Objectivity vs Subjectivity in Light of Vedanta

subjectivity objectivity in advaita vedanta

Purpose of this article is to bring light to an uninvestigated pillar in the spiritual world (irrespective of Religion, philosophy). It’s largely fault for one’s spiritual stagnation, inconsistent relationships with the other (Objects, people, etc) – and disharmony with one’s own existence.

Either way, as long as this issue remains uncorrected – Freedom/Liberation (mokṣa) is impossible. Reason why is demonstrated below.

Unfortunately almost 99% of schools, religions and philosophies neglect this – or at least don’t address it FIRST.

Ironically, certain fields of science like quantum physics – tackle this brilliantly! But leave out the missing piece of the puzzle; Īśvara (the Cause of Universe; God).

Thus it’s like a never-ending game of Sudoku for Science and Religion – endlessly attempting and miserly failing to unify Reality into ONE perfect homogeneous Existence. (Something Upaniṣads has already answered for thousands of years).

Advaita Vedānta can also be referred to as Yoga of Objectivity. Meaning it’s knowledge removes subjective notions (prātibhāsika) about the Objective Reality (vyāvahārika). Thus one enjoys objective cognition of Reality.

In other words, seeing “what-IS” (vyāvahārika), without projecting one’s own idea (prātibhāsika) of “what I would have it be because of my Ignorance about it”.

Removing sufficient prātibhāsika’s (subjective notions) – through process of śravana (listening phase of Upaniṣads/Vedānta) – has 3 major benefits:

  1. One’s tensions dissolve. Because most suffering comes from an irresistible tendency (vāsanā) to generate an opinion about the World, People, God, anything. It’s basically what children do constantly. Ironically, most adults haven’t grown out of this subjectivity. Thus bear all the emotions and inaccurate perceptions associated with their subjective opinions.
  2. It  qualifies your intellect (buddhi) for Self-Knowledge (mokṣa). Only a pure mind can properly integrate, assimilate and comprehend Upaniṣadic statements and their depth.
  3. It qualifies your intellect (buddhi) to discriminate between Satya (pāramārthika, Real, Non-changing) and Mithyā (vyāvahārika, Unreal, Changing).

 

For simplicity, we’ll translate this into 3 steps to “attain” the final Reality (Brahman). It’s not really an attainment, as you’re already it (tat tvam asi)…

STEP 1:

Remove prātibhāsika.

At this stage, one is not qualified for Advaita Vedānta.

Types who’re most suspectable to extreme prātibhāsika are the “spiritual lifestylers”. Such seekers have bought hundreds of insane/weird/strange ideas from different gurus and modalities.

Because in stage of Ignorance (“I don’t know who I am”), one lacks clarity to discriminate Objective (True) from Subjective (False). Thus it all sounds TRUE!

These types have been exposed to, or raved about, at least one of these: UFO, ET, Conspiracy, Archangels, Ascended Masters, “It’s ALL Love!”, psychedelics, Graham Hancock, David Icke, Alex Jones, Terence Mckenna, Zeitgeist, fascinated by Himalayan Yogi’s with powers, etc. List literally goes on indefinitely!

At this stage, ever seeker has their own version (prātibhāsika) of what Enlightenment is and isn’t.

What are some ways of removing subjectivity (prātibhāsika)?

Personal development, self-help, Buddhism, Tao Te Ching, Qigong, Aśtanga/Hatha/Kriyā Yoga. List goes on indefinitely.

Of course the trick is, these purifiers are also responsible for adding new prātibhāsika’s. Meaning they clear but also add more false notions. This keeps one indefinitely enmeshed in saṃsāra.

STEP 2: 

Come to Advaita Vedānta to learn about the Objective Reality (vyāvahārika). Which includes Jīva (person), Jagat (world of matter), Īśvara (Ultimate Truth). This destroys remaining prātibhāsika’s – which Step 1 couldn’t do.

STEP 3: 

Recognize vyāvahārika is Mithyā (changing).

And to understand oneself as immortal, actionless, unchanging, limitless Consciousness – requires you to discriminate Satya (pāramārthika; CHANGING Awareness) from Mithyā (vyāvahārika; CHANGING form).

Eventually, clarity of Satya/Mithya (which are two different orders of the ONE same Reality; Advaita) – leads to a permanent shift of “I” to the unchanging Reality (Ātman). This is called Self-Realization/Enlightenment. But traditional word per Vedic language is: mokṣa (Freedom, Liberation).

In summary: only come to a Vedānta teacher after having done sufficient work in STEP 1. Then Vedānta teacher will take care of Step 2/3.


Having used the words “subjective” and “objective”, we need to now scientifically clarify what is the difference. So you don’t unsuspectingly continue living a subjective reality… believing it’s the objective reality.

A statement is said to be objective when it is based on facts – and it can be proved easily – and is impossible to deny.

However, when there is absence of facts about a particular Object (tree, person, money, Universe, God, Reality, Brahman, etc) – then the statement about it becomes subjective. This is because the person presents his/her opinion – which is always biased – and based on likes/dislikes (vāsanās).

Thus, subjectivity is based on personal feelings, likes, interest, likes and dislikes. It has nothing to do with “what-IS”. But rather with “what I would have it be for my own feel-good reasons”.

What’s more, the subjective person believes their reasons are Objective. So if you tell them it’s Subjective, they’ll disagree with you. One can’t see their own blind-spot.

Meaning the difference between objective and subjective information about an Object – lies in the facts and opinion.

Do you see now the problem why it’s nearly impossible to teach a “spiritual lifestyler” (step 1 above) about Īśvara (God), Consciousness (Ātman) – or just about any high-level teachings from Upaniṣads?

Because a subjective person will paint their own meanings all over the scriptures. Thus a teacher can’t get across to their Intellect (buddhi). Even teacher is painted over by the subjective student’s opinion of what a “guru” should look like, talk like, sound like.

Basic Conclusion: Proportion of insanity is directly correlated with quantity of prātibhāsika. A sane person is totally Objective. A sane person is able to say “I may be wrong!“. An insane person is ALWAYS RIGHT.

“This article may have errors which I’m unaware of and I’m gladly willing to make corrections if someone points out the errors” – this is objectivity.

Comparison Chart

BASIS FOR COMPARISON OBJECTIVE SUBJECTIVE
Meaning Objective refers to neutral statement which is completely true, unbiased and balanced. Subjective means something which does not shows clear picture or it is just a person’s outlook or expression of opinion.
Based on Facts and observations backed up by research (through Perception and Inference) Assumptions, beliefs, opinions, impulsive emotionally-charged statements.
Truth Provable Relative to person’s limited knowledge about the topic.
Verification Verified Unverified, uninvestigated, unquestioned
Reporting Same (eg: Noone is going to call a “tree”, a “cat”. Tree is a tree). Varies from person to person, day to day.
Decision making Yes No
Used in Reference guides, textbooks, encyclopedias Blogs, comments on social media and biographies.

Definition of Objective

Objective refers to an unbiased and balanced statement that represents facts about something.

The statement is not coloured by the past experiences, prejudices, perceptions, desires or knowledge of the person.

Therefore, they are independent and external to the mind of the specific person.

As the information is entirely facts based, it can be is observable, quantifiable and provable. It can be counted, described and imitated.

It presents complete truth and is free from individual influences, so it proves helpful in rational decision making.

Definition of Subjective

Subjective means those ideas or statements which are dominated by the personal feelings, opinion, preferences (vāsanā) of the person.

It is an interpretation of truth or reality – from the person’s angle. Subjectivity affects the final judgement or conclusion about the Object, thus is biased in nature.

It can be a belief, opinion, rumor, assumption, suspicion – that is influenced by the person’s subjective standpoint.

A subjective point of view is characterized by the past experiences, memories, knowledge, perceptions, understanding and desires of the specific person.

These statements are exclusively based on the ideas or opinion of the person making i – as there is no universal truth.

Key Differences Objective and Subjective

The fundamental differences between objective and subjective are:

  1. A neutral statement, which is completely true and real, unbiased and balanced, is an objective one. Subjective means something which does not show the clear picture or it is just a person’s outlook or expression of opinion.
  2. An objective statement is based on facts and observations. Whereas a subjective statement relies on assumptions, beliefs, opinions – and is influenced by emotions and personal feelings about the Object.
  3. Objective information is provable, measurable and observable. While subjective information is relative to the subject (the person making it).
  4. The objective statement can be checked and verified. Unlike subjective statement which can’t be checked and verified to apply to the entire World.
  5. When a piece of information is objective, it remains same – irrespective of the person reporting it. A subjective statement differs from individual to individual.
  6. An objective statement is appropriate for decision making, which is not in the case of a subjective statement.
  7. You can find the objective statement in certain fields of science, but a subjective statement is used in blogs, biographies, and comments on social media.

Conclusion

Objective information is one that produces the complete truth about the Object. Meaning it presents a story from all the angles in a systematic way. It is a fact, which is provably true.

Subjective information is colored by the character of the person providing it. It is a interpretation or analysis of the facts based on personal beliefs, opinion, perspective, feelings, etc.

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