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Is There a Difference between Uphadi and Vivarta Parinama?
Gregory: A question: When I read points eight to 10 on page 247 of Inquiry into Existence, do I fail to understand the difference between an upadhi and a vivarta parinama?
Sundari: An uphadi is a limiting adjunct, that which makes something look like something other than it is – like a magician’s trick of light. Maya is the uphadi for Isvara because it makes the unchanging look like it is changing. The five sheaths are the uphadi for jiva, which makes it look like it is real when it is only apparently so. The “why” for this, as you know, is that real is defined as “that which is always present and unchanging.” Therefore the Self is the only unchanging factor, whereas there are two types of changes (parinama) that take place – the first is when something changes state from one thing to another, such as when milk becomes cheese. This process cannot be reversed, and in mithya is permanent. Of course, in the bigger picture, nothing in mithya is permanent, because mithya is not real, but for the purpose of understanding how this reality functions, it is important to understand the difference between this change and vivarta parinama, apparent change.
The second change is an apparent change, where consciousness seems to appear as the material Creation, the world of name and form. But, as stated above, the material Creation is a projection, it is only apparently real. Consciousness, being non-dual and therefore incapable of change, never actually becomes the Creation, because if it did, its nature as consciousness would no longer be non-dual and there would thus be no way out of duality.
The difference between an uphadi and vivarta parinama is purely a technical issue, and not really important. Both teachings, or prakriyas, are an investigation of how reality functions for the purpose of negating it. They are designed to help you discriminate between satya and mithya.
What does it matter if they say the same thing, ultimately? Every single prakriya says the same thing – that when you use the logic of existence as unfolded by the teaching, you are left with consciousness as the only permanent factor.
It seems you have a tendency of getting hung up on technical issues like this. Remember what I told you in our last exchange – a line of inquiry is useful if it establishes you firmly as the Self and negates your sense of doership. While this type of question about the difference between teachings is interesting, does it really help you to do that? Only if you see that there is basically, only one teaching and all the teachings are different ways of saying the same thing.
Gregory: I see your compassion coming through, Sundari. Thanks. To answer your question, “While this type of question about the difference between teachings is interesting, does it really help you to do that?,” doing “that,” meaning establishing “myself” firmly as the Self and negating the sense of doership and seeing that there is only one teaching and all the teachings are different ways of saying the same thing, then yes, I think it does help.
In spite of your perception, I think I realize the teaching (one reason I’m not really interested in reading more books on Vedanta, going to James’ talks, learning the Sanskrit words and all their meanings, even studying the Bhagavad Gita with its major focus on karma yoga, etc.) but the realization is not manifesting as actualization because of the deeply rooted vasanas, and so I use these nit-picky questions as a practice, a practice of focusing attention on the teachings and stealing power from the vasanas. When I sit each morning “enjoying” my chi and looking out the window, the peace is broken by thoughts that arise that are reflections of the attention I place on moksa (I blame Isvara of course!). A question or doubt will arise, but then when I open one of James’ books or often any book and I so often see what appears almost as an answer or response to the question (this time I thank Isvara).
Sundari: You must do what works for you, Gregory. There is no one and only way to conduct Self-inquiry, except one must go through all the steps involved or the knowledge does not assimilate. And it’s assimilation that counts, not clever arguments.
Gregory: Sometimes in James’ books I see a question or what appears to be an inconsistency, and by my focusing on the nature of the doubt or confusion or interpretation I feel I’m placing my attention on the Self, and that brings joy. Does this make sense to you? How else do I make the knowledge firm, because that is what I feel is all I need to do?
Sundari: Yes, it makes complete sense and a sign of the knowledge at work. The critical factor is faith in the scripture and accepting that if something it teaches does not fit with your thinking, it’s your thinking that needs to change, not the scripture. There is no “grey” area when it comes to non-duality; it either is or it isn’t. Learning to discriminate between satya and mithya (non-duality and duality) 100% of the time is moksa.
~ Much love, Sundari