Basic Difference

Materialism and Advaita are poles apart.

Materialism says physical matter (including energy) is the fundamental substance in this world. Materialism says I am a temporary conglomerate of matter. Materialism says thoughts are the product of chemical and electrical changes happening in the physical brain, and Consciousness is just another thought.

Advaita says Consciousness is the fundamental substance in this world (prajnaanam brahma). I am pure Consciousness (chaitanyoham). Thus, I am the fundamental Reality (satyoham). I am the substance and substratum of this world (aham brahmaasmi).

Now, which is right? We have no capacity to judge because our judgment is only based on the inputs from the senses, their extending instruments and logic based on them. That will not help to judge here. All sensory inputs and scientific experiments are about the properties of objects. Here we are talking about two things: 1) the substance itself, 2) the subject itself. Both these are not accessible for study.

All the hair-splitting logic employed by the teachers of Advaita is to show how this hypothesis of Advaita based on the Vedas (sruti) does not contradict reason (yukti) and experience (anubhava). Also, the logic is to show how all the other hypotheses have self-contradictions, contradict experience and/or contradict the Vedas. In the course of thousands of years of this process, there are hundreds of hypotheses that are taken up and analyzed. These form the literature of the Advaita.

The beauty of the teaching of the Advaita teachers is to keep this stance as the Absolute Reality and still at a relative level give a working model of the triad of Jagat-Jiva-Ishwara and mapping it to the well known physical-mental-Conscious planes respectively. This provides a path for people to gradually understand the Absolute Reality using the concept of Ishwara as the prop in the relative level.

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2 Responses to Basic Difference

  1. “We have no capacity to judge because our judgment is only based …”
    The only possibilty is evolution for matter (jada) from cosciousness (chaitanya). The evolution of consciousness (chaitanya) from matter (jada) doesn’t seem possible. Moreover if indeed the consciousness (chaitanaya) evolved from matter then it wouldn’t be immortal and the whole Hinduism and Geeta would come to described as fairy tales because who will attain heaven and hell etc. if the soul could perish who would go to heaven, hell, change bodies after death?

    • gokulmuthu says:

      Dear Pramodji,

      Yes. Actually there are at least three levels – Materialism, Spiritualism (or religion) and Advaita philosophy. I have written comparing the first two in the previous blog Going to heaven, hell, rebirth, etc come at the second level. At the level of Pure Consciousness these are also not possible. The Consciousness is Infinite, Eternal, All-pervading, Unchanging, Whole, Partless, Unitary, etc. It does not undergo any change what-so-ever.

      With regards,

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