Sunday, June 28, 2009


Unique Traits of a Jivanmukta’s Mind:
It is more than amply made clear in our scriptures that the external characteristics of a Jivanmukta are indistinguishable from those of any ordinary person. Still we can glean from several of the texts subtly identifiable markers. All the markers may not be present in every Jivanmukta.
Some of the traits may arise only in a Jivanmukta in the last stages of the Seven Step Knowledge Path. As this is only a coarse level attempt, it may not be wise to demarcate the specifically identifiable characteristics in each stage of the Seven Step Path. Tradition does list the specific pointers of each of these Steps; but those pointers are said to be useful for self-assessment rather than evaluation by an external agent.
The neuronal correlates of some of the characteristics can be in the brain chemistry reflected through hormonal changes detectable in blood. Some other traits can be seen only from the relative activity of a specific lobe of the cortex (outer most layer of the brain) or a deeper part of the brain detectable through a suitable imaging technology. Leaving out the details for the present, I shall tabulate below the characteristics that can serve as possible markers for a Jivanmukta.

1. Universal “Love” or (Maitri)
Possible Indicator detectable in blood:
High levels of Oxytocin
2. Equipoise
Possible Indicator detectable in blood:
High levels of Serotonin
3. Tranquility
Possible Indicator detectable in blood:
High levels of Serotonin, Low corticosteroids,
low Norepinehhrine
4. Sense of happiness
Possible Indicator detectable in Imaging:
Squirts of dopamine from the Ventral Tegmental area to cortical and other areas produce happy feeling. Activity in Prefrontal Cortex, Insula etc. depend on an external agent for stimulation in an ordinary person to generate the feel of happiness. The ‘Ever Happy’ feeling in a Jivanmukta could be governed by a different neural circuit.
5. Absence of sense of ‘self’
Possible Indicator detectable in Imaging:
A sense of ‘self’ possibly emanates from activity in medial pre-Frotnal Cortex, precuneus, (responsible for autobiographical memories). Recent research showed that Lower activity in right Parietal cortex is linked to a lesser sense of ‘self’.
6. Absence of “Doership”
Possible Indicator detectable in Imaging:
Consciousness of decision for taking an action takes place much later than ‘brain’ initiating an ‘action potential.’ Latest research shows that the Brain initiates an action by as much as 10 secs before we are consciously aware of deciding to act!
7. Gamma activity in brain
Possible Indicator detectable in EEG:
Gamma activity in meditators and non-meditators differs significantly. We may expect a different range in Jivanmukta.
8. State of Deep Sleep with Awareness
Possible Indicator detectable in EEG:
Deep Sleep is characterized by slow brain waves in the EEG. Activity in the brain during Deep Sleep happens to be in a very few isolated islands of brain as per the work of Dr. G. Tunoni reported recently. Sensory information from external worlds is not received as sensory cortex is inactive (asleep). Therefore, ordinary persons will be unaware of the world during sleep. Because of the fact that a Jivanmukta appears to be in Deep Sleep and also has awareness, we must be able to notice slow wave activity with sensory cortex working in a Jivanmukta, though further downstream processing of the signals in the brain may not be present. Promises to be good marker.
The markers are indicative only. Qualitative base level information for each of the markers have to be established for a normal person from a review of the available published research documents. When once the bench mark levels are agreed to, we may measure the same parameters in any of the volunteering individuals who are known to be those in whom the separate sense of ‘self’ has already collapsed.
Possible extension of the research can then be planned if we are succesful in unequivocally identifying markers in a Jivanmukta.

Also please see:

Added on 19 Feb 2013:
From p: 80, "Atoms and Eden - Conversations on Religion and Science" by Steve Paulson, OUP, 2010, pp: 312
Steve Paulson:  Would you like to speculate here? Suppose you could somehow record what the medieval mystics like Meister Eckhart or St. Francis talked about - these truly big, profound experiences? What's yor guess as to what happened in their brains when they had those experiences?

Dr. Andrew Newberg:  I think the orientation part of the brain would be profoundly affected. So while we're seeing decreased activity in this orientation part of the brain during prayer, for example, I think if somebody had a true mystical experience, we would see a vastly greater change - to the point where there would be a complete loss of their sense of self in relation to the world. Now, one other aspect of the overall function of the brain that we haven't mentioned is the autonomic nervous system that regulates our arousal and our quiescent responses in the body.  What we have hypothesized is that in these peak states, there is a simultaneous activation of this very profound sense of arousal and alertness and also a deep sense of oceanic bliss and calmness. Maybe someday, if we're fortunate enough, that could actually be captured on a brain scan.

(Dr. Newberg's latest research paper can be seen at: ).

Friday, June 26, 2009


The Case for Neuronal Correlates:

Jivanmukta is a ‘state’ (for lack of a better word) when the sense of one’s existence as a separate entity distinct from what is around ceases. Yet this loss of individuation occurs within an individual.

A man does not evaporate into thin air on Realization, on becoming a Jivanmukta like the snake disappearing on seeing the rope. His body very well continues to exist in the world with all its needs of food and oxygen, enjoyments and sufferings etc. The man (or rather his body) is physically there still.

Our scriptures state that Jivanmukti (Liberation) is obtained on the annihilation of the impressions of past lives (vasanas). It is also stated that vasanas are responsible for engendering the ‘mind’ (thoughts and counter thoughts). The ancient Indians, however, conceived of an intangible mental body and mental world made up of very subtle ‘mindstuff’ to explain mind. Bhgavad-Gita (III – 42) gives a pecking order with increasing superiority of status and a concomitant fineness to mind and intellect with respect to the gross visible body as follows:

Physical Body --> Indriyas (Sense Organs)--> Manas (Mind) --> Buddhi (Intellect)--> (Nameless) Tat (Brahman).

In general as per modern usage, the word ‘mind’ comprises the four different functional aspects of (i) Thoughts and counter thoughts; (ii) Intellect; (iii) Memory; and (iv) I-consciousness or ego unlike the ancient Indian classification. Further, Neuroscience tells us that all these are the functions of the brain.

(One can, of course, argue whether brain causes these functions or it is only an organ influenced by some ‘forces’ beyond the brain. We shall discuss this controversial issue separately).

If we disregard for the present what forces cause these functions in the brain, neuroscientists are able to identify their obvious record in the brain scans obtained using different imaging techniques. So clearly brain is the seat of mind. Whatever was attributed to physically invisible ‘mindstuff’ by the ancients can be seen in the brain using techniques like magnetic resonance imaging, single photon emission computed tomography, positron emission tomography,diffusion tensor imaging, magnetoecephalography, magnetic resonance tractography, diffusion tractography etc. and the more simple electroencephalography. These are sensing systems beyond the immediate capability of our physical sensory organs.

The “Form” of mind is still said to be retained in a Jivanmukta, though vasanas (except in trace residual quantities) and mind are annihilated. Therefore, if we can identify such traits which can be observed in the brain of a Jivanmukta, we will have certain “characteristic markers” to differentiate a Jivanmukta from an ordinary man, though the physical body may not show any external difference.

We shall next list what could possibly be the unique characteristics of a Jivanmukta’s mind which still retains its ‘Form’ in the brain of his physical body and each trait's corresponding neuronal correlates which can be expected in his brain.

(Added on 10 Dec 2011:  See verse # 52 in Atmabhodha of Shankara about Jivanmukta (Muni)'s characteristics -- he moves around like wind without a motive and is unaffected (untouched) by the qualities of the limiting adjunct).



Taking a cue from Verse 3, Chapter 7 of Bhagavad-Gita, Quantum Physicist Prof. S. Sobottka estimates the probability of an individual attaining the status of Jivanmukta. According to him, it would be as low as less than one in a million!

During the millennia of years of Advaita no method seems to have arisen to increase this probability. On the other hand elaborate layers of deep mysticism and unfalsifiable conceptual explanatory complexes were woven around Liberation or Enlightenment. Such efforts helped in glorifying Liberation to no end and also confounded its understandability. One would even doubt whether there are really any Jivanmuktas at all.

Yogavaasishta in the 75th Canto of the Fifth Chapter, The Calm Down, listed the names of a number of Jivanmuktas of ancient times. The list covers many individuals coming from a wide variety of backgrounds. Examples are:

Emperor Janaka
Emperor Dilip
Emperor Mandhata
Emperor Bali of Netherworld
Emperor Nahusha of Bhuloka


God of Fire (Agni)
Parvati (Shiva’s consort)
Yama (God of Death)



In addition, Yogavaasishta narrates the stories and life histories of several other local Chieftains, Saints and even a King of Persia to exemplify the techniques adopted by them in attaining Liberation.

If we fast-forward to the present, there are undoubtedly a number of noble individuals who are Jivanmuktas living right in our midst. We find them in all the continents openly talking about Advaita or living in constant deep meditation. All of them may not be at the same level (or stage as described in the Post on Gradations). In order to just initiate a discussion, I shall mention only a few names below illustratively without any prejudgment. Readers of this Blog may like to add more names or offer comments.

“Sailor” Bob Adamson
Mike Graham

John Wheeler
Annette Nibley
Vincent Flammini
Joan Tollifson

Jeff Foster
David Brockman
Rupert Spira

I watched videos of Bob on the net. I corresponded with a number of Non-Dualists for whom the seeking has ended. The names listed above are only a few of them. I know from my own experience that all of them readily and most caringly and (often) promptly respond to our queries over e-mail and help us in our Self-inquiry. Bob may have discontinued correspondence currently.

Thursday, June 25, 2009


JIVANMUKTA – Mind Annihilated but Form Retained

Self-Realization is synonymous to ending the mind. J. Krishnamurti calls it ‘emptying the mind’. A zero-thought position describes the state of a Jivanmukta. How does then a Jivanmukta continue to live and function in the world with an annihilated mind because mind is required to sense the world and transact in it?

We get many such doubts about Advaita philosophy. Much of the Advaita argot appears awfully ambiguous and confusing to us. Yogavaasishta, an Advaita text attributed to Sage Valmiki (of Ramayana fame) but considered to be of circa 6th century A.D. by some, explicates and clearly explains through interesting short stories the intricacies of Advaita philosophy.

Regarding the mind of a Jivanmukta, I provide here extracts taken from Yogavaasishta, Part IV, The Calm Down, by K.V. Krishna Murthy, (English Translation by Dr. Vemuri Ramesam), Avadhoota Datta Peetham, Mysore, India, pp: 194, 2008.

“Who is a Self-Knowledgeable individual?” Canto 49, Verses 35-36 answer this question as follows:

“Whoever has an experiential understanding that every substance in this world in essence is himself/herself is such a person.”

Later on it is clearly stated that the world does not end as long as mind exists.

The story of Sage Vitahavya is narrated to show how Vitahavya annihilated his mind through Knowledge. Sage Vasishta, observed that as a result, Vitahavya obtained noble qualities like universal affection (maitri). The dialog between Sage Vasishta (the Teacher) and Rama (the Pupil) went on the following lines at this point:

Rama: “Just a second Sir! On one hand you say that the mind was annihilated. On the other hand you say that noble qualities like universal affection have arisen. When mind itself was gone, where could these noble qualities reside?”

Vasishta: “Annihilation of mind is of two types. One is ‘Annulment of Mind With Retention of Form’. The other is Annulment of Mind Without Retention of Form’. The annihilation of mind of the Jivanmuktas is of the first type. Videhamuktas achieve the other type of annihilation. [Jivanmukta is one who is liberated and is living in his body and Videhamukta is one who is liberated without the body]. Vitahavya obtained annihilation of mind with retention of from at that time. Hence universal affection and other good qualities generated in it.”

Rama: “Sorry Sir! I am unable to follow. What is meant by annulment of mind? How could there be a form for a mind that is destroyed? How can a mind that is destroyed function again? Please do explain a bit more.”

Vasishta: “Rama! An annulled or annihilated or ‘Calmed Down’ Mind is the mind of a steadfast individual whose equipoise is not disturbed by external conditions of sorrow or happiness just like a mountain does not get affected by inhalation and exhalations of a man.

“His is a Calmed Down Mind whose expansiveness is not reduced by delimiting concepts of ‘we – they’.

“His mind is a ‘Calmed Down Mind’ , if his face does not alter in expression under conditions of pleasure or peril, treasure or threat, incentives or impediments.……. In this state he gets rid of the idea that the world is true. His mind shines forth in its Pure, Pristine and True form.

“As far as ‘Annulment of Mind Without Form’ is concerned, it is a state obtained only in liberation without the body. There is no question of any impressions being residual in this state. Hence neither virtuous qualities like universal affection nor performance of actions related to them exist.”

Sage Vasishta also clarified that it was wrong to assume that the world would not be visible to Jivanmuktas. He said that the entire world would appear to them as pure Brahman (Pure Consciousness). He added, “Jivanmuktas experience sorrows and happiness in a similar way as they did in the past. The difference is that these experiences will be like burnt out seeds. Their actions and experiences do not create new impressions.”

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


JIVANMUKTA – Gradations

Tradition talks about seven major steps or stages in the path leading to enlightenment. Broadly the path could be either Yoga-based or Knowledge-based. Sage Vasishta described the Seven Stages in the Knowledge-based Path in the third chapter Creation in “Yogavaasishta” as given here under:

i. Intense yearning for Enlightenment (Subheccha): Liberation is the ultimate happiness. An intense desire to achieve it comprises Intense yearning. It is the first step towards renunciation after relinquishing worldly pursuits and desires spurred by a passionate longing for liberation. Such a desire gets augmented by scriptural knowledge and association with noble people.

ii. Inquiry into Truth (Vicharana): Intense yearning should not remain a mere objective. It should be implemented. One should practice ardently Listening (to scriptures) and Reflecting (on what is heard) and Uninterrupted meditation (on Brahman). Unless this is done, there is no use of mere yearning.

It may be noted that one may continue Self-inquiry without having renounced the world and even in the absence of the company of noble people. But such an inquiry may lead only to scholarliness and expertise. Scholarliness cannot be a stage in the Path of Yoga.

iii. Tenuous mind (Tanumanasa): In this stage desire for worldly things will be reduced considerably. Renunciation will get strengthened with constant inquiry supported by association with noble people. (Under some special situations like a tragedy, one may grow detachment with worldly affairs. This does not qualify as a state of tenuous mind). Tenuous mind can be obtained only by strict implementation of the preceding two stages.

iv. Realization (Satvaapatti): 'Sat' stands for the Supreme Self. 'Aapatti' means gaining. With the successful execution of the preceding three stages, mind gets detached from worldly objects. Knowledge about the oneness of the individual and the Supreme Brahman obtained through inquiry will get strengthened. Then it will be easy to achieve Nirvikalpa Samadhi (Meditation where the aspirant’s consciousness stays dissolved in the Supreme Self). The state of Nirvikalpa Samadhi can only be attained after appropriate effort. The aspirant is called ‘Knower of Brahman’ in this stage.

v. Non-attachment (Asamsakti): When once Nirvikalpa Samadhi gets strengthened, mind will stay focused on Brahman not only at the time of meditation but even outside meditation hours. Interest on worldly affairs will dwindle considerably. Thoughts about Brahman will be constantly occurring. This is the stage of Non-attachment. The aspirant at this stage is called ‘Better Knower of Brahman’.

vi. Non-perception of objects (Padaardhaabhaavana): This is the state where there are no thoughts on the objects of the world. The seeker will be constantly absorbed in the Supreme Self. He may, however, come out of the meditative state due to extraneous disturbances. The aspirant in this state is described as ‘Master Knower of Brahman’.

vii. Ineffability (Turyaga): This is the last of the stages. The seeker will continue to stay absorbed in Self constantly without break. This is the true state of a Jivanmukta. The seeker is known in this stage as the ‘Excellent Knower of Brahman’.

Thus we can see that there are gradations in the states of a Jivanmukta from the fourth stage to the seventh stages. One attains Self-Knowledge at the fourth stage (Satvaapatti) and progressively gets firmed up in Brahman.

Bhagavad-Gita, Gaudapada’s Karika, Sankara’s Vivekachudamani and many scriptures underline the importance of practice in achieving liberation. Practice involves time, and therefore, time-dependent changes can be expected in the brain.

We may note here that Drs. R. Davidson, A. Lutz, A. Newberg and many neuroscientists detected changes in the brain of meditators with increasing durations of meditation. Dr. S. Lazar demonstrated even structural changes in brain in meditators similar to the changes seen in the brains of musicians. Dr. M. Beauregard investigated moments of epiphany in Carmelite nuns using fMRI. Psychiatrist Dr. J. Schwartz showed that brain circuits do alter with practices akin to ‘mindfulness’ meditation in patients suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Work with Dr. M. Ricard, a Buddhist Monk of several years standing and himself a Ph.D in Biochemistry clearly indicated the effect of “Compassion Meditation” on his brain and his state of happiness. The recent work of Dr. B. Johnstone showed reduced activity in the right parietal lobe of the brain with lowered sense of 'self'. We also have the well-documented case of Dr. J. Taylor on her 'Nirvana' experience when she had a hemorrhage in her left brain.

Many of these studies provide us some baseline data in building a model to understand the neuronal correlates in the brain of a Jivanmukta.

[Note: Liberation involving time is called “Gradual Liberation” (kramamukti). Direct path Advaitins, Neo-Advaitins (a recently coined term), J. Krishnamurti and others contend that liberation is not a result of a process. They teach that it cannot be an outcome of a method of practice and it should dawn by itself just like that. Hence 'time' in a psychological sense is not involved. This is called “Instant Liberation” (sadyomukti). We shall discuss this at a later time.]

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


JIVANMUKTA – Working Definition

Let us begin with a clear understanding of who and what is a Jivanmukta.

JnAni, Sthitaprajna are other words used in the scriptures for one who is liberated, who realized Brahman. A Jivanmukta’s state is described in laudatory and eulogizing terms in all scriptures, Prakarana Granthas (concise treatises on specific topics) etc.

Special Note on the word “State”: We normally use this word to describe a phase or a transitory condition. It implicitly indicates that there are other states in which an entity could exist. But this is not the sense we use the word here. What we try to convey is the ‘disposition’, natural isness of Jivanmukta after one achieves ‘realization’.

So the ‘state’ of Jivanmukta is not something that comes and goes. As per Advaita Vedanta, this state is always there; other states, conditions may superimpose on that veiling it, making it invisible. For lack of a better word, we shall continue to use ‘state’ to denote the position of a Jivanmukta in order to differentiate from the condition or disposition of an ordinary seeker who has not yet reached that ‘state.’

A Jivanmukta is a Knower of Brahman. He is ever immersed in Brahman. The apparent world is unreal to him and lacks true existence. He is Existence-Consciousness-Bliss. He is Truth-Knowledge-Infinity. He is forever happy unmindful of and unaffected by the goings on in the world.

A Jivanmukta’s ‘self’ stays merged with the Supreme Self or the Cosmic Consciousness. His mind is totally tranquil, equanimous and always focused on Brahman. He is the world and the world is him. J. Krishnamurti describes a state of ‘zero thought’ in pointing out to this state.

Self-Knowledge leads one to a state of null mind (amanaska). Sankara says that it happens by itself. Modifications in the mind and their root-cause, intentions, too cease. The seeker transcends mind. All his impressions (vasanas) collapse and he loses all thoughts of the world. The state of Jivanmukta will be as if he is in deep sleep but with awareness (Yoganidra) unlike our deep sleep when we are ignorant of who we are. (This can be a Neuronal Marker. We shall discuss later the details).

A Jivanmukta’s behaviour and actions, his day to day life and working are, however, described to be indistinguishable from any ordinary man. Hence we do not have any externally visible and readily identifiable traits of a Jivanmukta.

In view of these ambiguous descriptions, we need a working definition for Jivanmukta. The best and simplest one I came across was that given by direct path Advaitins.

“A Jivanmukta is one in whom a separate sense of ‘self’ has collapsed.”

We shall use this definition for all of our future reference.

Monday, June 22, 2009


Objection Yet Again:

The Paramarthika (The Absolute) exists all the time and everywhere. The transactional or phenomenal world is limited in space and time having finite existence between appearance and disappearance. The Absolute forms the permanent background against which the transitional can be seen. Say, like a passing train on the unmoving rail track. Or a turbulence in a river, an example Vince (Just Rest) gives.

The turbulence may appear in the river. But a ‘marker’ of the river cannot be seen in the turbulence. How can we notice ‘markers’ of the Absolute Brahman within the impermanent phenomenal brain of a Jivanmukta?

The reply is as follows:

In our day to day world we see shifting things against the background of a fixed thing – like a movie projected on a screen. So we are conditioned to see only contrast. We readily notice the spike or anomaly but miss the background – like reading the letters of this write up but not be aware of the constant presence of the paper on which they appear. We are accustomed to grouping things, fragmenting them into distinct entities. We continually assess the environment in terms of threats and opportunities for our individual survival. We acquired this characteristic as a result of biological evolution. The survival tactic and tools developed during millions of years of evolution are stored and transmitted to offspring through ‘information replicators’.

Genes are the replicators for an organism. As each organism learns newer and newer survival tactics, the robust and sturdy tactics get passed on to the offspring. Thus the survival information (genes) is inhered from a succession of ancestral creatures which were born and later dead in the past. These perhaps constitute what are called as vasanas (impressions from past births). If we consider the ‘birth and death’ of each of our ancestors (human and prehuman animal ancestors going right up to the beginnings of life (prokaryotes - single living cells)) from whom the accumulated genetic information gets transmitted, we can think of all those creatures to be our ‘past lives’!

One of the significant survival tools is the sense of ‘I am an individual’, giving a distinct identity to each organism. This sense of “an individual entity” separate from the rest is more developed in man compared to other animals. It got solidly concretized as the concept of ‘self’ in us. Culture helped in reinforcing the concept of ‘self’. The replicators for cultural information are ‘memes’, a term coined by Prof. R. Dawkins in 1976. Dr. Sue Blackmore recently introduced the word ‘temes’ to refer to a replicator of technological information. Memes and temes facilitated faster communication and spread of the acquired characteristics in self-protection and self-perpetuation.

In other words, it is our sheer habit conditioned by survival information transmitted by genes, memes and temes in viewing the world in fragments, separated into parts, with distinct names and forms. The fragmentation and consequent individuation results in ‘conflicts of interest’ and ‘competition for resources’ ending up mostly in misery and sorrow.

In order to redeem this sorrow, Advaita points us to the basic ‘Oneness’ of everything, the unfragmented wholeness. We identify separate parts giving a ‘name and form’ to everything in the world. The names and forms are merely our imagination giving raise to imaginary sorrow. (We shall discuss in greater detail this issue of redemption of sorrow later on).

Now that we understand the biological reason for our conditioned view of fragmentation, it is only a short step to say that the distinction of a ‘permanent screen’ over which a ‘movie’ exists is also artificial. Or taking the example of turbulence and the river, the turbulence and river are not two separate things. The oft quoted metaphor in Advaita is the non-difference between the ocean water, the wave, the foam, the spume and the water droplet. A boy at the beach sees them all to be distinct each with its own name and form, but an adult looks at them all as water. Hence there is no separate object sitting there as Absolute distinct from the world. This differentiation is imaginary, merely conceptual, by the force of habit. This is supported by Shruti statements: neha nAnAsti kicana (4-iv-19, Brihadaranyaka Upanishad); sarvam khalu idam Brahma (III-xiv, Chandodyoga Upanishad). Aparokshanubhuti (verse 116) says: if you see with the eye of Knowledge, you will see the world is full of Brahman.

Therefore, we must be able to discern that Oneness in the brain of a Jivanmukta uncluttered by the popping up of the sense of individuation.

The above discussion brings us to the topic of identifying possible neuronal correlates.

Sunday, June 21, 2009


Objection again:

The Universal Consciousness into which a Jivanmukta has dissolved would not be confined to brain only. It is all permeating and hence his entire (visible) body should be considered and not the neurons in the brain to find It.

This is a good question and can also be true.

But ever since bilateralism evolved about 600 millions years ago in biological creatures, the body structure of the organism has developed with head and tail ends. The head provided an opportunity to locate a centralized control system for the entire body of the organism. That control structure is the brain. While Consciousness may be distributed all over the body, we may perhaps find more easily identifiable ‘markers’ in the neurons of the brain which is the centralized control system.

Secondly many of such states of the bodily functions which are relegated to invisible and intangible ‘subtler world’ in the ancient Indian tradition (e.g. Brahma viharas) have clear markers in the neurons of the brain. Hence it is reasonable to expect a signature of the Universal Self (into which an individual is dissolved on Realization) in the brain of the Jivanmukta.

Saturday, June 20, 2009


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:

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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:

  1. We distinguish three types of truths – Paramarthika, vyvaharika and pratibhasika. They correspond to the Absolute, empirical and dream worlds.

  1. The transactional (wakeful) world is illusory and non-existent from the Absolute (Paramarthika) angle.

  1. The Dream world (pratibhasika) is non-existent and illusory from the viewpoint of the wakeful (transactional) world.

  1. 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).

  1. Therefore, the pratibhasika truth (dream) of that man is recordable in our transactional (vyavaharika) world.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Nonduality Highlights: #3567 - Thursday, June 18, 2009

Editor Jerry Katz has been very kind and gracious in writing about the small book, a compendium of essays, published in December 2008.

I am very grateful to him.

There are two links provided by him for my blogs. Out of them, the first one at:

is not being actively pursued by me.

The book, in fact, contains revised and updated versions of the articles.

I have a web site at:

The web site provides links to my original articles published in different journals. I try to update it occasionally.

Finally, I should apologize for my inability to attend the excellent conference planned by Editor Katz. I am sure many new concepts will emerge there to help us to transcend the conceptual sphere.

Many Thanks to you, Sir.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Consciousness is a property of person (Scientific Findings - 3)


"What we propose is that a conscious person requires a high level of brain energy," said Robert G. Shulman, Sterling Professor Emeritus of molecular biophysics and biochemistry at Yale.

The finding has profound implications for our understanding of the connection between the brain and consciousness, Shulman said. "You can think of consciousness not as a property of the brain, but of the person."
Anesthesiologists consider a person to be in a behavioral state of consciousness when he or she can respond to simple stimuli. Properties of this state, such as the high energy and the delocalized fMRI signals, allow the person to perform the interconnected activities that make up our everyday lives. Shulman suggests that these more energetic properties of the support human behavior and should be considered when interpreting the much weaker signals that are typically recorded during fMRI studies.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Validation and Self-esteem (Scientific Findings - 2)

Apology and Self-Esteem

According to Duke University psychologist Mark Leary, the feeling of being disliked, ostracized or rejected was specially designed by evolution to be particularly painful; subjectively speaking, being evaluated negatively by others can feel even worse than physical trauma. The reason that others’ negative evaluations affect us so deeply, Leary believes, has to do with our primate past.
"Unlike virtually every other species, the hominids could not rely on speed, flight, strength, arboreal clambering, burrowing or ferocity to evade predators. Many theorists in psychology, anthropology and biology have noted that human beings and their hominid ancestors survived and prospered as species only because they lived in cooperative groups. Given the importance of group living, natural selection favored individuals who not only sought the company of others but also behaved in ways that led others to accept, support and help them."

In other words, for a human being, only death itself ensures a speedier genetic demise than stigma and exclusion. To ensure that our ancestors were ever wary of their tenuous dependence on others, Leary proposes that they evolved a sort of subjective, psychological gauge that served to continually monitor their fluctuating “relational value,” an affective index of where the self stood in the eyes of other ingroup members. Generally speaking, the higher one’s relational value, the greater one’s reproductive opportunities and genetic fitness. Just as it continues to do today, this hypothetical “sociometer” generated emotional states that, collectively, were translated into what’s popularly known as our “self-esteem.” Assuming our sociometer isn’t broken or impaired, negative self-esteem is a kind of warning, then, that one is at serious risk of social (and therefore genetic) exclusion.

Added on 20 Jan 2011:
Also please see

"The above article says: "Even brief episodes of ostracism involving strangers or people we dislike activate the brain’s pain centers, incite sadness and anger, increase stress, lower self-esteem and rob us of a sense of control. We all feel the pain of ostracism about equally. Personality traits do, however, influence how well we cope."

Purpose in life and risk of death (Scientific Findings - 1)

Having a higher purpose in life reduces risk of death among older adults

June 15th, 2009 in Medicine & Health / Health

Possessing a greater purpose in life is associated with lower mortality rates among older adults according to a new study by researchers at Rush University Medical Center. The study, published in journal, Psychosomatic Medicine.
Patricia A. Boyle, PhD, and her colleagues from the Rush Alzheimer's Disease Center, studied 1,238 community-dwelling elderly participants from two ongoing research studies, the Rush Memory and Aging Project and the Minority Aging Research Study. None had . Data from baseline evaluations of purpose in life and up to five years of follow-up were used to test the hypothesis that greater purpose in life is associated with a reduced risk of mortality among community-dwelling older persons.
Purpose in life reflects the tendency to derive meaning from life's experiences and be focused and intentional, according to Boyle.