CST 232-B02

Reality as Sanatana Dharma

2800 years ago

    Reality as Samsara

  • Impermanence: things change (unreliability)
  • there are actions/consequences to actions — there is cause & effect (bondage, karma)
  • pain (suffering)
  • PurnirMRTyu: sanskrit word for “reincarnation;” more accurately “re-death”
    mrt -> mort (Latin) -> mortal

unchallenged for 200 years

traditionalists: accept sanatana dharma
rationalists: questioned
experientialists:

Jains: focus on karma
Buddha: focus on pain / suffering
Upanishads: focus on impermanence

poem: “we are here as on a darkling plain
filled with confused alarms of struggle and flight
amidst ignorant armies clashing…”

The Upanishads
Reality as permanent essence

Renunciate (a title, like “initiate”): seeks moksha (up. def: liberation)
moksha (this word has 3 different definitions)
Upanishadic definition of moksha: to find the real, permanent, the essence of all things (Brahman)

  1. Brihadaranyaka Upanishad:
    • protagonist: the sage Yajnavalkya (neti, neti — “not this, not that”) whatever you can point to, conceive, etc., is not real. Nothing is real.
    • what causes perception of “reality?” desire
    • renounce desire (passions)
    • Brahman: desireless, permanent entity
  2. Changdogya Upanishad:
    • protagonist: Uddelaka
    • “Tat tvam asi” you are that, that one, the one (you are Brahman)
    • the essence of persons is atman, essence of reality is brahman
    • atman/brahman are the same thing
    • problem is not desire, it is ignorance
    • renounce ignorance of self-identity
  3. Katha Upanishad
    • protagonist: Nacheketas
    • rebukes father for meager fire sacrifice offering (this is simply not done)
    • “it would have been better if you had never been born,” he dies on the spot and ends up before Yama, lord of death
    • Yama is not there — violates cultural norm of hospitality; grants 3 wishes
    • Nachaketas asks for father’s forgiveness, fire sacrifice efficacy, the nature of death
    • Yama’s answer: there is a path of pleasure, and a path of bliss. fools pursue pleasure, being endlessly locked into Samsara. The wise pursue bliss and escape the Samsaric cycle, but it’s a path, which means you have to go down the path of renunciation.
    • “aum” — mantra, power word, chant (repetitive syllabism concentration technique, similar to the RC rosary)
    • one-pointed concentration
    • Aum eventually goes away, leaving pure consciousness (pure bliss, which is pure being of Brahman)
    • death is an illusion

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