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Ananda Sahaj

Hello! and Achintya Bheda Abheda vs Advaita

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Hello everybody!


I am new to this forum and I am very happy to be here. I hope talking to people here will help me to get a better picture of my own path.


I have been practicing Christianity, Atheïsm, Zazen, Vajra Buddhism, Advaita Vedanta, Vipassana, Daoist and Vedic Yoga and Bhakti Yoga troughout my live as i am a number one seeker ;)


The main question that arises in my mind these days is:


Achintya Bheda Abheda vs Advaita


To me Achintya Bheda Abheda, Advaita, Sunyata and Tantra make the most sense, based on my own meditation experience, enlightenment and bliss experience as well as my conceptual contemplations


Pure philosophically speaking I adhere more to Achintya Bheda Abheda then to the concepts of non-duality or duality because it encompasses the other and makes no distinction between them, which to me feels the most 'truthful'. it seems logical to me that the totality of existence goes beyond paradox and in my experience the real/unreal question is not essential: consciousness and form seem to be one undividable experience yet still variety cannot be denied, it is also experienced. If existence would be purely non-dual then there would be no object of experience, there would be nothing, even not the experience of 'something'. on the other hand it is clear nothing exists independently, except maybe consciousness, which is not an object...


So so far I follow Sri Chaitanya completely, but...


I do not follow him in his seeming fanaticism, and certainly not in the clear fanaticism of his successors of the Gaudiya Vaishnava sampredaya. also the uncritical handling of the scriptures i do not follow, because to me God manifests in each and every moment, not in the mere letters, written down by human individuals. and to me god's message could alter within every second, because the experience of time only exists within the mind and god should be the absolute doer, otherwise the concept of god does not have any reason to exist.


So to me scriptures can be of help, but cannot be regarded as absolute truth. So i really do not understand why somebody as intelligent as Sri Chaitanya would put so much emphasis on sutra's, chapters, canto's and what more.


I mean i got off Catholicism for that - i have seen so many people who know the bible at heart but who seem to have no love in their hearts at all. no, scriptures do not mean much for me. It is experience i believe in.


So I really love Lord Krishna and his bhakti and I realy like kirtan and bhajan and i really agree with Achintya Bheda Abheda in it's essence. But I have a strong resistance against the whole Prabhupada - ISCKON - fundamentalism. I mean i see much more love in the eyes of Sri Ramana Maharshi, Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, Sri Ramana Krishna, Buddha, Padmasambhava etc... although philosophically I cannot agree with non-dualism as presented by them. The whole meaning of bhakti becomes abstract or artificial when you follow their reasoning and that does not correspond to the relationship i experience with krishna/god, which was always strongly present in my life.


So either i do not understand advaita correctly, or I have to follow and live a new kind of Achintya Bheda Abheda and challenge the Gaudiya Vaishnava Sampredaya in their fanaticism and stubborn emphasis on texts and their trying to finding proof in scriptures for every manifestation in stead of just experience and inquire the essence of live trough that...


I tend to go for the latter possibility as this is most inline with my heart and insight at this point in my life...


Hopefully some people can give me delightful answers, which make my path more clear and decisive!


Please do not use scriptures as proof, because one can find a scripture somewhere to proof anything. a scripture in itself is not a logical proof, only the meaning of a scripture can be a logical proof.


Otherwise, my cookingbooks could proof that pancakes are always made with milk and can only be made with milk, which is not true because i clearly make them with water often... but that does not mean i cannot use it.


to me these are the most simplistic ways of trying to proof a viewpoint, i really do not feel much respect for that kind of truth-seeking, which is no truthseeking at all, it is just being attached to safety and a false sense of certainty and to me dharma in the contrary is all about letting go of safety and jump into real life, without any reservations whatsoever


Thank you!





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Jaya Śrī Kṛṣṇa Ānanda-jī,


You are opening up a very complex issue. I am uncertain whether I can provide you with a total solution, but I may be able to point you in the right direction. Advaita-vāda is a term referring to the "non-dual doctrine." This and "acintya-bhedābheda-tattva" are summary phrases, something like a calling card for the structural modes, i.e., the default ontological modality by which any given philosophical issue is to be "framed." I will refrain from unpacking the term more, as you seem to have no particular issue there.


As far as Caitanya's particularly focused manner of Kṛṣṇa-Bhakti, it is important to recognize that, historically speaking, Viṣṇu represents the usual popular deity in South Asian religion. Among "Hindus," some 70% or so self-identify as Vaiṣṇavas, compared against the 24% or so of those who self-identify as Śaivas, or the 6% that identify as Śāktas or Neo-Hindus (for the latter, read, "eclectic Hindu"). This is according to the most recent polls that I have come across. This is because, historically, Viṣṇu heralds the earliest traditional version of Hindu thought. Most of the post-Vedic classics are Vaiṣṇava: considering the Purāṇas and Itihāsas alone, Vaiṣṇavism was the most prolific literary culture in South Asian antiquity after the Vedic-yajña materials. Much of this grew directly out of the Yajña science of the ancient Brāhmaṇas. If one simply compares literary materials among the various sects, Vaiṣṇavas are bar-none the premier historiographic school of South Asia. This is because Vaiṣṇavas were the initial Brāhmaṇical direction taken toward monotheism, and, it appears to me, arose from a Dravidian-style of Brāhmaṇism. Śaivism was, by comparison, a later, antinomian (cf., tantric) appendix to the Vedic cosmological pantheon. Its popularity grew from two directions: (1) Brāhmaṇas concerned to govern the dark powers of the universe, and (2) outcaste cultures of wild abandon who sought to integrate into or appropriate the prevailing religious tropes of normative Vedic-Vaiṣṇava culture.


Certainly, my experience has been that Westerners in particular tend to have a greater affection for antinomian versions of Indian religious thought, perhaps not least because of the emphasis on worldly freedoms, while Vaiṣṇava conservatism has tended to receive a more critical reception for its normative tendency to idealize a "clean-cut" or "puritan" hierarchy.


As far as truth-seeking is concerned, we feel compelled to ask which truths are being sought. Vaiṣṇavas of the Bhāgavata variety scorn the five liberations (which are, according to one reading, worldly), seeking only to act from a morality which places the Good of the world before the good of oneself. Gauḍīyas are perhaps best considered as physicians whose role in history is to break such arthritic conditions as prevent the incalculable swarms of sanātana-ātmans from losing their awareness of their essential connection (yoga) with Īśvara.


And of course, there are three (or four, if you count Śakti) primal deities in India: Brahmā, Viṣṇu, and Śiva. These are not simply "accidentally" primal, but represent the three phases of Time, past, present, and future.


However, Kṛṣṇa identifies himself not as the present, but as Kāla, as Time given as an historical whole. Thus, his self-understanding as avatārī is, at least within the traditional Vedic cosmo-ontology, the orignal axis of existence. This is an ontological matter which has been discussed at great length by not only Gauḍīyas, but among countless other lineages of Vaiṣṇavas, Śaivas, Śāktas, and even Buddhists (Bauddhas). What we actually see, historically, is that this view has been tremendously influential among Asians, even if it has not always been described explicitly in these terms. Indeed, the Śaivas, Śāktas, and Bauddhas most significant response has been to "emulate" the Vaiṣṇavas on this matter, by reinscribing their own deities (iṣṭa-devatāḥ) as all-encompassing forms of Time (indeed, this is most likely why Śakti takes the name "Kālī," a term which is the feminine nominal stem of "Kāla," and why Śiva-Rūdra later becomes "Mahākāla," from whom the Kāla-cakra-tantra takes its name). What is significant for most Hindus is that one is original, the other a derivative. And this tradition remains influential just in its original form, not because of some historical accident, but because the original thought revealed by Kṛṣṇa in the Bhagavad-Gītā is itself quite powerful. As Kāla, Kṛṣṇa is the Primordial power that moves the whole of world from its origins to its fate. A rose by any other name is still a rose. That Kṛṣṇa woke the world up to the event we call "History" is not something we can easily challenge. Nothing has been the same since.

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