How do the Vedas refute solipsism?

wynn

˙
Valued Senior Member
I take it that in the past as well, people have come to wonder how they know they know something; wondered what really exists and what does not; what is reality and what is imagination.
How did they resolve this?
How do the Vedas refute solipsism?



Thank you for your input!
 
By indicating that the mind has causes that are far from absolute, solipsism doesn't even come to the table in mayavadi or radical monistic argument. Of course a person can say that their mind is beyond issues of cause and effect, but that doesn't stop them a millimeter from issues of suffering/enjoyment under the modes.

BG 3.5 Everyone is forced to act helplessly according to the qualities he has acquired from the modes of material nature; therefore no one can refrain from doing something, not even for a moment.
 
By indicating that the mind has causes that are far from absolute, solipsism doesn't even come to the table in mayavadi or radical monistic argument. Of course a person can say that their mind is beyond issues of cause and effect, but that doesn't stop them a millimeter from issues of suffering/enjoyment under the modes.

BG 3.5 Everyone is forced to act helplessly according to the qualities he has acquired from the modes of material nature; therefore no one can refrain from doing something, not even for a moment.

Please elaborate on this, I don't understand!

Solipsism is one of the greatest monsters of Western philosophy, considered impossible to refute, it's almost sacred - "the one in front of whom all are helpless".
It troubles me, and I don't want to be troubled by it anymore. This is a really big one for me!


Some questions:

The mind is part of the modes of material nature and has qualities according to the modes. So if someone comes up with the notion of solipsism, and finds it irrefutable - then this is simply due to the modes? Change the mode and the problem of solipsism will disappear? Easier said than done, of course - but is that the principle?

How come you mentioned mayavadis and radical monists in relation to solipsism? As far as I know, Western solipsism is personalist, while the other two are impersonalist.
 
Please elaborate on this, I don't understand!

Solipsism is one of the greatest monsters of Western philosophy, considered impossible to refute, it's almost sacred - "the one in front of whom all are helpless".

It troubles me, and I don't want to be troubled by it anymore. This is a really big one for me!


Some questions:

The mind is part of the modes of material nature and has qualities according to the modes. So if someone comes up with the notion of solipsism, and finds it irrefutable - then this is simply due to the modes?
the vedas break down reality to different tattvas. The modes are one such tattva (aka prakrti), the living entity is one and isvara is another.

Change the mode and the problem of solipsism will disappear? Easier said than done, of course - but is that the principle?
Tamas is not celebrated for its enlightening qualities. Sattva is. Change the mode and you change the outlook. But generally we arrive at a certain set of modes because we are comfortable with them ... so yeah who wants to change them.

How come you mentioned mayavadis and radical monists in relation to solipsism? As far as I know, Western solipsism is personalist, while the other two are impersonalist.
Its not personalist. Its highly impersonal since all other persons are considered imaginary. IOW if you take two dichotomies to their extremes ("there are no individuals" vs "there is only one individual") they bear a remarkable similarity in practice (you can also compare fascism and communism for a similar result).
 
This is so exciting!


the vedas break down reality to different tattvas. The modes are one such tattva (aka prakrti), the living entity is one and isvara is another.

I take it that at the center of the problems with solipsism is that the mind is being considered the self?


How would Vedic philosophy address this multi-part question:

How do I know that I am not just imagining everything?
How do I know where to draw the line between imagination and reality?
How do I know that other individual entities exist?
How do I know anything?


I would think it would address it with recourse to the teaching that knowledge has three sources (direct perception, logical argument, and authoritative testimony), discussing these three sources; and also pointing out that which source one takes to is actually a matter of one's own decision (although that decision may be spread over many lifetimes).
Is that correct?


Tamas is not celebrated for its enlightening qualities. Sattva is. Change the mode and you change the outlook. But generally we arrive at a certain set of modes because we are comfortable with them ... so yeah who wants to change them.

And even a pig thinks "I have it good here" ...


Its not personalist. Its highly impersonal since all other persons are considered imaginary. IOW if you take two dichotomies to their extremes ("there are no individuals" vs "there is only one individual") they bear a remarkable similarity in practice (you can also compare fascism and communism for a similar result).

I see.

And generally, Western philosophy is impersonal as well, with its focus on logical argument, is it not?

In Western philosophy, generally, there is the underlying conviction that words alone can prove something, and that there actually needn't be a conscious decision-maker operating on a set of values, but only a kind of a "place-holder person", some abstract, provisional entity to fulfill the function of decision-making (so that arguments don't entirely slide off into There are thoughts. There are decisions being made. There is suffering.).
 
Western philosophy is generally linear, it moves from one concept to the next. The Vedas are more circular. Everything comes back to the beginning and starts over. There is no beginning or end, so time and space exist only as mental constructs, manufactured to provide the mind with milestones.
 
This is so exciting!




I take it that at the center of the problems with solipsism is that the mind is being considered the self?
yes
the mind doesn't have persistent qualities
the self does

taking one for the other causes problems
How would Vedic philosophy address this multi-part question:

How do I know that I am not just imagining everything?

because imagination alone is not sufficient to fulfill desire.
(in fact not even the jiva is- in all states the jiva exists in a state of dependence)

How do I know where to draw the line between imagination and reality?
since we are in the modes, understanding them.

Same idea presented in B.G 14.2



How do I know that other individual entities exist?
Because drawing up reality that is solely contingent on one's own reality is miserly and meager.

How do I know anything?
when one is capable of implementing action on it.
I would think it would address it with recourse to the teaching that knowledge has three sources (direct perception, logical argument, and authoritative testimony), discussing these three sources; and also pointing out that which source one takes to is actually a matter of one's own decision (although that decision may be spread over many lifetimes).
Is that correct?
according to different authorities of knowledge you get different philosophies

And even a pig thinks "I have it good here" ...
hehe

even if previously they were the king of heaven




I see.

And generally, Western philosophy is impersonal as well, with its focus on logical argument, is it not?

In Western philosophy, generally, there is the underlying conviction that words alone can prove something, and that there actually needn't be a conscious decision-maker operating on a set of values, but only a kind of a "place-holder person", some abstract, provisional entity to fulfill the function of decision-making (so that arguments don't entirely slide off into There are thoughts. There are decisions being made. There is suffering.).
Basically one's relationship with gods acts as a prototype for all our other relationships. If the personal concept of god is not achievable (or perhaps more to the case in western philosophy, rendered impotent by accepting an inferior rendition of it) you give impersonalism the elbow room it requires to place you in a philosophical head lock.
 
yes
the mind doesn't have persistent qualities
the self does
See this is where I feel going to the Vedas for refuge from solipsism ends in disappointment, because the Vedas seemed solipsistic to me. It always seemed to me to be saying that while there are other minds, there is but one self, so these other minds are really part of the same self, a self that is experiencing itself, but has gotten caught up in the illusion of diversity. Ultimately it seems to me to be saying you have the self experiencing itself.
 
See this is where I feel going to the Vedas for refuge from solipsism ends in disappointment, because the Vedas seemed solipsistic to me. It always seemed to me to be saying that while there are other minds, there is but one self, so these other minds are really part of the same self, a self that is experiencing itself, but has gotten caught up in the illusion of diversity. Ultimately it seems to me to be saying you have the self experiencing itself.
this is simply the radical monistic take on the vedas ( mayavadi)

there are however numerous vedic references to a diversity of individuals

eg

Katha Up. 2.2.13 The Supreme Lord is eternal and the living beings are eternal. The Supreme Lord is cognizant and the living beings are cognizant. The difference is that the Supreme Lord is supplying all the necessities of life for the many other living entities.
 
See this is where I feel going to the Vedas for refuge from solipsism ends in disappointment, because the Vedas seemed solipsistic to me. It always seemed to me to be saying that while there are other minds, there is but one self, so these other minds are really part of the same self, a self that is experiencing itself, but has gotten caught up in the illusion of diversity. Ultimately it seems to me to be saying you have the self experiencing itself.

I am familiar with this idea as well - that according to the Vedas, God is a solipsistic entity.
It's a scary thought, since it leads me to think that I don't really exist.
If solipsism is true and I don't exist - then why aren't things easy, why do I suffer, why do I wonder about all this?
 
How do I know that I am not just imagining everything?

because imagination alone is not sufficient to fulfill desire.

But then we have to accept the proposition that desire indeed can be and is fulfilled, and that the fulfillment of desire is not imagination.

How can I be sure that a desire has indeed been fulfilled, and that I am not just imagining its fulfillment?


I have noticed something interesting here, in regard to the basic desire for food: There are foods that I can eat so much of that my stomach feels like bursting - but I am still hungry. There are other foods that seem satisfying and where it is very difficult for me to still think that I am hungry.

Or are we talking about examples such "I desire to type the word "house" - and lo, it is typed"?


(in fact not even the jiva is- in all states the jiva exists in a state of dependence)

Which is why we can't make rain or control birth, aging, illness and death?


How do I know that other individual entities exist?

Because drawing up reality that is solely contingent on one's own reality is miserly and meager.

But then we have to accept the proposition that our true nature is one of happiness, not of misery, don't we?
The underlying idea being that if we are aligned with reality, then all is fine and we are happy; and that if we are unhappy, this means we are misaligned with reality?


according to different authorities of knowledge you get different philosophies

Allright.


Basically one's relationship with gods acts as a prototype for all our other relationships.

How, in what sense?
In that it is personalist and with a service attitude?


If the personal concept of god is not achievable (or perhaps more to the case in western philosophy, rendered impotent by accepting an inferior rendition of it) you give impersonalism the elbow room it requires to place you in a philosophical head lock.

That inferior rendition - what exactly is it?
The one that says God doesn't have a name, or form, or gender, doesn't have a fancy for pastimes with other living beings and certainly is beyond hapiness and unhappiness, and he just poofs the world and living beings into existence and out of it, accoding to a law that he is bound to and about which he can do absolutely nothing -?
 
Interesting. That statement reminds me ofMaya

If I could vomit gall, I would. Seriously, I don't know what this is, but I have a very very intense negative reaction to mayavadis and the like. I feel physically oppressed in the presence of such a person or text, like am being strangled.
 
Signal
Originally Posted by lightgigantic

How do I know that I am not just imagining everything?

because imagination alone is not sufficient to fulfill desire.

But then we have to accept the proposition that desire indeed can be and is fulfilled, and that the fulfillment of desire is not imagination.
Or alternatively we have to accept the proposition that desire is artificial and can be extinguished
How can I be sure that a desire has indeed been fulfilled, and that I am not just imagining its fulfillment?
Distress visits everyone.
No need to go searching for it.

I have noticed something interesting here, in regard to the basic desire for food: There are foods that I can eat so much of that my stomach feels like bursting - but I am still hungry. There are other foods that seem satisfying and where it is very difficult for me to still think that I am hungry.

Or are we talking about examples such "I desire to type the word "house" - and lo, it is typed"?
actually there is a break down of desire (according to consciousness)

Within the body there are five different departments of existence, known as anna-maya, präna-maya, mano-maya, vijnäna-maya, and at last änanda-maya. [These are enumerated in the Brahmänanda-valli of the Taittiréya Upaniñad.] In the beginning of life, every living entity is food conscious. A child or an animal is satisfied only by getting nice food. This stage of consciousness, in which the goal is to eat sumptuously, is called anna-maya. Anna means 'food.' After this one lives in the consciousness of being alive. If one can continue his life without being attacked or destroyed, one thinks himself happy. This stage is called präna-maya, or consciousness of one's existence. After this stage, when one is situated on the mental platform, that consciousness is called mano-maya. The material civilization is primarily situated in these three stages—annamaya, präëa-maya and mano-maya. The first concern of civilized persons is economic development, the next concern is defense against being annihilated, and the next consciousness is mental speculation, the philosophical approach to the values of life.



...and ....



"If by the evolutionary process of philosophical life one happens to reach to the platform of intellectual life and understands that he is not this material body, but is a spirit soul, one is situated in the vijnäna-maya stage. Then by evolution of spiritual life he comes to understand the Supreme Lord, or the Supreme Soul. When one develops his relationship with Him and executes devotional service, that stage of life is called Krsna consciousness, the änanda-maya stage. Änanda-maya is the blissful life of knowledge and eternity. As it is said in the Vedänta-sütra, änanda-mayo 'bhyäsät. The Supreme Brahman and the subordinate Brahman, or the Supreme Personality of Godhead and the living entities, are both joyful by nature. As long as the living entities are situated in the lower four stages of life—anna-maya, präna-maya, mano-maya and vijïnna-maya—they are considered to be in the material condition of life, but as soon as one reaches the stage of änanda-maya he becomes a liberated soul.


(in fact not even the jiva is- in all states the jiva exists in a state of dependence)

Which is why we can't make rain or control birth, aging, illness and death?
or even acquire a donut without an agreeable external arrangement




How do I know that other individual entities exist?

Because drawing up reality that is solely contingent on one's own reality is miserly and meager.

But then we have to accept the proposition that our true nature is one of happiness, not of misery, don't we?
if our true nature is numero uno why would our true nature be anything less?

The underlying idea being that if we are aligned with reality, then all is fine and we are happy; and that if we are unhappy, this means we are misaligned with reality?
If we are unhappy its because our desires are unfilled.
The next question is why can't we fulfill our desires.
The answer is because we exist in a medium where we are forced to be subservient to greater powers.




Basically one's relationship with gods acts as a prototype for all our other relationships.

How, in what sense?
In that it is personalist and with a service attitude?
if we are envious of god (the possessor of all opulences) we will be envious of opulence wherever we encounter it (like in other jivas for eg)


If the personal concept of god is not achievable (or perhaps more to the case in western philosophy, rendered impotent by accepting an inferior rendition of it) you give impersonalism the elbow room it requires to place you in a philosophical head lock.

That inferior rendition - what exactly is it?
a personal form of god that is absurd or fallible ("Well god is a nice old chap but things got out of control so thats why bad things happen to good people)
 
Or alternatively we have to accept the proposition that desire is artificial and can be extinguished

And the reason it is so hard to accept that desire is artificial (and can be extinguished) indicates that it is not artificial?

The underlying assumption being: If we are aligned with reality, with how things really are, then we don't suffer, and all is well.

When the proponents of "desire is artificial and needs to be extinguished" say that our desire is illusionary, as well as our suffering, they still need to explain how come we have fallen into this state of illusion, don't they? And they cannot; so we are led to conclude that they are either supporting nihilism/annihilationism, or propose that living beings are evil or insane by nature, are we not?


How can I be sure that a desire has indeed been fulfilled, and that I am not just imagining its fulfillment?

Distress visits everyone.
No need to go searching for it.

Actually, given that distress is so pervasive, I was wondering how can we know a desire has indeed been fulfilled.
But then again, having our desires fulfilled does not mean we will automatically be happy - since we might be desiring things (and get them) which don't actually bring happiness.

Also, see below:

I have noticed something interesting here, in regard to the basic desire for food: There are foods that I can eat so much of that my stomach feels like bursting - but I am still hungry. There are other foods that seem satisfying and where it is very difficult for me to still think that I am hungry.

Or are we talking about examples such "I desire to type the word "house" - and lo, it is typed"?

actually there is a break down of desire (according to consciousness)

Within the body there are five different departments of existence, known as anna-maya, präna-maya, mano-maya, vijnäna-maya, and at last änanda-maya. [These are enumerated in the Brahmänanda-valli of the Taittiréya Upaniñad.] In the beginning of life, every living entity is food conscious. A child or an animal is satisfied only by getting nice food. This stage of consciousness, in which the goal is to eat sumptuously, is called anna-maya. Anna means 'food.' After this one lives in the consciousness of being alive. If one can continue his life without being attacked or destroyed, one thinks himself happy. This stage is called präna-maya, or consciousness of one's existence. After this stage, when one is situated on the mental platform, that consciousness is called mano-maya. The material civilization is primarily situated in these three stages—annamaya, präëa-maya and mano-maya. The first concern of civilized persons is economic development, the next concern is defense against being annihilated, and the next consciousness is mental speculation, the philosophical approach to the values of life.



...and ....



"If by the evolutionary process of philosophical life one happens to reach to the platform of intellectual life and understands that he is not this material body, but is a spirit soul, one is situated in the vijnäna-maya stage. Then by evolution of spiritual life he comes to understand the Supreme Lord, or the Supreme Soul. When one develops his relationship with Him and executes devotional service, that stage of life is called Krsna consciousness, the änanda-maya stage. Änanda-maya is the blissful life of knowledge and eternity. As it is said in the Vedänta-sütra, änanda-mayo 'bhyäsät. The Supreme Brahman and the subordinate Brahman, or the Supreme Personality of Godhead and the living entities, are both joyful by nature. As long as the living entities are situated in the lower four stages of life—anna-maya, präna-maya, mano-maya and vijïnna-maya—they are considered to be in the material condition of life, but as soon as one reaches the stage of änanda-maya he becomes a liberated soul.

This would suggest that desire is in accordance with the state of consciousness.
And also that that satisfying a desire will bring happiness to the person, in a particular state of consciousness.

But, in relation to something said later:

If we are unhappy its because our desires are unfilled.
The next question is why can't we fulfill our desires.
The answer is because we exist in a medium where we are forced to be subservient to greater powers.

So you wouldn't distinguish desires by whether their fulfillment brings us happiness or not?


I tend to think thus:
A particular person has various desires of different kinds - for good food, for prestige, for safety, for love, for watching a particular film, that the shoes wouldn't be so tight, for true happiness, to get a good job and so on. Then they act to satisfy those desires. But even if they do satisfy them (or some of them), they still remain unhappy, even if at first they might feel some satisfaction. Hence the conclusion that satisfying desires usually doesn't actually lead to happiness. I tend to think that everyone is more or less unhappy, and that they know it. I mean, most people look profoundly unhappy to me.

But you and the text you quoted seem to suggest that a person's desires and sense of happiness are according to that person's state of consciousness. Hence the notion that even a pig thinks "I have it pretty good here". That a person, in a particular state of consciousness, after having their desires fulfilled, actually thinks that he is happy.
To me, this is a rather strange notion - but not that I am disagreeing with it.

I have often encountered situations that in short can be summed up as:
"I have treated your dhiarrhoea, and now it stopped, so why aren't you happy?!"
"I have bought you the shoes you wanted, so why aren't you happy?!"
"You won the first prize, so why aren't you happy?!"

The "you" being me here (and I know a few other people like that). To me, it always seemed like if I want something, and that happens, then I am supposed to be happy, obligated to be happy, and that I am an ungrateful bastard if I am not happy. The emphasis being on supposed. To me, happiness never really, naturally followed upon having a desire fulfilled, I usually need to conjure up an emotion, or remain feeling bland.
But the fact that other people expect me to be happy after having my desire fulfilled (and this shows in the way they comment on my lack of enthusiasm), suggests that your interpretation of the principle of satisfied desire and happiness is more in place.


How do I know that other individual entities exist?

Because drawing up reality that is solely contingent on one's own reality is miserly and meager.

But then we have to accept the proposition that our true nature is one of happiness, not of misery, don't we?

if our true nature is numero uno why would our true nature be anything less?

I don't understand this sentence -?


Basically one's relationship with gods acts as a prototype for all our other relationships.

How, in what sense?
In that it is personalist and with a service attitude?

if we are envious of god (the possessor of all opulences) we will be envious of opulence wherever we encounter it (like in other jivas for eg)

I see. But for me, is difficult to instantly grasp that we are envious of God. But when we notice we envy others for whatever beauty, fame, richness etc. they have, then this is indicative that we envy God?


a personal form of god that is absurd or fallible ("Well god is a nice old chap but things got out of control so thats why bad things happen to good people)

And with such an inferior rendition of God, it is also easy to forget that there are issues of envying God, is it not? Because who would envy a good, but powerless entity, right?
 
Signal
Originally Posted by lightgigantic
Or alternatively we have to accept the proposition that desire is artificial and can be extinguished

And the reason it is so hard to accept that desire is artificial (and can be extinguished) indicates that it is not artificial?

The underlying assumption being: If we are aligned with reality, with how things really are, then we don't suffer, and all is well.

When the proponents of "desire is artificial and needs to be extinguished" say that our desire is illusionary, as well as our suffering, they still need to explain how come we have fallen into this state of illusion, don't they? And they cannot; so we are led to conclude that they are either supporting nihilism/annihilationism, or propose that living beings are evil or insane by nature, are we not?
Its more that conclusions are dictated by the authorities of knowledge that one holds.

IOW if you accept

abhava - nonexistence (a kind of knowledge based on the absence of perception)

certain conclusions come to the forefront



How can I be sure that a desire has indeed been fulfilled, and that I am not just imagining its fulfillment?

Distress visits everyone.
No need to go searching for it.

Actually, given that distress is so pervasive, I was wondering how can we know a desire has indeed been fulfilled.
But then again, having our desires fulfilled does not mean we will automatically be happy - since we might be desiring things (and get them) which don't actually bring happiness.

Also, see below:
there is the word "tivrena" that is sometimes used to describe spiritual life. The idea is that the happiness is so concentrated that there is literally no space for distress to exist. (the same word is also used to explain a concentrated stream of light)

In material consciousness there is no scope for describing fulfillment as such since whatever one takes as an article of happiness can easily be wielded as an article of torture.
eg -Swimming in water is pleasant for 40 minutes. Swimming for 3 days is likely to kill you. (IOW take whatever desire one has for being the independent enjoyer and it can undo a person)


I have noticed something interesting here, in regard to the basic desire for food: There are foods that I can eat so much of that my stomach feels like bursting - but I am still hungry. There are other foods that seem satisfying and where it is very difficult for me to still think that I am hungry.

Or are we talking about examples such "I desire to type the word "house" - and lo, it is typed"?

actually there is a break down of desire (according to consciousness)

Within the body there are five different departments of existence, known as anna-maya, präna-maya, mano-maya, vijnäna-maya, and at last änanda-maya. [These are enumerated in the Brahmänanda-valli of the Taittiréya Upaniñad.] In the beginning of life, every living entity is food conscious. A child or an animal is satisfied only by getting nice food. This stage of consciousness, in which the goal is to eat sumptuously, is called anna-maya. Anna means 'food.' After this one lives in the consciousness of being alive. If one can continue his life without being attacked or destroyed, one thinks himself happy. This stage is called präna-maya, or consciousness of one's existence. After this stage, when one is situated on the mental platform, that consciousness is called mano-maya. The material civilization is primarily situated in these three stages—annamaya, präëa-maya and mano-maya. The first concern of civilized persons is economic development, the next concern is defense against being annihilated, and the next consciousness is mental speculation, the philosophical approach to the values of life.



...and ....



"If by the evolutionary process of philosophical life one happens to reach to the platform of intellectual life and understands that he is not this material body, but is a spirit soul, one is situated in the vijnäna-maya stage. Then by evolution of spiritual life he comes to understand the Supreme Lord, or the Supreme Soul. When one develops his relationship with Him and executes devotional service, that stage of life is called Krsna consciousness, the änanda-maya stage. Änanda-maya is the blissful life of knowledge and eternity. As it is said in the Vedänta-sütra, änanda-mayo 'bhyäsät. The Supreme Brahman and the subordinate Brahman, or the Supreme Personality of Godhead and the living entities, are both joyful by nature. As long as the living entities are situated in the lower four stages of life—anna-maya, präna-maya, mano-maya and vijïnna-maya—they are considered to be in the material condition of life, but as soon as one reaches the stage of änanda-maya he becomes a liberated soul.

This would suggest that desire is in accordance with the state of consciousness.
And also that that satisfying a desire will bring happiness to the person, in a particular state of consciousness.
The idea is that the higher you move up the hierarchy, the more valid your criticism of inferior desire.

For instance living in a certain way grant a hog full satisfaction. A human living the same way will likely get a jail sentence.
IOW there are certain irrevocable standards of happiness according to one's consciousness.

But, in relation to something said later:


If we are unhappy its because our desires are unfilled.
The next question is why can't we fulfill our desires.
The answer is because we exist in a medium where we are forced to be subservient to greater powers.

So you wouldn't distinguish desires by whether their fulfillment brings us happiness or not?
The idea is that all standards of happiness are neither equal in quality or duration.

Materially speaking X amount of happiness = X amount of distress

I tend to think thus:
A particular person has various desires of different kinds - for good food, for prestige, for safety, for love, for watching a particular film, that the shoes wouldn't be so tight, for true happiness, to get a good job and so on. Then they act to satisfy those desires. But even if they do satisfy them (or some of them), they still remain unhappy, even if at first they might feel some satisfaction. Hence the conclusion that satisfying desires usually doesn't actually lead to happiness. I tend to think that everyone is more or less unhappy, and that they know it. I mean, most people look profoundly unhappy to me.

But you and the text you quoted seem to suggest that a person's desires and sense of happiness are according to that person's state of consciousness. Hence the notion that even a pig thinks "I have it pretty good here". That a person, in a particular state of consciousness, after having their desires fulfilled, actually thinks that he is happy.
To me, this is a rather strange notion - but not that I am disagreeing with it.
the idea is that illusion (granted potency through one's attachment to the modes of nature) solidifies one's pursuit of happiness.
Hence dogs like to be dogs.

BUddhism tends to under-ride this notion, understanding that desire = misery. The vedic qualifier however is that material desire = misery.

There is the example that a landlord who is being harassed by excessive taxes may find it more beneficial to burn down their house. An intelligent business man however knows how to utilize assets so that they don't attract high revenue.

IOW destruction of the self is an intelligent course of action for the less informed.
I have often encountered situations that in short can be summed up as:
"I have treated your dhiarrhoea, and now it stopped, so why aren't you happy?!"
"I have bought you the shoes you wanted, so why aren't you happy?!"
"You won the first prize, so why aren't you happy?!"
this is all prana-maya stuff
The "you" being me here (and I know a few other people like that). To me, it always seemed like if I want something, and that happens, then I am supposed to be happy, obligated to be happy, and that I am an ungrateful bastard if I am not happy. The emphasis being on supposed. To me, happiness never really, naturally followed upon having a desire fulfilled, I usually need to conjure up an emotion, or remain feeling bland.
But the fact that other people expect me to be happy after having my desire fulfilled (and this shows in the way they comment on my lack of enthusiasm), suggests that your interpretation of the principle of satisfied desire and happiness is more in place.
basically to keep a human civilization within the confines of prana-maya requires an environment of fear.
You see this illustrated particularly well in cold war russia.








How do I know that other individual entities exist?

Because drawing up reality that is solely contingent on one's own reality is miserly and meager.

But then we have to accept the proposition that our true nature is one of happiness, not of misery, don't we?

if our true nature is numero uno why would our true nature be anything less?

I don't understand this sentence -?
If the final last word in reality is "me", what is it exactly that impedes my pursuit of happiness?





Basically one's relationship with gods acts as a prototype for all our other relationships.

How, in what sense?
In that it is personalist and with a service attitude?

if we are envious of god (the possessor of all opulences) we will be envious of opulence wherever we encounter it (like in other jivas for eg)

I see. But for me, is difficult to instantly grasp that we are envious of God. But when we notice we envy others for whatever beauty, fame, richness etc. they have, then this is indicative that we envy God?
our envy of god is not at the forefront since we have (willingly) entered the medium of godlessness.

IOW we had such an issue with god that he had to create a world that offers the illusion of his non-existence. SO (as any atheist will happily tell you) how can you be envious of a personality you don't even think exists?

Whatever the case may be, as soon as a personality with more opulence enters the picture, a predictable outcome ensues ......


a personal form of god that is absurd or fallible ("Well god is a nice old chap but things got out of control so thats why bad things happen to good people)

And with such an inferior rendition of God, it is also easy to forget that there are issues of envying God, is it not? Because who would envy a good, but powerless entity, right?
Such a portrait of god is more likely to generate sympathy than envy (yet despite bearing such sympathy, the envy of opulence continues unabated).
 
Its more that conclusions are dictated by the authorities of knowledge that one holds.

As much as I on the one hand agree with this; on the other hand, I can't escape the fear that an attitude of choice about the source of knowledge and about authority is relativistic or subjective - but either way, invalid.

I have read a bit about the pramanas. Although the notion of the pramanas makes sense to me, I have to say it is foreign to me, and I don't think I am the only one.

From my Western perspective, it seems like sabotaging one's efforts in advance to choose a pramana!

"Authority, if it is to be any kind of authority, has to be self-evident, has to impose itself. If an instance does not do that, then it is not an authority. There can be no element of choice regarding authority, a person cannot choose which authority to subject oneself to." - That is the standard view from my experience.

Also, I think that usually, we think that knowledge is that which is objective, independent of the individual, non-subjective; that knowledge, if it is to be any kind of proper knowledge at all, should have nothing to do with choice; that knowledge exists, regardless whether someone chooses to learn it or not. And most of all, that knowledge, if it is to be any proper kind of knowledge, has to come to the person without the person willing it, since any act of will or desire would taint the knowledge and it wouldn't be proper knowledge anymore.

As I type it out, it seems silly, and I don't think anyone would actually support this notion. Yet when you see Western philosophers and pseudo-philosophers debate things, often, the above notion of knowledge is precisely the stance they imply!


It's as if we had te conviction that as soon as you choose a path on which to look for the truth, you have already missed the truth.
Why do you think there is (or seems to be) this conviction?
I know I have it (but it's not the only conviction about looking for truth that I have).
And how to overcome this conviction?


IOW if you accept

abhava - nonexistence (a kind of knowledge based on the absence of perception)

certain conclusions come to the forefront

I have read up on this too a bit, but I don't understand it.

I have read this, among other things: http://lists.advaita-vedanta.org/archives/advaita-l/2008-August/042288.html . I can't see how abhava is relevant to cognition; it seems to be related to the neti-neti principle. Defining something by what it is not is an abstract and drawn-out process, impractical.


there is the word "tivrena" that is sometimes used to describe spiritual life. The idea is that the happiness is so concentrated that there is literally no space for distress to exist. (the same word is also used to explain a concentrated stream of light)

I see.


In material consciousness there is no scope for describing fulfillment as such since whatever one takes as an article of happiness can easily be wielded as an article of torture.
eg -Swimming in water is pleasant for 40 minutes. Swimming for 3 days is likely to kill you. (IOW take whatever desire one has for being the independent enjoyer and it can undo a person)

So it's not that engaging with things would be inherently unsatisfactory - it's that some kind of engagement is unsatisfactory, and another is not?


The idea is that the higher you move up the hierarchy, the more valid your criticism of inferior desire.

For instance living in a certain way grant a hog full satisfaction. A human living the same way will likely get a jail sentence.
IOW there are certain irrevocable standards of happiness according to one's consciousness.

Hierarchy as the basic organization principle is something I still need to get used to.
I am more used to the principle of center-periphery and the principle of parallels, but not hierarchy (thanks to HDG for pointing this out!).


the idea is that illusion (granted potency through one's attachment to the modes of nature) solidifies one's pursuit of happiness.
Hence dogs like to be dogs.

BUddhism tends to under-ride this notion, understanding that desire = misery. The vedic qualifier however is that material desire = misery.

There is the example that a landlord who is being harassed by excessive taxes may find it more beneficial to burn down their house. An intelligent business man however knows how to utilize assets so that they don't attract high revenue.

IOW destruction of the self is an intelligent course of action for the less informed.

Because the less informed cannot properly invest their self and into their self, it's best if they act as if to destruct the self.

But is it ever recommended by anyone to an actual person that they should do that? E.g. saying "Oh, you're not very smart, nor do you have access to the right books and teachers, and you are poor, so you should better stick to just trying to be nice to everyone, hope for a better rebirth, and don't concern yourself with things like the Absolute Truth and having a personality" -?

Suppose that poor and not so smart person does have some cursory knowledge of scriptures and an interest to do and know more. Is it ever recommended (esp. in scriptures) that they should give that up and take up an impersonalist or otherwise simpler path?

At school, for example, they measure your IQ, consider your circumstances and such, and then they tell you what you can do and what you can't do, what you should do and what you should not do - and they list your IQ etc. as reasons for that.

Is there something similar in spirituality? Are we ever supposed to say "I am too poor / too stupid / my reputation is too bad to take on a higher course of spirituality, so I need to settle for a lesser one." -?


I have often encountered situations that in short can be summed up as:
"I have treated your dhiarrhoea, and now it stopped, so why aren't you happy?!"
"I have bought you the shoes you wanted, so why aren't you happy?!"
"You won the first prize, so why aren't you happy?!" ”

this is all prana-maya stuff

On whose part - mine, theirs, both?


If the final last word in reality is "me", what is it exactly that impedes my pursuit of happiness?

I see. Back to the issue of "If I am all that matters, then how come I suffer and am in illusion".


IOW we had such an issue with god that he had to create a world that offers the illusion of his non-existence.

But this would also suggest that living entities, by their nature, are not exactly chopped liver, either - powerless, helpless, stupid - as we are sometimes lead to think.

We (or at least some of us who are confused and suffer) tend to think that maya is strong and intricate. With what you are saying above, this seems to suggest that that which maya is supposed to cover also has some strength and intricacy. Something like a strong leash for a strong dog, or a hard test for a capable student - as opposed to a thin leash for a tiny dog and an easy test for a poor student.

I realize this is relative, as the living entity's strength is negligible in comparison to God's, but by the above reasoning, it is not zero either. Is that correct?


And with such an inferior rendition of God, it is also easy to forget that there are issues of envying God, is it not? Because who would envy a good, but powerless entity, right?

Such a portrait of god is more likely to generate sympathy than envy (yet despite bearing such sympathy, the envy of opulence continues unabated).

I take it that envy of opulence is connected with intense desire for sense gratification?

We could even speculate that that inferior rendition of God (which does not elicit envy, but instead pity or sympathy) serves as a vehicle for justifying and promoting envy of opulence, and that envy of opulence promotes an inferior rendition of God.
 
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