[Advaita-l] The nature of spiritual realisation

Tahir Nazir tnazir at energy.com.au
Thu Oct 2 00:01:14 CDT 2003

We need to define more clearly what is being discussed. Does the statement 
'the brain causes spiritual realisation' mean that the brain causes 
consciousness to exist?  Or a brain event facilitates the realisation 
without being the cause of consciousness? These two interpretations are 
quite different and significant.  A further clarification is needed, are 
we talking of individual consciousness or pure consciousness. 

The first interpretation is stating that consciousness is a product of the 
body while it is living, these would include the waking, dream and deep 
sleep states. These are modes of consciousness which belong to the 
individual being. An important point to bear in mind when discussing this 
problem. Clearly, the body is  intimately related to individual 
consciousness. When the body is dead there is no longer any indicidual 
consciousness of the body. But more importantly, and perhaps more 
dangerously, is the claim that the state of pure of consciousness is also 
caused by the body. This would go against vedantic thought which says pure 
consciousness is the ground of all experience. Pure consciousness is not 
dependent on the body at all. Although it is present while the body is 
alive but unknown to an unrealised being.

The second interpretation does not see the brain/body as the centre of 
being. To realise pure consciousness there are certain things that need to 
be done by the  individual who sees him/her self in the three states, 
waking, sleep and deep sleep. The brain/body activity is only 
extinguishing the obstacles to that realisation. It's causal relationship 
is with the body, it effects are limited to the body. Whereas pure 
consciousness is self-revealing through itself. There is no other agency 
involved as it is non-dual, the agent is pure consciousness itself. There 
is no room for the body/brain being the cause of pure consciousness.

The problem I find is how to determine which of the two interpretations is 
correct and how can it be demonstrated at all. It appears to me there is 
no real philosophical or scientific solution to this problem. 
Consciousness is never an object of knowledge for those enquiring with the 
empirical senses and reason. The western methods of enquiry are limited to 
the individual realm, the furthest they probe is the unconscious. Beyond 
that their methods are ineffective to discover the ground of all 
experience, pure consciousness.

The definitive answer must lie in the realisation itself, which would 
presumably answer the question for that being alone.


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