Application - that is what 'Workings-days' are about!
We are now undertaking basic technical discourse on Vedanta. The text forming the basis of these posts is 'Kindle Life'.
Last week concepts of avidyaa, aavarana and vikshepa were introduced. Continuing from the theme of conditioned and unconditioned consciousness, we must understand that, in the end, language rather fails us! The more subtle the subject the more words it seems we need to describe the indescribable and for which, in fact, there is no word. Words themselves are constructs of the illusion.
We have to form them to explain our way out by their use. We have words because we need to represent what is perceived. Perception takes place only in the physical realm, be it at the material level of BMI, the interactive level of OET or the egotistical/emotional level which binds the two in PFT (see the BMI label if you have not yet read up on this life chart reference). The realm which we currently perceive and believe to be 'real' is called संसार/samnsaara, an ocean of strife. Transcending the physical level we can move into OM, the transcendental Reality. This is separate from all else.
Words can be used to describe everything we see; to some extent they can convey ideas of that which we cannot see. They are limited, however, to the realms of the physical experience. They can be approximations only. This is why scriptures of all types can seem very mysterious. The language in which they are written must necessarily be used judiciously and this can lead to a very cryptic presentation; this in turn has resulted in the need for specialists (priests, rabbis, gurus…) to interpret and explain them. Within the Sanskrit language there is such a level of concept and suggestion so complex, it is astounding. The name 'Sanskrit' itself means 'perfectly made', conjugation to 'Sanskritam' means 'the art/skill of making/doing' which is used in context of 'culture', and this itself conveys that it is more than mere communication. When one ventures into learning the language, the profundity of sound hits one. Its construction is, in itself, philosophical.
It is worth digressing for a moment to note that Sanskrit was the very first language to be formalised through grammatical description and is recognised as being so strong and pure a language it is now being studied for programming computers. Similarly, in the very learning of the language, it is found that the intellect is opened up; there is a clarity of thinking which is at one and the same time required and engendered from learning Sanskrit that it has now been chosen as a compulsory language in at least one British school and a number of Universities utilise Sanskrit as a port to other studies.
Within India there is an extremely long history of philosophical reasoning (there are six schools of thought, which we shall explore at later time), all of which arise from experience and not mere intellection. Each school posits, albeit differently, that there is a direct realisation of Truth which can be obtained as the culmination of certain exercises. Realisation means that the seeker has obtained freedom from samsaara, the strain of life and physical limitation.
Vedanta is a highly logical, scientific philosophy. It has theories and exercises which can be tried and proven over and over again. The texts from which these are derived are called the प्रास्थान त्रय/praasthaana traya, the three foundations; Upanishads, Bhagavad Giitaa and the Brahma Suutras. Vedanta is so rigorous a construct that it holds good by any who encounter it, regardless of their doctrinal stance. Christians, Jews, even Atheists, have come to understand from its study, what is the meaning of life. Vedanta, therefore has worth to all, beyond boundaries of country, sect or creed.
The conclusion of this overview next week.