Is duality real?

Subject-object – Advaita Vision comment

Anon.: ‘No matter who says what, it is your job to look directly at your own experience/mind without the images of models, teachers, books, and like minded people, and to recognize how the subject-object dichotomy comes about. It is not about looking for moksha or any kind of release from the present state. Self Realization and the rest of the goals that are promulgated have nothing to do with it. They are only images that get regurgitated by thinking. There is no substance there.

My reply today (7.10.18):

‘How the subject-object dichotomy comes about.’

Any Advaitin worth his/her salt knows that the dichotomy subject-object is not transcended by the unsupported mind, which in itself is inert. Empirical experience seems to be undeniable, and with it that polarity, but one knows from Shankara – and only from Shankara – that it is based on ignorance, that is, failing to distinguish between the Self and the intellect or mind, which leads to the superimposition of either one on the other. Thus, the non-dual and undifferentiated Self – alone real – appears to be an agent and a knower, whereas in reality It is a mere witness (there being no other witnesses); and It is so by Its mere presence, not actively. The dichotomy referred to does not exist – in reality.

Posted in Advaita Vedanta | Tagged , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

1) Knowledge and the Vedas; 2) Is everything metaphysical?

Do the Vedas really contain any advanced knowledge as so many people claim they do? (Quora)

I would say the Vedas contain the most fundamental and ‘advanced’ knowledge there is, though usually portrayed  in the form of paradox (analogy, metaphor, story, etc.), so that one has to crack the code in order to find the wealth hidden in them. That knowledge is not like empirical science, which is cumulative and provisional, and can be said to be somehow contained in the latter, even if in embryonic or potential form. That knowledge or perspective is metaphysical rather than mystical. According to the Vedas there is one and only reality: consciousness (brahman, the Absolute, etc.), which pervades the whole universe; it is immanent in it as well as transcendent… “the smallest of the small, the largest of the large”. It cannot be measured or understood by the mind, for which it is ineffable, but it is that by which the mind comprehends… it cannot be expressed in words but by which the tongue speaks… it is eye of the eye, ear of the ear, mind of the mind, as expressed in the Upanishads.

Modern physics is having a hard time trying to explain away what consciousness is in terms of physical phenomena (neuronal activity in the brain), but consciousness is not an irreducible phenomenon or datum; it is reality itself, everything being comprehended in it (theories, doubts, projections, emotions, things, thoughts, intelligence, observer and observed, you and I). For the Vedas reality is one, and present physics is trying to find out in which way it is so (‘theory of everything’, ‘unificatory theory…’). Not all physicists are reductionist, some of them having seemingly mutated into philosophers with an understanding of the core of Vedic teachings.


Is everything metaphysical? (Quora)

‘Is everything metaphysical?’ My answer is a resounding Yes! despite the widely accepted, prevailing, physicalist theory: everything is reducible to matter/energy. This last position is being insistently questioned ever since the rise of the new physics (the role of the observer, uncertainty principle, etc.). Nobody knows what matter is intrinsically, and why an atom is an atom – its nature is a mystery; scientifically we can only talk about mechanism, ‘behavior’ or function, in relation to physical processes. Thus, everything is metaphysical – including tables and chairs or, rather, the material they are made of, wood (hilos) – which means non-reducible to the physical. Psychology, mind, selfhood are equally non reducible to the physical – nor are they purely mental or purely conceptual – , thus they are metaphysical, however psychologists may protest. ‘Man’, ‘personhood’, are metaphysical or philosophical notions.

Metaphysical doctrines are couched in LANGUAGE (concepts, plus logic and reasoning -tarka), which de facto is dualistic, but that is a springboard and a conditio sine qua non for realization or uniting with the TRUTH or REALITY which is indivisible, non-relational, and inexpressible by the mind (anubhava).

Posted in Sin categoría | Leave a comment

Why there are ignorance and evil in life?

Alberto Martín, studied in depth Plato and Shankara; also AK Coomaraswamy, etc.

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.

Posted in Buddhism, Consciousness, duality, non-duality | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Two questions (relationships & eternity)

1) How is one’s self related to other selves.

This can be seen from two perspectives: 1) lower or empirical, and 2) higher or spiritual (I try to avoid the word ‘metaphysical’). I am not going to consider what Christianity or Islam hold about any of these two perspectives, only the non-duality of Advaita Vedanta (Buddhism does not contemplate individual existence per se). According to the Advaitic tradition the individual self (jiva) can be considered as a reflection of the higher Self and then his/her faculties (basically memory, mind, and sense of self) as well as all bodies are separate and individual – this pertains to ordinary, transactional life. This is the realm of ignorance (avidya). Continue reading

Posted in mind, Mysticism | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Science and philosophy – on consciousness (

(My Comments to a question in Quora) 17.5.18


Me: I agree with what you say, except saying or implying that consciousness can be ‘explained’. Yes, the brain is a transducer or vehicle from the immaterial to the material (subtle to gross), but consciousness is an ineffable entity, a ‘given’ (and unanalyzable entity), as existence is such. Scientists don’t like those terms, I know. Mechanism, cause and effect, and everything that is measurable or quantifiable can be worked with and potentially explained, as they have to do with empirical reality, but consciousness (and the hard problem or qualia) are not amenable to that kind of analysis, quantification and falsifiability. In the same way, philosophy is not (empirical) science – it will always go beyond. There is a philosophy of science, but not a science of philosophy, although the latter – philosophy – is not outside the realm of knowledge or what we can call such.

Space, time, and causality, though elusive concepts/’realities’ and formerly categorized as ‘metaphysical’ (they still are) can be scientifically studied, I can’t deny that, but consciousness is supra-ontological and cannot be a part of physics (the pre-socratic philosophers were called ‘physiologoi’, similar to theoretical physicists, but in fact they were ontologists or metaphysicians looking for the origin, or the principle or essence, of things, of nature); consciousness, however, is indefinable, unmeasurable and invariable or changeless. It is not a cause, and therefore cannot have effects or relationships – one can only say that it is a/the universal or background witness to/of everything, a witness that doesn’t do anything, only silently or passively reflect fleeting inward or outward phenomena. To add to the mystery, consciousness can be objectless (as in forms of meditation and contemplation). It is like the Tao. cf. Taoism – Wikipedia

Posted in Consciousness, Mysticism | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Atman and suffering


Does Advaita Vedanta acknowledge the existential reality of suffering and non-suffering occurring in Atman even after the spiritual liberation, or suffering becomes impossible in Atman after the spiritual realization?

Alberto Martín, Contributor to Advaita Vision and own blog: ‘Unanimous Tradition’


‘The existential reality of suffering and non-suffering… in Atman’? You write ‘suffering and non-suffering’, which makes no sense as written in the case of the highest principle, Atman (Atman-Brahman or the Self) – there cannot be suffering in the Self, only non-suffering. Further, the way the question is written… ‘existential reality’, implies that you have in mind ordinary or worldly experience, but this confuses the issue, since ‘suffering and non-suffering’ cannot be ascribed to either the Self or the (empirical) self (jivatman- seen as individual and separate). Indeed, it is the lot of the self (ego or mind) to be immersed in a sea of difficulties and troubles – opposite ‘realities’ or experiences – but here it is suffering (samsara) what characterizes the life of an ordinary jiva — not ‘non-suffering’.

On self-realization what is eliminated, or, rather, disappears of its own is psychological suffering – once and for all. No one is mentioning here physical pain, which is a foregone conclusion and is acknowledged in all spiritual traditions – no one more word about this.

One could say more about the cause of suffering by relating it to mind, when the latter (or the ego) is given some reality of its own instead of realizing that it is an illusory superimposition on the Self – all this being an essential doctrine of Advaita Vedanta.


Posted in Sin categoría | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Two Q&As in Quora

What is the difference between truly understanding/integrating a truth and the thinking mind coming to a conclusion that this truth is true?

The second part of the question – ‘the thinking mind coming to a conclusion’ is reminiscent of Plato’s notion of ‘true opinion’ and his showing how that is not a conclusive proof of something being real. Also sometimes the allegation is made that ‘(just) intellectual knowledge’ falls short of the truth, which is true. Depending on the area of knowledge – of every and any area – intellectual understanding is a first and necessary step. On the other hand, ‘truth’ and ‘certainty’ are slippery concepts. It cannot be a matter of degree, can it?

In the final analysis we have to rest on what you say at the beginning of your question: ‘understanding-integrating a truth’; that is the key, and it is based on maturity (not only intellectual maturity, whatever this may mean) and experience: that is what *integrates*. The right term for me is ‘knowledge-experience’, itself based on feeling and intuition (what used to be called ‘truth of the heart’). IOW, you make your bet and plunge in head first. By themselves, neither science nor philosophy has the final answers, mandatory and irreplaceable as they are. It is only long experience and deep thought, persistent reflection on the subject at hand, which gives certifying certainty. Ask a good cobbler or carpenter…

How can we prove people have consciousness if you are not the person?

Saying ‘have consciousness’ is a non-starter – you are already lost, confused . We do not have consciousness, we ARE consciousness; in the same way, we don’t have humanity, we ARE humanity – humanity is us, consciousness is us; these two are not adjectives, but substantival, standing by themselves. Consciousness and Existence are the same (category, let us say). These two are metaphysical principles, and as such they are indefinable and inseparable. IOW, everything is based on, is a consequence of, or in essence IS existence-consciousness, including sticks and stones. That is the essence of all life, everything else being a derivative or extension – or appearance: phenomena. The objective world is an extension or ‘appearance’ of consciousness, because reality is ONE.

Posted in Sin categoría | Leave a comment