Q&A, Part 8

Q&A, Part 8

The conversation degraded into discounting. I thought it might wind down. But…

If comments puzzle, do search the terms here. You may also find it useful to read the conversation from the beginning as some themes have deeper explanations earlier. And note the Key Posts link on the right if you’re new here. You’ll find links to summary articles there that explain the context of many of the ideas. My usual articles include links to more also.

The start.   Q&A part 7

Yes, there can be a sense of being personally responsible for our experience of duality. But even that is not the right term. It is the experience of multiplicity. Duality or dwaita in the context of this forum is the experience of Self Realization – inner Self, outer world.

But our experience of the world is actually only an effect of our stage of development. While we could say we are personally responsible for learning to walk and talk, it is meaningless to expect this of a newborn. To blame ourselves for not experiencing oneness before this is our stage is to make the me illusion responsible for something it has no clue about.

Actually I explained the source of this experience prior. When we are identified with a me-sense, we see ourselves as distinct individuals, separate from all others and all things of the world. It is identification that causes this. And it is a natural stage of development. When we experience our deeper nature through samadhi, etc, the bounds of identification are lessened. We are responsible for adopting a practice and taking care of ourselves. We are responsible for our choices. But we are not responsible for our stage or biology. We are responsible for accepting what we have.

And yes, the mind creates an image and concepts about all these things. And these can be a barrier to being. But that is the nature of the mind. If we fight the mind, we just create another barrier. The idea is to recognize the mind does this and not take it so seriously.

There is no perfect right way for everyone to be. Each of us must find our own path and make our own choices. Seek what you resonate with, follow your bliss, etc. That is our responsibility.

(repeating myself a bit)
The experience of life as multiplicity (as most people experience it) or as duality (as in Self Realization or Cosmic Consciousness) is an effect of our stage of development. In the same way, a 2-year-old is dominated by perceived desires. This is not their responsibility, it is an effect of their development.

We can blame a 2-year-old for acting out, or we can learn to work with their reality and deflect it. An older person is more self-aware and can thus learn to make their own choices.

What you can do is learn the best approaches to support your current stage and what will lead you into the next stage. Thus, it is your responsibility to take care of yourself, to find suitable spiritual practices, to resolve your baggage, and so forth. This will encourage growth and the shifts into duality, then non-duality.

Some may continue to use “Self Realization” for the Unity stage as it is a continual unfoldment of Atman, the recognition that all is Atman. And that is the dawning of the Non-dual stage. But I find this misleading as the completion of the non-dual stage is transcending Atman. Thus it is no longer Self.

And yes, there are many teachers who say there are no stages but describe them themselves when they review their own process. Gangaji is a good example.

And yes, there is a kind of school we graduate from. Then after high school, University.
And high school has grades. You can call stages grades if you like.

Some teachers say there are no stages because they’ve not experienced any. In many cases, this is because they’re not awake or have had first awakening only. Thus, they see only one shift, not stages.

Occasionally, someone goes through all stages at once, one after the other, but this is very rare. Fastest I’ve seen is CC to Unity in 3 days.

Some teachers, such as those who claim lineage from Ramana, discourage talk of stages as concepts that are barriers to letting go of concepts. Thus, they don’t talk of stages even though they may have experienced them themselves.

I mentioned Gangaji as an example. In her interview on Buddha at the Gas Pump she describes her own journey of unfolding. She doesn’t talk of stages but if you’re familiar with them, she clearly stepped through them. The interviewer fully recognizes stages and brings it up with other interviewees when appropriate.

Other teachers like Adyashanti speak of stages but talk about them more broadly, as in “head, heart and gut”. His Journey after Awakening DVD with Loch Kelly goes into the awakening to Unity period in some detail. He’s supported hundreds through the process.

I fully appreciate the issues that concepts of stages present. They confused me when my unfolding did not match the model I then had. But after I moved past that point, it became very useful. The point of my going on about it, again, is so the basic ideas are out there. There are many people moving past initial awakening now that are struggling with that unexpected development because they were told they were done.

Asked to define words from Advaita:
These are not words I use generally. I mainly use Sanskrit for clarity. It’s much more specific on some topics.

Adhyaropa is basically the tendency of the mind to make mistaken attributions. It’s the basic issue with concepts. The mind likes to have an explanation for experiences. To leave something hanging is stressful so it tends to use past associations, even if erroneous. In fact, the brain is wired to compare incoming sensory data with past memories even before it’s conscious. This helps reaction time but can blind us to what is in front of us. In an Advaita context, this also relates to Maya.

Keep in mind however that Maya does NOT mean illusion. Its root is ‘to build’. It is only illusion when rajas guna is dominant in the experiencer. I spoke about this before.

ApavAda is when an Adhyaropa is replaced by a better idea. For example, in recognizing I am not an individual me but rather am boundless being. In some cases, the influence is a better teaching. In other cases, it is from the mind processing direct experience.

In more general use, it’s speaking ill of, refuting, or an exception. Depends on the context. (so yeah, not just advaita terms)

I think you probably mean vyavahAra. This is basically relative truth.
Paramartha refers to absolute truth or reality. Although the roots are worth noting. Param is ultimate. Artha is purpose, cause, or wealth. Used by itself, it often refers to one of the 4 goals of life – material wealth. So ultimate cause or wealth. It’s also notable the context in which wealth is placed in the culture.

I would caution you however about pursuing a study of Sanskrit terminology by itself. Collecting a bunch of words is just collecting concepts for the mind. As individual words, they just become adhyaropa. It is out of context of the culture, the word roots, and history.

And it is a maze of philosophies, so an easy place to get lost. Just think of the number of branches of the Christian church. Then multiply that several times.

Sanskrit is designed to be spoken. It is displayed as individual words only for western minds. It flows like consciousness. Vyasa wrote the Vedas down only to avoid their loss during the dark age. Better to learn the Sanskrit alphabet and word roots so you have a sense of what you’re reading. It is also representative of the root sounds of creation becoming so is much more potent than arguments about what someone meant 2,000 years ago.

A classic example is the Brahma Sutras, the core of Vedanta. Every translation I’m aware of today sees them as arguments for Oneness. And while it’s true Shankara’s commentary on the sutras is a series of arguments in favour of advaita philosophy over dwaita or other approaches, the sutras themselves are not arguments. They are a list of realizations of Unity. The recognitions of oneness. The aggregate of realizations of totality. This has nothing to do with the mind or philosophy. They are pointers for someone going through the process.

Shankara was arguing for the recognition of their validity. I am aware of one translation, done in the 60’s, that will blow everything else out of the water. I’ve just seen some quotes. But it remains unpublished. 3 years ago, a push to get it done was revived. Here’s hoping.

Questions from someone’s summary of a book that lists 3 kinds of Advaita:

Interesting breakdown but he’s mixing together different traditions. It would appear he equates Advaita with initial awakening, so his basic understanding is incorrect.

Yoga is a means to awakening. In Yoga there are various paths – Gyana (or jnana)(intellect), Karma (action), and Bhakti (devotion) for example. Different people are more suited to different paths. But these are not black and white. Most people blend them a little. And also we tend to have a different emphasis with each stage. More Bhakti in the Refined CC period for example simply due to the awakening divine heart. Intellect plays a key role in the Unity switch, etc.

Somewhat similarly, there are different doors into Advaita but it is not divided like that. It is the style of aha or recognition of oneness, like ‘I am That’ or ‘All this is That’. (the Mahavakyas)

By your comment, it sounds like he’s making up Advaita-speak for Yoga. The balance of gunas influence how we see the world per my previous comment. It does not influence our choice of path. Someone in deep tamas may find sitting in meditation difficult and thus would be recommended to do good works (action). This is not because he’s a karma yogi but because this is what he is capable of.

I can also note that “neo-advaita” is a term coined for his error which he doesn’t apparently recognize himself. It basically means fake advaita so it’s amusing he uses it for one of his branches.

Non-duality is one. How can there be branches? He doesn’t even appear to understand the concept, let alone the experience.

As a further comment, the mention of gyana yoga points to a useful detail in this discussion.

While another has objected, some here are on a path of understanding. In fact, this is a key aspect of the entire Advaita teaching. For others it is enough to point to the illusion of the mind and it’s stories and look through it. But for some, the mind is stronger and will let go only when it is satisfied. They progress through analysis of understanding. (in part at least)

For many people, the simple message of a Gangaji is a soothing breeze that allows a letting go. But for a Gyan, the generalizations are inherently unsatisfying and they seek more.

For obvious reasons its useful to recognize the tendency and not let it carry you away. But at the same time, if it is your path, it must be addressed.

Others may make remarks and disparage your mind but that won’t help your progress. As the path teaches, the mind too can a be a way to Union. It’s not however an easy path.

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