2 Sep 2007 10:21
AchArya on the Objects of the Waking State (B.S., II.2.29)
michael reidy <michael_reidy@...>
2007-09-02 08:21:29 GMT
2007-09-02 08:21:29 GMT
Dear Vinayaka, The difference between the points of view of Gaudapada and Shankara concerning the dream state is really that between a broad intuition and a closely argued philosophical position. On the one hand there is the sense of absolute reality which as it were annihilates the relative and on the other hand the concept of various levels of reality nested one within the other like Russian dolls. It is possible to discern traces of Idealism in the approach of Gaudapada in relation to the topic of dreaming vis a vis the waking state. " As the dream objects are unreal in a dream, so also, because of that very reason, the objects in the waking state are unreal. But objects ( in the dream state ) differ because of existence inside ( the body ) and because of contraction ( in the dream )." Karika II.4 Shankara's commentary traces the logic of this position thus. In the dream state objects are perceived, in the waking state also objects are perceived. We know that the objects in the dream state are unreal even though they are perceived. By parity of reasoning we can infer that the objects in the waking state are also unreal for the reason that they are perceived. As we can see the attention is being switched from the objects as such to the awareness. Hidden in that approach is a theory about what it is that we are directly aware of in any mode of consciousness. In Karika IV.27 this is made clear: "Consciousness does not ever come in contact with external objects in all the three states. There being no external objects how can there be any be any baseless false apprehension of it?" Shankara makes clear that this position has the counter intuitive implication that "there is no such thing as false knowledge at all". The more moderate position that, what we are aware of is states of consciousness and it is from them that we infer the reality of external objects, is met with in modern times. It is false because there is no distinction between the valid form of knowledge which is perception and the valid form of knowledge which is inference. You cannot conflate inference and perception. ((cf. Vedanta Paribhasa (perception) on this point)). In B.S.B. II.ii.29 the concept of contradiction is introduced or as the translation of Swami Gambhirananda has it, 'sublation'. An interesting term first used by Radhakrishnan, it has its origin in Hegelian logic. The idea is of one position being absorbed by another in a higher and more comprehensive synthesis. The dream images which seem real enough in the state of dream are contradicted by the reality of the waking state. What Shankara denies is the notion that it's all just mental life, it's all just images, it's all just forms of awareness. He is saying that we can distinguish between dream and waking in the way that we can distinguish between memory and perception. We don't have to look for evidence for this distinction because in fact that would be to distinguish between different packages of awareness which is incoherent. No, we just know without evidence. "And it is not logical for those who consider themselves intelligent to deny their own experience". Further on he says: "But anything that cannot be the characteristic of something in its own right, cannot certainly be so because of a similarity with another". Here he means that if we cannot say this is the waking state because I know that this is the waking state then I cannot say that it is like the dream. To draw a likeness between two things is to distinguish between two things which is what it is claimed we cannot do. (cf. Gaudapada quoted above). Best Wishes, Michael.