Advaita Vedanta - and some links with the Mahatmas re God
Aug 05, 2008 01:09 PM
by A M
In Advaita vedanta the personal God is considered ultimately as an
illusion, the result of the power of Maya covering the true nature of
Brahman (parabrahman). Isvara therefore is regarded as Brahman +
In a similar way the jiva, or individual soul, is ultimately an
illusion - the result of ignorance i.e., the identification of
consciousness with the body/mind resulting in the belief in a separate
self and hence the experience of duality. From the perspective of
duality 'I and thou' along with 'I and God' (Isvara or Brahman) are
experienced as separate / different. The individual jiva is regarded
as Atman + Avidya (ignorance).
"Brahman who is existence, consciousness and infinity is the Reality.
It's being, Iswara (the omniscient Lord of the world) and Jiva (the
individual soul) are (mere) superimpositions by the illusory adjuncts
(Maya and Avidya, respectively)."
(Panchadasi verse III:37)
In Advaita Vedanta devotion to a personal god is not necessarily
discouraged, and may even be encouraged depending on the level of
maturity of the devotee. (It may be the devotee's intuition of the
Self projected in the form of a personal God.) The aim here is to help
develop the devotional and aspirational nature of the devotee; for him
or her to become sensitive to a higher power or higher purpose in
life, develop ethical practice, control the lower nature, work for the
welfare of others and so on. Traditionally, in later stages the
devotee is helped to realise that God is not separate from the
universe, nor separate from the Self of the devotee. Then the devotee
discovers that God, world and jiva are nothing but the Self (Atman)
and that Atman and Brahman are One. Devotion to the higher power is
then realised as devotion to the Self which is the ALL. This is how
Krishna describes himself over and over again in Jnaneswhari. In the
Advaita system SIVA, which is pure consciousness, Knowledge (jnana),
is seen in the same light - the Self.
The following passages are from the teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi,
considered as a jnani and one of the greatest Advaitin sages since
Sankaracharya. I offer them as they may throw some light on the above
and also support the qoutes from the Mahatmas that Daniel gave in
relation to visions of God and thought forms.
"A vision of God is only a vision of the Self objectified as the God
of your particular faith. What you have to do is to know the Self."
"He that would abide in the Self should never swerve from his
one-pointed attention to the Self or the pure Being that He is. If he
slips or swerves away from that state, several kinds of vision
conjured up by the mind may be seen; but one should not be misled by
such visions – which may be of light or space – nor by the nada or
subtle sounds that may be heard, nor by the visions of a personified
God, seen either within oneself or outwardly, as if they had an
objective reality. One should not mistake any of these things for the
Reality. When the principle of intellection by which these visions and
so on are cognised or perceived is itself false or illusory, how can
the objects thus cognised, much less the visions perceived, be real?"
("Teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi in his own words" page 186.)
"That which really exists is only the Self. The world, jiva
(individual self) and Iswara (God) are mental creations, like the
appearance of silver in mother of pearl. All these appear at the same
time and disappear similarly. The Self alone is the world, the ego and
Iswara. . . . The Immanent Being is called Iswara. Immanence can only
be with maya. It (Iswara) is the Knowledge of Being along with maya.
>From the subtle conceit Hiranyagarbha rises; from Hiranyagarbha the
gross, concrete Virat rises. Chit-Atma is pure Being only."
("Gems from Bhagavan", page 8)
"Vision of Siva: Vision is always of an object. That implies the
existence of a subject. The value of the vision is the same as that of
the seer. The nature of the vision is on the same plane as that of the
seer. Appearance implies disappearance as well. Whatever appears must
also disappear. A vision can never be eternal. But Siva is eternal.
Viswarupa darshan (vision of the cosmic form) and Viswatma darhsan
(vision of the universal self) are the same. Such darshan is not by
eyesight or in any gross fashion. As there is only Being, without a
second, anything seen cannot be real. That is the truth."
("Gems from Bhagavan" page 31)
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