Sunday, May 3, 2015

Experience and Knowledge

Experience and Knowledge
The popular view about Vedanta today is that mere knowledge about the Self is not enough for liberation.... it requires an intimate personal experience in order to to realize the self.

This dichotomy of direct and indirect knowledge (i.e. experience and knowledge) come from the concept of difference between the Real Self (Atma) and the Superimposed Self (Jiva).

Vedanta reveals the identity between the these two, and points out that the difference is apparent. The seeking self and the sought self are one and the same. This is similar to the story of the desperate tenth person searching for the missing tenth person.

Realization of the tenth person is not a new experience but a recognition of a fact. If at all, the new experience is the experience of understanding ..... an aha experience.

The word 'realization' has two meanings - a) to make real and b) to become aware of something. To realize your potential, a) you have to put in effort and achieve something which is not yet achieved (apraaptasya praapti).

However, in the case of the tenth person, realization is about a mistake that .was due to oversight. Here b) you achieve what is already achieved (praaptasya praapti). Change is not in the experience but in the cognition (understanding). This cognitive change is called realization or direct knowledge.

Realization in Vedanta is not about striving for a new experience but about putting a familiar experience into perspective. It is about seeing a familiar experience with new eyes - the eyes of knowledge.

Vedanta says that the experience of Self is self revealing but not self recognized. The first aspect of the Self (self evidence) is independent of the mind, but the second (self recognition) is dependent on the mind that has been enlightened by the teaching of Vedanta.

In the clear understanding of Vedanta, the dichotomy of direct and indirect knowledge is negated. Vedanta is said to be the direct means of knowledge in regard to the self. This is because Vedanta does not describe the Self but reveals the Self as what you are - 'Tattvamasi'.

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