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Is the Mind in the Heart?
Seeker: Hi, James. Is it true that Śaṅkaracharya introduced the concept of māyā into Advaita Vedānta?
James: No. It is there in the Upanishads.
Seeker: And he did so in order to explain the origin of the universe and the existence of duality in the phenomenal world without affecting the non-dual nature of brahman?
James: Yes. It is the only way to justify experience with the fact that reality is non-dual.
Seeker: Ramakrishna and Vivekananda were Neo-Advaitins?
James: Ramakrishna was an illiterate jnani who had no teaching, although he was taught who he was by a Vedantin, Tota Puri Baba. Vivekananda started “New Vedanta.” He introduced the multi-path confusion, etc.
You should read my article at the website, What is Advaita Vedanta?, because Vedanta is a pramana. A pramana operates in duality, so “Advaita Vedanta” is a misnomer.
Seeker: Yoga and Vedānta have their basis in Sāṃkhya philosophy?
James: No, they are based on the Upanishads.
Seeker: If so, when did they split, i.e. when did Yoga come to be associated with the “experiential” view of enlightenment?
James: Yoga didn’t “come to be associated with the experiential view of enlightenment.” It is the experiential view of enlightenment.
Seeker: And isn’t Sāṃkhya philosophy dualistic?
James: Yes. Vedanta, however, has no quarrel with relative knowledge if it is actually knowledge. So we borrow ideas from Yoga and Samkhya – and anywhere else that helps to explain the apparent reality. In my new book, in Chapter 6 I borrow Kahenmann’s research on the causal and subtle bodies, as it is based on science and shines light on these two important teachings. Other means of knowledge do not contradict Vedanta because Vedanta’s object of knowledge – consciousness – is beyond all other means of knowledge.
Seeker: The concepts of Īśvara and māyā are not both required in the context of Vedānta?
James: Yes, indeed. Otherwise, how are you going to explain the apparent contradiction between the non-dual nature of reality and the way we experience it, i.e. dualistically?
A “creating” concept is required for the full enfoldment of Vedāntic logic because the self/awareness by definition cannot create.
Seeker: Is the concept of māyā alone sufficient to support and maintain the internal logic of Vedānta? If not, what is the conceptual and logical purpose of the concept of Īśvara?
James: For all intents and purposes maya and Isvara are synonyms when viewed from samsara. But at a certain point in one’s understanding it is necessary to discriminate one from the other. Maya is insentient and Isvara is sentient, the one who operates maya. It is limitless awareness, paramatma, in the role of Creator.
Seeker: The root of the mind is the heart?
James: What “heart” do you mean? I think you are trying to fit Vedanta into what you already know, or fit what you already know into Vedanta. Use our terminology. The intellect and the mind are in the subtle body and the subtle body is in the causal body, and the causal body is in the Heart with a capital “H.” Heart means the self, limitless awareness. Heart means essence, that because of which a thing is not a thing.
Seeker: And so despite Westerners associating emotions with the heart in Vedānta, emotions are associated with mind?
James: The mind, i.e. emotions, is the heart with a small “h.” We don’t use the word “heart,” because of its association with emotions. You need to study the teachings on the subtle body more carefully.
~ Love, James