Shankara’s Nayiti applied to everything.

Paramaguru Adi Shakara

Adi Shankara Charya is one of the greatest theologians of Santana Dharma (Hindu). Within his blessed short period on Earth, the guru’s accomplishments require “sahastry Janam”, countless rebirths, of an ordinary person. The Guru Shankara singlehandedly unified Sanatana Dharma, provided a strong foundation for Advaita (non-duality) philosophy, established dharmic centers (Mathas) across the length and breadth of Bharat.

In his Nirvana Shatakam, Adi Shankara described Brahman (not Brahma), the highest reality.

mano buddhi ahankara chittani naaham
na cha shrotravjihve na cha ghraana netre
na cha vyoma bhumir na tejo na vaayuhu
chidananda rupah shivo’ham shivo’ham

I am not the mind, the intellect, the ego, or the memory,
I am not the ears, the skin, the nose, or the eyes,
I am not space, not earth, not fire, water, or wind,
I am the form of consciousness and bliss,
I am the eternal Shiva…

……

aham nirvikalpo nirakara rupo
vibhut vatcha sarvatra sarvendriyanam
na cha sangatham naiva muktir na meyaha
chidananda rupah shivo’ham shivo’ham

I am devoid of duality, my form is formlessness,
I exist everywhere, pervading all senses,
I am neither attached, neither free nor captive,
I am the form of consciousness and bliss,
I am the eternal Shiva…

The technique used here is to “exclude everything” that is not Brahman.

It is a powerful technique to describe the indescribable.

We can use this method in everyday life as well.

Instead of defining abstract concepts, like love, friendship, etc. It might be most useful to describe (not define) what they are not.

Like, what is happiness? Avoidance of unhappiness.

Education? Avoidance of ignorance.

How does this help?

First, you are passing the burden of defining for yourself to others. Definition, by their very nature, is LIMITS imposed. The scope is finite. By defining what ‘it’ is not, one can let the others explore the ‘vast active space of what it is’ by themselves. In computer terminology, this is akin to distributed computing.

For example, consider happiness. Happiness is different for different people. Even for the same person, happiness differs significantly from time to time. There is a range of happiness. Happiness is subjective, temporal, and not a thing!

By defining happiness as avoidance of unhappiness, one avoids the pitfalls of describing from external sources to internalizing the definition.

However, this kind of exercise very helpful in clarifying the abstract concepts. In more precise areas, like science, law, etc., proper definitions can limit the scope and avoid confusion.

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Aghora

Aghora

Ekum Sat There is only one truth. This is the sum and total of Eastern thought, Santana Dharma. I am goal is derive all the knowledge from this single truth.