Jan 17

by Bhakti Madhava Puri, Ph. D.
First Draft

In order to summarize the fundamental ideas that are being discussed in the Google forum [Online_Sadhu_Sanga] the following is presented as a basis from which further development may be made for arriving at a coherent understanding of consciousness from the Vedantic and Western philosophical perspectives.

Keywords [Advaita, Dvaita, Visisadvaita, Acintya beda abeda, Matter, Ego, Maya,Triplicity. Consciousness, Spirit]


Advaita philosophy conceives the Absolute as One devoid of any qualities, dimensions, personality, and so on. Thus it is called monism or abstract monism. It is therefore nirguna – meaning without any differences, determinations, or distinguishing features. The idea is that there cannot be two truths that are absolute or they become relative truths – not absolute. So the Absolute must be One.

One is pure universality – abstract or empty universality. As such it lacks all determinations, or is indeterminate. To even say that One is or has Being is to violate the pure Oneness that is the Absolute for the monists. Lacking any determinate content it is thus formless.

In the ancient pre-Socratic Greek culture Parmenides represented the Eleatic school that considered God to be One without any qualities whatsoever, even Being was denied to the pure One.

In India the school of Shankaracharya is considered as representing kevaladvaita or the philosophy of pure Oneness without any determinateness or qualities. This is the nature of nirguna Brahman.

Eastern and Western monism both believe that All is One, because each of the entities of the All (Many) is after all in essence a one, i.e. many ones. In the same way every being is an instance of or immanently Being and thus all are Being. But One and Being are different, so the monists had to accept one or the other, so they chose One since Being is just as indeterminate as One and is thus the same as One. Of course there are many such arguments given in this way.

Because Brahman is One, allness or the many must be a perceptual illusion that is removed by logical thinking in accord with the monist philosophers. Thus they consider Brahma satyam jagat mityam, Brahman is true or real and the world is false or illusion. In this philosophy the ultimate destiny of the enlightened soul is to merge into the oneness of the One Brahman and loose its individuality or ego entirely.

The chief characteristic in the logic of the One is the one-sidedness of its doctrine of sameness of the entities of the All to the exclusion of their differences. Being-for-self or one is not the only determination of the entities of the All except in the abstract ideal sense, just as the atoms or molecules of an ideal gas are considered in their isolation without regard to their relation to or interaction with one another.

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Jan 12

Idols of the Mind vs True Reality
by Bhakti Madhava Puri, Ph.D.
Bhakti Vedanta Institute, Princeton, NJ


Atomic Theory and Quantum Theory provide imagined wonderlands that possess some observations or correspondence with true reality. To some degree each is logical, self-consistent and complete, although Godel would object to either being at the same time consistent and complete.

If we carefully consider what science is doing here, we discover that anthropocentric or egocentric conceptions of reality – reality as it is “for us” or for me – are being erected in place of true reality as it is “by itself and for itself.” In other words, a subjective conception/theory that is “for us” is being erected as a reality “in and for itself” yet is actually opposed to objective reality as it is in and for itself. It seeks and has some correspondence with true reality and if the subjective conception corresponds with the objective reality the truth is considered to have been reached. This is called the correspondence theory of truth. However, there are problems with this as we noted above, in that different theories may have some correspondence with objective observations and yet still refer to different imagined realities.

The real problem arises when these different Idols of the Mind [Man-made images/ideas/conceptions that are for us in our subjectivity] are presumed to be outwardly objective and venerated as the True Reality [Reality “as it is” or “by itself and for itself”]. Explanations consist of descriptions in terms of the chosen theories assumed as real, even though they are abstractions from the true reality. Because they are abstractions, they never comprehend the concrete reality they merely represent.

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Dec 30

Reality Has Its Own Purpose In and For Itself
Bhakti Madhava Puri, Ph. D.
Princeton Bhakti Vedanta Institute

In a recent article by Deepak Chopra, MD, “Can We Evolve Beyond Evolution? We Have To” [1] it was mentioned that

“– The reality we accept is a human construct.”
“– We should see ourselves as conscious creators who imbue reality with our own purposes.”

While many people think this way there are also those who believe reality is fixed in stone beyond whatever they may think of it. To some extent both are right. We do have the freedom to interpret what we experience, and mind does play a role in determining what the senses observe. At the same time reality doesn’t just disappear when we do not perceive it. Our house is still there when we go to work for several hours. For instance, it could burn down when we are not there. So it is not all a human construct, and as for purposes they also are not solely created by us.

A more satisfactory conception would be one that includes and harmonizes both the idealism of a mind or consciousness based creation of reality, and the realism of the inherent purposefulness of an already existing reality of which we are part and parcel.

The reality people experience is a human construct insofar as it is limited to sensuous perception of the phenomenal world of appearance, as well as the circumscribed judgments of finite understanding. However, this does not reach to the noumenal Reality in and for itself beyond or behind its apparent or phenomenal surface. In India the mayavad philosophy of Brahman Satyam, Jagat Mithyä claims that Reality is purely a product of human misconception and only Brahman as mere impersonal consciousness (an oxymoron since consciousness is the essence of personality) is the absolute reality or truth. This philosophy, also called kevaladvaita, however, does not provide an alternative to material reductionism but merely an alternative reductionism. Instead of reducing everything to matter it proposes to reduce everything to impersonal consciousness. In fact, what is needed is an alternative way of thinking that is not based solely on the judgments of a finite ego that is found, for instance, in the abstract thinking of Kantian philosophy in the West as well as in the kevaladvaita interpretations of Shankaracharya in the East.

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Dec 18

Dandavat pranams,

Attached is the Princeton Bhakti Vedanta Institute Report – November 26, 2016.

“Faith, Certainty, Truth, and Love”

– excerpt –
“When one is influenced by sattva guna he performs meritorious deeds like giving in charity, feeding people, building shelters, and other moral and virtuous activities,” Sripad Puri Maharaja began to answer. ”Yet although moral and virtuous acts in this world are very glorious they can only result in anitya sukriti (temporary merit) because they are not God centered and thus only produce benefits within the realm of the three worlds. Nitya sukriti is gained by acts (-kriti means act or do, su means good or glorious) in connection with the Divinity, like taking mahaprasadam, associating with and serving the devotees, hearing scriptural and devotional discourses, chanting the Holy Name, and so on. This type of sukriti may be of two types: jnata sukriti or ajnata sukriti – knowingly performed or unknowingly performed. If someone is feeding people, for instance, and he somehow feeds a suddha bhakta in the process he will get ajnata sukriti. He unknowingly will get spiritual benefit. But if one knows that by regularly chanting the Holy Name under direction of Gurudeva one can develop love of God he accumulates jnata sukriti. Still we should remember what Srila Govinda Maharaja once mentioned, even if one has an ocean of sukriti, without intense hankering or fervent desire one will never get Krishna prema.”

“Srila Sridhara Maharaja reminds us that when Mahaprabhu says,

brahmanda bhramite kona bhagyavan jiva
guru-krsna-prasade paya bhakti-lata-bija
(Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta: Madhya-lila, 19.151)

Wandering throughout the material universe, the very
fortunate living entity who receives the grace of Guru and
Krishna receives the seed of the creeper of devotional service.

“The word bhagyavan or good fortune means sukriti. It is sukriti that brings us in contact with faith (sraddha) in spiritual life. But when we have faith in the devotees (sadhu sanga), who are also living a life of service in a devotional God centered community, that would give us more substantial benefit than a solitary faith in God.”

Please enjoy and share with others.

Srila Acharya Maharaj ki jai
Sripad Puri Maharaj ki jai

Your humble servant
Kushum devi dasi
(New York)

Dec 04

Dandavat pranams,

Attached is the Princeton Bhakti Vedanta Institute Report – November 5, 2016.

“Unity of Science and Religion: Discussion with Dr. Kitagawa”

excerpt –
“The study of the known is called ontology. The study of knowledge is called epistemology and the study of the knower is called theology. All three of these are interconnected but science only deals with the known. Science does not generally recognize that knowledge is involved in what is known. The known is what we have some knowledge about but science neglects the role of the scientist’s knowledge – the being for consciousness of the object. The relation of these three aspects is something the philosophers have been discussing in recent times since Kant (Immanuel Kant, a German philosopher who is considered a central figure of modern philosophy). The contribution of the subject, the knower, is essential to understanding the unity of the object properly. It is not that the object can be understood on its own. There’s a vital contribution from the subject in determining what the object is. A result of the failure to study his philosophical arguments in this regard has led to much confusion in the development of quantum theory concerning the role of consciousness.”
Please enjoy and share with others.

Srila Acharya Maharaj ki jai
Sripad Puri Maharaj ki jai

Your humble servant
Kushum devi dasi
(New York)

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