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Kismet
08-06-2011, 09:48 PM
To Hindus/Vedantins:

How is it possible to have an infinite samsara of souls prior to moksha for the individual jiva? Wouldn't this entail having to traverse an infinite amount of time before achieving liberation?

I do believe in reincarnation, but I don't believe in an infinite regress as certain commentators on the Brahma Sutras (like Shankara) presume. This is, in my view, a profound weak spot in the whole philosophy of the Vedanta.

aghora
10-06-2011, 02:50 PM
To Hindus/Vedantins:

How is it possible to have an infinite samsara of souls prior to moksha for the individual jiva? Wouldn't this entail having to traverse an infinite amount of time before achieving liberation?

I do believe in reincarnation, but I don't believe in an infinite regress as certain commentators on the Brahma Sutras (like Shankara) presume. This is, in my view, a profound weak spot in the whole philosophy of the Vedanta.

i agree with you partly - there are several unanswered questions such as when did it all begin? these are more relevant when read in the context of following verses of the bhagvad gita...

16:19 "those who are envious and wicked, who are the lowest among men i repeatedly cast them into the ocean of material existence"

5:14 "the lord neither creates a person's agency of action nor his actions nor even the result of the actions. all this is done by a person's conditioned nature"

how did a jivatma (say me) acquire its (my) current conditioned nature...which was my first act that lead to a series of reactions whereby it (i) fell in this miserable samsara?

peteyzen
10-06-2011, 03:12 PM
its all to do with free will, we asked for and were given free will when we wanted to experience life in physical form. Our actions under free will were goverend by the divine law of karma. When we got human form we forgot our true (divine )nature, we associated ourselves with the form, and allowed the ego, which was initially a defence mechanism to keep the body safe, to have a sense of self. Once we started to act in the best interests of this ego, we started creating un skillfull karma, and thus, through the manifestation of this unskillfull karma, the condition we now find ourselves in.

Kismet
10-06-2011, 07:09 PM
i agree with you partly - there are several unanswered questions such as when did it all begin? these are more relevant when read in the context of following verses of the bhagvad gita...

16:19 "those who are envious and wicked, who are the lowest among men i repeatedly cast them into the ocean of material existence"

Obviously this refers to the merit (or rather demerit) incurred by "doers" whereby they are sent (either by the Lord or by their own sins) into the pain of the material world. It does not say anything about how such human beings came to be envious or wicked, though. Were we envious and wicked from the beginning? Then tamas guna would have eternally prevailed in us and we would not have been the eternal sattvic jivatmans we are in essence.

5:14 "the lord neither creates a person's agency of action nor his actions nor even the result of the actions. all this is done by a person's conditioned nature"

This conflicts with the previous verse in which the Lord himself personally hurls jivas into (deservedly) evil circumstances. There is, on the other hand, greater explanatory power to this verse as it posits freedom or free will as underpinning what we do, hence agency lying at the root of our miserable states. Fair enough, but we have a problem.

how did a jivatma (say me) acquire its (my) current conditioned nature...which was my first act that lead to a series of reactions whereby it (i) fell in this miserable samsara?

Free will simply would not work. Commentators on the Brahma Sutras like Sivananda would say that: "Avidya needs the diversity of individual past work to produce varied results. Avidya may be the cause of inequality if it be considered as having regard to demerit accruing from action produced by the mental suppression of wrath, hatred and other afflicting passions."

So the problem is once again deferred. And, Shankara substantiates the point about free will in saying that no one would intentionally do something harmful to oneself senselessly (if it were not for avidya). So positing a pure, abstract view to free will does not seem to get us anywhere. Moreover, there is no such thing as "free will" in Brahman: that relates to the jiva alone, which is saddled with avidya, again....