Mistakes against the Shankaracharya Tradition

Discussion of the SES, particularly in the UK.
ManOnTheStreet
Posts: 137
Joined: Fri Jul 06, 2012 1:32 am

Re: Mistakes against the Shankaracharya Tradition

Postby ManOnTheStreet » Wed Feb 06, 2013 12:17 pm

Dr. Alan,

Dr.Alan wrote:OR maybe you believe in the Higgs Bosun particle - which is so incredibly small and exists for the smallest period of time that anyone can imagine. Yet it is supposed to control our whole existence ??? Read the description of that as given by the scientists. Then come to your own conclusion whether it is language bordering on madness and unbelievable stupidity - or maybe you think it makes sense. There will never be anyone there to witness one of these things and hold it up to show another that it really exists - so that we can experience it for ourselves.


I think this is a miss-characterisation of the scientific position. It's not about belief at all, but rather about evidence and concrete knowledge. The existence of the Higgs Boson was postulated in the 1960's, but only truly accepted by physicists recently. It's not that it just took 50 years for scientists to "believe" in the Higgs Boson - they were waiting for concrete evidence to back up the theory. Such evidence was found recently - the wide acceptance of the existence of the boson followed naturally. Higgs never asked anyone to just take his word for it and 'trust' him; to do so would be to undermine the whole philosophy and methodology of science.

As for the 'size' of the Higgs Boson (and 'controlling our whole existence'): the special thing about these particular bosons is that they form the Higgs Field, the interaction with which gives objects mass. To the extent that giving objects mass is "control", I agree with you - the Higgs Field "controls" our existence. However, I don't think this is a particularly helpful characterisation of "control".

Language of scientists: I'm not sure how you come to conclusion that scientific language "borders on madness". This same language enables your computer to work and planes to fly. It is this language that sent men to the moon and showed us that the solar system was heliocentric. Scientific language enabled us to eradicate smallpox. If this is all just "madness" then madness has acquired a new and formidable quality. To call this language "stupid" is to betray a profound ignorance of its true value and purpose.

"There will be never anyone to witness these things" etc.: Actually, there has been. The existence of the Higgs Boson is accepted because scientists did see it. Your assertion here is demonstrably false. I might add that no one was around to witness the "cosmic egg" referred to in the Veda either. Why do you think the Vedic picture is true?

Dr.Alan wrote:Perhaps you believe in the modern idea that it all began with a big bang - examine the scientists' explanation of that event. Then come to your own conclusion whether it is language bordering on madness and unbelievable stupidity - or maybe you think it makes sense. There was no one there to witness it by the way.


This is a rather simplistic way of framing the "modern idea". The "big bang" idea could be more accurately described as being one of a number of different propositions regarding the "beginning" of this particular universe. I don't think physicists have come to any complete theories about this just yet. You might not agree with the "big bang" idea, but on what basis? Do you really understand the physics behind it? Perhaps you do, but from the tenor of your writing you seem to reject it on somewhat more superficial grounds. Your argument seems to be one of personal incredulity - "I can't see how this could possibly be true. Therefore it isn't." As I'm sure you're aware, such arguments are quite spurious.

Dr.Alan wrote:For those who are interested - which does not seem to include you two - Advaita Vedanta makes a million times more sense than modern scientific non-sense. Think about it. If you can.


This is again an unsupported argument. How do you see that Advaita makes a million times more sense? All you seem to have offered us so far is some unfounded disparaging comments about scientific language. Can you back these comments up with some actual evidence? You are rather keen on the idea of "experiencing things for ourselves" - I certainly do not "experience for myself" that scientific language is "bordering on madness". The only way to decide between our two views is the production of evidence. I think the track-record of "scientific language" speaks for itself. What evidence do you bring for your own position?

Dr.Alan wrote:But if you are not interested in Advaita Vedanta philosophy - no one said that it is compulsory to do so - and in my opinion you are not less than anyone who does take an interest. Maybe you should think along those lines a bit. i.e. we are all human beings taking an interest in things we like, and we should not denigrate others on the grounds of their particular interests.


Yes, but I would say that describing scientific language as "madness" is somewhat of a denigration.

Dr.Alan wrote:Or you can carry on grumbling and weeping if you want. Your life is your choice - I respect that. Let others alone in their choice too. If you are proud to be a human being that is.


This makes it sound like grumbling and weeping is the only alternative to complete acceptance and 'trust' in the Teaching. This is clearly a false characterisation of the way things stand here. I'm not grumbling and weeping about Advaita or anything else, and I'm sure Ahamty2 isn't either. I have found all this to be a stimulating discussion, and it behoves us all to refrain from disparaging the other side just because we don't agree. It behoves us also to remember that this is a public forum in which many views are likely to be expressed. If you only want to talk about Advaita with people who already agree with you then an Ashram is perhaps a more appropriate environment in which to do so. Truth-claims made here are likely to be questioned and analysed, and you have to be prepared to back your claims with evidence (or links thereto!). This is not me imposing the "scientific paradigm" on everyone; its use is simply necessitated by the nature of this forum and the fact that there are competing claims in play.

I think the Scientific method is superior, in part because it doesn't rely on trust to make its conclusions solid. Yes, we pay the price of knowing a little less and more slowly (although I would hardly call the last 50 years "slow" for Science) but what we know is concrete and universally acceptable. I cannot say the same for Advaita. The problem there is that many of the core beliefs in Advaita must be taken on trust because there is no objective evidence to support them. The problem with that is that there is no way to distinguish the truth value of those claims from the claims made by any other religion/philosophy.

Dr.Alan wrote:It is quite simply that some people find the philosophy subject interesting and beneficial in their lives.

You both do not find it of much interest - it seems. But this does not give you any position of authority in it - only puts you in the position of those who "Grumble and weep."


The fact that I think the truth-claims of Advaita are unfounded does not mean that I am not interested in its philosophy. I recognise its historical importance, its evolution, and (hence) its complexity. This in no way commits me to believing its claims.

Final points:

a. You obviously have a broad understanding of Advaitic/Vedantic philosophy (at least, you have described parts of it quite well), however it would be a mistake to think that some others here do not.

b. It is not enough to simply state your claims and invoke "trust" - doing so is no different to what our tutors at School used to tell us, and we have no more reason to "trust" you than we do them.

MOTS

Gerasene Demon
Posts: 139
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Re: Mistakes against the Shankaracharya Tradition

Postby Gerasene Demon » Wed Feb 06, 2013 12:22 pm

Plenty of dark matter on this thread too, except it's shit.






Edited to be unnecessarily offensive.
Last edited by Gerasene Demon on Thu May 30, 2013 9:07 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Gerasene Demon
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Re: Mistakes against the Shankaracharya Tradition

Postby Gerasene Demon » Wed Feb 06, 2013 12:42 pm

LOL (Laugh out loud - Dr. Alan)

www.youtube.com/watch?v=svWINSRhQU0

Ahamty2
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Re: Mistakes against the Shankaracharya Tradition

Postby Ahamty2 » Wed Feb 06, 2013 7:45 pm

Further to Dr Alan’s comments on others on this forum, I am reminded of what the Andalusian mystic M. Ibn al- ‘Arabi writes, warning the seeker of esoteric knowledge how he can be led astray by a deceptive ego, he writes:
“Some of those who wish for God have been duped in their states without being aware. This is a hidden deception, a strong divine guile, and a being led on step by step without their being aware……… For it is a deception of the ego in a divine form without your being aware of its presence……He supposes he is gaining, but he is slipping away.” (II 233.34- al-Futuhat al-makkiyya khutba)

Dr.Alan
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Re: Mistakes against the Shankaracharya Tradition

Postby Dr.Alan » Thu Feb 07, 2013 7:10 am

Well that sparked a few interesting comments did it not? It is all much simpler than that.

Whatever our previous background, we are all human beings with some things which we all share in common with each other. Take for example the times when there was a combination of a place, with maybe other people and a certain event; and all these together gave us a feeling of happiness & delight. We have all had such experiences at times and we all know what they feel like for ourselves. Also, most normal people are attracted to such experiences and would prefer them to other experiences which may produce stress, sadness or no happiness & delight. I am quite sure you will not disagree with me so far. Although, we must accept there are also people who prefer the sad and unhappy times - but let us assume they are not the ones in the majority and therefore are not the ones whose lives we are looking at right now.

Let us for ease of description call the happy & delightful experiences "H" and the combination of objects which are people + place + event as "O". And we sum up the above description as the experience of O equals the experience of H, or O=H for short.

It is perfectly normal to go through life with O=H occurring on odd occasions and never looking closer at the situation. This means simply accepting that there may be long or short gaps of time between each O=H. But there are people who ask the questions, "Where does this H really come from? and how is it that it seems to slip away so quickly? "

The normal answer to this is simply that the presence of O gave H and if you want more H then you have to get more different examples of O. This answer is all right for the one who did not ask the question. And it will keep them going all through life with a roller-coaster of O=H interspersed with the other kind of experiences which do not produce it. This they accept as "what life is all about."

But let us put on a Sherlock Holmes' cap for a few minutes and see if this first answer is scientifically correct; this we do for the benefit of the one who asked the question, not the other one who is already content to carry on with the status quo.

On first examination it appears that O brings me H. In other words objects of the physical sensory world were the source of H (i.e. external to myself.) However, over time my simple observations show me that this is not really true and I can produce evidence that there are at least two situations which reveal that there may be other reasons for H. I also believe that many other people could supply similar evidence - so it is worth exploring a little.

Situation 1. For example, when at times I felt H on either hearing a special piece of music or looking at a particularly nice picture; later after I had heard or seen these things many times, they did not produce H. Or at least the degree of H was much less than the first time. The same can apply with the experience of nice foods.

Situation 2. When discussing the memory of a situation where O=H with other people the original feeling of H returned briefly. Hence I often discuss past events which gave H to me or to a group of friends, because the memory, and hence the experience of H returns again. Also I can add to the above, that if I am alone and with my eyes closed, I remember the particular O which gave me H, I sense that the H can come from my memory of the past. i.e. it appears to come from somewhere within me, not from the world outside.

Scientifically, situation 1 above indicates that the external objects may not be the source of H; because if this were so, then an equal amount of H would come every single time O was experienced. Just as when I switch on a light the light comes on each time. This is what I would expect of the O=H situation, if the experience of O was the real source of H - but it does not always happen ???

Also scientifically, situation 2 shows that the source of H cannot be in the O of the sensory, physical external world; as I have clear evidence that H appeared without O being physically experienced. And this was shared with others who also relived - or re-experienced H (i.e. so they tell me or show by their reactions) or I felt it coming from somewhere within me when alone with my eyes closed.

So the Sherlock Holmes' cap has been useful so far in identifying the fact that the simple explanation of "-- the presence of O gave H and if you want more H then you have to get more different examples of O. " may be faulty.

When we want to learn a trade or profession in the world, we would get good at it more quickly, if we mix with and draw on the knowledge and experience of others who have already practiced it. This is a globally well accepted way of going about learning. It means we can take the short cut of not going through the trial and error process, which others have already been through and we can gain much help from their expertise in the trade or profession which we wish to follow.

Why should this be any different in the questions which have arisen over the O=H scenarios described above? A situation which has remained with mankind from very early times.

So looking into the help of those who have previously discovered some answers to the O=H question, I find written statements such as:-

"Since the enjoyments which come from external contacts have a beginning and an end, and therefore can lead to unhappiness, a wise man does not seek pleasure in them."

"Whose happiness is within, whose relaxation is within, whose light is within, that person alone finds his true Self and becomes absolutely free."

"With the heart unattached to external objects, he realises the joy that is in his true Self. With the heart devoted to inner contemplation of that Self he attains undecaying happiness."

Continuing with my Sherlock Holmes' cap, - it seems on reading statements like those three above, that I am not the only one who has looked into this subject of O=H or whatever really happens. Not only that, from their wording it appears they may have found out more than I am currently capable of discovering, i.e. it appears they may have found the real source of H, which I was interested in, in the first place.

My solution is simple - what those statements say - "I want some of that." so I will find out who they are and what it was they discovered and how they discovered it. This may save me a lifetime of struggling to find it alone - with no guarantee of success using my own resources alone. This seems to me to me the best approach for a rational intelligent person.

This whole situation described above is all that Advaita Vedanta is about. No more than that. Since when a person has found the true source of joy, then the desire to seek it naturally disappears, because it never fades away. Such a person would be so constantly happy that they would not harm any living being, would have no need to seek any sensual pleasure in the world, would not steal from another, would not be untruthful to another, would never get angry at another's words or actions, would have no concern if all their wealth were taken away, would try to be as pure in all thought, word and action as possible. And would not be concerned in the slightest about the death of their own physical body.

If you say that these qualities of a person and their life are of no real or practical value in the world at all -- you are quite entitled to say so - since it would appear that you might be like the person above whose answer was "O gave H and if you want more H then you have to get more different examples of O." Such a person is not better or worse than the one who put on the Sherlock Holmes' cap. However, all people do benefit from there being more people in the world, who have the qualities in their life described above, which are a side effect of discovering the true source of joy, or the True Self - or whatever other name you may wish to give it.

What else do you want me to say?
SES - London 1964-1974 left due to SES interference with private life.

ManOnTheStreet
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Re: Mistakes against the Shankaracharya Tradition

Postby ManOnTheStreet » Thu Feb 07, 2013 10:37 am

So there are a few things here:

1. The proposition that happiness is not derived from 'external' objects.

2. The proposition that happiness is derived from 'unity with one's true self'.

3. The proposition that the achievement of lasting happiness is the aim or purpose of Vedanta.

Firstly, notice that (1) and (2) are not saying the same thing - (1) is a negative claim while (2) is a positive one. Acceptance of (1) does not imply the truth of (2). The reason being that it is not established that "one's true self" and "external objects" completely determine the spectrum of possibilities with regard to the achievement of happiness. There is nothing here to suggest that happiness may be achieved through a combination of a number of different factors, with "unity with one's true self" being merely one of those factors. It may also be the case that "unity with one's true self" does not factor at all in this process. The reason for this is that the existence of this "true self" is not established in its own right. If that is the case, then proposition (2) is also unfounded.

Secondly, your argument in support of proposition (1) is weak. You say:
Dr.Alan wrote:external objects may not be the source of H; because if this were so, then an equal amount of H would come every single time O was experienced. Just as when I switch on a light the light comes on each time.

However, it is obvious that the situation 'O' always changes. There is never a case where O repeats and we can test whether the same H follows the second time around. Moreover, H changes as well, and so there is no opportunity to test whether different O's can produce the same H. Therefore, your argument does not reflect even common experience; how can it then be used to support a general proposition like (1)? The real situation is that every moment is a different O and a different H. I would be more than happy to accept that our state of mind is very much a factor in how we approach the different O's that we encounter in life, but that is a far cry from saying that the H's do not result from external O's at all. It is even further removed from the view expressed in proposition (2).

Thirdly, you again miss-characterise the different positions in this discussion. It is not the case that my position implies I am "content to carry on with the status quo". I am certainly not content in that regard, however the conclusions I draw from the questions you propose are quite different from yours. This is not simply a matter of different interpretations, rather we are making fundamentally different claims about the state of the world.

Fourthly, I must point out (again) that you are yet to provide a shred of evidence for the existence of this "true Self" and so on. As you are the one making the positive claim (in proposition (2) for example) the burden of proof is also on you. So far all you have done is state that the Atman exists and invoked "trust" to back yourself up. Clearly this is unsatisfactory. Merely mentioning the words "science" and "scientific" in your posts does not give your arguments any more credibility than they would have otherwise. Emulating the principles underlying those words will. So far you have not done so.

Fifthly, and in regard to proposition (3), you say:
Dr.Alan wrote:This whole situation described above is all that Advaita Vedanta is about. No more than that. Since when a person has found the true source of joy, then the desire to seek it naturally disappears, because it never fades away. Such a person would be so constantly happy that they would not harm any living being, would have no need to seek any sensual pleasure in the world, would not steal from another, would not be untruthful to another, would never get angry at another's words or actions, would have no concern if all their wealth were taken away, would try to be as pure in all thought, word and action as possible. And would not be concerned in the slightest about the death of their own physical body.

All that you have described above are the qualities of what a lot of people would consider to be a very moral and equanimous person. It does not describe "self-realisation", which is the stated purpose of Advaita. Advaita exists in part to solve some of the problems present in 'ordinary' Vedanta. I don't think it achieves this aim, for the reasons I have stated in a few threads of this forum. Moreover, my issue is not really with the "practical value" of Advaita - it might well work for some people to bring them some measure of contentment in belief. Rather, my issue is with the truth-claims that Advaita makes in order to facilitate this "contentment". I would venture to say that contentment based on a false belief is not really contentment at all, but merely a satisfaction with another type of 'status quo'.

Sixthly, you say:
Dr.Alan wrote:When we want to learn a trade or profession in the world, we would get good at it more quickly, if we mix with and draw on the knowledge and experience of others who have already practiced it. This is a globally well accepted way of going about learning. It means we can take the short cut of not going through the trial and error process, which others have already been through and we can gain much help from their expertise in the trade or profession which we wish to follow.

Why should this be any different in the questions which have arisen over the O=H scenarios described above? A situation which has remained with mankind from very early times.

Two things here;
a) Drawing on the knowledge and experience of others is possible when you can test that knowledge and experience. No such test exists for the claims of Advait-Vedanta. You can't really draw on the experience of others because you don't know what they experienced, and they don't know what you are experiencing. There is, as I have pointed out before, a general epistemic problem with "spiritual experiences" that operates in a similar way to the 'red colour problem' in psychology/philosophy. "Spirituality" is not a trade or profession - there are no tests of skill or knowledge. What does abound is obfuscation and vague language, and that is a recipe for ignorance if ever there was one.

b) The fact that these sorts of questions have been around for a long time does not mean that answers necessarily exist for them. Moreover, it certainly does not mean that Advaita has the answers either. I might well say that the question of why unicorns have white hair has also existed for a long time. This does not at all suggest that a meaningful answer to it exists. You seem to assume that the very fact a question arises implies there is a meaningful answer to it, and I don't think this is established as necessarily true.

Finally, (and to re-iterate somewhat), you are yet to really explain why Advaita makes "a million times more sense than modern scientific non-sense". All you have really offered in your last post is an argument concerned with the (purported) utility of believing Advaitic claims. This has nothing to do with whether they are true or not.

MOTS

Dr.Alan
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Re: Mistakes against the Shankaracharya Tradition

Postby Dr.Alan » Thu Feb 07, 2013 1:59 pm

Dear MOTS,

In my post - where it mentioned scientific "theories" I invited the reader to "come to their own conclusions" - after which I gave two options to choose from. It was entirely up to you to follow this up - come to your own conclusion - from the alternatives offered. (i.e. madness etc, or makes sense.)

You seem to have done that - and then argued with yourself. I have no opinion on these matters. But you obviously do. But because you assumed that your choices were my choices, you have drawn up a pointless argument which is nothing to do with me. It only lets everyone know about your thoughts.

I presume that you also made a link between my statement of "scientific non-sense" with the previous mention of the scientific theories. This link was not made by me - but by you. It was a separate statement.

So it would appear that the words that come from you tell us more about you than about anyone else.

It reminds me about a Sufi saying I once heard in the context, "how can we tell what the theories, opinions and beliefs are which others hold in their minds?"as this clearly would affect the way they understand the teachings given. The Sufi teacher said "If you want to know if a person has eaten garlic, then just smell his breath." For those who are accustomed to interpreting the wisdom of Sufis - we could take that to mean that the words which come out of a person tell you about that persons theories, opinions and beliefs.

As far as the other post about O=H is concerned - I merely wrote from experience. I may be wrong - but it seems your response to that was analysis based on a theoretical understanding. In which case - your post is again not anything to do with the information which was contained in the post which I wrote. Theory is one thing - actual experience is another thing. You can match theory to theory OR experience to experience. It would be interesting to hear your actual experiences. But if I am really honest - I am not the slightest bit interested in your theories.

I write this so that you will not think otherwise of me if I do not respond to the details of what you have written.
SES - London 1964-1974 left due to SES interference with private life.

Dr.Alan
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Re: Mistakes against the Shankaracharya Tradition

Postby Dr.Alan » Thu Feb 07, 2013 2:32 pm

Dear Ahamty2,

your negative and uninformative posts make many unfounded presumptions about me. Read my post above to MOTS - you may find some of it applies to the way you read what is written. Also read the above post to GD on 4th Feb. The sentiments in that may also apply to the kind of comments you have made, if you think so.

I have no ill feelings towards you whatever you say about me. All those things you say tell everyone more about what thoughts are in your mind, than any truth about those you like to scorn.

If you read the language of the posts which I put up - please note such words as "it appears" or "maybe" or " could be" - the use of such language is the best way with this subject as the expressions imply "appears or not" or "may not be" or "could not be" etc. This leaves the reader open to come to their own conclusions. However, it may not be reasonable to continue pouring scorn on what you believe to be my statements - when what you could be doing is actually pouring scorn on your own choices - which you have convinced yourself were statements made by me.

I do not live by negative thoughts of others, but this does not prevent me from examining the truth in their statements and ideas, and coming to my own conclusions. As I have indicated throughout the posts on this stream - just in case it has not come to your notice -- I am happy for anyone to hold whatever theories, opinions and beliefs which they want. Read again with that positive notion those posts you have reacted negatively to - and see if you can detect this.

The tone of your response is bordering on personal attack and abuse. It is not constructive or informative to others. Instead it probably has no place in a forum like this - if you read what you have written - you may agree.

Even so I only hold good thoughts about you - even though I have never met you. I am sure there must be some good intention in your words somewhere - though you do not make it easy to detect.
SES - London 1964-1974 left due to SES interference with private life.

StillatSES
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Re: Mistakes against the Shankaracharya Tradition

Postby StillatSES » Thu Feb 07, 2013 9:55 pm

Hi all,

I thought I would have a quick look to see what is going on. I was quite surprised to see some of the tone of the dialogue over the last week.

Although I did not agree with all that Dr. Alan said about the SES - I must say I can see what he means in his post about examining the modern scientific views about the universe etc.

Then there was the one about the search for happiness which also made a lot of sense to me.
The reply by MOTS did not discuss the subject in the way that I thought Dr. Alan meant it to be. So I agree with Dr. Alan's comments on that - I would say that MOTS needs to read what is said rather than pouring his own ideas into it and then writing about the mixture of all those in with the meanings in the post.

I have been going through a difficult process of re-evaluation all the years I have been at SES , and going back over all the teaching which has been given during all that time. So that I can come to some idea of whether SES has got it right or not. But what with the near obscenities written by GD, the personal attacks by Ahamty2 and the confusion mentioned above - I wonder if I might be better to stay where I am, rather than come out and join what I see going on here.

Now I suppose there is the risk of me being called an "idiot" again by GD. Well if that happens I will adopt Dr. Alan's approach of "Sticks and stones -- etc. " and become immune to the silly words of others.

ManOnTheStreet
Posts: 137
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Re: Mistakes against the Shankaracharya Tradition

Postby ManOnTheStreet » Fri Feb 08, 2013 4:48 am

Dear Dr. Alan,

Dr.Alan wrote:You seem to have done that - and then argued with yourself. I have no opinion on these matters.

Of course you have an opinion on these matters - your opinion is what you wrote in your previous posts. I have no problem at all with the fact that our opinions differ, but I had hoped for a little more in depth discussion rather than what seems to be an unwillingness on your part to engage further with your own propositions. Of course it's fine if you don't want to do that, but perhaps it was simply my mistake that I assumed you did. I'm not sure where you got the idea that I have been arguing with myself - I just read your propositions and commented on them.

Dr.Alan wrote:I presume that you also made a link between my statement of "scientific non-sense" with the previous mention of the scientific theories. This link was not made by me - but by you. It was a separate statement.


Given that you used the same word in both instances I don't think that link was a totally unfounded presumption. I accept that it was a separate statement, but even so, I'm not sure how you distinguish the scientific theories from "scientific non-sense". It's the same sort of science in both cases.

Dr.Alan wrote:So it would appear that the words that come from you tell us more about you than about anyone else.


Of course my words tell you about my theories and beliefs - what else are they supposed to do? Your words tell us about your theories and beliefs as well. I don't have any problem with this at all. My aim is not to attack you personally, but to investigate your propositions. Imputing something more to my words would be unjustified in this context. Neither of our arguments have anything whatsoever to do with us personally; they only concern the claims we make. We both think our claims are correct, but that doesn't really tell us very much about each other either.

Dr.Alan wrote:As far as the other post about O=H is concerned - I merely wrote from experience. I may be wrong - but it seems your response to that was analysis based on a theoretical understanding. In which case - your post is again not anything to do with the information which was contained in the post which I wrote. Theory is one thing - actual experience is another thing. You can match theory to theory OR experience to experience. It would be interesting to hear your actual experiences. But if I am really honest - I am not the slightest bit interested in your theories.

Yes, I think you may have unfortunately misunderstood me here. It is exactly my experience that O and H change all the time. This has everything to do with what you wrote in your post. One of the ways to test a theory is to see if it accords with experience. In this case, I think your theory about O and H needs modifying, as I don't think it really conforms to anyone's experience, least of all mine.

In regard to theory: all of this is theory! Your "O and H" construction is a theory, as is your claim regarding the source of happiness and the purpose of Advaita. Advaita itself is just another theory about the way the world is. When you wrote your previous posts regarding Advaita you were expounding theory. As I said before, it is impossible to truly discuss 'experiences' of the kind you speak because of the general epistemic problem associated with them.

Dr.Alan wrote:In my post - where it mentioned scientific "theories" I invited the reader to "come to their own conclusions" - after which I gave two options to choose from. It was entirely up to you to follow this up - come to your own conclusion - from the alternatives offered. (i.e. madness etc, or makes sense.)

All I'm saying is that there are more than two options here. Science may not make sense to some people, but that does not mean it is therefore madness. I absolutely agree that everyone should come to their own conclusions, but you seem to have limited the scope of those conclusions to one of two choices. It is purely to this that I object.

As a general point:

It may well be that we are at cross-purposes here. In your previous posts you made a lot of claims about Advaita in the context of the SES misrepresenting the Teaching. I am largely (if not completely) on board with your characterisation of Advaita, and have said so previously on this thread. I also agree with what you said regarding how the SES failed to represent the true spirit (and indeed the letter) of Advaita. Once that was done you then continued to make positive claims about the truth of Vedanta as you saw it. I took this as evincing an intention to actually discuss the truth of these claims. It seems I was mistaken on that count. If you merely wish to keep announcing Advaitic theory to us then that's fine, but then there is really no point in us attempting to engage in a discussion about it. I will defer to you on this point - I'm not going to keep interrupting your posts if you don't want to discuss what you say in them - the decision is yours.

Finally:

a. I have been involved with Advaita for over 20 years, and have had my fair share of "extraordinary" experiences etc. I just don't think that has any bearing on whether the theory of Advaita is cogent. We obviously disagree on this point, but I don't think that's a bar to discussion per se.

b. I too would not wish that you think I am attacking you personally or anything like it. I am genuinely interested in whether 'spirituality' can offer cogent answers to metaphysical questions. As yet, I do not think Advaita provides particularly good answers, however (and perhaps despite appearances) I have not closed my mind to it either. I am very much aware that I could be wrong in my current thinking, it's just that I have not yet been convinced to that effect.

Regards,

MOTS

Tootsie
Posts: 151
Joined: Sun Jul 26, 2009 1:37 pm

Re: Mistakes against the Shankaracharya Tradition

Postby Tootsie » Fri Feb 08, 2013 5:18 am

I have to agree with StillatSES, that recently there has been to many personal attacks on contributors to this forum. We all have our views about the various topics that are brought onto the forum but should respect views held by others. Name calling just brings into question the mental stability of the person uttering the silly words. While not agreeing with all Dr. Alan says I find his reasoned contributions most illuminating to my understanding of Advaita Vedanta and wish to thank him for making the efforts which must take up a lot of his time.

Earlgrey
Posts: 27
Joined: Mon Feb 27, 2012 2:47 pm

Re: Mistakes against the Shankaracharya Tradition

Postby Earlgrey » Fri Feb 08, 2013 5:24 am

I agree with Tootsie and StillatSeS

Dr.Alan
Posts: 70
Joined: Sun Jan 06, 2013 3:15 pm
Location: UK

Re: Mistakes against the Shankaracharya Tradition

Postby Dr.Alan » Fri Feb 08, 2013 7:55 am

MOTS

If you read books on Advaita Vedanta the same way you read my posts, then it is no wonder you have not yet found what you are seeking (according to what you have said yourself that is).

You will have to accept it whether you like it or not. You made the link with the term "modern scientific non-sense". The words in my posts are carefully chosen. If I had want the link made I would have written "above modern scientific non-sense". You need to read what is not written as well as what is written.

Also I have not posted my opinion on these scientific theories - as I would have used the words "in my opinion" attached to the words written. Once again you need to read what is not written.

It is because you have clearly got this habit of reading into things written - your own ideas - and superimposing those ideas onto what is written - that I refuse to engage in any dialogue with you. This habit of yours is much clearer to one who reads your comments than it is to yourself - naturally. But is it for you to see and deal with.
You know the story of the Zen master - when a knowledgeable professor came to ask him about Zen philosophy. (this is from memory - I may have got a few words out of place - but the main point is here).

The master offered him a cup of tea. When pouring it out, the cup became filled. He carried on pouring. It flowed over the table and onto the floor. He carried on pouring. The professor became agitated. Eventually he burst out to the master with the words. "Stop - Can't you see the cup is full - you can't get any more in ?" To which the master replied. "Yes I can see that your mind is full of theories and ideas, please go away and come back when you are empty?"

I will reveal a very personal point here - it may benefit more people than just yourself.

When I was invited to Vrindavan in 1990 to an audience with a teacher who was recommended to me by Dr. Anthony Alston - a British world expert on Sanskrit translations -- I had been studying Advaita Vedanta - Sufism - etc. etc. you name it - probably I had read it - for 28 years. My life was filled with practices and ideas etc. etc. - but I knew I needed a true teacher. I was not going to go to India on spec.

He said - "How can I help you?" My first words to Him were, "I have gathered many practices and understanding about many things over many years; including the philosophy of Advaita Vedanta, which I am very attracted to. All these things have only brought me to this point in my life. I am now willing to throw all that away and only continue with what ever you direct me to do."

He said "You have come here in the best condition, with a clean slate. I will teach you."

If all the learning that you do - only tells you that you have not got the answer - then you go to someone who you believe has got that answer - if the attachment to all that learning from the past is so great that you cannot throw it away and give yourself a clean slate - some time or other. Then it does get very difficult.

I would never have stayed more than one day in Vrindavan - if the writing on that clean slate had not clearly shown me the very things I had been missing all those years before. Surely you realise that must be true. I have been back many many times to Him - so has my sister, my Nephew, my three children and my wife.

If you knew how difficult it is to travel in India, how many times you can become sick with so many weird illnesses, let alone the enormous expense of air tickets etc. No one would ever go there to receive teaching unless it was worth it. I was once in an intensive care room - in the hospital at Mathura UP - close to death with a very weird Indian respiratory illness. I was ferried there by cycle rickshaw in the middle of the night from Swami's Ashram.
Yet I have been back several times since then. Please do not say that the teaching I have been given and have practiced since 1990 is a load of rubbish. You cannot know all the while your cup is full.

The least thing you can do is to read all the books you have already read - again - but not until you have found a way to completely empty your mind of all your ideas. Then let the book read you. i.e. instruct you with its knowledge. If you keep on matching the words in a book with knowledge you already have - then less will come from the book to you.

Perhaps you now understand why I will not become engaged in dialogue with you about the stuff you have poured onto this forum.
Last edited by Dr.Alan on Sat Feb 23, 2013 6:28 pm, edited 2 times in total.
SES - London 1964-1974 left due to SES interference with private life.

Jo-Anne Morgan
Posts: 64
Joined: Wed Nov 16, 2005 11:23 pm

Re: Mistakes against the Shankaracharya Tradition

Postby Jo-Anne Morgan » Fri Feb 08, 2013 10:10 am

Hello Dr.Alan,
I wonder if you could comment on something which has been niggling me for a long time. First some background, when I first went to the SES I went, essentially, to discuss the 'meaning of life' with other people who were interested in such things. What made the biggest impression on me was the stuff (for want of a better word) from Advaita Vedanta. Suddenly, things in the Bible which had made no sense at all, were explained by the references from the Gita and the Upanishads. Amazing.

However, it became apparent that there does seem to be a hierarchy of human beings in Advaita Vedanta. I know you have covered this in a previous post by saying that it's not a hierarchy as such, but people taking their roles according to their development, and this has been exploited and corrupted to create a hierarchy for the purposes of oppression and social control (I think that was the thrust of your argument anyway). This brings me to my quote from the Gita in Chapter 9:

I am the same to all beings. I favour none, and I hate none. But those who worship Me devotedly, they live in Me, and I in them.
Even the most sinful, if he worship Me with his whole heart, shall be considered righteous, for he is treading the right path.
He shall attain spirituality ere long, and Eternal Peace shall be his. O Arjuna! Believe me, My devotee is never lost.
For even the children of sinful parents, and those miscalled the weaker sex, and merchants, and labourers, if only they will make Me their refuge, they shall attain the Highest.
What need then to mention the holy Ministers of God, the devotees and the saintly rulers?

Clearly the 'weaker sex' above means women. Therefore according to this, all women start off at a 'lower' point of development along with the poor old merchants, labourers and children of sinful parents (unmarried parents?). They can attain the 'Highest' but presumably they have to work harder at it.

This of course is also the thrust of the argument in the SES about women needing to be placed under the jurisdiction of a man or a 'School' (the SES).

Can you comment on this because I must say it puts me right off Advaita Vedanta.
Last edited by Jo-Anne Morgan on Fri Feb 08, 2013 9:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Dr.Alan
Posts: 70
Joined: Sun Jan 06, 2013 3:15 pm
Location: UK

Re: Mistakes against the Shankaracharya Tradition

Postby Dr.Alan » Fri Feb 08, 2013 12:19 pm

<deleted>
Last edited by Dr.Alan on Sun Feb 10, 2013 5:37 pm, edited 2 times in total.
SES - London 1964-1974 left due to SES interference with private life.


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