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Experience, With a Capital “E”
Mike: Thank you for being present for me, Sundari.
Sundari: You are most welcome, Mike.
Mike: I was just checking my emails after putting down Inquiry into Existence, to go have my breakfast, and saw your email. That clarification we talked about brings me to another point that I think needs clarification, something James says on page 4, that has really caused me trouble. I must tell you that I love reading that book and always find something to reflect on.
The statement at the bottom of page 4, “Experience is another name for consciousness,” just seems plain wrong to me. Am I being too arrogant here? I’ve really been struggling with that sentence. I can agree that consciousness with thought is experience and that consciousness does not require thought, and that thought requires consciousness, but not that experience is a name for consciousness. Page 11, where it says experience is thoughts illumined by (yourself), “consciousness” makes sense to me.
Rather than saying experience is consciousness plus a thought, which it says midway down page 10, I’d be more tempted to say experience is a thought plus consciousness, since experience and thought are both dependent factors, whereas consciousness is not.
That seems to reflect a subtle difference in the meaning, for me anyway. I must say that my comments are coming from one who would be reading this for the first time. I recall it being a source of trouble for me the first time I read it some many months ago, when I had not read the whole book nor The Crest Jewel of Discrimination nor the Mandukya Upanishad. Much further on in the book, for example, on page 181, verses 80 to 81, it says that scripture “clearly states that experience is consciousness experiencing itself,” but I don’t think that level of understanding was evident on page 4 of the book.
Sundari: As I mentioned last time, the Mandukya karika is an advanced text for advanced inquirers, not what we call “baby Vedantins.”