How To Know You're Caught In Samsara, Real VS. Unreal (Satya/Mithya) (6)
How To Know You're Caught In Samsara, Real VS. Unreal (Satya/Mithya) (6)

Summary:

In Session 6, along with revision of preceding session, Krishna begins teaching Arjuna about the Self (Brahman) from Bhagavad Gita, CH 2.

TOPICS COVERED:

  • Īśvara or Bhagavān (Lord) is: All-pervasive (sarvagatham) and Timeless (nithyam). Hence Īśvara is “HERE and NOW“. This doesn't exclude You.
  • What is Saṃsāra?
    ANSWER: Believing what CHANGES – is Real. And (#1) Being attached to the status of the changing, and (#2) Experiencing mental disturbance as result of expectations towards/about #1.
  • How to know you're caught by Saṃsāra?
    ANSWER: By investing most of your time, energy, effort into: pursuing, conversing about, figuring out, assessing, contemplating, improving or eliminating the CHANGING.
    Hint: Ever thought you were right? This is being caught in samsara. Doesn't matter if you actually WERE RIGHT, that's irrelevant. Point is, the “I” (Brahman) mistook itself for the Thought.
    In reality, Brahman (Satyam) is different order (of the one same reality) from Thought (Mithya). Yet, simultaneously there's no difference between Satya-Mithya (this will become clear in later sessions).
  • What does a wise person (Krishna, jnāni; Self-Actualized) know… which samsari (Arjuna, ignorant person; ajnāni) does not?
    ANSWER: What is Real, and what is Unreal.
  • One of most important qualifications for ‘getting' Self-Knowledge is ____. (Hint: Not seeing any difference between p___ and p___).
  • Self (Brahman) can not be Objectified. Meaning it's impossible to “become” or “experience” the Self. Because you are ALWAYS experiencing the Self.
    This invalidates methods of Yoga or “Experiential Enlightenment” teachings – and a caution for those who're trying to become the Self (the Whole; brahman).

  1. Download visual mind map of this session.
  2. Download the entire “Essence of Vedanta” manual we're using in class.

5 June 2018

18 Comments

  1. Shaun Menscer on September 16, 2018 at 10:39 am

    I am very appreciative that you have shared this teaching on the internet. Thank you

    • mm Andre V on September 17, 2018 at 2:52 pm

      …and I that you are reserving time to listen. 🙂

  2. Sven on May 1, 2019 at 4:04 pm

    Brilliant explanation of Self and not – Self!

  3. Ben Simpson on October 24, 2019 at 12:51 pm

    Very clear and well presented!

    • mm Andre V on October 24, 2019 at 1:32 pm

      Welcome. Notes will keep getting longer per subsequent session.

  4. Ishwari on May 10, 2020 at 6:17 am

    If Ishwara chooses according to the needs of the total, how do you explain, for example, the extreme level of wealth inequality that currently exists, which is said to be unprecedented in history? Three men own as much as the bottom half of the population of the US. Globally, the richest one percent own 44 percent of the world’s wealth. 26 billionaires own as much wealth as the poorest half of the world’s population. So while some have more money than they could possibly spend in many lifetimes, others don’t have enough for food or basic shelter. The trend is towards more and more extreme inequality. Indeed, it has been conclusively shown (for example, by Thomas Picketty) that the current system of capitalism can ONLY result in increasing inequality. Generally, it seems to be the case that “to those who have it shall be given and to those who have not it shall be taken away.”

    On the face of it, this doesn’t look anything like Ishwara choosing for the needs of the total. Other salient examples could be given. But I expect the answer will involve a reference to karma and the needs of souls, i.e. the experiences they need, for their evolution, ultimately to enable them to get to the point where they realise they are that which does not evolve—the atman.

    But where does this leave your example of the world “needing” more philosophers or lawyers? Obviously not for the sake of justice, fairness, wisdom or social progress as we perceive it from a limited perspective (i.e. in terms of one lifetime, not considering karma), necessarily.

    • mm Andre V on May 11, 2020 at 11:59 pm

      ==
      “If Ishwara chooses according to the needs of the total, how do you explain, for example, the extreme level of wealth inequality that currently exists, which is said to be unprecedented in history?”
      ==

      Īśvara has nothing to do with the world affairs.

      Īśvara simply provides all of the resources. How they’re used is up to us.

      For example, Īśvara provides “air to breathe”.

      A saint breathes this air to bless people.

      A sinner breathes the SAME air to hurt people.

      Thus “air” is neither the sinner nor the saint.

      Īśvara is neither the sinner nor the saint.

      What’s important to remember is, if I hurt (injure another being), then I ultimately suffer. If not now, later on as form of guilt and shame.

      This “guilt” and “shame” is also a resource provided by Īśvara.

      Meaning, I got EXACTLY what I deserve according to my actions.

      In this context, we say, “Ishwara chooses according to the needs of the total”.

      Although it’s more accurate to say: Īśvara’s laws and orders deliver RESULTS according to each person’s individual actions.

  5. Ishwari on May 13, 2020 at 9:34 pm

    Okay, thank you, Andre.

    When you talk about something like air, that’s equally available to all, so is not analogous to socially derived resources. The system is rigged prior to the birth of any individual, so that some have a great deal of resources from the start and opportunities while others have next to none. Having greater resources and opportunities typically makes it easier to acquire more of same—hence the entrenched class system. We don’t start from a level playing field. Unlike with air, Isvara does not provide equal resources to all, far from it. Similarly with the situation of women by virtue of simply being female. Globally, their situation is still characterised by a great deal of patriarchal oppression. So in these cases, it’s *not* a matter of people being given equal access to resources, like air, and then any difference in outcome is just a matter of what they do with them.

    I totally accept the doctrine of karma, which is why, although I think we need to work to correct these social injustices, *if* that’s our karma yoga, or our particular dharma (and that will only apply to some), I’ve always attributed these apparent injustices to the law of karma. This would, of course, mean that they represent the outworking of a cosmic system of *justice*; that people are getting exactly what is due to them, no more and no less, for their own ultimate benefit.

    The thing is, prior teachings I’ve been exposed to on traditional AV have not emphasised Isvara in the same way that you do (and James Swartz does, and I’m assuming other students of Dayananda and disciples do). So although I completely accept karma, and accept that this is dispensed by Isvara, I’m trying to get clear on what it means when you say that “Isvara chooses according to the needs of the total.”

    So to be clear, you’re saying that, basically, the kind of gross inequality, and other apparent social injustices we are currently seeing is the playing out of karma, which is presided over by Isvara, and that, aside from providing the basics for life like air, some kind of food and a functioning physiology, these results of karma are part of what you are referring to by saying that “Isvara chooses according to the needs of the total.” Part of that need of the total is to provide for the karmic results of souls who have incarnated.

    So Isvara might endow some individuals with the abilities and inclinations to be nurses, because more nurses are genuinely required for care of people who have the karma to be cared for when sick, but might also send someone who has the psychological make-up to be a vicious tyrant and dictator in order to deliver the negative karma due to groups of individuals.

    Have I understood you correctly?

    But an added question here: in the case of, for example, genocidal or otherwise vicious tyrants and dictators, and the minions who prop them up, if they are instrumental to Isvara in delivering karma to many others, what is the karma of their own actions? I would assume they don’t get any kind of “free pass” simply because they’ve served that purpose. Would it be the case that the collective karma of certain people in a way calls into incarnation these tyrants who are going to, by their nature, express these tendencies anyway, until they learn otherwise by reaping the results of expressing those tendencies?

    I ask this partly because I’ve repeatedly seen some pretty absurd New Age interpretations of this, where it’s said that certain individuals of that ilk are really “highly evolved beings” who have “agreed to play that role in this incarnation” for the sake of the spiritual advancement of humanity as a whole. This seems like a toxic distortion of the kind of thing you are saying. The idea that anyone who is a “highly evolved being” spiritually would agree to come here to perpetrate violence, mayhem, oppression, hate-mongering and all the rest, as a kind of temporary play-acting, for the supposed “benefit” of others strikes me as utterly ridiculous, and very irresponsible. It’s completely contradictory to the kind of compassionate behaviour that would ensue from a deep realisation of oneness with all sentient beings, which we would expect from a genuinely “highly evolved being”. As an example, many New Agers firmly believe this about Trump, i.e. that he is really a kind of saviour, despite, or because of, his repugnant behaviour. Some have said it about Hitler. I kid you not.

    Sorry about the length of the questions. I appreciate very much your taking the time to respond.

    • mm Andre V on May 19, 2020 at 12:48 pm

      ===
      Isvara chooses according to the needs of the total.”
      ===

      Īśvara is value-neutral. Neither a friend nor an enemy. Neither forgives nor punishes.

      It’s our actions (karma) which produce forgiveness or punishment unto ourselves.

      What’s more, experience of “forgiveness” and experience of “suffering” is ALSO a potential in Īśvara.

      Thus we invoke Īśvara’s potential through our own actions.

      A metaphor to demonstrate:

      Īśvara is like petrol in car. It innocently provides opportunity to move my vehicle (body).

      If I drive irresponsibly and crash into another vehicle, can I blame the petrol in the court of law for my irresponsibility? No.

      I can also drive the vehicle to help someone.

      In this context, we say “Petrol SUPPLIES according to the CHOICES of Ishwari/Andre/etc”.

      But why do we use the word “Īśvara CHOOSES according…”?

      We don’t mean Īśvara itself. But Īśvara’s laws and orders CHOOSE according to principles like Karma, dharma, ahimsa.

      ===
      So Isvara might endow some individuals with the abilities and inclinations to be nurses, because more nurses are genuinely required for care of people who have the karma to be cared for when sick
      ===

      Project not human-ness onto Īśvara.

      Īśvara is not an entity whose deciding who needs what at which time, and how much.

      Īśvara does not choose how many nurses we should have, what new virus outbreaks we should get, and which mother’s child should die upon birth.

      This world TODAY is result of our actions YESTERDAY.

      Your own life TODAY is a trajectory of how you thought and what you did YESTERDAY.

      Now multiple this for 8 billion people. And you have what we call “Today’s society”.

      Again… Īśvara innocently provides resources like air, fire, water, earth.

      If one is denied clean air, it has nothing to do with air itself. But humans adding pollution onto air. Thus denying themselves clean air. Soon as pollution ends, air restores to it’s purity.

      ====
      I ask this partly because I’ve repeatedly seen some pretty absurd New Age interpretations of this, where it’s said that certain individuals of that ilk are really “highly evolved beings” who have “agreed to play that role in this incarnation” for the sake of the spiritual advancement of humanity as a whole.

      As an example, many New Agers firmly believe this about Trump, i.e. that he is really a kind of saviour, despite, or because of, his repugnant behaviour. Some have said it about Hitler. I kid you not.
      ====

      These kinds of mind created fantasies dominate the human race. They’re result of lack of education (or education of new-age ideas) supported by lack of discrimination (not using intellect to question one’s own perceptions about the world).

      In summary, topic of Īśvara will keep advancing through the course.

      • Ishwari on May 26, 2020 at 8:17 pm

        André, thank you very much for your further detailed reply. What you are saying is clear.

  6. Petra van der Schoot on May 14, 2020 at 8:48 am

    Thank you very much for sharing this! I am following with great interest.
    I wonder; is planet Earth a Jiva too?

    • mm Andre V on May 19, 2020 at 11:54 am

      When we say “planet earth”, what specifically are we referring to? Because mind1 imagines trees. Mind2 imagines rocks. Mind3 imagines plants. Etc.

      Removing all plants, insects, any lifeforms, “planet earth” is insentient.

      Why insentient? Because it’s made up of 5 elements (or periodic table of elements).

      Space: EG: there is space between rocks, molecules, soil, etc.
      Air: EG: Various gasses like methane, CO2, oxygen.
      Fire: EG: magma (molten rock).
      Water. EG: Ocean, precipitation, clouds, vapor, ice.
      Earth. EG: Himālaya mountains, granite, quartz, feldspar.

      The irony is, out of these insentient elements, grows sentient lifeforms with a subtle body (jīva) like: plants, insects, bacteria, humans.


      Further inquiry…

      We also have to include invisible laws like: Speed of sound, speed/direction of air/wind, gravity strength, falling speed of mass-object. Because they’re part of “planet earth” too.

      All these laws interact.

      For eg: Sound is distorted by speed/direction of wind (air). Gravity affects temperature (fire) & density of atmosphere (air). Etc.

      Are such interactions result of “intelligence” (in which case they are jīva) OR such interactions are mere mechanical laws (in which case they are non-jīva)? This I leave for you to inquire further.

      • Petra van der Schoot on May 22, 2020 at 6:25 am

        Thanks Andre, for your reply: Yes that is the whole point; if I look at planet Earth, us species included, than I would sure say that she is Jiva (I might even say, allthough we can travel to the moon and look back at her) she is our vision of the total; our window of perception…)
        But does Jiva (or intelligence) comes with the birth of the subtle body?
        I would say all laws of nature are invaded by consiousness, and therefore have been working in such an intelligent way, that together they managed to create all kinds of bodies with various senses. Senses, by sensing, become aware and in an intelligent way, lead to more sensitivity to gain even more awareness. So out of sensing even more sensitive (more subtle) bodies (idea’s) are being created. So I would like to say yes Earth started out as Jiva, but now we (more subtle Jiva’s) are here and we are tempted to say ‘no she is not’ because we sense on a different level and tend to see ourselves as separate. We could interpret the forces that move her (Earth) as a more ‘gross’ way of sensing, like the wind touches stones and shapes them through time. From our point of view these forces seem insentient and mechanical, rock seem to stay rock, air seems to stay air and water as we see the ocean, seems to stay water, but adding or distracting light, movement, pressure, heat etc (interaction), life is crawling out of every corner and garbage can (if you let it be)
        You could say ‘motion’ is the outcome of awareness invading into the elements on the gross and the most subtle level. But this idea of motion is different than our idea of the mechanical (a movement that is designed to repeat itself over and over again without causing any change) but could be a way of awareness touching/tasting itself….and therefore as the intelligent factor here. Earth as a gross body being born into the universe, our bodies as less gross being born onto Earth, and more subtle bodies being born into the species…so that way you could say the creation is evolving, bodies are getting more subtle…a movement that evolves from our point of view) ‘inwards’ the gross, is the way into more subtlety….That would mean, we humans/our brains might not be the end of this development; awareness/consiousness might be finetuning its way until its total ‘vision’ the sense of itself, is as clear and total as it is itself. Than the vision might collapses like a bubble of soap. But that insinuates a beginning and an end to all this…You say in one of your lessons, there is no beginning, no end. The image of the outside world could be a mirror of that of what we -from our point of view- are able to think and experience…a mirror of our perception of what is going on, looking into the universe as looking back in space/time. But this image and therefore the image of the total might change as soon as we one way or another evolve our senses and ’discover’ more….????
        But as this goes on…is there such a thing as becoming more aware (like getting closer to the trust), or does it just lead to more diversion, misleading reflection, variety?
        Does this make any sense?

        • mm Andre V on May 25, 2020 at 7:43 pm

          Keep up the inquiry Petra. I’m not saying it’s right nor wrong, but what matters most is the EFFORT of inquiry.

          Now onto the questions…

          ======
          But does Jiva (or intelligence) comes with the birth of the subtle body?
          ======

          1) Jiva is defined as: Consciousness identified with the subtle body.

          2) Subtle body consists of (a) Intellect, used to discern/analyze/calculate/think (b) Mind, used for emoting feelings (c) Memory, of all past impressoins (d) Aham kāra: The I-knower identified with a/b/c.

          3) Now to answer your question, does a baby come with a/b/c/d? Of course. It discerns basics of movement (a), it cries and smiles (b), it remembers and recalls new experiences (c), and it’s “I AM” is being identified with a/b/c.

          =====
          But this image and therefore the image of the total might change as soon as we one way or another evolve our senses and ’discover’ more….????
          =====

          Laws and orders don’t change. They only SEEMINGLY change in reference to our knowledge of them.

          For eg in science, we thought it stops at molecules. But those laws of matter changed in reference to our new knowledge of even smaller atoms.

          Therefore nothing changes on vyāvahārika (empirical level). It only appears to change in correlation to humans removing ignorance about reality.

          The only principle which can’t be discovered MORE is Consciousness. Because it is consciousness (satyam) that lights up our knowledge or ignorance of mithyā.

          Therefore, the truth in Vedas of self (ātman) is as valid in the beginingless beginning as is today as will be to endless end. It is the only ONE unchanging principle that is always self-evident as one’s sense of existence. Noone can deny their existence.

          Hence this program is about bringing clarity what it means to say “I exist”, and how this existence is the truth of everything, which you are never apart from.

  7. Petra van der Schoot on June 1, 2020 at 8:51 pm

    Thanks Andre, i realise i am trying to explain the whole world as it appears (Mithya) thinking that, if this appearance seems to have a beginning and an end to it, it means that consciousness might have an beginning and an end with it too. But of course i should look at this planet Earth and everything on it as a creation in consciousness (Satyam) , that stands up like a wave in the ocean, becoming more aware of itself as part of the ocean, to probably some day disappear into the great ocean again, while another planet/wave or something we cannot name (yet) is appearing. So one could say that the history of planet Earth as we describe it, is more the opening of a curtain to a huge theatre play, and as we look at it (as we -as awareness- are riding the wave) we get more insight in what is going on. Therefor we (in our minds) go back and forwards in trying to adapt what we know and expect to what we have been seeing. While our insight grows, everything (the past and future) that we perceive and expect gets ‘smarter’. So the question ‘ is Planet Earth a Jiva’, can only be asked by and therefor only appears in Jiva’s existence, like a glims of self that is projected on planet Earth….(?)

    • mm Andre V on June 3, 2020 at 11:42 am

      ===
      ” can only be asked by and therefor only appears in Jiva’s existence”
      ===

      Earth is independent of human jīva of course or our thoughts about it.

      EG: While we’re in deep sleep and there’s no earth… there’s nothing from standpoint of the sleeper.

      But there is an Earth independent of our thoughts of it. Thus we call the world “vyāvahārika”, the objective reality which is independent of our individual thoughts.

      EG: Whether I’m blind and don’t believe there’s a sun, there’s still the sun.

      However vyāvahārika (objective world) is also mithyā as it undergoes creation, sustenance and dissolution… every 4.34 Billion years (per Vedas).

      Just how each night when dream is going on, out of you a world is created, it is sustained, and it dissolves into you. Each night!

      In same way, this entire universe is created, sustained and destroyed since beginningless beginning.

      What’s the point of moksha? To cease the cycle of having to be born into another limited body, hence limited experience…. after our current body dies.

  8. Petra van der Schoot on June 21, 2020 at 10:16 pm

    thanks Andre, I realise that the imagination can bring us (like our senses) outside ourself to places (like in a dream) where we forget who we are; we forget we are the dreamer. I can say the words ‘when i was walking on the moon’ and even imagine walking on the moon without ever having the experience of walking on the moon. In the same way i can imagine Earth without any human Jiva on it and wonder what happens to that what we call ‘objective reality’ when there is no human Jiva to objectify and experience it….forgetting that it is all seen and happening in my mind…I am the Jiva who is always around to dream up the circumstances. But thinking about the history of Earth, the dinosaurus..about the history of human, the subtle body included….the step by step objective logic and knowledge of it all is so overwhelming, that it is hard to think of it as something part of a dream because why would we need so much insight? The only answer i can think of is: because we were there every stap of the way, which maybe sounds a bit stupid. But might be the same as ‘because we are there every step of the way’, meaning: we; the dreamer, have been there (as awareness) all the time even without realising. But then the objective world seems te be not that objective any more…it seems not only revealed but also touched in every way. (well, this seems to be my problem in thinking; wanting to bring together these two metaphors; 1) a world being revealed, 2) one that is evolved. I keep on the inquiry as you see…i am following your lessons with great interest! Many many thanks; moving up to lesson 17 now.

    • mm Andre V on June 23, 2020 at 12:25 am

      ==========
      wonder what happens to that what we call ‘objective reality’ when there is no human Jiva to objectify and experience it
      ==========

      Objective reality remains irrespective of presence of jīva or not.

      Where is the objective world in deep sleep? From deep sleepers stand point, it’s non-existent.

      But reality is, world is still going on as usual.

      Where was the objective reality before Petra jīva was born? It was going on as usual.

      Objective reality doesn’t need presence of jīva to objectify it.

      Remember, jīva is not seperate from objective reality.

      “there is no human Jiva to objectify and experience it” > It is only because of objective reality that jīva is born in the first place. Thus the statement has a logical fallacy.

      ==========
      …it is all seen and happening in my mind…
      ==========

      This is Buddhist teaching that the world is in your mind. Nowhere in Vedanta have we ever said this.

      If referring to prātibhāsika (subjective reality or personal likes/dislikes), then this needs to be stated next time in the sentance.

      Let’s make this very clear:

      Vyāvahārika reality: Objective reality like periodic table of elements, atoms, entire universe. Basically entire universe.

      Prātibhāsika reality: Jīva superimposes their notions on-top of vyāvahārika reality, then lives in a personal bubble of ignorance.

      EG:
      Vyāvahārika reality: Woman.
      Prātibhāsika: Woman are inferior. Sex object. etc…

      Vyāvahārika reality: Land.
      Prātibhāsika: Money! I can buy this land and sell it in the future.

      In other words, human being takes WHAT-IS, and distrorts it according to their likes/dislikes.

      ==========
      I am the Jiva who is always around to dream up the circumstances.
      ==========

      Only true for Prātibhāsika reality.

      In other words, our PERSONAL notions compel us to produce actions. And actions create consequences. And consequences impact the quality of our life.

      ==========
      that it is hard to think of it as something part of a dream
      ==========

      Are we talking about the WAKING state or the DREAM state (when we sleep at night).

      If WAKING state, then do not call it a DREAM.

      Traditional Vedanta is very strict how words are used. Word can only be said after it’s defined by the teacher.

      WAKING/DREAM/SLEEP we won’t talk in detail for another 20 sessions.

      =========
      …we; the dreamer, have been there (as awareness) all the time even without realising.
      =========

      Let’s rephrase this…

      Jīvas remain in potential.

      Where was Petra jīva before physical birth? In potential. It’s not like Petra didn’t exist at all.

      If you hold a seed of an oak tree, does the oak tree exist? It exists in UNMANIFEST potential. It doesn’t exist in MANIFEST yet.

      In same way, during dinosaurus, Petra jīva, Andre jīva, etc were all in unmanifest potential. Waiting to be born in a more conducive time some million earth years later.

      ==========
      Many many thanks; moving up to lesson 17 now.
      ==========

      We have no doubt Petra’s mind will gain much more clarity as lessons mature.

      For now, stick to ONE SINGLE thought at a time. Resolve doubts pertaining to it.

      When resolved, move onto the NEXT thought.

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