Friday, June 19, 2015

What is Enlightenment?

What is Enlightenment?

When we see an object, say a tree in the yard, or hear the sounds, say when a teacher speaks, or taste or touch a thing, we gain knowledge. In general, we obtain knowledge by perceiving an object using any of our five senses. This process is called Direct Perception. We may also obtain knowledge using our mind without making a direct contact with the object concerned. Such a process is called Inference. That is how knowledge in the empirical world is usually accumulated by us. But brahman or Self-Knowledge, which is non-accumulative, cannot be understood either through Direct Perception or Inference. It can only be realized without any medium being involved.

Swami Kaivalyananda of Panmana Ashram, Kerala, India recently explained very lucidly the subtle difference between Direct Perception and Immediated Knowledge in a couple of articles published at the Advaita Academy. I am presenting below a few excerpts from the articles:

“Delusion as of now exists and all sAdhana-s like prANAyAma etc. are done on the supposition that one has to attain the Consciousness. [] the unconditioned Consciousness being our essential SELF, It needs to be only known that we are always free of delusion. Though we speak about aparokshata, or Atma sAkshatkAra, it is spoken as a courtesy. Just as delusion is a specific action of Consciousness, discrimination is another. The shruti guides us to the subtlest form of discrimination and helps us to negate all that veils the Pure Consciousness which is also called as brahman or Atman.”

The Swami Ji further explained how Shankara defined the word aparokshata (im-mediacy) giving an example. He says:

“The knowing of an object, book or table is sa-upAdika i.e. through various mediums. Therefore, it cannot be aparoksha or im-mediate knowledge. Pure knowing or pure knowledge is without depending on any mediums. To perceive a book, we need eyes (akshi), the mental mode (chitta), and the object (viShaya) like the book etc. And above all this, we need the knowledge. The knowledge of an object such as the book in this instance is gathered with the help of various mediums, inhibited by conditionings, such as space, time, instrument of perception (karaNa), the distortion of the mind-stuff (chitta) and the very object itself. Therefore, knowing or knowledge in the ordinary sense is never aparoksha (im-mediate).

However, knowledge or Consciousness in its essential nature is pure knowing, without being conditioned, fragmented or constricted by the various mediums. In the normal knowing, [what is involved] is chitta-vritti or thought or chitta-pariNAma (modification of the mind-stuff). All the knowledge of objects (viShaya-s) is a transformation of the chaitanyavat-chitta or mental stuff plus Consciousness. This is what is ordinarily called knowledge, a knowledge which is dependent on, or channeled through various mediums, vikshepa-s (projections) and vikalpa-s (distortions). However, in and through all this, there is definitely the sphuraNa or illumination of pure knowledge i.e., Consciousness, because Consciousness in its absolute nature is aparoksha (IM-MEDIATE).

There is such a thing as upAdirahita i.e., pure knowing without any of the mediums and that indeed is aparokshatva or im-mediate knowing.”

IMHO, Enlightenment is that im-mediate Knowing.



Peter Francis Dziuban said...

Thank you ramesam. Very clear and simple. Im-mediate is what IS prior to, or before thinking has a chance to think--even about im-mediate!

Ramesam Vemuri said...

Dear Peter,

Thank you for the kind Comment.

You put it very well: "Im-mediate is what IS prior to, or before thinking has a chance to think--even about im-mediate!"

warm regards,

Unknown said...

Dear Ramesam
You are saying: A false knower thinks it knows a non-existent Ghata through a false akshi - and all this in presence of light of pure consciousness which knows itself directly all the time. I do not know why some call this false triputi sat-asat vilakshana - you might as well call it asat like son of a barren woman!

Ramesam Vemuri said...

Dear Vijay,

Thank you for the observations.

As you know the terms like sadasad vilakshaNa, tuccha etc. have specific technical significance in the Advaita lingo. They have a value up to a point and become meaningless after a time. However, the thrust of what you say is correct.

Sage Vasishta says towards the end of Chpater 2, utpatti prakaraNa in yogavAsiShTa as follows:

‘Mind’ is a non-entity for a realized individual; it is no more than something like the snake over the rope. Hence for him, the world imagined by the mind is akin to the snake imagined on the rope. Bondage and liberation are also similar imaginations of the mind. The Knowers of Truth are unconcerned with the evolutionary order of the universe, the characteristics of bondage or the means of achieving liberation.

Only the ignorant view the mind as the effect of mAyA. They cannot definitively state whether it exists or doesn’t. So they call it by quaint names such as real-unreal weirdness (sadasadvilakShaNa), undefinable (anirvacanIya), sentient-insentient (jaDAjaDa) etc. Consequently, everyone of these names can also be applied to the world as well as to bondage and liberation which are all the creatures of the mind. Only these ignorant people are in need of knowing about the order of creation, nature of bondage, means for liberation etc.

From the viewpoint of the Self-knowing people (if they can be said to have a viewpoint), all such issues are like childish stories (bAlakAkhyAyika).

Then the Sage narrates the crazy and funny story of three princes who were not yet born(!) visiting a city that was not yet built (!!) and entering a palace there which was not still constructed (!!!) and so on.


Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

Dear Ramesam
"Only these ignorant people are in need of knowing about the order of creation, nature of bondage, means for liberation etc."
How true! I read and am still reading "Musings on Yoga Vaasishtha" where in the essence of Advaita section Rama asks the question "who is the one that fantasizes" over and over (6 times?) and each time Vaasishtha tries to explain only the futility of this fantasy. I felt like shaking up the Acharya to make him specifically answer Rama's question; at the end after listening to bizarre stories of creation that included bizarre characters and their fate and bizarre worlds - the question itself went away!!