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Thread: seeing vs. truth

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    seeing vs. truth

    hari o
    ~~~~~~

    namasté

    This post is about asaṃbhāvanā śaṇkā vāda
    • asaṃbhāvanā - not possible ; impossibility of comprehending
    • śaṇkā - doubt ( some say fear); yet the word's definition is also captured by apprehension , alarm , distrust , suspicion
    • vāda - explainiation, discussion.
    Hence asaṃbhāvanā śaṇkā vāda is one's doubt or suspicion of the possibility of comprehending/believing the discussion on a particular matter. It is usually aimed at what the śāstra's tell us about reality (satyaṁ) vs. what is otherwise held as a belief ( perhaps coming from sight, sound, personal experience and the like).

    Perhaps we could boil these words down to seeing vs. truth , as it captures the theme of this post. Let me explain and see if some wish to participate in the conversation...

    Some say...
    Knowledge and information we gain when we listen to another that is remote and not in one's confidence is considered meager or not robustly accepted. If another has 'credentials' and speaks we are more acceptable of the information. Yet if the person is held in confidence that information received is more acceptable.

    If we see something for ourselves we have a direct experience and that trumps all hearing and discussions from others, we say ' I saw it myself and it must be true'. Some even say seeing trumps scriptural knowledge. 'Seeing' is a function of the eye ( and the mind). The eye is an expression of form ( rūpa) and that is ruled/governed by light, owned by the tattva of tejas and associated with the Sun ( sūrya).

    We come to the adage 'seeing is believing' , not hearing is believing or touching, but seeing via the organ of sight , cakṣu ( the eye).

    Now enter the perception of the body and jīva . For this conversation jīva is the principle of life, vital breath, the living or personal soul.
    A person observes others and his own body and says ' how can one see this jīva as separate from the body ? ' . I do not 'see' this jīva , yet only hear of it from others. When one dies the body dies and so must this jīva as nothing more is seen from this body as emerging.

    As one gets older this life force also wanes and loses its vitality, hence it too must be controlled by time and it marches ( like the body) to its death - this is what I 'see' says the the one that is critical. Some may call the critical person a skeptic , an atheist or perhaps a mleccha¹ which I believe is a mis-match of definition.

    The topic at hand
    What ever be the topic , inference standing alone is contradicted by direct perception & personal experience of sight. Hence the conversation at hand and the subject of this post.

    One who is āstika¹ has a different view and uses inferences, similes' and metaphors to bring out the truth of an event or concept. The person would say, look at a cow. It eats grass and water yet produces milk. How can this be? Substances when combined are able to produce different results. Take two sticks , fire exits in them but cannot be seen - all that is needed is to rub them together. Take the seed, sūkra¹, from where all we have come. From within this seed there are arms , legs , consciousness, mind. It then becomes the body and a being of action, he would say.

    The nāstika¹ says once you are dead, the body is gone and so is this jīva, exhausted never to return. The āstika says the acts that are performed today must in fact come to fruition - in this body or a future one. Hence acts ( karma) are seeds that are placed in the soil of life. Desire & longing is the water and fertilizer that make this seed sprout. Some of the seeds sprout in this life, some need a future life ( rebirth ) to fulfill their quest. He the āstika suggests a chain of existences are at hand with a common thread at its base, the Self.

    The nāstika says how can this be? Where is the continuity in remembering one life to the next? What satisfaction can there be for the person of noble action, of spiritual intent to be 'rewarded' in a future life and not know the audit trail on how this occurred? From where can one say I experience sorrows in this life, but do not know from where it comes... I see no present action that I have executed that suggests wrong doing, yet I feel the sky is falling on me. Mere ignorance and karma seems not to explain rebirth sufficiently as to suggest a common thread of a person/being/entity that goes from life to life, says the nāstika.

    The Pickle this presents
    How then can one explain the Supreme ( anuttara) to the nāstika ? How can one even pursue ātma-vāda ( knowledge of the SELF)
    if anchored in the nāstika outlook?
    Why would one even care to throw off the 5 āsrava (ā-srava or absence of purity ; distress , affliction , pain ):
    • mithyātva - blemished outlook ; not in reality , thing are only apparently so
    • avirati - limited to no self-control some call incontinence , intemperance
    • pramāda - negligence , carelessness about one's duty or dharma
    • kaṣāya - has many definitons, yet here I am calling out excessive attachment to worldly objects
    • yoga - mixing of various materials; , mixture of actions that take place from the body, mind and speech
    Hence asaṃbhāvanā śaṇkā vāda arises and takes root.

    What are the tools that are available to explain reality sufficiently ? Is it possible or is this asaṁjña ( without rationality, senseless, fruitless in endeavor) ?

    praṇam

    words
    • nāstika is 'unbelieving, atheistic, or unfaithful' = 'an unbeliever' or atheist. It is made of na+ astika or it is not so.
    • āstika is believing, pious, or faithful. This comes from asti , 'there is or exists'
    • mleccha - any person who does not speak Sanskrit and does not conform to the usual Hindu institutions
    • sūkra - semen virile , seed of animals (male and female)
    Last edited by yajvan; 18 June 2010 at 07:48 PM.
    यतस्त्वं शिवसमोऽसि
    yatastvaṁ śivasamo'si
    because you are identical with śiva

    _

  2. #2
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    Re: seeing vs. truth

    I read this through 10 times. and each time there was much to understand.

    But, I feel it is very true.

    Often, trying to explain a certain belief to a nonbeliever is like trying to teach a person blind from birth, what the color orange looks like.

    Sometimes not seeing makes the truth a lot more sound.

    For example. I do not see golden light when I pray, in my mind I felt it was there. But had no proof. For years I do this, no one knew...and I kept it up because even if I couldn't see it, if there was even a tiny chance it could help, I took that chance.

    Years later I sit and watch my Mother confirm my own secret on her death bed.

    Now, I can not see this light, even to this day. Eyes are faulty things and I doubt we are meant to see these things anyway. Or even understand them.

    But this is where the true foundation of belief dwells.

    For if these eyes can not see this thing which now is confirmed. What else can I not see or comprehend? The reality sets in, that reality is also subjective. It is then that I have put the first rung on a ladder of belief.

    Because of certain things, this ladder has many footholds now. But, unfortunately the ladder only supports those who have come on this journey with me...my family. But, even they must come to their own reckoning of such things. My experience will only help them, it can not cure all doubt.

    For even the Truth, filtered through these imperfect vessels...can become subjective.

    With such things, I remember what EM said about his children. I also feel that only God and his Divine helpers can direct a soul to awareness of things.

    Nothing I could say to an outsider would make someone who has not experienced what I have, believe.

    There would always be that seed of doubt, which I can well remember...from before I became touched.

  3. #3
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    Re: seeing vs. truth

    Namasté Yajvan
    Thought provoking post and a tricky question. What exactly is it that triggers that change from nāstika to āstika and how could one explain the outlook of the āstika to the nāstika?

    I found it refreshing that your description of both nāstika and āstika neither rests on faith or belief in God but rather in perception and observation of the natural world. Your example of rubbing two sticks together which makes fire, when seen objectively appears to have no logic, yet it is true and logical when seen with knowledge and perception.

    So it is knowledge through education and experience which acts as the hammer which cracks the nāstika's nut and alows them to see further than their own nāstika outlook? It would seem so.

    Yet the scriptures reminds us that it is through grace alone that one makes progress. e.g. "He whom this (Self) chooses, by him He can be obtained" (Mun.U.3.2.3 and Ka.U 2.22 - quotes still to be verified)

    Education requires action. So perhaps the answer is in and through action. Action which leads to āstika outlook is not limited by having to require knew knowledge, once learnt certain actions can be repeated and improved. A salient example is devotion and worship. Krishna teaches us in the Bhagavad Gita 10.10:

    To them, the constantly steadfast,
    Worshipping Me with affection,
    I bestow the buddhi-yoga
    By which they shall come unto Me. (10)

    I also felt that you used a keyword in the question which will help us to unravel the answer, highlighted in bold below:

    How can one even pursue ātma-vāda ( knowledge of the SELF)
    if anchored in the nāstika outlook?
    The person who's outlook is nāstika could be said to be anchored or bound fast by something which is stopping that progress or hindering the insight required to know the supreme - ātma-vāda ( knowledge of the SELF). It is not from lack of ability or lack of knowledge but rather from being bound or anchored to the qualities of āsrava.

    Is then the first step to see how one is being affected by the anchors i.e. "the 5 āsrava (ā-srava or absence of purity ; distress , affliction , pain )"?

    If so, and I am inclined to believe the reason is along those lines, then a certain amount of suffering, under the influence of the āsrava, is required before the anchor is finally severed and the person begins to move on and look for a way out of the 5 āsrava which are perceived as being the cause of their suffering and problems.

    In a sense this is the message I understand from NayaSurya's personal experience she shares above. The observation of suffering and the anchor which binds us is first noticed in those we love and care for and of course, in our self experience.

    Perhaps the severing of the anchor begins when the person, perceptive of the āsravas and with sufficient suffering to make all other actions seem futile, falls to their knees and prays with all their might for grace or when one turns to the scriptures and reads them intensively against all the difficulties it may present to the unexposed mind, like a child learning to read for their first time.

    There are still many angles to address this and I look forward to your and other people's angles of seeing this also.
    Last edited by Onkara; 18 June 2010 at 02:45 AM.

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    Re: seeing vs. truth

    hari o
    ~~~~~~

    namasté narasurya and snip ( et.al)


    Thank you both for your contributions and very reasonable assessments. Let me offer a few more ideas on this subject which I hope will advance the conversation.

    Svāmī lakman-jū informs us, it's not so much what you do not know that is at issue, but what you do know that's just not right.
    An example would be the sun rising. We see it come up in the East and move across the sky and then set. Any observer of this would say the sun is going 'round us, I see it every day. If I were moving ( the earth) would I not feel this movement the same way I sense movement on a bike, car, horse. Hence I must conclude it is the sun that moves! This knowledge we know is inaccurate but is one's personal experience, no?

    Since we're talking what is perceived by sight and sense lets look to what pañcaśikha-ji¹ tells king jñānadeva ( in the mahābhārata). He says, upon the senses rests all acts that lead to heaven and also renunciation that leads to brahman, and also the ascertainment of truth in repsect to all topics of enquiry. The wise say truth is the highest object of existence and it is the seed of mokṣa. Yet that person that who regards the union of the body ( considered perishable along with the objects of the senses) as the soul ( kṣetrajña&#185 feels in consequence of such imperfection ( of knowledge) much misery that proves to be unending.

    The key points as I see is the senses are no doubt important they serve a very important purpose. Yet if we co-mingle the idea that the body and kṣetrajña are one and the same you have error-ed gravely and will experience misery. But why so ?

    He is not suggesting that this as a penalty he is wishing on you, but stating a fact. When one associates completely with the body , then the grief that comes to the body comes to you.The body is fallible and you feel every pain that comes of it - this is the misery one captures by total association to the body.

    That said, recall from my first post:
    asaṃbhāvanā śaṇkā vāda is one's doubt or suspicion of the possibility of comprehending/believing the discussion on a particular matter.
    Even if this wisdom is offered to the nāstika¹ would s/he avoid/limit or marginalize this wisdom offered by pañcaśikha-ji? That is why it is such a pickle to offer truth in such a manner by wisdom and the merits of the śāstra's. Why do I mention this? because pañcaśikha-ji goes on to inform king jñānadeva that those that see the world as not being kṣetrajña ( the soul) will not have to suffer any sorrow. For them there is a body of knowledge called samyag-vada¹. That is for those that can see further then the material , there Is a wealth of knowledge to assist them on their path.

    Now the question - how then does one address the nāstika to help them¹ to get on the path. Some would say, leave them, they are not ready. Others ( the wise) say , use a thorn to remove a thorn from one's body. This I believe is a viable approach. Let me offer some ideas to address this in the next post, yet I am eager to what others say regarding the total subject matter at hand.

    praṇam

    words
    • pañcaśikha-ji - '5-crested ', having tufts of hair on the head (as an ascetic) ; He is pañcaśikha-muni, a renouned teacher of sāṃkhya.
      • sāṃkhya - I never understood this word in total until I further studied it as a word-form . Sāṁkhya also means samyag-jñāna.
        Samyag-jñāna is samyag+jñāna. Samyag =samyañc. This is defined as correct , accurate , proper , true , completely , wholly , thoroughly.
        And we know that jñāna is knowledge. Hence samyag-jñāna = thoroughly true and proper knowledge in whole.
    • samyag-vada - see 2nd bullet point above as it = sāṃkhya + vada or speaking well or sensibly
    • kṣetrajña - 'knowing the body' i.e. the soul , the conscious principle in the corporeal
    • nāstika is 'unbelieving, atheistic, or unfaithful' = 'an unbeliever' or atheist. It is made of na+ astika or it is not so.
    • āstika is believing, pious, or faithful. This comes from asti , 'there is or exists'
    • help them or tad-dhita 'good for that or him'
    Last edited by yajvan; 18 June 2010 at 02:37 PM.
    यतस्त्वं शिवसमोऽसि
    yatastvaṁ śivasamo'si
    because you are identical with śiva

    _

  5. #5
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    Re: seeing vs. truth

    Wonderful Yajvan,


    You hit upon another very important thing which I often struggle with.

    Sometimes in our ignorance, the angle of our perception, or outright blindness, we can not decipher what things mean properly, which leads to misconceptions developing.

    Thank you again for the time you put in to shedding light upon the words.

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    Re: seeing vs. truth

    hariḥ oṁ
    ~~~~~~

    namasté


    Before discussing 'removing a thorn with a thorn' I thought to offer another challenge the nāstika encounters.

    That is, receiving information from the nareṇāvareṇa¹ ( inferior ). This is not name calling. This avareṇa is the one that has not realized brahman as Reality on an experiential level 7x24x365.
    Let's see how the kaṭhopaniṣad (2nd vallī, 8th sūtra) calls this out:

    One view
    Thought of variously, It ( ātman or SELF) is not truly understood when taught by an inferior person (or nareṇāvareṇa). Yet when taught by one who sees himself not different ( or bahudhā , many parts) from the Real , then no other goal reamains to be attained. for subtler than the subtlest, it is inaccessible to reasoning.

    Another view
    ātman, when taught by an inferior person, is not easily comprehended because It is diversely regarded by disputants. But when It is taught by him who has become one with ātman, there can remain no more doubt about It. Atman is subtler than the subtlest and not to be known through argument.

    Said another way, we are blessed when Reality is taught by the muni of enlightened vision. Perhaps the nāstika may have a fair chance in comprehending i.e. acceptance of truth when taught by the muni. It is my humble opinion it would not so much be the words of the muni but being in his darśana¹ that would blow the particles of ignorance aside, but I digress.


    Do we see the pickle once again? How would this nāstika find his way to the muni - what would be the motivating force? This would not be under his own volition as I see it. Then how ? Luck, providence, fate, tripping on the sidewalk and falling to the masters āśrama ( halting place) ? Possible ?, sure ; probable , well not so much.

    praṇam

    words
    • nāstika is 'unbelieving, atheistic, or unfaithful' = 'an unbeliever' or atheist. It is made of na+ astika or it is not so.

    • avareṇa - is inferior, below
    • darśana - sight, yet this means 'audience'. Hence being in the masters atmosphere is of great benefit.
    Last edited by yajvan; 19 June 2010 at 06:36 PM.
    यतस्त्वं शिवसमोऽसि
    yatastvaṁ śivasamo'si
    because you are identical with śiva

    _

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