Steady Wisdom: Day 89

Steady Wisdom: 108 Verses On Changing My Thinking

DAY 89

My belief in duality has ceased.  Of what value is a mind free from thought and desire? Of what use are the scriptures or self-knowledge?
-Ashtavakra Samhita 20:2

I have seen through the illusion of duality and what is illusory can have no real value.  Further, value itself has no basis when nothing exists outside of myself for me to value.

Yes, a mind free of thought and desire was necessary for me to be able to properly approach the scriptures.  And the scriptures were an invaluable sign that pointed to the truth of my nature.  But now that they have helped me realize I am non-dual consciousness-existence, what purpose can they serve?  Now that I’ve found the “object” of my inquiry (myself), I no longer need the “finger” (scriptures) that pointed to it.  Nor do I need a mind free of thought and desire because the direct realization of my true nature has shown me that I am naturally free of both.  OM.

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Steady Wisdom: Day 82

Steady Wisdom: 108 Verses On Changing My Thinking

DAY 82

The body comes and goes. Since I am the self that neither comes nor goes, there is no reason to mourn. 
-Ashtavakra Samhita 15:9

The fact that I can say, “The body comes, goes and changes” proves that I, the witness of the body, do not come, go or change.  I must exist prior to the thought, “Here is the body” because if I came into existence along with the thought of the body I would be unaware of the thought’s previous non-existence owing to the fact that I too would have been previously non-existent (and therefore not present to recognize the arising of the thought of the body).  By the same logic, I must exist after any particular thought of the body otherwise I would disappear along with the thought (and therefore not be present to recognize the disappearance of that particular thought of the body). 

Nor do I change when the body changes, such as when the body changes from childhood to adulthood.  Because if I were identical with the changing body, then when the childhood body changed into the adult body (and thus no longer existed) I too would no longer exist.  And a non-existence entity would not be present and able to say, “Now here is my adult body.”

So unlike the body, I do not come, go or change.  I am ever-present and immutable.  OM. 

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Belief in God

Don:  Hi Vishnu, I read your articles regarding God and atheism in Vedanta with interest.  I read in one of your posts that Isvara, (the apparent, manifest brahman) is a matter of speculation.  Now I’m assuming by this you mean Isvara as some kind of personalized deity?  I may be wrong here, but I always thought that the Vedantic interpretation of Isvara meant the bundle of laws that govern the apparent manifestation (of the universe), not a being as such.  Isn’t it the case that Vedanta IS essentially atheistic anyway in the ‘anthropomorphic man in the sky’ sense?

I think the assertion of Isvara as the manifest order is self-evident. We can be fairly confident that the laws which govern the apparent universe serve to benefit the Whole and keep things ticking over in an orderly fashion, just as karma yoga suggests, not least because we can see for ourselves that the universe has been around for 13.8 billion years or so, so it clearly operates in a self-regulating manner which ultimately serves to support the Whole.

Furthermore, the related concept of karma seems reasonable since if we accept the non-dual nature of existence, then whatever you (the apparent you) do to someone or something else, you are essentially doing to yourself, and so at some point the results of that will be experienced.

Swami Dayananda talks about the implicit order we can observe in everything, which is supported by science. So we can observe a psychological order, a physical order etc.  And this collective bundle of order is essentially what we mean by Isvara

Any thoughts you have on this are appreciated!

Vishnu: My thought on the matter is this:  I respect your viewpoint even if I don’t agree because I think people are free to believe whatever they want regarding the workings of Isvara, God or the any other aspect of the apparent reality (especially considering that’s what they do anyway).  So if you believe that Isvara is a self-evident truth, good.  I have no reason to try to convince you otherwise.  I write my articles with the idea that people can take or leave whatever they wish.  I’m no ultimate authority on matters of belief because belief is purely a personal decision. 

I hope that helps. 

Otherwise, all of the answers to your questions are contained in the satsangs “Who Knows?” “A Progressive Vedanta” and “Drop the Boat.”  If you agree with what I say, that’s fine. If not, that’s also fine.  Your peace of mind is the point, not conformity to a certain viewpoint, mine or anyone else’s. 

Now I have a question:  Is what I’m saying about Isvara causing you some kind of doubt?  Is it affecting your self-inquiry?  If so, what is that doubt? Please let me know.

Don: I did like your “Drop the Boat” post. It reminded me of an article from a Zen guy, can’t remember who now, but he came to the same conclusion as you, that the last thing he had to let go of was Zen itself! As it was such a beautiful teaching he didn’t want to let go of it, but ultimately, as you found, he realized he had to “drop the boat” so that he could get on and enjoy his life. And of course the teaching wasn’t going anywhere so he could still love it—He just wasn’t attached to it. 

Vishnu: That perfectly summarizes what I said! 

Don: I think what’s been fueling my original inquiry (rehashed here) is a latent attachment to the concept of god. Upon analyzing this, I think it stems from the concern that the world will be less wonderful or awe-inspiring without.  In others words, I’m worried that dropping (belief in) god would lessen my enjoyment of life.

V:  In a way I think it can, especially if someone has a generally positive notion of God.  In that case, as you said, it may take a bit of awe out of their life.  Luckily for those kinds of people, Vedanta never really asks anyone to give up their belief in God.  They’re only asked to analyze their belief that they’re fundamentally different from God, whether their idea of God is the stereotypical Man In The Sky or the Collective Bundle Of Order (Isvara) that’s beloved by intellectual leaning Vedantins.   

In the relative world, if the Man In The Sky exists, he depends on existence itself to exist.  If a Collective Bundle Of Order exists, it depends on existence itself to exist.  If an individual person exists, they depend on existence itself to exist.  As existence itself (brahman), all three are fundamentally the same.  Recognizing that you are brahman and everything you experience is brahman is the point of Vedanta, not getting rid of belief in God.  For those who don’t see any reason to give up their belief in God, consider this verse by Shankara: 

“Even when I am no longer duality’s slave, O Lord, the truth is that I am yours and you are not mine.  The waves may belong to the ocean but the ocean never belongs to the waves.”

– Six Verses to Vishnu V. 3

Shankara recognizes that as pure existence (brahman), he is non-different from the MITS/CBOO.  He has non-dual vision.  And yet, because the illusion of the world remains, he acknowledges that on the illusory level the difference between the individual person and the totality of the cosmos still obtains. While Shankara fully understands that he’s reality itself, on the level of the apparent individual he still stands in awe of the wonderful and mysterious total.  To use a metaphor, a wave (the individual person) is never the ocean (MITS/CBOO) but despite that, both are the same as water (brahman). 

Now, I’m not saying what you should or should not believe regarding God.  Rather, I’m trying to demonstrate that Vedanta has different options for different people.  In other words, this is not a black-and-white one-size-fits all situation.  People are free to view the workings of the apparent reality (which includes God) in whatever way makes the most sense to them.  After all, the apparent reality is an illusion—How could we come to a definite conclusion about something that isn’t real in the first place? 

Don: However, upon further reflection I don’t think that (dropping belief in god) lessens enjoyment of life because the replacement knowledge is even more amazing. What could be more awesome, amazing and beautiful than the knowledge that everything is me?  While also being clear that I’m free of it (the apparent world), it’s the very thing that allows me to be free to enjoy it.

Vishnu:  Exactly!  Understand that you’re brahman.  Think of God in whatever way seems most reasonable to you.  And most importantly, be happy.  If your current belief in God makes you happy, keep it.  If not, drop it and find something that does.      

All my best – Vishnudeva

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Steady Wisdom: Day 67

Steady Wisdom: 108 Verses On Changing My Thinking

DAY 67

I’m not affected by good or bad karma, bondage or liberation.  My nature is ever-free; there is no maya for me. 
-Avadhuta Gita 4:6

Maya makes the impossible possible:  it makes me, the ever-free self, appear to be the body-mind.  When I take this appearance at face value, I believe I am subject to good and bad karma, bondage and liberation.  But when I recognize maya as the illusion it is, I understand that I never have and never will be affected by good or bad karma.  I see clearly that I cannot attain liberation because I was never bound.  OM. 

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Steady Wisdom: Day 64

Steady Wisdom: 108 Verses On Changing My Thinking

DAY 64

The mind’s discriminating cognition, “I am the knower alone, never an object of knowledge, pure, eternally liberated” belongs to the intellect.  It is a transitory object known to me. 
-Upadesha Sahasri 12:14 (Metrical)

Self-ignorance, in the form of a thought such as the firm conviction “I am the body-mind” is an object known to me.  Self-knowledge, in the form of a thought such as the firm conviction, “I am the self” is also an object known to me.  Since it is clear that both self-ignorance and self-knowledge are objects known to me, I realize that I wasn’t deluded in the first place.  Nor am I now an enlightened.  I am, and always have been, the eternally liberated self (not that I was ever bound).  OM. 

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