[Advaita-l] athma is mere function of the brain [was: concept of soul]

Amuthan aparyap at gmail.com
Mon Oct 15 00:11:39 CDT 2007

namo nArAyaNAya!

On 10/14/07, Vidyasankar Sundaresan <svidyasankar_at_hotmail.com> wrote:
> The first thing to do in this sort of a debate is to step back, redefine and be very clear about everyone's assumptions. Then, the need is to move away from loose talk of mind, body and soul, towards talking of consciousness and matter. Both the scientists who talk of brain and neurological function and the vedAntins who talk of the Atman as sat and cit mean very different things from what people routinely refer to as mind, soul etc.

yes, the proper question is the relationship between matter and
'consciousness' as against that between the mind, body and 'soul'.
regarding this, bhagavatpAda's final views are best summarized as
'yena ca j~nAyante sa j~nAtRtvAdatajjAtIyaH' - 'that by which these
[obects like sound etc.] are known, is by the very fact of its
knowership, of a different kind' -, 'tadvij~nAtRtdvAdeva tadvij~nAtA
sarvaSabdAdidharmavilakshaNaH' - 'the knower, by the nature of his
knowership alone, is different from all entities like sound etc.' -
(both from the parisa~NkhyAnaprakaraNa of upadeSasAhasrI). one cannot
possibly explain this better. unfortunately, the nature of this
subject is such that unless one 'sees' this for oneself, one cannot
get convinced about it. debates are simply unproductive in this

On 10/14/07, Vidyasankar Sundaresan <svidyasankar_at_hotmail.com> wrote:
> As a matter of fact, a great many of these questions arising today have been anticipated and addressed by vedAntins and also other schools of Indian philosophy (including many Buddhist and Jain schools of thought).

i don't know how the jainAs handle this, but let me briefly mention
how a bauddha views the subject of consciouness. the bauddhAs
certainly don't accept consciousness as being either different or
identical with matter. they explain the phenomenon of consciousness as
a case of pratItya samutpAda, which, in this context means that a set
of factors is causally responsible for the production of consciousness
and that consciousness vanishes when these factors no longer function
in unison. to a true bauddha, the question of whether matter and
consciousness are related is of no consequence; such a question is
ultimately useless to him. indeed, the bauddhAs have a list of
questions which they classify as avyAkRtavastUni. these are questions
which are unprofitable for enquiry since they are not condusive to
liberation; two of these are the identity and non-identity between
matter and consciousness.

the closest that the bauddhAs might have come in accepting that
consciousness is fundamentally different from matter is with notion of
Alayavij~nAna, which figures prominently in the vij~nAnavAda school of
buddhism. but even there, they introduce the concept as an adhyAropa
to negate all false conceptions and ultimately negate even this
Alayavij~nAna. for them, Alayavij~nAna has only a vyAvahArika sattA.
there is neither matter nor consciousness in the paramArtha darSana.

vAsudevaH sarvaM,

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