Brahman & avidya


Why does Brahman/Ātman deceive itself with Māyā, avidyā, and anātman? Why doesn’t consciousness simply manifest (in humans) with Vidyā, with innate knowledge of its true self from the beginning?

Life is like a riddle, or a play – it is a mystery, not unlike the mystery plays of Medieval Europe. Brahman /reality/God manifests the whole of its grandeur, splendid beauty and Life is that manifestation, an unimaginable and superb spectacle. But there are obvious limitations in it from the perspective of a being such as man (a self-reflecting being): there are the undeniable facts of death and decay, as the young Buddha contemplated in front of him when he left his palace, and that needs an explanation, since man’s capacities are also obviously limited.

These are the facts of existence, and it is useless to ask the Supreme Being and origin of life on earth why He did not create existence without death and decay being it’s inevitable and unwelcome companions. So man has to learn and accept that there cannot be growth and reproduction – no life – without there also being dissolution of forms. This is the play of opposites inherent in all life, primarily the pair male-female (yang / yin). This play is not just a metaphor, but a reality. Without this play – which is manifestation itself – there would not be life and its disclosure and endless development and reproduction.

Man then learns that there cannot be unity without multiplicity, not one without two… and that he is, in his most intimate being or essence, that Unity. It is in the One that reality, completion, and intelligibility – and beauty – resides. God/Brahman did not make a mistake or willingly produced something deficient, incomplete.

Alberto Martín

 

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Is the Eastern/Western distinction in philosophy useful and meaningful?

It definitely is. By and large, Eastern philosophy differs from the Western-type in more than one respect. Firstly, its orientation is much more holistic, by which I mean going beyond logical analysis and the interests of empiricism – including science (the OBJECT) – and touching on human realities and interests (the SUBJECT). Eastern philosophy can thus be characterized as having a religious-mystical dimension which incorporates a soteriology (release or liberation rather than ‘individual salvation’)* and which one can find only in different forms in the West in the philosophies of Stoicism, Epicureanism, and the Cynics. Eastern philosophy has persisted for thousands of years in its geographic areas of spread and is still dominant there, although more recently there has been a Western influence in Indian philosophy, where Hegel, Heidegger, Plato, etc., are being increasingly studied. This is the case mostly in academic circles – and vice versa, East to West, but in the latter case not so much in Academia .

  • Indeed, the release or liberation is from individuality or individualism.

There is no concept of enlightenment or self-realization in Western philosophy, but there are types of Monism (one substance or primary element in nature) in the pre-Socratic philosophers – Parmenides, Heraclitus, Leucippus, etc. Materialism (or physicalism) and Idealism (especially Berkeley) are opposing models in this regard.

The above considerations apply mostly to Buddhism and Advaita Vedanta as they have flourished (and still do) in the Eastern world, but it is to be noted that both of them have a strong rational dimension as well in the areas of epistemology, ontology, and psychology. So both ‘worlds’ tend to approximate each other, but that is all one can say.

Going back to the West, an important mystical tradition must be included here, whether or not monistic or non-dual in nature, such as that of Plotinus, Meister Eckhart, Dionysius the Pseudo-Areopagite, Origen, The Cloud of Unknowing, Teresa of Avila, and John of the Cross (San Juan de la Cruz) – without listing here some great Western Sufis, Ibn al ‘Arabi being the main one.

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Essence and Being


What is the essence of being?

Speaking strictly from the tradition of the Indian Advaita Vedanta, being or existence, the supreme metaphysical principle, IS its own essence – there is no other essence or essences. The same can be said of consciousness. Now consciousness and existence are ontologically equivalent (sat-chit), two aspects of the same reality which are approximations (or phenomenological analyses) made by the mind in its search for direct, unmediated, unitive understanding – or which occur spontaneously to a contemplative mind. The mind is dualistic by nature, and thus its operations (distinctions, discriminations, etc.) are necessarily dualistic.

Unlike most western traditions (with the exception of Plato, Dionysius the Areopagite, Berkeley, some Sufis, and the mystics and poets) intuition by the intellect (a part or aspect of the mind – writ large) is the means of grasping the reality of everything. In this operation or act, the mind is subsidiary to consciousness, its substrate. In sum, there is lower or empirical knowledge, and higher ‘knowledge’: intuition plus ‘higher reasoning’, the latter inspired by intuition (anubhava).

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Why do we exist?


Why do we exist? Updated January 19

You could equally have asked: Why do stones, and trees… the earth, the universe exist? There is no answer to any of those questions (other than by the various theologies). Existence is, and is the way it is – it is a given. No reasons can be given, in the same way that we cannot find a meaning to it all.

Is consciousness a force?

No. But we can assert with confidence that there is intelligence in the world, in the universe, and by extension, in all it contains; intelligence is participated in by all beings. By persistent questioning, it is possible to find an answer as to what is the nature of the universe, of being, and of ‘me’. See what the rishis of old revealed, which goes way beyond religion.

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There was a young man who said…


What is the use of asserting that things exist “independent of human observation”?

 

There was a young man who said “God,
To you, it must seem very odd
That a tree as a tree
Simply ceases to be
When there is no one about in the quad.”

And God replied:

“Young man, your astonishment is odd.
I’m always about in the quad
And that is why the tree
Never ceases to be
As observed by yours faithfully, God.”

If we substitute consciousness, or cosmic intelligence, for ‘God’, this should be more acceptable to intelligent people, including physicists, neuro-physiologists, etc.

 

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Why is there ignorance?


Why does Brahman-Ātman deceive itself with Māyā, Avidyā, and Anātman? Why doesn’t consciousness simply manifest (in humans) with Vidyā, with innate knowledge of its true self from the beginning?

Life is like a riddle or a play – it is a mystery, not unlike the mystery plays of Medieval Europe. Brahman /reality/God manifests the whole of its grandeur, splendor, and beauty, and Life is that manifestation, an unimaginable and superb spectacle. But there are obvious limitations in it from the perspective of a being such as man (a self-reflecting, limited being): there are the undeniable facts of death and decay, as the young Buddha contemplated in front of him when he left his palace, and that needs an explanation since man’s capacities are also obviously limited.

These are the facts of existence, and it is useless to ask the Supreme Being and originator of life on earth why He did not create existence without death and decay being it’s inevitable and unwelcome companions. So man has to learn and accept that there cannot be growth and reproduction – no life – without there also being the dissolution of forms. This is the play of opposites inherent in all life, primarily the pair male-female (yang/yin). This play is not just a metaphor, but a reality. Without this play – which is manifestation itself – there would not be life and its disclosure and endless development and reproduction.

Man then learns that there cannot be unity without multiplicity, not one without two… and that he is, in his most intimate being or essence, that Unity. It is in Oneness that reality, completion, and intelligibility – and beauty – resides. God/Brahman did not make a mistake or willingly produced something deficient, incomplete.

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Connection between spirituality and warriorship


A truly spiritual person is a seeker of/after truth… no matter what difficulties are in the way. For them truth is paramount and one is prepared to sacrifice everything for it. Needless to say courage is a distinctive mark: courage, perseverance, and total dedication. These virtues are not the assets of a majority of people and that is why the hero is often depicted as a loner (e.g. Gary Cooper and other examples in Western movies). The Greek hero serves as an example; also Siegfried and Parsifal of Wagnerian operas, Brunhilde being the heroine …

Therefore spirituality is contrasted with religion (or ‘religiosity’) for good reasons. What moves the hero or spiritual person is a greater truth which he makes his own and is ready to die for it, no concessions being made (Don Quixote may have been mad, but his instinct was true and noble, as shown through the masterful portrayal of his creator Cervantes… is the former a joke, or just insane?). The spiritual person is also humble and generous and his aim or only motivation is the good of all (including animals… all sentient beings – his respect and love of creation/nature is total), not making distinctions as to social rang, etc. In summary: Seek thou truth and follow its dictates – wherever they may lead you (In Jesus’ words, ‘Seek thou truth and it will make you free’.

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Victim-centered society – my answer in Quora


Why are psychology and so many self-help ideologies perceived merely as blame-shifting gimmicks that are guilty of creating a “victim-centered society?”

 

I am not sure that psychology and self-help ideologies – and self-help books – are or ought to be guilty of creating such a society, but the basic premise of all of them is the belief that the ego – that impostor or ‘mask’- is the centre of the person. The ego is, by definition, a net of desires, frustrations, hopes, and the like – a kaleidoscope of self-created and contrasting images. A happy ego is almost a contradiction in terms, given that such a dubious character is never *quite* satisfied (look up the basic tenet of Buddhist psychology: ‘craving’).

Greek tragedy embodies and exemplifies all those human passions in the extreme. No wonder that what is pervasive in ALL Western novels is frustrated desire, unrequited love – restlessness, in a word – given the fragility of the ego and its perceived failings. Hence the widespread interest in psychology and the multiple therapies aimed at assuaging all the pain, suffering, and frustration, which are extensive to the whole of society.

Something that is of an altogether different nature – to the point of transcending individuality – is aspiration or yearning, be it spiritual or moral. Even so, the point can be made that (any) desire, and its fulfillment, could in principle be a step in the direction of that aspiration, which is one towards completion or real self-fulfillment.

In Eastern psychology, for example Advaita Vedanta, the ego-or-mind does not have the ‘distinction’ of being the centre of the person. Rather, the ego is closer to being that ‘mask’ referred to above. If you ask me what then the center of the person is, the answer is: Spirit (or Atman) in its pure state. Any lack of purity is equivalent to ignorance or a degree thereof. — Where then is suffering?

 

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Can we live without technology?


How possible would it be for you to live without Technology? (From Quora)

My answer. A given individual can live without technology – telephone, radio, TV, automobiles – but society in general can no longer go back (how far back?) to the time of 3 or 4 generations ago. Everything has been ‘piling up’ and become more and more complex and, at the same time, integrated or intertwined more or less haphazardly. We need modern technology even if only to take us out of this mess – a mess which I don’t need to describe in any detail and which affects the whole world.

Are we at the point of no-return? Nobody knows. While there are great dangers, there are also opportunities, advances and turn-backs. Each individual is like a cog of a great machine (or a thread in a tangle?), but only individuals can bring about some change for the better – others do it for the worse. It is like the ancient lore of good and evil in endless battle. The myth of Prometheus (and also that of Pandora) loom over all of us. The Greeks understood all this very well.

The Vision of Advaita Vedanta is an antidote.

 

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Can Consciousness exist without time?


Can consciousness exist without time?  – My answer in Quora

From the viewpoint of Advaita Vedanta (and I believe also zen and Dzogchen), time is not just something elusive, but ultimately unreal – only an idea or concept. The same can be said about the concept of ‘now’, which cannot be elucidated or measured in any way. ‘Now’ can only be a symbol of eternity, immeasurable but always present. ‘Eternity’ itself is a symbol or slanted conception of reality or existence/being, which is timeless. For the absolute time does not exist. Consciousness alone is real and, thus, timeless. Stated differently, ‘what is never ceases to be; what is not never comes into being’ (Shankara). Parmenides, Gaudapada, and Shankara were strong in that position.

 

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