If Brahman is Everything, Why Worship and Devote to Whom?

Nearly all objections challenging non-duality and confusions by Advaita aspirants can be surmised from lack of discernment of 3 realities operating any moment…

PRATIBHASIKA:

Your own notions. Personal, subjective reality.

Accumulation of distorted information through the lifetime. 

Emotionally unmet needs.

The hurt child who unknowingly stuffed his/her pain under the carpet of the unconscious mind — manifesting into adulthood as resentment, distrust, jealousy, impatience, shameless self-pleasure, need to twist the facts to protect oneself from the truth.

Unjustified fears and unverified beliefs picked up haphazardly at the bus station, the news channel, a friend, the teacher, our culture.

You can show me, but I keep looking through the X-ray glasses of my own interpretations, my comfort-zone which I've spent years cherishing from imagined threats.

Narrow-minded thinking is product of seeing through this reality. Black-white. Either-or.

Some are critical of others (IE: lost souls, finding faults, etc) — yet relaxed towards oneself. Or critical towards oneself, but relaxed towards others. A timeless pratibhasika symptom!

Or being a perfectionist, thus frustrated towards society for falling short of the high moral standards one expects. Such individuals fails to realize that nothing at the empirical level, including themselves, can ever be perfect.

While others try to overdo things, hence never really coming in touch with their true sphere of influence. Others go the other extreme by not striving and settling for a mediocre life.

A Course in Miracles – 365 Day Workbook – Lesson 136, impeccably elucidates pratibhasika; calling it “sickness”…

Sickness is not an accident. Like all defences, it is an insane device for self-deception. And like all the rest, its purpose is to hide reality, attack it, change it, render it inept, distort it, twist it, or reduce it to a little pile of unassembled parts. The aim of all defences is to keep the truth from being whole. The parts are seen as if each one were whole within itself.

Defences are not unintentional, nor are they made without awareness. They are secret, magic wands you wave when truth appears to threaten what you would believe. They seem to be unconscious but because of the rapidity with which you choose to use them. In that second, even less, in which the choice is made, you recognise exactly what you would attempt to do, and then proceed to think that it is done.

Who but yourself evaluates a threat, decides escape is necessary, and sets up a series of defences to reduce the threat that has been judged as real? All this cannot be done unconsciously. But afterwards, your plan requires that you must forget you made it, so it seems to be external to your own intent; a happening beyond your state of mind, an outcome with a real effect on you, instead of one effected by yourself.

It is this quick forgetting of the part you play in making your “reality” that makes defences seem to be beyond your own control. But what you have forgot can be remembered, given willingness to reconsider the decision which is doubly shielded by oblivion (personal beliefs).

Your not remembering is but the sign that this decision still remains in force, as far as your desires are concerned. Mistake not this for fact. Defences must make facts unrecognisable. They aim at doing this, and it is this they do.

Every defence takes fragments of the whole, assembles them without regard to all their true relationships, and thus constructs illusions of a whole that is not there. It is this process that imposes threat, and not whatever outcome may result.

When parts are wrested from the whole and seen as separate and wholes within themselves, they become symbols standing for attack upon the whole; successful in effect, and never to be seen as whole again.

And yet you have forgotten that they stand but for your own decision of what SHOULD be real, to take the place of what is real (vyavaharika; see below).

Examples above reveal pratibhasikas symptoms of not being grounded or in touch with…

VYAVAHARIKA:

Empirical reality. The collectively agreed reality we are all experiencing right now.

Unless mind is intoxicated — we all agree it's a rose. An elephant. A leaf. Rain.

The employee may dislike the boss, owing to pratibhasika.

But boss is still just a man with limbs, family and a role to play within the corporate hierarchy as all other members. These are facts.

You are different from me. My body-mind is going through a different experience of vyavaharika then your body-mind.

Yet both of us are only experiencing vyavaharika, with degree of pratibhasika.

Vyavaharika is the reality of infinite names-forms, which are all of the one essential nature…

PARAMARTHIKA:

The One content that inheres through-and-through vyavaharika and pratibhasika.

In this case, the content being Conscious-existence (brahman), can't be objectified (known as an object in time, intellectualized, hypothesized) because to do so is to turn it into another vyavaharika name-form.

 

The later two realities must be accounted for, long as one is wearing a body-mind.

Paramarthika is formless. Hence it can't be prayed to nor worshipped. Not even an object of discussion.

Whereas vyavaharika is names-forms whose content is paramarthika. Therefore to worship names-forms, is to worship paramarthika.

The OBJECTION now will be, “If everything is paramarthika, then why bother worshiping anything?”.

To ask this is to NOT understand paramarthika from standpoint of vyavaharika — thus not understand the true import of non-duality.

We just said, vyavaharika (this world of names-forms, laws-and-orders) doesn't contradict paramarthika.

They are not-two. They are one and the same, seen from two different standpoints.

Furthermore, vyavaharika is Ishvara's reality. And the individual called you (including the intellect whose busy arguing and doubting), are not apart from Isvara.

And what is Ishvara “doing” from the macrocosmic standpoint? Sustaining the entire universe of names-forms, for every individual, every insect. In past, present and future.

What is Ishvara “doing” from the individual microcosmic standpoint? Performing one's unique duty (svadharma) according to one's unique talents, by contributing to the world.

Thus proclaims Krishna to Arjuna:

na hi kaścit kṣaṇam api jātu tiṣṭhati akarmakṛt ।
kāryate hi avaśaḥ karma sarvaḥ prakṛtijaiḥ guṇaiḥ ॥ 3-5॥
No one can ever remain without action even for a moment, because everyone is helplessly made to do action by the gunas born of prakriti (vyavaharika).

In truth, everyone is devotional in nature. Devoted to Ishvara, in form of money, power, possessions.

A jivanmukta continues being devotional, however nature of devotion is refined and continues being refined at the vyavaharika level.

 

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