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A Critical View
Side-Effects of Pseudo-Advaita


Click here or here or here for links to other (but non-critical) Advaita or Non-Duality articles.


A Critical Commentary
on
Dr. Nitin Trasi's "Basic Tenets of Advaita" 

from
ADVAITA AND SCIENCE
A Unified Theory of Spirituality and Science

 
Dattatreya Temple
Varanasi, India

 The shifty foundation of pseudo advaita

An excerpt from Nitin Trasi's article:
"Advaita is the Hindu or Vedantic name for the doctrine of monism. Advaita can be literally translated as adualism or non-dualism, but is generally referred to as monism. It is not the same as monotheism, which is the belief that there is only one God, as contrasted with polytheism which believes in many gods. Advaita is not even the same as pan-theism, 'all things are God'. The basic principle of Advaita is that there ARE no 'things' - there is only God. In other words, all that exists, is God - 'things' are mere appearances.
  1. There is One basic underlying Reality or Source of the entire manifestation, which is variously called Brahman, Nirguna (attributeless) Brahman, Consciousness (Prajna) or just 'THAT' (Tat). 
  2. Unlike the common perception of God, in reality God is not a person - 'God' in Advaita refers to this same impersonal, indefinable force. This force cannot be accurately described in words, and so any description must be accepted with that caveat. 
  3. The Nirguna Brahman has not CREATED the manifestation of this phenomenal universe, it has BECOME the manifestation, and that too, ONLY IN APPEARANCE. In this becoming, the essential nature of Brahman remains unchanged, as Brahman is, by its very nature, changeless, this becoming is only an APPARENT becoming. The example given is that of a screen - Brahman - and the pictures projected on it - the manifestation.
  4. 'We', as the separate individual entities that we unquestioningly take ourselves to be, are also not different from Brahman or the Source. Our sense of being separate psychological entities each with our own separate individual consciousness, IS AN ILLUSION caused by our defective way of thinking. This delusory power of our thinking is termed maya.
We are not even a part of Brahman in the sense of being a small part of a bigger whole. We ARE Brahman by another name."
End of excerpt.

Critical commentary on the excerpt above:

Wim: If what Dr. Trasi writes has to do with “science and enlightenment”, I would expect a sharper scientific mind and more illumination.

If the articles on Dr. Nitsin Trasi’s website
were about something trivial
we could ignore them,
but he is talking about
Physicality, Reality, Existence, Soul, God, You, I
and that in a rather careless manner.

  
Given the subject, how can he be so be careless with his use of words and concepts. 

Trasi: 'We', as the separate individual entities that we unquestioningly take ourselves to be, are also not different from Brahman or the Source. Our sense of being separate psychological entities each with our own separate individual consciousness, IS AN ILLUSION caused by our defective way of thinking. This delusory power of our thinking is termed maya.

Wim: There definitely could be something 'strange' produced by a defect that our thinking may have picked up. But instead of investigating what the nature of the defect is, and what may have caused that defect, Dr. Trasi discusses what the alleged defect produces. He is then very messy in defining the results of the defect with a choice of seemingly similar words of which the meanings are very different indeed: 'illusion' and 'delusory'. The whole paragraph is actually very messy.

Trasi: 'We', as the separate individual entities that we unquestioningly take ourselves to be, are also not different from Brahman or the Source. Our sense of being separate psychological entities each with our own separate individual consciousness...

Wim: First he mentions: "separate individual entities." Then he uses the expression: "separate psychological entities." Well what is it? "Separate individual entities" may well refer to physical, unsplittable entities, indivisible ones, individuals, human bodies. The other expression "separate psychological entities" could refer to psychological personality-disorder concepts. A "separate psychological entity" is definitely not the same as a "separate individual entity" in the proper sense of the words. Psychologically an individual can definitely be split into different personalities but not into different individuals. We would lose our life if we were to split our individuality, would we not? 

Trasi: 'We', as the separate individual entities that we unquestioningly take ourselves to be, are also not different from Brahman or the Source. 

Wim: In this context, Brahman cannot be an individual entity, indivisible. If that were so, "the separate individual entities that we unquestioningly take ourselves to be," can not be "not different" from Brahman, even if we do exist in some psychological form of separation whether from defective thinking or not. If Brahman is "the Source" then that source like 'a river', may produce many different streams in its delta. It may all be water and one source, all under one name, e.g. the Indus River and its delta, but there is no doubt about the different geographic locations of the streams. 

Trasi: ... our own separate individual consciousness, IS AN ILLUSION caused by our defective way of thinking. This delusory power of our thinking is termed maya. 

Wim: Illusions are not delusory, illusions are not delusions. 

Now this difference in meaning between these words
would not matter too much if the topic were trivial.
But again we are talking here about
Reality, Existence, God, You, Me, I. 
We can hardly afford to be messy with the use of words.
- Illusion has an illuminating connotation. It is actually something positively energetic that our brain can do with light. Our thought formations absorb, reflect and/or project that light. Illumination can shed light. Even if it is illusive in the usual flawed sense of the word, it can still produce insight on and about "maya". Maya is that which is 'measurable' when, as, how, where and with what intensity we shed light upon it.
E=Maya= M.cc
This is science,
This is experience,
This MAKES sense.

- Delusion has a shady, de-luminating connotation. It takes light away, it leaves one in the dark. It creates separation, excommunication, we exclude deluded people, we shut them away and up. Delusion affects our brain's effectiveness and our thinking negatively.

Aha!!!!

It is the cause of defective thinking.
Delusion under-nourishes the brain, it creates unclarity, doubt, suffering, mental defects.
Trasi: ... an illusion caused by our defective way of thinking. This delusory power of our thinking is termed maya. 

Wim: Who or what causes Trasi's "defective way of thinking. This delusory power of our thinking..."?
How can that be maya?
Is maya not actually the result of defective thinking?!
How then can it be the cause of it?!
If it is not maya, who (not what!) is it then who causes delusion or illusion?
Could it be somebody real (now possibly forgotten or gone into hiding and scott-free) who at some point in one's life threatened to, for example, kick the living daylight out of you," if you did not succumb to his or her abuse and violating manipulations, even disabling you to blow the whistle on him or her?

Although illustrating this, what follows maybe a bit far-fetched, a bit heavy perhaps and I am tempted not to have it here, but OK:
Brahman (later deified) almost sacrificed his son Vishnu.
Abraham was urged to sacrifice his son Isaac.
My father at some point felt compelled to burn me.
One of my brothers almost suffocated me.
(It had to do with
the "Say uncle!" type of mercy)
And thus...eventually...
I also, at some point, was about to do to others
  what was at one point done to me
when I was in similar states of delusion
when nothing was real
when all appeared as though a dream
when nothing mattered
when matter... did not matter anymore!
Since then I worked hard to work this out personally. Also I wanted to understand psychopathic and sociopathic behavior as I had been so close to that myself, right up to something like Jesus' 40 day temptation in the desert.

Trasi: God is not a person - 'God' in Advaita refers to this same impersonal, indefinable force.

Wim: Could this actually mean that such a God is hiding behind "impersonality" so as not to be known as the 'killer' of the individual soul or the physical being?
Reminds me of Yahweh in Eden who was introducing death as punishment into Adam and Eve's life.

Trasi: God is not a person - 'God' in Advaita refers to this same impersonal, indefinable force. This force cannot be accurately described in words, and so any description must be accepted with that caveat. In fact 'we' are mere apparitions, illusions, which arise in the body-minds during the process of seeing.

Wim: This seems like what could go through the mind of a psychopathic killer who in his delusion  attempts to desensitize his guilt in order to justify his actions as not having physical consequences in reality.

Trasi: Now we can understand why the scriptures repeatedly state that the Reality cannot be known.

Wim: Could this also mean that some ancient writers did not want us to know the full extent of our realities, especially if they were troublesome? Perhaps some ancient writers were also filled with fear... the same fear that might befall us when we are being violated, threatened to be killed, or sentenced to be eternally doomed, etc! 
Is the 'god' in this version of Advaita, deflecting away from his own culpability by obliquely urging us to forget who the real violator really is.

Trasi: As there is no separate soul, there can be no question of either free will or of rebirth.

Wim: A psychopath or sociopath could think this as well to clear some kind of  perverted conscience. 
Why do certain Advaita philosophies attempt to deny physical existence, can you now see what might be behind all this?


Appendix:

"There were two "Reigns of Terror" if we would but remember it and consider it; the one wrought murder in hot passion, the other in heartless cold blood; the one lasted mere months, the other lasted a thousand years; the one inflicted death upon a thousand persons, the other upon a hundred millions; but our shudders are all for the "horrors" of the minor terror, the momentary terror, so to speak; whereas, what is the horror of swift death by the axe compared with lifelong death from hunger, cold insult, cruelty, and heartbreak? What is swift death by lightning compared with slow death by fire at the stake? A city cemetery could contain the coffins filled by the brief Terror which we have all been so diligently taught to shiver and mourn over; but all France could hardly contain the coffins filled by the older and real Terror--that unspeakably bitter and awful Terror which none of us has been taught to see in its vastness or pity as it deserves." ~ Mark Twain

Trasi:
God is not a person - 'God' in Advaita refers to this same impersonal, indefinable force. Wim: Could this actually mean that such a God is hiding behind "impersonality" so as not to be known as the 'killer' of the individual soul or the physical being?

February 24, 2000
~~~

Comment by Barry:
Seems you have been out on a limb with this one. Yet knowing you, that branch reaches in not out. Could say you are baiting us with this provocative critique, yet it is clear that you are putting out an issue that has depth and the issue profound.
I know you are OK with it because to go in to that depth all is well yet as we clear the air the deepest issues appear - like the Buddha after ending his stint with harsh meditation when abandoned by others he set course on his own, reportedly the demons he encountered were his desire to go back to the girls available to due to his royal status. Not a bad problem yet not easy to overcome. The stage was set with temptation at hand yet it had to be permitted without giving in to it. The middle way - let it be. In your case to get through all the obstacles and find each gate opened when alone you touch the face of God as if eye to eye you will utter - I know you - you’re the one that wants to snuff me out. Funny Right

29 March, 2010 

Comment by Barry:
You mention Reigns of Terror - my favorite is St. Bartholomew Day Massacre, when about 30,000 Protestants were invited to a wedding in Paris.
When things got out of control the Catholics killed at least 5,000: some say all were killed. To this day the a fresco depicts it in the Vatican.
Whose side is God on anyway? It does make you crazy. Anyone can take a stab at their rationalization of God, at best pointing the way works.
Your noted article mentions God is the one doing the thinking. Hmmm My Bible tells me much about those thoughts that God thought.
Does he really want to enlighten us with that pearl of wisdom? I learned to ask the big questions with the help of Karen Armstrong an ex-nun from London that was not able to achieve a personal relationship with Christ. She felt like an outsider and proceeded to leave as a confirmed atheist. Now she's a historian that writes about God and helped me ask Why would the ONE TRUE God be jealous of all the lesser gods. Gets you thinking and rationalizing.

My Catholic School group (Sacred Heart)was infiltrated by a handful of post-eighth-grade St. Sebastian School guys that were not afraid to say - If there is a God strike me down with lightening. Turns out their nuns were way too strict and it left a bad taste in their mouth.
Do not get me wrong my friends and I stepped a distance away yet our nuns taught us to open our circle to be inclusive so we all rubbed off on each other. Right now in US we live in a culture that fundamentalists are preaching about how Jesus is going to return with swords and an army and kill everyone they do not like with their help so I have to be careful how I put things. (They missed the part that the sword will be in Jesus’ mouth Rev 19:15) but you know how rationalizations go.

After a period as an atheist Karen Armstrong became a "freelance monotheist" It was with extensive study that she discovered God in her 'aha' moments - not unlike religions without a personal God, say like when Jews study the Torah. She would extrapolate her approach to brief moments of knowing this impersonal God to various religions and including Hinduism and Buddhism.

This whole personal God thing weaves its theme in all our philosophies. We pray to anyone that hears our voice; short of selling our soul (unless one is into that.) Of the many gods of antiquity one voice was heard to say, I am the only God.

These days we have Channelers that grab voices out of the ethers to proclaim alliances to the one true One. Who is to say which voice is the One, the jealous one, the angry one, the merciful one, the one saying kill your only child. It gets confusing.

Is God the one that thinks and everyone else is imitating that?
Mind-boggling.
We all have our higher selfs, our soul, our saints, our angels, our relatives, not to mention our demons, we tend to call all of that the true connectors of the divine (good or bad) and then there is the false gods which are everyone elses idea of what they call a god. And now we have individuals that say everything is false. That sure makes it simple.

29 March, 2010

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