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Lecture 4

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RELI 2510
Richard Mann

RELI 2510: Hinduism th January 24 , 2013 The Upanishads 1. From Karman to Jnana/vidya - A direct knowledge or experience of the existence of an immortal self (atman) which is the same as a transcendent reality (brahman) - This knowledge or experience is the realization that ‘difference’ is ultimately unreal, that everything is ultimately ‘one’ - Hence this knowledge is hidden/esoteric - Atman and brahman as innefiable 2. Monism - Recall RV 10.129 - Passage about dualism BU 2.4.13-14 (slide) th - 6 senses – 6 is the mind o Most powerful/dangerous o The mind organizes the senses and generates action based on sensory input o What generates/motivates you to act in the world according to desire becomes problematic o Mind viewed as a sense because of its organization of senses but also decides what we desire/avoid - Monism: “When, however, the Whole has become one’s very self (atman), then who is there for one to smell and by what means…who is there for one to think of and by what means? Who is there for one to perceive and by what means?” o Everything is one o Attempt to explain the one (above) o Hard to explain oneness because we think in differences o Senses are problematic because they register differences o Suggests that this registration is erroneous because it can’t help find the one o Suggests other means of knowledge is required (esoteric – not easily accessed, not through book learning only, experience of the one is what you require) - Things begin with monism: “In the beginning, son, this world was simply what is existent – one only, without a second” (CU 6.2.2) o All creation stories begin with monism/absolute singularity - The goal is to transcend dualism to experience monism – back to the beginning o “As bees suck nectar from many a flower and make their honey one, so that no drop can say, ‘I am from this flower or that,’ all creatures, though one, know not they are that One” (CU 6.9.2) o Bees take nectar from multiple flowers but when its honey its one, we don’t know which exact part is from which flower, it’s all just honey o Metaphor: even though we all look different, through some mysterious process we are all the same (like the honey – some process makes it one) o There is the same basic sweetness in everything o Everything looks different but there is one core essence that we belong to – everything else is irrelevant when we see the one 3. Atman and brahman - The journey to knowledge begins with seeking the atman - Atman: the self, but in a board manner, physical self, body, being, ego, sense of self – in these texts it plays with this notions, your little equivalent of oneness o Can’t be labelled (once you put a name on it then it’s one thing and not everything else) o Naming and identification are used to separate one thing from others o Text is ambiguous in explaining atman because if it names it then it defeats the purpose of singularity o Can’t name something that because it signifies a this - Yajnavalkya and Maitreyi: “One holds a husband dear, you see, not out of love for the husband; rather, it is out of love for oneself (atman) that one holds a husband dead” (BU 2.4.5) o Yajnavalkya telling wives (multiple) that he is renouncing all worldly possessions o Maitreyi asks if the things he has will give her real knowledge, he says no and begins teaching her o Repeated for wife, children, wealth, priestly power, royal power, gods, beings, the Whole o Text claims we seek out other things because we are driven by a desire to seek out the atman/Whole o We seek out similarity but in the process we run into difference (senses drive us on and on – can never be satisfied seeking the atman in material form) o Become so dissatisfied with forms/difference in this world but recognize something beautiful in this world, think that something out of this world informs it all (whole/one) o Look for sameness in other things but are dissatisfied because of difference - “You see, Maitreyi- it is one’s self (atman) which one should see and hear, and on which one should reflect and concentrate. For by seeing and hearing one’s self, and by reflecting and concentrating on one’s self, one gains the knowledge of this whole world” (BU 2.4.5) o Real answer lies within o Don’t look out, look in - “This self (atman) is the honey of all beings, and all beings are the honey of this self. The radiant and immortal person in the self and the radiant and immortal person connected with the body (atman) – they are both one’s self. It is the immortal; it is brahman; it is the Whole” (BU 2.4.14) o Everyone’s atman is the same because it’s all brahman in the end o Everyone is the same because of the core being and this being is immortal o Atman and brahman are the same – you just begin to seek out brahman through yourself o When we think of ourselves we don’t really think of ourselves as oneness but as how we are different from others, how we are in the material world - We confuse your ‘Self’ and brahman with our ego, body and aspects of nature (BU 5.5) o “The Self is indeed Brahman, but through ignorance people identify it with intellect, mind, senses, passions, and the elements of earth, water, air, space, and fire” o Self and brahman are the same o But when we think of who we are we add lots of stuff to us (job, likes, dislikes, etc.) o The ego is impermanent, subject to change, and engaged in the material world via the senses o The atman is permanent, unchanging and does not engage in
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