Intellect and Reality

Vidyasankar vsundaresan at HOTMAIL.COM
Thu Feb 7 14:45:08 CST 2002

On Fri, 1 Feb 2002 00:13:35 -0500, nanda chandran <vpcnk at HOTMAIL.COM> wrote:

>consciousness, consciousness exists in itself. The function of the mind is
>primarily objective in nature. Even as fire cannot burn itself nor the
>cut itself, neither can the mind know itself subjectively. When it cannot
>even know itself, how can it know that which powers it?
>So what?s the utility of the intellect in spiritual practice?

Point 1. We can and must distinguish between the mind and the intellect. The
taittirIya upanishad distinguishes between manomaya and vijnAnamaya sheaths.
The kaTha upanishad and the gItA both distinguish between manas (mind) and
dhI or buddhi (intellect).

>Neti, neti is the process by which you try to separate the
>consciousness-in-itself from the psycho/physical faculties. Though you
>cannot know the Self using the intellect, still you can know what it isn?t

Actually, one can, in the state of the highest samAdhi, in which the
intellect is made so clear and pure that it is fit to reflect the light of
the Self. Of course, this state is not that of the Self-in-itself, but as
seen through the intellect, but the fact remains that the Self can be known.
In fact, if one analyzes this a little more in detail, the Self is known in
every cognition, for without the Self, there can be no cognition at all.

>ie all the parts of our identity which are not the consciousness-in-itself
>are identified and negated. But even here the intellect can help only till
>the level of the mind/brain for the consciousness-in-itself is a thing in
>itself apart from the mind/brain. Liberation is not intellectually knowing
>reality (which anyway is impossible as explained above), but trying to be
>the consciousness-in-itself (brahmavid brahmaiva bhavati - here the

Agreed that liberation is not intellectually knowing the
consciousness-in-itself, but there is no "trying to be" either. Liberation
is simply "being". No trying involved at that level.

I would suggest that Sankaracharya's commentary on gItA 13.24 be taken as
the guiding principle in such discussions. There are various ways to the
vision of the Self, all of which culminate in jnAna.

On this note, I will try to restart my translation series of the gItA
commentary in a few days. Old-timers on the list may remember that I had
started it way back in 1998, but did not continue the pace, for various
reasons. As there are many new members on the list now, and also to maintain
continuity of expression, I will start all over again, perhaps once a week.


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