Friday, April 17, 2015

If God is All, then what am I?

If God is All, then what am I?
By Peter Dziuban
 
[Dr. Alfred Lewis Aiken (1897 – 1968) was born in Norwalk, Connecticut. He was a veteran of World War I & II, a chemistry teacher, a dentist, a medical doctor, an actor, playwright and many things. But one question that he never left until he discovered the true answer was “if God is All, then what am I and where does that leave good and evil?” He talked and wrote about his findings during the 50’s and 60’s, much before Non-dual teaching was popular in America. Hillier Press makes his works available to all. Peter Dziuban, who is not unknown to the readers of this Blog, has studied Alfred’s teachings in depth and realized that Consciousness is All that IS. I am very grateful to Peter who has been extremely kind to make this short contribution for our Blog on Dr. Alfred Aiken’s teaching  -- ramesam.]
 
 
If God is All, then what am I?
By Peter Dziuban
 
Did you ever ask yourself, “What is God to God?”
 
It’s like asking, “What is Infinity—not to me—but what is Infinity to Its own Infinity?”
 
What if the only One that experiences God is God?
 
What is it like where the only One that experiences pure Consciousness is that very same pure Consciousness—and that there is only the One pure Consciousness?
 
What does it feel like when reading these questions? 
 
With all this talk of there being only one infinite God, is also there a feeling of a “me” being left out? 
 
Or does it feel clean? 
 
Is there an aliveness to the pure singleness, the clear, clean, only-ness of the infinite, the pure Divine One?
 
This infinite Divine One is pure Consciousness.  Then, as there is only the One, mustn’t this Infinite One have something to do with this very Consciousness aware here, now, as these words are being read?
 
There is a common sense notion held today that the Infinite is something vast, somewhere out beyond what the human mind experiences as its finite world.  From this finite view, it is sometimes conjectured that it is possible to attain the Infinite—but to do so, one must first rise out of finity.
 
But what happens when you flip this view around, and start from the “other direction”—start from the Infinite instead of the finite?
 
That’s the game changer.  Infinity, being infinite (which is another way of saying All), leaves only Infinity.  Infinity doesn’t go only so far until It stops and bumps up against a finite state, and begins to co-exist with finity.  Infinity, being infinite, precludes there being a secondary finite state out of which It could rise.
 
Being infinite, Infinity leaves nothing besides Itself from which It could come to arrive at Itself.  Infinity is.
 
“Instead of looking ‘up to God’ let us begin looking ‘out from’ God.”  From That Which Is, by Alfred Aiken, published by Hillier Press.
Dr. Alfred Aiken
 That passage was a real “stopper” for me.  In another sense, it was the start, a beginning of a new way of living.  It brought all the seeking to a screeching halt—but it was not the end of unfoldment.
 
I first came across Alfred Aiken’s work on Infinite Reality in the 1980’s.  I had been seriously “on the path” for several years, and a part-time seeker for many years prior to that.
 
There’s no need to go into all that had been previously studied.  The main point is that I had worked sincerely, and made a lot of progress (or so I had assumed).  I still had further to go, but I was getting there.  And that’s just it.  “I” was getting there.  There was still a “me” who was slowly making the grade, or trying to.  There was still a “middle man”—this me who had progressed beyond the old Peter, but still had quite a long way to go to reach the Divine.
 
The power of Aiken’s passage was that it stopped “me” in my tracks. 
 
“Of course,” the realization came, “Infinite Consciousness, God, the Self, is already AT or being Itself.  And that is this very Consciousness being aware right here, now.  This Consciousness can’t belong to a ‘Peter’—because Peter is just a body, an unconscious thing.  And other than that, ‘Peter’ would consist only of a lot of thoughts and feelings—but they’re not conscious either.  Only the One Consciousness Itself is being this Consciousness, and It can’t progress to Itself because It already IS Itself.”
 
There isn’t space here to go into all the implications and ramifications of turning the perspective around—in which God is looking out as God, instead of there being a separate “me” that is looking up to a God.  If this has “struck a chord” with you, you can investigate Alfred Aiken’s work further if you wish.
 
There are however, two distinctions worth mentioning. 
 
The first is something that immediately felt different, and very direct.  Yet it took a while to be able to articulate exactly what the difference was.  It’s this:  pick up virtually any book of spirituality, nonduality, whatever.  Almost always, the author’s writing is done in such a way that it is merely talking about—talking about Self, talking about nonduality, talking about experience, talking about what “you” should or shouldn’t do.  And, the writing even may be very accurate in what it’s talking about.
 
But when you first pick up a book such as That Which Is, you instantly notice that there is a different feel to it. 
 
It’s because the writing is clean.  It is done in the awareness that It literally is the One Infinite Consciousness that is being conscious so the writing can be done.  And the writing is done on the basis that the Infinite Self, being the only Self, is simply talking to Itself.  There is no middle-man author, no interpreter,  talking about Self in order to help or clarify things for a separate “you.”
 
As is always said, words can only point.  True.  But whenever anything is put into words, those words carry a certain “energy signature”—that’s why the author chose to use those particular, specific words instead of countless other possible words that might have been used.  Words are like mental footprints, and they can always be traced back to the state of thought or level of awareness that gave rise to them.
 
Meanwhile, the reader appears to be receiving that certain “energy package” or feeling while reading what the author has “transmitted.”
 
Now consider the difference in that transmission, or feel, if the writing is imbued with a sense of, “there is another self ‘out there’ that this writing is going to enlighten.”  That’s one type of energy. 
 
Compare that to the feel of writing that is not imbued with any layers of anything—and has no agenda—but is just “coming from” the Purity and Clarity of Infinite Being.  Period.
 
Such writing never talks to a “student,” or one that needs enlightening, or one that must do anything.  All there is, is the eternal, present Perfection of that one, pure Omnipresent Self, and no other that has to, or can, become anything or see anything.  In other words, the Author is the same One as the Reader.
 
Another distinction is one of emphasis.
 
Sometimes in nonduality, the majority of emphasis is given to seeing through the ego, or seeing that there is no limited “personal me,” no separate self, no subject/object, no “doer,” but just experience happening.  That is all well and good—but often that’s about as far as it goes.
 
What about the Unlimited-ness, the Grandeur, the Majestic-ness of Infinite Consciousness? 
 
The very Consciousness that is presently aware so these words can be read, also effortlessly includes what appears as an unspeakably vast stellar universe.  And that’s only when speaking on a three-dimensional basis.  This same Infinite Consciousness is also un-dimensional—meaning It is greater than, or inclusive of, what may appear to be going on in a fourth, fifth, and who knows how many other dimensions! 
 
This very same Consciousness is also absolutely all the Presence existent.  As It is all the Presence existent, the only Presence—It is the only power.
 
And that’s just barely scratching the surface of the wondrousness, the spontaneously fresh aliveness of the One reading this now.
 
For more information about Alfred Aiken’s work, you can visit Hillier Press.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Question on dhyAna and Thoughtless State

Q:  Is dhyAna a meditation technique? 

R:   dhyAna is not a 'technique' of meditation
     
       dhyAna means meditation.   

Q:  dhAraNA is concentration, with techniques,  which naturally leads to dhyAna (true meditation or merging)

When you say that "true meditation" is merging, what is to merge with what?

The word "merging" implies the presence of two things. Are there two things at all?  -- advaita teaching tells us that "What IS" is all One only. Two separate 'things' are not there.

From this advaita understanding we can deduce that the sense of a separate I,  a separate "me" being present, is an imagination. It does not really exist. This imagined separation has to merge with "What IS." In other words, the imagination has to end. Hence it is ending the sense of separation, not a question of merger.

Ending the sense of separation, thus, does not mean investing any effort to change "What IS".  Meditation  does not require any effort to exclude something using the practice of concentration as a technique. (The practice of concentration implies preferring the presence of one thing to the exclusion of all other things).  

Therefore, ending the sense of separation cannot come through concentration.  

 
Hence dhyAna or meditation is merely "dropping" the false notion of a separate "me", separate from "What All IS."

If "What IS" is a fluctuation, I do not have to change/suppress/ modify the fluctuation. In fact, it cannot be done! For, there is nothing else other than the fluctuation at that moment. That's "What IS."

If What IS is deep sleep, "It" is deep sleep.  If "What IS" is awake world, "It" is the awake world.

Q:  Does it not mean that we are all indeed successful yogis every night when we sleep! 

Yes, but, remember, there is no "we" in deep sleep. 

As advaita says, "I am eternally "unchanging" and ever the same."  

Then how can I be something 'different' any other time? 

As advaita says:  "It is only a false imagination to think that you are different or a separate person when you are awake."  

So I am also the undivided  totality of the entire wakeful world - the oneness of all the perceptions, sensations, and 'thoughts.'
(Thoughts are not excluded you see!). 

The position is just like in the deep sleep. I am the entire "Whatever IS", in the deep sleep.
I am the entire What IS in the awake state.

Q:  My question to you is have you ever had an extended period without thought? If so what was your experience?

In the light of the above explanation, it is easy to find the answer to the two questions.

Unless I consciously "separate" myself in order to place a "me" at a distance from "What All IS," why would I have to wrestle with thoughts in the awake world? As we said above the "What IS All" includes the thoughts also.

I have not tried any "gimmicks" towards that end of perceiving a world and feeling sensations but stilling the thoughts exclusively - i.e. experience the perceptions of the world, sensations of the body but be thoughtless. 

I try, instead, to be conscious of a separate "me" arising.
That is to say, I keep a watch if the thought "I am separate" or its kind arises.

If a thought of  a separate "me" arises,  the best thing (or perhaps the only thing) to be done is to just 'notice' it.

Having any 'agenda' with it to change or suppress the 'thought' will go only  to strengthen it! That would be counterproductive.

Hope I am able to respond to your query.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Does a reflection control the reflecting medium?


Q:  Is Ishwara  the reflected conscious?
mAyA is said to be the reflecting medium of original Consciousness - brahman. It is also said that Ishwara controls or has full control over mAyA.
How can the reflection (Ishwara) have control over the reflecting medium - mAyA? For example, if i see myself in a mirror how my reflection (image) can control the reflecting medium - the mirror?

Ramesam:  As you may be well aware, the main thrust of the “teaching method” adopted within the Advaita philosophical system is to point out one’s mis-directed worldview and reorientate his/her view towards the one Reality which is Absolute, Immutable and Attributeless. 
Ordinary folk on the street believe that there is a ‘me’ confined and contracted within ‘my body-mind’ and a ‘world’ exists 'out there' external to a ‘me’ which is 'here.' Similarly, they believe in the reality of the body because of the sensations and the existence of a mind because of the thoughts and images. The falsity of this belief structure about the body and the mind and the illusory nature of the objective world (including all percepts) have to be convincingly conveyed to the spiritual aspirant.
Several approaches are adopted by a teacher towards that end depending on the mental makeup and attitude of the inquirer. None, absolutely no one of these methodologies adopted by a teacher have unqualified validity or unquestionable sanctity. All these devices have to be ultimately discarded once the final understanding is attained.
For one who starts with a belief in the perceived creation, the model of Ishwara, mAyA and reflected Consciousness is given as a first approximation. In this model, it is visualized that the attributeless unchanging brahman (= original Consciousness) appears as the illusory ‘self’ which is comparable to a virtual image (reflection) seen in a mirror. The name given to the very first virtual image appearing is Ishwara who is pure satva with a very very little amount of other guNa-s. Ishwara is said to be the cause for the subsequent multiplicity (i.e. the created world). When once you begin to believe in this model of creation, you will naturally get two doubts. By what powers does Ishwara create the world and how does the world get controlled and managed?
Just like the saying -- if you lie once, you are bound to lie  a hundred times to protect yourself – goes, you have to fabricate further fiction to answer the above two doubts.
So the teacher talks of an inexplicable power of Ishwara to explain his ability to create. This power is named ‘mAyA.’ By giving just a name, it does not mean that there is something real and tangible called mAyA on which you can put your finger on. It has to be taken merely as an explanatory artifact.
Because the created world is illusory (like the virtual image in the mirror) and because it has emanated as an effect of ‘mAyA’, the reflected image (world) is also sometimes referred to as mAyA. So the word ‘mAyA’ connotes both the ‘power’ of the Creator, Isswara and the ‘world’ which is the result of His creation.
Now what is it that corresponds to a mirror, the reflecting medium, in this whole game?
The honest answer is “none.”
Why so?
In this entire analogy, nobody is talking of an actual reflection taking place. The comparison is only to the “virtual” nature of a reflected image in a mirror. You see big mountains and houses and trees in the mirror. Are there really mountains and houses and trees in or behind the reflecting surface of the mirror?  If they are not there, how come they appear as if they are there behind the mirror, the reflecting medium?
The metaphor used tries to convey the “unreality” of the world by comparing it to the “unreal” quality of a reflected image. So do not worry about where is the mirror placed, what sort of mirror it is and what is controlling the mirror. Focus only on the “unreality” aspect of the image.
Therefore, your question on how Ishwara, who is a reflection, controls the medium (mirror) does not arise. [At this stage, we may not enter into a highly involved debate about theories of pratibimba vAda, abhAsa vAda, avacheda vAda etc. developed by the followers of Shankara.]
Incidentally, mAyA is not the reflecting medium. You can imagine it to be something like an ‘operator’ in a mathematical equation. Suppose you say,
x + y = z                                                                                         --1.
Correspondingly, you can write the equation,
brahman mAyA thought = Ishwara                                          --2.
Ishwara mAyA thought = world                                                --3.

What has happened to “ + ”  when you move to the right side in the equation (1)?
Which member is controlling the plus sign?
The role and significance of ‘mAyA  in equations (2 and 3) is like “+” in the equation (1).
In Vedanta, all similes used are said to be “ekadesIya” – i.e. they are specific to a point being illustrated. You will lose the meaning and purpose if you stretch it or extend beyond that specific point under illustration.

Hence, the moral of the story is: do not mix the similes or extend them beyond the point being discussed at that level.

*****

From a humble start in Feb 2009, the Blog completed six great years. I express my heart-felt thanks to the Readers for their support and encouragement, to the Teachers for their valuable contributions to the Blog, and to all our Members for their useful discussions and Comments.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Meditation - The Paradox of Practice by Kentaro Toyama


Meditation - The Paradox of Practice
by Kentaro Toyama
 
[Dr. Kentaro Toyama is a Computer Scientist and presently the W. K. Kellogg Associate Professor at the University of Michigan School of Information. He is  a fellow of the Dalai Lama Center for Ethics and Transformation at MIT, and author of Geek Heresy: Rescuing Social Change from the Cult of Technology. He has some experience with Zen practice mostly in the Rinzai tradition. 
Kentaro delivered a TEDx talk in Tokyo in May 2010. He maintains a Blog and Web site where his Contact details are available.  I am grateful to Kentaro for this very enlightening contribution to our Blog and I am sure all our Members will find  it quite interesting -- ramesam] 

Meditation - The Paradox of Practice
by Kentaro Toyama

When Hongren, the Fifth Patriarch of Zen Buddhism was looking for a successor, it’s said that he held a poetry contest to see which monk had the best understanding of Zen. Initially, only the senior monk Shenxiu dared to submit a poem:
               The body is a Bodhi tree;
               The mind is like a mirror
               Always strive to polish it –  
               Let no dust alight.
Most of the other monks ooh-ed and aah-ed over this concise statement of the Zen exhortation to meditation. But when the illiterate, low-level monk Huineng heard the poem, he offered a different understanding:
            The Bodhi has no tree;
            The mirror has no stand.
            In essence, there are no things.
           Where can the dust alight?
The Fifth Patriarch Hongren recognized Huineng’s superior understanding of Zen and passed his robe and bowl to Huineng, thereby making him the Sixth Patriarch.
Kentaro Toyama
At least, that’s how the story goes. It is one of the best-loved stories in Zen Buddhism despite its dubious historical authenticity. The tale is told and retold in Zen books and by Zen teachers. For me, though, the anecdote captures one of the most vexing contradictions of Zen – an issue which I also see frequently in discussions of Advaita and non-duality. The question is this: Does meditation help lead to Awakening?
On the one hand, Huineng’s response seems to say that meditation is a second-class activity that has little to do with Awakening. On the other hand, Zen practice is dominated by meditation. The word “Zen” itself (via Chinese “Chan”) is a transliteration of “dhyana” which is typically translated into English as “meditation.” So again, Should you meditate in order to Awaken?
Seasoned thinkers about non-duality – and I use the word “thinkers” very deliberately – often pile on with a range of well-worn answers to this question: We are already Awake, so it is pointless to try to do anything special such as meditation to achieve it. There is no person who Awakens, and there is no person who meditates. And, many people who have tasted Awakening seem to recant their previous practice. The brilliant Zen master, Rinzai, for example, said, “When you look for it you go further from it, when you seek it you turn away from it all the more.”
At first blush, these comments seem to say that there’s no point in taking action toward Awakening. They seem to suggest that meditation itself is a waste of time. But there are plenty of other pointless activities, so why are meditation and its variations given special status in most mystic traditions? Obviously, there’s something unique about it.  Zen almost revels in this paradox – maybe the point of meditation is that it’s pointless.
I’m a strong believer, however, that most of the supposed logical contradictions of Zen are readily explained by relative explanations. I – the relative “I” – am by no means Awakened, nor have I ever experienced the universe as One or All or Zero. Yet, what I understand through my rational mind is sufficient to explain in purely relative terms why meditation increases the likelihood of Awakening, and how best to interpret the seemingly paradoxical advice not to strive for Awakening. I’ll use two analogies.
The first is an analogy of Awakening with the ability to play a difficult piece of music or to master a challenging sport. Both activities require years of practice to achieve mastery and facility, and notably, practice is different from theory. I could study music theory, commit musical scores to memory, and read every book there is on piano technique, but none of that would get me closer to being able to play a Beethoven Sonata. Nothing short of years of practice will get me there. The same is true for boxing. No amount of intellectual knowledge of the sport can ever replace the need to practice jabs and hooks over and over and over. Sure, by reading books about boxing, I can learn descriptions of proper form and tactics against an opponent, but that kind of factual knowledge is different from the knowledge that comes with years of practice.
And the same is true of Awakening. It’s possible to have an intellectual, fact-based knowledge of it that can be read in books or blogs and recited by mouth. My rational mind can understand that “I” am simply present experience or consciousness; that the sense of a person with a timeline and a physical body is itself just another experience projected by this brain; and that for any given instance of experience, only that experience exists. But none of that is Awakening – the intellectual knowledge isn’t the same as the special configuration of neurons and synapses in which the brain stops discriminating and stops projecting the separate sense of “I.” The former type of knowledge is factual and can be learned through books or conversation, but the latter type of knowledge requires a re-jiggering of brain matter that comes best through practice. (Or occasionally, luck – once in a rare while, a monkey at the keyboard will hammer out a Bach Minuet; and once in a while, a person has an Awakening experience without explicit practice.) Increased practice makes one more likely to achieve the relevant state of mind. That elusive thing called grace comes more often to people who have practiced. As Louis Pasteur once said, “Chance favors the prepared mind.”
So far, so good, but there’s at least one way in which the meditation-as-skill analogy falls short. Whereas musicianship and athletic ability are acquired skills, Awakening seems to be the unacquiring of a skill. In an absolute sense, we are all already and always Awakened, but our relative brains have learned a habit of constantly generating discriminating thoughts that distract us from Original Experience. In other words, the brain needs to unlearn a habit that it has spent a lifetime acquiring. It’s like trying to relax a permanent muscle spasm.
That brings me to the second analogy: I suspect that the unlearning needed for Awakening is some generalized version of unlearning how to read. Those of us who can read fluently cannot easily suspend the reflexive association we make when we see a written word. Immediately, a concept and a   pronunciation come to mind. It’s all but impossible to see text in our own language as the meaningless collection of lines and curves that it actually is. (Try it with these words (Panel - A)! Thoughts and subvocalized sounds come to you unbidden before you have a chance to suspend them .) Yet, we know that as children, it took us great effort to learn to read; and, we can still recapture a sense for the original mystery when we see foreign scripts (Panel - B). 
The question of how to come to Awakening, then, is similar to the question of how to learn to not read. Some kind of practice is required, even if it is to unlearn something that we once had to practice to learn. It might even be, actually, that a very similar practice works both for Awakening as for unreading, involving an attempt to suspend discriminatory thought. (In fact, I would be curious if people who have had Awakening experiences found in those moments that text went back to being mere scribbles. And if it didn’t, doesn’t that mean discriminatory thinking was still happening?) 
So where does that leave us with Huineng? Both with playing the piano and with Awakening, over-thinking and over-stressing can be an impediment to the goal… but only at advanced levels of practice. In music, after one has put in the requisite practice, the overly self-conscious thought, “I must play well” can interfere with a performance. Similarly after one has put in the requisite hours of meditation, the overly self-conscious thought of trying to achieve Awakening is probably an obstacle. In both cases, though, any advice against practice or conscious thinking applies only after sufficient practice has been undertaken. If one has never practiced the piano, not thinking about playing well won’t make one a virtuoso.
To be fair to old masters, it’s worth remembering that they didn’t expect their teachings to be widely disseminated. In Zen, training methodology was often kept a secret because teachers tailored their teaching to each student. A story that might help one student might not be appropriate for another. What I understand of the various prescriptions “not to try” is that they were directed at advanced students who were already at a reasonably accomplished level of meditative practice. For them, it must have helped to be told to stop trying so hard, just as a coach might tell a boxer not to overthink it in the ring. But for someone like me, I would have to do a lot more meditation before I’m ready for the advice to “stop trying so hard.” Putting the lesson in its full context: If you haven’t yet practiced a lot, practice hard; but if you’re hitting a wall after lots of practice, maybe you should relax a bit; stop trying so hard; try not to force it; let it come.

Friday, December 19, 2014

The Direct Path - Dr. Greg Goode Interviewed by Jerry Katz

The Direct Path - Dr. Greg Goode Interviewed by Jerry Katz
 
[Dr. Greg Goode is a well known teacher, author and Non-dualist, highly respected in both the Eastern and Western Non-duality circles. Jerry Katz interviewed Greg recently. Their very informative and educative discussion comes in two parts.

Maybe a slight slip or I may not have heard Greg correctly. At about a few secs after 27 min in Part -1, Greg says that the Chinmaya Mission follows Qualified Non-dualism (Visishta Advaita). Qualified Non-dualism is the theory of Ramanujacharya, a 12th Century philosopher. Both the Chinmaya and Ramakrishna Missions profess to follow Shankara's Advaita only, though, strictly speaking, they cut a few corners compared to the Monasteries established by Shankara himself - like for example the one at Sringeri in India.

I suggest that the Part-2 of the Interview may be heard first. The guided inquiry in this Part in order to locate the presumed 'self' is quite illuminating and very instructive. Greg also compares the Emptiness teachings with Advaita during his discussions -- ramesam.]

 
Jerry Katz in conversation with Dr. Greg Goode:
Date of Interview:  23 Nov 2014. Broadcast on Radio in Dec 2014.

Part - 2  -- 58:23 min

Part -1   -- 52:27 min


Wishing All Our Readers
Seasons Greetings and
Best Wishes For a Happy And Prosperous
New Year

Friday, November 21, 2014

Knowledge of Self vs. knowledge on Self

Knowledge of Self vs. knowledge on Self

Recently at one of the Advaita online discussion fora, one of the participants made the following observation:

"By philosophy I mean a formal academic body of knowledge – complete with its theories, literature, methodologies, technical terminology etc.  Any debate on Advaita Vedanta would then necessarily have to be restricted to this domain .. because in a debate every one must talk about the same subject matter.

If it is said that the stand taken by mere “theoretician” Advaitins is not probable, it implies perhaps that a personal ‘direct’ experience is more powerful and meaningful than mere theories. That may be so. But then, that cannot be the subject of a debate because only ideas and concepts can be debated. Ideas and concepts formulated into a coherent theory and through that theory subjected to critical inquiry can only survive the test of time. This is the case with Advaita Vedanta also."

Ramesam:

The view expressed by the discussant reflects the way we are educated about gaining knowledge on a subject like Physics, Engineering, Medicine or skills like carpentry or car driving etc. etc.

The well defined layout spelt out by him about what should constitute the platform and ground rules suit excellently in the acquisition of and discussions on “knowledge” that pertains to mundane worldly subjects.

But Advaita is a philosophy that tells us about "the ineffable, unthinkable and inexpressible Self".
['Self' being the word used as a pointer to that which is indicated by mantra 7 of mANDUkya.]

If one is desirous to obtain “knowledge of Self” in an academic sense in a pedantic atmosphere using pedagogic tools, there’s no need to look any further than the approach suggested by the discussant.

If, however, one is desirous to obtain “Self-Knowledge,” the design prescribed by him is eminently unsuited and is also improper.

Why?  Because there is a difference between 'knowledge' (lower case 'k') and "Knowledge (upper case "K")." The difference is explicit in the Upanishads – “Knowledge” is that “knowing which all is known.”

We should remember that ‘knowledge’ is accumulative, makes one an ‘expert’ and it is always based on memory and hence belongs to the past and therefore, considered ‘dead.’ OTOH, “Knowledge” is ever fresh, alive and cannot be stored in memory.

Acquisition of ‘knowledge of Self’ may make one an ‘Expert on Truth'; but it does not make him/her a “Knower of Truth.”  (For an explanation of these terms, please read: here )

Honouring the desire of a sincere seeker who goes in search of “Self-Knowledge,” the objectives and direction of goal of any discussion groups on Advaita have to be as broad and as “inclusive” as possible.

Discussions:

What does constitute a discussion on “Knowledge” and how does it differ from a discussion on ‘knowledge’?

“Discussion” amongst seekers on “Knowledge” is more in the spirit of ‘nididhyAsana’ (contemplative meditation after learning the Non-dual message and reflecting on what is learnt) in order “to grok” the subject but not to prove or disprove anything. The human mind, however intellectual and intelligent it may be, cannot prove anything which is beyond itself.

Hence discussions by committed seekers are only done with the purpose of surmounting one’s own impediments (pratibhandaka-s — shAstra vAsana (what is taught) is one of the most difficult pratibhandaka-s to get rid of. I have a post  on this topic here) in the process of ingesting the ultimate Truth. This is in stark contrast to a discussion on ‘knowledge’ because this sort of discussion is aimed at proving one’s statement and disproving another’s and such an exercise often unfortunately morphs into an ‘egofest.’

A genuine question may arise then that if word meanings are not standardized, any debate may be totally incomprehensible to the participants at large. The answer to this lies in the fact that one should carefully assess the meaning of a ‘word’ as used by a teacher instead of trying to declare his expression to be wrong. Further, knowledgeable Vedanta Pundits say that our scriptures hardly tied themselves into knots giving significance to sabdArtha (the word meaning); they went for bhAvardha (the salience of the content) in a spirit of true learning. Hence it will help matters if a discussant defines upfront his/her usage of terms to avoid confusion. After all, the meaning of any word depends on what meaning 'you' give to it.

The seeker's interest is in converting the knowledge on Self gained by him to Self-Knowledge.

Admittedly, knowledge of "Self" has to be obtained first before the 'tipping point' occurs when finally even the Knowledge along with itself burns away all knowledge acquired, like fire (true Knowledge) also ends after burning away a faggot of wood (the bundle of accumulated knowledge).

Friday, October 24, 2014

Enhancing Our Senses

Enhancing Our Senses 

Melinda Wenner Moyer writes:

Our world is determined by the limits of our five senses. We can't hear pitches that are too high or low, nor can we see ultraviolet or infrared light—even though these phenomena are not fundamentally different from the sounds and sights that our ears and eyes can detect. But what if it were possible to widen our sensory boundaries beyond the physical limitations of our anatomy? In a study published recently in Nature Communications, scientists used brain implants to teach rats to “see” infrared light, which they usually find invisible. The implications are tremendous: if the brain is so flexible it can learn to process novel sensory signals, people could one day feel touch through prosthetic limbs, see heat via infrared light or even develop a sixth sense for magnetic north.
Miguel Nicolelis, a neurobiologist at Duke University, and his colleagues trained six rats to poke their nose inside a port when the LED light above it lit up. Then the researchers surgically attached infrared cameras to the rats' head and wired the cameras to electrodes they implanted into the rats' primary somatosensory cortex, a brain region responsible for sensory processing. When the camera detected infrared light, it stimulated the animals' whisker neurons. The stimulation became stronger the closer the rats got to the infrared light or the more they turned their head toward it, just as brain activation responds to light seen by the eyes. Then the scientists let the animals loose in their chambers, this time using infrared light instead of LEDs to signal the ports the rats should visit.
At first, none of the rats used the infrared signals. But after about 26 days of practice, all six had learned how to use the once invisible light to find the right ports. Even after months of doing so, the rodents were able to respond to whisker neuron stimulation in addition to the infrared light, which suggests that sensory neurons can, when necessary, respond to multiple types of cues. This approach could help scientists create “sensory channels” for prosthetics users that provide constant sensory feedback to and from artificial limbs, facilitating control. The findings also suggest that the human brain can handle an expanded sensory repertoire—that we might one day be able to see, hear, touch and smell what we now cannot.

Sourced from:  Click


Your Thoughts Can Release Abilities beyond Normal Limits: 


Ozgun Atasoy writes:  (13 Aug 2013)
There seems to be a simple way to instantly increase a person’s level of general knowledge. Psychologists Ulrich Weger and Stephen Loughnan recently asked two groups of people to answer questions. People in one group were told that before each question, the answer would be briefly flashed on their screens — too quickly to consciously perceive, but slow enough for their unconscious to take it in. The other group was told that the flashes simply signaled the next question. In fact, for both groups, a random string of letters, not the answers, was flashed. But, remarkably, the people who thought the answers were flashed did better on the test. Expecting to know the answers made people more likely to get the answers right.  

Our cognitive and physical abilities are in general limited, but our conceptions of the nature and extent of those limits may need revising. In many cases, thinking that we are limited is itself a limiting factor. There is accumulating evidence that suggests that our thoughts are often capable of extending our cognitive and physical limits.
......

As this line of research advances, we will likely discover new ways of taking control of our mindsets. Weger and Loughnan, the researchers who improved people’s knowledge test results with a bogus prime, wrote, “People have significant psychological resources to improve their well-being and performance, but these resources often go unused and could be better harnessed.” The mind and body are not separate; our thoughts have remarkable control over our bodies; and our mindsets are capable of improving our brains’ performance.
-- Ozgun Atasoy

Sourced from:  Click

Friday, September 19, 2014

Sexual Instincts and Spiritual Pursuit - A Question

Sexual Instincts and Spiritual Pursuit - A Question 

[Sitara Mittag, herself an accomplished Non-dualist, is a Coach and Consultant in personal and spiritual matters. She is also an Astrologer publishing a monthly column of forecasts. After following Osho’s teachings for a couple of decades, she pursued initially the Western style of Non-duality and soon moved on to the traditional Advaita Vedanta. She had spent many years in India and loves the Indian culture. Sitara teaches Advaita to several students mainly on a one-to-one basis. In addition to maintaining her own Web Site, she also blogs regularly at Advaita Vision, UK. She lives in Germany and can be reached by e-mail
I am grateful to Sitara for readily consenting to provide her mature advice and guidance on a sensitive question that puzzles everyone’s mind but rarely gets asked – ramesam]


Question:  Sexual instincts are natural to the gross physical body. How does one balance these physiological desires with the aspirations of pursuing the spiritual goal of knowing the Absolute Advaita Truth while living the life of a householder in the modern day world?


Sitara Mittag: 

The key to this question is in identification or attachment.

Sitara Mittag
All senses can be experienced with or without attachment. Remember the chariot analogy of Katha Upanishad. What counts, is the buddhi (Intellect), as the driver of the chariot (body). The Upanishad compares the body to a chariot, the senses to the horses, and manas (mind) to the reigns). If the buddhi is sharp and clear and knows the goal, all will follow her. That does not mean that the chariot or the horses or the reigns should be dropped. No need for that.

As much as you may enjoy a delicious meal, a beautiful piece of music or your children’s laughter, equally you may enjoy sexuality with your spouse. It is a natural and a beautiful way to express love and intimate closeness. Just take care that your sexual activity is not egocentric and is not disconnected from the heart. Share the enjoyment in making the experience enjoyable for both. This is the dharmic way: treat the other the way you would like yourself to be treated.

By practicing sexuality like this, it becomes a spiritual discipline. In the end it is like meditating together. Lust is not anymore in focus but for a sense of ‘offering’ and surrender to the flow of love where ‘me’ as doer is absent.

Such sexuality will not come in the way of spirituality.

I have discussed these matters in my interviews with Non-Duality Magazine and can be found here and here.

A Question on 'Sexual Desire and Happiness' was also answered by me and my co-bloggers here.
                                                                                         --  Sitara