The following is a continuation of the email debate that began in November 2006.
At first I thought not to respond this latest email (of Dec. 4th), since your replies contained therein are actually to earlier responses of mine, and you have not addressed any of the points raised (i.e., my responses) in my most recent email (the email that ends with the excerpt from Satyarth Prakash, and which was sent on Nov. 30th). Kindly go through the previous email (of Nov. 30th), because many of the points you raise in your most recent email were addressed (at least indirectly).
Following are my replies to your current email:
before): Let us consider for a moment this notion that everything is
Consciousness, or that Consciousness is all that there is, or that there
is only Unlimited Consciousness. First of all, such a statement is not
substantiated anywhere in the Vedas. But leaving that
aside, it not substantiated by any one's experience either. You
say it is not a matter of experience but a matter of knowledge, but
the bottom line is that it is a matter of consciousness. Your
consciousness is NOT unlimited, and no one's consciousness is unlimited
(except the Supreme Consciousness, if one so believes). You cannot
demonstrate that your consciousness is unlimited, nor can you prove
it logically or even by means of sophistry.
Dev: Yes, Laksmanji, but I am not referring to the ‘my’ consciousness, which we both know is the consciousness that ‘appears’ to be limited due to its identification with the mind and body. This ‘my’ consciousness entity is the Jiva, and the identification power of the Jiva is called ego. As I explained earlier, the Jiva is not really the sum total of its parts (consciousness, ego/intellect, mind, senses, body), but is really the Self (the Immortal, ‘individual’, Soul) engaged in the Sport of Existence. In other words (as you also have indicated), the Jiva identifies with the body/mind upadhis due to ignorance, and when this ignorance is removed the Jiva becomes Jivamukta, which really simply means the Self is finished playing mind games.
You have said you are “the Consciousness that reflects on the jiva and gives it consciousness.” I agree, but I would state this differently because this implies the Jiva is really separate from the Self, which in reality it is not. Hence, I would say ‘the Jiva emanates from the Self and ultimately resolves back to the Self. That Self I am, and this Jiva is the Self. The Essence of the Self is the Supreme Self from which the Universe (by means of the eternal primordial substance, Prakriti) emanates. The Supreme Self never ceases being the Supreme Self whether the Universe is manifested or not. Likewise, the Self never ceases to be the Self whether manifested (in the Universe) as the Jivatman or not manifested. The point is, you, I, and everyone else are Immortal (the innumerable unique Atman), and we are inseparable from our unlimited Eternal Essence which is none other than the Supreme Self.
Neo-vedanta asserts that the ‘individual’ soul is the Jiva and that beyond this is Unlimited Consciousness, i.e., the Supreme Self (or simply, the Self since it makes no distinction). However, this is incorrect (as substantiated by both the Sruti and Smriti). The ‘individual’ soul is the Self and the Jiva is the Self, and the Self of the Self is the Supreme Self. This distinction is brought out again and again throughout the Vedas and the Upanishads.
Dev: I have studied a few hundred mantras from the Vedas (primarily Rig Veda and Yajur Veda), the Isha Upanishad (i.e., the 40th chapter of the Yajur Veda), a rudimentary study of the other major Upanishads, the Gita, and the Darshanas (primarily Yoga Dharshan), and a few other Smriti texts. Your assertion that everything is Consciousness is not (in my humble opinion) the central message of the Upanishads. The central message of the Upanishads, and indeed the Vedas, is that the Supreme Self is the ultimate goal of existence; in other words, the purpose of life is the realization of our own Essence. This realization doesn’t entail the dissolution of the ‘realizer’, who is the immortal Self projected as the Jivatman. The Essence (the Supreme Self) is not the ‘realizer,’ that is, the Supreme Self is not projected as Jivatman; the Supreme Self is never ‘apparently’ ignorant, never ‘apparently’ embodied, and never attains enlightenment or Moksha. The Supreme Self is the very essence of Moksha. The Self that attains Moksha is just as immortal as the Supreme Self. Like the Supreme Self (GOD), we too are uncreated and indestructible—before, during, and after the attainment of Moksha. The Self (that’s you, I, and everyone else) upon realizing its own Essence (that’s the Supreme Self), is freed from the bonds of time and remains in that timeless essence until it chooses to once again play the Drama of Existence.
Dev: Perhaps this is what karma kandis
do; I do not know, but this is not what I am doing. The Pure Consciousness,
from which emanates the Subtle Body, is certainly NOT the only consciousness,
but this certainly appears to be what the neo-vedantist assert. I am
simply stating that (1) the Self that realizes its own Self is NOT the
Supreme Self; (2) that both the Self and the Supreme Self are Immortal
and therefore indestructible; and (3) that the non-consciousness substance
(Prakriti) from which all material things (including the ego, mind,
body, thoughts, and material objects) are formed is also eternal and
Dev: Laksmanji, what I am talking
about is not my ‘belief’ but my direct experience and Self-knowledge
(Atam-Gyaan). Your interpretation of Advaita
is the prevalent one in our times, and has been for quite a while, but
that doesn’t necessarily make it correct. I used to think that
way too and only after much deep reflection, self-study, and direct
experience am I realizing the true meaning of Advaita.
Dev: The Immortal Soul certainly has characteristics:
Om Sa Paryagachhukram, Akayam, Avranam, Asnaviram, Shuddham, Apapaviddham.
Kavir Manishi, Paribhuh, Svayambur, Yathatathyato ‘Rthan Vyadadhacchashvatibhyah Samabhyah. Isha Upanishad, 8
Paryagat: pervasive; Shukram- self effulgent fashioner of the universe; Akayam-bodiless; Avaranam-invulnerable and indivisible; Asnaviram-devoid of any kind of superimposition; Shuddham-ever pure; Apapaviddham-untouched by evil or sins; Kavi-all seeing; Manishi-all knowing; Paribhuh-all pervading intelligence; Swambhu-self created
These are just a minute sampling of the innumerable characteristics of the Self (both the ‘individual’ Soul and the Supreme Soul). Your statement that the Self is without characteristics is true in the following sense: the Self is devoid of the characteristics of cruelty, stupidity, insanity, arrogance, shame, impurity, etc., etc., etc.
The Immortal Soul or the ‘Imageless Self’ does not actually become embodied. It seems to become embodied. It is an apparent embodiment. I can’t argue with you because we are looking at reality from different points of view. You perhaps think I’m a fool because I don’t care about embodiment or evolution. Even if…accepting your limited view of things… I am a fool I’m enjoying my foolishness one hundred percent. When and if I start suffering (it seems quite unlikely since I’ve not had a bad day in almost forty years) I will check with your emails to see if there is any clue to how I might get out of it.
Dev (from before): We cannot play games
with our life and then say it was all the Supreme. We cannot make mistakes
and say it was all the Supreme having a dream.
Dev: I am in complete agreement with Shankara’s statement: the Limitless Self (the Supreme Self) is Real. The notion that the world (manifested from the eternal Prakriti) is permanent is simply mithya, false. The living Self and the Supreme Self are inseparable (because they are eternally united: both the Self and the Supreme Self are eternally real).
It is a waste of time to tell you this because you seem not to be ready to consider it.
Dev: As I told you, I have considered it thoroughly and dismissed it. Have you thoroughly considered what I have been saying?
Dev: It is interesting that you use this analogy, because it is one which I have frequently used myself.
Dev: Vedanta is indeed a pramana; it is the VERY best pramana; there is none superior to it (that I am aware of). Our difference is in our understanding of Advaita, which of course affects our grasp of Vedanta.
Dev: Laksmanji, I am NOT saying that you have not seen that you are the immortal Self. On the contrary, based on your writings I feel quite sure you definitely know you are the Immortal Self. The question is, do you perceive the Supreme Self? Naturally, because of your definition of Advaita you will certainly say that you are the Supreme Self. I have no problem with this statement; I too can assert (and most certainly do know) I am the Supreme Self too, but this does not negate the individual, immortal Soul.
I don’t like using the word ‘individual’ because it relates to ego and is really nothing more than a myth (being rooted in Mithya Gyaan, or false knowledge). Anyway, I’ve used it here for convienence because generally people cannot seem to grasp that every Soul is unique (not individual), uncreated, and indestructible (and therefore exists eternally with the Supreme Self). As each of us is unique and eternal, we can never lose our uniqueness and somehow merge with the Supreme Self. Our Essence IS the Supreme Self, so what need is there to merge anyway? The point is, we (Atman) are Eternal and our Essence (Paramatman) is Eternal, and so is the material cause (Prakriti) of the Universe eternal. These three are all eternal, beginingless, and indestructible.
I fully realize that this flies in
the face of Vedanta as it is understood today. This also flies in the
face of dvaitists because they will never
accept just how similar the Soul is to the Supreme Soul. Now,
this may sound like some new fangled theory to you, but the fact is
this is clearly enunciated in the Vedas and the Upanishads (and other
I am surprised that you did not respond to the last statement above
(‘Wisdom is as limitless as the Unlimited Consciousness of which
it is an expression’). I am sure you must know what I am expressing
here. Notwithstanding what you have written elsewhere, Vedanta
(neo-vedanta) is certainly a pramana, but I have yet to meet a neo-vedantin
who has really disposed of it. A neo-vedantin believes they them
self are Unlimited Consciousness yet their wisdom is limited to the
Vedanta pramana, which presumably they have dispensed with once they
have realized their own unlimited nature. But the fact is they’ve not
been able to realize their own unlimited nature (the Supreme Self) because
they remain stuck in their images (of Vedanta and Advaita). Really
they are not much (if any) better off than the dvaitists
who are worshippers of stone, metal, or paper images. Like the
dvaitists, the neo-vedantist (and other intellectualists)
remain bound by their images: the dvaitists
because they choose to be bound (by their images), and the neo-vedantists because in principle they cannot acknowledge their
own limited understanding, i.e., image (without nullifying the neo-advaitic principle).
Dev: I am not attempting to ‘wake you up’ because that’s not my job. My duty is to share the truth, that’s all. I am not perfect, nor will I ever be, nor am I striving to be perfect. I am striving for excellence and I realize His Excellency, the Supreme Self, my very own Essence, is Boundless Blissful Consciousness having neither center nor circumference.
No doubt they are very similar, and in fact the scriptures do often
use the word Atman when referring to the Supreme Self. But then,
Agni is also used differently, and in one
context may mean fire, and in another the Supreme Self, and yet in another
the individual Soul. Throughout the Vedas and Upanishads we find
this is true of many of the words.
Dev: It is not that your meanings are unclear; they are quite clear. Still, our disconnect has to do with our differing understandings of Advaita. Your understanding does not seem to allow you to realize the eternal (uncreated, beginingless, indestructible) nature of the ‘individual’ Soul and Prakriti, and thus their eternal concomitant existence with the eternal, unchangeable, indivisible, Absolute, Supreme Being Who is One Without a Second.
Dev: This is absolutely true. However, what you do not acknowledge is the concomitant existence of this Consciousness with the Supreme Consciousness. This Consciousness that you speak of projects itself as the Jivatman; this Consciousness that you speak of then ‘appears’ to become hidden in the world of gross matter, i.e., it appears to be ‘apparently’ ignorant and ultimately ‘apparently’ enlightened. This Consciousness, which is Eternal, is the same in each and every one of us (the jivas), and yet is eternally unique as well. That is, each and every Atman is uncreated, eternal, unique, immortal, and self-contained. Subtler than this Self is the Supreme Self, which, unlike the Self, never assumes the role of a Jivatmam. Just as the Self is unique, i.e., one without a second, the Supreme Self that pervades the Self is also One Without a Second.
When you think like this you naturally end up with yogic and evolutionary views, not that there is anything wrong with them…although I don’t hold them.
Dev: What you call the ‘evolutionary view’ is a fact of Life, my friend. This Life (Lila) is very much like a dream, but it is NOT a dream. This Life is real. That’s why it requires real wisdom to really live our life to the fullest, which we do by going beyond our small self ego, and then even going beyond our Self to know our Essence (the Supreme Self). The path of Yoga (which cannot really be fully practiced without Vedanta, i.e., the knowledge of the essence of the Vedas) is the time-tested, proven, method that reveals one’s own Essence to one’s own Self, in this drama (Lila) of Life.
If you think about it at this moment you know that you have an ego. Is it the ego that knows that it is an ego or is it Consciousness, you, that knows you have an ego? And when your sadhana is finished and the Self has been revealed who will it be revealed to? It will only be revealed to you, the Self, because the Self is the means of knowledge for everything, the presence and absence of ego included. Ego is just a concept of limitation. Ignorance keeps one believing in it. And when you believe in it, it seems that you are it.
Dev: I agree with everything you have stated above. Don’t you see that the ‘you’ to whom the Self has been revealed. . . ‘you’, the Self that awakens from the Dream and realizes that it’s essential nature was never modified in any way whatsoever. . . don’t you see that this imageless Self, this immortal Self, is NOT the Supreme Self? The Supreme Self has never been subjected to ANY form of Ignorance, INCLUDING ‘apparent’ ignorance.
As I said already, show me the ego. You can’t do it. All you can do is try to plant a doubt in my mind that maybe I am under the spell of an ego that I can’t see. I suppose it is ‘natural’ to try to pull down people that seem to you to be deluded (although I think it is a bad habit) but it doesn’t have any effect on me. You will of course think that that very ego that you are suggesting is hidden away in me is creating my denial and keeping me deluded. There is no end to this ‘I’m right, you’re wrong’ game. Duality is OK but there are problems associated with it. Non-duality creates no problems. Maybe you’re just trying to sharpen your debating skills.
Dev: If any seed has been planted in your mind it certainly has not been for the sake of pulling you down. But honestly, I have not set out to plant any seeds in your mind, and nor do I have any desire to sharpen my debating skills. I am simply sharing my understanding with you and learning from you. That’s all.
Dev: Your statements are accurate but this does not equate the Self with the Supreme Self. Certainly the knowledge “I am the Self” is direct and firm and is not subject to forgetting. However, this knowing that ‘I am the Self’ is not the same as ‘all-knowing’ (omniscience). This knowing that I am not limited to the ego, mind, or body (or even to the Jivatman) is not same as being All-pervading (omnipresent). This knowing that I am the power of Divine Love (Blissful Consciousness) is not the same as that all-powerful (Omnipotent) Supreme Bliss that knows no beginning or end.
Dev: I have no need or desire to verify your statement when I have no doubt. It was simply a manner of speaking to say ‘this is not very believable.’ What I am saying is not based on beliefs; it is based on the Sruti, the testimony of Aptas (the Trustworthy), and my own direct experience.
As you rightly point out I don’t
care what you believe one way or the other. Your belief doesn’t
benefit you or me. I would, however, qualify this statement slightly.
If you were inclined to believe, pending the outcome of an investigation,
you might see…as I suggested before…that what is true for me could also
be true for you. Let’s not forget that you initiated this discussion
and you have a well known tendency to look for what you deem to be untruth.