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#3132 - Thursday, April 10, 2008 - Editor: Jerry Katz
Nonduality Highlights - http://groups.yahoo.com/group/NDhighlights
In this issue are three responses to the question posed in issue 3130: http://nonduality.com/hl3130.htm.
Dennis Waite, Edward Plotkin, and Bob Knab are featured.
Dennis, author and noted authority on Advaita, reminds us that Nisargadatta had a formal connection with traditional Advaita, and reveals the Advaitic teaching bearing on the posed question.
Edward, an author and longtime presence in online nonduality, approaches the question by giving perspective on time, matter, and the body as illusions configured in consciousness.
Bob, in a short poem, addresses the question with a simple pointing to love, life, and reality.
We may publish further responses next week.
In response to the question in NDHighlights:
I am having difficulty with something that Nisargadatta Maharaj is quoted as saying:
"Once you know that the body alone
dies and not the continuity of memory and the sense of I am
reflected in it, you are afraid no longer."
Surely when the body dies there can be
no memory as there is no instrument to cognize with. The
brain holds the memory which is made up of mindstuff, and when that dies surely there can be no
persistence of memory?
Maybe the quote is a translation mistake?
Nisargadatta was part of a formal
sampradAya, which meant that he was essentially teaching
traditional advaita (although he became somewhat extreme, especially toward the end of his life!)
According to traditional advaita, the mind is NOT part of the gross body but an effectively
separable subtle body. This does not die when the physical body dies but transmigrates. Actions
in this life generate merit and demerit according to the motives of those actions. Every cause
must eventually have its effect. These stored causal elements DO survive death and are reborn
in a new body in order that the effects may ensue in due course. But the personal memory is not an
aspect of this and does not reincarnate. As the questioner notes, the memory dies with the brain.
Accordingly, Nisargadatta must have been
referring to the continuity of the jIva, with the saMskAra
held in the subtle body. As the responder in your post indicates, a skilled teacher will answer the
questions at the students level of, or readiness for, understanding. For some students, the concept
of reincarnation is one that 'strike a chord' and provide satisfactory answers 'for the time
being'. There comes a time, if the student continues to study, assimilate and validate the
teaching, when these explanations no longer satisfy and a different approach is needed. All study,
question and answer, experience, student and teacher and the world of objects are at the
'empirical' level of reality. 'Truth', in the absolute sense, is always only One - there is only
the non-dual brahman.
Dennis Waite http://www.advaita.org.uk/index.htm
you know that the body alone dies and not the continuity of
memory and the sense of I am reflected in it, you are afraid no
The fundamental nature of the universe is nondual.
Consciousness is arising as an aspect of the nondual universe.
Nonduality means One without another. Physicality or matter is an
aspect of consciousness, and does not exist without consciousness
to configure 'concreteness'. Physicality without conscious
perception could not have form, or size, or texture, or color, or
temperature, etc. Without consciousness how could that which is
deemed to be physical or material be assessed? Like the sound of
one hand clapping, matter without perception is beyond
Consciousness precedes matter. In 1927, Werner
Heisenberg, atomic physicist and author of the Uncertainty
Principle, found that if he attempted to measure an atomic
particle's position precisely, he could not determine the
particle's momentum. If he attempted to measure the particle's
momentum precisely, he found he could not precisely determine the
particle's position. The physicist's only means of seeing the
particle, bombarding it with a single unit of light, the photon,
changes the particles location. Unexpectedly, the momentum and
position of a particle, as well as the apparent physical
universe, are somehow tied to the observer! And the observer is
tied to the universe; the observer and universe being One.
Consider time. Physicists commonly refer to time as time/space, as time without space would be meaningless. The universe occupies space, from one end to the other. It is said that the universe is infinitely expanding. Without there being ends of the universe its distance cannot be determined. That which is beyond dimension is beyond time. On the other hand, if the universe is finite, and its dimension can be determined, then time must also be finite. That which is finite is unchanging. For a finite universe time would be static. The nature of time is nondual, arising in union with appearance and emptiness. Like the perceived roughness of the bark of a tree, time is a function of perception. Time has no side of its own apart from consciousness, and arises in union with appearance and emptiness. Another way of stating nondual nature is the union of appearance and emptiness.
The body is an appearance or illusion configured in consciousness. Consciousness is One with the ground of Being or universe. The illusion of separateness between varying apparent physical configurations of consciousness is a fundamental nature of nonduality. Nonduality cannot be parsed, or determined, and is beyond beginning and end. You and nonduality are One, now and forever.
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