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#2627 - Saturday, October 28, 2006 - Editor: Jerry Katz The Nondual Highlights

Process of Negation Brings Greater Understanding

by Jamuna Rangachari


As a young girl, I was greatly interested in puzzles. Working out solutions one after another kept
me engrossed for hours.

When the solution was found, it seemed simple and obvious but until such time, it was exceedingly
elusive. Indeed, all children and childlike adults experience the thrill that the process of
repeated negation brings.

Which is why, for us, a puzzle whose solution is found in a jiffy is a bit of a let-down. The
process of repeated negation has its uses in almost all areas of research and understanding.

All scientific research is undertaken in this manner and so is medical diagnosis. A research into
divinity too can best be undertaken through such a process.

Perhaps God has laid out a supreme puzzle for us, challenging us to decipher His nature, while
giving us many clues and hints through masters, books of revelation and most of all, through His
own manifestations.

Understanding through negation is the basis for the doctrine of neti, neti — not this, not this —
that sage Yajnavalkya uses in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad to describe Brahmn, the Absolute.

Some faiths believe that we are children of God, while others believe that we are part of divinity.
Within individual faiths, there are slightly different versions on the nature of divinity.

Shankaracharya's advaita philosophy is a monistic system of thought that expounds the unity of atma
and paramatma. Here, the individual, the atman and the whole are the same.

A slightly different view is that of the Visishtadvaita philosophy propounded by Ramanujacharya.
Here, the relationship of God to the soul and universe is like the relationship of the soul and
body. Hence, although they are linked, there is a distinction, too.

The Dwaita philosophy of Madhavacharya makes a clear distinction between God and His Creation. This
system avers that souls are not created by God but depend on Him to evolve.

In other words, God is the potter causing the clay to emerge, rather than being the source of the
clay itself. In Kashmir Shaivism and its branch of Tantric philosophy, Shiva is Universal
Consciousness from which we have all descended.

It is believed that we pass through several tattvas or stages of spiritual evolution. As long as
you reside in lower tattvas, you are the victim of sadness and sorrow, entangled in the wheel of
repeated births and deaths.

It is only by moving forward that you come closer to recognition of your oneness with Parama Shiva,
the Absolute. The many schools of thought may seem diverse at first, but all these different
philosophies and indeed all faiths, are essentially in agreement, if only we look closer, and apply
the principle of negation.

At the very basic level, one can eliminate any action influenced or driven by ego, anger, greed,
jea-lousy and all other human failings as separate from God.

At the next level, we can see that rituals, chants, visits to places of worship, and even
pilgrimages, while serving the purpose of bringing us closer to divinity, are not God itself.

Negations are common to all philosophies and faiths. The ultimate solution or revelation is, of
course, a very personal experience.

But then, the true joy of solving a puzzle or undertaking research to do so is the sharpening of
one's own knowledge and understanding. Unbridled by dogma or fanaticism, the journey towards self
or God-realisation, too, can be one such uplifting experience.

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