(From Advaita Vision – today)
Q. At the end of the day, what does knowledge of self give us?
It does not help answer the burning question of why the appearance/dream/maya that we are experiencing as humans or animals exists.
(I am not clear on this one but..) It appears that even though one attain knowledge of self in one life-time, he/she can actually become a cockroach in the next due to karmic effect, ie we are not really liberated from the birth-death cycle.
The only benefit I do see in such life where one attains knowledge of self, they might lead a life devoid of misery in the mind as they sail through good and bad times though they may experience physical pain.
A. 1. The question ‘what does knowledge of self give us?’ is philosophically weak, ambiguous, or irrelevant – a) What kind of benefit is meant? b) To whom? c) Truth is its own benefit (and ‘truth will make you free’).
2. Why does maya, etc., exist? In other words, the play of forms, the dance of life (Lila), or the tragi-comedy that life seems to be for the questioning, forlorn individual – with its successes and tribulations, hopes and disappointments, and the inevitability of death of the body. A good question, but it has no positive answer, unless from mythology and literature, including sacred literature (‘I was a hidden treasure and wanted to be known’). Advaita teaches that the idea of maya is false, and though it is not the same as ignorance (avidya), is its consequence. The reality of the world of phenomena (appearances) is merely subjective, illusory (mithya), but not completely unreal. The laws of karma and reincarnation are mythology (interesting, but why bother?)
3. If one attains knowledge of self, then there is no longer a separate self and, consequently, nothing to achieve or attain by that ‘self’. Once the puny, self-absorved ‘self’ disappears (and it is a good riddance!), something much larger, inconmensurable and undefinable takes its place.