Author Topic: Fundamental Human Problem Part 2  (Read 1168 times)

Dr. Sadananda

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Fundamental Human Problem Part 2
« on: February 17, 2010, 11:28:13 PM »
Fundamental Human Problem Part 2

The second problem arises with the notion that I am unhappy. This arises with the identification with the mind (as ‘I am the mind’). The mind is never happy with what it has and therefore it always wants to make itself more full by acquiring this or that. Life becomes a rat race and twenty-four hours is not sufficient. However much we accumulate, the inadequacy that I feel (that ‘I am not full’) still remains. Only way to solve this problem of inadequacy is to be fully adequate. But that would mean to have everything in the world, possessing limitless entities. One can never reach the limitless by adding limited things. Addition of finites cannot accumulate to infinite. Hence, the problem of inadequacy of the mind or unhappiness of the mind remains as an unsolved problem.

The third problem is based on the identification that ‘I am the intellect’, which is always limited. We cannot stand this limitation either. Hence, the longing or curiosity to know remains. Unfortunately, the more we learn, the more things we find that there is to learn; things that we did not know even existed before. However much we learn, we are left with an uncomfortable feeling that what we know is very little compared to what we do not know. Our ignorance grows exponentially with our knowledge. Hence, even the ignorance problem we cannot solve. Man becomes desperate. In one of the Upanishads, the student goes to a teacher and asks, "Sir, please teach me that, knowing which I will know everything". The Upanishads recognized that there is an intrinsic desire to learn everything.

Vedanta says there is a fundamental problem in our understanding about ourselves. Since I am a self conscious entity, not knowing who I am, I take my self to be what I am not - that is ‘I am the limited body, limited mind and limited intellect’. Equipments, body, mind and intellect remain limited irrespective of who I am. As a result of this identification, I take myself to be mortal, unhappy and ignorant. All struggles in life are to solve these fundamental problems. The analysis shows that all our attempts to solve these three fundamental limitations fail miserably. For the majority of us these struggles temporarily end one day – when we die. This seems to be the autobiography of everybody – the billions of people that live on this planet earth; only the details of how they failed in trying to solve these fundamental problems vary.

Vedanta says that everybody fails only because everyone is trying to solve a problem where there is no problem to solve. Why should anyone try to solve a problem when there is no problem to solve? According to Vedanta, the problems are not real but imaginary, since we started with a wrong assumption about ourselves. Imaginary problems can never be solved. Since we do not know who we are, we take ourselves to be something other than who we are. Intrinsically there is a natural drive to be who we really are. Hence the longing to be immortal, absolutely happy and having infinite knowledge are inherent drives to become what we are. Hence, according to Vedanta, there is really no problem to solve but only the need to recognize our true nature. We are ignorant of our selves and the solution to this problem is to know who we are.

Who are we then? According to Vedanta, we are sat-chit-Ananda svarUpa; that is we are of the nature of existence-knowledge and limitlessness or happiness. Hence, Vedanta is considered to be a mirror that shows us who we really are compared to what we think we are. 'I think, therefore I am' - was the statement of Descartes. Vedanta says, I am - therefore I think. That is I am an existent and conscious entity. Existence has to be infinite. Finitude would make the existence bounded. A question then will arise: what is there beyond the boundaries of finiteness that is different from existence? Difference from existence is only non-existence; and we cannot say non-existence exists on the other side of the existence. That is a self-contradictory statement. Therefore existence has to be infinite. I am not only an existent entity but also a conscious entity. Consciousness has to be existent, since we cannot talk about non-existent consciousness. Hence existence and consciousness are not two separate entities but one and the same entity viewed from two different perspectives. I cannot qualify myself - since any qualification belongs to an object, which is inert. Hence Vedanta says: I am unqualified, absolute, infinite, existence-consciousness - which the bible renders as ‘I am that I am’, since I cannot add anything else to ‘I am’ to qualify myself.

There are two things that are unqualifiable. One is Brahman, since it is absolutely infinite. The reason is simple. Only finite things can be qualified since a qualification is that which distinguishes the qualified object from the rest of the objects in the world. The absolute infinite has to be only one, since if they are two, each limits the other and neither one will be Brahman. Hence, there cannot be anything else besides Brahman, in order for it to have qualifications to distinguish it from anything else. Hence whatever descriptive words that are used are only indicative of Brahman (lakShyArtha) and not literal descriptions (vAchyArtha), similar to the word infinite, to indicate that anything finite cannot be Brahman. The other thing that cannot be described is the subject I, since I am a subject and not an object, and objects alone have qualifications. Hence when I state my qualifications using my bio-data, I am only describing all 'this' that I identify with, which are qualifications of 'this' and not 'I'.

Now we arrive at the famous equations that Vedanta calls mahAvAkya-s (great aphorisms). Since Brahman is one without a second, absolutely infinite, existent and conscious entity and I am also an unqualifiable existent-conscious entity, we are left with no other possibility other than the identity relation: I am = Brahman (aham brahmAsmi). Our problems started with our presumed identity equation ‘I am = this’ but Vedanta says the correct equation is: I am = Brahman. The first equation is invalid, since I am equating a conscious entity with an unconscious entity. On the other hand, in the second equation I am equating two conscious entities, with the clear understanding that there cannot be any divisions in consciousness or in existence.
« Last Edit: April 18, 2014, 09:00:52 PM by Sunil »