
front of me? To merely say that it had already produced the computer and so
it remains, is not enough - for what caused it to produce the computer in
the first place? And before I came into the office and sat in front of the
computer, in the couple of hours prior to that how/why did consciousness
produce my house, the road on which I walked to the railway station, the
train in which I came to work in, the building of my office, my cubicle etc?
Since you say the subject too is created by consciousness, why should it
always be constant? Why isn't the principle of diversity which we find in
objects, not at work in the subject? Why can't I be Nandu now in my cubicle
in London and a lion in the next moment in the Kalahaari? What's the logic
behind the sustained meaningful expereince of me and the world that I live

Also how would you explain other people? By your logic even people external
to you are only created by your consciousness and have no existence in
themselves. If so whom are you writing these posts on Vedanta to - for
there's nobody apart from consciousness for you to teach Vedanta to. This
way you should totally reject everthing other than consciousness -  yourself
and all that's external to you : your near and dear ones, eating, sleeping
etc. Can your heart/body agree with what your mind has intellectually
conceptualized? Or can you ignore even the pangs of the body and the heart
as they are only imagination and abide in consciousness only? And who'll
abide - since you yourself has no existence apart from consciousness which
"pervades" you?

If producing the subject/objects (samsaara) was the true nature of
consciousness, then it'll always produce them - then where's liberation? Or
if liberation according to you is the mere intellectual appreciation that
the subject and object have no existence apart from the consciousness which
perceives them, how durable is this knowledge? Can it exist when your
attention is distracted or in deep sleep? Or can it still exist if you lose
your memory or if your mind gets weak due to old age? So when you lose that
understanding will you become bound again? Also since consciousness in your
concept of liberation will keep producing objects where's the meaning in an
absolute then - for by definition itself absolute means the changeless -
Being - incontrast to the changing world that the normal man experiences -
becoming. Is this the ideal of immortality and the escape from the cycle of
rebirths that the Upanishads talk about?

In a way your arguments are similar to that of Vijnaanavaada Buddhists. But
Vasubandhu in his Vijnaaptimaatrattasiddhi though misguidedly dabbles a bit
with metaphysics in his Vimshatika, which has earned his school the mantle
of subjective idealism, but in his Trimshika he is much more consistent in
sticking only to epistemology and psychology - at one place he clearly says
: "to hold an object before oneself and say it is the product of mind-only,
is not mind-only, but a result of grasping". This should clearly dismiss
accusations of subjective idealism regarding the Vijnaanavaadins. By
"consciousness only" Vasubandhu only meant Asparsha - contactless
consciousness/consciousness with neither subject nor object but as a thing
in itself. But he's not clearly formulated it and where he dabbles with
metaphysics he's logically incorrect - but concession has to be given to him
as he was the first philosopher to explore this issue. We find a clearer
exposition of the same in Gaudapaada who though follows the same logic as
Vasubandhu and infact quotes heavily from Vijnaaptimaatrataasiddhi, still
he's careful to distinguish between psychology and metaphysics and stresses
on the former to place the argument in its correct perspective. To say
everything in the world is impermanent (in the psychological sense) except
the consciousness which perceives them and thus we should inquire into the
nature of consciousness is one thing (which is the thrust of the Vaitathya
Praakarna of the Gaudapaadiya Kaarika); but to give it a metaphysical twist
and claim that both the subject and the object are merely creations of the
mind is another - and this suffers from incorrect logic as Shankara rightly
points out in his dialectic against Vijnaanavaada (I'm presenting only a few
relevant arguments here as the rest of Shankara's dialectic against the
Vijnaanavaada is against other complex arguments presented by the Bauddhas
to substantiate their position)  :

To deny the world even while experiencing it is like the words of a person
who while he is eating and feeling satisfied says he is not eating or
feeling satisfied.

To say that we don't perceive any object apart from consciousness is a
purely arbitary statement. Nobody is conscious of perception only, but
everybody perceives external objects like post wall etc. To say
consciousness appears *as if* it is external is also contradictory - for
then how would we ever get a conception of "externality"? Possibility always
involves actuality. So perception of external objects necessarily implies
their existence external to us.

The possibility and impossibilty of things are determined only by means of
right knowledge. The means of right knowledge themselves do not depend on
pre-conceived possibilty or impossibility. That is possible which can be
proved by any valid means of cognition like perception etc. And that is
impossible which cannot be so proved. External objects are apprehended by
valid means of cognitions and how can their existence be legitimately

Also how do we perceive diverse objects? (According to the Vijnaanavaadins
it is due to the endless serious of impressions the we perceive objects).
But again how did the first impression occur? Without external objects there
cannot be impressions either and consciousness would be pure. Also while
perceived objects differ why does the perceiving consciousness remains the

If there were no distinction between subject and object all ethical
practices will be useless. The authors of the scriptures have to be looked
on as ignorant. Bondage and liberation will be impossible. Enjoyer and
enjoyed would be the same. And being natural these qualities cannot be
removed - there'll always be suffering.


One thing to be noted here is that the Vijnaanavaada Buddhists never made
the mistake of saying that jnaana was merely an intellectual understanding
that everything that we perceive in the world has no existence apart from
consciousness that perceives it - for that would negate all
ethical/spiritual practice. They said that consciousness produces
representations of the subject and objects and liberation/nirvaana means
making it pure - making it devoid of both subject and objects. And this
state can be attained only by the practice of yoga - which is the reason the
Vijnaanavaadins are also called Yogaacaarins.

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