Note: I hope to arrive eventually at the possible Neuronal correlates as 'markers' for a Jivanmukta through a series of posts.
A major objection of the traditional advaitins in looking for possible neuronal correlates that can work as ‘markers’ for a Jivanmukta runs as follows:
- A Jivanmukta is a “Knower of Brahman (Brahmavit)”. A Brahmavit is Brahman Himslef (Brahmaiva Brahmavit). Brahman being the Absolute (Paramarthika), the entire empirical (transactional) world disappears (like the snake in a rope disappearing) on the Realization of Truth by Jivanmukta.
- Therefore, there is no extant empirical world for a Jivanmukta. It is we only who are in the empirical world see the body of a Jivanmukta; but he is not aware of his own body.
- The human body including the neurons exists in the empirical (vyavaharika) world. Hence no possible indicators of the Paramarthika of Jivanmukta can exist in his brain seen only by the people existing in the transactional world.
The reply for this objection is as follows:
- We distinguish three types of truths – Paramarthika, vyvaharika and pratibhasika. They correspond to the Absolute, empirical and dream worlds.
- The transactional (wakeful) world is illusory and non-existent from the Absolute (Paramarthika) angle.
- The Dream world (pratibhasika) is non-existent and illusory from the viewpoint of the wakeful (transactional) world.
- Though we may not be able to show the dream world of a man when he is in his ‘awake’ state, we who are in the wakeful world can make a record of the brain waves of his dreaming brain (and dream world).
- Therefore, the pratibhasika truth (dream) of that man is recordable in our transactional (vyavaharika) world.
- Hence it amounts to say that the relatively non-existent dream world of the dreamer is demonstrably leaving its foot-print in the wakeful ‘real’ world.
- In the same way, we may expect to see a signature of the Absolute in the ‘awake’ worldly brain of a Jivanmukta.
Matters of Detail which are not considered in this blog:
Which metaphor?: Whether the world will disappear entirely like the snake on rope after Realization of the Truth (rope) or whether the world continues to appear like the water in a mirage even after it is known to be a mirage is a question sometimes raised. We have scriptural interpretations supporting both the metaphors. Which metaphor is more appropriate?
Which Dream Conditions?: Both the wakeful state and dream state brain waves are usually in the 40 Hz range in EEG. But their pattern and also the parts of cortex that are active when awake and dreaming differ. Further, the neurochemistry (cholinergic to amenergic) too is distinct in these two states. It is also true that dreams occur under two conditions Rapid Eye Movement (REM) and Non-REM.
Is there a Mind for a Jivanmukta?: There exists no ‘mind’ for a Jivanmukta, for it is ‘amanska’ (absence of mind) condition. Hence a Jivanmukta cannot have dreams because the presence of mind is essential for dreams to occur.
We have to remember that the English word ‘mind’ is used to represent four functional aspects of ‘antahkarana’ comprising manas, buddhi, chit and ahankara (corresponding to thoughts - counter-thoughts, intellect, memory and I-consciousness (ego). Manas, Buddhi, Chit and Ahankara are supposed to be distinct layers intertwined but separate with textural differences in subtlety. Jivanmukta may not have a manas (thoughts - counter-thoughts or having an awareness of thoughts associated with the claim that ‘those are my thoughts’) and an individuating (separating) I-consciousness. We cannot perhaps rule out chit (memory) and buddhi (intellect), though vasanas (impressions of the effects of actions from past births) are annihilated in a Jivanmukta
Does a Realized Man have dreams?: What are the responses of different people like J. Krishnamurti, Nisargadatta Maharaj, UG, David Spero and so on to this question?
We shall discuss these issues later on. Any comments/questions are welcome.