Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Arvind Sharma's Experiential Approach to Advaita Vedanta

The third part of the book covers Advaita Vedanta in an Experiential approach. Sharma asks, why an experiential approach? Are not the usual scriptural and rational approaches enough? He answers the question, giving an example of the the three states in which human beings can exist are waking, dreamin and deep-sleep. It seems that the
scriptural approach ==> deep sleep
rational approach ==> waking
experiential approach ==> dreaming state

If you ask most people, to group two of these as close together and the third as different, most people would give the configuration {waking}, {dreaming, deep-sleep}. This is because, the states in the second set are "without activity". Advaita notes that the following division is more appropriate: {waking, dreaming}, {deep-sleep}. This can be substantiated from the famous examples from Janaka dreaming that he was a beggar. Tzu dreaming he was a butterfly. Incidentally, it was Chuan-Tzu, not Lao-Tzu who dreamed so. He is said to be second only to Lao-Tzu as a representative of Taoism.