Vedanta

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Re: Vedanta

Postby the key master » Mon Nov 05, 2012 8:05 am

rach said,
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.



Thought doesn't create that which is noticing thoughts. While it can conceptualize that into a thought, this does not implicate that the thought is 'it'. That's a leap in logic.

Thought is always moving, what observes thought never is. You can't not be that, but that can be identified as something that isn't it. (the thinker)

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.

.


Well its good you notice thought playing the role of something that isn't thought, because if this isn't seen clearly the mind will gear itself toward self manipulation thinking the thinker is becoming something that isn't the thinker through the creation of mind controlled gaps in thoughts. Then the delusion forms that mind is what observes mind and you're more than likely gonna be looking at a decade long gerbil wheel depending on how you play your cards.

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


All change is relative to 'something' unchanging. All form appears to 'something' that doesn't appear. That something is more fundamental than anything changing, moving, thinking, appearing. You are that.
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Re: Vedanta

Postby samadhi » Mon Nov 05, 2012 1:07 pm

rachMiel wrote:
runstrails wrote: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.


If I might suggest, the assumption that thought creates an observer is something that warrants questioning and inquiry. If we look into our experience, that 'observer' is actually there prior to thought. It's there from the moment we pop into this world; it's there as an infant before our brains have even developed the capacity to think. It's the one continuity we have. No matter what happens to us in life, and no matter how much we apparently change -- and no matter what we do or think or believe -- that pure baseline awareness is always there and it's always unchanging and untouched. The awareness that's looking out of the eyes of this 33 year old body is exactly the same as the awareness that looked out of this body when it was 10 or 1. It hasn't changed one bit, in spite of the fact everything has changed around and within it, in the phenomenal world. Nothing has been added to it, and nothing taken away from it. It's quite humbling really haha. Nothing 'I' could ever possibly do can touch it in any way.

In vedanta we're encouraged to question our tendency to take experience as being knowledge, because this is maya and experience is therefore not reliable when it comes to understanding the nature of self and reality. Everyday I experience the sun travelling across the sky (which, like the earth, appears to be static) and disappearing beyond the horizon. But knowledge tells me that the sun isn't moving across the sky at all and nor is the earth beneath my feet in a fixed, static position. Rather the earth is spinning and rotating around the sun.

Like you said, and Swartz often says this too, what vedanta is saying is counterintuitive. It goes against our apparent experience and challenges the way our brains are hard-wired from almost birth. It can take a long time to assimilate the teaching. It doesn't work if we approach it and weigh it up against our existing beliefs and experiences, because then we only take from it the bits that we agree with (which fit into our existing belief complex). What he recommends is that we set aside all our existing preconceived beliefs, experiences and apparent knowledge and approach it with a completely open mind - this isn't perhaps easy (and it takes a lot of guts as I found out) so even if we can just set aside our existing 'stuff' temporarily! Then this means of Knowledge starts working on us and rewiring the way we think and understand ourselves and reality.

Hope that makes some sense. And so glad you and others are reading the book. I recommend downloading the free audio files from his website and starting with the 'Self inquiry Berlin seminars' which explain the book in a kind of chronological order. He's a great speaker and doesn't hesitate to kick a$$ haha. Some might find his bluntness offputting but I find it refreshing. Enjoy :)
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Re: Vedanta

Postby rachMiel » Mon Nov 05, 2012 3:17 pm

It's sweet that you guys are putting so much good energy into helping me understand this new (to me) way of looking at ... everything. I'm grateful!

I'm also skeptical/critical of what you and Advaita Vedanta say. I don't have it in me to accept a take on Truth simply because others accept it. Even if those others are venerated gurus.

It's going to take me a while to digest each posting. I don't want to give anything short shrift. Then I'll respond.

For now, all I'll say is:

Over gobs of years I've put gobs of energy into recognizing, exploring, and letting go of what is not true (illusions). But I've almost never looked for what (if anything) IS true.

I guess I've felt that, when all is said and done, nothing is true (except, perhaps, that nothing is true, etc. ad infinitum): emptiness.

The notion that something IS true -- that awareness is all there is, and we are all awareness -- is kind of flooring me. It's like someone came up to me and said: "Guess what, rachMiel: There IS a Santa Claus!" My mind is reeling ... needs time and calmness to re-find its bearings.
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Re: Vedanta

Postby the key master » Mon Nov 05, 2012 4:01 pm

rachMiel wrote:It's sweet that you guys are putting so much good energy into helping me understand this new (to me) way of looking at ... everything. I'm grateful!

I'm also skeptical/critical of what you and Advaita Vedanta say.



Sounds good rach.

I don't have it in me to accept a take on Truth simply because others accept it. Even if those others are venerated gurus.


Yah I wouldn't recommend such things.

I guess I've felt that, when all is said and done, nothing is true


Yup, no thought is ultimately true.

My mind is reeling ... needs time and calmness to re-find its bearings.


Mind's got nothin but time. Glad you're here rach, you're a pleasure to engage.

--j
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Re: Vedanta

Postby karmarider » Mon Nov 05, 2012 5:20 pm

rachMiel wrote:The notion that something IS true -- that awareness is all there is, and we are all awareness -- is kind of flooring me. It's like someone came up to me and said: "Guess what, rachMiel: There IS a Santa Claus!" My mind is reeling ... needs time and calmness to re-find its bearings.


This bit was very confusing to me for a long time, until I tried the looking John Sherman suggests. RT says above that the only thing you can be certain of is that you exist, and Samadhi points out that this you-ness (awareness) of you is constant--it's the same now as it was five minutes ago, five years ago, and when you were 5. In looking at the sense of you, this became clear for me; I remembered the times I had had glimpses of me in the past and the constancy was very apparent.

rachMiel wrote:I'm also skeptical/critical of what you and Advaita Vedanta say. I don't have it in me to accept a take on Truth simply because others accept it. Even if those others are venerated gurus.


I like this. I generally tend to be hard-nosed about anything I don't directly see, and this has served me well.

I don't know if I'm interested in Advaita Vendanta, but this thread has sparked some curiosity, so thanks for that. I followed RT's pointer and in that thread Ananda points to some resources which I will check out. One of the resources was Ramana's Forty Verses, and it's been a while since I've read that, but glancing it over, this verse struck me:

29. The only enquiry leading to Self-realization is seeking the Source of the 'I' with in-turned mind and without uttering the word 'I'. Meditation on 'I am not this; I am That' may be an aid to the enquiry but it cannot be the enquiry.


It confirms what you say about looking for what is rather what is not. And it confirms for me the efficacy of the inward looking at the sense of you.
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Re: Vedanta

Postby rachMiel » Mon Nov 05, 2012 5:39 pm

I've invited James Swartz and Dennis Waite to join the conversation, but they're both very busy, so it's a longshot. Keep yer fingers crossed! :-)
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Re: Vedanta

Postby samadhi » Mon Nov 05, 2012 10:05 pm

rachMiel wrote:I'm also skeptical/critical of what you and Advaita Vedanta say. I don't have it in me to accept a take on Truth simply because others accept it. Even if those others are venerated gurus.


Nope, you mustn't simply accept it, that simply won't work. Self inquiry is absolutely necessary, taking the teaching and applying it for yourself and rigorously testing its logic. In order to do that effectively though, we need to let go of all preexisting beliefs and notions we have and really devote ourselves to the inquiry. Sounds like you're already very good at that :)

Over gobs of years I've put gobs of energy into recognizing, exploring, and letting go of what is not true (illusions). But I've almost never looked for what (if anything) IS true.

I guess I've felt that, when all is said and done, nothing is true (except, perhaps, that nothing is true, etc. ad infinitum): emptiness.

The notion that something IS true -- that awareness is all there is, and we are all awareness -- is kind of flooring me. It's like someone came up to me and said: "Guess what, rachMiel: There IS a Santa Claus!" My mind is reeling ... needs time and calmness to re-find its bearings.


haha, I've been there too. I found that emptiness was like a remote roadside cafe in the middle of nowhere, off all known maps. I came to realise that it's not the final destination, just a stop-off...staying too long tends to cause nihilism to set in. Least did with me. Vedanta points out that emptiness is not the deepest level because obviously there has to be something prior to emptiness, in order to be aware of emptiness. Without that awareness (the baseline, unchanging awareness) there would be no emptiness. And that awareness is actually absolute fullness.

I loved coming across this, from the Upanishads: “purnamadah purnamidam purnat purnamudachyate. Purnasya purnamadaya purnamevavashisyate.” .... "All this is full; all that is full. From fullness, fullness comes. When fullness is taken from fullness, fullness still remains." Emptiness - fullness....I love the paradox.

Anyway, I'm just thinking and reflecting out loud really :D
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Re: Vedanta

Postby rachMiel » Mon Nov 05, 2012 10:09 pm

Dennis Waite emailed me this back:

What I have done is passed on what seems to be the key question to the other bloggers at my site. And I will endeavor to address it myself, too. I will hopefully post the answers by the end of next week and I will email you the link when I do. So you can pass this on to the group if you want. The question I picked out from the discussion is: "Can one ever KNOW that reality is non-dual?"

I thanked him and said we all look forward to his (and his bloggers') responses. :-)
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Re: Vedanta

Postby karmarider » Mon Nov 05, 2012 11:45 pm

samadhi wrote:Nope, you mustn't simply accept it, that simply won't work. Self inquiry is absolutely necessary, taking the teaching and applying it for yourself and rigorously testing its logic.


So is Vedanta about knowledge or inquiry? If I'm sincerely engaged in inquiry (for example looking at the sense of I am, looking at what I am) how does knowledge help or not help? Above you've said Vedanta is about knowledge, not experience. But it seems to me that inquiry is very much about the experience, the experience of looking. I'm just trying to understand.
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Re: Vedanta

Postby samadhi » Tue Nov 06, 2012 1:23 am

Hey Karmarider :)

I understand the confusion, it's a subtle topic and rife with seeming contradictions. I'll try my best to explain what I've drawn from it.

Vedanta is about the knowledge that is the fruit of inquiry, ie Self-knowledge. If we're sincerely engaged in self inquiry, which is good, we still need a means of knowledge with which to process, understand and assimilate the results of our inquiry. Inquiry isn't so much then about the experience, or what experiences come from it (experience is transient and ever-changing anyway; what we're really seeking is the Changeless amid the changing, the intransient). It's about the knowledge we gain from the experience of inquiry. The experience itself and the conclusions we ourselves derive from it do not necessarily amount to truth. I used the example of my experience of seeing the sun travelling across the sky and disappearing each night. From the level of experience it's pretty much irrefutable. But when I measure it against a means of knowledge (in this case the science of astronomy, which tells me that the sun doesn't really move across the sky - that the entire planet is actually rotating around the sun) I see that the experience alone was misleading and led me to draw false conclusions.

So when it comes to self inquiry, vedanta is a means of verifying, processing and understanding our experience. I guess some people might question why we should even NEED a means of knowledge when it comes to understanding self, consciousness and reality? Shouldn't it be natural to us? Perhaps, but then we're all ensconced in this grand experience of maya, which is obscures and distorts our perception of reality and is responsible for our misapprehension of ourselves as being seemingly limited, small, inadequate beings - something which, upon inquiry, is revealed to be illusory; an immense case of mistaken identity! This is confirmed by vedanta, which is a kind of science of consciousness and Self realisation. It doesn't belong to any one person or school of philosophy, but is a body of knowledge that developed over millennia by seekers, seers and pioneers in consciousness, whose experiences were verified by their replicability, in much the same way as the physical sciences develop.

I hope that makes some sense. It's a vast topic and actually highly fascinating. James Swartz explains it far better than I can; do check out his website http://www.shiningworld.com, which is a goldmine of information. In fact there's a free book entitled 'Experience and Knowledge' http://www.shiningworld.com/top/images/ ... wledge.pdf

and this article is a more concise overview of what vedanta is http://www.shiningworld.com/top/images/ ... rticles/(1)%20What%20is%20Advaita%20Vedanta.pdf

Worth checking out!
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Re: Vedanta

Postby karmarider » Tue Nov 06, 2012 4:07 am

Thanks, Samadhi. I've scanned the articles and I'll continue to check them out.

Whereas I see the value of self-knowledge which can be the fruit of inquiry, and which might even be neccessary to make the right kind of sense of experience, I am very wary of taking on beliefs (as opposed to recognition). Beliefs of the knowledge are what I see as one of the bigger obstacles of this type pursuit.

I'll check out the shiningworld site, and maybe go back re-read Ramana and Nisargadatta.

Thanks for your help.
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Re: Vedanta

Postby the key master » Tue Nov 06, 2012 11:49 am

samadhi wrote:Hey Karmarider :)

Inquiry isn't so much then about the experience, or what experiences come from it


Rezzin on that, although I would say the experience of freedom from believing things that aren't true is a somewhat tasty fruit.

(experience is transient and ever-changing anyway; what we're really seeking is the Changeless amid the changing, the intransient). It's about the knowledge we gain from the experience of inquiry.


The idea of seeking something changeless doesn't really rez with me. If the inquiry is leading one to unknow what they never were, and you want to call that seeking the changeless, ok. Change is an illusion created by the movement of thought. Seeking is a movement grounded in the idea that one is something that's changing and can find something that's not. This idea isn't true. The person, the idea of the separate individual, is in constant flux, changing all the time, and totally incapable of finding anything.

So when it comes to self inquiry, vedanta is a means of verifying, processing and understanding our experience. I guess some people might question why we should even NEED a means of knowledge when it comes to understanding self, consciousness and reality? Shouldn't it be natural to us? Perhaps, but then we're all ensconced in this grand experience of maya, which is obscures and distorts our perception of reality and is responsible for our misapprehension of ourselves as being seemingly limited, small, inadequate beings - something which, upon inquiry, is revealed to be illusory; an immense case of mistaken identity!


Yea I'm with you here. Its not that we need a means of knowledge, its that we look for a means to drop knowledge when what we know is causing us to go to war with our own spontaneity. We understand truth by un-misunderstanding what was never true to begin with. We don't end up with a golden truth nugget at the end, but with an absence where a terrible burden once lurked, which is liberation.
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Re: Vedanta

Postby rachMiel » Tue Nov 06, 2012 8:11 pm

Just for fun, a silly "How many angels on the head of a pin" kind of question:

If the universe eventually exhausts itself and fades out to nothing ... absolute nothing, not one iota's iota of matter/energy/existence left ... does awareness (Brahman) persist? In other words, is awareness dependent on existence, is it perhaps even a quasi-synonym for existence?
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Re: Vedanta

Postby the key master » Tue Nov 06, 2012 9:09 pm

rachMiel wrote:Just for fun, a silly "How many angels on the head of a pin" kind of question:

If the universe eventually exhausts itself and fades out to nothing ... absolute nothing, not one iota's iota of matter/energy/existence left ... does awareness (Brahman) persist? In other words, is awareness dependent on existence, is it perhaps even a quasi-synonym for existence?


Without something to appear to, the appearance of form would not be possible. Hencely, we say, awareness is more fundamental than anything appearing to it. It is 'prior to' form, timeless in nature, and unbound by space. You are that even while appearing to be something other than that. You don't need something to appear to yourself to be yourself. You only need that to appear is if you're suttin you aren't :shock:
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Re: Vedanta

Postby arel » Tue Nov 06, 2012 10:09 pm

rachMiel wrote:If the universe eventually exhausts itself and fades out to nothing ... absolute nothing, not one iota's iota of matter/energy/existence left ... does awareness (Brahman) persist?


What is that "absolute nothing" that you are talking about?
What I say is only my viewpoint.
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