[Advaita-l] Re: source of mAyA?

Vidyasankar Sundaresan svidyasankar at hotmail.com
Mon Mar 27 00:38:45 CST 2006

>the mud walls are temporary, but these mud walls had a beginning, when
>the potter created their structure from structureless mud. Although
>the walls are temporary, the mud itself is not.

Aditya, we don't have to refuse to think about it and run away from the 
problem. Consider the following. The potter who creates the mud walls of a 
pot today is indulging in learned behavior. Extrapolating back in time, the 
first potter who created a pot put a wheel to use. Before that, the pot 
existed only in the mind of the first potter. And for that potter to use a 
wheel, someone had to make a wheel. Before the first wheel was made, the 
wheel existed only in the mind of the first wheel maker.

If we keep tracing back this kind of causal chain, the only consistent 
answer for mAyA is that mAyA exists only in the mind of brahman, if brahman 
can be said to have a mind at all, in the first place. In other words, 
brahman can be said to create the universe through the instrumentality of 
mAyA, and only brahman can be the locus of mAyA. At this stage in our 
logical reasoning, though, we have to ask ourselves, is brahman 
self-existent or is the existence of brahman contingent upon the creation of 
the universe through mAyA? If your answer is that brahman is self-existent, 
then you are led towards advaita and the question of why does mAyA exist 
eventually becomes moot. This question is equivalent to asking, "why does 
the universe exist?" In advaita, the short answer has always been, "lIlA" or 
"svabhAva" - e.g. devasyaisha svabhAvaH - gauDapAda's kArikas.

Note that no system of thought in the world, ranging from ancient philosophy 
to modern science, can really satisfactorily answer the "why" question. 
Unless, of couse, the questioner and the responder both subscribe to a basic 
set of axioms and leave those basics unquestioned. Occam's razor, however, 
tells us that we would be far better off accepting existence as an axiom. 
And in advaita, that boils down to, if you keep brahman out of the picture, 
you keep searching. Once you accept that existence is brahman (I am 
deliberately avoiding a capital E here), everything falls into place and you 
automatically land in the paramArtha vs. vyavahAra standpoints of describing 
everything that exists (or seems to exist).

Best regards,

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