From a discussion on-line on the concept of truth I thought worth sharing. Not as organized as an article. Edited slightly for context.
I’d suggest that expecting there to be one truth that is universally true is false. Reality is different in different stages of development.
Everything is material is quite true for some people. This is more honest than someone saying the world is an illusion philosophically when they experience it as real.
Absolute and Relative, 2 faces of one reality is another truth that arises when consciousness becomes conscious within.
One reality that shows many faces is another truth. And so on.
And there are many variations and different ways of framing even these few.
Statement: The idea of truth is that it is utterly reliable, always the same, incontrovertible. This is a definition used in Vedanta. If something changes, that is not the truth, even if temporarily stable. Under this definition what would be experienced in different stages of development would be untrue, or perhaps delusion, and not real…
Yes, philosophically, there is a goal to achieve an absolute truth. However, there is essentially no such thing as who we are is ever-evolving and our perspective can change, and thus the truth we recognize.
Vedanta is an excellent approach but I can honestly say it’s not the highest truth. For example, the Brahma Sutra of Vedanta is concerned with Brahman. Brahman is not the highest reality.
Is it then useful to say Vedanta is delusional? Or that it is a high truth of one stage?
Truth is all about perspective and is therefore inherently progressive. The idea that we can find the one perfect truth seems to be a delusion of the mind. There is one reality but many, many ways of knowing it.
We’re not built to know all of it simultaneously. Even a taste of such an experience can be difficult, as described in the Bhagavad Gita, chapter 11, when Krishna reveals his true form (of being thousands of beings at once).
Question: What is beyond Brahman?
Beyond Brahman is Parabrahman, also called pure Divinity and the source of the source. The 2 are quite distinct but difficult to describe as they’re not something nor have qualities like consciousness does.
Parabrahman is uncreated and unexpressed but the origin of all expression. Brahman has appeared to be the source, as did consciousness before that, but both have unresolved paradoxes that Parabrahman resolves. There is very little in the available literature about this.
Brahman has the sense of being the “eater” in that everything is progressively recognized to be That. ParaBrahman is the inverse and is recognized to be the power and motive of everything, including awakening. Thus it can also be called pure grace.
It is clear there is one reality because the deeper one goes, the more the branches merge into one wholeness. It also becomes clear that our prior stages were other perspectives of that one reality.
We could call the one reality “the truth” but because of the nature of our ability to know, the realization of that truth is progressive. That’s been the experience here.
Question: ...is Nirguna Brahman the same as ParaBrahman?
Nirguna and Saguna Brahman are ways of knowing Brahman. ParaBrahman is beyond this.
One way you can see this is as layers. Some talk of the koshas or sheathes – the physical, surrounded and penetrated by the energy body, then the mental body, then the intellect, then the bliss body. That’s as far as most go, from a perspective of the Self as Consciousness. Consciousness is the source and container of these sheathes. The bliss body is also where the seed/ space of our universe is.
But a late-Unity/ Brahman perspective sees 7 sheathes: the above, then the kosha of creation that arises in the space of consciousness and contains ours and other universes, and the sheath of Atman, consciousness itself. Before, consciousness was seen as infinite and eternal. But from Brahman, it has a source and there are greater and lesser infinities. Put another way, space is nested, infinities within infinities.
Nirguna (without qualities) we might call pure Brahman. Saguna (with qualities) is inclusive Brahman, Brahman and all that appears to arise within consciousness within Brahman.
ParaBrahman is a step beyond Brahman. This doesn’t make Brahman a sheath as it is unqualified. It’s more like ParaBrahman is a refined version of Brahman, Brahman with the lights on. But that’s not an entirely accurate statement either as ParaBrahman is more than everything and nothing both.
From my perspective, there is 2 parallel process in these stages. One is the unfolding of consciousness to itself. This evolves into Brahman. We can also call this the masculine or Shiva side of the process.
The other process is the feminine. This includes the refinement of perception, the awakening heart at several octaves, and integrating Shakti.
If just the first process is developing, you see Self Realization and potentially a movement into Unity and Brahman stages.
If you have the second also in play, you see Self Realization, God Consciousness, Unity, Refined Unity, God Realization, Brahman, refined Brahman, and ParaBrahman. (or a variation thereof)
I have seen examples that have moved through just the first process but are later coming back and having God Consciousness, etc after Brahman. But if there isn’t the refinement, those stages and truths are essentially invisible.
The light of consciousness is a basic example. For many, samadhi or transcending is a quiet but dark place. In time though, the lights can come on and consciousness is recognized to be alive and effulgent. Bliss also doesn’t tend to show up unless there’s some refinement.