[Advaita-l] Reconciling current research with Advaitic theory of mind

Amuthan aparyap at gmail.com
Fri Feb 23 23:47:42 CST 2007

namo nArAyaNAya!

dear shrI Mahesh Ursekar,

On 2/23/07, Mahesh Ursekar <mahesh.ursekar_at_gmail.com> wrote:
> Now b. is what Vedanta would hold but it does not seem to a very strong
> case. As far as I can tell, it is a hypothesis that is not disproved by the
> experiments above but at the same time, it is weak in that it gives not a
> clue as to why it should be the case. Now you have attempted to explain this
> via vAsanAs/saMskArAsbut I don't know if that could explain it fully. After
> all, vAsanAs/saMskArAsare based on previous births and so would vary from
> person to person and might explain why some persons turn schizophrenics.
> However, the above is an experiment which is repeatable in all patients who
> have undergone such brain surgery.

what surprises me (if i have understood you correctly) is that you
seem to have no problems accepting rebirth (which cannot be
'objectively' established), but are somehow interested in refuting the
independent existence of manas. if you accept rebirth, then the
content of manas is precisely that which transmigrates after death.

i would like to point out a subtle difference between scientific
evidence and the evidence we require for studying issues like rebirth,
nature of the mind etc..  scientific evidence, by definition, has to
be unambiguous, objective (i.e., independent of subjective opinions)
and repeatable. issues related to the nature of the mind are
inherently subjective. but this is no reason to give credence to any
and every statement made regarding them. a systematic approach to
evaluating propositions relating to the mind has to satisfy certain
tests which are as stringent as those required for a scientific
evidence. the main complication here arises from the fact that one
needs to make an objective evaluation of subjective issues. imo, the
pAta~njala yoga shAstra would serve as the equivalent of what is
classified as scientific evidence in modern times. the methods taught
therein are unambiguous, objective, repeatable and are essentially
based on impartial observation (as is the case in science), but they
cannot be classified as 'scientific' evidence. the reason for making
this distinction is that unlike a scientific evidence which can be
publicly demonstrated, the evidence that arises from impartial self
observation is objective only to the subject who makes the

in a very general sense, this is the reason why a distinction is made
between pratyakSha and shabda pramANa. pratyakSha pramANa is
objectively verifiable and scientific evidence would come under this.
shabda pramANa (more precisely AptavAkya) is not classified under
pratyakSha, but is still considered as a pramANa. the distinction
between pratyakSha and shabda pramANa, as stated earlier, lies in the
fact that the former can be demonstrated publicly without any
ambiguity while the latter cannot, and needs to be verified by each
one for himself.

so, as far as issues related to the mind are concerned, its better to
stop looking for rigorous 'scientific' evidence and rather concentrate
on methods based on yoga shAstrAs which are more appropriate for these
issues and are as equally (if not more) rigorous as scientific

vAsudevaH sarvaM,

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