Here are the opening lines from chapter 8:

ARJUNA:

“What is that Brahman, what is Adhyatma, and what, O best of men! is Karma? What also is Adhibhuta, and what Adhidaiva? Who too is Adhiyajna here, in this body, and how therein, O slayer of Madhu? Tell me also how men who are fixed in meditation are to know thee at the hour of death.”

KRISHNA:

“Brahman the Supreme is the exhaustless. Adhyatma is the name of my being manifesting as the Individual Self. Karma is the emanation which causes the existence and reproduction of creatures. 1 Adhibhuta is the Supreme Spirit dwelling in all elemental nature through the mysterious power of nature’s illusion. Adhidaiva is the Purusha, the Spiritual Person, and Adhiyajna is myself in this body, O best of embodied men. Whoever at the hour of death abandoneth the body, fixed in meditation upon me, without doubt goeth to me. Whoso in consequence of constant meditation on any particular form thinketh upon it when quitting his mortal shape, even to that doth he go, O son of Kuni. Therefore at all times meditate only on me and fight. Thy mind and Buddhi being placed on me alone, thou shalt without doubt come to me. The man whose heart abides in me alone, wandering to no other object, shall also by meditation on the Supreme Spirit go to it, O son of Pritha. Whosoever shall meditate upon the All-Wise which is without beginning, the Supreme Ruler, the smallest of the small, the Supporter of all, whose form is incomprehensible, bright as the sun beyond the darkness; with mind undeviating, united to devotion, and by the power of meditation concentrated at the hour of death, with his vital powers placed between the eyebrows, attains to that Supreme Divine Spirit.

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How can we understand the 5 things mentioned here in terms of the three fundamental propositions of the Secret Doctrine ?

Brahman the Supreme,

Adhyatma

Karma

Adibhuta

Adidaivata

Adiyajna

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Perhaps we can understand these 5 ideas in the light of the 3 fundamental propositions.

Brahman the Spreme is the exhaustless :

Brahma the Supreme should be Absolute which is unknowable – the first fundamental proposition.

 It is the Causeless Cause, the Rootless Root of all that was, is and ever shall be. Of IT is is said : IT is Omnipresent, Eternal, Boundless, and Immutable PRINCIPLE. Because IT is immutable it is referred to as “exhaustless,” (Akshara). This indescribable is described in a series of negatives, very logically.


i. IT is devoid of all attributes or qualities; how can Absolute have qualities ? Qualities arise in IT but it is devoid of qualities.


ii. IT antecedes all conditioned existence or being. Therefore IT cannot be called Being; but it perhaps be called BE-NESS


iii. Is essentially unrelated to conditioned being; i.e., It is unrelated to universe in the sense that whether there are universes or not, of which IT is the Causeless Cause, IT IS—like SPACE.

iv. IT is logically has to be symbolized as Absolute Abstract Motion, Absolute Abstract Space and Duration—the three aspects of THAT which is neither of these but potentially  the Cause of Cosmic Motion, Cosmic Space or Substance, and Time.


v. Geometrically, IT is represented as a Circle or a sphere; the circumference of which represents the limitation our mind. If we imagine ourselves standing in free space, the utmost vision of ours all around traces a circle or sphere, which defines the limitation of our mind; but Space is actually not so limited but Infinite. Therefore it is represented as a circle -- The circle whose centre of everywhere and circumference nowhere.

THAT, represented by us as the trinity of Absolute Abstract Motion (representing Absolute Consciousness), Absolute Abstract Space (representing absolute field of Absolute consciousness) and Duration, is the ultimate Reality—the ONE Absolute TRUTH.

Ethical implication of it is :

IT cannot be absent from any point in infinite space; all that ever is comes from THAT, lives in THAT, sustained by THAT and resolves itself back in THAT. Everything is indeed THAT Itself. There is no separateness. ALL are in essence ONE, though our limited perception in embodied state give us the illusion of self to be separate from other selves. Hence the reality of UNIVERSAL BROTHERHOOD.

The Brahman the Supreme, the exhaustless, is the origin of all and ultimate goal of all.

Our meditation on THAT may perhaps proceed along these lines. 

All other attribuutes mentioned subsequently--Karma, Adhyatma, Adibhuta,Adidaivata, Adiyajna are aspects of THAT Absolute ONE--which aspects can be considered separately and as ONE.

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Is Krishna giving us guidelines for meditation here?

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I think you are right about this.  And this section of the Gita certainly points away from the personal self to ideas that are indeed expansive and universal. Talk about getting "off of oneself".

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With the last sloka (VII.30) of the previous chapter, Bhagavan introduces a few technical terms to Arjuna.  Krsna has also restated them in the first 4 slokas of Discourse VIII, which are as follows; Adhyatman, Adhibhutam, Adhidaivam, Adhiyajna, and Karma.  They can all be understood as the following;



Adhyatma could be understood as the same Supreme Brahman existing as the Ego, as the inner most self as the Pratyagatman- that which first shows itself as the innermost Self in the body. 



Adhibhutam is said the be the physical region; the perishable existence.  Sri Adi Sankara Bhagavat-Pada writes in his commentary that it litterally is that which "gathers itself round the whole animated creation and is composed of the whole perishable existence, i.e. of every thing that has birth." 



There is a beautiful Rg Mantra (X.90) that is commonly known as the Purusa-Sukta that would be very beneficial for any student to read regarding the term Adhidaivata.  Also a very short, yet deeply signifiant and sacred mantra; Gayatri, that would perhaps provide a very significant understanding.   The Adhidaivata is the Purusa, by which everything is "filled." Sankaracharya notes Hiranyagarbha- the Universal Soul "abiding in the sun [aditya]"  to be also understood as in relation to the Purusa.  Hiranyagarbha is known as many names e.g. Sutratma, Brahma, the "Golden Embryo/Germ," or Prajapati; the total mind of all jivas.  The Universal Sukshma Sariram- the active force.  



Adhiyajna; According to Sankaracharya's commentary, "... is he who identifies himself with all acts of sacrifices, the Deity named Vishnu.  He is verily Myself.  I am the Deity concerned with all acts of sacrifices in the body.- As an act of sacrifice (yajna) has to be performed by the body, it is said to be inherent in it, and as such it may be said to rest in the body."  Some define Adhiyajna as; "the divinity presiding over, superintending over, transcending, controlling, deciding, determining and judging. All activity in the universe is Iswara as adhiyajna, the Supreme Being who receives the fruits of all our actions. This whole world is the field of activity."  

Karma; That which causes the origin of all creatures; (all beings) animate and inanimate.



The 8th Discourse of the Gita is quite unlike any other, thus it is quite unique.  Although there are many works regarding this subject, I believe that Krsna is explaining a specific upasana on the Saguna Iswara as a way to develop the minds maturity to concentrate on Nirguna Iswara. These two types of upasanas will correspond to the two Paths presented later on in the discourse. There is a connection here to Chhandogya Upanisad V.X.1, weather or not it will be brought up on this thread, I don't know.  Refer to Sri Sureswaracharya's Manasollasa on the Dakshinamurthi Stotram (ch.VI) gives this teaching (G.VIII.1-4) in a nutshell; 

Macrocosm (Adhidaiva, Samashti, Karana)


Upadhi.                                 Brahman's manifestation


Avyakrita or Avyakta                     Isvara or Akshara.

Hiranyagarbha.                             Sutratman.

Viraj.                                            Vaisyanara.



Microcosm (Adhyatma, Vyashti, Karya).


Upadhi.                                 Brahman's manifestation


Karana-sarira.                          Prajna.

Linga-sarira.                            Taijasa.

Sthula-sarira.                           Visva.

Sureswaracharya uses slightly different technical language, although the message is exact, and it will do quite well for the individual to concentrate on the connections referring to the Macro and Microcosm.

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You mention that the 8th chapter is quite a bit different than the others.  Can you please elaborate?  Different in what ways?

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    The 8th chapter of the Gita is unique compared to the rest of the chapters for the following reasons.  It is important to remember what was said in the pervious chapter(s) as it relates quite directly to this chapter.  It may appear to be subtle or "academic," however it is quite important for the growth of the devotee.   I will let the readers know that most of this information I have gathered from Acharya Paramarthananda Saraswati Swami;

The sadhanas highlighted are Upasanas - meditations respectively, which are of two types: 1) Sakama Upasana and 2) Nishkama Upasana.  This actually begins with the 7th chapter and ends with the 12th.  Upasana is defined as  "saguna  brahma vishaya  manasa vyapara"  Upasana is primarily a mental activity- no physical activity can be called upasana; including pujas, japa, and etc- which is actually Karma Yoga.  Upasana is the sadhana done only by the mind as the instrument, hence Manasa Vyapara.  Any mental activity is not quite upasana, only the mental activity associated with Iswara is understood as upasana- this is the primary understanding.  So again, mental activity associated with Saguna Brahman, or Iswara endowed with attributes is qualified as upasana.  

Upasana is of two types as above stated; Sakama and Nishkama Upasana.  I will try to give a elaborate, or at least a semi-lucid understanding of these two types, as it will play a very important role in how Chapter 8 is a "unique" chapter.  Please read carefully, the differences are slight, and will seem to fall through the crack, I suppose. Continuing...

Sakama upasana: a person will practice this for the motive of material benefits; belonging to this world, or the benefits belonging to the other lokas.  Going to higher lokas does qualify as a material benefit due to the enjoyments and experiences held in that particular loka.  Material pleasures, miraculous powers, siddhis (remember, these have nothing to do with spirituality.  A note by Paramarthananda Saraswati Swami "There is not even an iota of smell of spirituality in miracles.") These are all material benefits only that come about by the practice of Sakama Upasana. 

Nishkama Upasana;  The same meditation on saguna brahma vishaya mAnasa vyApAra but without the hankering of material benefit. Without the desire of higher lokas, the person can practice Nishkama upasana- this is the primary topic of the mid section of the gita (6-12). Krsna mentions this upasana as being directly related to the inner growth (spiritual) of a person.  This upasana is practiced by a person who values spiritual growth more than material benefits/acomplishments.  Careful now, because Nishkama upasana is divided into two types;

      1) Person who practiced Nishkama Upasana for a length of time which will give sufficient spiritual maturity,  inner growth or spiritual qualifications which are required for Jnana Yoga Abhyasa.  When the devotee has aquired these qualifications then he leaves or gives up the practice of Nishkama Upasana and takes to Jnana Yoga, or Vedanta Vicara which does not come under upasana.  Upasana concentrates on Saguna Iswara, where as Jnana Yoga concentrates upon Nirguna Iswara- the attributeless Brahman.  This Nirguna Iswara is pursued by Vedanta Sravana – Manana – Nididhyasana.  Jnana Yoga involved consistent systematic Vedantic study under the direct guidance of an Acharya.  This alone give the knowledge of the Nirguna Brahman, and needs to become refined and constantly contemplated until the removal of all doubt is secured in the intellect.  And by Nididhyasanam all this information becomes assimilated.  This withdrawl of Nishkama Upasana and application in Vedanta Vicara attaining Nirguna Brahman Jnana Nistha- this leads to liberation here (yes, here) also known as Jivamukti.  After the death of the Jivamukti, they become one with the Iswara.  This is only one route of Nishkama Upasana, the Jivamukti route; this is the topic that Krshna mainly highlights though out the Gita; namely the 7th, 9th, 10th, 11th, and the 12th chapters respectively.

     2) The 8th chapter alone Krsna deals with the second type of Nishkama Upasana;  a person who practices the meditation (Nishkama Upasana), neglecting the material benefits etc., but the difference is, is that the devotee continues to practice this Nishkama Upasana through out the life!  The other devotee, as just stated, practiced Nishkama Upasana, but drops it at a point and turns their attention to the Vedanta Vicara, or Jnana Yoga.  The second type does not come to Nirguna Iswara at all, no Vedanta...  Because of this their mind becomes saturated with the Saguna Iswara- and since this chapter (8) is dealing with the remembering the Lord at the time of death, what do you think will happen to the devotee who contemplated the Saguna Iswara (endowed with attributes)  though out their life?  They have not come to the Nirguna Iswara (attributeless), no Vedanta, no "Aham Brahman Asi."  Technically speaking this person is ajnani upasaka, and for such an upasaka (meditator) they will not get liberation here, but will attain Brahma-Loka at the time of death.  Accordingly, at that time, one is able to change the mode of meditation from Saguna to Nirguna and come to Vedanta Vicara/ Jnana Yoga.  This route is called Krama Mukti.  

The 8th Chapter is regarding the Krama Mukti path- Liberation after death, that is, going to Brahma Loka to become qualified for the assimilation into Vedanta Vicara Jnana Yoga, then, Liberation.  Krsna does not entertain this path, but strongly suggest Jivamukti. Hence, the uniqueness.

It is basically about these two types of meditations.  There should be progressive development in the individual.  Some schools recommend a personal God to meditate upon, others warn against it.  All of this depends on the maturity of the devotee, and none of it is either right or wrong.  The emphasis is of these two paths mentioned above; Jivamukti and Krama Mukti; Liberation now opposed to, Liberation after.  Chapter 8 is the only chapter where this route is explained.  I hope this information works, I have tried to relay the emphasis on this particular chapter, hopefully I have done so accurately. 

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It also occurred to my that there might arise a slight misunderstanding which would lead to some very awful and counterproductive results regarding Nirguna Iswara Upasana. Although attributeless, it should not be taken literally when starting this particular meditation. One should set out to contemplate Nirguna Iswara (unconditioned) only after beingintellectually convinced of the reality of the Atman as being the substrate of all manifestations of nama-rupa. This is the important part. You may refer to Gaudapada's Karika on this subject (I'm sure it is in Theosophical Articles, but I have little references regarding this, B. Shankar and T.S.R. has mentioned it- this is all I know).

So as stated in pervious chapters in the Gita, once the devotee has become intellectually mature (secured/convinced) they are able to set out on the path of Nirguna Iswara Upasana- "not as being devoid of all characteristics, but as the Sat-Chit- Ananda, as Being, Consciousness, and Bliss (this falls under vedic authority). To do this the aspirant has only to "strip his own individual consciousness of all limitations caused by the Upadhis until it becomes one with the Universal Consciousness as he (she) can conceive it. " There must be a very crucial "transfer of individuality" to match that of Brahman- it is at this point where all the idea of separateness ceases. This is what is what Krisna is supporting via Jivamukti Path- which in time will lead the aspirant to have intuitive realization of the Absolute Brahman- "Aham Sat-Chit-Ananda Brahman Asi " while still living.

Although there is a stern warning if this sadhana isn't properly performed, (from the pen of Ahladi Mahadeva Sastry); "Any attempt to contemplate Brahman at the initial stage as altogether unconditioned will be tantamount to the contemplation of the Chaotic Tamas- of Avyakta, of Prakriti (mulaprakriti or aparaprakriti)- which, if purused to the culminating point, would lead thus throwing back the soul's spiritual evolution almost to its starting point." Thus, if one cannot contemplate Nirguna Iswara as prescribed, best not to venture out into the sadhana accidently (contemplating) identifying with Avyakta.

This is just an emphasis on what has been said before. Krsna has recommended this contemplation on Saguna Iswara manifest in the Universe for the benefit of those who cannot yet grip the Nirguna aspect.

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While what has been said from the view point of popular Vedanta, which none of us, with our limited knowledge, can dispute, yet it must be stated that there are differences between it and Theosophy as regards constitution of Man and the Universe, their origin, evolution and destiny.

For many of us Vedantic metaphysical concepts  and Sanskrit terminologies, can be confusing.

Though some Sanskrit terms are used in Theosophy, Theosophical Teachers like HPB have evolved Theosophical terms with specific meaning attached to each, and should not be confused with the meanings of other Indian or non Indian schools.

The main ideas of The Secret Doctrine are the foundations of Theosophical metaphysics, philosophy and psychology which give us a comprehensive and all-inclusive view of the whole of life in a way comprehensible to Western and Eastern minds alike. Vedanta is one of the six Indian schools. Theosophy is their synthesis.

 

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My apologies. 
If I have caused any confusion for those unfamiliar with the usage of a different system, you my skip over my contribution. 
Regards.

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There is no need for apologies. The whole point of these discussions is to draw out the best of our comprehensions and examine them in the light of theosophical principles.  Unless we are enlightened we will have some error or short comings in our understandings.  As fellow students who trust and support each other it becomes necessary to clarify and correct.  We do this with kindness and compassion if we have the self control and strength of character.

We all learn by trial and error.  What is wrong and what is right is often best discovered by taking a risk and getting one's ideas to writing and allowing others to examine them.  If one is unconvinced there is no need to change one's perspective until sufficient evidence arrives.

It is interesting to me how vigorously the Dalai Lama seeks out those who have counter proposals to Buddhist ideas to see where they might be lacking.  He is entirely unafraid of changing his mind when presented with truthful statements.

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Kristan, my apologies to you if I my statements been hurtful. I didn't mean to though  the tone of the statement gives that impression. You will pl pardon me. My point was use of Sanskrit terminologies of Vedantic system may confuse students who may be new to Theosophy. Use of familiar English equivalents of Sanscrit terms evolved over the years in Theosophical expositions will be more helpful. 

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Permalink Reply by Kristan Stratos on September 9, 2014 at 3:22am
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Ramprakash,

There are endless ways one can approach the study of the Gita.  I may have gotten a little excited about this chapter and perhaps said too much in an unfamiliar way excluding some newer students, or those unfamiliar with technical Vedantic/Sanskrit terminologies. 

In my defense, I am not too familiar with some Theosophical equivalents that may relay the same idea.  I am aware that Vedanta uses technical terms that may mean something entirely different in Theosophy... Judging by the responses, I may have unknowingly used a few of these words?  I suppose this is why we have discussion groups, so we can welcome the ideas of others and try to find the unifying commonality. 

Your apologies are truly accepted.  I will try to use different language for the benefit of those unfamiliar with the language of the Gita.

Permalink Reply by barbaram on September 8, 2014 at 7:49pm
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Kristan:

I have been thinking about your post.  One thing that crossed my mind while I was reading it was the difference between meditation on forms (seeds) and on the formless (seedless) as described in the Yoga Sutra.  Not surprisingly, the latter is more difficult for the students.  I understand the caution about taking up the practice of meditation when one is not ready. 

This powerful statement you wrote gives us much food for thought -

"There must be a very crucial "transfer of individuality" to match that of Brahman- it is at this point where all the idea of separateness ceases. This is what is what Krisna is supporting via Jivamukti Path- which in time will lead the aspirant to have intuitive realization of the Absolute Brahman- "Aham Sat-Chit-Ananda Brahman Asi " while still living."

I am interested to learn about the differences between Theosophy and the Vedanta System.  Can you identify the major ones? 

Thank you in advance. 

 

Permalink Reply by Kristan Stratos on September 9, 2014 at 3:06am
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Nice to hear from you Barbra! 

I am unable to help you as far as the differences between Theosophy and Vedanta goes.  I personally try to find the similarities.  The differences that I have come across have been noted as "side issues" from the Theosophists I know. 

We can split hairs a thousand times, then proceed to split the split... you know what I mean?  I'm sure there are a few notable differences, but honestly, I dont think it applies to this topic, and it might be out of place to get into them here. 

Permalink Reply by Ramprakash ML on September 9, 2014 at 4:24am
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Vedantic perspective is an elastic term. There is no one Vedantic view but at least three : View of Advaita, Visishtadvaita and Dwaita. 

Of these three, Advaita Vedanta is very close to Theosophy, almost runs parallel to it, with some differences. 

Kristen seems to be following Advaita Vedanta. The other two are highly anthropomorphic and wholly opposed to scientific Theosophy. With the first two  even Advaitees do not agree.

But as he says it is all hairsplitting intellectual jugglery which is futile and may be avoided. 

Differences between Theosophical and Advaita Vedanta may be noted as the discussions proceed. To highlight the difference, even so far we beginners have understood, would be too lengthy, and confusing to new inquirers. 

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on September 9, 2014 at 10:49am
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Could forms Barb mentions here also include an idea which is a thought form?  One could meditate on the Great Teachers, or a particular great teacher, or a universal idea like Unity or the Atman, or Universal Brotherhood.  Are all of these not "meditation with a seed" in the Patajali system?  And is this practice not to be recommended?  The main idea is to get off of oneself for starters.  Like Grace said earlier this chapter seems to be giving us seeds  of grand ideas (Adyatman, Adybhuta etc) to meditate upon.

Permalink Reply by Ramprakash ML on September 9, 2014 at 10:24pm
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Somewhere HPB says that the idea of Absolute Unity is impossible for us to  conceive if we do not have something concrete before us to embody that idea. 

Supreme Brahma, the exhaustless (1st verse of the 8th chapter) is inconceivable to us apart from the such of ITS comprehensible manifestations as Adyatma, Karma, Adibhuta, Adidaivata, Adiyajna, and numerous other most excellent divine attributes and qualities (Vibhutis).

This is said very graphically in SD i, p. 58 :

"If thou wouldst believe in the power which acts within the root of a plant, or imagine the root concealed under the soil, thou hast to think of its stalk or trunk and of its leaves and flowers. Thou canst not imagine that power independently of these objects. Life can be known only by the Tree of Life...." (Precept of Yoga)

This may help us to understand what Kristen was saying about contemplation of Nirguna Brahma and Saguna Brahma.

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on September 10, 2014 at 5:42pm
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Ram your comments reminds me of the Voice when it says the mind needs depth and breadth to guide it to the Diamond Soul.

Permalink Reply by Ramprakash ML on September 16, 2014 at 9:29am
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Kris,

I went over your explanation of Brahma, Abhyatma, Adibuta, Adidaivata and Adiyajna. It makes sense. But the same can be understood more easily in terms and mode of thought of the HPB's SD, in the light of the three fundamental propositions. As we have to keep our posts short we cannot discuss these here. 

You have mentioned Adidaivata, Spiritual Person, as Purusha which is sung in hymns of Purusha Sukta.

In Theosophical parlance it is Heavenly Man or Mahat or Maha Buddhi, Third Logos. Buddhists will call it Kwan-Shi-Yin, the Cosmic Monad, from which emanate innumerable Monads or Egos. These Monads are Adhyatma.

So it seems to me.

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on September 16, 2014 at 3:17pm
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It might be helpful to add here that the Esoteric Science had been underground both in the East and West for so long that it required a new vocabulary to understand its essentials and basics when the Masters determined it was time for the existence of the Science to resurface.  All the existing systems are EXOTERIC and by definition incomplete.  HPB  had to borrow words from various traditions and then define them in deeper and more expansive ways to get the points across.  This is precisely why we use the SD as our benchmark for conceptualizing this deep ideas.  That is why there is not a one to one match between any "system" no matter how well conceived and the Esoteric Science (Theosophy in its deepest sense.)

Permalink Reply by ModeratorTN on September 5, 2014 at 1:21pm
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From the Charles Johnston rendition:

ARJUNA SAID:

What is the Eternal? What is the highest Self? What is the Work, O best of men? What is called the highest Being, and what is declared to be the highest Divinity?

What and in what manner is the highest Sacrifice, here, in the body, O Slayer of Madhu? And how art thou to be known at the time of going forth in death, by those who are self-ruled?

THE MASTER SAID:

Unchanging is the supreme Eternal. Self-conscious Life is called the highest Self. The emanating Power which causes the form and forth-comings of all beings, is called Karma, the great Work.

The highest Being is existence subject to change. Individual Spirit is the highest Divinity. The highest Sacrifice am I, here in the body, O best of embodied creatures!

And he who goes forth, putting off the body, and at the time of the end remembering Me, such a one goes to My Being; of this there is no doubt. (5)

Whatever Being one remembers, when putting off the body at death, to that verily he goes, O Son of Kunti, ever formed in the likeness of that Being.

Therefore at every instant remember Me, and fight on; with heart and soul-vision fixed on Me, thou shalt assuredly come to Me.

Such a one with thought assiduously held in union with Me, and wandering in no other way, goes to the supreme Spirit, the Divine, ever thinking thereon, O son of Pritha.

He who holds in his heart that Seer, the Ancient, the Giver of commands, who is smaller than small; who is the Disposer of the All, of form unthinkable, in color like the sun, beyond the darkness;

At the time of the end united in love, with heart unwavering, and with the power of union, gathering the life-power between the brows, he enters straightway into the supreme Spirit, the Divine. (10)

Permalink Reply by ModeratorTN on September 7, 2014 at 9:47pm
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The next section from the Judge Edition:

“I will now make known to thee that path which the learned in the Vedas call indestructible, into which enter those who are free from attachments, and is followed by those desirous of leading the life of a Brahmachari2 laboring for salvation. He who closeth all the doors of his senses, imprisoneth his mind in his heart, fixeth his vital powers in his head, standing firm in meditation, repeating the monosyllable OM, and thus continues when he is quitting the body, goeth to the supreme goal. He who, with heart undiverted to any other object, meditates constantly and through the whole of life on me shall surely attain to me, O son of Pritha. Those great-souled ones who have attained to supreme perfection come unto me and no more incur rebirths rapidly revolving, which are mansions of pain and sorrow.

Permalink Reply by Ramprakash ML on September 9, 2014 at 4:12am
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Permalink Reply by Kristan Stratos 27 minutes ago

Ramprakash,

There are endless ways one can approach the study of the Gita.  I may have gotten a little excited about this chapter and perhaps said too much in an unfamiliar way excluding some newer students, or those unfamiliar with technical Vedantic/Sanskrit terminologies.  In my defense, I am not too familiar with some Theosophical equivalents that may relay the same idea.  I am aware that Vedanta uses technical terms that may mean something entirely different in Theosophy... Judging by the responses, I may have unknowingly used a few of these words?  I suppose this is why we have discussion groups, so we can welcome the ideas of others and try to find the unifying commonality

Your apologies are truly accepted.  I will try to use different language for the benefit of those unfamiliar with the language of the Gita.

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Kristen,

Thanks for your gracious response to my apology. As the thread of this discussion ended I am writing this post as a new beginning. It is because of the limitation of the software in use. 

I wholly agree with you that Bhagavadgita has many approaches for understanding, and according to one's progress, and that one can never dogmatically hold to just one view and consider others' as wrong. After all, it is the study of the Adepts who are wholly exempt from dogmatism.

Yes, it will be very helpful if you will kindly try to give English equivalents or equivalent of Theosophical terms when using difficult Sanscrit  words. Your posts are valuable . So please continue Vedantic viewpoint of the Gita, and we will try to juxtapose with it Theosophical perspective,as far as we tyros know. We can mutually learn much. Thanks once again dear friend.

Replies to This Discussion

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on September 9, 2014 at 10:28am
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Practically how does this chapter help us take steps towards Self-Realization?

Permalink Reply by ModeratorTN on September 10, 2014 at 3:16pm
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Next Paragraph from the Judge Rendition

“All worlds up to that of Brahman are subject to rebirth again and again, but they, O son of Kunti, who reach to me have no rebirth. Those who are acquainted with day and night3 know that the day of Brahma is a thousand revolutions of the yugas and that his night extendeth for a thousand more. At the coming on of that day all things issue forth from the unmanifested into manifestation, so on the approach of that night they merge again into the unmanifested. This collection of existing things, having thus come forth, is dissolved at the approach of the night, O son of Pritha; and now again on the coming of the day it emanates spontaneously. But there is that which upon the dissolution of all things else is not destroyed; it is indivisible, indestructible, and of another nature from the visible. That called the unmanifested and exhaustless is called the supreme goal, which having once attained they never more return — it is my supreme abode. This Supreme, O son of Pritha, within whom all creatures are included and by whom all this is pervaded, may be attained by a devotion which is intent on him alone.

Permalink Reply by Ramprakash ML on September 26, 2014 at 7:12am
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Are worlds created ? If so, by whom ? How ? Why ? Who is the creator ? Who created the creator ?

If we hold to creation idea we get into unresolvable difficulties. Of course, one can come up with vain arguments and sophistries to justify creation idea but tons of arguments do not answer to truth, nor stand the test of reason and justice.

Here Krishna is speaking of cyclic and Karmic law which seems perfectly reasonable, natural and just.

Permalink Reply by ModeratorTN on September 12, 2014 at 11:26pm
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Next section from the Johnston rendition:

That which knowers of the Vedas call the Unchanging, to which saints, freed from passion, enter in, that which they seek who vow service to the Eternal, that resting place shall I briefly tell to thee.

Firmly holding all the doors of the senses, and holding emotion within the heart, drawing the life-breath together in the brow, steadfastly set on the practice of union;

Sounding the syllable Om, for the eternal, with heart set upon Me, who goes forth thus, putting off the body, he enters on the highest Way.

He who ever rests his heart on Me, with no other thought, for him I am easy to find, for the seeker of union, thus holding ever to union.

Entering into Me, the Mighty-souled return not to rebirth, to this unenduring house of pain; they have reached supreme attainment. 

All beings, Creator and worlds alike, return again and again, O Arjuna; but, son of Kunti, entering into Me, there is no more rebirth.

Permalink Reply by Peter on September 13, 2014 at 3:12am
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In Chapter 2, verse 20 Krishna has already stated that, 'The Self is never born and never dies.  It is not that having been, it ceases to exist again.  It is unborn, eternal, changeless, and ever new.  When the body is destroyed it is not destroyed.'

Should we take it, then, that Krishna and 'the Self' are one and the same?

If the Self is never born and never dies, how should we understand the reference to not being born again and is not being born again necessarily a good thing?  How would we help other sentient beings if we did not incarnate?

"All beings, Creator and worlds alike, return again and again..."  This is also the statement of Theosophy which states that even those who reach Moksha or Nirvana will "return again and again.." at some future stage of spiritual evolution in the never ending cycle of manvantaras and parlays (periods of universal activity and rest).  In what sense then should we understand Krishna's reference to 'no more rebirth.'?

Permalink Reply by Ramprakash ML on September 13, 2014 at 9:36am
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It seems quite evident that Self and Krishna are the same. When Krishna says that He is the Ego in the Heart of all beings, He means he is the Higher Self of each. 

The second part of the question requires much thought. If Self is unborn and deathless what then is born again and again ? Can we say it is the personality that is born again and again ? Personality, that is, mortal man and woman with mind, with a character and traits unique to each, which is formed life after life by the thoughts and desires of the Immortal Ego which informs the personality ? Though Ego is immortal, its mortal shadows on earth, that is, personalities, are mortal.

Permalink Reply by Peter on September 13, 2014 at 11:53am
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There is a sort of paradox in all of this, behind the words.  The Divine Teacher or Maha-Guru is in reality our 'own' Self.  Further, that Self which is our true nature is already unborn, unchanging, and thus not subject to the cycle of rebirth.  This reminds me of a somewhat cryptic conversation between a devotee and the great Sage Ramana Maharshi.  When asked how to put a stop to rebirth, the Sage replied, 'First find out if you are born.'

Permalink Reply by Ramprakash ML on September 13, 2014 at 9:16pm
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That 's good. It is like an answer given by a wise man to the question , "How should I treat others ?" that there are no others.

It is paradox. Life is full of paradoxes.

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on September 15, 2014 at 5:43pm
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These various paradoxes are no doubt intended to aid us in breaking out of the box of separative consciousness.  They are seeds for meditation if you will.  The Voice of the Silence is of aid here:

"Saith the Great Law: In order to become the KNOWER of ALL SELF, thou has  first of Self to be the knower. To reach the knowledge of that Self, thou hast to give up Self to Non-Self, Being to Non-Being, and then thou canst repose between the  wings of the GREAT BIRD.......

Bestride the Bird of Life if thou would'st know.

Give up thy life, if thou would'st live."

You get the sense that there is an interplay between three very distinct senses of self. 1. An Universal OverSoul 2. Higher Individuality and 3. Personality.

Permalink Reply by barbaram on September 13, 2014 at 11:16am
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"If the Self is never born and never dies, how should we understand the reference to not being born again and is not being born again necessarily a good thing?"  

The Self is never mired by earthly illusions nor imprisoned by earthly limitations.  How can one look at it from the angle of good and bad?

"How would we help other sentient beings if we did not incarnate?"

Many are helped from the subtle planes without ever knowing it.  

"In what sense then should we understand Krishna's reference to 'no more rebirth.'?

No more rebirth in this period of manifestation (manvantara).

Permalink Reply by Peter on September 13, 2014 at 12:14pm
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"The Self is never mired by earthly illusions nor imprisoned by earthly limitations.  How can one look at it from the angle of good and bad?"

Barbara - yes, that's another way of putting my question, if I've understood you right.  So,what is that we are really becoming free of when Krishna suggests knowing the Self brings freedom from rebirth.  Presumably Krishna has taken a birth in order to instruct Arjuna and to teach the doctrine of Liberation to humanity, so not all 'incarnation' is to be avoided.

Permalink Reply by Kristan Stratos on September 13, 2014 at 4:01pm
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I would like to hear some ideas on what it means to "reincarnate" versus "transmigrate."  I believe this is an important key to understanding these two Paths Krshna has introduced. 

And then might we consider what causes "birth" or identification. Can one be "reborn," as it were, after the dawning of Absolute Self Realization?

Replies to This Discussion

Permalink Reply by Ramprakash ML on September 13, 2014 at 11:55pm
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Kris, you have touched points which I always thought are of greatest importance to  students, why,  to mankind as a whole.

Reincarnation and Metempsychosis is one point, and the other is about the two paths spoken of in the ending portion of the 8th chapter, which are to be considered.

We were discussing the first point--metempsychosis, in our last Sunday ((14th Sept) evening meeting at the ULT. It was recorded. I will see if the recording has come off well. If it has, I can share it on line.

In the III fundamental proposition it is stated that once the Monad has reached the human stage, i.e., has attained Manasic Consciousness, its further progress is only through self-induced and self-devised ways and means checked by its Karma, and that there are no special gifts or privileges conferred on man except that which is won by the Ego by its own efforts and merit throughout a long series of reincarnations and metempsychoses.


What does this mean ? Both Metempsychosis and reincarnations apply to man. 

How ? 

We can consider this first and take up the other question next, if you agree.

Permalink Reply by Ramprakash ML on September 14, 2014 at 12:28am
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Continuing the discussion on Metempsychosis and reincarnation :

In the Glossary it is stated that metempsychosis applies to animals alone. It is the progress of the soul from one stage of existence to another.

III Fundamental proposition : Souls emanating from Universal Over Soul have to return (ie., be reabsorbed) back to the original fount from which they emanated. This they can do only through a long series of metempsychoses and reincarnations.

Till the Man-stage, the progress of the Soul (Monad) is by natural impulse through lower kingdoms of Nature -- Elemental, mineral, vegetable, animal forms progressively. This incessant change of forms and conditions impelled from within by the Monad, I believe, is Metempsychosis.

This is stated in a Kabalistic axiom and in Ordinances of  Manu :A stone becomes a plant, a plant an animal, an animal a man, a man a spirit, and a spirit a god--thus completing the cycle.

But reincarnation applies only to Human Souls ie., Manasic beings (Immortal divne Ego and  its earthly reflection, terrestrial Egos). Incarnation is putting on human fleshly bodies.

Divine Egos reincarnate  but terrestrial personality, the shadow of the former, undergo metempsychosis. This is the whole mystery.

How and why ?

This is the most vitally important teaching of Theosophy. HPB has explained this doctrine in her two admirable articles :

1. Transmigration of Life Atoms, and 

2. The Life Principle

This has a bearing on human spiritual evolution and the evolution of lower kingdoms of nature which is to be aided and effects by Man. We as Divine Egos have come down into matter to aid the Monads caught up (imprisoned) in lower forms and raise them to self-consciousness and to divinity.

This has a very deep ethical implications underscoring the awful moral responsibility of human beings for all that lives and breathes, and the terrible consequences of man neglecting to perform this obligation--Man's Dharma. 

The consequences are spelled out in the 12th chapter of the Ordinances of Manu, a wonderful discourse full of most profound psychology and spiritual knowledge.

This is what we considered during our ULT meeting.

The subject is so vast that it requires a long discussion to understand it in all aspects.

Permalink Reply by Kristan Stratos on September 14, 2014 at 8:06am
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Ram, others, thank you.

I will say this, I do not understand what the monad is exactly.  Vedanta doesn't use this term, however, I have seen in Theosophical texts that it is used interchangeably with Jiva. 

Allow me to just explain this Jiva as briefly as I can to see if we are all on the same page.  The Jiva is that principle thatincapsulates the sukshma sarira (prana).  According to the system of Vedanta, this sukshma sarira (or linga sariram) is located in the Sukshmopadhi, which holds other corresponding kosas (corresponding with Manas and Buddhi).  In short, with out using too many unfamiliar words, the Jiva is the incapsulating principle of the entire body mind complex. The Jiva is only a reflected version of Paramatma, Iswara, The Supreme Self, as they are one and the same. Since the Sthula Sariram and the Sukshma Sariram, are by nature inert, and quite unavailable for any type of activity by themselves, they are considered to be "elementals;" as they are mere bodies formed from the Five Great Elements (subtle and gross).  So this one Paramatma manifests many Jivas and enters into all sukshma sariras in the form of reflected consciousness (Pratybimbam Chaitanyam).   This body, which consists of the sthula and sukshma sarirams along with the Pratybimbam Chaitanyam is called Jiva.  It is when the Consciousness enters, as it were, as a reflection, the Jiva can come into being, or be seen as an individual, as it merely appears to be.  There is no independent entity called Jiva.

From Panchadasi 4.11;

"That which is the basic consciousness, that which is the subtle body, and the lustre of consciousness casts on the subtle body- a combination of these is called Jiva."

Sankaracharya states in his Bhyasa on Brahma-Sutras;

"As long as transmigration is associated with Atman and is not put an end to by enlightenment, so long the contact of Atman with the intellect does not cease.  And as long as Its contact with the intellect as Its limiting adjunct lasts, so long remains the jivahood of the jiva as also its transmigratoriness.  In reality, however, there is no such thing as jiva apart from what is fictitiously concocted because of the connection with the intellect which is its delimiting adjunct. "

It should be noted that Reincarnation isn't quite supported in Advaita Vedanta due to the fundamentals of its teaching.  Obviously, Brahman, That, Is and will always Be, "everything else"  is said to be holding a borrowed existence- having no substantiality of its own (only qualified by names and forms), it is as good as non-existent. Not that is doesn't exist, but cannot exist independently apart form that Brahman.  So with Iswara, and so with Jiva.   This Consciousness, which is All Pervasive- the One Birthless Self, cannot incarnate, however it only appears to incarnate.  Just as the original sun reflected in various mediums, does not literally enter into them, but appears to enter by means of a reflective medium. 

Death isn't liberation, I believe this is what Krshna is saying.  Death, and after states are still considered "transactional realities."  Even Devachan is an experience.

I wonder if we are stating the same thing with a minor difference, namely "reincarnating principle" ?

Permalink Reply by Ramprakash ML on September 14, 2014 at 9:36am
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Kris and friends. Kris, who is student of Vedanta, has expressed his difficulty in following the thread of our discussion because of the different meanings attached to various terms the two schools use. We will accommodate him and try to resolve the difficulty. Response is going to be lengthy. Patience and accommodation is requested by our other friends. Inputs from Theosophical friends on the questions raised will be very welcome. we all stand to benefit in the end.

Permalink Reply by Ramprakash ML on September 14, 2014 at 10:02am
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Kris,

I do not find any differences on the question of Jiva, Iswara, Brahma (neuter) and reincarnation between Theosophical and Vedantic schools. What you have stated is from the point of view of Ultimate Reality, from which perspective all these transmigrations and the whole manifestation (Jagat) are illusions. The same is the Theosophical view also.

But we have to look at the whole mystery not only from the standpoint of the Paramartha Satya but also from various relative viewpoints, if we will ever grasp the whole mystery of Being.

Adwaita Vedanta does not negate reincarnation at all. It is negated, as already said, from the standpoint of Jivan Mukta to whom the whole universe is a Maya and nonexistent per se. Vedanta also speaks of relativity, leading the inquirer from his state of Ignorance-Avidya, leading gradually up the stairway of Jnana, as is seen in Viveka choodamani, Vedanta Sara, Shankara's Bhaja Govindam. In the latter he speaks of endless cycles of birth and death from which one must strive to break away.

What we have today as Vedanta (much is concealed, as clearly stated by Subba Row, Swami Dayananda Saraswati etc.) is only transcendental aspect of cosmology. Between that and our earthly plane of existence, the whole series of involution down from Iswara to the earth plane, in a three-fold spiritual, mental and physical evolutionary development, and mysteries connected therewith, and planetary and racial development have never been given out publicly till the advent of the Theosophical Movement. 

Therefore, if you are confining your studies to popular Vedanta alone which is allowed to fall in the public domain, then you will not understand Theosophy.

But, on the contrary, if you have a good grasp of fundamental principles of Theosophy you will have no difficulty in understanding not only Vedanta but any other religious philosophy and mystic tradition.

Having said this, let us consider the terms we are using in a certain sense, which seems to to clash with those you are accustomed to.

Permalink Reply by Ramprakash ML on September 14, 2014 at 12:57pm
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Kris said: 

I will say this, I do not understand what the monad is exactly.  Vedanta doesn't use this term, however, I have seen in Theosophical texts that it is used interchangeably with Jiva. 

Response :

You are right. The term Jiva is the same as Monad. But it has a wider sense also. Glossary says of Jiva : Life, as Absolute. It is also Atma-Buddhi--the two highest, divinest principles in man, in plant, in mineral, in animal, in every being. Atma-Buddhi, the two in one, is Jiva or Monad. In Vedantic classification it will be Atma-Anandamaya Kosha.
Jiva - Monad is One and indivisible on the plane of reality, yet the many on the plane of manifestation. 

The term Monad was used by Leibnitz in his discourse on Monadologie. It is a beautiful term and very expressive of the truth it represents.

Monad means Unity, the One. Does not this dovetail with Advaita vedantic tenet of brahma-atma ekatvam (essential unity of Jivatma and Paramatma) ? So please take the term Monad we use to Jiva in the sense it is said above.
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Kris :

"Allow me to just explain this Jiva as briefly as I can to see if we are all on the same page.  The Jiva is that principle that incapsulates the sukshma sarira (prana).  According to the system of Vedanta, this sukshma sarira (or linga sariram) is located in the Sukshmopadhi, which holds other corresponding kosas (corresponding with Manas and Buddhi).  In short, with out using too many unfamiliar words, the Jiva is the incapsulating principle of the entire body mind complex."

Response :

I am afraid Kris you seemed to have entirely skipped Manomaya Kosa, Vijnanamaya Kosa and Anandamaya Kosa. How does Jiva you mention stand in relation to those three higher principles in man ?

Sukmopadhi is a term used in Yoga philosophy. Vedantins use the term Pranamaya Kosa. Vedanta uses five-fold classification, whereas in Theosophy seven-fold classification is used. What is called Suksmopadhi is in Theosophical classification Astral Body (Linga Sarira) + Prana + Kama, leaving out the physical body.

The consciousness in Suksmopadhi = in the Linga Sarira + Prana + Kama complex, is definitely a temporary manifestation, or reflection, of Jiva, the Monad which is eternal and Divine, which stands apart unrelated to finite manifestationns, like a blazing star in highest heaven. This reflected aspect of Jiva in the Sukshmopadhii is animal soul which man shares in common with the animal world. It is Nephesh of Jewish Kabala, or anima bruta of Platonic school.

Further you say : "According to the system of Vedanta, this sukshma sarira (or linga sariram) is located in the Sukshmopadhi, which holds other corresponding kosas (corresponding with Manas and Buddhi)." 

Response

Yes, it seems reasonable. Instead of saying that it holds other corresponding principles, it appears to me that it would perhaps be more appropriate to say that Sukmsopadhi (Nephesh, anima bruta) is the vehicle or Upadhi of other higher Kosas--Manas and Buddhi.
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Kris :

"In short, with out using too many unfamiliar words, the Jiva is the incapsulating principle of the entire body mind complex. "

That is right, if I have correctly understood the term "incapsulation" to mean inhering principle or ensouling principle, which imparts life and consciousness, and inheres in those of its lower vehicles.

Taking the argument further we can say this Jiva _ Monad contains potentially Vijnanaatma (Higher Manas of Theosophy) and Manomaya-atma (Lower Manas of Theosophy). Vedantins cannot object to this at all, because Jiva is essentially one with Paramatma, but assuming various aspects in the realm of Maya. 

So Vijnanaatma is Higher (Divine) Ego which is immortal.
Manomyaatma is Lower terrestrial Ego, the reflection of the former in the mind-body complex. 

In this sense what you say is perfectly right--Jiva is the incapsulating principle in mind--body complex. This is one of the aspects of Jiva which is essentially none of these but stands apart unaffected.

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Kris says :

"The Jiva is only a reflected version of Paramatma, Iswara"

response :

If I have understood Vedanta correctly, there is a gulf between Paramatma and Iswara. subba Row is very clear on this. Please refer to his discourse on this in S.D. I p. 478 Paramatma is Parabrahm (That which is beyond brahma the manifested deity) 

If we have understood Vedanta correctly there is a distinction between Brahma (Neuter) which is Absolute, and Brahmaa, the manifested Deity or creative Deity, or Demi Urgos of Plato. This Demi Urge is Iswara + Maya. This Brahmaa, manifested Deity becomes male-female as Brahma-viradj and Brahma-vach or Iswara + Maya.

Iswara is the manifested Deity, the Third Logos. Monads or Jivas are the millions of divine sparks emanating from it but are essentially one with Iswara. Iswara himself is a temporary manifestation of Paramatama--parabrahma.

You are right, Jivas or Monads are reflections of Iswara and Paramatma. Therefore Jivas contain the potentiality of Iswara--the One indivisible cosmic consciousness.

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Kris says :

", The Supreme Self, as they are one and the same. Since the Sthula Sariram and the Sukshma Sariram, are by nature inert, and quite unavailable for any type of activity by themselves, they are considered to be "elementals;" as they are mere bodies formed from the Five Great Elements (subtle and gross)."

Response

Absolutely right. Why, Shankara says even Anadamaya sheath (equivalent to Buddhi of Theosophy), the divinest principle in man, is itself inert without the animating life-giving Atma. Monad is the vivifying agent in the whole scheme of cosmic evolution.

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Kris :

" This body, which consists of the sthula and sukshma sarirams along with the Pratybimbam Chaitanyam is called Jiva."

Response

I am afraid Sthula and Sukshma sariras cannot be called Jiva. As you yoursself said they are inert by themselves. Jiva is one which animates and lends life and consciousness to them.

Theosophy says, Jiva or Monad manifests as Higher Manas (Divine Ego) Thus, Atma-Buddhi-Manas are a Triad. In reality they are One and indstinguishable from Paramatama, but in manifestation appear as Adhyatma, the Higher Self in every being, an individualized appearance of Iswara in Man as his Higher Self.

The mortal self, the Jiva appearing in what you call Sukshmopadhi is reflection of this Higher Self in matter through its efflux as Lower Mind.

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Kris

" It is when the Consciousness enters, as it were, as a reflection, the Jiva can come into being, or be seen as an individual, as it merely appears to be.  There is no independent entity called Jiva."

Response 

It is true. So says Theosophy.

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Kris

"So this one Paramatma manifests many Jivas and enters into all sukshma sariras in the form of reflected consciousness (Pratybimbam Chaitanyam)."

Response

Perfectly right. It is series of emanations, from Paramatma and Iswara downward into matter or Suksmopadhi (Lower quaternary of Theosophy)

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Kris

"

From Panchadasi 4.11;

"That which is the basic consciousness, that which is the subtle body, and the lustre of consciousness casts on the subtle body- a combination of these is called Jiva."

Response

Difficult to comment on this, unless clear meaning of terms used is understood

-----------------------------------

Kris

"

Sankaracharya states in his Bhyasa on Brahma-Sutras;

"As long as transmigration is associated with Atman and is not put an end to by enlightenment, so long the contact of Atman with the intellect does not cease.  And as long as Its contact with the intellect as Its limiting adjunct lasts, so long remains the jivahood of the jiva as also its transmigratoriness.  In reality, however, there is no such thing as jiva apart from what is fictitiously concocted because of the connection with the intellect which is its delimiting adjunct. "

Response

We will have to refer to original Sanscrit Slokas. What is mentioned as Intellect may not be the right translation. Atman is unrelated to anything. Avidya and misconception lies in the Jiva or Monad because of its connection with qualities. Once the misconception of its separation from the Supreme is dispelled then Jivahood also ceases. Theosophy says as much

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Kris

"It should be noted that Reincarnation isn't quite supported in Advaita Vedanta due to the fundamentals of its teaching.  "

I am afraid this is wholly and emphatically wrong. If that were the case, then the whole Vedic philosophy falls to the ground. 

The problem is you are citing only the transcendental Vedanta. The practical cosmogony and anthropogony are glossed over, which can never be done, and without these there is no way that a disciple can ever attain true knowledge and emancipation.

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Kris

It should be noted that Reincarnation isn't quite supported in Advaita Vedanta due to the fundamentals of its teaching.  Obviously, Brahman, That, Is and will always Be, "everything else"  is said to be holding a borrowed existence- having no substantiality of its own (only qualified by names and forms), it is as good as non-existent. Not that is doesn't exist, but cannot exist independently apart form that Brahman.  So with Iswara, and so with Jiva.

Response

Absolutely right. This is in perfect consonance with Theosophy.

----------------------------------

Kris

" This Consciousness, which is All Pervasive- the One Birthless Self, cannot incarnate, however it only appears to incarnate.  Just as the original sun reflected in various mediums, does not literally enter into them, but appears to enter by means of a reflective medium"

Response 

Perfectly right. In consonance with Theosophical metaphysics

--------------------------------------------------

Kris

"Death isn't liberation, I believe this is what Krshna is saying.  Death, and after states are still considered "transactional realities."  Even Devachan is an experience."

Response

Certainly death is not liberation. Both life and death are bondage. even Devachan is illusion, a bondage. Theosophy says that the real death is Ignorance--Avidya. Misconception about true self, which entails transmigration is death. Bodily death is not real death. In the Mhabharata there is beautiful passage called Sanatsujatiya which is quoted in the Notes on the Bhagavadgita by Mr. Judge

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Kris

"I wonder if we are stating the same thing with a minor difference, namely "reincarnating principle" ?

Resonse

If these different meanings of terms used are borne in miind no confusion will arise.

But one thing must be kept in mind, The sweep of Theosophy is far more than what is comprehended in the exoteric popular Vedanta. If you make the latter as the yard stick to judge Theosophy, I am afraid, Theosophy will be hopelessly incomprehensible. 

Getting familiarized with Theosophical terms and basic axioms in sine qua non for understanding and profiting from Theosophy.

Thanks.

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on September 15, 2014 at 6:01pm
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I think they apply to the same process only looked at from different angles.  Reincarnation seems to focus on the use of the body and the projection of the Individual Soul in a body.  Transmigration seems to focus upon the journey from life to life by the Higher Individuality. 

How do others understand the two terms?

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on September 15, 2014 at 6:13pm
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In reference to the long dialogue with Kris and Ram..... where Ning will not us reply any more!!$#$$!

The concept of the Monad as stated in the Secret Doctrine is sometimes explained as being a Ray of Universal Consciousness.  I have found this a wonderful phrase to meditate upon and dwell upon.  I think there are many corollaries with the Jiva concept here.

Permalink Reply by barbaram on September 15, 2014 at 7:37pm
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I think reincarnation means the soul takes on one human form after another human form.  Once the soul has taken on a human form, it would not be able to regress and take on forms below the human kingdom, like that of an animal or plant or mineral. 

Transmigration seems to mean a soul could regress and take on forms in the animal kingdom.   One could be Mr. Smith in one life and a giraffe in the next life.  

I hear sometime we attract life atoms from animals and when we die, these life atoms go back to their original source.  Is this where the idea of transmigration comes from?  I would like to know why this concept is so prevalent in the East? 

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on September 16, 2014 at 3:01pm
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Barbaram;

That is interesting to me.  I have not heard this distinction before.  I did not know transmigration implied regression into lower life forms.  May I ask where you learned about this distinction?  It is new to me.

Permalink Reply by barbaram on September 16, 2014 at 7:38pm
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I thought this is common knowledge.  When I was growing up, I used to hear people always say, if you are not good, you will come back as a  dog or a cat or some form of animals.

Permalink Reply by Ramprakash ML on September 17, 2014 at 12:50am
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Barbaram, you have hit the right answer. Perfectly right. Reincarnation applies only to the Human Monad (Atma-Buddhi-Manas). Monad that has come into human stage acquires the Fire of Manas, becomes Self-conscious moral being. It has to choose and act, and face the consequences of its actions. This is not the case with kingdoms below man. Human Monad can never regress in to lower kingdoms. ONCE A MAN ALWAYS A MAN is an axiomatic truth in Theosophy.

As said rightly, the atoms belonging to the four kingdoms of nature and to the four great elements, including the elementals, are drawn by us to form our lower quaternary (Body, Astral Body, Prana and Kama +Lower Manas rooted in Kama). These atoms are affected by our thoughts, emotions and acts. We give them either animal impulse by our selfish material life, and these are condemned to fly back to animal, vegetable and mineral kingdoms, or a higher and nobler impulses, during our earthly life..When we die these life atoms go to their respective kingdoms, bearing our impress and character. When we return from Devachan to another  life these atoms are magnetically attracted to us to form our lower principles. This alone accounts for character of every man and woman--it is all self-made.

Our duty is to so use the life in our charge with knowledge of these truths with higher purpose of conforming to the dictates of the Higher Self--Iswara within--so that the life atoms are kept in the human realm and give them a impulse to higher life. They have to progress higher only by the aid of man, who is like God unto them.

Reference : HPB's articles "Transmigration of Life Atoms" and "Life principle" + Judges article "A Persian Student's Doctrine." These are of very great importance in our theosophic life.

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Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on September 17, 2014 at 10:34am
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I am not talking about the point you are making about reincarnation. Once a human always a human is clearly the teaching in Theosophy. 

What I am questioning is whether or not the term transmigration suggests jumping from one kingdom to another by definition.  I do not think this accurate. But I could be wrong.  I poked around to check and could find nothing to support the idea.

Dictionary and encyclopedia definitions don't support it.

In fact in Wikipedia of all places transmigration and reincarnation are used as two words for the same idea.

Transmigration of the soul or reincarnation, a spiritual belief

This business of jumping from kingdom to kingdom is a bastardization of the reincarnation idea.

Granted that outside the theosophical world the understanding and teaching about reincarnation gets pretty murky.

Permalink Reply by Ramprakash ML on September 18, 2014 at 2:43am
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The difference between metempsychosis and reincarnation is marked by Manas, I think. In case of lower kingdoms of Nature, Manas is dormant, like an unlighted candle. So in their case there is no post-mortem state of Devachan, because they do not generate mental / thought energy as Man does, and thus produce no cause for a long spiritual post-mortem life in which the finer mental energy so generated during life expends itself. So animal and vegetable Monads  almost immediately transmigrate, after death of form, in to like form of the same species or into a higher species, depending on the degree of Manadic evolutionary progress.

If I have understood HPB's teachings aright, metempsychosis also has reference to the vortex of transmigrations the 'Life Atoms" enter into, which atoms man uses during life and abandons after his death. They bear his impress and character--good, bad or indifferent, and they are drawn back to the same Ego which used them in prior life, when the Ego returns from Devachan, because of Magnetic attraction between the two. This explains why every person has character, tendencies, inclinations, interests unique to himself or herself.

This is true of families, nations and races--each has its essential character distinct from others. Thoughts make them.

Permalink Reply by Ramprakash ML on September 21, 2014 at 10:29am
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I agree Gerry that transmigration or metempsychosis does not mean Monads jumping from one kingdom to another. It must be Monadic or Evolutionary energy progressively unfolding potentiality latent in it in a dual spiritual and material evolutionary development--each step of progress from lower state to a higher rung bringing it closer to individualization of that evolutionary wave, which individualization culminates in the Man's stage.

Permalink Reply by barbaram on September 28, 2014 at 5:07pm
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Correction noted.

Thank you.

Permalink Reply by Ramprakash ML on September 15, 2014 at 10:15pm
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Kristen

Your second question - cause of rebirth. There are two factors which cause it : i. the Evolutionary impulse inherent in the Monad for self-manifestation and self-realization, and ii. having subjects itself to conditioned existence for the above purpose, forgetting its native purity, eternity and free state, overcome by passions and desires of personal life, it makes Karma entailing unavoidable reincarnations, till it is able to overcome illusion of personal self. 

Your second question : Can one who has reached Nirvana be reborn ? 

Does not Krishna Himsellf says that He comes again and again ? He has nothing to learn or gain but takes births among mortals to aid them.

Niirvana is a incomprehensibly long rest of absolute bliss and freedom, but it has an end. Nirvanees have to return, firstly, to aid others who are left behind, and secondly, they themselves have to progress further on higher systems of worlds, of which we (why, even highest Initiates) cannot speculate.

Permalink Reply by Kristan Stratos on September 16, 2014 at 2:23pm
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Ram, I understand where you are coming from.  

Rebirth, reincarnation/transmigration, become very difficult subjects the more one pries into the Wisdom Religions.  The more we know about Self, the more difficult it seems to approach the concept of rebirth.  I am not denying it, negating it, or doubting it, as there is a large section of the Chhandogya Upanisad going into detail about this very topic, and it is a very important part, as you said, of Vedanta in regards to know the workings of the transactional reality.  Very important indeed...

A lot of what I omitted in my previous had to do with this topic care of  Gaudapada's Karika found in the Mandukya Upanisad.  Sankara wrote a commentary on this Karika which is an exhaustive study on top of an already exhaustive systematic explanation of Vedantic Metaphysics.  This material happens to be what I have based my former comments on, along with the key concepts found in the Bhagavad Gita.  I will do everyone a service and remain silent regarding this.  Its far too exhaustive and if one isn't familiar with Upanisadic Cosmology, it will be a useless contribution.

Short of opening up a can of worms, the idea is, when one realizesthe utter unreality of the individuality, and sees it to be nothing more than a "mistaken intellectual concoction, entertained by a fictitious idea of personality,"  how can one continue to be under the sway of reincarnation/transmigration? We've seen the Jiva_Monad to be the reflective copy of Iswara.  If the effect is seen to be non distinct from the cause (the only difference is name and form, which is non substantial), then wouldn't it hold that the effects seize to hold any relevancy?   

Ram; "Does not Krishna Himsellf says that He comes again and again ?"

I'm not too sure if what I will say is relevant, but I was just told that there is no verse in the Bhagavad Gita that reads; "Sri Krishna Uvaca," only "Sir Bhagavan Uvaca." The way I understand this, Krishna is a manifestation of Iswara- the Bhagavan, the Lord.  See, I dont know much about this Doctrine of Avataras, As Bhavani Shankar says, "The subject is a profound one and touches one of the most jealously guarded secrets of Brahma·Vidya."  I just know that Avatara implies "coming down."  I cant say too much about this topic.  It is very mysterious, and quite honestly, I have to keep my speculations and ideas private. Nothing personal, I just wonder if it is considered "traditional reincarnation" like you, I, and others apparently go though.

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on September 16, 2014 at 3:10pm
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HPB talks about this subject in very clear terms in the Key to Theosophy Section 8 pages 123 onwards.  What reincarnation means is explained here concerning the distinction between the Personal Man and the Individual Man, the temporal man and the immortal man.

Permalink Reply by Ramprakash ML on September 17, 2014 at 12:28am
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Kris,

My brief response is :

From highest metaphysics what you say is true. To the Jivan Mukta all such dualities as bondage - liberation, birth and death etc are non-existent.

But to the one who is in bondage (baddha) they are realities. The bound has to work his way out of his bondage through these immutable laws which cannot be wished away, not can they be transcended by intellectually saying that they are illusions and Brahman alone is reality. 

Bondage is by our thoughts; and our liberation is due to thought alone. Wrong ideas cause bondage, right ones--right philosophy, right thought, right aspiration and right living--alone are the means by which mind can transcend itself.

Even the liberated ones come down to our level and help us on beginning with relativities in the light of Higher Spiritual Knowledge.

Iswara is not a single Entity but aggregate of seven primordial Hierarchies, and Monads or Jivas are so many rays or sparks issued from each, and are destined to return to source by gradual assimilation to their parent source.

Permalink Reply by barbaram on September 13, 2014 at 5:13pm
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"So,what is that we are really becoming free of when Krishna suggests knowing the Self brings freedom from rebirth."

I would think the Self that is incarnated and in theosophical terminology the Higher Manas. 

"Presumably Krishna has taken a birth in order to instruct Arjuna and to teach the doctrine of Liberation to humanity, so not all 'incarnation' is to be avoided."

There is no right or wrong to this since it all depends on karma and is too complex for us to speculate.

"Having pervaded this whole universe with a fragment of Myself, I remain."

 

Permalink Reply by Ramprakash ML on September 13, 2014 at 9:43pm
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I think this of immortality and mortality can be resolved in the doctrine of Maya--illusion. 

Shankara says, with which Theosophy is in agreement, Self which is One, not many, Eternal,  evolves all these various vehicles from its own essence (the 6 principles in THeosophcal classification, or 5 Koshas in Vedantic classification), and enters into them and appears as many selves. How does the Self enters them. It enters them, says Shankara, like you (your body) enters in a mirror.

The beautiful shining full Moon in the clear night sky enters in the still waters of a tranquil lake, and appears as another Moon which is its own reflection.

The lake, in one case, and mirror in another example, are equivalent of Prakriti - Maya - Natures Illusion. The image in the mirror, and in the lake, lasts as long as these reflecting surfaces (mirror and the lake) last. Once the mirror is broken the image is indrawn into the real object. 

Which means, once the Maya is is dispelled by Jnana the "other" disappears, and merges in to the Real Self which always was, is and ever shall be--ONE without a second.

The "Other," the "Many" have no existence per se,  but only relative existence, as our dream visions and experiences have relative existence. Once awake they disappear like fleecy clouds disappear in the clear blue sky.

Perhaps this may help ?

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on September 15, 2014 at 5:58pm
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Perhaps it is freedom from "MANDATORY" rebirth.  A rebirth where karmic unbalances must be set right.  A Bodhisattava would be one, as Peter suggests with Krishna, chooses to be reborn out of compassion and is not compelled by Karma.

Permalink Reply by barbaram on September 15, 2014 at 7:50pm
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At that stage of development, I think there many factors we do not understand which makes the soul take on a physical form as opposed to other forms or none at all.   It is impossible to speculate.

Replies to This Discussion

Permalink Reply by Ramprakash ML on September 15, 2014 at 9:48pm
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Can we say Barbaram :

What those factors are which lead to the one who is emancipated--broken for ever the cycles of birth and death--to come again on earth in bodies of the Race have been stated by Krishna.

He says He comes again and again, whenever there is a decline of virtue and insurrection of vice and injustice in the world, for the destruction of the wicked and preservation of the just, and for re-establishment of righteousness in the world.

This means that coming down (Avatarana) of Jivan Muktas among mankind who are still strugling is governed by Karmic and cyclic law which governs evolution of worlds and humanity.

Elsewhere He also says that though there is nothing which He has to learn, obtain or accomplish which he has not yet he is indefatigueable in action, and that if He ceased to act even for one instant all these creatures would perish.

Paradox is that thou They (Masters) are free and emancipate yet They subject Themselves to miseries of conditioned existence for helping Their struggling younger brethren. They are constantly at work without respite on all the planes of cosmos engaged in the governance of the worlds. 

That is the state of those who become more and more merged with Compassion Absolute.

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on September 16, 2014 at 3:04pm
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I would assume that it would be very difficult for the average person to appreciate the level of sacrifice this entails.

Permalink Reply by barbaram on September 16, 2014 at 7:46pm
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Indeed, this is the teaching.  I am not disputing it but think that there may be other higher promptings beyond our comprehension as well.   The universe more vast than we can ever imagine.

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on September 17, 2014 at 10:39am
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Yes, most assuredly.  Excellent point.

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on September 15, 2014 at 5:52pm
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Could being born again and again be a figure of speech?  The higher individuality experiences, through the personality lifetime after lifetime. The Higher Individuality (Buddhi-Manas) does not belong on this plane and cannot appear, so to speak, on this plane without a vehicle or representative (the personality).  It is an interesting question to contemplate.

Permalink Reply by Kristan Stratos on September 14, 2014 at 10:30am
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Reply by Ramprakash ML 12 minutes ago

"Adwaita Vedanta does not negate reincarnation at all. It is negated, as already said, from the standpoint of Jivan Mukta to whom the whole universe is a Maya and nonexistent per se. Vedanta also speaks of relativity, leading the inquirer from his state of Ignorance-Avidya, leading gradually up the stairway of Jnana, as is seen in Viveka choodamani, Vedanta Sara, Shankara's Bhaja Govindam. In the latter he speaks of endless cycles of birth and death from which one must strive to break away."

In regards to  Chapter 8 of this discourse, which is showing these Two paths; Jivan-Mukti and Krama-Mukti, it must be brought up... "It should be noted that Reincarnation isn't quitesupported in Advaita Vedanta..."  I mentioned this due to the context of the chapter.  I am glad you had mentioned this,  for a fear of writing a ton of information bogging down others, I left this open ended, only referring to the context of the chapter.  Sorry for the confusion. I am trying to be direct, with out saying too much, which is a catch 22.

It has been said, "Jiva (soul) itself is a notion and when that notion is taken as real – all other problems become as real as jiva. Hence reincarnation and transmigration of soul are all real in that frame of reference."

Please continue...

 

Permalink Reply by Kristan Stratos on September 14, 2014 at 6:13pm
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Thank you Ram.


You have cleared up some fine details for me, and I hope for others as well. For this I am truly thankful.



Regarding the Sukshmopadhi, I was taught that within this, lays 3 kosa, Pranamaya kosa, Manomaya kosa, and Vijnanamaya kosa. As I said, for fear of bogging down readers and keeping the post short and direct as possible, I omitted some details... these were the omitted. A fine detail explanation regarding the constitutions of the microcosm and the functions of the kosas, I didn't feel needed deep explanation or attention.

Sthulopadhi- Annamaya kosa
Sukshmopadhi- Pranamaya, Manomaya, Vijnanamaya kosa
Karnopadhi- Anandamaya kosa 

This is a very basic and superficial presentation of the system, we all know it goes way beyond this. However,  I believe this will correspond to the macrocosm as well, that was my intention..

Refer to Pranava- Vartika regarding this concept of "opadhis." I am hinting at the correlation of the bodies that fall within range of the three conditions of the universe. In hopes to make what I said understandable, the following is from Pranava- Vartika by Sri Sureswaracharya;

9. The one Reality, which is consciousness in essence, appears by illusion as different, in the form of Vis’va, Taijasa, and Prâjna; as also in the form of Virâj, Sûtra and Akshara. Since the three entities, such as Vis’va (sthulopadhi), Taijasa (sukshmopadhi) and Prâjna (karnopadhi) are one with the three entities such as Virâj (sthulopadhi), Sûtra (sukshmopadhi) and Akshara (karnopadhi), one should regard them all as one and the same, so that the absence of all else may become manifest. 

I have added in parenthesis the corresponding upadhis to the particular forms of manifestation. I hope this conveys the idea properly. There are two universes that are hinted at, Vis'va and etc. deal with this universe (consisting of all three grades of matter), while Viraj etc. deal with the subtle universe.  This is my understanding.  

It seems that these two (Jiva and Monad) are quite similar to each other after carefully reviewing your response. I am quite happy that this issue has been laid to rest, hopefully. Ram, I would still like to discuss some finer details regarding the constitutions of the Brahmanda and Pindanda, and ideas on reincarnation. You may send me a private message so we can split hairs (which I am truly looking forward to!) and go into finer details, of which most I've omitted. :)

Truly a pleasure reading you posts.  Thanks again, friend.

Permalink Reply by Ramprakash ML on September 14, 2014 at 9:45pm
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Thanks Kris. Some confusion has been resolved. I am glad. We can, as you have suggested, carry on with further discussions on the micro--and macrocosm in the two schools, on the sidelines in private mails.

You have now clarified the meaning of Jiva in Sukshmopadhi. From your previous mail I had taken the term to mean only the Astral Body (Linga Sarira, Prana and Kama combination. Now you have clarified that it consists of the combination of Sukshmopadhi- Pranamaya, Manomaya Vijnanamaya kosa. 

You will agree that of these three, Pranamaya is perishable, Manomaya is partly perishable and partly (its most spiritual aspects) merge with its higher parent, Vijnanam. Vijnanam is immortal and divine.

These different classifications by different schools are perfectly reconcilable with the Theosophical Sevenfold classification of human principles.

Only please remember Theosophical equivalents :

Manomaya is in Theosophy Lower Ego; it is a reflection of its parent Vijnanam which is divine and immortal. This Lower Ego is imbedded in Kama in its lower aspects, and in its higher spiritual aspects connected with Vijnanam by what is called Antahkarana, a subtle radiant thread linking the mortal mind to immortal mind. It is the path of salvation for man, but it is liable to be clouded, and even destroyed by sinful and reckless life of selfishness.

Vijnanamaya Kosa is in Theosophical parlance the Higher Divine Immortal Ego.. It is a ray of Atma-Buddhi. So these three Atma-Buddhi-Manas are the Triadic Higher Self of Man--Krishna seated in out hearts..

Pranamaya kosa in Theosophy is the principle of Prana. As this current of Prana needs a channel or vehicle to move and operate, the Linga Sarira provides that basis. These two are the mortal basis of mortal body, and with Kama + lower aspects of Mind, is the mortal man's personality.

Therefore Jiva _ Monad is One but manifests itself in various states of consciousness depending on the Upadhi in which it reflects itself, like in a mirror.

So we have to qualify each, such as, Mineral Monad, Vegetable Monad, Animal Monad. Human Monad ; as Astral Monad, lower Manasic, Higher Manasic.

We can end this discussion on TN forum with this mail and continue the same out side on sidelines.

We can return to questions which had been raised on the difference between Reincarnation and Metempsychosis, and the two paths spoken by Krishna in the 8th chapter.

Thanks.

Permalink Reply by Peter on September 15, 2014 at 7:31am
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I wasn't quite sure which of the many "Reply"s  to place this under, so opted for here.

In Theosophy, HPB refers to the term Jiva as the monad. See for example:

“For the Monad or Jiva per se cannot be even called spirit: it is a ray, a breath of the ABSOLUTE, or the Absoluteness rather, and the Absolute Homogeneity, having no relations with the conditioned and relative finiteness, is unconscious on our plane.”

(SD I 247)

The term Jiva is used in a different way in traditional Advaita.  It’s usual meaning is ‘embodied consciousness’, which is Atma in association with a upadhi or vehicle.   The ‘jiva’ is that embodied consciousness which is conscious on our plane and, having lost sight of its true nature, identifies itself with the form (upadhi) through which consciousness operates.  Put in terms of the Bhagavad Gita, the jiva is that embodied consciousness that identifies itself as ‘the doer of actions’.  In Advaita as in Samkhya philosophy only Atma is consciousness.  Prakriti which makes up all the vehicles of consciousness is said to be, in itself, inert and insentient.  The consciousness that wells up in the various forms of prakriti all come from Atman alone and can be described as various levels of reflected or secondary manifestations of conditioned consciousness.

We see the above theme in the beginning of the Bhagavad Gita, where Arjuna (the Jiva, who believes himself to be ‘the doer’ of actions) protests about his dharma or duty - i.e fighting or slaying his opponents on the battlefield - while Krishna points out to him that the Self neither slays nor can be slain.  Then in the next chapters Krishna explains that action belongs to prakriti alone, with its three gunas of sattva, rajas and tamas.  The Self, Atman, always remains action less.  Likewise, the jiva, as the embodied consciousness experiences him/herself as subject to birth and death, reincarnation, whereas Atman is the unborn and changeless reality.  From this perspective (Advaita or Samkhya) we have the following:

The reality then is that Atman alone, which is pure unconditioned consciousness.  

The jiva, as the embodied consciousness is Atman/Brahman veiled by avidya (ignorance) and maya.  

Isvara is Atman/Brahman veiled by maya.

The phrase, “That thou Art” states that Jiva and Isvara are one. But we mustn’t take this literally, because clearly the jiva whose characteristic is ignorance is not identical to Isvara whose characteristics are omnipotence, omniscience and omnipresence. In Advaita the underlying meaning of this statement is that the true nature of jiva and the true nature of Isvara is that same Atman/Brahman which underlies both.  When, therefore, Krishna advocates devotion to Him it might be useful to bear in mind that the underlying reality of both Krishna (Isvara) and Arjuna (the devotee, or jiva) is identical.