How many of you agree with the theory that our consciousness ends when we die?

(There’s of course nothing called ‘Soul’ of a person that goes on to live forever in afterlife. I’m an atheist. I person believe that when we die, our brain and the entire body shuts down, and we meet an end. Those of us who experienced anesthesia knows how it feels when our brains are inactive.)


M. I for one do not agree. Bodies decay and die, not so consciousness. The whole is greater than the part, and that whole can be called ‘life’, ‘existence’, or ‘consciousness’ – none of it reducible to the physical or material. All bipolar concepts, such as life-death, good-bad, one-many, mind-body, ‘you and I’ (‘me and the other’) are false – just concepts. There is only totality (‘what is’), namely, existence or being – not many existences (existents), but one existence; not many loves, but one Love Consciousness and reality1535525_676806255693789_2147234899_n. And all of us are in essence, that is, in reality, existence and love – they are not ‘two’ (love being Plato’s higher ‘eros’ or desire) once plurality is ‘seen’ for what it is: a deception or narrow vision.


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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20 Responses to Consciousness-Existence-Love

  1. saengnapha says:

    Consciousness seems to be a word that gets tossed about a lot both in scientific circles and philosophical ones. Many serious neuro scientists have begun to doubt the existence of something called consciousness as there is not a shred of evidence that it exists. But we use the word to signify something, and that something seems to be our subjective way of referring to ourselves. Many neuroscientists now believe that there is no real self but activities that create the appearance of there being one. The creation of the narrative of our person who is having experiences, both inwardly and outwardly. All of this exists due to the information passed to the brain from the sensory doorways of our bodies, such as eyes, ears, touch, etc.

    Since we cannot have any control over what passes into the brain, it is purely autonomous, consciousness seems to arise with the brain’s interpretation of these sensory inputs through images and language. Apart from this activity, we would not know that we are conscious or even alive. Only the brain keeps telling us we exist as our narrative.

    Surely this narrative does not survive the death of the body. The elements, matter, which are not something personal go on to transform into other forms, none being amartingarcia. Why are you so convinced that there is something called consciousness aside from our subjectivity when the overwhelming evidence says it doesn’t exist? Or, perhaps you come to all of this as a Monist who wants to believe that there is something eternal to look towards or believe in? Science also wants to understand this but will not prematurely identify something that may not be there. All this talk about the ‘hard problem’ could be mental deception, imagination. We are such good creatures at projection. Truly creative and extraordinary and we believe our stories!

    • Thank you for your well-argued comment. Empirical science is one thing; philosophy another. Other than Monism there is Non-duality (‘not-two’). Ultimately there is no essential distinction between matter and consciousness which latter, logically and epistemologically, is prius; equally, no distinction between subject and object, observer and observed. The existence and reality of consciousness, which is independent of all phenomena, doesn’t need a proof. ‘I’ (a subject) am conscious (Descartes was right in this point). Referring oneself to subjectivity is actually enough (shall we call it a qualia, something that you, no doubt, will reject?). It is indisputable that all bodies (organic matter) will disintegrate in due course. Rather than an individual ‘soul’, types of nonduality, such as Advaita Vedanta, Yogacara Buddhism, and Dzogchen postulate, precisely, consciousness (as in Advaita) or mind (in Buddhism) as the ultimate reality – ‘awareness’, as an equivalent term for the former, is often used. Philosophy works with/by intuition and also reason (phenomenology is something similar, and is of Western pedigree).

  2. saengnapha says:

    It is so easy to slip through an enquiry of a subject to a conclusive belief. You jumped to this statement: ‘ultimately, there is no essential distinction between matter and consciousness which latter, logically and epistemologically, is prius’.

    You are not putting forth any real or clear concept when you say that reality or consciousness doesn’t need a proof. The ‘I’ of Descartes has been clearly shown through both science and philosophical/religious schools to be a creation in the brain with no concrete reality. The idea of an ‘ultimate’ reality is just a theory that is adhered to by Monists, which you counter with non duality. Non duality, advaita, = not two, is usually reduced to ‘oneness’, which is another form of Monism. Buddhists do not postulate Monism or any ultimate reality. They postulate advaya, = not two.

    Quoting the definition by an Indian scholar Jaldhar Vyas:
    “Although both Jnana are called non-dual, here too they mean two different
    things. Non-dual (advaita) in the Hindu context means (divitiyam nasti).
    There is no second substance except the Brahman is the only thing that
    exists. This should be called Monism rather than Non-dualism. The word eka
    vastu vada would be closer than advaita.

    However Buddhism usually uses advaya (only sometimes is advaita used) and
    here it means ‘not two’ i.e. free from the two extremes (skt. dvaya anta
    mukta) of samaropa (the tendency to see things as really existing) and
    apavada (the tendency to see things as non-existing).” Think it over, a bit.

    I’m not arguing which is right, but, we are getting away from the postulating of consciousness. There is simply no way to separate consciousness from phenomena. Science cannot do it, and the philosophical or religious mind can’t do it. They only postulate a thought structure which. But you seem to insist on this being a fact of life instead of something to really contemplate deeply. The urge to believe is phenomenally strong in us, so much so, that we allow what others have put forth to inform/influence us how to live and what to think that we are not facing what we actually are. Science has clearly shown that we are just looking through filters of what we know/believe and interpreting the sensory data that is hitting the brain. We interpret through imagery and language which is all learned/stored in the brain. It is just information that the brain sifts through and comes up with probabilities. Where is ultimate reality in this? Certainly not through another belief system.

    It’s a difficult subject, all of this. I don’t expect any perfect explanation from you or anyone else, so please don’t feel that you have to argue to a conclusion. This is not personal.

  3. saengnapha says:

    Sorry, one correction please: advaita = not two is incorrect. advaita=nonduality is what I meant. Not two and nondual actually mean different things in the two schools mentioned, which I gave a quote from Vyas.

  4. You raise a lot of questions, and I will go about them one by one, hoping you won’t mind.

    1). Everything is a belief until the belief is replaced by a conviction based on an experience – or experience-knowledge – , the experience (intuition + reasoning) needing no proof.

    2). Consciousness and intelligence are prerequisites for understanding what any concept (e.g. ‘matter’) means. Without consciousness, nil. That is why it is logically, ontologically, and epistemologically prior to any enquiry or investigation. Can this be contested?

    3). When writing or reading, are you and I conscious? Is there need of a proof for this (which I call reality or fact)? The fact of being conscious as a living being is irrefutable. Another question is whether it is the brain, or consciousness, that which is causal in this ‘binomius’ – subject-object (thinker-thought).

    4). Descartes posited an ‘I’ (cogito) invalidly – instead of saying: ‘a thought/thinking is happening’, as his first premise, he posited the subject, ‘I think’ (cogito) – but he was not entirely amiss when he went on to distinguish between ‘res extensa’ and ‘res cogitans’ (which is refuted by non-dualists as well as by Berkeley). The problem here, extensive to most of Western philosophy, is conflating mind and consciousness. For Advaita Vedanta (from now on AV) mind is an object of/for consciousness which, together with all that it thinks of, appears and disappears (e.g., swoon, deep sleep, etc.). Not so consciousness, which is invariant and ever present. Thus, objectless consciousness is a fact, not a theory.

    5). So, the idea that the “‘I’ of Descartes has been clearly shown by both science and philosophical/religious schools to be a creation in the brain with no concrete reality”might be true if one takes mind as including, or replacing, consciousness. If, on the other hand, ‘consciousness’ is substituted for ‘mind’, then religion, philosophy, and many scientists (those who do not buy into physicalism, a particular doctrine or belief) will not raise that objection, as suggested by point #4.

    6). Non-duality, including Advaita (a-dvaita, not two) is not exactly the same as Monism. Who says that “advaita, = not two, is usually reduced to ‘oneness’, which is another form of Monism”? I am aware of that confusion. The non-dualism of AV signifies that Atman (true Self) and Brahman (non-dual reality) are not two numerically different entities, but rather two (epistemological) aspects of one and the same reality – thus removing any ambiguity. The same can be said about the bipolar concepts ‘subject-object’). Clearly, then, I beg to differ from the Indian scholar you mention (“[Advaita] should be called Monism rather than Non-dualism”).

    7). Contrary to what you say Buddhists postulate either emptiness/void or dharmakaya as the ultimate reality or truth – or what can be called such. That tradition is different from AV, but the experience (if such an experience happens) comes to the same thing: ineffable oneness. (BTW Oneness is not monism; it is other than what you stated above: #6).

    8). You: “There is simply no way to separate consciousness from phenomena. Science cannot do it, and the philosophical or religious mind can’t do it”.

    My reply: (Understanding) AV does it: Objectless consciousness is a fact and a possibility of experience (#4). Since Brahman is the only reality, there is no possibility for ‘any thing’ to be objectified as seen (contemplated) from paramarthika (again, ‘not-two’).Thereby mind becomes no-mind, as it were.

  5. saengnapha says:

    Again, you keep jumping into unfounded conclusions about Brahman and consciousness. These are your beliefs. We all have them. Reduction is not the same as truth or fact. It is an assumption. Our assumptions are often wrong (not the end of the world). You introduce two elements that are distinctly Indian in origin, Brahman, which you say is the ultimate reality, and consciousness, which you say can be objectless.

    I don’t see how you can separate these things from the totality of phenomenon. When you reduce this to a single truth, you automatically elevate it into a hierarchical model and that highest element is Monism. Why do you insist on separating things out? The universe does not work like that, it is only our minds that are attempting to do so. The struggle of mind to sort out what doesn’t need sorting is where duality resides.

    Advaya, meaning not two, is not a definition of non duality. It means to say that the 2 views, things as existing, and its opposite view, things as non existing, are not adhered to. This is the Madhyamika view of Buddhism. Can you see the difference?

    I am not saying that this is a better view than the Hindu one. But, it does allow for the totality to remain as it is, what it is, neither existing, nor not existing. It shuts down the mentation that carries on the analytical and self serving functions that lead to holding either one or the other of the views that are mentioned above. In this kind of environment, conceptualization doesn’t overpower what is. Objectless consciousness has no more importance than the breeze coming through my window, or the river flowing along its banks. Nothing stands apart from anything else.

    What is your definition of awareness vs. consciousness? Is there one without the other? Are they effectively the same thing? You seem to think that consciousness exists. As stated above, this would be a mistaken view and not within the advaya purview. Whenever you separate anything out, the tendency is to fixate on it. Please think this over.

  6. S. “Again, you keep jumping into unfounded conclusions about Brahman and consciousness.”

    M. Am I? My position has been, and is, all along that of (Shankarian) AV. You should try to refute that tradition rather than trying to refute me. Besides, as I said before, a belief based on introspection and understanding or assimilation ceases to be just a belief (you would have to refute the tradition behind it). True, the conclusion based on it (the purported belief, or understanding) may be only – and it usually is – within vyavahara (see below).

    S. “Reduction is not the same as truth or fact. It is an assumption. Our assumptions are often wrong… You introduce two elements that are distinctly Indian in origin, Brahman, which you say is the ultimate reality, and consciousness, which you say can be objectless.”

    M. These two doctrines (or ‘beliefs’) are not mine, they faithfully reproduce the tenets of AV (I could have copied them from anyone of my books). By the same token, they correspond to what is called vyavahara (empirical viewpoint) and also mithya (neither real nor completely unreal). All teaching – as teaching – is vyavahara.

    S. “I don’t see how you can separate these things from the totality of phenomenon. When you reduce this to a single truth, you automatically elevate it into a hierarchical model and that highest element is Monism.”

    M. There is nothing that is separable as seen from AV – what there is is an integrated whole (but not Monism, as I clarified previously). There is not even need to resort to the Buddhist doctrine of Co-dependent origination since understanding that all transactions – practical or empirical and doctrinal (including the highest doctrines) are but mithya; all phenomena are mithya, meaning not independent or self-validating. This means that the essence of all phenomena (gross and subtle) is satya-reality (or Brahman, to give it a name). It also shows that you did not understand what I wrote last:

    ‘Brahman’ is a name or symbol standing for ultimate reality, but one can use others.

    ‘Consciousness’ and ‘awareness’ (equivalent terms in AV) are also verbal symbols within a given language; English in this case. Something – a figurative symbol or a name – has to stand for the reality or fact/s indicated by them; there may be more than one. The modern Indian sage, Nisargadatta Maharaj, distinguished between these two terms, ‘awareness’ (as was translated from Marathi, his own language) being ontologically prior or higher (than ‘Consciousness’); he was rather an exception in this.

    ‘The Madhyamika view of Buddhism’…

    Evidently this is your main source of inspiration or adopted teaching/tradition. We could debate on this, showing on my part why I consider the non-duality of AV preferable, if not necessarily superior (a personal choice?).

    ‘Existence-non existence’.

    This pair (sat-asat in Sanskrit) is also referred to and covered in AV, and is a theme all its own.
    (I said enough about ‘awareness vs. consciousness’ and the misunderstanding caused by these two terms.)

  7. saengnapha says:

    S. “Reduction is not the same as truth or fact. It is an assumption. Our assumptions are often wrong… You introduce two elements that are distinctly Indian in origin, Brahman, which you say is the ultimate reality, and consciousness, which you say can be objectless.”

    M. Again, these two doctrines (or ‘beliefs’) are not mine, they faithfully reproduce the teaching of AV (I could have copied them from one or more of my books). By the same token, they correspond to what is called vyavahara (empirical viewpoint) and also mithya (neither real nor unreal). All teaching – as teaching – is vyavahara.

    When I read your response, my first thought was that this was what you have programmed yourself to believe and to respond to all questioning with. It is so easy to repeat these words of doctrine once you get the hang of it. Is there anything that you can call your own understanding? Direct knowing is not a doctrinary procedure. Knowing the nature of things is ontological. The words of doctrine take a diminished position because they are not the nature of things but a reflection through mentation. There is only division between doctrines which should be obvious to any serious enquiry. Isn’t this one of the main points of non duality teachings?

  8. You. “Knowing the nature of things is ontological.”
    Reply: You mistake ontology for epistemology. All knowledge has to do with means of knowledge, evidence, presuppositions, etc., which is epistemology. What you say above is, at best, a tautology, but it is not well expressed.

    You. “The words of doctrine take a diminished position because they are not the nature of things but a reflection through mentation.”

    Reply: Another tautology (or part thereof) — analytical argument which is empty of content: ‘Doctrine/al is reflection through mentation’ (another example: ‘All bachelors are unmarried’). Further, and obviously, ‘doctrine’, ‘words’, *are not* ‘the nature of things’ – a third tautology.
    Conclusion so far: You have not said anything.

    You: “There is only division between doctrines which should be obvious to any serious enquiry”.

    Reply: Yes, it is obvious, and it amounts to a fourth tautology! (Difference/s imply division)

    I was going to reply to your last comments by saying that you seem to be engaged in a personal feud against me, portraying or positioning yourself as a/the winner (such self-assurance!) – For this, undoubtedly, is a debate. You want to prove that your understanding (shall we call it ‘non-dual realization’?) is superior to mine – mine actually non-existing since it is all just parrot-like repetition or book-learning. Also, I was going to say that this is illegitimate on your part since the debate is, first and foremost, about ideas. But now I think that, being a debate, we should call for an independent jury or forum. Simply by showing who handles better the arguments produced back and forth, the judges will be able to tell whose understanding (out of the two contenders) is deeper and/or truer. Shall we do that?

  9. saengnapha says:

    more games, sir? No, thanks. That is not my interest. We can agree to disagree. I didn’t mean any personal insult. I have no desire to force a result and I don’t want to spend the time arguing. It is usually counterproductive to my own views and practice, and I don’t mind if you think of my comments as just my 2 cents. Let me leave you with this………….
    Whatever we call ‘Knowing our true nature’, it is something that is doubt free and possible in any given moment. It is always present no matter what the circumstances are, positive or negative, with thoughts, and without them. This knowing is of a radiant nature that encompasses all appearances. It is all appearances, nothing is separated from it. If this is your experience, then indeed, your path has borne fruit. If not, finding a real teacher is of paramount importance. Nothing can replace what we call Transmission. A real teacher introduces you to your own nature directly. This Knowing needs to be nurtured as it will be in a fragile state in the beginning. A real teacher will help you abide in this knowing through your own contemplation. This connection is essential, please don’t underestimate it.

  10. You speak the words of Advaita Vedanta, including “a real teacher is of paramount importance”. It is indeed very helpful, almost indispensable — but, essential? Please allow me to make a few points for your consideration:

    1). The teacher of teachers, guru of gurus, Dattatreya (as per the Avadhut Gita), when asked from whom he obtained his wisdom, he replied that he had had 24 gurus: water, earth, space, moon, sun, maker of arrows… Yes, of course, not anyone can be a Dattatreya, the supreme guru. He had what we can call ‘spontaneous – or congenital – Atmanubhava’ (final intuition). But intuition is universal. ‘The wind bloweth where it listeth’ (Spiritus ubi vult spirat).

    2). In the Gaudapada karika 1-18 (Gaudapada being grand-guru of Shankaracharya) one reads that ‘all concepts like Prapañcha (world of duality) – guru, shishya (disciple), etc., – are mere misconceptions. In his bhashya to this karika Shankara states that ‘these ideas are for the purpose of teaching which are (appear as) true until one realises the Highest Truth’. Then, as I wrote before, ‘mind becomes no-mind’ since there are no longer any objects, no multiplicity at all.

    3). As to Transmission of spiritual power from teacher to disciple (shaktipata), this is prominent in forms of Tantra, and one reads that Abhinavagupta elaborated on it extensively, but it is not a dogma of AV, as implied by what was said under #2. Greetings, AM.

  11. saengnapha says:

    I should have responded to this much earlier but travel and other distractions have come up.

    Regarding #3: Transmission. This is something that is quite commonly misunderstood as something given or received. There is no giving of anything, nor receiving of anything. When circumstances converge and there is a conjunction between teacher/friend and seeker, there can be an unusual meeting of mind. This is just a figure of speech, but there is something behind this which cannot be shown. It is not Saktipat which is really a transference of energy that many people have experienced in the presence of certain people. This is not what I’m referring to at all.

    Having a living friend with whom you can talk and observe someone who has ‘realized’ the ‘Highest Truth’ can be the greatest gift one can get. You see the living embodiment of this. That’s all I can really say about it. I would think the Hindu term ‘Darshan’ would be appropriate. Since your choice of traditions is Advaita, I would seek out someone whom you think is a living embodiment of it.

  12. Thank you for you advice. I have had a contact from time to time with (one can say) a self-realized teacher, Francis Lucille (teaches in the ‘Direct Way’), whom I had a good rapport and affinity with. For a number of reasons I did not ask of him to accept me as his disciple; my ‘destiny’ (I would say spontaneous occurrence – and everything is such, that is, uncaused) lead me in another direction: that of Shankaracharya and his pristine teaching – being mainly his bhashya/s (commentaries) on the Prasthana traya: Brahma Sutra, Upanishads, and Bhagavad Gita. I said ‘pristine’ because after him all sub-commentators – except for Suresvara – modified and distorted in some ways that teaching, right up to the present time, such as the Bhamati and Vivarana Schools, this last being the most widely followed at present. Soon after meeting F. Lucille I found some books written by Sri Satchidanandendra Saraswati, who passed away in 1975 (his magnus opus is titled ‘The Method of the Vedanta’). In him I found my teacher, or main inspiration (virtual teacher? – No, real, for his words live on – for me at least). I assume you have a teacher aligned to the Madhyamika school of Buddhism. Of course, there is confrontation between these two schools of Indian philosophy, as evidenced by the position each one of us has espoused during our debate. Greetings.

  13. saengnapha says:

    Almost every Buddhist school recognizes Madhyamika as an important teaching, but it is almost always subordinate to the direct teaching of the Buddha or the teacher you study with. Every Buddhist school is also in debate with other Buddhist schools. Theravada/Mahayana, Vajrayana/Dzogchen, Dzogchen/Mahamudra, Nichiren/Zen, etc. It is mostly academics that engage in these debates which never solve a thing. A real teacher will never involve you in comparative mind. They always show you the recognition of your nature which is never seen as a ‘thing’ and never separate from any ‘thing’. They leave philosophy behind. This is not to say that philosophy cannot inspire.

  14. saengnapha says:

    The tendency in all of us to want to believe in something lasting, all knowing, and final, must be regarded in the same light as our learned beliefs that we acquire from our conditioning and cultures. The idea of racism, that one color, nationality, or faith is superior to another, for example, is imbedded in all cultures. Through our ordinary minds we can work this out to the point of disbelief, or even disappearance from our thoughts and feelings that will allow us to treat each other with respect and dignity.

    In the same fashion, we can look at ideas and concepts of philosophical and religious meaning and believe that these hold truths and even ‘take refuge’ in them. These conditioned ideas get reinforced through group belief, authoritative declarations, and our grasping desire to find some lasting truth in something that we can experience or know. We never really grasp what these teachings are talking about except in our conditioned mind, our ability to retain and repeat, and believe.

    The reason I use Buddhist terminology is because I feel it most succinctly describes what the human condition is all about. I am also familiar with Advaita principles, but choose not to use most of them because of this idea of ‘belief’ and ‘authority’ with which most of it gets communicated with. For example, the words consciousness and Brahman. Because I questioned the existence of consciousness, you pulled out Sankara to beat me with, not to discuss. I use beat in both the sense of reprimand, and in winning a discussion. It’s fine that you do that, but it would be different if you also were aware of this.

    OTOH, Buddhism talks about the ’emptiness’ of all phenomenon and experience. This is put forth not to give someone an idea to hold onto, but to show that no idea can be held onto. There is a big difference. No matter what experience or understanding comes up in one’s life, all of it is subject to this ’emptiness’ factor, which doesn’t allow your mind to ‘fixate’ on any quality or facet that is thought to be absolute or permanent (eternal). This is not so easy to understand because our minds insist that they are capable of attaching and apprehending anything. The simple truth is, it cannot. This emptiness then becomes the ground with which we live our ordinary lives doing ordinary things without any problem. This letting go of all ideas because they have no reality is basic to every kind of belief and experience

    Having said this, I want you to know that I am not a Buddhist and am not trying to convert you to this at all. When I look at the Buddhist organizations and how they’ve divided up everything into cultural sects, etc., it is very unappealing. But, I get the same sense from you when you and many others put forth Advaita ideas, that you have ‘fixated’ yourself to more concepts and beliefs rather than freeing yourself from all of this. None of these ideas, both Buddhist & Advaitic, have any reality to them. They are like a dream that you had last night that has vanished upon arising because you knew they weren’t real and needed to have no further thought about them. I hope you can understand where I’m coming from. If not, that’s fine, too.

  15. Isn’t ‘emptiness’ an idea, to begin with? Can one not be fixated in that particular idea, as idea? It seems that you find confirmation of your ‘beliefs’ in Buddhism (or Madhyamika), and may be elsewhere. And I, in Shankara and others.

    Quote. ‘There are true beliefs and there are false beliefs–or rather, there is a continuum or scale of relative truth, given that ultimate truth cannot be fully grasped by language. The Buddha taught that certain things were the case, and that certain things were not. It is not that one must not hold any beliefs at all, but that they must be held in a way that is always open to new insight, to the emergence of deeper levels of truth, not grasped dogmatically or fanatically’ (Jeffery Long).

    Re. ‘the existence of consciousness’, and also Buddha’s position on it. That consciousness is a reality doesn’t need an external or independent or objective proof (such as by experimental psychology, Shankara, etc.). It is an intimate, irrefutable experience – and it is so for everyone.

    Quote: ‘… there are a few pages in the Pali Cannon that contradict the usual Theravada interpretation. In the Brahmanimantanika Sutra (Majjhima-Nikaya), the Buddha says: “Do not think that this (nirvana) is an empty or void state. There is this consciousness, without a distinguishing mark, infinite and shining everywhere (…..); it is untouched by the material elements and not subject by any power”… within the Pali Cannon “there is no expressed contradiction or even recognition of the Vedanta theory of an atman or brahman as the one ultimate reality’. (emphasis mine) (From ‘Nonduality’, by David Loy).

    You: ‘This letting go of all ideas because they have no reality is basic to every kind of belief and experience’ (emphasis mine).

    Me: 1) belief is not the same as experience.
    2) Concepts and ideas are not reality itself – they are pointers to reality (a ‘finger pointing at the moon’); they are things of the mind to begin with, but it is un-logical to think or say that any one of them has, or can have, no contact with reality – directly or indirectly. See 2nd paragraph above.

    You: ‘We never really grasp what these teachings are talking about except in our conditioned mind’.

    Reply: 1) If you believe that, your mind is conditioned and cannot know things (the content of the teachings) as they are; 2) But that is also a) an unsupported dogma; b) a fallacy – the fallacy of equivocation: mistaking one thing (e.g. knowledge) for another (belief or conditioned mind), or vice versa.

    Re. ‘authority’. One sense of that term is ‘source’ (nothing else attached). See also 2nd para. above.

    Earlier on you wrote: ‘They [teachers] always show you the recognition of your nature which is never seen as a ‘thing’ and never separate from any ‘thing’.

    Never separate from any thing? Where did you get that from? My two guides (SSS and Shankara) say otherwise: consciousness is independent, uncaused, unattached and free of concepts and of any kind of objects. If you studied AV more deeply, you would come to that understanding, which is not just conceptual or ‘intellectual’ and, rather than being merely conditioning is the result of sustained study and reflection.

  16. saengnapha says:

    Letting go of ideas includes letting go of ’emptiness’. If you discover this emptiness, its reification is almost certain except in the cases of very deep realization. Why? Because of the latent tendencies of consciousness (not separable from mentation and all other sensory perceptions and modes) to re-create from habit energy. The letting go of all ideation continues. There is no thing called consciousness to hold on to or live inside of. It is all dependent origination. There is nothing that is uncaused that you can separate out from anything. It is impossible. There is just the stopping of all effort to change or transform what arises because the very nature of what arises is the same as this emptiness, which is not empty. It is free of all extremes including non duality and oneness. It is a realization no position, no attachment, no grasping. It is beyond imagination. There is no easy way to discuss it. Maybe it’s better to say nothing at all.

  17. saengnapha says:

    I wanted to interject another thought into our conversation. I find that you keep reducing our chat to a debate of Advaita vs Buddhism. This is not my intention. I am trying to speak from my actual experience and not throw in all the quotes of various scriptures, etc. After all, it is only through our own direct experience of the way things are that will have any meaning for us. Quoting the Buddha will not make me more right or more certain about some things if I don’t actualize them. I can even quote other sources that point to the same thing, but I don’t see the point. l don’t need to convince you of any of this. It’s not possible. An intellectual understanding will not suffice in these matters. It has to be in your bones.

  18. “the very nature of what arises is the same as this emptiness”
    This is also what AV – and my own experience – hold as to what the nature of reality is, except that ‘here’ Consciousness is substituted for emptiness. You are assuming that my understanding is not deep enough (I will not say ‘not up to par with yours’, which is useless, if not sarcastic). An example is your mentioning ‘intellectual understanding’ vs ‘direct, or actual, experience’, as if I don’t know what these are – (not just their meaning). I appreciate your good intention but, apart from several contradictions on your part (and a tendency to a rather haughty style of writing), you are also unfair in not acknowledging (comment on) many of the valid points I have been making throughout our conversation – I spent several hours yesterday just to illustrate certain points for your consideration, and yes, looking for some pertinent quotations, all of which takes time. If you can dispense with them altogether, that’s fine – good for you! You don’t quote or refer to the Buddha and Buddhism but, clearly, have been much influenced by and owe much to them (a conditioning which you now seem to deprecate?). Apart from the realization or not of the truth of how things are, how can you dismiss quotations – from whatever source – if they serve as illustrations of what one is talking about? I know, experience is all, and all is experience, but whose experience? The Void? Fine; Consciousness? Fine also. (what’s the difference? – Consciousness is also empty, provided one is not attached to words). Words and concepts, though, have a very useful purpose, though some people deny that!, the most useful being those that lead one to do away with the words/concepts themselves once full understanding has ensued. And that is what right thinking (right livelihood, etc.) and good philosophy do.

  19. saengnapha says:

    Martin, everything I’ve been saying about ’emptiness’ refers to the sense of existence, personal or absolute. The contemplation of existence is really about the sense of a self and the creation of time and space that this self ‘lives in’. The further contemplation of a self as a point in time or a point in space is never arrived at because there is no reality of a self either in time or in space. This discovery is not of something independent and uncaused such as consciousness, which in Advaitic terms is a True Self, or Atman, but even this sense of True Self or consciousness/awareness is also seen to have no independent existence. And, this is why Buddhism and Advaita disagree.

    I don’t say that Advaita has no value, but in my own contemplation of all this, Advaita and Self Realization doesn’t go to the very core of existence. It still puts forth a reference point, self and consciousness. I have no philosophical problem with the concept of Brahman, but anything short of that just doesn’t seem complete to me. I think we both can admit that this is a monumental realization that neither you nor I have come to with any decisive transformation of our own being and neither one of us speaks with any authority at this level. So who is right or wrong, at this point, is neither here nor there. We are putting forth opinions of which we think make sense to us at whatever level of understanding we are at. My opinions are just that. It’s a conversation, not a demand for you to think like me. And, I’m not deprecating any influence on me, but I know very well that none of them are the thing itself.

    I’m not attacking you and don’t know why you keep making this personal. It’s really perplexing. Did I call you a fool? An idiot? Deluded? Infidel? 🙂 Surely you can converse without the need to defend or attack.
    Emptiness is the nature of consciousness as well as all phenomenon, without a reality of its own, neither existing nor not existing. If you can grasp this, then you can understand more clearly what the Buddha taught. The idea that you exist has no essential reality. Every experience revolves around this sense of existence. Take away existence as we experience it, and all experience goes with it. No experiencer to experience anything. All is Brahman. As the Zen masters say, at this point, you turn away from the wall and live as an ordinary person in the world.

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