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#2616 - Tuesday, October 17, 2006 - Editor: Jerry Katz

The metaphysical intuition
Seeing God with Open Eyes
Commentaries on the Bhagavad Gita

Swami Siddheswarananda
Translated by Andr
van den Brink

Included in this book, co-published with Arunachala Press, are notes on the Mandukya Upanishad of which an excerpt is reprinted below with permission of the publisher and exclusive to The Nondual Highlights:

The Mandukya Upanishad is the only Upanishad that is purely metaphysical. It teaches the Ajata Vada,

the way of the non-born, of noncausality. For that reason it is sometimes called Karika Vedanta -- this is

contrary to the classical Vedanta -- after the famous commentary (karika) on this Upanishad by

Gaudapada, the guru of the guru of Shankaracharya. Shankara himself has only commented upon the

Mandukya Upanishad and on the karika of Gaudapada.


In the metaphysics of Vedanta a distinction is made between (1) the reality (tattva), that which does not

change and which persists through all of our experiences, and (2) truth (mata), of which, according to the

the Vedanta, there may be any number. Swami Vivekananda explains this with the example of the sun.

Somebody is travelling towards the sun and at each stage he takes a picture. The images are all

different, but nobody will deny that they all show the same sun. The reality always stays the same,

whereas the truths, although all true at their own particular level, are relative. As such the other is as

much entitled to have a place for his standpoint as we do by occuying a place with our own standpoint.


The Mandukya Upanishad is a philosophy of the totality (sarvam) of existence, which is not the same as

the sum total of a number of separate entities or data added together. It seeks the knowledge (jnana) of

that totality, which endeavours to solve the greatest problem of philosophy, namely the contradiction

between life and death.


The reality is the totality of existence which is showing itself under two aspects: (a) the manifested

aspect (vyakta), and (b) the nonmanifested aspect (avyakta). The aim of the Mandukya Upanishad is to

prove that, irrespective of the level of existence at which one may find oneself, it is only the one reality

which is (sat). Nevertheless, from the standpoint of the practice of spirituality (sadhana), the waking

state is of superior value to us.




The dialectics of the Vedanta, such as used by Shankara, does not serve to establish non-dualism

(advaita) as a position. A dialectic which seeks to establish a position is, in fact, propaganda. We just

cannot establish non-dualism as a position within temporality, because within the relativity of the

temporal everything is constantly subject to change. If, by means of dialectics, you are establishing a

position, then such a position is destined to be refuted again in the course of time. The dialectics of the

Vedanta merely serves to destroy our ignorance (avidya) and negation (ajnana) regarding the non-dual

nature of the one reality.


So non-dualism is not a philosophical system, but a metaphysical intuition. Each explanation or

description of the reality is only voiced by the language of defeat, for here we stand before a wall... In

every explanation there is a deceiver and a deceived! Sri Ramakrishna used to say that only Brahman,

the absolute, cannot be sullied by the tongue.


Since advaita is not a thesis, it never takes up a position. As in Zen Buddhism, it expresses itself

through silence or through paradox. We are unable to establish a dialectics of the absolute. However,

through knowledge (jnana) we are able to realize the one reality as non-duality. In order to do so we

have to arouse within ourselves the power of the buddhi (the faculty of metaphysical discrimination) by

means of spiritual practices (sadhana). The realisation to be attained should (a) be free from

contradictions, (b) be self-evident, and (c) be universal, not being subject to the limitations of time and



As there is only one reality, it must to non-dual by nature, and in this non-duality absolutely no relations

are possible. That is why the Mandukya Upanishad speaks of Asparsha Yoga, the yoga of no-contact, of

no-relation. This is in contrast to our everyday life, which consists of relations and rapport only. The

problems in the life of an individual are always relational problems. It is only through relations and

rapport that we can have (relative) knowledge, normally speaking. Therefore you may keep this as

keystone for the study of the Mandukya Upanishad, that everything is relations, everything is rapport.


~ ~ ~


[An excerpt from a different section of this book will appear in this editor's next Highlights issue.]

The metaphysical intuition
Seeing God with Open Eyes
Commentaries on the Bhagavad Gita

Swami Siddheswarananda
Translated by Andr
van den Brink

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