Trev Light Bown: You say formless witness will never be experienced and that Guru/ disciple as pointer to truth within is for ignorant. But Adi Shankara who you endlessly quote from was indeed such a disciple. See quote below.............
At the age of 8, Shankara was inclined towards sannyasa, but it was only after much persuasion that his mother finally gave her consent. He only received her consent in a very interesting manner. While bathing in the river Poorna one day, a crocodile caught hold of his leg. Shankara appealed to his mother, who had arrived at Poorna, asking for permission to become a sanyasi. His mother finally gave consent, only to have the crocodile let go of young Shankara. A crocodile had never been found in Poorna ever since Shankara then left Kerala and travelled towards North India in search of a guru. On the banks of the Narmada River, he met Govinda Bhagavatpada the disciple of Gaudapada at Omkareshwar. When Govinda Bhagavatpada asked Shankara's identity, he replied with an extempore verse that brought out the Advaita Vedanta philosophy. Govinda Bhagavatapada was impressed and took Shankara as his disciple."
SK: Dearest Trev, - Sage Sri, Sankara wisdom (Advaita) —Without a Parallel Sage Sri Sankara's wisdom is lofty, sublime and unique. It is highly interesting, inspiring and elevating. No other wisdom can stand before it in boldness, depth and subtle thinking. Sage Sri, Sankara’s philosophy is complete and perfect
Sage Sri Sankara was a mighty, marvellous genius. He was a profound thinker of the first rank. He was a sage of the highest realization. His wisdom has brought solace, peace and illumination to countless persons in the world. The Western thinkers bow their heads at the lotus-feet of Sri Sankara. His wisdom has soothed the sorrows and afflictions of the most forlorn persons, and brought hope, joy, wisdom, perfection, freedom and calmness to many. His wisdom commands the admiration of the whole world.
Biographical anecdotes about his childhood about the crocodile story and the story in Sage Sri, Sankara's life of going to Benares and occupying the body of another man and then having sex intercourse with his wife, is a myth created by orthodoxy hiding the real fact the reason best-known to the orthodoxy. Sage, Sri, Sankara had the scientific spirit and when told by Saraswathi the woman that he was talking emptily about sex, being a Sanyasi, he at once went to learn the truth by having actual intercourse himself and thus learning by experiment and observation.
Thus all the myth about Sage Sri, Sankara is nothing to do with the seeker of truth because the seeker is concerned only with the wisdom of the Sage Sri, Sankara.
Sage Sri, Sankara: - "Though I wear these robes of a Sanyasin, it is only for the sake of bread." (Select Works of Sage Sri, Sankara" also his commentary on Brihad)
Sage Sri, Sankara: - The Gnani "should pass through life", not run away from life and should take a middle course between seeking worldly honor and worldly abasement. (Chap.3.4.50; Sankara's commentary to Brahma Sutras)
Sage Sri, Sankara's work has got two aspects: the practical and the spiritual. He gave religious, ritual or dogmatic instruction to the populace but pure wisdom only to the few who could rise to it. Hence the interpretation of his writings by commentators is often confusing because they mix up the two viewpoints. Thus they may assert that ritual is a means of realizing Brahman, which is absurd.
Sage Sri, Sankara varied his practical advice and doctrinal teaching according to the people he was amongst. He never told them to give their particular religion or beliefs or metaphysics completely; he only told them to give up the worst features of abuse: at the same time he showed just one step forward towards the truth.
Sage Sri, Sankara was extremely precise and careful in his choice of words. He was no fool in writing. Sage Sankara did more than write books or initiate Sanyasin: He brought India into a unity as a nation. He told people to Worship what they wish, remain in their particular religion, caste and creed, but remember also you are part of a larger whole.
The look of an object will depend upon the medium through the observer views it. In fact our mental and intellectual conditions will determine the phenomenal world observed and experienced. The orthodox pundit seeing Sage Sri, Sankara will see differently from the A Gnani seeing the same Sage Sri, Sankara. Each one of them interprets the world that they see in terms of their existing knowledge. The orthodox sees Sri, Sankara as founder of their religion and also as a guru of Advaitic orthodox sect. A man of truth sees Sage Sri, Sankara not as a guru but as a Gnani. The orthodoxy believes their experience of the birth, life, death and rebirth and the world as reality. Whereas a Gnani sees the world is mere illusion created out of consciousness. Thus Gnani sees no second thing other than consciousness. The one who treads the path of wisdom gains the knowledge of the reality beyond form, time and space. A Gnani has delved into and he transcended consciously all identification with the experience form, time and space.
Similarly orthodoxy has to be bifurcated from philosophy. To know Nondualistic wisdom of Sage Sri, Sankara one has to be free from all superstitions and dogmas and orthodoxy and scriptural knowledge. The seeker has to be more rational and scientific in his attitude.
According to Advaita Vedanta, the Veda addresses itself to two kinds of audiences - the ordinary ones who desire the transitory heaven and other pleasures obtained as a result of ritual sacrifices, and the more advanced seeker who seeks to know Brahman. Thus, the purva mimam.sa, with its emphasis on the karma kanda of the Vedas, is meant for the first audience, to help lead its followers along the way. However, the Vedanta, with its emphasis on the Jnana Kanda, is meant for those who wish to go beyond such transient pleasures.
Sage Sri, Sankara said: - Talk as much philosophy as you like, worship as many gods as you please, observe ceremonies and sing devotional hymns, but the liberation will never come, even after a hundred aeons, without realizing the Oneness.
Philosophy does not begin with the ultimate truth. Ultimate truth has to be proved, not assumed. Hence, so-called philosophers who take Brahman for granted are not philosophers at all.
Lots of Advaitin scholars will teach that all is yourself, but none of them can show that this is so, none has analyzed it scientifically, and none can prove it. Rational proof is required, so that one arrive at knowing the ultimate truth or Brahman i.e. Gnana. Theirs is mere dogma, parrotism, a repetition of what they read in scripture. Authoritarianism merely assumes as true what another says, but what has yet to be proved.
Sage Sri Sankara’s whole teaching can be summed up into one sentence, ‘There is nothing else but Brahman. He says that the Absolute Existence, Absolute Knowledge and Absolute Bliss are real. The universe is not real. He says that Brahma and Atman are one. The ultimate and the Absolute Truth is the Self, which is one though appearing as many different individuals. The individual has no reality. Only the Self is real; the rest, mental and physical are but passing appearances.
Genuine philosophy must be independent of religion, that in Sage Sri, Sankara himself the Saguna Brahman or a personal God is only a part of the phenomenal (if not illusory) world, and the Nirguna Brahman is the only reality and has nothing to do with religion.
Sage Sri Sankara pokes fun at ascetics and points out that all their austerities do not cause desires to go (Altar Flowers" Page 205, v.2 P.207 v.4)
The Brahma Sutras together with Sri Sankara's commentary thereon do not contain the higher wisdom. They are intended for those who are incapable of thinking rationally.
Sage Sri, Sankara's commentary on the Brahma Sutras is not on a philosophical basis, but on an orthodox and mystic basis, with appeal to the Vedas as final authority.
In Brahma Sutra Sage Sri, Sankara takes the position that there is another entity outside us, i.e. the wall really exists separately from the mind. This was because Sage Sri, Sankara explains in Mandukya that those who study the Sutras are orthodox minds, intellectual children, hence his popular view point to assist them. These people are afraid to go deeper because it means being heroic enough to refuse to accept Sruti, and God's authority, in case they mean punishment by God. A Gnani says the scriptures for children, but wise seekers will think rationally.
In Brahma Sutras Sage Sri, Sankara takes for granted, assumes that a world was created: He there mixes dogmatic theology with philosophy.
That God created the world is an absolute lie, nevertheless one will find Sage Sri, Sankara (in his commentary on Vedanta Sutras) clearly says this! He has to adapt his teachings to his audience, reserving the highest for philosophical minds.
The text of Brahma Sutras is based on religion, dogmatism but in the commentary Sage Sri, Sankara cleverly introduced some philosophy. If it is objected that a number of Upanishads are equally dogmatic because they also begin by assuming Brahman, only a few Upanishads do not, but prove Brahman at the end of a train of proof.
Scholars translation of Brahma Sutras in Sacred Books of East must be read cautiously as he has not understood its highest sense, e.g. for Advaita they wrongly puts "Unity" instead of “Non-duality."
Sage Sri Sankara gave religion and scholasticism and yoga no less than philosophy, to the seeking world. He was great enough to be able to do so. His commentary on Mandukya is pure philosophy, but many of his other books are presented from a religious standpoint to help those who cannot rise up to philosophy.
Orthodoxy is the home of mysticism and deification that is why they are not keen rational truth. Thus Sage Sankara is guru to the religious followers and he is a great Gnani to the seeking world.