Edji Advaita and self

Posted: 03/10/2017 in Buddhadasa, Meditation
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I was drawn to Edward Muzika’s (Edji’s) “Awakening and Descent of Grace” because of the awakening aspect – I have not got far with it yet. But it is interesting.

I can’t as yet get beyond my criticisms so I am going to start with them. True Self. I came across this early on in my life (second childhood). For many years of following the path I wasn’t Buddhist, I saw the path as leading to the True Self – in search of the True Self. At that time I had a mistaken view, I always saw the True Self in some way as mine. It was a higher form of mine, an esoteric form of mine but it was mine. Mine at any level is not a right view. I have always been concerned about approaches which talk of Self even though as I understand it such views of Self are not “mine” – the terminology lends itself to a higher form of mine.

Akin to this criticism I have concerns about terms such as watcher, seer, knower. They are usually referred to as the watcher, the seer, the knower but these are terms which lend themselves to being entities – the knower and the known etc. “What is the knower?” is an obvious question, and the answer might well have an element of personification, and as it is an entity does that personification have an element of I? As such I have concerns about these terms.

As far as I understand advaita and Edji, these terms do not represent “I”. I have no dispute with that. When I used the term True Self and personified it as a higher I, it was because of ignorance. That was a mistake. But now when I hope I am not making such mistakes I become concerned by the terminology, I am not saying that Edji or advaita are saying there is an entity or I present.

This issue prevails throughout. Look at this meme which begins his satsang on consciousness:-

I am pure consciousness, universal consciousness. And later in the talk he says consciousness never dies. This reminds me of my ignorant mistake. I also had a belief at the time – reincarnation. So I developed some unsubstantiated proliferation (sankhara) that we were here to develop wisdom to improve our consciousness, and yet somehow within that proliferation there was a self with no ego.

Let’s examine the two terminologies. There is Buddhadasa’s Buddhism which talks of anatta. There are the 5 khandas with the three systems of body, psyche and self; please note this self is perceived differently to Edji and Advaita – it is the same word used very differently. The khandas are rupa – body, vedana – feelings, sanna – perceptions and memories, sankhara – mental operations and proliferations, and vinnana – consciousness. Here the word vinnana is used very differently to the words “pure consciousness” in Advaita. Here is how I understand how the khandas interact – I think my understanding is in accordance with Buddhadasa. There is consciousness that attaches to the body so that the body functions, this is not always a conscious interaction. When this attachment is more than required – such as through desire, then this attachment forms entities or egos, and if this attachment is held sufficiently these egos contribute to I which is self in Buddhadasa’s self system. Similarly consciousness attachments can form with the other 3 khandas and as that attachment develops becomes egos that contribute to I – self in Buddhadasa’s system. I is basically attachment to the 4 khandas that have occurred over time.

Buddhadasa has a fourth system – the emptiness system; note he uses the word system and I take that word as meaning process rather than being. We cannot be emptiness – sunnata. I use a visualisation to explain how the emptiness system works – this is my own I have no indication anywhere that this is what Buddhadasa would have accepted. The essential process is to remove attachment to the 5 khandas. Consciousness attaches to the 4 khandas through conditioning. Over time we learn to detach from this conditioning, and not to attach to any new conditioning – the visualisation is freeing oneself from the attachment using the mind internally in meditation. Being free from attachment there is freedom to experience emptiness – sunnata, sunnata that “wants to” experience but conditioning through the 5 khandas prevents this. In experiencing there is only experience, there is only emptiness, there is no I experiencing sunnata – emptiness.

The processes that I interpret from Advaita, Edji etc are similar. I am not the body – see meme. Once I go within I see that I am not the body, within there is emptiness that is pure consciousness. I am pure consciousness, pure consciousness is true self. For Buddhadasa there is no I experiencing emptiness, it is emptiness. There is no consciousness vinnana that is only associated with the body. The pure consciousness of Advaita is perhaps more akin to sunnata – the emptiness of Buddhadasa, but then Edji says I am pure consciousness. I as ego cannot be sunnata but the I that is pure consciousness is not ego so can be self. For Buddhadasa the self system is part of I, and is there to be detached from, for Advaita self is pure consciousness.

Is this clear? I don’t know whether it is clear to you. For me the use of a personalised word such as self creates a confusion. Emptiness is an experience that is not to be attached to. I presume Edji’s pure consciousness is not to be attached to yet the word self implies some attachment – maybe. But of course I am biassed as I have accepted Buddhadasa as my teacher/guide. In this I see no reason for using the word self in the way Advaita uses it so long as it is clear that it is pure consciousness only.

But I am going to take this further. Through my younger ignorance I accepted a notion of true self, and got attached to it. I fear such attachment now. Ego is such a risk. If you add further Edji’s approach that you are your own guide – an approach that I like – I often see meditation as my guide, then there is such a risk of ego because there is an I that is pure consciousness that could turn to ego.

I hope this dissection is not proliferation – sankhara, sankhara to be intellectual and different. Mostly I like what Edji says, and would encourage others to listen to him. Edji is much easier to get than Buddhadasa who in my view sees through dogma but is dogma-heavy. When you go through dogma you reach a point of simplicity but do you actually need to go through the confusions of the dogma proliferations in order to understand?

Books:- Treatise, Wai Zandtao Scifi, Matriellez Education.

Blogs:- Ginsukapaapdee, Matriellez.

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