Highlights, Thurs, Oct 14
- We welcome back the Gang of Three: Skye, Marcia and Xan, not
to mention Tim G. Their postings will appear tomorrow.
Annette will do the Highlights for Sunday. Write me if you'd
like to edit the highlights!
I want to look fully, with all of my awareness.
To find any place to rest or answer is only speculation,
belief, and assumption.
Beautifully put, Dan. An ideal of perfect pursuit; of
looking without pretense. I'm there with you in spirit.
-- yet, as we know well, a conundrum arises as one
speculates, believes, or assumes to be looking fully with
all awareness. To desire. To arrive. We're ever left with
unfilled desire. Ever approaching, never arriving.
Perhaps in extraordinary pursuit, we begin to internalize a
reality of "no end;" and in such knowledge we come to know
-as- rest. Unfulfillment as Answer. Taken to an extreme,
such becomes the unimaginable immensity all energy, held in
such perfect universal balance that the slightest breath
would alter its dynamic stasis.
To all who ponder (or refuse to ponder) the various forms of
the "Who Am I" question...
The statement: "This statement is false" is a
If the statement is true, it is false; if it is false, it is
The "self" questioning "itself" is a self-reflexive
It needs to be pursued fully into every possible nook and
cranny, until the full impossibility of either asserting or
denying a self becomes evident.
I walk on alone, chewing on something I can't swallow and
can't spit out.
I have an answer to all these questions which serves me
quite well, and never mind the metaphysical who is being
served. . .
The answer is, "I don't know."
Among other things, it deals with, for me, the tremendous
difficulty of the rationale underlying these explorations:
"I may not know who i am but i can be sure of one thing,
THAT I AM, so i just have to keep asking who i am (or where
or why or wha for that matter)." The difficulty is that i am
not sure and cannot be sure that i indeed am. My one sure
point of reference is that i do not know. This "sure point
of reference" may seem pretty insecure but what's wrong with
it? I am bolstered in this safe port in the ontological
storm by seeing everywhere people claiming to know, their
knowing apparently being very attractive to seekers mired in
the metaphysical swamps, who want some assurance about
something, excuse the mixed metaphors. Their knowing could
well be the truth, or at least their truth, so great!, but
oftentimes it's not.
Looked at from a different point of view, not knowing can be
quite positive. It is wonder, awe, mystery. Not knowing is
no impediment to acting decisively when that is needed. And
the beauty: not knowing is easy and fun and you can do it in
your spare time at home.
Phil: Is the statement that there is "no separate self"
known as a fact or is it just something that is reiterated
as a nondual party line?
Dan: In attempting to make a categorical statement that
there "is no separate self," one is making a comment that
encompasses all of reality.
One therefore is asserting that one knows all of reality,
all that is possible and impossible, when one makes such a
statement. How can such a statement be made if there is no
"knower"? With no knower to make the statement, asserting
there "is no separate self" is of no particular value, for
to whom is the statement being addressed, and to benefit
Rainbo: Uh, Dan, that's a big jump there *g* ... just
because I know that I am not separate does not assert that I
know all of reality :-)
Judi: If you *know* there is no separation, then you
automatically know "all" of reality, because it is all the
same stuff. Big difference between knowing that air exists
and breathing it.
Rainbo: Yes, but I don't *know* all the light of creation, I
know light, but light thins and thicks, being in the cosmic
ocean of bliss and
*knowing* the center of the ocean, or the originiation of
the bliss are different ... this is what I meant.
Phil: Here is an alternate take on this. "There is no
separate self" means "A separate self is not appearing."
Or, the object in question cannot be ascertained. This is
Buddha's teaching I think. It does not mean a categorical
statement with ontological truth value. It means THERE (in
the field of awareness) it is not found. Error 404.
This can be demonstrated quite practically. Simply remove
reference from thought and nothing changes. "This is
Buddha's teaching I think" might be, "It is thought to be
Buddha's teaching." Ego is an unnecessary and dysfunctional
multiplication of objects.
On the other hand, ego is an attention-getter.
Dan: Yes. I agree that the Buddha did not attempt to make
categorical statements of ontological truth (truth about
"what being is"). To me, that is perhaps the most
intriguing aspect of his teaching and where it differs from
most religious teachings (which rely on assertions about an
ultimate truth of being). Much of the later Mahayana
Buddhist thought comes close to such ontological assertion
around the concepts of Emptiness and the Void (although
negative terminology is used to minimize the assertion).
This development (toward the appearance of asserting a
"final truth") in Buddhism indicates, to me, that it is
extremely difficult for people to resonate with a teaching
that doesn't centralize the assertion of a Truth.
The concept of nirvana has been taken by some in the
direction of such assertion (as an ultimate state of some
kind) - yet the teaching about nirvana as I understand it
simply expresses the ending of an attempt to grasp an
illusory sense of existence.
The Buddha seemed to want to clear away the kind of thinking
and emotional reaction that distorts awareness. The
distortion he addressed was the tendency to need categorical
beliefs and assertions to guide responsiveness. Indeed,
responsiveness becomes artificially limited when we have the
preexisting agenda to either assert or deny in a categorical
way, or when we need to find something which can be asserted
or denied. The Buddha (and Nagarjuna) took this approach to
most questions addressed.The questioning of self, therefore,
is not to deny a self exists, but to come to a Middle Way
that isn't assertion or denial, that doesn't base a self in
existence or as not existing. This kind of questioning can
even be applied to awareness. Ultimately, the Middle Way
leads to one's moving in a fluctuating relativity of
experience without needing to assert or deny anything that
"underlies" reality or "moves through" reality in a fixed
way. As I understand it, it is this release from fixity
that is associated with the Buddhist teachings of "no
permanent self" and "no continuing identity".
The Pathway of Nonduality
Q. We often hear people speak of Advaita Vedanta as a
religion, as philosophy, and metaphysics. But what is it
A. First of all we must underline the fact that certain
questions are asked more in the West than in the East. In
addition, the misunderstandings met with by many are
worsened by the fact that some words have different meanings
in the West and in the East.
It must also be pointed out that the answers given to the
various questions are only meant as a stimulation towards a
deepening of the knowledge to be acquired through the
reading of specific and suitable texts.
In the West we have a concept of religion, philosophy and
metaphysics that does not correspond to the Eastern meaning
of the same terms. For us the concept of religion is
derived from the Jewish-Christian-Islamic context and has a
precise meaning connected with the theological constructions
elaborated by those religions. To speak of Hindu religion
may seem improper because Hinduism, on the whole, and over
the ages, more than an organized, hierarchical and dogmatic
religion in the Western sense, is a 'way of being', of
living, of expressing oneself. We may speak more
appropriately of 'Hindu civilization', of 'Hindu
consciousness', of 'Hindu attitude'.
Hinduism is based upon the Vedas which, rather than a
theological or dogmatic corpus are a synthesis of
philosophy, metaphysics, mysticism, cosmogony, traditional
magic and other sciences and practices. The Hinduist would
say that in the Vedas there is all that one needs to know.
The seeds of Upanisadic speculation and of the Sastras are
already present in the Vedas. The central ideas of Buddhism
and of Jainism are not new. They, too, are present in the
The Hinduist holds that the Vedas, and therefore the
Vedanta, which are the later Scriptures that crown the
Vedas, are Sanatanadharma, the eternal dharma above and
beyond time. This dharma, being timeless, has no history
because it has no beginning. Christianity, Judaism and
Islamism can all be dated, they all have precise beginning
and a founder....Hinduism has no such founder. The Rishis
themselves, who drew up the Vedas, are only the transmitters
of an eternal Truth which is non-human and beyond history.
Many of the Rishis are not even remembered by name; some of
them have a name that is more mythical than real. For
example, Vyasa is held to be the compiler of the Vedas, of
many other Vedic writings andof the very same Mahabharata,
but Vyasa more than the name of a person refers to a
'function'. It is a mythical name and cannot be considered
in the same way as the name Jesus or Moses.
In the West the concept of religion implies a founder (in
space and time) who formulates certain moral-spiritual
principles to be followed by the devotees. This is not so
with Hinduism. To this concept of religion perhaps Buddhism
is somewhat closer, but in this case, too, many distinctions
must be made.
Therefore Hinduism is not a religion in the Western sense.
It is also for this reason that it is not easy to accept or
be part of or 'convert' to Hinduism. A Jew who wishes to
become a Christian has only to be baptized to become
automatically part of the Christian religious community, but
for any person who wishes to become a Hindu it is not a
question of being baptized, also because no such baptism
exists. Some hold that one must be born a Hindu. But it is
also true that in the West there are many 'Hindu
consciousnesses' just as in the East many feel being
Christians or Moslems. The term 'East' may be considered
not in a geographical sense.
We should also note that in the East philosophy and religion
go always together -- the very opposite of modern West. In
the East the one completes the other. Gaudapada, for
instance, commented on the Mankukya Upanisad from the
standpoint of the Sruti and of dialectical philosophy. In
other words, he united Revelation and philosophical
With reference to the Advaita Vedanta it is not at all the
case of speaking in terms of religion. The Advaita Vedanta
-- whose codifier was Samkaracarya -- is obviously linked to
the Vedas of which it has grasped the purely philosophical
and metaphysical factores. Its roots are, therefore, Vedic.
The trunk was nourished by Gaudapada -- the Teacher of
Samkara's Teacher - and the branched-out tree with plenty of
fruits was developed by Samkara.
The Advait Vedanta may be considered as philosophy and
metaphysics, but these terms must not be taken in their
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