More Questions Concerning the Difference between Brahman and God

Hi again.

This is quote from Ramana. Here they have translated Brahman as God again.

Distracted as we are by various thoughts, if we would continuously contemplate the Self, which is Itself God, this single thought would in due course replace all distraction and would itself ultimately vanish; the pure Consciousness that alone finally remains is God. This is Liberation. ~ Sri Ramana Maharshi

I see Brahman is god here.

 

Ted: The translation is incorrect. As explained in previous emails, God is Brahman, but Brahman is not God. God is Isvara, which is Brahman conditioned by Maya and thereby endowed with the “limitation” of limitless iccha (will or desire), jnana (knowledge), and kriya (power to act or “create”/manifest). God, therefore, is a relatively limitless, but nonetheless limited, objective phenomenon appearing within the scope of limitless conscious existence, which is Brahman.

Ingrid: But my dream that was giving the message in English, not in Norwegian, said, “Only god is real.”

I know it means only Brahman is real.

 

Ted: Good. Your understanding of the message is correct.

Ingrid: I guess Isvara as the dream is what created this message, so I would understand what is real. And only Brahman is real. But since the word god was used I cannot see why Brahman is not “allowed” to be called god.

 

Ted: It is for the reason explained above. Isvara (God) is Brahman, but Brahman is not limited to being Isvara.

Ingrid: When Isvara /god (Isvara 2) give me the word God.

It cannot be wrong then to call Brahman God. If it IS god.
I see you mean I can call it god if I separate the two.

 

Ted: Yes, as I mentioned in a previous email, you can call Brahman God if you understand the difference between Brahman and God, for it is true that God is Brahman in the sense that just as water is the substrate upon with the ocean depends for its existence, so Brahman is the substrate upon which God depends for its existence. Hence, just as water is not defined by the objective phenomenon of the ocean (there are many other forms of water, such as lake, pond, river, ice, cloud, rain, etc.), so Brahman is not comprehensively defined as God.

Ingrid: I see it is important to differentiate between these, but do not see why Isvara actually gives me the word GOD for the real and then why Vedanta is so reluctant in using it. When Brahman IS god.

 

Ted: Dreams are not the authority on truth. Vedanta is the authority. I know that sounds judgmental, but it is not said in the sense of trying to foist a belief system on you. Vedanta consists of the truths revealed to the ancient rishis (i.e., seers) in deep states of meditation or through thorough contemplation of experience. Just as Newton didn’t invent the law of gravity but instead discovered it through scientific investigation, so the rishis didn’t invent the essential nature of reality but rather discovered it through “spiritual” investigation or self-inquiry.

 

Dreams are experiences that are comprised of vasanas, or impressions left in the causal body, which is basically the subconscious mind, from past experiences. Though they may reveal the truth, they may also by inaccurate, or inaccurately interpreted.

Ingrid: It is not the Christian, or any other god picture anyway, but real god.

 

Ted: If you are so attached to calling Brahman “God,” then you can continue to do so. But I have explained why Vedanta is reluctant to use the term as a synonym for Brahman. Vedanta is very precise in its use of language because language is the means by which we understand ideas, which especially in the case of the subject at hand (i.e., the essential nature of reality) is vital because the words function as indicators to that which cannot otherwise be known—that is, it cannot be known as an object.

Ingrid: I really would like to understand more about the real.

 

Ted: The real is limitless conscious existence. All objects appearing within limitless conscious existence are only apparent. That is, their existence is dependent upon limitless conscious existence. In other words, we can take any or all objects away and limitless conscious existence remains limitless conscious existence, but if it were possible to take limitless conscious existence away, then all objects would cease to exist.

Ingrid: I know this world is within me as I am God. Brahman.

 

Ted: You as an apparent individual person are not God, for you have limited knowledge, power, and are not all-pervasive, whereas God is relatively unlimited (only Brahman is truly limitless). You are Brahman, however, in the sense that the essential nature of you is the same essential nature that is the essential nature of everything, and that essential nature is the fundamental reality, which is Brahman—i.e., limitless conscious existence.

Ingrid: It seems as If God Brahman and Isvara is two aspects of the same.

 

Ted: God is an aspect of Brahman, but limitless conscious existence is not an aspect. Limitless conscious existence is the fundamental reality of all aspects.

Ingrid: And jiva is microcosm. Isvara macrocosm.

 

Ted: That is correct.

Ingrid: Then I like the word Isvara 1 and Isvara 2. Since then god is god for both. But in a way I do not see why god is more used on Isvara than Brahman. I got the word God for Brahman. Then Isvara would be something else.

Ted: The difference between Brahman and Isvara as well as the reason for using different words to indicate the two has been explained.

 

Ingrid: When Isvara uses the word God for the real and teaches this to Jiva, Ingrid, this means Isvara sees Brahman as God and would like Ingrid to do the same. And I do. Yet Isvara is not real.

 

Ted: Exactly. Isvara is not a personal entity with an agenda. Isvara is not a cosmic person who is trying to teach you lessons. Isvara is the personification of the impersonal dharma-governed law of karma that governs the operation of the manifestation.

 

I really don’t understand why you are so concerned about justifying the use of the word God. Who cares about the word that is used as long as you understand its meaning. This attachment to the word is entirely tangential to understanding the true nature of reality. If you want to call Brahman “God,” go ahead. But you will encounter resistance from Vedantins who understand the difference between Brahman and Isvara and employ the word God to denote Isvara. You’ll simply have to understand that the reason they are resistant to the using the word God or Isvara for Brahman is valid because within the context of Vedanta, the term God/Isvara is used in a very precise way to indicate the difference between the fundamental reality, which is limitless conscious existence, and the creator-sustainer-resolver of the apparent manifestation, which is a product of Maya and is only an objective phenomenon—albeit the grandest object there is—whose existence depends upon limitless conscious existence.

Ingrid: I know dreams are also unreal. I know I live with this body, which I see, and in dreams there is a kind of body but that these bodies are unreal. I Wonder If I can see the unreal even more clearly than I do.

 

Ted: Once you know that all objective phenomena are unreal, there is no more clarity to be gained concerning the unreal.
Ingrid: I guess I want to be total free of all vasanas.

 

Ted: You cannot be so. Vasanas are the only reason you as an apparent individual are incarnate. The manifestation gives the jiva an arena in which to experience his or her karma, which is composed of vasanas. If all vasanas were gone, the person would die.

 

You can be free of vasanas in the sense of not being attached to the likes and dislikes, the desires and fears, to which they give rise. This freedom comes only through knowledge. Once you have fully assimilated the fact that no object can give you the sense of total security, peace, and happiness that is your already-existent nature, then your attachment to the objects of those likes and dislikes drops away. This is what is referred to as neutralizing your binding vasanas. When the vasanas are rendered non-binding, we are no longer compelled to obtain or avoid objects. We are no longer driven by our desires. We are free of dependence on objects for our sense of wellbeing (i.e., our sense of security, peace, and happiness). This ultimate inner freedom is moksha.

 

Ingrid: And identification with limited objects. Only want to be in God Brahman. I am this, so I cannot be more in it, but I do not feel I am free of Vasanas. I want to keep my mind on the self, although I am the self.

 

Ted: Your desire smacks of mumukshutva (i.e., a burning desire for liberation), which is one of the essential qualifications of the student. Keeping your mind fixed on the self is the basis of the process of nididhyasana (i.e., the continuous meditation on and application of the teaching to each and every moment of your life), which is the practice that will solidify the self-knowledge that is tantamount to freedom.

Ingrid: I try to keep silent. Focusing on scriptures, etc. I am living an ordinary life with a six-year-old son. I am socializing with him, but otherwise try to be silent. I work and meet people, so everyday things are happening. I am saying this so you know I do not sit and am being fanatic.
I do try to develop some talents like painting. Poetry. Singing. So I do follow my Dharma, although my son is mostly what I have time for. And Vedanta.

 

Ted: Your lifestyle sounds conducive to the practice of karma yoga and self-inquiry. Practice karma yoga when you are interacting with others or developing your talents. And make time for self-inquiry (i.e., reading about Vedanta, watching or listening to Vedanta talks, etc.) everyday. This is the means by which you will progress toward the assimilation of self-knowledge and the realization of your true nature.

Ingrid: Sometimes I think I am rajasic as I cannot keep as quiet as I want to. I want to be quieter. And manage this. I know Vedanta do not talk about quiet, but I really do not see why when it helps to get a silent mind. Sattvic.

 

Ted: Vedanta does talk about the importance of cultivating a quiet mind. A sattvic mind is the only mind in which self-knowledge can take place. All of the spiritual practices—i.e. karma yoga, devotional worship, meditation, and energy management—are designed to cultivate a quiet mind. The mind doesn’t have to be silent, but it does have to be sattvic to the degree that it is not agitated by compelling desires that unduly extrovert its attention and prevent it from turning within and engaging in effective self-inquiry.

 

Ingrid: Solitude is the same as keeping quiet or I do not know people talking a lot in solitude?

 

Ted: I’m not sure exactly what you mean here, but the mind doesn’t have to be totally silent, but simply quiet enough to turn within. Basically, a quiet mind amounts to a mind that is free of binding vasanas.

 

Ingrid: One can be quiet and it helps to quench neediness, etc. for objects or whatever I can say. To be independent. Free from them. And to trust in God and destiny.  That Isvara will deliver all that is needed.

 

Ted: This is essential to making progress toward gaining self-knowledge.

Ingrid: I just feel to live even more in inquiry as like Ramana says all the time keeping my attention on the self.

 

Ted: This is nididhyasana, which as explained is an essential aspect of gaining self-knowledge.
Ingrid: I guess I have the guidance to do it. Maybe I am doing ok.

 

Ted: You are. Have confidence in yourself and in Vedanta. You have the necessary tools to free yourself from the prison of samsara.
Ingrid: But still vasanas can be strong I guess.

 

Ted: Yes, the vasanas have been so deeply conditioned into us that it can take quite a bit of time and effort to erase them.
Ingrid: Is it just to focus on scripture? Inquiry? And willpower to refrain from vasanas?

 

Ted: All of the above.

Ingrid: I was thinking maybe you could visit Norway sometime. I am working at the unity center in Oslo. I could see If there were interest for you to come at Vedanta Norge. I am sure you could live there If not on a hotel and people would be happy to learn from you. I know another place called Haraldsheim where people can come to stay for retreats as well. If you go to Scandinavia.
I will see Swartz in Sept. He goes to Stavanger. But I am sure the Oslo area would attract more people. It is not as many in Norway yet I guess that are into Vedanta. You could come after Swartz gave been here maybe so people do go to see him. Or maybe they will get interest in seeing him in Stavanger when they’ve met you in Oslo, those that do not know him. Just ideas. I do not know if you have been around here or think it is interest for it yet.

 

Ted: I would love to come to Norway and teach. Let me know if there is any interest, and we can figure something out.
Ingrid: I know I am the Self.

So focusing between my eyebrows makeup me having my thoughts on God. Or visualizing Krishna/self. And think of Brahman while doing actions like Bhakti yoga (karma yoga) is probably what I need. And reading Bhagavadgita. And the inquiry is this know to me (or “You are that”).

All this I am asked to do. In dreams. So if I do this it must inevitably lead to liberation?

 

Ted: Yes, these instructions correspond with what Vedanta prescribes. Ultimately, success is guaranteed because the goal is you.

Ingrid: I do not know how long it will take before I know I am Self-actualized. At least I know I am not the doer, but my self/the self/Krishna (symbol for it).

 

Ted: Your understanding is correct. Now it is simply a matter of fully assimilating that knowledge. When you are as convinced that you are self/Krishna/limitless conscious existence as you once were than you were the apparent person you seem to be, then you are free.
 

Hi Ted

I had a bad dream night to Sunday, which I usually do not.

Anyway, in the dream the people were so bad and I connected with God (Isvara) in the dream as I realized the world I live in was not real and that it would pass.

I mean just talked inwardly addressing god since the people were mean, but I kept calm.

I did not wake up in my dream realizing it was a dream as I sometimes do, and then can fly in the dream or jump or discover something. Because the dream was so real to waking state although bad circumstance so I thought I were in the waking state.

Anyway, when I woke up I had the realization that this is exactly how this waking state is. Not real at all, which I know. And I would really want to be more awake so to understand more of reality. So this would happen more often in waking state as well. Not identification. Seeing it will pass.

I try to focus on Krishna as well. As to have this one-pointed mind and not to forget my true nature. Just see occasional thoughts as “not I,” since I am not them. They are within me or in front of me. I am the light of awareness shining upon all this.

 

Ted: All objective phenomena are within you. They are not in front of you. You are not a limited person with a limited point of view. You are limitless conscious existence. The mind processes the experience from a limited perspective, but understands that truly speaking its essential nature is limitless.

Ingrid: Is it necessary to focus on the image of Krishna or the name or is it sufficient to just focus between my eyebrows as to remember God/Self/Brahman?

 

Ted: It is not necessary to focus on any image or any point. You simply focus on discriminating between the real and the apparent, the self and the “not self.” You can focus on an image or point if it helps you make the discrimination or remember your true nature, but it is not necessary to do so.

Ingrid: Krishna is myself and I can keep the image inside my mind. I got a wonderful message in dream not long ago where Krishna was enormously beautiful and there were no end to him. The image seemed real and more beautiful than any painter could paint and it was no end to it.

Like he was at one with the blue sky and it would be impossible to paint since in any painting there is boundary like the frame. Here it was not. His body had no end, but were continued as blue sky in the same colour as him.

 

Ted: This is the similar to the vision of the Cosmic Identity that Krishna blesses Arjuna with in the Bhagavad Gita. What is important, however, is not the vision itself, but the truth it reveals—that is, the fact that you (for you are Krishna, so to speak) are limitless conscious existence.

Ingrid: You are the self. I think I remember the message was that. I wrote it down somewhere so I can double check.

I guess holding this image in my mind can be a great help.

I guess I answered my self on this.

Thank you

Hope all is well!

Love,

 

Ingrid

 

Ted: Good application of the teachings, Ingrid.

 

Love to you as well,

 

Ted