Friday, March 16, 2007
locus of avidya: the story of mr.pott
To understand the issue of where is the locus for avidya let us take a story of a pot, lets say his name is Mr.Pott.
Mr.Pott is in reality clay, the same clay that all other claypots are. He takes himself to be only the pot. As long as he entertains a notion that he is a pot he is small, he has aged 20 years since he was born, lives in a poor home, has lost some of the colour on his head, etc.. Now avidya is Mr.Potts ignorance about himself not being just a pot, but in reality being clay. And as clay he is neither born nor will he die - na jaayate mryate va kadacit.. Now if you ask who does this ignorance belong to? The answer is - it belongs to Mr.Pott. Well isnt Mr.Pott clay? Yes. Then does the ignorance belong to clay. No. The clay never has anything really to do with the "pot notion", although without the clay, the pot cannot have any subtantive existence.
Well then isnt Mr.Pott also a pot.
Then does the ignorance belong to the pot.
The pot by itself is nothing but clay.
Then who is Mr.Pott.
He is the I-sense that feels itself to be "a" pot separate from clay, and doesnt recognize itself to be clay even though all along it is clay, and nothing but clay.
When did it get ignorant? This is a wrong question because it assumes an absence of ignorance prior to the onset of ignorance which is impossible.
Who needs the right knowledge to get liberated?
The clay? No
The pot? No
Mr.Pott - Yes!
When you say avidya is lighted by atman you are linking two things which share no relation really. It is like saying the clay lights up Mr.Potts ignorance. Assigning a locus for avidya is possible only when there are two distinct realities - not when both pot and clay are in essence one. For example, there are two sides to a coin, and yes - you can assign a locus to the head - one side vs the other. In the case of avidya, this cannot be done - because what is real, what IS is always the clay alone.
The pot is nondifferent from clay. If you mark a large "X" on the pot are you marking it on clay or the pot? If you say the pot, then one can say, OK remove the clay and lets see the X mark on the pot now - see the difficulty in doing this? The X marks are none other than mind, intellect, etc etc. Yes they all belong to the pot- but there really is no pot - only clay! What Mr.Pott needs to realize is that he is not the pot, that these marks he thinks are his are also in reality nothing but clay which he himself his. There is no question of the clay needing to make the pot-ignorance of Mr.Pott its object. How can you objectify ignorance? It is truly absurd to postulate.
And for the sake of argument even if one were to do this, then that means you had ignorance about ignorance itself - because now that ignorance has been resolved, and this can only result in infinite regress.. Who will see this ignorance for what it is? Certainly not the clay for which there never is ignorance. Certainly not the pot which is not even existent Certainly not Mr.Pott because he himself already IS what he is ignorant about. To use a different analogy, it is like saying the tenth man must first see his ignorance about being the tenth man as an object before he can be satisfied that he indeed is the tenth man.
Avidya is never "real". It is not "unreal" either because after all poor Mr.Pott thinks he is small and old, and in so doing reveals the workings of avidya. But this is a mere notion on his part. With the dawn of knowledge from an appropriate means of knowledge (i.e.Ma Shruti), this ignorance is once and forever dispelled. He realizes he is clay, not then, in the future, but in and through all times forever in the past and forever in the future. And again, ignorance did not "create" the pot. The clay is the ONLY material cause for the pot. Mr.Pott's ignorance about him being a limited pot is beginingless and hence there is no creation of someone creating it as we have already seen.
The adhyasa is this only - that Mr.Pott mistakes the pot for a pot without realizing it is clay. As clay not only is he immortal, but he is nonseparate from the whole clay-universe, and, to go one step further, the entire clay-universe is arising from him alone and will dissolve unto him alone. "Mayyeva sakalam jaatam.. mayyeva sakalam jaatam mayi sarvam pratishtitam, mayi sarvam layam yaati.."
- I am clay and hence not limited by my notion of being a pot.
- The entire world is nothing but clay and hence nonseparate from me, and rather than I being a product of the world as i had originally thought, i am actually the very substratum on which this whole universe of pots is seemingly created and destroyed.
- I the clay alone am
are all in essence one and the same recognition. One cannot realize one of these three realities without being "Realized" about the other two. In that sense there is no differentiating on the basis of a scorecard, any of the Great Masters, Seers, and Prophets who have come to this realization.
Suffice to say, the simplest and really the only answer to any question on avidya's locus will be "i" or me. "i" who is ignorant am the locus of avidya because "i" know not that really speaking "i" am "I"