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Avidya - Spiritual Ignorance



In the teachings of esoteric Hinduism, the feeling of I am-ness (asmita) - that there is something in you that is really you - reflects a genuine truth. Our true Self is timeless and boundless. However, most of us are ignorant because we limit the identity of the Self with the restrictions of time and matter. “I am,” pure being, gets mixed up with the ego, and thus “I am” becomes I am this or I am that particular identity. Thus, the illusion is to confuse the finite self with the infinite.


In traditional Buddhist thought, this premise is taken even further. Not only is the finite self an illusion, there is no big Self either. Our identity does not need to be shifted or redirected, but is itself our major problem. Consciousness is just a series of experiences that rise and fall, and from which arise new moments. A metaphor would be a flame that is passed on from one candle to another. The fire of one candle ignites others, but this is not the same flame. There is nothing except cause and effect relationships. Is there any way Buddhism can affirm the same higher reality that Hinduism does? Let’s see ….


From the magazine “Enlightened Next”



How the Brahmins describe Brahman:

In the highest golden sheath is Brahman,
stainless, without parts;
Pure is it, the light of lights.
This is what the knowers of the Self know.
The sun shines not there,
nor the moon and stars,
these lightnings shine not,
where then could this fire be?
His shining illumines all this world.
Brahman, verily, is this Deathless.                 Mundaka Upanishad



How the Buddha describes Emptiness:

Where water, earth, heat
and wind find no footing,
there no stars gleam,
no sun is made visible,
there shines no moon,
there the darkness is not found;
When the sage, the brahmin,
himself in wisdom knows this place
he is freed from the form
and formless realms,
from happiness and suffering.  
                                   - the Udana