Richard’s Selected Correspondence
On Advaita Vedanta / Non-Dualism
RESPONDENT: I am going to go back and read some of the commonly raised objections concerning this matter but anything you can offer would be appreciated.
RICHARD: Okay ... given that you agree the goal of the actualism method just seems contrived then here is a question for you: what is the difference between solipsism and nondualism (aka advaita)?
RESPONDENT: I am not familiar with advaita.
RICHARD: In which case ... essentially there is no difference between solipsism and nondualism as they are both totally, completely and utterly self-centred.
RESPONDENT: What does the question have to do with the actualism method being contrived?
RICHARD: It does not have anything to do with [quote] ‘the actualism method being contrived’ [endquote] ... it has to do with you agreeing that [quote] ‘the goal’ [endquote] of the actualism method just seems contrived. Vis.:
Put succinctly: as the goal of a nondualist (even for a dilettante) is not peace-on-earth then, of course, the goal of the actualism method must seem contrived.
RESPONDENT: [Richard]: What actualism – the wide and wondrous path to actual freedom – is on about is a ‘virtual freedom’ (which is not to be confused with cyber-space’s ‘virtual reality’) wherein the ‘good’ feelings – the affectionate and desirable emotions and passions (those that are loving and trusting) are minimised along with the ‘bad’ feelings – the hostile and invidious emotions and passions (those that are hateful and fearful) – so that one is free to feel good, feel happy and feel perfect for 99% of the time. I make this very clear in my writing: [snip]. What I am reading here is, ‘good feelings along with bad feelings are minimized so that one is free to feel good feelings and thereby make a PCE more likely. Could you clarify?
RICHARD: Sure ... the [quote] ‘good’ [endquote] feelings mentioned are the affectionate and desirable emotions and passions (those that are loving and trusting) and the [quote] ‘bad’ [endquote] feelings mentioned are the hostile and invidious emotions and passions (those that are hateful and fearful) whereas feeling good/ feeling happy/ feeling perfect are the felicitous and innocuous feelings (those that are delightful and harmonious).
RESPONDENT: So the meditation practices blow the affectionate and desirable emotions and passions up larger than life?
RICHARD: That is one way of putting it ... the spiritualisation process involved is essentially one of sublimation and transcendence.
RESPONDENT: What do they do with the felicitous ones?
RICHARD: As a generalisation: the felicitous (and innocuous) feelings are not experienced in their own right but are subsumed under the ‘good’ feelings ... felicity (and innocuity), rather than being the delightful experience of sensuosity and sensuality, then comes from feeling loving and compassionate (for instance).
RESPONDENT No. 28: Isn’t the mind noticing the absence of me, also me? Is there anything to the mind other than me? This isn’t a flip advaita-shuffle kinda question (...)
RICHARD: It looks more like a glib solipsism-serenade kinda question than anything else.
RESPONDENT: No. 28 says he regards mind and self as synonymous: ‘I tend to think the mind is me and v.v.’ In his terms, if the mind/self notices that something is absent, it stands to reason that the absent something cannot be mind/self ... it can only be one of the contents or faculties of mind/self. How is that related to solipsism?
RICHARD: If (note ‘if’) the mind is me and vice versa then the questions would look something like this:
RESPONDENT: Not to me. It looks like No. 28 wondering about the basis for treating mind and self as different/ separate things/ processes.
RICHARD: Sometimes things are not what they seem to be ... here is a question for you: what is the difference between solipsism and non-dualism (aka advaita)?
RESPONDENT: I have not had much cause to think about it but here is an off-the-cuff attempt:
Solipsism and nondualism are both based on the fact that our most immediate experience of the universe is our own consciousness of it. Solipsists conclude that we cannot know anything apart from that – or whether there is anything apart from that – presumably because it is impossible to extricate ourselves from it. Non-dualists take this basic experiential inseparability of world and consciousness and blow it up into a metaphysical truth, say that there actually is nothing apart from consciousness. I still do not see what this has to do with what No. 28 wrote.
RICHARD: My co-respondent has written something like 230+ e-mails to this mailing list since first subscribing in 2002 ... thus it has been made abundantly clear that they can not, or will not, distinguish the marked distinction between actualism and non-dualism. As for your off-the-cuff attempt: essentially there is no difference between solipsism and non-dualism ... they are both totally, completely and utterly self-centred.
P.S.: Many is the time I have had a fellow human being tell me that the physical world is an illusion: when I enquire as to why they are talking to one of their illusions – why they feel the necessity to inform one of their illusions that he is one of their illusions – the conversation generally goes rapidly downhill.
Over the years I have noticed that objectivity is an incredibly subjective thing for more than a few people and in the full-blown enlightened/ awakened state itself there is only pure subjectivity (aka solipsism/ non-dualism). Hence such terminology as ‘Consciousness Without An Object’ to describe enlightenment/awakenment.
Put succinctly: a fully enlightened being (as in fully-deluded) simply shuts up upon reaching that final state – absolute aloneness – as there is nothing/nobody else other than ‘me’ (usually capitalised as ‘Me’).
RESPONDENT: To thank you, I would like to give back something, a text elaborating on the universe observing itself through us.
RICHARD: You may find the following illuminative: [Co-Respondent]: ‘... I should like to ask you also something else. You said that through you the universe is experiencing its self’ ...
RESPONDENT: As I understood Advaita teachings, the ‘Self’ and the ‘Universe’ are identical; why should the ‘universe’ have a ‘self’ separate from itself? As you say in your reply: [Richard]: ‘I did nothing of the sort ... I specifically say *as* this flesh and blood body. Vis.: [Co-Respondent]: ‘We are the universe creating its own self and experiencing it’s self. [Richard]: ‘The planet earth not only grows vegetation it also grows people – and all other sentient beings – and, as such, the universe can experience itself as a sensate and reflective human being (just as it also experiences itself as a cat or a dog and so on)’. [endquote].
RICHARD: I was not referring to the ‘Self’ and the ‘Universe’ being identical as I had clearly said [quote] ‘itself’ [endquote] ... it was my co-respondent who evidently split that word, which I had used four times in the previous discussions, into two so as to make what I had said into meaning something they were partial to.
The word ‘itself’ is nothing other than a reflexive form of ‘it’ ... and there have been others trying to get similar mileage out of it too. Vis.:
RICHARD: ... [Richard]: ‘I did nothing of the sort ... I specifically say *as* this flesh and blood body. Vis.: [Co-Respondent]: ‘We are the universe creating its own self and experiencing it’s self. [Richard]: ‘The planet earth not only grows vegetation it also grows people – and all other sentient beings – and, as such, the universe can experience itself as a sensate and reflective human being (just as it also experiences itself as a cat or a dog and so on). [endquote] ...
RESPONDENT: This last part is almost a literal quote of Alan Watts – the universe as ‘peopling’, ‘treeing’ and so forth.
RICHARD: It has nothing to do with Mr. Alan Watts’ whimsical penchant for using verbs instead of nouns ... as the word ‘experience’ refers to a sentient creature participating personally in events or activities then the universe quite obviously does not experience itself as a tree.
RESPONDENT No. 54: I thought that the point of the riddle is to show that without sense organs there can be no sensual information arising.
RESPONDENT: Yes, I like the analogy that Da Free John used, of the popping of a balloon, where the air inside equalizes with all of space.
RICHARD: The Encyclopaedia Britannica reports of a similar metaphor from Mr. Gaudapada:
Interestingly enough Mr. Uppaluri Krishnamurti has this to say about Mr. Gaudapada:
RESPONDENT: In reality exist dualism, because reality is under thought’s government.
RICHARD: No, ‘reality’ is primarily an affective reality, and as the affections have polar opposites (the love/hate dichotomy for instance), any dualism which exists only exists because ‘reality’ is affective at root ... feeling-fed thought merely aids and abets by putting it all into word-pictures.
RESPONDENT: In actuality where everything is facts duality can not exist, because a fact has not opposite. Right?
RICHARD: Correct. A fact is neither right nor wrong ... a fact is so.
RESPONDENT: In actuality the bad is not opposite of the good, because what is, is.
RICHARD: There is neither ‘good’ nor ‘bad’ here in this actual world ... actuality is a sensate world, not an affective world.
RESPONDENT: That means if the one exist and is a fact the other does not exist.
RICHARD: If you are speaking of something like, for example, ‘it is raining’ then the opposite – ‘it is not raining’ – obviously does not exist.
RESPONDENT: The opposites exist in thought.
RICHARD: Only in feeling-fed thought (the affections imbue and colour the thought with its polar opposites).
RESPONDENT: In actuality if is dark, is dark, where is place for light. Dark is the absolute fact and the same is valid for light. When there is light, where is the dark, light is the absolute fact.
RICHARD: Yes, this is the equivalent to the ‘it is raining’/‘it is not raining’ example I provided (above) ... but that everyday type of phenomenon is not what is under scrutiny here ... we are talking of the real-world (the world of the human psyche) which is a feeling-reality.
RESPONDENT: So one immediate, sudden mutation must take place now to jump from reality to actuality. Is logical. I can see it around me. A child for example who crawls out of the blue walks. He can not crawls and walk in the same moment.
RICHARD: Again it is that reality ceases to exist, when identity becomes extinct, and actuality becomes apparent ... whereas in your example, even though the crawling has ceased and the walking is what is happening, the child which crawled is the child which walks (as in the child still exists).
RESPONDENT: Good friend No. 22 cites Vedanta to illustrate Maya but conveniently ignores Brahma – the reference point for Maya.
RICHARD: Could it be that he is speaking partly from the Buddhist standpoint where ‘Brahma’ has no reality? I have not been following your thread so I do not know what you have covered, but at a guess, in citing Vedanta he could be citing the latter development of the Hindu viewpoint (Advaita Vedanta, which matured long after Mr. Gotama the Sakyan, goes some way to accommodating Buddhism).
According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica the Buddhist’s ultimate reality, ‘The Deathless’ (accessible only at ‘Parinirvana’ for a person who has attained ‘Nirvana’), has nothing to do with time and space and form whatsoever, whereas ‘The Brahmin’, whilst not being a god as such (let alone a creator god), does have some relationship (which connection varies between different schools). Mr. Gotama the Sakyan declined to supply any answers for what created and/or creates and/or is a cause of this physical universe ... his equivalent of ‘The Absolute’ (‘The Deathless’) is something else entirely. Indeed, Mr. Gotama the Sakyan maintained that there were countless numbers of universes coming into being, countless numbers of universes existing for aeons, and countless numbers of universes going out of existence at any one time ... and discouraged speculation as to why because of the infinite regression of cause and effect. Mr. Gotama the Sakyan spoke instead of ‘dependent origination’, based upon multiple interrelated causes and effects contained within ‘samsara’ (the beginningless and endless round of birth and death), as being the cause of dukkha (along with ignorance and craving) and, by positing no discernable cause for the universe, insisted that there be no source for salvation (god or gods) other than the individual’s own application of the tenets he espoused. He expressly stated that he offered the solution for ‘dukkha’ only and had no interest in supplying useless solutions to cosmogonical questions ... he said that such questions were futile and would even hinder ‘Unbinding’ (release).
RESPONDENT: You are well versed in various philosophies and I am sending this message to you to help me understand if there is anything wrong with my reasoning, i.e., things cannot be recurrently illusionary and Brahma must exist – otherwise the whole idea of Maya is meaningless. If you find time – and inclination – to respond to this message, I will really appreciate your help.
RICHARD: I have no intention of becoming embroiled in an unresolvable metaphysical dispute ... there is an explicit divide between Buddhism and Hinduism that is unbridgeable. As you would be well aware, I find both systems to be predicated upon incorrect assumptions and to argue points of difference in the contingent chain of thought that follows is but a fruitless endeavour. I would, however, be interested in exploring why you say that ‘Brahma must exist’ in order to support the ‘whole idea of Maya’ (the word ‘Maya’ more properly translates as ‘apparent’, in its ‘seemingly so’ meaning, than ‘illusion’). I have no problem with the ‘reality’ of the ‘real world’, that 6.0 billion peoples are experiencing, as being only ‘seemingly so’ without having to posit a timeless and spaceless and formless absolute that ‘must exist’ in order to explain it away.
Is it because, if one says that all of time, all of space and all of form are relative, then any absolute posited must needs be not only ‘no time’, ‘no space’ and ‘no form’ (the unknown negative of the known positive) but also include or enclose all of time, all of space and all of form ‘within it’, so to speak, in order to be the ‘Absolute’ (thus more than a mere negative)? Therefore, starting from the known, through some sleight of hand (sleight of mind) the unknown assumes greater importance and, for some people at least, the known is diminished to the point of being seen as an illusion (a spurning not unlike the ‘biting the hand that feeds you’ exercise).
Is it that, if one can somehow comprehend how a negative can come to both include and surpass the positive that spawns it (perhaps with the logical copula breathlessly gripping the steering wheel) then one is a Hindu pundit!
RICHARD: According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica, Advaita, being the Sanskrit word for Non-dualism, was one of the most influential of the schools of Vedanta ... the then orthodox spiritual philosophy of India ... from about the seventh century on. (Non-Dualism, of course, being the school of spiritual thought that believes that there is only one kind of ultimate substance. It is the view that reality is one unitary organic whole with no independent parts ... a viewpoint or theory that reduces all phenomena to one principle). Advaita was built on the Mahayana Buddhist philosophy of Sunyata (‘Emptiness’) and maintains that there is no duality; the mind, awake or dreaming, moves through Maya (‘illusion’); and only non-duality (Advaita) is the final truth. This truth is concealed by the ignorance of the illusion of Maya. There is no becoming, either of a thing by itself or of a thing out of some other thing. There is ultimately no individual self or soul (jiva), only the atman (‘all-soul’), in which individuals may be temporarily delineated ... just as the space in a jar delineates a part of main space: when the jar is broken, the individual space becomes once more part of the main space.
Mr. Shankara does not start from the empirical world with logical analysis but, rather, directly from The Absolute (Brahman). If interpreted correctly, he argues, the Upanishads teach the nature of Brahman. In making this argument, he develops a complete epistemology to account for the human error in taking the phenomenal world for real. Fundamental for Mr. Shankara is the tenet that the Brahman is real and the world is unreal. (Nevertheless, the empirical world is not totally unreal, for it is a misapprehension of the real Brahman). Any change, duality or plurality is an illusion. The self is nothing but Brahman. Insight into this identity results in spiritual release. Brahman is outside time, space, and causality, which are simply forms of empirical experience. No distinction in Brahman or from Brahman is possible.
Mr. Shankara points to scriptural texts, either stating identity (‘Thou art that’) or denying difference (‘There is no duality here’), as declaring the true meaning of a Brahman as Nirguna (without qualities). Other texts that ascribe qualities (Saguna) to Brahman refer not to the true nature of Brahman but to its personality as Ishvara (God). Human perception of the unitary and infinite Brahman as the plural and infinite is due to human beings’ innate habit of adhyasa (superimposition), by which a thou is ascribed to the I (I am tired; I am happy; I am perceiving). The habit stems from human ignorance which can be avoided only by the realisation of the identity of Brahman.
Which brings us to your point about the Sanskrit word atman. Atman is one of the most basic concepts in Hindu spiritual philosophy, describing that eternal core of the personality that survives after death and that transmigrates to a new life or is released from the bonds of existence. Atman is that which makes the organs and faculties function and for which indeed they function; atman underlies all the activities of a person, as Brahman (The Absolute) underlies the workings of the universe; to know it brings bliss; it is part of the universal Brahman, with which it can commune or even fuse. So fundamental was the atman deemed to be that certain circles identified it with Brahman.
So, all this discussion now revolves around Brahman, the Absolute or Supreme Existence ... the font of all things. Brahman is the eternal, conscious, irreducible, infinite, omnipresent, spiritual source of the universe of finiteness and change. According to the non-dualist school of Advaita Vedanta, Brahman is categorically different from anything phenomenal, and human perceptions of differentiation are illusively projected on this reality ... whereas the Dvaita (Dualist) school refuses to accept the identity of Brahman and world, maintaining the ontological separateness of the supreme, which it also identifies with a personal god. (Of course, in early Hindu mythology, Brahman is personified as the creator god Brahma and placed in a triad of divine functions: Brahma the creator, Vishnu the preserver, and Shiva the destroyer.)
I suppose we ought to touch on Nirguna ... just to finish this off: it is to do with the question of whether the supreme being, Brahman, is to be characterised as Nirguna (without qualities) or as Saguna (possessing qualities). The Non-dualist school of Advaita Vedanta states that Brahman is beyond all polarity and therefore cannot be characterised in the normal terms of human discursive thought. This being the case, Brahman cannot possess qualities that distinguish it from all other magnitudes, as Brahman is not a magnitude but is all. The scriptural texts that ascribe qualities to Brahman, leading to the conception of a qualified Brahman (Saguna) are, according to the Advaita school, merely preparatory aids to meditation. The fundamental text of this tenet is the Upanishad definition of Brahman as neti-neti (‘not this! not that!’) Others, notably the theistic schools of Vedanta argue that God (Brahman) is possessed of all perfections and that the scriptural passages denying qualities deny only imperfect ones.
RESPONDENT: Wherever else I may diverge with AF, I am 100% with the non-spiritual plank.
RICHARD: Oh? How do you classify the following divergence, then? Vis.:
First and foremost, the ‘doer’ is not a ‘mere construct or concept, fabricated by several forms of conditioning’ that spiritualists and their ilk make it out to be as it is writ large all over The Actual Freedom Trust web site that conditioning is but the tip of the iceberg and that the rudimentary animal self the instinctual passions automatically form themselves into is the root cause of all the misery and mayhem ... which self is that which is realised upon self-realisation.
Second, words are not ‘merely concepts themselves’ ... they are referential (as in the words ‘computer monitor’, for example, referring to the actual glass and plastic object you are reading these words on).
Third, getting hung up on thinking words are more than merely concepts themselves is not ‘a common error in this list’ as words are certainly more than merely that ... indeed if it were not for the efficacy of words’ ability to convey information there would be no point in this mailing list existing.
Fourth, actualists are not ‘a jnana bunch’ ... actualism is experiential, not intellectual, and has nowt to do with reductionism whatsoever.
Fifth, ‘the ‘seeker’ is not the very thing interfering with the ‘sought’’ such as spiritualists maintain ... an actualist on the wide and wondrous path to an actual freedom from the human condition is a person no longer seeking – they experientially know where the already always existing peace-on-earth lies – and is actively involved in enabling that to be apparent.
Sixth, it is not just the ‘psychological’ which is attended to ... it is the focus on the psychical/ instinctual as well which sets actualism apart from the ‘Tried and True’.
Seventh, one does not ‘stumble into awareness’ ... it is with knowledge aforethought – from a pure consciousness experience (PCE) – that apperceptive awareness is facilitated (and ‘mental clap-trap’ by any description is not a feature of apperception as thought may or may not be operating).
Lastly, as it is made abundantly clear on The Actual Freedom Trust web site that a ‘self’ cannot eliminate itself, but can set a process in motion that will do the trick, your ‘yeah, right’ comment is misplaced to say the least.
It would appear that you have brought the self-same fish back with you that you departed this list with a while back ... which are those very-same fish you brought with you to this list the first time around.
RESPONDENT: Richard wrote: ... a whole bunch of stuff ...
RICHARD: I responded to 31 of your comments/ avowals/ assertions/ points/ issues/ topics from 8 of the 27 e-mails you had written to this mailing list since you re-subscribed.
RESPONDENT: Thanks for all the feedback. I will decline to respond in general as I know where you stand ...
RICHARD: I see that you say one thing to me and another thing to somebody else ... for example:
This is what the Encyclopaedia Britannica has to say:
‘Tis no wonder advaita has ‘the spiritual tag’ associated with it ... it *is* spiritual.
RESPONDENT: ... and you say you know where I do.
RICHARD: You must be referring to this:
Given that you have just recently written the following it does seem reasonable to assume that your parting comment when you unsubscribed from this list a while back, that some (then unspecified) spiritual-mystical writings sound the same to your ears as my writings do, still holds true:
You are not the first to attempt the impossible – to marry actualism and spiritualism – and you will not be the last.
RESPONDENT: You are entitled to whatever world/ universe view you prefer ...
RICHARD: Given all the recent discussion on this very topic – the likening of the direct experience of infinitude (such as in a PCE) to an intellectual cosmology – this is simply silliness in operation.
RESPONDENT: ... [You are entitled to] your own ‘facts’ ...
RICHARD: As this is but a variation on the hoary ‘you are entitled to your own truths’ I will pass without further comment.
RESPONDENT: ... and [you are entitled to] your own ‘common sense’.
RESPONDENT: Do you not see the twisty games you play with words?
RICHARD: I did not come down in the last shower ... as you had used the words [quote] ‘twisty word play’ [endquote] in reference to the actualism writings in an e-mail to another only 16 hours previously I specifically provided a copy-pasted quote from the Encyclopaedia Britannica so as to pre-empt more ill-founded comments of that ilk.
You are on a hiding to nowhere trying to maintain that advaita is non-spiritual.
RESPONDENT: If all you have is a spiritual brush, everything gets painted the same.
RICHARD: Well now ... you had better make your case to the editors of the Encyclopaedia Britannica as it was the copy-pasted quote from that publication which explicitly used the words ‘spiritual release’ in reference to the advaita insight into identity (that the self is nothing but that which is outside time, space, and causality). Vis.:
I will say it again for emphasis: you are on a hiding to nowhere trying to maintain that advaita is non-spiritual.
RESPONDENT: I don’t know what kind of permanent change was effected in you, but it’s nothing I want any part of.
RICHARD: I see ... you do not know what it is you are dismissing but you are dismissing it anyway.
RESPONDENT: Oh, and if you don’t like advaita ...
RICHARD: It is not a question of like or dislike ... I lived that/ was that, night and day for eleven years, and found it wanting: peace-on-earth is nowhere to be found in spiritual release.
RESPONDENT: [if you don’t like advaita], you should probably remove the link to the Atlanta Advaita Society from your site.
RICHARD: As it is not on my part of The Actual Freedom Trust web site – only the pages with my name in the URL are mine – any additions or removals are a matter for all the directors of The Actual Freedom Trust and not just me.
For your information: it is what is known as a reciprocal link and is provided in response to a written request from that society.
RESPONDENT: It’ll give you more room for something really important, like more of The Anti-Peace Hall of Fame.
RICHARD: Ha ... that section was created at the express suggestion of a spiritualist writing to this mailing list in October last year:
The naming of it came from a response to another spiritualist writing to this mailing list 20 days later:
RESPONDENT: If there is no identification with the body which is memory, would such questions arise?
RICHARD: No, such a question would not arise ... not when that identification has switched to identifying with the metaphysical ‘what is’. Because one then is that ‘timeless’ and ‘formless’ energy ... the energy that creates the ‘appearance’ of a universe of people, things and events. In truth – in that hallucination – there is only that. This is the central tenet of Advaita Vedanta – and of Buddhism in different words – and surely you and the man you quote so often have not fallen for that grandiose ‘Self is All’ (which is still self-centred) eastern mystical twaddle ... have you?
RICHARD: Is Advaita Vedanta really a ‘philosophical system’? It is a sect of Hinduism after all ... and Hinduism is a religion.
RESPONDENT: Advaita Vedanta as far as I know is a ‘philosophical system’ that could have been relevant to the times and conditions existing at that time. But to me a religion and philosophic system are two different things. They just happened to be linked by coincidence. As in India today, most people who ‘practice’ the ‘iconic’ Hindu religion have no knowledge about Advaita Vedanta. This is not a criticism. Having heard you say so much about Brahman etc, can I infer that you too are conditioned by Hindu/ Buddhist beliefs?
RICHARD: No, I am not at all conditioned by Hindu/ Buddhist beliefs ... I was living it for eleven years, but that all abruptly ended five years ago. I am inordinately pleased to be free of those insidious doctrinal truths that masquerade as actuality ... by both word and deed.
You say that ‘a religion and philosophic systems are two different things to me’ . I agree ... up to a point. But that is not what I was referring to. I was pointing to the fact that Advaita Vedanta is a spiritual philosophy – not a secular philosophy – and that it has its origins in the Hindu religion. Central to Advaita Vedanta is Brahman ... and Brahman has its historical beginnings in Brahma, the Hindu God of Creation. Mr. Shankara, inspired by Buddhism’s Sunyata – an attribute free void-that-is-full – accommodated Buddhist thought into Hinduism (Hinduism has been absorbing all religions into its fold since time immemorial)
Basically, Mr. Shankara pointed to scriptural texts, stating identity (‘Thou art That’) as declaring the true meaning of a Brahman as Nirguna (without qualities). Human perception of the unitary and infinite Brahman as being the plural and infinite is due to human beings’ innate habit of adhyasa (superimposition), by which a thou is ascribed to the I (I am tired; I am happy; I am perceiving). The habit stems from human ignorance which can be avoided only by the realisation of the identity of Brahman. Brahman is the Absolute or Supreme Existence ... the origin of all things. Brahman is the eternal, conscious, irreducible, infinite, omnipresent, spiritual source of the universe of finiteness and change. According to the non-dualist school of Advaita Vedanta, Brahman is categorically different from anything phenomenal, and human perceptions of differentiation are illusively projected on this reality
RESPONDENT: You ... infer a ‘religious belief system’ on my part.
RICHARD: Maybe I can draw your attention to a recent post yours: ‘For those of us interested in investigating Advaita Vedanta, (a philosophical system the quite closely parallels what Krishnamurti pointed to in his less formal manner), I’ve turned up the following very intriguing and carefully designed WWW site: www.cco.caltech.edu/~vidya/advaita/ Even yours truly, he of the rather obviously impaired scholarship, found it very informative’.
Is Advaita Vedanta really a ‘philosophical system’? It is a sect of Hinduism after all ... and Hinduism is a religion. If a case can be made that it is not a religion but a philosophy, then is it not a spiritual philosophy? For central to Advaita Vedanta is Brahman ... which is derived from a Hindu god, after all is said and done. You may recall me submitting the following:
RICHARD: As you link Advaita Vedanta to Mr. Jiddu Krishnamurti’s ‘Teachings’, could it be that what he called ‘that which is sacred, holy’, from whence the ‘Teachings’ came, is in fact, none other than the Hindu religious god Brahma ... now called Brahman to make it into a spiritual philosophy?
This is not a ‘scholarly debate’ ... I am very interested to hear your answer, as you said that:
I take particular note that you stress ‘I experience ... not with the picayune eye of a practiced philosopher’. If you do not experience what you call a philosophy with the petty and small-minded eye of a philosopher, then how do you experience it? As a reality in your daily life? After all, is not that what a philosophy is? A way of living?
I am, of course, ‘inferring’ that you are living this ‘philosophy’ that has an ancient Hindu god central to it. After all, you did say:
As ‘sensorium’ means the parts of the brain concerned with the reception and interpretation of sensory stimuli – or more broadly the entire sensory apparatus – then are you are proclaiming yourself to be a Hindu Pantheist? That is, ‘God is everything and everything is God? Advaita Vedanta is not pantheistic by a long shot, because Advaitists maintain that everyday reality is an illusion projected onto Brahman (Brahman is categorically different from anything phenomenal) and that, realising this, one knows that ‘I am That’ (of course, ‘That’ is none other than Brahman ... and thence Brahma. Therefore, this translates as: ‘I am God and God is Me’).
And if all the above is not enough, you did say:
A ‘deep, passionate seeing’? And ‘past the letter’ of Mr. Jiddu Krishnamurti’s words, Mr. Shankara’s words and Mr. Gotama the Sakyan’s words? You must mean one is to live what they talk about, surely ... or am I ‘inferring’ again?
RESPONDENT: Different texts provide different meanings and interpretations to [Purusha and Prakriti]. Some texts (e.g. Bhagavad-Gita Chapter 13 and 14) relate them to the ‘field’ and the ‘knower of the field’. Some other texts mentions Purusha as the ‘Holy Ghost’ and Prakriti as the eternal nature of God the Father. Purusha also is a name given to the ‘Shiva Linga’. The nature embodied in that symbol is ‘Prakriti’. And so on. So one needs to be careful in picking up references for the subjects discussed. In common parlance Purusha refers to Man while Prakriti means nature.
RICHARD: If I may point out? In the context of the post that I wrote, the word ‘Purusha’ had nothing to do with ‘common parlance’ as I was discussing ‘Gurus and God-Men’ and their sacred and holy antics. Vis.:
Why do you not consider that ‘consciousness’ and ‘nature’ are the most apt translations of ‘Purusha’ and ‘Prakriti’ in reference to the particular subject I was presenting? I ask because, while most modern languages are more or less ‘meaning-specific’ in that each word has one meaning – or two or more meanings dependent upon context – and while some of the words of the Indian Sub-Continent do have this meaning-specific quality, others do not. ‘Prakriti’, in Sanskrit, is a compound consisting of the prepositional prefix ‘pra’, meaning ‘forwards’ or ‘progression’ and ‘kriti’, a noun-form from the verbal root ‘kr’, ‘to make’ or ‘to do’. Therefore ‘prakriti’ means literally ‘production’ or ‘bringing forth’ or ‘originating’ and by an extension of meaning it also signifies the primordial or original state or condition or form of anything as being primary or original substance ... in a word: nature.
But let us, by all means, look into this further: I have read that ‘Prakriti’ is also to be considered with ‘vikriti’ ... ‘vikriti’ signifying change or an alteration of some kind or a production or evolution from the ‘prakriti’ which precedes it. Is it not in common usage that ‘prakriti’ may be called nature in general, as the ‘great producer’ of entities or things? And through this nature acts the ever-active ‘Brahma’ or ‘Purusha’? (‘Purusha’ also sometimes stands as an interchangeable term with ‘Brahma’, the ‘evolver’ or ‘creator’).
Now, ‘Purusha’ , in Sanskrit, is a word meaning ‘man’ as the ‘Ideal Man’ (like the Qabbalistic Adam Qadmon) the primordial entity of space containing with and in ‘prakriti’ (as nature) all the scales of manifested being. But more mystically ‘Purusha’ has significance in a number of different forms: in addition to meaning the ‘Heavenly Man’ or ‘Ideal Man’, it is frequently used for the spiritual person in each individual human being ... therefore it is a term for the spiritual self. Consequently, ‘Purusha’ is spirit and ‘prakriti’ is its productive veil or sheath. Essentially and fundamentally the two are one and whatever ‘prakriti’ – through and by the influence of ‘Purusha’ – produces is the multitudinous and multiform ‘vikritis’ which make the immense variety and diversity in the universe around. And in one or more of the Hindu philosophies ‘prakriti’ is the same as ‘sakti’, and therefore ‘prakriti’ and ‘sakti’ are virtually interchangeable with ‘maya’ or ‘maha-maya’ (‘appearance’ or ‘illusion’). ‘Prakriti’ is often spoken of as matter in very common usage but this is considered inexact as matter is rather the ‘productions’ or phases that ‘prakriti’ brings about: the ‘vikritis’. Furthermore, in the Sankhya philosophy, ‘pradhana’ is virtually identical with ‘prakriti’ and both are often used to signify the producing element from which (and out of) all illusory material manifestations or appearances are evolved.
Interestingly enough, the quality of not being meaning-specific is common in many ancient languages including Hebrew and Sanskrit ... and looking up the several meanings of a single word gives not only an understanding of the exoteric and esoteric meaning of phrases, but also some understanding of the cognitive and affective faculties of peoples some millenniums gone by. Those ‘Ancient Scriptures’ (Rig Veda I.164.20; Mundaka Upanishad I.III.1; Shvetashvatara Upanishad IV.6) clearly show that the ‘Gurus and God-Men’ of 3,000 to 5,000 years ago were the same as the current Gurus and God-Men in that they exhibited the same dichotomous qualities in their ‘Divine Nature’ as the ‘human nature’ they have transcended (because transcended does not mean extinguished). In other words, nothing has changed over the last 3,000 to 5,000 years ... yet they are either revered and worshipped or otherwise looked up to as the font of wisdom.
RESPONDENT: So I sought teachers, and I found teachers and followed them and found myself led toward the realm of the ASC – messianic immortality, God consciousness, Divine Love and so on. Not that I claim to have achieved these for more than occasional moments here and there, but that was my direction, this would be the final solution, I believed. This pursuit went on for 30 years. Then I came across your web site tangentially, in a funny way. I was linked to it through Satsang MLM, a site that made fun of the non-duality gurus. That site is no longer on the net and I miss it.
RICHARD: Curiously enough the authors of the ‘Satsang MLM’ website tried to make fun of an actual freedom from the human condition as well. Vis.:
I say ‘curiously enough’ as one of the authors of the now defunct website has met me on a number of occasions in the years gone by – once we discussed life, the universe, and what it is to be a human being living in the world as-it-is with people as-they-are, for several hours in the privacy of my own home – yet he still shows a remarkable lack of understanding as to what actualism is ... it is most certainly not a ‘non-spiritual spiritual path’ which is in the opposite direction to ‘all other non-spiritual spiritual paths’ as the very first words on The Actual Freedom Trust website make crystal-clear:
Also, I am none too sure how these (few) examples can be misconstrued:
Plus many more examples ... yet there was more misconstruing on the website whilst it was on-line:
Apart from the laboured exposition of their ‘Non-Spiritual Spirituality’ theory it is pertinent to point out that in order to be satirical satire has to be able to accurately hit its mark and expose absurdity ... as an actual freedom from the human condition is entirely new to human experience – it had no existence prior to spiritual enlightenment – the words ‘and become actual once again’ are a dead giveaway that the authors are only making mockery of something they have invented.
Or, if I may mix metaphors, they are but tilting at straw-men.
RESPONDENT: I’ve corresponded with No 36 of EndOfTheRopeRanch@yahoo.com, a group I connected to through the Actual Freedom mailing list, and she gave the old ego-parasite some shattering kicks in the butt.
RICHARD: You must be referring to the following mailing list:
If the words ‘Realization of Transcendent Understanding, Nonduality, Enlightenment’ do not signify the spiritual solution to all the ills of humankind for you then the words on the associated web page may very well drive the point home:
Maybe this is an apt moment to re-visit your earlier words (from the top of this page)? Vis.:
It is easy to make fun of the nonduality peoples ... offering a viable alternative in its place is another matter entirely.
RESPONDENT: So, I’m just letting you know that I’m with you, and reading you all the time and finding Actual Freedom the solution in which my past pursuits are dissolving.
RICHARD: Okay ... instead of having Love/ God/ Truth/ IT give you some ‘shattering kicks in the butt’ may I suggest adopting the benevolent, and thus beneficial, approach? Vis.:
RICHARD: ... in order to be satirical satire has to be able to accurately hit its mark and expose absurdity.
RESPONDENT: Yes, I’m corrected there. I often wondered why the author(s) of Satsang MLM expended so much energy to put down the Advaita teachers and what they would offer instead.
RICHARD: Presumably they would offer a direct relationship with Mr. Mohan ‘Rajneesh’ Jain (aka ‘Osho’) instead ... one of the authors wrote to Peter a few years ago:
The reason for the ‘Satsang MLM’ (Multi-Level Marketing) website was, basically, that the authors objected to the advaita/ nonduality peoples associating themselves/ their truth with Mr. Mohan ‘Rajneesh’ Jain/ his truth ... and thus raking in lots of loot by tapping into the lucrative ‘Sannyasins’/ ‘Friends Of Osho’ market.
Initially they published their objections in a short-lived printed magazine – called ‘Byron Satsang’ – before creating their website. Vis.:
RESPONDENT: I was reading many of the Advaita web sites at the same time. I did enjoy a laugh at their expense though and I’ll admit that laughing at the expense of others may come from malevolence. I knew the site poked at you, I didn’t understand what they were getting at. I thought that I might if I kept reading, then the site disappeared.
RICHARD: I have no idea as to why actualism featured on their website at all ... it has nothing to do with Mr. Mohan ‘Rajneesh’ Jain whatsoever (let alone ‘guru-circuit’ marketing).
RESPONDENT: My intro to you through them was something like, ‘this is the funniest site on the web if you’ve got a couple of days to read it’. I went to your site and wondered what was supposed to be funny ...
RICHARD: It says a lot about the human condition that peace-on-earth should be deemed a matter of derision.
RESPONDENT: ... and how anyone could read it in two days. It has taken me months and I still have miles to go.
RESPONDENT: I guess I must separate the teaching from the teacher ...
RICHARD: If I may interject? I do not either have a ‘teaching’ nor am I a ‘teacher’ ... what I do is offer a do-it-yourself method with a proven track-record, plus an unambiguous report of my experience, clear descriptions of life here in this actual world, lucid explanations of how and why, and clarifications of misunderstandings.
For an example: I always make it clear that I am a fellow human being (albeit sans identity/ affections in toto) providing a report of what I have discovered and not some latter-day ‘teacher’ (aka sage or seer, god-man or guru, master or messiah, saviour or saint, and so on) with yet another bodiless ‘teaching’.
What another does with the method, my report, my descriptions, my explanations, and my clarifications is their business, of course, yet it goes almost without saying, surely, that if what is on offer on The Actual Freedom Trust web site is indeed read as being yet another unliveable ‘teaching’ from yet another bodiless ‘teacher’ then that person will be but pissing into the wind each and every time they write to me.
RESPONDENT: ... just like your oft criticized punching bag, Jiddu Krishnamurti, said to his followers after screwing his best friends wife.
RICHARD: So, just because you experienced your worthless opinion being knocked down a peg or two by a worthless opinion, or your neither-correct-nor-incorrect statement being knocked down a peg or two by a neither-correct-nor-incorrect statement, or your preposterous statement being knocked down a peg or two by a preposterous statement, and despite not putting yourself on a plane with me nor putting me above or below you or another, still experienced being knocked down a peg or two by a person you do not put yourself on a plane with nor put above or below you or another, you somehow manage to liken me to a bodiless ‘teacher’ notorious for distancing themselves from their unliveable ‘teaching’ wherever and whenever the tyre met the road, eh?
O what a tangled web they weave when first they practise to deceive.
RESPONDENT: And thus does all the games and gamesmanship of the supposedly Enlightened or those in a ‘state vastly superior to Enlightenment’ amongst us mere mortals, continue unabated.
RICHARD: Ha ... you will find this to be of interest then:
When I typed ‘I am mortal’ into my search engine and sent it through all my correspondence it returned 71 hits ... which can only mean we are on the same plane after all and that I am, in fact, a fellow human being (albeit sans identity/ affections in toto) providing a report of what I have discovered and not some latter-day ‘teacher’ (aka sage or seer, god-man or guru, master or messiah, saviour or saint, and so on) with yet another bodiless ‘teaching’.
RESPONDENT: ... I am sure it will look good as an exclamation point in your journal of respondents where, strangely enough, Richard must always come out smelling like a rose.
RICHARD: If looking pathetic (which is what an Advaita Shuffle is) is what passes for looking good, in your neck of the woods, then what does Richard smelling like a rose pass for looking like, in your eyes?
RESPONDENT: Is that a type of dance, that Advaita Shuffle? Like the fox trot or tango?
RICHARD: No ... it is this type of ‘shuffle’:
It is a phrase which describes a particular discussional gambit (as in ‘there is no one here to either answer or not-answer your question’) which Mr. Andrew Cohen first drew attention to in 1992 when referring to Neo-Advaitists in general and Ms. Antoinette Varner in particular often resorting to a ‘who is asking the question’ type of fall-back position whenever their non-dual teaching was questioned in a way too close for comfort (that is, with sensible queries from everyday life). Vis.:
RESPONDENT: I’ll assume the second part of that was a facetious question.
RICHARD: No, I was not being facetious: when I say I am mortal, that death is the end, finish, I mean it; when I say I am a fellow human being (albeit sans identity/ affections in toto) I mean it; when I say I am not yet another bodiless teacher with yet another unliveable teaching, I mean it; but when you gratuitously inform another, upon be queried about your modus vivendi being correct and Richard and others on this mailing list being on the wrong track, that not only do you not put yourself on a plane with me you neither put me above nor below you *or another* yet almost in the next breath, as it were, put me as follows it is patently obvious you do not mean it at all. Vis.:
Hence my comment regarding another neither-this-nor-that-or-either discussional gambit biting the dust (falling flat on its face) because it is a fact we are on the same plane ... yet you take this as me, strangely enough, having to always come out smelling like a rose because you are sure it will look good in the archives.
Whereas my interest lies only in my fellow human being, in this specific instance, becoming freed from a rhetorical device – a ducking-the-question discussional gambit – which has the effect that [quote] ‘all desire and possibility for investigation, learning and change are destroyed’ [endquote].
RESPONDENT: Richard; I am not a solipsist, certainly not as defined, and I did not understand No. 60’s statement with which I agreed in that way. I would respond by saying that I do not treat my fellow human beings as ‘metaphysical entities’, but you have defined the term in such a way that I am not able. The body/ brain has no ‘independent existence’ as I understand the term; i.e., this body/ brain’s existence is dependent on a set of conditions without which this body/ brain would not exist, simple things like air and water, the earth with gravity, etc. I can say that I treat my fellow human beings as ... well, as human beings. Whether you chose to continue corresponding with me is your choice.
RICHARD: Having read through your (dualistic) words above I can only suggest that, as a starter, you try reading the parenthesised words at the end of the second sentence of my response with both eyes open. By doing so your replies would stand a good chance of bearing at least some relationship (possibly for the first time since subscribing) to what you are responding to. Incidentally, I did not define the terms ... ‘twas your co-respondent who did that (in e-mail after e-mail).
P.S.: As you have now declared yourself to be a non-solipsistic non-dualist, on top of recently declaring yourself to be a non-spiritual non-dualist, then here is a useful word-of-the-day: • ‘wankasaurus (slang): ... a wanker who is worse than most wankers’. (Macquarie Dictionary). And just so there is no misconstrual: •‘wank’: to maintain an illusion: deceive oneself; behaviour which is self-indulgent ...’. (Macquarie Dictionary).
RESPONDENT: There is not much I have to offer, expect for one minor note. You wrote, ‘As I have no interest whatsoever in corresponding with a fellow human being who treats me as a metaphysical entity (as in having no independent existence) then that is the end of any further discussion.’ I took the words in parenthesis as your definition of ‘metaphysical entity’, as you offered no attribution.
RICHARD: I see ... yet those parenthesised words, of course, referred back to the parenthesised description, of what the term ‘independent existence’ meant, at the end of the second sentence (in that all one can know is one’s experience of everything/ everybody).
The attribution ‘metaphysical’ came from your co-respondent assigning that classification to anything other than an experiential report ... despite the fact that everything I do have to report can be, and has been, validated (corroborated) by peoples from many and varied walks of life in numerous pure consciousness experiences (PCE’s).
There is no way I would have gone public with my experience had I been not able to first verify, over several years of discussions prior to then (1997), the commonality of pure consciousness experiencing.
To not put too fine a point on it: as ‘boneheaded absolutism’ exists only in your co-respondent’s imagination you were sucked-in by a seemingly persuasive argument.
RESPONDENT: Err... I hope you’ve got a day or 10 free because Richard is revving up, and pretty soon he’s gonna force feed your words ‘do no harm’ SLOWLY, one by one, back down your throat. Don’t say I didn’t warn you :-)
RICHARD: Ha ... so you are not just a pretty face after all, eh?
It is one thing to intellectually endorse a solipsistic point and quite another thing to really be solipsistic ... especially as an on-going experiencing.
I can clearly recall a period in 1984, whilst living in the Himalayas and plumbing the depths and extremities of spiritual enlightenment/ mystical awakenment, of being in what I then described (having never heard of the word) as a state of extreme subjectivity.
It was a truly alarming experience (the affective faculty was, of course, still in situ at the time) to have no possible objective corroboration of whatever/ whoever is being sensed, felt out, and/or thought about as to ask another for such corroboration is an exercise in futility ... inasmuch there is no other (in the solipsistic state one is creating everyone and everything hence any ‘corroboration’ is also one’s creation).
Even the clichéd ‘please pinch me I must be dreaming’ is to no avail as nothing and nobody have any independent existence.
I have lost count of just how many wannabe mystics – non-dual dilettantes – have sat on my verandah or in my living room solemnly confiding in me, whilst waving a hand airily all about to include everything and everybody, that ‘this is all an illusion’ ... only to then look at me with rapidly-increasing incredulity when I ask them, in (pseudo) matched solemnity, why they are informing one of their illusions that he is that (one of their illusions).
I have even asked that of one of my fellow human beings by e-mail (archived in Mailing List ‘B’).
Apart from all that ... as much of the material on the web-site clearly shows that Richard is relentless, when it comes to exposing the human condition, a co-respondent would have to be an arrant fool to consider they can try out smart-aleckry on me, and get away with it, when the evidence of so many e-mails in the archives demonstrates that any such attempt has invariably resulted in them coming off a pathetic second-best (if that).
The Third Alternative
(Peace On Earth In This Life Time As This Flesh And Blood Body)
Here is an actual freedom from the Human Condition, surpassing Spiritual Enlightenment and any other Altered State Of Consciousness, and challenging all philosophy, psychiatry, metaphysics (including quantum physics with its mystic cosmogony), anthropology, sociology ... and any religion along with its paranormal theology. Discarding all of the beliefs that have held humankind in thralldom for aeons, the way has now been discovered that cuts through the ‘Tried and True’ and enables anyone to be, for the first time, a fully free and autonomous individual living in utter peace and tranquillity, beholden to no-one.