Thursday, March 17, 2016

Advaita is something to be lived, not to make it a dogma ~ Sri Ramana Maharshi

Advaita is something to be lived, not to make it a dogma

extract from Sri Ramana Paravidyopanishad:

43. Since the sage has put an end to all duality by attaining the supreme state, the real state, he has therefore attained the advaitic state. Hence, he alone should be regarded as an advaitin.

This is important. Bhagavan has warned us against thinking of advaita as a doctrine, just like the doctrines of the sectarians. Since the advaitic state is the mind-free state, there is no room in it for doctrines. This is further explained as follows.

44.  Duality comes to be taken as real because of taking something that is not the Self to be the Self. The sages tell us that the stat e of being free from this ignorance is itself the advaitic state. 

This means that so long as this ignorance endures, the advaitic state is not attained. 
45. Thus, advaita is not a dogma like those of the other religions. Also, because the mind does not function in it, true advaita is declared to be just the state of being in  one’s own real nature [as the real Self], free from thoughts and worldless. 

It must be remembered that the world can never be without the mind. For this reason a merely theoretical – intellectual – belief in advaita is of no value whatever. 

46. On the other hand, the advaitic state has not been attained by one who, knowing the substance of the sacred lore as a doctrine, by his intellect alone, is satisfied with it, without striving to win actual experience of the real Self. 

This is explained in detail as follows:
47. Such a one has not dissolved the world-appearance by remaining in the true state of  the Self as the supreme reality. He that knows the Self by understanding the substance of the books has not got rid of his false notion that the body is the Self! 

Identification of the body as the Self is the primary ignorance, and theoretical knowledge has not the least effect on that ignorance. It survives. It ceases only by the attainment of the true state of the Self. 

48. It has been stated by the Guru Sankara that such a one is really not different from the brute animals. Brute-hood is defined by the sages as that state in which one regards the Self as being limited to the body.

49. Hence, for him who just knows the sacred lore, the belief that the world is real as such [in its own sight] does not cease. Deluded by this false belief, he, like all the rest, ever wanders helplessly in samsara.

50. It is said [by Bhagavan] that the knower of the sacred lore whose mind has not subsided in the peace [of the supreme state] is just like a gramophone. It is also said [by Bhagavan] that he is even worse off than the man without learning, because, unlike the latter, he is overwhelmed by moods of pride, and so on.

51. This [theoretical] knowledge is styled ‘inferential knowledge’, [as of a thing absent]. But the Self is never absent. How can inferential knowledge of one that is ever-present be true knowledge? 

52. The ignorance-causing bondage is just the [mistaken] experience that takes the form ‘I am the body’. How can such ignorance come to an end except by the awareness, ‘I am the pure consciousness’? 

Illusory experience can cease only by the illusion-free experience. That is the reason why learned men still remain in ignorance and bondage. 

53 This theoretical knowledge is only intellectual. But the intellect has no access to the real Self. Just as evil spirits are [ironically] styled as ‘good people’, so this ignorance is styled ‘knowledge’. 

In Sanskrit literature the term ‘good people’ is used ironically to designate evil spirits, the asuras or rakshasas.

54. When a man scorched by the sun becomes cooled by bathing in a mirage, or when one succeeds in cooking food on a painting of a fire, then one may attain  deliverance by theoretical knowledge.  

Thus, emphatically, the notion that theoretical knowledge is knowledge is denounced.

55. Therefore, one who talks advaita without actual experience of that truth is just the same as a dvaitin [a dualist]. Neither speech nor mind has any access to that supreme state. He that abides in that state has no doctrine whatever. 

Doctrines, more or less true, are of help to the aspirant. They do not survive in the state of deliverance (illumination). The sage does not ‘know’ the Self, because he is the Self. This equation of him who has only theoretical knowledge with the dvaitin is justified as follows:
56. Those who think of themselves as advaitins say [from intellectual conviction alone] that the world is unreal, miserable and inert [unconscious]. Others [professing dvaitins ] say otherwise. But in the result all are alike. 

That is, all are in bondage and suffer the evils of samsara. They all act as if the world were real. 

57. It is only the one supreme reality that a ppears as the three, namely the world, God and the soul. But asserting this [as a doctrine] is not right awareness. Right awareness is just the death of the ego.

We have seen before that right awareness –the experience, in the supreme state, of the real Self as pure consciousness – is mind-free. Now we learn that it is also egoless. The natural state is therefore also called the egoless state.

The next three verses deal with the problem of controversies, which abound so long as the ignorance is not transcended.

58. Indifferent to the actual experience of the real Self, the sectarians affirm their dogmas with fanatical vehemence, saying ‘The re is a reality’, ‘There is none’, ‘It has a form’, ‘It is formless’, ‘It is one’, ‘It is twofold’, ‘It is neither’. 

This is the substance of verse 34 of Ulladu Narpadu. All the main creeds are here briefly enumerated. Among these, even the advaitic doctrine is mentioned, to show that mere adherence to a doctrine, even though it is true, is useless. The last creed, ‘It is neither’, seems to be an intermediate creed
between the advaitic and dvaitic, which is to the effect that the soul is different from God and yet part of God. These creeds are possible because of continuing ignorance and an indifference to the quest for the real Self. 

The disputants resort to logic in order to establish their own creeds as the true ones.  But logic is inconclusive. This is stated in the following verse.

59 There is no end to logical discussions, for logic does not come to rest anywhere. The supreme transcends the world. How can it become known by the logical mind?

The truth of the supreme state is not withinthe scope of intellectual speculation. The sole authority for its nature and means of attain ment is the actual experience of it by a sage. Logic can proceed only through facts given by worldly experience, which is tainted because its parent is the primary ignorance. 

Until one attains that state by the same experience, one has to rely on the authority of a competent Guru. The attitude of the sage to the diverse creeds is stated next: 

60. Since the sage has no creed of his own, he never engages in [useless] discussions. All creeds are approved by him. He does not [seek to] unsettle the faith of anyone. 

All creeds are like paths leading to the same goal. So, the sage does not seek to impose any faith on anybody, but helps everyone to follow the path that he chooses for himself.  It is the sadhana that is of value, not the beliefs. This is explained next. 

61. Therefore, the aspirant should, with a mind at peace, cease from hatred of other faiths and from all disputation, and engage in sadhana as taught by his own faith, intent on winning deliverance.
The narrow mind, which causes one to assume that one’s own religion is alone true and all others are false, is a defect of character which must be given up if one is to reach the egoless state, for all religions alike are inferior to that state. The beliefs inculcated are of no value except as inspiring zeal for the practice of the prescribed sadhana.

The earnest aspirant, says Bhagavan, does not need to come to any definite conclusion on the most vexed question, which concerns the reality or the illusory nature of the world, because the main thing is to know the truth of oneself. The first step towards that knowledge is just to cease thinking of the world altogether as an obstacle to one’s quest. This is set forth in the next verse. 

62. There are the two [diverse] creeds held, respectively, by those who say the world is real and those who say it is unreal. The earnest aspirant for deliverance can win experience of the truth of the Self without taking up a definite stand on this question.