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CHAPTER III: THE MEANS OF SELF-KNOWLEDGE

Origin of Advaita Vedanta

The Self Is Not an Object, Everyone Knows Objects but No One Knows the Subject, Vedanta Is Not a Philosophy, It Is Not a Religion or a Spiritual Path, It Is Not Channeled Information, It Is Revealed Knowledge, It Is Knowledge of Everything, What Is Knowledge? How Does Vedanta Work? You Can’t Study Vedanta, Listening, Reflecting, Assimilation.

Moderator: milarepa

Origin of Advaita Vedanta

Postby JamesRam » Sun Jul 24, 2016 10:58 pm

In short:
How did Thomas Edison see the laws of electricity and how did Galileo discover the law of gravity?
It was revealed to them

The same is true for Vedanta. The knowledge of Ishvara was revealed to the Rishis

Vedanta is out of time. It is an eternal teaching. There is no beginning to it. It is ever-existent knowledge. But it was revealed through the upanishads, thousands of years before Christ

Long version:

Vedanta is Not a Philosophy

The first thing we need to know about Vedanta is that it is not a philosophy. Philosophies are the contentions or beliefs of an individual or groups of individuals. Marx and Engels came up with the now defunct philosophy called Communism, which was meant to correct the problems of capitalism. Existentialism was all the rage in Europe in the last century. Where is existentialism today? Philosophies don’t last because they are cooked up by people to serve the intellectual needs of the times. When times change…which they do…the philosophies are no longer relevant.

It is very important to appreciate the fact that Vedanta does not come from human beings. Human beings have limited understanding and on top of it they always have an agenda, usually to save or destroy the world in some way or the other. If it is not world domination or world saving, they seem to be perennially inclined to sell you something, convince you of something or to get you or your circumstances to change. They are not objective.

It is not a Religion or a Spiritual Path

Humans cook up philosophies and religions. Vedanta is not a religion either. It is not the result of the experiences of mystics. It accounts for mystic experiences but it is beyond mysticism. It is not a spiritual path. It is the knowledge behind all religions and spiritual paths.

Before we proceed, you should know that it is not necessary that you believe these statements. They are difficult to swallow because we have the vanity to suppose that because we see ourselves as ‘the roof and crown of things’ that everything meaningful comes from us. In any case its origins are reasonably unimportant because it does what it purports to do…it sets you free. If you properly expose your mind to Vedanta, you will see very clearly why we say that it is not a religion or a philosophy or a spiritual path invented by human beings. We say it is ‘apurusheyajnanam’ which means ‘not from a person.’

It is not Channelled Information

It is not channelled either. People, with all their biases, prejudices, beliefs and opinions are like old pipes; a lot of gunk accumulates in them. So when knowledge flows through them it inevitably gets polluted. We are the greatest polluters on earth. Yes, we have some knowledge, but knowledge and ignorance sit side by side in the human mind and unfortunately most of us do not know the difference.



We don’t want a means of knowledge that’s made up of ignorance and truth. How will we separate them? Undiscriminating people swallow one with the other. You will not get free this way. Read the books of almost any modern teacher. You may truth there...or some version of it...but the author’s beliefs and opinions are usually so tightly woven into and around it…like vines wrapped around a tree trunk…that you swallow both and end up confused. This is not the way to freedom. The words of prophets and mystics should always be suspect.



It is Revealed Knowledge



People experience truth. But it does not come from them. It comes to them from ‘outside.’ It is seen. It is heard. It comes from an objective source, from beyond us. Revelations have been an intimate part of human experience forever. Just as an objective body of scientific knowledge about objects has built up over the centuries, an objective body of knowledge of consciousness has developed too.



A good example of this kind of knowledge is Einstein’s ‘discovery’ of the law of relativity and gravity or Thomas Edison’s discovery of electricity. To discover means to uncover something that was present but previously unknown. Relativity, gravity and electricity describe how the world works according to the laws of physics, not according to Einstein or Edison. Gravity, relativity and electricity do not care if you believe in them. They operate the same way whether you understand what they are or not. Self knowledge is always here, right in front of our noses, but because we are blinded by duality, we do not see it.



It is very important that we trust knowledge, not people. People are not bad; they just tend to be ignorant, particularly on the topic of who they are. Ignorance is something that hides or veils knowledge and in the process allows wrong knowledge to happen in the form of projected beliefs and opinions, biases and prejudices. Because we don’t know who we are, we take what we think and feel to be the truth but personal truth is unreliable.



Humans have studied fire since the beginning of time. At some point it became clear that fire has a certain nature and behaves according to certain laws. Because of the knowledge of heat we can send rockets to Mars. Anyone who understands the knowledge and has the resources can send a rocket into space. There is nothing personal in it. In the same way, millions have had revelations of the non-dual nature of reality for thousands of years. The knowledge from these experiences has been extracted and put together in such a way that a science of consciousness…the self…developed.



One difference between Vedanta and modern material science is that one is focused on objects and the other is focused on the subject, consciousness. Additionally, knowledge gained by material science is constantly changing because the field of investigation is in a state of flux and the means of knowledge, the human mind, is conditioned by ignorance: the more we know about objects the more we don’t know. The knowledge that Vedanta brings, however, does not change because the self does not change. So self knowledge is always good. Another difference between Vedanta and material science is: the purpose of self knowledge is freedom from existential suffering whereas the goal of material science is purely knowledge of the material forces playing in the field of consciousness…and how to use those forces to obtain certain desirable objects. The gain of desirable objects, as we know, does not remove suffering. It is tantamount to suffering.



It is important to know, however, that Vedanta has no quarrel with material or psychological knowledge gained through impersonal means i.e. experimentation. In Chapter 6 I introduce knowledge of the Causal and Subtle bodies gained in the last fifty years, which, I believe, contributes to Vedanta as a means of self knowledge.



James Swartz (2014): The Essence of Enlightenment. Vedanta, The Science of Consciousness, chapter 3
JamesRam
 
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