Author Topic: The Heart of Vedanta - John Grimes:  (Read 1595 times)

Subramanian.R

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The Heart of Vedanta - John Grimes:
« on: February 05, 2016, 01:56:11 PM »
The heart of Vedanta is the nature of Brahman.  The Brahmasutras, which string together the central
concepts of the Upanishads, begin:  'Ahato brahma jijnasa', 'Now therefore, the inquiry into Brahman.'
(Brahmasutras 1.1.1.).  This inquiry is not only intellectual, but is also practical.  The trend of Advaitic
thought revolves around the theme, 'Atman is Brahman'.

Its approach to self inquiry. Its concern is for individuals, here and now.  Its goal is that which is
eternally present, immediate, and accessible.

To reveal the Self is the ultimate quest of Advaita.  This experience, Advaita claims, is within universal
reach although the same method does not suit everyone. Thus it is not really theory that Advaita
advocates, as much as experience. As S. Mayeda has said, 'Philosophy is not his (Sankaras's) aim
but is rather a vital weapon with which to fulfill this aim, which is to rescue people out of their transmigratory
existence.'  (Upadesa Sahasri 11-12).  Advaita means the truth of 'non duality'.  The prefix 'a' equates
with 'non' and applies not only to duality but also to 'isms' and 'system of thought'.  The goal of Advaita
is not so much to know about' the Self, as it is to 'personally experience' the Self.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.               

Subramanian.R

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Re: The Heart of Vedanta - John Grimes:
« Reply #1 on: February 06, 2016, 10:59:23 AM »
Literally Advaita Vedanta means:  'Non duality (a-dvaita) is the end / essence / anta of wisdom (veda).'
Succinctly put, 'The Absolute is Real.  The world is non real.  The individual human being and the Absolute
are not different.'  (see verse 20 of Brahma satyam, jagan mitya).  This insight is simple to state but
devastating in its implications.  What-is is 'I am That' or to put it another way, 'There is nothing which
exists which is not That.'

The distinguishing features of Advaita Vedanta are:

i. The non divergence of the individual being (Atman) from the Absolute (Brahman)

ii. The distinction between the absolute (paramarthika) and relative (vyavaharika) stand points

iii.  The doctrine of ignorance (maya / avidya)

iv.  The conception of liberation here and now (jivan mukti).

The quintessence of Advaita is its doctrine that the individual human being is not different  from  Absolute.
The essential identity is expressed in the four great sayings, Mahavakyas of the Upanishads.
The Absolute is Consciousness.   Aitreya Up. 1.3.
The Self is the Absolute.   Mandukya Up. 2.7.
That thou art.  Chand.Up. 6.8.7.
I am the Absolute. Brah. Up.1.4.

The implications of this are, not that nothing exists (as some aver) but that 'All this, whatsoever, existing in
whatever way, is only Atman / Brahman (ekam eva advitiyam). In other words:  That in which there is
no question of either form or formlessness, which is beyond name and attributes and which transcends
even the beyond, That alone I am.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.                   

Subramanian.R

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Re: The Heart of Vedanta - John Grimes:
« Reply #2 on: February 07, 2016, 11:19:08 AM »
The essence of Adviata is simple to state, 'You are That, here and now.' To the person who objects:
'But is not my search proof of my having become lost?'  The reply is, 'No, it only shows that you
believe you are lost. For, what are you in search of?  How can you find that which you already are.?'
Or, to put it another way, 'And seeking is a denial of the presence of that which is sought.'  To paraphrase
Sankara, 'Why are you looking for the Self or God in city after city, temple after temple?  God dwells
in the heart within.  Why look in the east and west?  Don't look for the Guru.  God dwells within you,
in truth, you are God.  You don't need to find God, you need to find a  Guru who will guide you to yourself.'

Throughout the history, individuals have found themselves tossed between the banks of pleasure and pain,
gain and loss.  They are seemingly alienated from themselves, alienated from others, and alienated from
the Absolute. From such a perspective it makes sense to ask how it is possible for a finite, relative,
mortal human being to be identical with an immortal Absolute?

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.           

Subramanian.R

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Re: The Heart of Vedanta - John Grimes:
« Reply #3 on: February 08, 2016, 10:32:59 AM »
Each of the Mahavakyas imparts a three fold knowledge which Advaita seizes upon as the key to self-
realization.

First, they remove a person's deep seated misconception that they are a limited, imperfect mortal
being, and conversely, they reveal that the true Self of each individual is infinite, ever free, ever perfect,
immortal.

Second, they remove the deep-rooted misconception that the supreme Reality is remote, hidden and
unattainable, and declare that It is immediate, direct, the innermost Self of all.

Third, they reveal that individuals are not separate from the Absolute and yet that each individual is
somehow part of the whole.  They declare, unequivocally that, here and now, 'You are That', without
an iota of difference.  In other words, Advaita rejects the three types of difference: 'There is nothing
similar to Brahman; there is nothing dissimilar to Brahman; and there is no internal variety.' (Panchadasi,
2.20)

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.           


Subramanian.R

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Re: The Heart of Vedanta - John Grimes:
« Reply #4 on: February 09, 2016, 11:11:00 AM »
While individuals mistakenly superimpose various qualities (e.g. mortal, imperfect, male/female, intelligent/
stupid, and so on) upon themselves and the opposite qualities (e.g immortal, perfect, omniscience, far away)
upon the Absolute, the Advaita teaching resorts to a series of negations (neti-neti) to correct this misunderstanding. Sankara commenting on this says, 'The Absolute can never be properly denoted by any
words, including the word 'Absolute' (Atman / Brahman).  (Br. Up. 2.3.6.)

Thus, in the Advaita tradition, though there are passages like 'Everything is Brahman', 'Brahman  is Existence
Knowledge Infinitude-Absolute', (Taitt.Up. 2.1.). 'The Self is all this', (Ch.Up. 7.25.2), 'The world is an
unbroken series of perceptions of Brahmamn and hence nothing else but Brahman' until one's ignorance
is destroyed, such statements will not be correctly understood.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.   
 

Subramanian.R

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Re: The Heart of Vedanta - John Grimes:
« Reply #5 on: February 10, 2016, 10:19:16 AM »
Thus, for spiritual aspirants, Advaita emphasizes 'not this, not this', which is not so much to say that
appearances are not applicable to the Absolute,  as to indicate the impossibility of attributing any
conceptualization to It. Brahman is too great for words to adequately describe, or for the finite mind
to fathom.  Reality is called 'a-dvaita' to point to the fact that there is nothing with which it can be
compared to.

It is the thesis of Advaita that the Self is ever present and yet, one does not realize it.  The problem
for each individual can be reduced to the simple question of 'knowing' or 'not knowing'. With Vedanta
there is actually nothing to be done.  It is only a matter of understanding, but that understanding has to
be very accurate and refined.

The purpose of Advaita, of the Mahavakyas, of the Guru, of spiritual disciplines, is to kindle an awakening
to this ever-present, already established Self. This it does by utilizing the knowledge that appearances
cannot manifest independent of a reality which enables their manifestation.

concluded.

Arunachala Siva.