Disagreement With My New Religion Professor

Interchangeable Nature of Religious Concepts?

Dr. Will had a totally different teaching style. Class discussion was
not encouraged. I guess that’s why things didn’t jell between us. He
didn’t like the way I interchanged religious concepts, either. I
finally stopped doing that, but not before, in an assigned paper on
the Upanishads, I continued to discuss what I took to be similarities
in the mystical traditions of Hinduism and Buddhism:

[The authors Uddalaka and Yajnavalkya– From Wikipedia:
The Upanishads (Sanskrit: उपनिषद्, IAST: Upaniṣad, IPA: [upəniʂəd]) are philosophical texts considered to be an early source of Hindu religion. More than 200 are known, of which the first dozen or so, the oldest and most important, are variously referred to as the principal, main (mukhya) or old Upanishads. The Upanishads have been attributed to several authors: Yajnavalkya and Uddalaka Aruni feature prominently in the early Upanishads.]

The Brahman Experience-The Seat Of Freedom
Hindu Religion Class
Feb. 26, ’80

Uddalaka and Yajnavalkya share in the fundamental view of a timeless,
spaceless, causeless Brahman. This Brahman is the sustaining power of
the universe and is also the essence, or most essential quality found
in human beings. Brahman is beyond description, but is individualized
within a person’s identifiable atman (spirit, divine self). Thus the
quest for Uddalaka and Yajnavalkya is to become conscious of their
respective atmans, however, their presentations, concerning the
aspirant’s spiritual release, reflect slightly different perspectives.

Uddalaka identifies Braham as “tat tvav asi”—thou art that, thou art
that (Will’s lecture, Hopkins p.44). For him, all is Brahman, and
everything else is “maya,” karmic illusion. Determinateness
(appearance), for Uddalaka, is all part of the warp and woof of
Brahman. The embodied self–the atman, is only a flicker in Brahman. At
death Brahman and the embodied self merge. However, the trajectory of
that flicker (its karmic consequences) determines whether or not it
will remain in the ultimate, permanent, and undetermined state of
Brahman, or spin back into maya as another karmic-cycled life form. If
the trajectory continues back into maya then another opportunity
arises for the aspirant to work off bad karma. If the trajectory
“flickers out,” then sat, chit, ananda– perfect being, perfect
consciousness, perfect bliss becomes the experience (Will’s lecture—on
liberation).

Yajnavalkya takes a slightly different approach. When he talks about
release, he emphasizes desire. For Yajnavalkya, desire fills embodied
states. Wipe out desire, and the world dissolves. Wipe out desire, and
Brahman takes its place. In order to become desireless, one must
desire an end to desire and then act on that desire, and there in lies
the problem. How can one desire something when desire itself keeps you
from attaining the desired affect? But, says Yajnavalkya, as long as
the self—atman–is desired then it is okay to desire, and knowledge,
right knowledge, is what is required in order to desire the self only.
“Knowledge of the self for Yajnavalkya,” says Hopkins, “brings an end
to rebirth because it brings an end to desire for anything other than
the self. The self is the one true source of all that has value, and
thus the only true object of desire. Only ignorance of the self could
bring desire for anything else; when one knows the self, there is
nothing more that he could desire. Nothing else need be loved or held
dear, because all else is only a manifestation of the self: ‘When the
self is seen, heard, reflected on and known then all this is known’
—Brihadaranyaka 4.5.6” (Hopkins, p. 42).

Through our choice of activities we create karma. For Uddalaka,
Brahman is achieved only when karmic obligations are fulfilled. For
Yajnavalkya, we desire karma until we desire “the indestructible, the
unattached, the unfettered, the insufferable—our atman” (Hopkins
p.39). In other words, for both men, certain kinds of intentional
behavior must be eliminated before one can experience Brahman, and,
typically, a teacher (guru) is sought out to help us achieve this
goal. With the help of this guru, at some point in the educational
process, right knowledge takes the place of ignorance. When this
happens, all worldly desires are left behind. “According to how a
person acts and behaves, so he becomes.” (Will’s law of karma lecture)
If, however, Brahman is not attained, samsaric existence continues
unabated.

In conclusion, I would like to suggest that in any teaching that calls
for spiritual progress, the most important thing to realize is first,
where you are at, and second, where do you want to go. With that
knowledge all philosophizing stops. You turn in the right direction,
or you go nowhere. It’s all in that first step, however small, —in the
direction toward more freedom.

Advertisements

About bwinwnbwi

About me: Marvin Gaye’s song, "What’s Going On" was playing on the jukebox when I went up to the counter and bought another cup of coffee. When I got back, the painting on the wall next to where I was sitting jumped out at me, the same way it had done many times before. On it was written a diatribe on creativity. It was the quote at the bottom, though, that brought me back to this seat time after time. The quote had to do with infinity; it went something like this: Think of yourself as being in that place where infinity comes together in a point; where the infinite past and the infinite future meet, where you are at right now. The quote was attributed to Hermann Hesse, but I didn’t remember reading it in any of the books that I had read by him, so I went out and bought Hesse’s last novel, Magister Ludi. I haven’t found the quote yet, but I haven't tired of looking for it either.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Disagreement With My New Religion Professor

  1. ElizOF says:

    the most important thing to realize is first,where you are at, and second, where do you want to go.
    Or a least know where one is coming from… 🙂

  2. bwinwnbwi says:

    The affirmative ideal (~~b) is the sustaining power of the universe (Brahman) while ~bb of b~b~bb is the individualized part of Brahman or the person’s identifiable atman (spirit, divine self). At death Brahman and the atman merge, the individualized affirmative ideal ~bb merges into ~~b the sustaining power of the universe. Yajnavalkya says, as long as the self—atman–is desired then it is okay to desire. “Right knowledge” is what is required in order to desire the self only. This knowledge brings an end to rebirth because it brings an end to desire for anything other than the self—the one true source of all that has value and thus the only true object of desire. When the sustaining power of the universe (Brahman/God/affirmative ideal) is recognized as self/atman, i.e., the individualized affirmative ideal (~bb of b~b~bb) then right knowledge takes the place of ignorance and with that knowledge all philosophizing stops. You turn in the right direction, or you go nowhere. It’s all in that first step, however small, in the direction toward more freedom.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s