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One + One = One

The very last chapter of the Bhagavata Purana is a short 23 verses. There we
see the orator Suta (Ugrashravas), describe the "purpose" of the 18,000 verse
Bhagavatam in a single one.
That verse has been a source of consternation for a long time among
Vaishnava Vedantists and conversely a source of triumphant glee to Advaita
Vedantists--which are the two dominant forms of Hindu philosophy.
The Advaita Vedantists use it in claiming that the philosophy of the
Bhagavatam therefore supports Advaita doctrine over all other schools of
Vedanta, namely the Vaishnava philosophical traditions all of whom typically
oppose Advaita doctrine. This verse is a causal reference point in the dividing
line between the two main schools of Hindu philosophical thought. Here is
the verse:
12.13.12 sarva-vedānta-sāraṁ yad brahmātmaikatva-lakṣaṇam vastv
advitīyaṁ tan-niṣṭhaṁ kaivalyaika-prayojanam
"This Bhāgavatam is the essence of all Vedānta philosophy because its
subject matter is the Absolute Truth, which, while nondifferent from the
spirit soul, is the ultimate reality, one without a second. The goal of this
literature is exclusive devotional service unto that Supreme Truth."
That is the translation from the current BBT version, which is not really a
literal translation at the end of it. Whoever translated it (Hridayananda
Goswami?) used Jiva Goswami's commentary on this last sentence rather
than a straight literal translation of "kaivalyaika-prayojanam," which literally
means:
kaivalyaika = only kaivalya prayojanam = the goal, purpose, aim
So instead of this:
"The goal of this literature is exclusive devotional service unto that Supreme
Truth."
it says this:
"The only goal is kaivalya."
That translation while not a literally correct translation, is instead a
commentary on what the activities of someone are after the attainment of
kaivalya. In other words: what does the jivatma who attains kaivalya, which
is usually considered as the goal of yoga or as synonymous with moksha
according to Advaitin doctrine--what does that liberated person actually do?
Kaivalya is interesting because it merges basically two different concepts i.e.,
it can mean “unity” and “isolation.”
These concepts are cognate with “oneness” and “separateness." If you are
"isolated" then you are "separate" from something. If you are "united" than
you are "one" with something.
In truth although kaivalya is usually understood as an Advaitin concept of
strict oneness with Brahman, the word itself implies oneness with difference.
Bhedabheda.
Kaivalya moksha therefore means: liberation by understanding the
unity/oneness + isolation/separateness of the jivatma in relation with
Brahman.
The Bhagavatam in that verse in the last chapter tells us its purpose is to
teach us these three things:
1. The jivatma and Brahman are one, brahma ātma-ekatva.
2. The nature of reality is one without a second, vastu advitīyam--which
means there is only the will of one being reflected in all experiences in the
universe.
3. The purpose of life is to attain kaivalya, the state where you experience the
oneness with Brahman, and also the separateness of the jiva with Brahman.
These appear at first glance to be contradictory, which is why so often
kaivalya is translated more strictly as oneness and Vaishnavas often have
problems with this verse while Advaitins like to point to it as supporting
their vision.
But the Advaitins are wrong. The proper meaning of kaivalya is outlined
above. The idea of the jivatma and Brahman as non-different in the verse in
fact does not contradict the jivatma being one and separate as well. In truth
it is absolutely necessary to understand them both, otherwise you cannot
escape maya (delusional sense of reality).
If you think oneness without separation from Brahman is the absolute truth,
then see if you can actualize the powers of Brahman, e.g. all-pervasiveness,
omnipotence. You can't. If you do not recognize the separateness then you
cannot distinguish yourself as an individual different from Brahman.
Therefore you should have all the power and ability of Brahman. But you do
not.
Advaitins tell us that your current lack of those powers is temporary, and
that you will attain complete non-duality (a-dvaita) when you realize you are
in fact non-different from Brahman. But, such an idea is complicated by the
fact of your present situation of not being able to manifest the full nature of
Brahman. Logically there must be an inherent difference between you and
Brahman which makes the actual reality of your circumstance possible.
Because if you are in fact unqualifiedly the same as Brahman and you only
need to realize it for it to be true as they claim, then what is stopping your
experience of being all-pervading, omnipotent, and omniscient--as Brahman
is described? It must be different from you in some way, if Brahman is those
things while you are not.
Whatever you believe about the future, the actual reality now is that you do
not have those abilities--but Brahman does. So the idea of being completely
nondifferent from Brahman is illogical since Brahman is also described as
changeless and supreme over all and everything in existence. If Brahman is
changeless then you are different from Brahman. Period. You change all the
time.
But the shastras (traditional sacred writings) do in fact tell us we are
nondifferent from Brahman, and that is what the Advaita doctrine relies on.
Their problem is in not recognizing that while shastra tells us we are
nondifferent from Brahman, they also say we are not the same as Brahman
because we are dependent on Brahman. Shastra teaches difference as well as
nondifference. They teach nondifference qualified by specific differences.
Unqualified oneness is not the full message of the Upanishads or the Gita,
rather sometimes oneness is taught and sometimes difference is taught.
Both are taught as the absolute truth of the relationship between the single
individuated consciousness (jivatma) who is seen as an integral part of yet
different from the omnipresent collective consciousness--who is also
individuated in its own right, i.e., Brahman is not a collective consciousness
which you can realize your absolute nondifference from in the sense of you
becoming omnipresent and so on. Rather it is taught that Brahman is a
unique individual consciousness, qualitatively and quantitatively different
from all of its dependent parts--namely the natural world (matter and
energy) and other individual conscious beings exist as parts of Brahman, but
they don’t comprise Brahman. They do not define the nature and extent of
Brahman. The 9th chapter of the Bhagavad Gita addresses this point in
verses 4 and 5,: mayā tatam idaḿ sarvaḿ jagad avyakta-mūrtinā mat-
sthāni sarva-bhūtāni na cāhaḿ teṣv avasthitaḥ na ca mat-sthāni
bhūtāni paśya me yogam aiśvaram bhūta-bhṛn na ca bhūta-stho mamātmā
bhūta-bhāvanaḥ This whole world is pervaded by Me in My
invisible unmanifest form. All beings exist in Me, but I am not
contained in them. Avasthitaḥ means contained in the sense of having
a set place or abode, i.e., Brahman is within and all around, not simply
within.
Nor are all things of this world inherently part of me. Behold my
uniting power: I am the sustainer of all, yet my essential nature
does not reside in all, as I am their creator and maintainer.
This is making a similar point: the universe and all things do not inherently
exist or are affixed (sthanin) in Brahman. This refutes monism which is
taught by Advaita Vedantins whereby the jivatma upon moksha realizes it is
inherently identical to Brahman. The Gita teaches that Brahman is the
source of and beyond all beings and things of the world. Brahman doesn’t
fully reside in you in the sense of your being identical to Brahman. The point
is that Brahman is not limited to you. If you believe you are completely
nondifferent from Brahman and you just need to realize that truth in order
to attain moksha, these verses are meant as a refutation of that idea.
Brahman is beyond you, you are one with but different from Brahman in that
Brahman is your source and sustainer. An analogy would be: while a child in
the womb is part of the mother, the mother exists as an independent power
distinct from the child. The child in the womb is one with yet depends on the
mother, they are one yet distinct. The Upanishads make it clear that
Brahman has a nature and possesses many abilities which the individual
souls do not possess. For example the famous stories about The Two Birds In
A Tree, which appears in a few Upanishads:
They speak of the body as a tree with two birds living on its branches. The
birds represent the individual soul and Brahman (God) who are both living
in your body. They discuss the differences between them, that one of those
birds becomes relieved from its anxiety of being trapped in a mortal body
when it realizes it is literally always with the supreme being, that the "two
birds" are united together in the same body, both the weak anxiety ridden
dependent soul along with the creator and controller of the universe. They
are united in one way, but different in another. One is weak while the other is
the ultimate power. The story teaches that the weak one becomes free from
all anxieties and fear by understanding its true nature as an eternal part of
an eternal being who has no weaknesses whatsoever.
The meaning of kaivalya is that you must understand both the unity or
oneness you have with Brahman, and the difference--in order to attain
moksha. The above verse also tells us the second thing to learn from the
Bhagavatam is--vastu advitīyam--that our reality is based on a single power
controlling all and everything, that there is “no second” (a-dvitiya) or other
being who has any substantial power or control in reality (vastu).
The oneness is like the oneness of the puppet and puppetmaster. The puppet
is part of the puppetmaster, they are one, but not the same, they have unity
but separation. That is taught over and over in the Vedic shastras--the jiva is
dependent while Brahman is independent. They explain that the apparent
power of the jivatma is due to its inherent nature as a partial manifestation
(amsha) or limb (anga) of Brahman. It is like the relationship between light
and the flame causing the light. The light is dependent on the flame, they are
one but not the same. One is the cause, the other is the manifest expression
of the cause. The light is caused and directed by the flame.
This is easy to experience by everyone--try to explain how to create a
thought. Go ahead. The problem you will run into is that you do not know
what to do. Thoughts appear in the mind as if by their own power. The same
for memory. We have no knowledge on how to create or control either. Those
things are out of our control because we do not know how to find a memory
or how to create even a single thought. But those things occur, just not by
our power since we do not know how.
So by knowing we are one with God, like a puppet inhabited by the
puppetmaster; by knowing that there is only one being controlling
everything and everyone, we can reach the purpose of the Bhagavatam--of
experiencing ourselves and God as one yet different--because in fact we are
always united with while different from, God.
How?
Because there is only one being with any power who is the cause behind all
things we experience; because we are united with that being by it being
within us controlling all we experience--therefore we can experience God
directly all the time by realizing that oneness and difference. Whatever we
experience, God is causing that experience, constantly we experience God--
and nothing else but our own experience of experiencing God.
For example, whatever you see, or hear, or whatever actions your body or
mind makes, because you are united with God and God is the only power,
therefore God is actually the one doing those things. And because you
understand that you are also separate from God, you understand that you are
not the one doing those things. In that way you can be conscious of God in all
you experience.
That is kaivalya moksha. Liberated from the delusion of seeing anything or
anyone but God. Whatever you experience through the senses or mind--that
is not you, you are the thing who experiences thoughts, sensations, sounds,
vision, etc, all manifestations of the same thing (God), and nothing else.
Except other jiva souls who also have no actual power over anything--so they
also manifest God and nothing else. That is the purpose of the Bhagavatam,
to show you the truth of reality--so you can see and be with God all the time.
Bhagavad Gita:

- I am present within you and everyone at the core of your being, and from
Me comes remembrance, knowledge and forgetfulness.
- The supreme controller is at the heart of all beings Arjuna, motivating the
movements of all living beings, who are mounted on the machine of his
universal potency.

Srimad Bhagavatam 11.13:

- Within this world, whatever is perceived by the mind, speech, eyes or other
senses is Me alone and nothing besides Me. All of you please understand this
by a straightforward analysis of the facts.
- The mind becomes absorbed in sensual perceptions as they enter the mind,
but both the objects of perception and the mind, as well as the physical body
of the jivatma, are manifestations of Me.
- If one continues to see many different values and goals in life rather than
seeing everything as Me, then although apparently awake, one is actually
dreaming due to incomplete knowledge, just as one may dream that one has
wakened from a dream.

Srimad Bhagavatam 11.28:

- In the universe a single all-pervasive infinite being is both the creator and
the creation. The soul of the universe is the savior and the protector, as well
as the giver or taker of ability in all. In truth no being or occurrence can be
viewed as different or distinct from that ruling controller over all
manifestations in existence.
- Therefore the vision of creating, maintaining or destroying by your own will
is baseless. Know that the apparent reality of people and the natural world is
an illusion.
- The learned and wise who perfectly understand and realize this knowledge
do not engage in blame or praise, they move like the sun.
Srimad Bhagavatam 11.29:

- By knowing everything as a manifestation of God, one can perceive God by


renouncing--free from doubts, all other conceptions of reality.
- Indeed of all spiritual practices the one promoted by me as best suited to
lead you towards the goal--is knowing as born of me, the activity in the
thoughts, words, and bodies of all beings.

The commonly heard idea of needing free will in order to "love" that you
rightly point out in being antithetical to the teachings of the tradition, is
based upon a misconception on the svabhava of the jiva, which in turn leads
to a misconception on the purpose of the jiva in the ignorant or conditioned
state.

The svabhava in the conditioned state is ignorance, when that ignorance is


removed by the lord acting through guru, sadhu, and shastra, and ultimately
caitya guru or paramatma (within your thoughts and the external world)
then the natural love of the jiva is also given as a byproduct of that removal
of ignorance. For example:

What is love? Love is first and foremost based upon appreciation of


something to some degree. Love is in essence a natural reaction to
appreciation. It is not a "willful" action as in choosing to do something,
rather it is a reactive appreciation, it is unconscious, natural, inherent or
svabhavika. When ignorance on your true nature is removed and the true
situation is perceived, which is done by Krishna through the above outlets,
then your svabhava changes into appreciation which manifests as love,
naturally, it is not done by you, it is a byproduct of something being done to
you, namely the removal of ignorance and the actions of Krishna on you.

If people say: "Well then why don't I feel love for Krishna, I am an educated
person, I know what is the nature of the self and Krishna?"

The answer is: When all your ignorance is removed, when you fully know
what is the truth of you and Krishna, then you will see and experience
Krishna all of the time--because Krishna is all you ever experience right now,
you just do not perceive reality like that even though it is true. By that full
knowledge and application to all you experience, you will appreciate the
truth of your situation as an object of Krishna's affection--and love will
naturally arise. Krishna is always the only thing you are experiencing, there
is no other being who has any will power, so all you experience is directly
Krishna and nothing else (SB 11.13.24).

When your level of ignorance on this truth is removed, then you will see
reality, in all its manifestations for the truth of what they are--Krishna. All is
Krishna. Here, and inside your mind, all you experience, all is the action of
Krishna. When you truly understand this, then Krishna reveals himself to
you through all these experiences, and that is how love is awakened. Krishna
reveals himself to you through everything you experience, internally through
thoughts and externally through his control over everyone and everything,
and by those avenues he tries to seduce you into loving him. That is the stage
of bhava-bhakti. Love is a personal feeling of appreciation for Krishna when
he personally reveals himself to you and starts a relationship with you. That
appreciation intensifies as your relationship progresses. That is what love is.
It is an emotional reaction to Krishna's seduction, it is not a willful action.

Srimad Bhagavatam 11.19.15

"When one no longer sees the twenty-eight separated material elements,


which arise from a single cause, but rather sees the cause itself, the
Personality of Godhead -- at that time one's direct experience is called
vijnana, or self-realization."