Photo by Jed Adan on Unsplash

This Has Nothing to Do with Religion

Advaita is a Sanskrit word that literally means “non-secondness.” Advaita is also apparently the name of a religion. According to Google, it is “a Vedantic doctrine that identifies the individual self (atman) with the ground of reality (brahman).”

I have recently been writing about what-is-and-is-not, which is this [looks around]. A (very) few people have referred to what I have been writing as “neo-advaita.” I want to make absolutely clear that what I am writing about has nothing to do with Advaita. I know very little about Advaita, but even the first few words of the Google dictionary definition shows that Advaita-the-religion has absolutely no relationship to what I have been writing about.

The first thing the dictionary definition mentions is “the individual self,” in the context of it being somehow real. Well, there you go: there is no individual self. The individual self is a complete illusion. There is only this, what-is-and-is-not. There is no self at all, anywhere, ever (except as a concept). Where could it possibly be hiding?

I have a suspicion about what Advaita is, but no way of knowing for sure. It seems to me that Advaita may have formed around a communication related to what-is-and-is-not. It’s possible that the communication was misunderstood to reify the illusion of self, and framed to give hope to the self, hope that it really exists and that it has a future. The hope is that the little self can realize itself as the big self. The hope is that atman can realize itself as being identical to brahman.

While “non-secondness,” or one without second, seem to be relatively skillful labeling attempts for this message, this message is completely unrelated to Advaita-the-religion. There is absolutely no hope whatsoever for the individual self. In fact, the prognosis is beyond hopeless. It’s not that the individual self might die or end, it’s that there never was an individual self. There is no individual self associated with any human body, and there never was.

There is only this, and it’s not an “I,” or a “self,” or “awareness” or “consciousness.” It’s simply what-is-and-is-not. That’s all it is. It’s also blindingly obvious. This only seems to not be recognized because the illusory self seems to be denying what-is-and-is-not.

The “atman” does not exist. Trying to merge something that simply does not exist with everything-and-nothing, the absolute, what-is-and-is-not, is just never going to happen. It’s a fools errand. The only possible purpose of such a pointless task would be to try to reify the idea of the “atman,” which is simply the (ineffective) denial of the absolute.

But the illusory self can never deny what-is-and-is-not because it is also what-is-and-is-not. It’s important to note that this is not saying that the self is special in some way. It’s not saying that “the soul” is actually the “little God.” What-is-and-is-not can appear as self-concept just as it can appear as a lump-of-rock. The difference between the self-concept and a lump-of-rock is that the self-concept only truly exists as a concept. In this sense, a lump-of-rock is much more “real” than the self-concept. Of course, what is-and-is-not can appear as a concept or as a lump-of-rock, but it’s possible to see a lump-of-rock as a lump-of-rock and a concept (the self) as a concept.

Meanwhile, what-is-and-is-not continues to be everything-and-nothing regardless of how it seems to appear. Notice how effortless it is. Look around: what-is-and-is-not is appearing spontaneously and effortlessly. It’s appearing as thinking, feeling, seeing, hearing, touching, tasting, moving, choosing, and concepting. Notice, however, that it’s not actually appearing as an individual self (beyond being a concept).

What I write about has absolutely nothing to do with Advaita-the-religion. It’s not neo-advaita. It’s not a religion nor a re-casting of a religion. It’s not that complicated, sophisticated, authoritative, special, learned, wise, powerful, or right. What is being communicated is that this is all-there-is-and-is-not.

An engineer-psychologist focused on machine intelligence. I write from my own experience to support others in living more fulfilling lives |

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