WISDOM

Namaste and welcome to the third series of my Wisdom page… a collection of snippets of wisdom from my favorite thinkers, philosophers, sages, and teachers…

Advaita:
Encyclopedia Britannica Article
(Sanskrit: "Nondualism," or "Monism"), most influential of the schools of Vedanta, an orthodox philosophy of India. While its followers find its main tenets already fully expressed in the Upanisads and systematized by the Vedanta-sutras, it has its historical beginning with the 7th-century thinker Gaudapada, author of the Mandukya-karika, a commentary in verse form on the late Mandukya Upanisad.

Gaudapada builds further on the Mahayana Buddhist philosophy of Sunyava-da ("Emptiness"). He argues that there is no duality; the mind, awake or dreaming, moves through maya ("illusion"); and only nonduality (advaita) is the final truth. This truth is concealed by the ignorance of illusion. There is no becoming, either of a thing by itself or of a thing out of some other thing. There is ultimately no individual self or soul (jiva), only the atman (all-soul), in which individuals may be temporarily delineated just as the space in a jar delineates a part of main space: when the jar is broken, the individual space becomes once more part of the main space.

The medieval Indian philosopher Sankara, or Sankaracarya (Master Sankara, c. 700–750), builds further on Gaudapada's foundation, principally in his commentary on the Vedanta-sutras, the Sari-raka-mimamsa-bhasya ("Commentary on the Study of the Self "). Sankara in his philosophy does not start from the empirical world with logical analysis but, rather, directly from the absolute (Brahman). If interpreted correctly, he argues, the Upanisads teach the nature of Brahman. In making this argument, he develops a complete epistemology to account for the human error in taking the phenomenal world for real. Fundamental for Sankara is the tenet that the Brahman is real and the world is unreal. Any change, duality, or plurality is an illusion. The self is nothing but Brahman. Insight into this identity results in spiritual release. Brahman is outside time, space, and causality, which are simply forms of empirical experience. No distinction in Brahman or from Brahman is possible.

Sankara points to scriptural texts, either stating identity ("Thou art that") or denying difference ("There is no duality here"), as declaring the true meaning of a Brahman without qualities (nirguna). Other texts that ascribe qualities (saguna) to Brahman refer not to the true nature of Brahman but to its personality as God (I svara).

Human perception of the unitary and infinite Brahman as the plural and infinite is due to human beings' innate habit of superimposition (adhya sa), by which a thou is ascribed to the I (I am tired; I am happy; I am perceiving). The habit stems from human ignorance (ajñana, avidya ), which can be avoided only by the realization of the identity of Brahman.

Nevertheless, the empirical world is not totally unreal, for it is a misapprehension of the real Brahman. A rope is mistaken for a snake; there is only a rope and no snake, but, as long as it is thought of as a snake, it is one.

Sankara had many followers who continued and elaborated his work, notably the 9th-century philosopher Vacaspati Misra. The Advaita literature is extremely extensive, and its influence is still felt in modern Hindu thought.

"Advaita" Encyclopædia Britannica
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"That which is essential is invisible to the eye."
Antoine de Saint Exupery

"There is in all visible things...a hidden wholeness."
Thomas Merton
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When you are overwhelmed with the immensity
of your own pain and suffering, remember:
Reality and Truth are larger.
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Even in the depths of despair, if you allow your heart to remain open, light will continue to flow.
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Our attachment to struggle and suffering is often stronger than our clinging to pleasure and desire.
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Continue opening yourself to the possibility that all suffering arises within the mind. When you release your attachment to the particular view causing your discomfort or anguish, you will suddenly realize -- in a brilliant flash of clarity -- that everything is transformed with a simple shift in thought.
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Embrace every event, receive every experience and approach every individual with unconditioned acceptance. Within this spacious Awareness, suffering will inevitably subside.
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All of us are always self-absorbed. The question is, with what self do we identify?
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Watch your internal reactions to Reality.

If you pay attention to your resistances and to your objections, you will discover that it is this rejection of Reality which is the source of all suffering.

When you finally stop pushing Reality away, you will naturally and inevitably discover a vast expanse of innate freedom and choice you never before knew existed.

From Metta Zetty - an ordinary woman whose understanding of the nature of Reality has been profoundly transformed by an extraordinary experience of spontaneous awakening.
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Quotes of Nisargadatta Maharaj

A quiet mind is all you need. All else will happen rightly, once your mind is quiet. As the sun on rising makes the world active, so does self-awareness affect changes in the mind. In the light of calm and steady self-awareness, inner energies wake up and work miracles without any effort on your part.

The world is like a sheet of paper on which something is typed. The reading and the meaning will vary with the reader, but the paper is the common factor, always present, rarely perceived. When the ribbon is removed, typing leaves no trace on the paper. So is my mind - the impressions keep on coming, but no trace is left.

When you demand nothing of the world, nor of God, when you want nothing, seek nothing, expect nothing, then the Supreme State will come to you uninvited and unexpected.

All that a guru can tell you is: 'My dear Sir, you are quite mistaken about yourself. You are not the person you take yourself to be.'

There is no such thing as a person. There are only restrictions and limitations. The sum total of these defines the person. The person merely appears to be, like the space within the pot appears to have the shape and volume and smell of the pot.

By all means attend to your duties. Action, in which you are not emotionally involved and which is beneficial and does not cause suffering will not bind you. You may be engaged in several directions and work with enormous zest, yet remain inwardly free and quiet, with a mirror like mind, which reflects all, without being affected.

To expound and propagate concepts is simple, to drop all concepts is difficult and rare.

There is nothing to practice. To know yourself, be yourself. To be yourself, stop imagining yourself to be this or that. Just be. Let your true nature emerge. Don't disturb your mind with seeking.
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The following exchange comes from Ken Wilber's book A Brief History of Everything.

Fulcrum-9: The Causal
Q: You mentioned that these subtle or archetypal Forms issue directly from Emptiness, from the causal, which is the next stage, fulcrum-9.
KW: When, as a specific type of meditation, you pursue the observing Self, the Witness, to its very source in pure Emptiness, then no objects arise in consciousness at all. This is a discrete, identifiable state of awareness--namely, unmanifest absorption or cessation, variously known as nirvikalpa samadhi, jnana samadhi, ayin, vergezzen, nirodh, classical nirvana.

This is the causal state, a discrete state, which is often likened to the state of deep dreamless sleep, except that this state is not a mere blank but rather an utter fullness, and it is experienced as such--as infinitely drenched in the fullness of Being, so full that no manifestation can even begin to contain it. Because it can never be seen as an object, this pure Self is pure Emptiness.

Q: That's all very abstract. Could you be more concrete about this?
KW: You are aware of yourself in this moment, yes?

Q: I think so.
KW: So if I say, Who are you?, you will start to describe yourself--you are a father, a mother, a husband, a wife, a friend; you are a lawyer, a clerk, a teacher, a manager. You have these likes and dislikes, you prefer this type of food, you tend to have these impulses and desires, and so on.

Q: Yes, I would list all the things that I know about myself.
KW: You would list the "things you know about yourself."

Q: Yes.
KW: All of those things you know about yourself are objects in your awareness. They are images or ideas or concepts or desires or feelings that parade by in front of your awareness, yes? They are all objects in your awareness.

Q: Yes.
KW: All those objects in your awareness are precisely not the observing Self. All those things that you know about yourself are precisely not the real Self. Those are not the Seer; those are simply things that can be seen. All of those objects that you describe when you "describe yourself" are actually not your real Self at all! They are just more objects, whether internal or external, they are not the real Seer of those objects, they are not the real Self. So when you describe your- self by listing all of those objects, you are ultimately giving a list of mistaken identities, a list of lies, a list of precisely what you ultimately are not.

So who is this real Seer? Who or what is this observing Self?

Ramana Maharshi called this Witness the I-I, because it is aware of the individual I or self, but cannot itself be seen. So what is this I-I, this causal Witness, this pure observing Self?

This deeply inward Self is witnessing the world out there, and it is witnessing all your interior thoughts as well. This Seer sees the ego, and sees the body, and sees the natural world. All of those parade by "in front" of this Seer. But the Seer itself cannot be seen. If you see anything, those are just more objects. Those objects are precisely what the Seer is not, what the Witness is not.

So you pursue this inquiry, Who am I? Who or what is this Seer that cannot itself be seen? You simply "push back" into your awareness, and you dis-identify with any and every object you see or can see.

The Self or the Seer or the Witness is not any particular thought--I can see that thought as an object. The Seer is not any particular sensation--I am aware of that as an object. The observing Self is not the body, it is not the mind, it is not the ego--I can see all of those as objects. What is looking at all those objects? What in you right now is looking at all these objects--looking at nature and its sights, look- ing at the body and its sensations, looking at the mind and its thoughts? What is looking at all that?

Try to feel yourself right now--get a good sense of being yourself-- and notice, that self is just another object in awareness. It isn't even a real subject, a real self, it's just another object in awareness. This little self and its thoughts parade by in front of you just like the clouds float by through the sky. And what is the real you that is witnessing all of that? Witnessing your little objective self? Who or what is that?

As you push back into this pure Subjectivity, this pure Seer, you won't see it as an object--you can't see it as an object, because it's not an object! It is nothing you can see. Rather, as you calmly rest in this observing awareness--watching mind and body and nature float by--you might begin to notice that what you are actually feeling is simply a sense of freedom, a sense of release, a sense of not being bound to any of the objects you are calmly witnessing. You don't see anything, you simply rest in this vast freedom.

In front of you the clouds parade by, your thoughts parade by, bodily sensations parade by, and you are none of them. You are the vast expanse of freedom through which all these objects come and go. You are an opening, a clearing, an Emptiness, a vast spaciousness, in which all these objects come and go. Clouds come and go, sensations come and go, thoughts come and go--and you are none of them; you are that vast sense of freedom, that vast Emptiness, that vast opening, through which manifestation arises, stays a bit, and goes.

So you simply start to notice that the "Seer" in you that is witnessing all these objects is itself just a vast Emptiness. It is not a thing, not an object, not anything you can see or grab hold of. It is rather a sense of vast Freedom, because it is not itself anything that enters the objective world of time and objects and stress and strain. This pure Witness is a pure Emptiness in which all these individual subjects and objects arise, stay a bit, and pass.

So this pure Witness is not anything that can be seen! The attempt to see the Witness or know it as an object--that's just more grasping and seeking and clinging in time. The Witness isn't out there in the stream; it is the vast expanse of Freedom in which the stream arises. So you can't get hold of it and say, Aha, I see it! Rather, it is the Seer, not anything that can be seen. As you rest in this Witnessing, all that you sense is just a vast Emptiness, a vast Freedom, a vast Expanse--a transparent opening or clearing in which all these little subjects and objects arise. Those subjects and objects can definitely be seen, but the Witness of them cannot be seen. The Witness of them is an utter release from them, an utter Freedom not caught in their turmoils, their desires, their fears, their hopes.

Of course, we tend to identify ourselves with these little individual subjects and objects--and that is exactly the problem! We identify the Seer with puny little things that can be seen. And that is the beginning of bondage and unfreedom. We are actually this vast expanse of Freedom, but we identify with unfree and limited objects and subjects, all of which can be seen, all of which suffer, and none of which is what we are.

Patanjali gave the classic description of bondage as "the identification of the Seer with the instruments of seeing"--with the little subjects and objects, instead of the opening or clearing or Emptiness in which they all arise.

So when we rest in this pure Witness, we don't see this Witness as an object. Anything you can see is not it. Rather, it is the absence of any subjects or objects altogether, it is the release from all of that. Resting in the pure witness, there is this background absence or Emptiness, and this is "experienced," not as an object, but as a vast expanse of Freedom and Liberation from the constrictions of identifying with these puny little subjects and objects that enter the stream of time and are ground up in that agonizing torrent.

So when you rest in the pure Seer, in the pure Witness, you are invisible. You cannot be seen. No part of you can be seen, because you are not an object. Your body can be seen, your mind can be seen, nature can be seen, but you are not any of those objects. You are the pure source of awareness, and not anything that arises in that awareness. So you abide as awareness.

Things arise in awareness, they stay a bit and depart, they come and they go. They arise in space, they move in time. But the pure Witness does not come and go. It does not arise in space, it does not move in time. It is as it is; it is ever-present and unvarying. It is not an object out there, so it never enters the stream of time, of space, of birth, of death. Those are all experiences, all objects--they all come, they all go. But you do not come and go; you do not enter that stream; you are aware of all that, so you are not caught in all that. The Witness is aware of space, aware of time--and is therefore itself free of space, free of time. It is timeless and spaceless--the purest Emptiness through which time and space parade.

So this pure Seer is prior to life and death, prior to time and turmoil, prior to space and movement, prior to manifestation--prior even to the Big Bang itself. This doesn't mean that the pure Self existed in a time before the Big Bang, but that it exists prior to time, period. It just never enters that stream. It is aware of time, and is thus free of time--it is utterly timeless. And because it is timeless, it is eternal--which doesn't mean everlasting time, but free of time altogether.

It was never born, it will never die. It never enters that temporal stream. This vast Freedom is the great Unborn, of which the Buddha said: "There is an unborn, an unmade, an uncreate. Were it not for this unborn, unmade, uncreate, there would be no release from the born, the made, the created." Resting in this vast expanse of Freedom is resting in this great Unborn, this vast Emptiness.

And because it is Unborn, it is Undying. It was not created with your body, it will not perish when your body perishes. It's not that it lives on beyond your body's death, but rather that it never enters the stream of time in the first place. It doesn't live on after your body, it lives prior to your body, always. It doesn't go on in time forever, it is simply prior to the stream of time itself.

Space, time, objects--all of those merely parade by. But you are the Witness, the pure Seer that is itself pure Emptiness, pure Freedom, pure Openness, the great Emptiness through which the entire parade passes, never touching you, never tempting you, never hurting you, never consoling you.

And because there is this vast Emptiness, this great Unborn, you can indeed gain liberation from the born and the created, from the suffering of space and time and objects, from the mechanism of terror inherent in those fragments, from the vale of tears called samsara.

Q: I can get a brief taste of that as you talk about it.
KW: Most people can connect fairly quickly with the Witness. Living from that Freedom is something else.

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