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Thread: Brahman, defining our terms

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    Brahman, defining our terms

    Hari Om
    ~~~~~
    Namaste Satyakama (lovers of truth)
    This Brahman, this fullness is good to discuss...

    Bertrand Russell, was an influential British logician, philosopher, and mathematician, working mostly in the 20th century. If you have had a chance to read any of his writing I think you will find a strain of brilliance in this gentleman. I respect his work.

    Why is he mentioned in this post? Bertrand Russell mentions many times that before anyone can have a meaningful conversation they must define their terms. If you have noted many that post define the sanskrit words that are in use.

    Hence I have mentioned many times the concept of Brahman and thought it wise for those that want to go a bit deeper and 'define our terms' for future reference.
    I hope to provide a better appreciation of this concept. Please add to this post to increase comprehension and value.

    Why should one care about this subject you may ask? In one's final spiritual journey , this Brahman is the goal. So, to acquaint ones mind to this, to understand this, assists in hitting the mark. Like driving. We learn how to drive , not much caring which road we're on, just enjoying the experience of handling and managing the car. Once we have mastered it we head for a destination, using a map or these days a GPS system. Like that, meditation is the driving, Brahman is the destination ( experience of meditation, knowledge of the goal).

    Lets start out by saying what Brahman is not... its not another name for Brahma. We have heard of Brahma, part of the triad of Brahma, Visnu and Siva. All wonderful aspects of this Supreme Intelligence we are all part of. Quite frankly they are the expressions of saguna Brahman which we will get to in a minute. yet by name, two different concepts.

    Brahman is from Brahm or "Brh " which means to expand; GREATER THEN THE GREATEST. In Vedanta ( or the end/culmination of the Ved or the last concluding remarks) this Brahm is discussed/experienced as the
    Absolute Reality
    . It's this all pervasive supreme principle of Reality - both absolute ( stillness of silence, some call Siva) and the fullness of this phenomenal world. Both , when combined is considered wholeness, and its this wholeness/fullness that is the Brahman. Everything is an expression of Brahm - everything is this permutation of Brahm. Those with enlighened vision even say there is no permutation.... it is Brahman.

    It is so impossible ( say the sages) to put Brahm in words, this totality, because it then limits this Greatness. The rishi would say , 'it bounds the Boundless', yet the sages do the best they can with the caveat that it is impossible with the facility of speech (vak) to be as comprehensive as needed to express this Greatness, but they give it a go!
    So, if you have interest , let me share with you some of Brahm's qualities:
    Nirguna [attribute less] - when speaking of the the Absolute value of Brahm, its attribute less. I have listened to rishi's call it Pure Intelligence, Pure Awareness , also called Being , in its nirguna state.
    Saguna - 'with glorious attribute's' - when in the phenomenal world - we know saguna Brahm as Krsna, Vishnu, Lord, Vaisvanara or Divine Spirit, Vishvarupam ( having all forms), Rudra, to name a few, yet in this arena, Brahm is the full known universe at every level of creation and every level ( or loka) of beings e.g. devas, Gandarva, mortal beings, animal, vegetable, solid, liquid, gas, and vacuum states, to name a few.

    Brahman As Sound - We are all familiar with Om ( Pranava). The rishi's attribute this sound/vibration as the best simulation/expression of Brahmn . Yet there is one more the rishi's point out - and that is this sound/mantra
    Kahm
    . You can find this in the Om Kham Brahma-Brahmana of the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad. This Kham is either-like (akasha), and is meant as the unconditioned (nirguna) Brahm. This aksaha is the symbol of this Brahm because for us, we can comprehend its vastness and completeness. How so? it is not contained by anything, nor nothing can contain it. We can work with this concept a bit easier then the absolute attribute less state.

    Brahm As Plenum - this plenum means "a space, or all space every part of which is full" - The Upanishads says it this way:
    Purnam adah purnam idam, 'That is full; this is full'. They say from this fullness everything comes, so those parts that come from this fullness is also full - that defines you... you are this fullness, just as Brahm is full. We think in parts, but we are full.
    No matter how you divide it , it remains unaffected, full and whole. If you care to read more on this, please consider
    http://www.swami-krishnananda.org/brdup/brhad_V-01.html.

    Satchitananda Attributes Of Brahm - Satchitananda is Truth, Consciousness, Bliss as the fundamental timeless attributes of Brahman. Here is what Swami Krishnananda says ... "Satchidananda is self-luminous, for it is the very existence of eternal Consciousness. It is undivided, Akhanda-Ekarasa, for it is homogeneous and is without internal or external differentiation. It is One Mass of Brilliance and unblemished Grandeur of Divine Existence. It is pure because it is untainted by thought or objectification"


    Brahmavid brahmaiva bhavati
    The knower of Brahman is Brahman itself -Mundaka Upanishad
    यतस्त्वं शिवसमोऽसि
    yatastvaṁ śivasamo'si
    because you are identical with śiva

    _

  2. #2
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    Re: Brahman, defining our terms

    Namaste Yajvan,

    Thanks for an informative, top-down approach to Brahman.

    We can also have a bottom-up approach, may be in this way:

    1. Everything in this universe has a form and a name. The form is for the externval view, the name for internal recognition. The form is the appearance and the name is a symbol that represents it. This symbol might be written down in a language, or as a figure of dots and dashes, but it is remembered and spoken with sound. While a written down symbol is made of matter (for example, paper and ink) the spoken one is made of energy.

    What about the form itself that the name represents? It is a complex manifestation in matter, comprising 24 or 25 elements or tattvas of creation. In the top-down hierarchy these elements are in the order: 1. Pradhana or Prakriti, 2. Buddhi, 3. Ahamkara, 4. Manas, 5-9. Tanmatras 10-14. Jnana-Indriyas 15-19. Karma-Indriyas 20-24. Pancha Bhutas. Time is considered as the 25th element.

    The form that comprises the 24 or 25 elements (to a lesser or greater degree) is ensouled by three principles: 1. Brahman, 2. Purusha, 3. Jiva.

    2. Thus, Atma-Buddhi-Manas (Will-Wisdom-Mind) is the fundamental building block of forms (Ahamkara or the I-maker is part of Manas). Atma is the Cosmic Intelligence or Consciousness (which is Brahman). Buddhi is the first manifestation of Atma as it descends into matter. Mind is a more specific and grosser manifestion in matter. These three principles are encased in a gross body.

    If Atma-Buddhi-Manas is the building block of everything in this universe, how do we distinguish between the sentient or animate and insentient or inanimate? In other words, does this table have life in the same way that we or our puppy or the rose plant in our garden have? After all, a table is a man-made entity unlike a man or puppy or plant, so how can it have the same life?

    It is true that the table has life like a sentient being, because the life force as Braman is immanent in every atom of matter. Does this mean that man has created life? No, because there is nothing to create! What man has done in making a table is assembling life-ridden objects into a shape. Like all shapes and forms it is impermanent, but not lifeless.

    To what extent, if at all, does a table have the principles of Buddhi and Manas? Does it discriminate and feel? Does it think?

    To answer these questions, consider what are Buddhi and Manas and how it applies to a table. Buddhi is causal matter and Manas mental matter, just as our feelings are astral matter and body is physical matter. A table certainly has physical matter. Since every physical atom has its astral counterpart, a table has also an astral form. This astral form floats in a sea of mental matter which is again permeated by causal matter. So a table is not a static form at rest, but a vibrant crystaliztion of dynamic life force and energy. If Brahman has intelligence in its nirguna form and other attributes such as a mind and body in its saguna form, and Brahman is also immanent in a table, why can't we say that the table has life with all its attendant principles, though manifesting to a lesser degree?

    The Buddhi a table has is therefore to remain it and keep its form, as long as it is destined to. If a table is nothing more than a conglomeration of atoms, what is it that holds them glued to the shape of a table? It is the Cosmic Intelligence, localized to a shape or form. If this Intelligence is turned off, then the table (as would any entity) would vanish instantly, like a flame is blown off a lamp.

    What about a table's Manas? Does it float thoughts like we do? What is thought any way, except vibration and energy that is clothed with mental matter? If you think of a table, for example, you actually create it in your mind, and this means that a form is created in the mental world. Thus the table is a thought-form, like every other shape. It may not have the ability to generate its own thought-forms (so it has no karma!), but it is a conglomeration of thought-forms that determine its shape, size and color, so in this sense, a table has the attributes of a mind.

    What about feelings? Does a table have them? If I bang it with my fist, does the table feel it, and react? Dr. Subash Chandra Bose, the best scientist that India has ever produced, was the pioneer of the telephone and the radio, even though the western world did not recognize it. He invented an apparatus called crescograph that measured the reactions of objects when subjected to a force. Using this instrument, he proved that a universal life form is immanent in every atom. When he subjected a sheet of metal to force, this instrument recorded the reactions of the immanent life force. Thus, when we bang a table, it does feel and react, perhaps in a helpless way. This idea is embedded in our culture and language, which is why we use terms such as mechanical fatigue.

    3. Space and sound, as the ultimate manifestations of Brahman, act as a container for this entire manifested universe. Space is not empty as western science used to teach, but full, replete with a universal life form that vibrates with a fundamental note, which is Aum, the Naada Brahman. Space and sound permeate every atom in every plane of manifestation.

    With such discussions, it is easy to know the nature of the Ultimate Reality, but to realize it is a difficult and personal issue. However, knowledge is the first step to realization. Knowledge brings comfort and faith, and as we progress, the personal realization would bring bliss and peace.

  3. #3
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    Re: Brahman, defining our terms

    Hari Om
    ~~~~~
    Quote Originally Posted by saidevo View Post
    Namaste Yajvan,

    Thanks for an informative, top-down approach to Brahman.

    We can also have a bottom-up approach, may be in this way:

    1. Everything in this universe has a form and a name. The form is for the externval view, the name for internal recognition. The form is the appearance and the name is a symbol that represents it. This symbol might be written down in a language, or as a figure of dots and dashes, but it is remembered and spoken with sound. While a written down symbol is made of matter (for example, paper and ink) the spoken one is made of energy.

    What about the form itself that the name represents? It is a complex manifestation in matter, comprising 24 or 25 elements or tattvas of creation. In the top-down hierarchy these elements are in the order: 1. Pradhana or Prakriti, 2. Buddhi, 3. Ahamkara, 4. Manas, 5-9. Tanmatras 10-14. Jnana-Indriyas 15-19. Karma-Indriyas 20-24. Pancha Bhutas. Time is considered as the 25th element. would bring bliss and peace.
    Namaste saidevo,
    what great points... can you consider the 24 or 25 elements as parts of Samkhya yoga? can you take this further ( if you care to). As we look to Krsna's discussion on Sankhya to Arjuna as a guideline, this would be great.

    thank you and pranams,
    यतस्त्वं शिवसमोऽसि
    yatastvaṁ śivasamo'si
    because you are identical with śiva

    _

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    Re: Brahman, defining our terms

    Quote Originally Posted by yajvan View Post
    ~~~~~
    what great points... can you consider the 24 or 25 elements as parts of Samkhya yoga? can you take this further ( if you care to). As we look to Krsna's discussion on Sankhya to Arjuna as a guideline, this would be great.
    The points I have given are gleaned from my study of Theosophy, which, as you know is based on Hinduism. Since I have not studied either Gita or Samkhya Yoga to the necessary depth, I am afraid I am not in a position yet to relate the elements to the Samkhya Yoga and discuss them.

    I shall be happy to learn from you, if you could provide the discussion.

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