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Advaitin saint on the world

I don't know where to post this, but since this is about the advaitin saint, Raman Maharishi, I thought I could post it here and contrast it with the buddhist view. He wasnt a buddhist but an advaitin. He was of the view that one should not worry about the world, and think only of one's salvation. Although it seems selfish, he explains that people who care about the world often end up creating more mischief, since they don't know themselves. It is sheer arrogance to say one cares about the world when one is ignorant of the self.

Agree or disagree? This man was enlightened and his words contain great wisdom. But do you, as a buddhist, find it hard to be indifferentI to the world? Or do you see that this advaitin's approach is more practical?

Comments

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    edited October 2012
    Just a question, not poking - but why do you say he was 'enlightened'...?
  • I agree with him, but that doesn't mean apathy is any way out either.
  • I adore Ramana Maharshi and have no doubt of his enlightenment. :)
    music
  • PrairieGhostPrairieGhost Veteran
    edited October 2012
    Actually, I say I agree... with him yes, but I rather think that:
    He was of the view that one should not worry about the world, and think only of one's salvation.
    is not exactly what he was getting at.

    The Buddha said it's not possible for one sunk in the mire to pull another out. So same view.
    RebeccaS
  • This is the basic premise of the renunciate. The Buddhist takes vows to refrain from harm of self and other. This is the cultivate morality and thus help for other aspects on the path say like concentration and eventually the development of prajna wisdom.

    Every condition of the individual is different so one must examine their circumstances. Buddhism for the most part when it comes to individual practice is all about dealing with this individual body and mind. The practice is one two fronts: cultivating the good (reconditioning) and insight/investigation (unconditioned).

    That basically lays the foundation for Hinayana Buddhism, which is about ending suffering of the individual mindstream.

    From that point of view the world is something we cannot control, thus it is suffering. The basic Buddhist story of Siddhartha brings light onto this existential reality.

    In a way the ending of suffering brings about the transformation of the heart, thus lending the individual to Mahayana Buddhism.

    Mahayana's basic premise starts with the non dual wisdom of emptiness/interconnection. From this point of view, individual salvation is a stepping stone, there are infinite beings, infinite suffering beings that need help. No longer can we hide away and work on our individual practice for ourselves, but rather the space opens outwards to the whole of existence.

    And this is an insane, infinite, neverending task to save all sentient beings.

    But this task doesn't really or rather doesn't officially start until the individual realizes the emptiness of self and phenomena. Thus ending time, space, individuals, beings, etc.

    Such a being no long abides anywhere yet plays in the muddy waters of samsara and even enjoys the peace of nirvana. The basic idea is compassionate action and spreading infinite positivity.

    Now there is the last yana which is Vajrayana. In Vajrayana the view takes the assumption that one is already the buddha. One has already attained the hinayana nirvana and even the bodhisattvas emptiness. This world becomes utterly the play of energies, a play of delight, passions, desire, etc. All are the activity of the Buddha. So no longer is there a distinction between the self and other, world and me. Everything is the activity of enlightenment.

    So this isn't a linear model. As really we can see in practice all three vehicles are useful. What it comes down to is circumstance and condition for the individual. The individual must understand where they are at in practice and realization. Not only that they must utilize what is needed and most helpful in the conditions presented. For instance there is time for retreat, a time for individual practice and solitude to cultivate the good and the investigate the mind. There is time also to cultivate the good in the external appearance. To help sentient beings in a much more dynamic way. There is also time to delight in the pleasures of this interdependent reality. There is also a time to weep for the suffering of self and others. And there is a time to totally unbind and rest in the peace of nirvana.

    To some compassionate action is ending suffering for self. For everyone. To others it is enjoyment of this existence as the play of dharma.

    The real question is: what does your heart long for?
    personFullCircle
  • federica said:

    Just a question, not poking - but why do you say he was 'enlightened'...?

    It is hard to imagine anyone (other than an enlightened being) sitting still in a cave, doing nothing and not going mad.

  • music said:

    I don't know where to post this, but since this is about the advaitin saint, Raman Maharishi, I thought I could post it here and contrast it with the buddhist view. He wasnt a buddhist but an advaitin. He was of the view that one should not worry about the world, and think only of one's salvation. Although it seems selfish, he explains that people who care about the world often end up creating more mischief, since they don't know themselves. It is sheer arrogance to say one cares about the world when one is ignorant of the self.

    Agree or disagree? This man was enlightened and his words contain great wisdom. But do you, as a buddhist, find it hard to be indifferentI to the world? Or do you see that this advaitin's approach is more practical?

    This "advaitin's" approach is sensible. Why do you think one of the airlines safety message to parents is to put on the airmask on themselves before putting them on children in case of depressurization?

    The Buddha taught the same in Sedaka Sutta.
    Once upon a time, monks, a bamboo acrobat,
    setting himself upon his bamboo pole,
    addressed his assistant Medakathalika:
    "Come you, my dear Medakathalika,
    and climbing up the bamboo pole,
    stand upon my shoulders."
    "Okay, master" the assistant Medakathalika
    replied to the bamboo acrobat;
    and climbing up the bamboo pole
    she stood on the master's shoulders.

    So then the bamboo acrobat said this to his assistant Medakathalika:
    "You look after me, my dear Medakathalika, and I'll look after you.
    Thus with us looking after one another, guarding one another,
    we'll show off our craft, receive some payment,
    and safely climb down the bamboo pole."

    This being said, the assistant Medakathalika said this to the bamboo acrobat:
    "That will not do at all, master!
    You look after yourself, master, and I will look after myself.
    Thus with each of us looking after ourselves, guarding ourselves,
    we'll show off our craft, receive some payment,
    and safely climb down from the bamboo pole.
    That's the right way to do it!"

    http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn47/sn47.019.olen.html
  • Two weeks ago I borrowed “Conscious immortality” which is a compilation of talks given by Ramana Maharaj.
    If my understanding of advaita is correct there’s a clear logic to his choice of priority.

    The only thing real is the Self. The phenomenal world (what comes and goes) is not real. This includes our body, our thoughts and our feelings.
    So he just says it’s better to focus on what is real.

    The Self is not acting, it is just there. Actions of our body and mind are part of the phenomenal world; we are not it.

    Is Buddhism different?
    I personally think it isn’t. Maybe we talk about actions (following the precepts as part of the eightfold path) as leading us from point (a) to point (b); but that could be a simplification intended to shake off some of our gross addictions and conditionings; preparing us for meditation and awakening.

    I think Dogen’s “dropping off of body and mind”, is the same thing.
  • pegembarapegembara Veteran
    edited October 2012
    The Self is not acting, it is just there. Actions of our body and mind are part of the phenomenal world; we are not it.
    The Buddha's teaching:

    "Sabbe sankhara anicca"
    "Sabbe sankhara dukkha"

    "Sabbe sankhara anatta"

    Dhammapada Verses 277, 278 and 279

    "All conditioned phenomena are impermanent"
    "All conditioned phenomena are dukkha"

    "All phenomena (dhammas conditioned + unconditioned) are without Self" - the last is meant to remove any reference to any "self".

    That final step is missing in Advaita ie. since I am not this body-mind, "I am" That/Everything/Life/God/Universe etc.

    This "I am" is conceit in Buddhism which is one of the last fetters that binds.
    http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn22/sn22.089.than.html
    Two weeks ago I borrowed “Conscious immortality” which is a compilation of talks given by Ramana Maharaj.


    Perhaps the monks in this sutta hoped there is such a "conscious immortality" and were upset when the Buddha demolished their hope. This is the only place in the Canon where the monks were not gratified after hearing the Buddha's sermon.

    http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.001.than.html
  • Advaita doesn't say I am the universe, or this and that. That's new age stuff. Advaita simply says I am.
  • What does it mean though?
  • Unconditioned consciousness. Normally, the 'I' gets identified with the body, mind etc. when all these go, the 'I' alone exists.
  • Ramana certainly didn't say don't worry about the world and instead concentrate on your own salvation.
    What he said was the you and the world are not two.
    And that the realisation of that IS salvation.

    Incidentally nothing shows the propensity of human organisations to fossilise faster than visiting the centres of one's heros.
    I went to Ramana's Ashram in South India and although I found visiting his shrine moving, the Ashram itself has all the hallmarks of an institution.
  • What is the 'I' alone?
  • PrairieGhostPrairieGhost Veteran
    edited October 2012
    Why bother with 'I'? It's just a sound. It doesn't signify.

    And why waste your time with it, with this black hole of a notion, this vicious loop, when what is real is so fine, so worthy of attention?

    Not-self is just a way of getting one to see that there's nothing particularly interesting about our navels, and while we're gazing there's work to be done.
  • We can believe that Raman Maharishi was enlightened or that this Lama or that Zen master is enlightened. As long as we are puthujjana/prithagjana (worldly persons), we cannot distingish an aryan (a spiritual person) from a non-arayn. It is only with sotâpatti/bodhicittotpada that one leaves the world of the worldly person becoming an arya-pudgala (a spiritual being) who then can discern one who is aryan, like a Buddha.
    seeker242
  • jlljll Veteran
    if we are talking about the same maharishi, many regard him as enlightened.
    but he does not claim to be a teacher.
    in buddhist vocab, he is akin to a pacceka buddha.
    music said:

    I don't know where to post this, but since this is about the advaitin saint, Raman Maharishi, I thought I could post it here and contrast it with the buddhist view. He wasnt a buddhist but an advaitin. He was of the view that one should not worry about the world, and think only of one's salvation. Although it seems selfish, he explains that people who care about the world often end up creating more mischief, since they don't know themselves. It is sheer arrogance to say one cares about the world when one is ignorant of the self.

    Agree or disagree? This man was enlightened and his words contain great wisdom. But do you, as a buddhist, find it hard to be indifferentI to the world? Or do you see that this advaitin's approach is more practical?

  • Songhill said:

    We can believe that Raman Maharishi was enlightened or that this Lama or that Zen master is enlightened. As long as we are puthujjana/prithagjana (worldly persons), we cannot distingish an aryan (a spiritual person) from a non-arayn. It is only with sotâpatti/bodhicittotpada that one leaves the world of the worldly person becoming an arya-pudgala (a spiritual being) who then can discern one who is aryan, like a Buddha.

    Yep, also I read in a sutta that even Mahamogallana (or was Sariputta?) couldn't know if someone is enlightened or not. Maybe someone could remember the exact Sutta name.
  • To be frank with you. The realization of I AM is complete delusion from the Buddhist point of view.

    From an Advaitian point of view it is a step towards enlightenment. Even the I AM is one removed from pure consciousness, which is poetically expressed as I AM NOT.

    From the Buddhist point of view this is delusion simply because it is still a reification of self and phenomena, thus still ignorance and conditions one to suffering.

    The Buddha correctly described this as a perception attainment. It is a very healthy and positive way to look at the world as it cultivates great qualities of the heart and interconnectivity. But ultimately it is not worthy of calling a finality because it does not lead to unbinding or cessation of suffering.

    http://awakeningtoreality.blogspot.com/search/label/Rob Burbea

    "One time the Buddha went to a group of monks and he basically told them not to see Awareness as The Source of all things. So this sense of there being a vast awareness and everything just appears out of that and disappears back into it, beautiful as that is, he told them that’s actually not a skillful way of viewing reality. And that is a very interesting sutta, because it’s one of the only suttas where at the end it doesn’t say the monks rejoiced in his words.

    This group of monks didn’t want to hear that. They were quite happy with that level of insight, lovely as it was, and it said the monks did not rejoice in the Buddha’s words. (laughter) And similarly, one runs into this as a teacher, I have to say. This level is so attractive, it has so much of the flavor of something ultimate, that often times people are unbudgeable there."

    -Rob Burbea
    person
  • After "body and mind dropped off" and after we said that words and concepts are merely fingers pointing at the moon, we can’t go back to intellectual hairsplitting.

    This is not just an aspect of Buddhism. I think this is important for the relationship between people of different religions. When it comes to “comparing religions” we can only go so far. At some point we’d better just shut up and drink our tea.
    CittaPrairieGhoststavros388
  • PrairieGhostPrairieGhost Veteran
    edited October 2012
    I see self in affirmation of self and self in denial of self and no self in either.

    Self is not everything because there is no everything. Physical discriminations like 'it's here', 'it's there', do not apply.

    Self does not lack existence either because there is nothing lacking - you can say there's no unicorns, because you have a rough idea of what unicorns are. You can't say there is no self because what are you even talking about?
  • CinorjerCinorjer Veteran
    edited October 2012
    (sigh)

    I don't know or care about the ven. Maharishi's state of enlightenment because it's irrelivent and in any case he's dead now. All we can comment on is his teachings. From what I read on his official (?) web site as well as wickidpedia, his core philosophy was, people should bask in his presence in silence for the pure, unadulterated soaking up of whatever it was he eminated, but he had a few words for those who could not or would not benefit from this.

    There are numerous Hindu gurus, each with similar stories and they come and go with little effect on the world. See, according to most of them including this one, their enlightenment "just happened" as they were going about their mundane business or they were born special or it was like some random thing that they achieved without sitting under the tutalage of a Master. So what is anyone doing sitting, basking in his rays of enlightenment? Just go about your business and hope you are one of those special children that are destined to have the lightning strike of enlightenment come your way.

    As for the "just get your own enlightenment and don't worry about others" philosophy, any Buddhist with some thought will see the terrible direction this leads. If Buddha had decided that when he achieved his great awakening, he would have retreated back into this forest and we'd never have heard of him. Instead, he looked around at the people addicted to their desires, and out of his great enlightened compassion decided to work hard the rest of his life to give us a Sangha and transmit the Dharma.

    In the end, the great weakness of the gurus like this Maharishi is that they cannot teach anyone how to do anything but bask in their presence, and for that I give this man credit for being more honest than most. And when they are gone? The basking worhipers go find another guru to bask in. It took one Buddha to change the world by giving us the Dharma. A multitude of gurus have managed to create a handful of follwers. That is the difference.

    In my humble opinion.
  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran
    edited October 2012
    Raman Maharishi may have turned away from "the world", which is appropriate even in Buddhism, for monks. But he certainly did not turn away from other beings or their suffering. He was kind, compassionate and helpful to all people and animals. Whether or not he was "officially enlightened" I don't think is relevant. His behavior was evidence of the fact that he was a wise person. Being indifferent to "the world" and indifferent to "other beings" are two different things. He was the first but not really the second. :)
    RebeccaS
  • seeker242 said:

    Raman Maharishi may have turned away from "the world", which is appropriate even in Buddhism, for monks. But he certainly did not turn away from other beings or their suffering. He was kind, compassionate and helpful to all people and animals. Whether or not he was "officially enlightened" I don't think is relevant. His behavior was evidence of the fact that he was a wise person. Being indifferent to "the world" and indifferent to "other beings" are two different things. He was the first but not really the second. :)

    I don't doubt any of that.

    So, what is the difference between what the Indian gurus preach and Buddhism? Or are they the same? Certainly, throughout history and today there are plenty of Buddhist monks who pretty much lived the same kind of austere lives and preached withdrawl from the world. So Buddhist monks tend to congregate in monasteries instead of living solitary lives. That just means we're more organized.

    The difference is the Sangha and the Dharma. The Dharma doesn't begin and end with one Enlightened Master, although being human some Buddhists cling to their favorite one. The Sangha isn't one Master and his disciples. It's the entire community of Buddhists around the world and throughout time.

    Enlightenment, in spite of what the gurus seem to indicate as well as some temples that should know better, is as easy as falling off a cliff. But most people won't be able to bring themselves to let go of their cherished desires and fall into the great unknown waiting for them. Still, the path remains in the Dharma and you have just as much chance of following it as someone who sat at the feet of the Buddha way back then.

    Kinda hard act to follow, isn't it?


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