Conversation with H – 7 bis

Unfortunately, there has been some confusion as to the sequence of recent posts – I believe from ‘Conversation 6’ on. Conv. 7 was actually a reply to the following:


    You (H): “Non-dualism is not something that can be understood in any formulation of words, and at best one can approach it conceptually only perhaps by means of negation, meaning by specifying what it is not.”

    A1. All doctrines and teachings are necessarily couched in language, which is a system of symbols. All concepts are just pointers [e.g. pointing at the moon] including those of Non-duality (ND). So it is not only negation, I think you will agree. I also referred myself to superimposition followed by rescission as a method of gradual understanding taught in Advaita Vedanta. The final end is doing away with language once final understanding has been reached, that is, once there are no further doubts or questions.

    You: “Apprehending the world always arrives as consciousness, and consciousness, as I have said, and given my tight definition of it, is brain-dependent. Still, this apprehending is facilitated and illuminated by (my) ‘awareness’, and which again, is non-local.”

    A2. To consciousness and awareness you add mind in your descriptions – three elements or categories, apparently distinct though related to each other. I would tend to accept that if they are taken as being ‘three-in-one’, that is, reducible to awareness, which is essence as against (or somehow different from) manifestation.

    You: “Awareness is not ‘here but not there’; it pervades all, and in that sense is identical to that which it pervades.” (¡)

    A3. This is consequent with what I wrote in the paragraph above that, and, thus, with ND – isn’t that what you meant by ‘direct experience’? But then you have a fourth category which is physical (brains, etc.). Here, then, we are very far from (an understanding of) Non-duality, if we go by the meaning of this expression.

    Since you posit multiplicity (of ‘physical objects’) as something real, existent, your position, evidently, is dualist, not ND.

    Clearly, phenomena [i.e. all ‘objects’, whether gross or subtle] are not physical entities in any way, shape or form. And there is no need of finding recourse in quantum mechanics or neuro-science to confirm or support the above considerations.

    To ask a purported individual or person [i.e. a separate body-mind from the empirical perspective] whether s/he is enlightened or self-realised is an impossible question. Or, rather, it is self-defeating if the person gives, or indicates, an affirmative reply. And this is so on two counts: from the empirical side because the person shows lack of understanding of what realisation – identical with Non-duality – is or consists of. And from the higher, spiritual or metaphysical perspective of ND because the category of individuality – or plurality – simply does not exist; there are only insubstantial, fleeting – though some may appear as solid – phenomena or appearances, that is, apart from consciousness.

    In other words: there is no such thing as a self-realised person or individual. The Neo-Advaitans are right after all!

    By the way, all this, by itself, obviates the question asked above.

    “No object, no world, no ego can exist apart from Pure Consciousness. . . . it is . . . free from the limitations of time and space.”


About amartingarcia

General surgeon (retired). Studied Western philosophy at U of Toronto. Afterwards interest turned to advaita vedanta and non-duality for past 20 yrs, plus a long interlude in Sufism coinciding with that period. Now contributing in ’Advaita Vision’ with regular posts and discussions.
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4 Responses to Conversation with H – 7 bis

  1. Anonymous says:

    Martin & H,

    I have read with great interest this running conversation you have with each other. Both of you, highly intelligent, descriptive, and scholarly in your explanations regarding your views on this ‘subject’.

    Some comments of mine………

    (H): “Non-dualism is not something that can be understood in any formulation of words, and at best one can approach it conceptually only perhaps by means of negation, meaning by specifying what it is not.”

    ME: If non dualism is not something that can be understood in any formulation of words, why do you play with words, then? What is the compunction to explain or describe concepts? What is there to approach with concepts if not more concepts? What something is or isn’t cannot be known in any case. If you agree, why continue with this? Is it not something like a battle, one trying to top the other, win them over, ‘share’ their conceptual view? Does it ever end? lol.

    Is it possible that neither one of you really understands anything about this except on a conceptual level? This is perfectly acceptable to me and I don’t want to denigrate both your needs to do this. Martin, being an Advaitin, looks to Sankara for his inspiration and conceptual views. These are not Martin’s in the sense of his own discovery. If that were so, the vocabulary would necessarily change and he would speak in quite a different way that you would feel the immediacy and intimacy of his actual point of view, and not Vedanta or Sankara, or Gaudapada. After all, are we to become clones of a teacher or teaching quoting from textbooks like the university professor does?

    As for H, he can certainly hold his own conceptually with Martin and I’m sure he has pondered and memorized a lot of ‘stuff’ in his studies. I particularly liked his insistence on speaking from his actual experience. However, his experience may not have anything to with mine or anyone else’s.
    As with Martin, there are probably a few ‘influences’ there that he is also guilty of parading as his own. No worries. It’s all acceptable as this is the human condition we find ourselves in.

    All of us have had glimpses of the view of non duality. Does this somehow qualify for a degree? If ND is not your moment to moment experience (actual not conceptual), is it not another conceptual construction made out of more words that lead to more words? Is it really your true nature or just another ‘other’ concept to be chased down, tied up, and sold off to the masses at satsangs?

    There are many schools of cultivation that promise you understanding and transformation of yourself. Martin seems to think that this is necessary to prepare one’s mind to receive ‘Knowledge’, a Vedantic term, that sets you free. Martin says after you master it all, you abandon it, and then the real thing starts to happen. This is about as conceptual as you can get. Why not just abandon it right now?

    Most of my stuff is mostly rhetorical and doesn’t need a direct reply. It is my way of being annoying and trying to keep the conversations ‘honest’. I see no point in philosophical debate unless you are an academic that needs to be tested for some reason. If this is all a test, we’ve failed.


    • “Martin says after you master it all, you abandon it, and then the real thing starts to happen. This is about as conceptual as you can get. Why not just abandon it right now?”

      This is not what Martin was saying…..

      The following is from a discussion in FB (slightly modified). BTW you leave (not abandon) a teaching once you have understood it, either completely or in essence.

      (COPIED) ‘This is from the mouth of someone [Bernadette Roberts] who has firsthand experience of what she speaks of, and is not philosophical or conceptual.’

      This entry in a recent discussion/debate in an internet blog started it all for me. A question that surfaces on reading around the topic of spirituality/awakening/non-duality/New Age and which is very much in the limelight nowadays (and has been so for a long time) centers on the distinction or dichotomy: knowledge/experience, or intellectual/experiential, or thinking/feeling (though this last pair seems to overstretch a bit.
      Notice, for now, the expressions: ‘firsthand experience’… ‘not philosophical or conceptual’ (To be continued)

      It seems that there are at least two types of persons, as indicated by these two labels; roughly, ‘thinkers and ‘feelers or experiencers’, but one thinks that at least two other types can be added: the ‘bleeding hearts’ and the ‘lovers’. Overweening sensitivity (“sensiblería” in Spanish) characterizes the first and overweening love, nothing but love, the second. An extreme case of the first type, the thinker, could also be added: the ‘rationalist`, dogmatist – “I want proof” being his motto.

      Who can quarrel about the person bent on love (a trait or whatever it is)? Verily, one can say that Love (same as Beauty, or Being) is all – ‘sat-chit-ananda’ all in one package. But, because of that, the question arises as to whether Love per se, or a particular love, is, or should be, intelligent in order to qualify. “And who is he”, the reader may ask, “to pose such question; under which label should he himself be placed”? But this is an ongoing entry… so, wait for its continuation.
      One of the debaters went on with his tune:
      ”And all this is NOT conceptual? When I read all of this, what does it have to do with what is really in front of you? You can only agree or disagree but your minds go on and on, trying to fit this all into a ‘place’ in your image of reality”.

      Alright, ‘your image of reality’; true enough. (Will cont.)

      The doubter’s next question was:

      “I am interested in a living truth, not an interpretation of truth. If I am not mistaken, an experiential view is not limited to a philosophical view. A philosophical view attempts to encapsulate the experiential. To debate the qualities of Brahman, God, or the Divine, is really a deduction for most people not an experiential reality. Why assume anything that one cannot know?”

      Again, who could find fault with that? Except that this questioner was becoming rather repetitive… his carping on what philosophy is for him (no good) and his insistence on the experiential to the exclusion of everything else was becoming a little tiring – the moderator interjected at one point: “And, although Advaita teaching may be an ‘interpretation’ of truth, self-realization itself is not an interpretation; it is direct and irrefutable”.
      So, in reply to the above, the following post appeared:
      (M) What would be a ‘living truth’? ‘Life’, ‘living’, are concepts, and so is ‘truth’. Concepts, which are part of reality, do not need interpretation, they need to be understood; their referents (“external” or “internal”) have to be looked at and then either intuited (seen), or analyzed/interpreted… using concepts, precisely, until their meaning is fully understood, grasped. Concepts, being part and parcel of human reality, clearly point at ‘something’ (be it empirical or metaphysical, to repeat). Philosophy, metaphysics, is not a bane; bad philosophy is. Experience is nothing without thought (or ‘insight’, if you will).* What can be said is that “understanding is all” – and it is itself an experience. (To cont.)
      * I should have said that thought informs experience, since an experience can be wordless, concept less, thought then coming after it.
      (There is more)

  2. Anonymous says:

    Martin, forgive me, but I didn’t understand your reply at all. Why cut and paste what others have said? What I am getting at is personal, your actual experience. This is the only thing that carries any weight with me.

    • I didn’t realize you are the same Anonymous! And most of my reply was to you in AV, but it still serves. What you are after will come very soon – and it is simple, not laborious or complicated. I want to keep you in suspense…

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