[Advaita-l] The essence of advaita

Mahesh Ursekar mahesh.ursekar at gmail.com
Sat Sep 22 22:52:31 CDT 2007

Pranams Sastriji:

You write:
>> "We do not say that Brahman illuminates the mind. What we say is that the
>> mind catches the reflection of consciousness and therefore appears to
>> consciouness of its own."

In order for the mind to "catch the reflection (of Brahman)", don't we have
to posit a Brahman (sun) that "illumimes it"? Or in other words, aren't the
mind catching the relection and Brahman illumining the mind different ways
of saying the same thing? If that is so, then my original question still
stands viz. how can we attribute an action to Brahman in the vyaharika

Thanks for your help, Mahesh

On 9/22/07, S.N. Sastri <sn.sastri at gmail.com> wrote:
> Dear Shri Mahesh,
> We do not say that Brahman illuminates the mind. What we say is that the
> mind catches the reflection of consciousness and therefore appears to have
> consciouness of its own. The mind exists only in the vyavaharika plane and
> so this is also only in that plane. It is like the moon appearing to have
> brightness of its own while it is only reflecting the sun's light and the
> sun itself does not do anything to make the moon reflect its light.
> Similarly, if you hold a mirror in sunlight the reflection from the mirror
> can illumine a dark room. In this case also the sun does not do anything..
> So it is the mind that functions with the consciousness reflected in it
> and
> Brahman does not do anything.
> In the case of plants again, it is the plants that take the sun's energy
> and make chlorophyll, just as human beings use the sun's heat and light
> for
> various purposes without the sun itself doing anything.
> Even speaking of Brahman as a witness is only from the vyavaharika
> standpoint, since it can be a witness only when there is some thing to be
> witnessed. From the paramarthika standpoint there is nothing other than
> Brahman and so there is nothing to be witnessed.  From the vyavaharika
> standpoint Brahman is a mere witness and all actions are performed by the
> body and mind with the consiousness reflected in the mind.
> S.N.Sastri
> As per your essence, the appearance of the world is an illusion - it
> appears
> real only when viewed from the vyvaharic satta and not paramarthic. I am
> unclear on one aspect of this idea. In Advaita, the mind (am using this
> term
> loosely to include buddhi, manas, etc) is said to function only becuase
> its
> sattvic content is reflected/illumined by the light of Brahman.
> The question I have is this: From which satta are we attributing this
> power
> of illumination to Brahman? It cannot be from the paramarthic satta since
> the universe does not exist in that realm. If it is from the vyavaharic
> one,
> then we are attributing an action (of illuming) to Brahman which goes
> against the idea that Brahman can be talked of only in the paramarthic
> satta.
> To further explain my point we can consider an oft used analogy. Brahman
> is
> like the sun and its mere presence makes nature act. It shines equally on
> all - plant, animal or humans. When we link it to my original question
> regarding the mind, in order to explain how nature functions, we are now
> forced to consider the energy emanating from the sun's rays and how, for
> example, it allows plants to make chlorphyll in order to grow . In other
> words, instead of taking Brahman/sun to be a mere witness, we seem to be
> conscious of its power working in the vyavaharic satta.
> I would be most grateful for an explanation especially if I have
> understood
> the concept wrongly.
> Thanks, Mahesh
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