Vedanta

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Re: Vedanta

Postby rachMiel » Sat Nov 03, 2012 5:22 am

runstrails wrote:What if's are good.... let 'em all hang out ;)
It's dense and gritty book--so read slowly and let it sink in.

Good advice ...
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Re: Vedanta

Postby rachMiel » Sun Nov 04, 2012 6:14 pm

I'm running back into the snag that seems to rear its snaggly head whenever I delve into Advaita. (This is like my fourth "round" with it.) It goes something like this ...

When I open myself to universal awareness (Brahman) I find it very easy to feel it. Everything feels utterly connected, like one all-encompassing fabric, of which I (this body/mind) am a part (part is not quite the right word, but I don't have another).

But ... I have a strong imagination. I'm capable of feeling a lot of things. If I opened myself to the notion that ghosts were all around us and that we could feel their presence if we became very still ... I'd probably find it easy to feel that too.

In other words, I can't 100% trust my feelings to detect Truth, no matter how much the feelings are screaming out: "I'm real!"

The enlightenment that Advaita speaks of requires utter certain knowing that universal awareness is real, that everything IS universal awareness. According to this book, it's pretty much the definition of enlightenment: To know you (and everything else) are awareness.

The problem is: How can I ever know this -- with utter certainty -- if what I think I know (feel) is capable of being wrong, the product of imagination and wishful thinking?
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Re: Vedanta

Postby tod » Sun Nov 04, 2012 9:05 pm

rachMiel wrote:I'm running back into the snag that seems to rear its snaggly head whenever I delve into Advaita. (This is like my fourth "round" with it.) It goes something like this ...

When I open myself to universal awareness (Brahman) I find it very easy to feel it. Everything feels utterly connected, like one all-encompassing fabric, of which I (this body/mind) am a part (part is not quite the right word, but I don't have another).

But ... I have a strong imagination. I'm capable of feeling a lot of things. If I opened myself to the notion that ghosts were all around us and that we could feel their presence if we became very still ... I'd probably find it easy to feel that too.

In other words, I can't 100% trust my feelings to detect Truth, no matter how much the feelings are screaming out: "I'm real!"

The enlightenment that Advaita speaks of requires utter certain knowing that universal awareness is real, that everything IS universal awareness. According to this book, it's pretty much the definition of enlightenment: To know you (and everything else) are awareness.

The problem is: How can I ever know this -- with utter certainty -- if what I think I know (feel) is capable of being wrong, the product of imagination and wishful thinking?


Not sure if I can help with this Rach but I'll try.

So you are aware that you are not sure when you feel yourself as awareness? So who/what is aware of this? Awareness.

I would say that anything you feel is not 'it', as you, as awareness is what is aware of feelings, imaginings or anything. This may be 'known' via a process of 'elimination' of feelings, as any sensations are not it.

James Swartz is strong on pointing out that this is about knowledge and not experience (feelings). So once everything that is felt is 'eliminated' what is left - what is not felt but is aware, aware of feelings, etc. So this is not a matter of an experience of awareness but knowledge.
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Re: Vedanta

Postby runstrails » Sun Nov 04, 2012 10:02 pm

Hi rM,
You should consider emailing James with your question. I did not have the same problem as you--but I'll try to help.

Remember, vedanta is knowledge-based (as opposed to experience-based). So, what is the knowledge that you are absolutely sure of? That you exist. Here I'm not talking about the ego-based story of rM (which can easily be deconstructed), but the simple fact that you exist (prior to that story, if you will). This knowledge of your existence cannot be negated. Even if you try to, you simply cannot deny your existence. You don't have to have a special practice to know this, or become 'present', it's the simple ordinary awareness of your existence.

Now you're correct, everything else is imagination in a way (mithya or apparent reality). The only non-negotiable truth/reality (sathya) is that of your existence (and your certain awareness of it). Once you have this knowledge, then you can discriminate more easily between what is 'real' and what is not-real. What is 'real' would by vedanta's definition, be unchanging or unchanged (a reasonable assumption in my opinion). And that is only Self (or 'yourself' essentially--again, not talking about your form-based self here) since everything else changes constantly.

The next part is a little more tricky. This is the assumption that reality (Self) is non-dual. As far as I can tell, this is an assumption that vedanta makes. This appears to be a very logical assumption to me. If you think of the big bang or quantum physics, its pretty intuitive that the fundamental building blocks of reality would likely be non-dual at their core.

If all this sinks in (and resonates), then the vedanta framework is great at putting it all together. The book describes unmainfested (eternal, unchanging Self) and the manifested, apparent experience based, constantly changing reality. It states that Self is actionless and its nature is one of awareness or witnessing. I love how it says that the Self can only be known as a reflection in a sattvic mind. That is, you are the subject, so you cannot actually know yourself (like the eye cannot see itself etc..). Then it gives pretty practical tips on how to gain and maintain this sattvic mind. Most of them work for me. I've found that a half glass of beer can be essentially sattvic for me :wink:.

Anyway, if I've helped, feel free to ask more questions--this is fun for me to try to help. If I've only confused you more, then I'm really sorry and I would say ask James or Dennis. Both seem pretty accessible.
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Re: Vedanta

Postby samadhi » Sun Nov 04, 2012 11:34 pm

Great to see people discussing vedanta and James Swartz...the guy is an amazing teacher and astoundingly underrated. Eckhart and Adya et al laid the groundwork for me, but no other teaching as complete a methodology. I've found it so immensely helpful and transformative....words are inadequate :D
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Re: Vedanta

Postby rachMiel » Mon Nov 05, 2012 12:57 am

tod wrote:Not sure if I can help with this Rach but I'll try.

Thanks, tod. :-)

So you are aware that you are not sure when you feel yourself as awareness? So who/what is aware of this? Awareness.

I would say that anything you feel is not 'it', as you, as awareness is what is aware of feelings, imaginings or anything. This may be 'known' via a process of 'elimination' of feelings, as any sensations are not it.

James Swartz is strong on pointing out that this is about knowledge and not experience (feelings). So once everything that is felt is 'eliminated' what is left - what is not felt but is aware, aware of feelings, etc. So this is not a matter of an experience of awareness but knowledge.

Oh noooooooooo! I've spent the last N years learning that Truth is not something that can be known, it is something that must be experienced. And now Advaita is telling me the opposite? Can't these Enlightened Ones agree on anything?! ;-)
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Re: Vedanta

Postby rachMiel » Mon Nov 05, 2012 1:36 am

runstrails wrote:Hi rM,
You should consider emailing James with your question. I did not have the same problem as you--but I'll try to help.

Thanks, runstrails. :-) Please understand that what follows is not me trying to be nitpicky and argumentative. I'm just a bit ... obsessive when it comes to separating fact from fiction. (But you knew that!)

Remember, vedanta is knowledge-based (as opposed to experience-based).
Same confused reaction as above. How could this modest little human mind possibly fathom Absolute Truth (assuming it even exists)? Advaitan "knowing" must be very different from conventional knowing: grasping, understanding, comprehending.

So, what is the knowledge that you are absolutely sure of? That you exist. Here I'm not talking about the ego-based story of rM (which can easily be deconstructed), but the simple fact that you exist (prior to that story, if you will). This knowledge of your existence cannot be negated. Even if you try to, you simply cannot deny your existence. You don't have to have a special practice to know this, or become 'present', it's the simple ordinary awareness of your existence.

I don't think my existence is an utter fact, beyond negation. What I do think is as close to utter fact as it gets is what I sense/feel/think moment to moment. Anything beyond that is conjecture. Is sensing/feeling/thinking moment to moment what you mean by existing?

Now you're correct, everything else is imagination in a way (mithya or apparent reality). The only non-negotiable truth/reality (sathya) is that of your existence (and your certain awareness of it). Once you have this knowledge, then you can discriminate more easily between what is 'real' and what is not-real. What is 'real' would by vedanta's definition, be unchanging or unchanged (a reasonable assumption in my opinion). And that is only Self (or 'yourself' essentially--again, not talking about your form-based self here) since everything else changes constantly.

I have trouble with this one too ... the only "thing" I feel is unchanging is that everything is changing. Like I said: A lot of this Vedanta stuff is very counterintuitive. It neither syncs with how I saw the world before encountering Krishnamurti, Buddhism, etc., nor with how I see it now.

The next part is a little more tricky. This is the assumption that reality (Self) is non-dual. As far as I can tell, this is an assumption that vedanta makes. This appears to be a very logical assumption to me. If you think of the big bang or quantum physics, its pretty intuitive that the fundamental building blocks of reality would likely be non-dual at their core.

This assumption is the leap of faith that I spoke about earlier in the thread. It might feel right, it might appear logical, etc. But how can one KNOW? And if one doesn't KNOW (in CAPs!) ... then it's all just wishful thinking. Right? So I guess the key question with respect to Advaita as a vehicle for enlightenment is: Can one ever KNOW that reality is non-dual?
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Re: Vedanta

Postby runstrails » Mon Nov 05, 2012 1:57 am

rachmiel said:
I don't think my existence is an utter fact, beyond negation. What I do think is as close to utter fact as it gets is what I sense/feel/think moment to moment. Anything beyond that is conjecture. Is sensing/feeling/thinking moment to moment what you mean by existing?


Hi rM,
I think this might be the crux of the issue. I think you need to enquire further here. Thinking and feeling moment to moment changes, does it not? So how do you know those changes? You can't be the one that changes, since you are what knows the changes. So, therefore, what you are is prior to the constant changes. You are the background or awareness within which these changes happen. Just your everyday ordinary awareness of your existence.
Forget vedanta for a minute---see if this post by Kiki resonates: viewtopic.php?f=38&t=7154

I think this is step one---so no point going further unless this makes sense to you or resonates in some way. And this notion of the self as awareness is common to advaita, ET, Buddhism (from what I know about it), adya. So I'd say its pretty fundamental to realize this. The easiest would be by deconstructing what you think of as your identity and seeing what remains prior to that. I think Tod was alluding to this too.
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Re: Vedanta

Postby runstrails » Mon Nov 05, 2012 1:59 am

Samadhi said:
Great to see people discussing vedanta and James Swartz...the guy is an amazing teacher and astoundingly underrated. Eckhart and Adya et al laid the groundwork for me, but no other teaching as complete a methodology. I've found it so immensely helpful and transformative....words are inadequate :D


So nice to hear from you, Samadhi! I totally agree with you. It is transformative :D.
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Re: Vedanta

Postby rachMiel » Mon Nov 05, 2012 2:07 am

runstrails wrote:
rachmiel said:
I don't think my existence is an utter fact, beyond negation. What I do think is as close to utter fact as it gets is what I sense/feel/think moment to moment. Anything beyond that is conjecture. Is sensing/feeling/thinking moment to moment what you mean by existing?


Hi rM,
I think this might be the crux of the issue. I think you need to enquire further here. Thinking and feeling moment to moment changes, does it not? So how do you know those changes? You can't be the one that changes, since you are what knows the changes. So, therefore, what you are is prior to the constant changes. You are the background or awareness within which these changes happen. Just your everyday ordinary awareness of your existence.
Forget vedanta for a minute---see if this post by Kiki resonates: viewtopic.php?f=38&t=7154

I think this is step one---so no point going further unless this makes sense to you or resonates in some way. And this notion of the self as awareness is common to advaita, ET, Buddhism (from what I know about it), adya. So I'd say its pretty fundamental to realize this. The easiest would be by deconstructing what you think of as your identity and seeing what remains prior to that. I think Tod was alluding to this too.

Okay, I'll spend some time with this. But I must warn you: I'm a very tough sell. ;-)
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Re: Vedanta

Postby tod » Mon Nov 05, 2012 2:12 am

I would suggest to keep reading Rach.

I read James Swartz book (that Runstrails mentioned in her first post) and found it rather overwhelming at first with the sheer amount of information, so I am half way through my second read. I am beginning to see how vedanta is a complete package and really appreciate James' continuing effort to bring this teaching to us. His on site responses to queries are further clarifying what is in the book.
Last edited by tod on Mon Nov 05, 2012 2:24 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Vedanta

Postby runstrails » Mon Nov 05, 2012 2:17 am

I totally agree with Tod. Do read some of the satsangs on his website. I think some of them address the very issues you bring up :D.
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Re: Vedanta

Postby rachMiel » Mon Nov 05, 2012 2:36 am

runstrails wrote:Thinking and feeling moment to moment changes, does it not?

Yes.

So how do you know those changes? You can't be the one that changes, since you are what knows the changes.

I see it (feel it) differently.

That I am able to know that my thoughts/feelings are changing does not necessarily mean that I am not changing. It could (and, I think, often does) work like this:

My brain (thought) creates an observer (also thought) that is capable of noticing certain things about the system, one of which is that certain other thoughts are coming and going. That observer might appear to be real and still and unchanging, but it's just another construct of thought; and since thought is always changing, the observer is also changing.

kiki wrote:Yet, there is something else present that is both connected to those thoughts and separate from them. Something so innocent, so silent, so unassuming that it is easily overlooked: a very simple and basic “knowingness”; an alertness to what is happening, an awareness and consciousness of all of those thoughts and sensations.

This I'd agree with. But I wouldn't make the leap to saying that this "knowingness" is non-dual awareness. I'd be more inclined to think it's thought playing the role of the overseer.

I see that non-dual awareness could be the "agency" that enables us to be self aware. But I also see that thought could be that agency. And I'm positive that thought exists, whereas I can only conjecture about the existence of non-dual awareness.
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Re: Vedanta

Postby rachMiel » Mon Nov 05, 2012 5:01 am

Sorry about my little rant.

I'll shut up now and keep reading the book. :-)
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Re: Vedanta

Postby runstrails » Mon Nov 05, 2012 5:22 am

No rant at all. I'm linking to this previous thread which discussed a similar issue. I thought Kiki's and Ananda's posts were very good and clear. Perhaps reading them again after all this time will be useful: viewtopic.php?f=10&t=237
Take your time as you enquire on this seminal issue. Discovering your true nature is after all the heart of business of awakening!
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