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Advaita Vedanta versus solipsism

Discussion in 'Hinduism DIR' started by atanu, Mar 6, 2021.

  1. atanu

    atanu Member
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    When an Advaita Vedantist says ‘aham brahmasmi’ (I am Brahman), it is either taken as solipsism or as a show of some 'specialness'.

    Solipsism is the philosophical idea that only one's mind is sure to exist. As an epistemological position, solipsism holds that knowledge of anything outside one's own mind is unsure; the external world and other minds cannot be known and might not exist outside the mind.

    Solipsism - Wikipedia

    It is essential to contrast the 'ego' mind versus the universal mind or consciousness in order to understand why "I am Brahman" does not mean that this body-mind self is Brahman or is God.

    As per Advaita Vedanta, all of us experience three existential states: waking, dreaming, deep sleep and three corresponding bodies. There is a physical flesh-bone-blood body (that we experience during waking when mind-senses operate). There is a mental body (that we experience during dreams when only the mind operates). There is the causal body (that we experience AS IF as non-existence in deep sleep when mind-senses do not operate). Connecting these three states is the Self-Brahman -- that is beyond time-place-objects and that constitutes the self of all of us. The Self is of the nature of existence-consciousness-bliss.

    In advaita, the consciousness that illumines and is common essence in the three states: waking, dreaming, and sleeping, has been named, for instruction purposes, as ‘shivam advaitam atman’. The mahavakya ‘aham brahmasmi’ pertains to the shivam advaitam atman and not to the I associated with waking, dreaming, or sleep states.

    The concept of the Self in Advaita could be mistakenly interpreted as solipsism. However, the transhuman, theological implications of the Self in Advaita protect it from true solipsism as found in the west. Similarly, text escapes charge of solipsism because the real "I" is thought to be nothing but the absolute whole looked at through a particular unique point of interest.

    Advaita is also thought to strongly diverge from solipsism in that, the former is a system of exploration of one's mind in order to finally understand the nature of the self and attain complete knowledge. The unity of existence is said to be directly experienced and understood at the end as a part of complete knowledge. On the other hand, solipsism posits the non-existence of the external world right at the beginning, and says that no further inquiry is possible.
    ...
     
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  2. Aupmanyav

    Aupmanyav Be your own guru

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    As you said self is the whole in Advaita, so understanding self is the ultimate. Nothing beyond that.
     
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  3. ajay0

    ajay0 Well-Known Member

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    Yes, in Advaita there is a distinction between the Self and mind.

    The Self, is synonymous with awareness or pure consciousness and said to be subtler than the mind. Enlightened masters are said to identify with the Self within or to be Self-realized.

    Western philosophy does not have an equivalent term for the Self in their terminology as of now.

    In fact the mind with its everchanging thoughts and emotions has been described as Maya in eastern philosophy, and no-mind or awareness emphasized instead.

    "The mind is maya. Reality lies beyond the mind. So long as the mind functions there is duality, maya, etc. Once it is transcended the Reality shines forth. Although it is said to shine forth Self-effulgence is the Self." - Ramana Maharshi
     
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  4. ameyAtmA

    ameyAtmA vAsudeva sarvaM iti
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    Namaste

    I wonder if , when communicating in English at least, the Soul with a capital S is a better term than the grossly misunderstood Self - where people conveniently, indifferently or unknowingly turn the S into s and equate it with the mind-ego-intellect.

    Dada BhagwAn's translations use Soul, and I have reflected on this recently.
    Shrila PabhupAd uses "spirit-soul" for jeevAtmA and Supersoul for paramAtmA

    There is an argument that "Soul" as opposed to "soul" is a loaded word, brings in Christian concepts which some say do not allude to AtmA - even to jeevAtmA, and does not see the connection between soul and Spirit

    However, leaving the dvaita-vishishTAdvaita-advaita spectrum aside for a moment...

    the simple sAnkhya of sifting out matter versus spirit -- subtler and subtler and subtler towards non-matter helps here.

    This is why Shri KRshNa says to Arjun in the Geeta : [para-phrased] : first see ALL within you, then within Me, VAsudev (where VAsudev is the omnipresent One)
     
    #4 ameyAtmA, Mar 16, 2021
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2021
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  5. SalixIncendium

    SalixIncendium Advaita Vedantin
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    Namaste ~

    I see use of the term "Soul" to be potentially just as problematic as "Self."

    I think most most not familiar with Advaita Vedanta, "Soul" implies a duality - an ethereal body separate from the gross body, but still containing mind/ego, as in the Christian concept of the soul. Also, "Soul" is a much subject to people unwittingly changing the "S" to an "s" as "Self." That and even non-Christians unfamiliar with Advaita Vedanta automatically think of the Christian concept of "soul," just as they do with the term "God."

    Unfortunately, just as with many Sanskrit words, "Atman" has no direct translation into English. When I am describing the concept to someone unfamiliar with it, I find myself having to elaborate on what I mean, regardless of what English term I use.
     
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  6. ameyAtmA

    ameyAtmA vAsudeva sarvaM iti
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    Very true -- that is why I cautioned that it is a loaded word -- but so it AtmA !

    AtmA is meant to shift gears as per context :blush:
     
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  7. Aupmanyav

    Aupmanyav Be your own guru

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    Atma does not have gears in Advaita. It is what it is, all the time.
     
  8. ameyAtmA

    ameyAtmA vAsudeva sarvaM iti
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    That is right, and I understand this thread is about advaita, but the post was speaking in another context -- of how the English words Self and Soul , especially Self, gets misunderstood, and replaced quickly by self with a small 's' and tied to mano-budhyahaMkAra-chitta - [of] which I am not (ni nA'ham....)

    Further, the word AtmA itself shifts focus as per context in general, now we are speaking outside the advaita context.

    Dehi of the Geeta, and the soul and AtmanA - individual,....

    AtmA = jeevAtmA, paramAtmA, simply the individual (self with a s) , even the gross body in many contexts.

    Then we have the doctrine of "traita" (three) - neither dvaita nor advaita which bases itself on the Purushottam Yog of the Bhagvad Geeta:

    According to this traiyta doctrine, BG 15
    1. kshara purush = jeeva
    2. akshar purush = AtmA (this is really muLa prakruti acc. to me, which is akshar avyaya)
    3. Uttam purush (Purushottam) = paramAtmA beyond & transcending the kshar and akshar purush.

    According to this frame the 2nd - akshar purush is localized prakruti pure= AtmA

    So it all depends on the context.
     
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  9. Aupmanyav

    Aupmanyav Be your own guru

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    Misogynist. Purusha, what about Stree? It depends on what one chooses to believe. IMHO, there is just one, Brahman - no kshara (nothing ever is lost), and there is no Uttam or Adhama purusha. You are welcome to believe what you will.
     
  10. ameyAtmA

    ameyAtmA vAsudeva sarvaM iti
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    Did I just hear @Aupmanyav call VedaVyas, Lord Krishna or the "GeetAkAr" a misogynist? And possibly some Rushis? Because what I wrote is straight from the Geeta, not mine, and the word purush is a spiritual-scientific term for "being", not "male" as opposed to prakruti. Prakruti is stree, but She is also Purusha , not to be mixed with material concepts of stree-purush (male-female).

    Bhagvad Geeta verse 15:16
    द्वौ, इमौ, पुरुषौ, लोके, क्षरः, च, अक्षरः, एव, च,
    क्षरः, सर्वाणि, भूतानि, कूटस्थः, अक्षरः, उच्यते।।16।।

    Bhagvad Geeta verse 15:17
    उत्तम: पुरुषस्‍त्- वन्य: परमात्मेत्- युदाहृत:।
    य- लोकत्रयमाव- िश्य बिभर्त्यव्- यय ईश्वर:॥

    ------

    Not only did he miss my point completely -- (the topic was how the word AtmA (which linguistically, is an ID, identifier, "myself") means different things in different contexts, frameworks - it is a linguistic topic, which I do not want to discuss with him any further),
    ,
    but as always, I also see an absence of distinction between:


    (i) FYI-info, neutral comparative data, sharing of multiple concepts, ideas & views - even directly from shAstra, (like an essay or white paper or reference material)
    &
    (ii) saying this is what I believe

    OR distinguish between
    (i) when someone is sharing multiple frameworks, darshans, perspectives as a neutral observer directly from works on the topic
    versus
    (ii) their personal beliefs - or whether they see the simultaneous possibilities or not

    ---------
    I don't think others need any explanation of what I wrote - and none of them will think I am calling this "traita" darshan as advaita or that it is my doctrine. I am only sharing it.

    They can also see clearly that it is only referring to the Gita 15.16-17 and where the third perspective comes from.

    For reference, the conversation between @SalixIncendium and me had turned to how soul has a context, then I said - so does AtmA!

    AtmA , linguistically means ID , "myself". The odometer pointer shifts along with where the consciousness of the being is at the moment of saying "myself" -- pranmay? manomay? vijnanmay? anandmay kosha? or even annamay kosha?
    Where does the consciousness lie when a person says "mama AtmanA" "me" "mAm" , and the context and purpose of that matters when understanding them.


    One should be able to stand aside, as a sAkshi, and handle multiple frameworks, darshan, perspectives and theories.

    All I was doing is sharing
    (1) the traita darshan as an example of a different context for the word AtmA
    and
    (2) directly sharing what is in the Gita shlok.
     
    #10 ameyAtmA, Mar 23, 2021
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2021
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  11. Aupmanyav

    Aupmanyav Be your own guru

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    How beautifully and clearly Lord Krishna explains it and what meaning the people who do not understand take it to be!

    "dvāv imau puruṣau loke, kṣaraś cākṣara eva ca;
    kṣaraḥ sarvāṇi bhūtāni, kūṭa-stho ’kṣara ucyate."


    There are two classes of beings, the fallible and the infallible. In the material world every living entity is fallible, and in reality every living entity is called infallible.

    Where are the three kind of 'atmas' that you take it to be? The Lord says that there is only one kind. In the material world it seems to diminish (kṣaraḥ), where as in reality, it cannot be diminished (akṣaraḥ). This is a clear endorsement of the Advaita position.

    Please remember that no 'spritual-world' is mentioned in the original. That is the doing of Hare-Krishna translators. 'kūṭa-stho' is better translated as 'deeper meaning' or 'in reality'.

    Let me be hanged if I say anything against Lord Krishna or Sage VedaVyasa. It is only that you are not understanding the verse correctly. Yeah, sure, I do not accept the whole of BhagawadGita. I believe that there have been interpolations in the last 2500 years.

    Consciousness lies in the brain. When the brain is dead, there is no consciousness. It dies with death.
     
    #11 Aupmanyav, Mar 24, 2021
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2021
  12. Satyagrahi

    Satyagrahi Truth is all
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    A satyagrahi is never fallible.
     
  13. ameyAtmA

    ameyAtmA vAsudeva sarvaM iti
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    How clearly you steered away from the fact that you called the author of Geeta a misogynist by equating purush = male!

    I have no problem seeing the simultaneous application of all levels - dvaita, traita, vishishTAdvaita, advaita... - kaleidoscopic, but others need not do so.

    Oh and once again, the mixing up of the messenger with the message, the inability to distinguish between
    sharing of information
    &
    discussion of personal understanding or beliefs
    &
    not being able to see that there are other perspectives at other levels

    The fact that at least one person gave an Informative frubal shows that most understand the difference.

    Incidentally, this is the person whom you said "lacks understanding of what Krishna said" :
    The one who introduced this Traita siddhAnta which I was merely sharing : Shri Acharya PrabodhAnanda Yogeshwar ji
    http://www.thraithashakam.org/publications/english/pdf/Thraitha-Theorom-Bhagavadgeetha.pdf
     
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  14. Aupmanyav

    Aupmanyav Be your own guru

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    I have my own understanding of things. I have no dispute with what Acharya Prabodhananda Yogeswarulu says. That is his view. :)
     
  15. sayak83

    sayak83 Well-Known Member
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    Atman = "That Me who really Is"
     
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  16. SalixIncendium

    SalixIncendium Advaita Vedantin
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    I probably should have said “single word translation.”
     
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  17. sayak83

    sayak83 Well-Known Member
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    I propose that the usual self be renamed as "selfie" and the actual atman be called "self". :)
     
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  18. ajay0

    ajay0 Well-Known Member

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    This is a good way of distinguishing between the ego and the Atman.

    The usual practice is to refer to them as the lower self and the higher Self. ( The letter 's' being in lower and upper case for the former and latter respectively)


    Other referential terms used are the false self and the true Self.
     
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