Trev Light Bown : - Can you post some reading by Sankara?
SK: - Without Sage, Sri, Sankara there is no Advaita (non-duality). Sage Sri, Sankara's rational Advaita is the greatest gift to the humanity. Since it was mixed up with orthodoxy there is a lot of confusion. I am highlighting all the obstacles, which is blocking one from realizing the ultimate truth or Brahman. There are so many non-dualistic masters of the east and also from the west who expound Advaitic or non-dualistic knowledge but none of them are helpful to reach the ultimate end.
Swami Vivekananda aptly described Sankara’s Advaita as the fairest flower of philosophy that any country in any age has produced.
Most of the pundits are egoic and they try to snub others who question them. They think they are unquestionable authority. They quote the citation from the scripture as proof without verifying the validity. All punditry is a great obstacle in realizing the Advaitic truth expounded by the Sri, Sankara and Sage Sri, Gaudapada.
One finds lots of differences between Advaita preaching and practice. There is a need to bifurcate religion, the concept of god and scriptures from Advaitic philosophy to assimilate the essence of Advaita.
Sri, Sankara says in Brahma Sutras: that Brahman is the cause of the world, whereas in Mandukya he denies it. This is because he says that at the lower stage of understanding, the former teaching must be given, for people will get frightened as they cannot understand how the world can be without a cause, but to those in a higher stage, the truth of non-causality can be revealed.
Sage Sri, Sankara himself has warned us not to use ambiguous words, and to practice semantic analysis in his book "Definition of one's own Self. (" Page 199, v. 24 of "Sankara's Selected Works)
Sri, Sankara founded his Advaita Vedanta either on reason independent of sruti or on sruti confirmed by reason." Sri, Sankara's commentary on the Mandukya Upanishad, II, 1: This (the unreality of duality) is borne out by the Srutis ... But it is possible also to show the unreality of the object world even from pure reasoning, and this second chapter is undertaken for that purpose.
Sri, Sankara himself had often said that his philosophy was based on Sruti, or revealed scripture. This may be because Sri, Sankara addressed the ordinary man, who finds security in the idea of causality and thus with the idea of God—and Revelation is indispensable to prove the latter. He believed that those of superior intelligence, have no need of this idea of divine causality, and can therefore dispense with Sruti and arrive at the truth of Non-Dualism by pure reason.
When Sri, Sankara says clearly, the universe is not real. He says that Brahman 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, then it indicates the form (waking/duality/mind) is unreal the formless is real (soul/spirit/self/FW). Therefore, only Atman is real because there is no second thing other than Atman.
When sage Sri, Sankara says: world is unreal. He never said body is unreal. He would have said only birth and death is unreal but he did not say that, he said the world is unreal. He meant the world including the body, because the body and the world appear together and disappear together (waking/dream). Then we have to think, what remain without the body and the world as reality. How can the birth, life, death, rebirth, and reincarnation, which take place in an unreal world (waking/dream), can be true. The one, which is aware of the birth, life death, rebirth and reincarnation (illusion/unreal), is formless reality, which is the true self/true identity. The formless self is your true identity, which is birthless and deathless but it is the witness of the birth, life and death and rebirth (illusion/unreal).
On the standpoint of identity the birth, life, death, rebirth and reincarnation theory is part of the illusion. The body cannot reincarnate, the body and the world are created out of the same formless stuff. Until one views and judges on the base of flesh, bone and blood (five elements), he will not be able to grasp the non-dualistic or Advaitic truth. Thus, one must know on what standpoint we are not born and we do not die thoroughly, just by hearsay views, it will not lead anyone to the non-dual destination.
The Seeker has to learn to view and judge on the standpoint of Formless witness (or soul or consciousness). Then he will be never having any confusion. When one thinks deeply then only the inner revelation starts and start burning the dross (confusion/doubts). A well-directed inquiry and sound reasoning will lead one towards non-dual destination and it will start yielding fruit and start revealing, when he starts thinking very deeply. This is the inner process every serious seeker experiences. The inner dialogue will start and one will start getting answers from the inner core of his existence, and he becomes aware of the fact of what is real and what is unreal and he will be able to mentally reject the unreal nature of the self in the midst of duality.
He also clearly mentions that:
The path of religion, theory of karma, the path of yoga and the path of wisdom were intended for different classes of people. The wisdom is for the advanced seekers of truth. It deals with the nature of the ultimate Truth and Reality. It is meant for superior aspirants who have an inner urge to know the truth and it is not for those who are immersed in earthly desires.
Thus we have to know the fact that the Buddha, Goudpada and Sri, Sankara are not only reformers but also the greatest scientists. From there original thesis has been lost in the labyrinths of philosophy and mutilated by pundits and orthodoxy, it becomes very difficult to understand and assimilate the wisdom expounded by the great masters. In addition, the conservativeness of the orthodox scholars will not allow any research other than playing with the words, which suits the mass mind sets, because of their egocentric outlook.
Sage Sri, Sankara says in Vivekachudamani:- 56. Neither by Yoga, nor by Sankhya, nor by work, nor by learning, but by the realization of one's identity with Brahman is Liberation possible, and by no other means.
58. Loud speech consisting of a shower of words, the skill in expounding the Scriptures, and likewise erudition - these merely bring on a little personal enjoyment to the scholar, but are no good for Liberation.
59. The study of the Scriptures is useless so long as the highest Truth is unknown, and it is equally useless when the highest Truth has already been known.
60. The Scriptures consisting of many words are a dense forest which merely causes the mind to ramble. Hence men of wisdom should earnestly set about knowing the true nature of the Self.
61. For one who has been bitten by the serpent of Ignorance, the only remedy is the knowledge of Brahman. Of what avail are the Vedas and (other) Scriptures, Mantras (sacred formulae) and medicines to such a one?
62. A disease does not leave off if one simply utters the name of the medicine, without taking it; (similarly) without direct realization one cannot be liberated by the mere utterance of the word Brahman.
63. Without causing the objective universe to vanish and without knowing the truth of the Self, how is one to achieve Liberation by the mere utterance of the word Brahman ? — It would result merely in an effort of speech.
64. Without killing one’s enemies, and possessing oneself of the splendor of the entire surrounding region, one cannot claim to be an emperor by merely saying, ‘I am an emperor’.
65. As a treasure hidden underground requires (for its extraction) competent instruction, excavation, the removal of stones and other such things lying above it and (finally) grasping, but never comes out by being (merely) called out by name, so the transparent Truth of the self, which is hidden by Maya and its effects, is to be attained through the instructions of a knower of Brahman, followed by reflection, meditation and so forth, but not through perverted arguments.
66. Therefore the wise should, as in the case of disease and the like, personally strive by all the means in their power to be free from the bondage of repeated births and deaths.
67. The question that thou hast asked today is excellent, approved by those versed in the Scriptures, aphoristic, pregnant with meaning and fit to be known by the seekers after Liberation.
People who are yearning for spiritual truth will not find it through intellectualism. Intellectual truth is individual truth. Love implies duality and love is individual feelings within the falsehood. Love is necessary and valuable in the States of ignorance but it is not the means to acquire wisdom. Love is a religious tool to lead life in practical world. And Religious truth is individual truth and it is not a universal truth because the religion is based on individuality.
The karma theory is reality only for those who believe their present physical identity (ego) as real, and world as reality. When the Sri, Sankara declares the world itself is an illusion, and Brahman is real, then what value the karma theory has when the world is an illusion, because man is part and parcel of the illusory world. Therefore, one has to view and judge the three states on the standpoint of the formless soul, the innermost self in order to overcome the duality, which he is experiencing it as reality. The individuality is the reality within the illusory world. Therefore, all the theories created within the illusion on the base of false entity, within the false experience, has to be the part and parcel of the illusion. Thus it is necessary to realize the fact that Atman is the true self and all else is illusion, to overcome the illusory concept of the cycle of birth, life and death. Thus to understand and assimilate Sri, Sankara’s Advaitic truth, the seeker has to do his own homework soulcentric reasoning without mixing religion, scriptures, the theories, concept of god and yoga.
Sage Sri Sankara says in Aparokshanubhuti:- 88. When the whole universe, movable and immovable, is known to be Atman, and thus the existence of everything else is negated, where is then any room to say that the body is Atman?
89. O enlightened one, pass your time always contemplating on Atman while you are experiencing all the results of Prarabdha; for it ill becomes you to feel distressed.
90. The theory one hears of from the scripture, that Prarabdha does not lose its hold upon one even after the origination of the knowledge of Atman, is now being refuted.
91. After the origination of the knowledge of Reality, Prarabdha verily ceases to exist, inasmuch as the body and the like become non-existent; just as a dream does not exist in waking.
92. That Karma which is done in a previous life is known as Prarabdha (which produces the present life). But such Karma cannot take the place of Prarabdha (for a man of knowledge), as he has no other birth (being free from ego).
93. Just as the body in a dream is superimposed (and therefore illusory), so is also this body. How could there be any birth of the superimposed (body), and in the absence of birth (of the body) where is the room for that (i.e., Prarabdha) at all ?
94. The Vedanta texts declare ignorance to be verily the material (cause) of the phenomenal world just as earth is of a jar. That (ignorance) being destroyed, where can the universe subsist ?
95. Just as a person out of confusion perceives only the snake leaving aside the rope, so does an ignorant person see only the phenomenal world without knowing the reality?
96. The real nature of the rope being known, the appearance of the snake no longer persists; so the substratum being known, the phenomenal world disappears completely.
97. The body also being within the phenomenal world (and therefore unreal), how could Prarabdha exist ? It is, therefore, for the understanding of the ignorant alone that the Shruti speaks of Prarabdha.
98. “And all the actions of a man perish when he realizes that (Atman) which is both the higher and the lower”. Here the clear use of the plural by the Shruti is to negate Prarabdha as well.
99. If the ignorant still arbitrarily maintain this, they will not only involve themselves into two absurdities but will also run the risk of forgoing the Vedantic conclusion. So one should accept those Shrutis alone from which proceeds true knowledge.
The above proves that the karma is reality only on the base of false self, where one thinks body and the universes as reality. When one becomes aware of the fact that, the true self is formless soul, then the karma becomes part and parcel of illusion. My point is that, if one accepts the karma theory as reality, he will never be able to come out of the ignorance. And ignorance makes him believe the cycle of birth, life and death as reality. Thus the freedom which one is seeking will remain distant dream. For the one who accepts the birth life and death as reality, Self-knowledge or Brahma Gnana or Atma Gnana is impossible.