Adavaita. What’s in a Name? By Lee Mollins
Advaita. What’s in a Definition?
A definition of “definition” is, a statement of the exact meaning of a word, especially in a dictionary. Another definition is, the degree of distinctness in outline of an object, image, or sound.
If there are at least two definitions of definition, is an “exact meaning” possible? From this perspective, it seems there is no definition of definition. If something cannot be defined, then perhaps it cannot be known. If it cannot be known, then how can it be outlined with any distinctness?
Let’s take breakfast, for example. Can we define it according to the definition of definition? Or, rather does the word act as a pointer to something? That is, it can be said that breakfast is a pointer to an event in the infinite totality. In this context, breakfast is nothing, empty. From a mathematical perspective, this is also the case due to the division by infinity.
Breakfast is also a pointer to satisfaction, or fullness, post waking up.
These are two different ways of expressing the same thing: breakfast as nothing and breakfast as everything (fullness). Expression could be viewed as a quality that has a variable nature, much like the definition of definition. Indeed all things can be viewed this way.
Polarity is a universal pointer that allows description and understanding of the nature of so-called opposites. Polarity implies differentiation of that to which it applies. In the breakfast example, the expression pointing to fullness might be considered “nice”; the expression pointing to emptiness might be considered “less nice”. With polarity comes comparison, analysis and judgment. The meaning of the word breakfast can be conceived and perceived as any combination of positions along whatever polar dimensions are applicable to the definition of the thing itself. It might not be strictly definable, though there are beliefs, opinions or positions, or knowing, of what this common word points to.
Advaita is a word that belongs to Hindu, Vedanta, Yoga and other so-called spiritual traditions and can be described as a pointer to a doctrine or philosophy. It is also a word that is used to point beyond itself. All words can be used this way, although Advaita as language specifically points to that which is indescribable, knowledgeless and positionless, a mystery. It is pointing to that which simultaneously is and isn’t.
Advaita translates as not-two; dvaita meaning two. Taken together, Advaita-dvaita can be seen as pointing to the poles of the same indescribable mystery. The mystery is that there is not-two. So can it have poles?
Advaita is a strong pointer because it points directly; perhaps the least untruthful pointer – though it might not be particularly helpful. Life appearing, to be known is another direct pointer that can be used synonymously and interchangeably with Advaita-dvaita. It might be more or less helpful. As with the breakfast example, pointers typically require context via a frame of reference – like this document, which is a longer, koan-like, article style device that points to the realization of life appearing, to be known.
In this broader context arises a mechanism for understanding which introduces the concept of a mystery, and attempted explanation of the following words that point to it.
Advaita (Life appearing)
As breakfast is breakfast, emptiness is fullness and, as fullness is everything, there is only Empty-Fullness. But these are not-two. Advaita is Life, which is empty, appearing (as the totality), which is full.
Dvaita (to be known)
Nice and less nice are emptiness positioning in apparent duality. They are not different, though they seem to suggest differentiation in the appearance, or fullness, or everything. This differentiation allows what is the same, or not-two, or life-appearing, to be known.
Dvaita is false in that it is Advaita. When this is revealed, so is the mystery, but not as false duality or knowing. It is Advaita alone that is seen to have two poles, everything and nothing, or fullness and emptiness. However, there cannot be differentiation of Advaita because there is neither more nor less not-two. Hence, not-two points directly to no poles, no distance, no movement. The indefinable mystery is that everything is nothing and nothing is everything. Definition is impossible because exactness is of knowing – I know what the precision of the vernier gauge relates to – and knowing separates what’s whole as definition. You cannot draw a line around what is infinitely, timelessly and unconditionally whole. There is no distinctness. It is the false knowing within this whole that divides.
So, what is in a definition then?
Nothing and everything, and infinite conceptual possibilities of indefinite interpretation. It is simply life appearing, to be known.
Lee Mollins woke up spontaneously some time ago and has since become both a friend of ours and a student of The Living Method.
March 23, 2020 @ 3:48 pm
Thanks, Lee. That was quite a ride for the mind. We can only know things, have an experience, within the amorphous wholeness. But nothing can be pinned down in such a big and swirling puddle.
March 23, 2020 @ 5:59 pm
Beautiful! I was just enjoying this morning how movement and impermanence can’t be appreciated without appreciating the permanent unchanging no-thing, that for a moment seems to shimmer as movement and impermanence.
And I love you’re expressing “of finiteness” that the word definition is an attempt at. I love thinking about how a cigar is yet even more now not just a cigar, as the attempt at “sometimes a cigar is just a cigar”, means a cigar now can represent even that statement! And yet the polarity that would point out “your idea of putting something more on what I said is not helpful in our conversation” can be a useful defining of what is trying to be expressed.
I Am = Rest of Life. Inhibit the the giving and receiving flow of that bridge (the equal sign) and each side in/as time dreams that fitfull finiteness. I Am is nothing but the rest of All, and the rest of All is not all while Its I Am does not appreciate Itself as “nothing” but Everything.
I’m going to go enjoy me some breakfast, all the more fully Now, thank you.
March 23, 2020 @ 6:05 pm
Hey, Mike! I love your initial insight into changing/unchanging. You are That upon which This appears, which is not other than That into which This disappears.♥f
March 25, 2020 @ 1:12 pm
Your post reminded me of two Zen koans:
1. It’s not one; it’s not two. What is it?
2. The many return to the one; what does the one return to?