The Sword of Joshua

And they took it and struck it with the edge of the sword -- its king, all its cities, and all the people who [were] in it; he left none remaining, according to all that he had done to Eglon, but utterly destroyed it and all the people who [were] in it. (Josh 10:37)

References to war and killings in the Bible look extremely offensive to modern pacifists. Nevertheless, the God of the Bible Himself engages in war and killings as a way of executing justice and righteousness. Execution of justice involves employment of violent measures. The first human mass annihilation was through the Great Flood through which only Noah and those with him survived. Following that, human government was instituted so that "Whoever sheds man's blood, by man his blood shall be shed" (Gen.9:6), and a promise was given that the world will never be again destroyed by a global flood. However, the present world is reserved for judgment by fire (2Pet.3:7). Meanwhile, divine justice is locally executed by at least three different means: sword (war), plague (disease outbreaks), and famine (2 Sam. 24:13; 2Ch. 20:9; Jer. 11:22; 14:12,13; 15:2; 21:9; 24:10; 27:8,13; 29:17,18; 32:36; 34:17; 38:2; 42:17,22; 44:13; Eze. 6:11,12; 12:16). Ezekiel 5:17 adds also "wild beasts" to these.

The sword of Joshua against the Canaanites was judgment by means of sword. Jeremiah and Ezekiel prophesied that Israel itself (who was once used by God to bring justice by sword) would be punished by the sword, plague, and famine.

Jeremiah 24:10 - I will send the sword, famine and plague against them until they are destroyed from the land I gave to them and their ancestors.

The sword is symbolic of political authority instituted by God.

Romans 13:3-4 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil.


Zeno, Kant, and the Mystery of God

Zeno and Kant fall in a tradition of philosophers who  recognize the conflict between reason and experience and its bearing on concepts of reality. Zeno's paradoxes and the Kantian antinomies highlight the same. The failure of most acclaimed solutions to these is due to a failure to recognize this fundamental dichotomy which is a problem that connects the topic of perception in both philosophy and psychology. The psychological experience of space and time, for instance, seems to conflict with the conclusions of reason. Those who employ mathematics or variant non-common-sense-hypotheses as solutions end up in asserting either reason or experience as one in favor against the other. Also, while there have been critics who claim to have rebutted Kant's arguments in favor of his antinomies, these rebuttals seem to only have addressed a strawman: the real issue remains untouched. In cases of those who choose one part of the antinomy against the other, the resultant concept of the universe and of God is highly redacted. Especially among hard rationalists and scienti-ists, the tenet of the mystery of God is highly compromised.

See More:
Epistemics of Divine Reality
Epistemology of God


Check it out at Google books. PDF

Also available on Smashwords and Amazon.


Superiority of Christ's Priesthood

Christ's priesthood preceded that of the Levites. Even Levi gave tithes to Melchizedek through Abraham (Heb.7:9-10)

He being God incarnated as Man is the only perfect Mediator (1Tim.2:5, Heb.2:9,10,14)

The levites could not be permanent because they died, but Jesus lives for ever and has a permanent priesthood (Heb. 7:23-24)

The levites had to offer sacrifices for their own sins, but Christ is the sinless and perfect High Priest of God (Heb.7:26-27)

The levites served in a man made tabernacle, but He entered into the heavenly one, not made with human hands (Heb.8:5; 9:11)

Sacrifices were necessary to purify the copies of heavenly things on earth (tabernacle and instruments), but the heavenly things could only be purified with a better sacrifice, i.e. of Jesus (Heb.9:23)

The OT ceremonies were only temporary, till Jesus came (Heb.9:10)

The OT ceremonies were only external, but Christ works within us (Heb.9:10)

The levites offered blood of animals; but Jesus offered Himself (Heb.9:11-14)

The levites had to sacrifice many times, but Jesus offered Himself once for all (Heb.7:27)

Jesus is the Mediator of a superior and new covenant that is established on better promises (Heb.8:6, 10-12) (2Cor.3:7-11)

The old covenant is made obsolete by the new covenant (Heb.8:13)

The blood of Jesus cleanses our conscience to serve the living God (Heb.9:9,14)


God and Mammon

Published in REVIVE, Nov 2018

“You cannot serve God and mammon.” (Matt.6:24)

Life is a bundle of choices. We are confronted daily with choices between good and evil, truth and falsehood, faith and unbelief, the broad way and the narrow way. The choices we make today determine the kind of future we will experience. Among life’s many choices of the day, the one that every believer faces on a more deceptive scale is the choice between serving God or serving mammon. Sadly, many believers do not realize that while they think they are serving God, most of their services are actually being consumed by God’s arch-enemy, mammon.

The word “mammon” refers to the idolization of money and wealth to supplant the place of God. While it may be true that “money answers everything” (Eccl.10:19), in the sense that most of our basic requirements can be bought with money, it is false to assume that money is everything. In fact, the Bible tells us that “the love of money is the root of all evil” (1 Tim.610). God’s word warns us not to “trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy” (1 Tim. 6:17). The Bible warns us: “Do not wear yourself out to get rich; have the wisdom to show restraint. Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle.” (Prov.23:4,5). In fact, “people who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction” (1Tim.6:9).

Many years ago, a pastor of a growing church sarcastically asked me what the definition of “leader” was. Before I could say anything, he replied, “A leader nowadays is someone who has money.” I think he was right in describing the false mentality of many who, instead of serving God, are actually serving mammon when they easily switch organizations, leaders, and places just for the sake of monetary benefit. One pastor was asked why he had left ministering at a particular village and moved on to somewhere else; his prompt reply was, “There were not many customers over there.” Shocking as it may seem, it is heartbreaking to God when the church Christ died for is treated as a business center and the believers are treated as “customers”. The words of Jesus resound, “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be a house of prayer’; but you have made it ‘a den of robbers.'” (Luke 19:46). Sadly, “they are experts in greed-an accursed brood! They have left the straight way and wandered off to follow the way of Balaam son of Beor, who loved the wages of wickedness” (2Pet. 2:14-15). In short, those who serve for money only serve mammon.

The same is true regarding all those who come to church or switch churches not because of Christ but because of social acceptability, luxurious facility, haughty spirit, and the secret love for mammon. It is true regarding everyone who hates giving to the work of the Lord. It is true regarding everyone who is fascinated with material things rather than being zealous after the Spirit of God. Those who pursue Christ for things that perish will be eternally destitute of God. But, they who pursue Christ because for them “to live is Christ and to die gain” will love His appearing and will be where He is. Jesus said, “”Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him” (John 6:27).

The Problem is with the Heart
Jesus said, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matt.6:21). The Bible talks about a rich young man who came to Jesus to enquire how he may get eternal life. When Jesus talked about keeping the laws related to fellow humans (do not steal, do not kill, etc), he replied that he never violated them. Then, Jesus told him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” (Matt.19:21). The Gospel tells us that when the young man heard this, he left with sadness, because he had a lot of wealth. Obviously, it was difficult for this rich young man to part with his wealth now, though it is a common fact that when a man dies he can take none of his savings along with him beyond the grave. Jesus exposed it that this rich young man loved his perishing wealth more than eternal life. He valued pursuing mammon more than pursuing Christ. Instead of regarding wealth as a thing to use for the good of all, he loved and hoarded it for no lasting gain. The problem was with his heart.

Jesus commanded His disciples, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Matt.6:19-20).

The Wise Invest for Eternity
Jesus told the parable of a disloyal property manager (steward) who squandered the wealth of his boss (Luke 16:1-15). His boss called him to fire him and instructed him to give an account of his management before he was removed from the position. The disloyal manager began to think, ‘What shall I do now? My master is taking away my job. I’m not strong enough to dig, and I’m ashamed to beg–I know what I’ll do so that, when I lose my job here, people will welcome me into their houses.’ So, in accordance to his own cunningness, he called each of the debtors who owed to his boss and helped them each get a reduction on their debts. Obviously, he was trying to secure a better future once he realized that his present job position was not secure anymore. He was unlike the rich young man who, even though he knew that his wealth could not buy him eternity, persisted in pursuing his perishing wealth. This disloyal manager gave up all desire for mere wealth; rather, he used his present position to make more lasting friendships, in his own earthly way. The boss appreciated his wisdom. Even worldly people know that it is foolish to just live for the present moment or just for money, that it is foolish to not make plans for the future. When it comes to the matter of eternity, Jesus teaches us to not love, squander, or worship mammon, but use it wisely in order to have a place in eternity. In fact, bad management (wastage) of money is as wrong as hoarding up of money for covetous reasons (rendering it useless).

“He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much. Therefore, if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?” (Luke 16:10-11).

This begins with understanding that all wealth belongs to God and we are only stewards (wealth managers) of whatever is entrusted to us here on earth. Those who acknowledge God in all things and live a life free of covetousness and worldly worries will have a more fruitful life of discipleship. Their heart is free of “the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things” (Mark 4:19). They do not idolize the world but use it properly- “those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away.” (1Cor.7:31). They focus on doing good, and are rich in good deeds. They are generous and willing to share. In this way they “lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life” (1 Tim.6:18-19).


Volitional Memory Error

We may define volitional memory as the memory of a will or decisive encoding to do an action.

Let's suppose:
1. At time x, Oscar has the goal A and decides to reach it by act B
2. At time y, Oscar decides to change the plan and reach A by act C
At time y, Oscar decides to change the plan and reach D by act C
3. However, at time z, Oscar only remembers #1 and goes about reaching goal A by act B.

Only later does he realize that there was a memory error.

This may happen when at time z, Oscar may have another engagement that perhaps eats up the memory space of the most recent time y, and the brain is forced to retrieve elements of time x in order to facilitate action.

This is just an hypothesis, though this form of memory loss is a reality.

1. At time x, Oscar knows a set of decision things A.
2. At time y, Oscar knows a set of decision things B in addition to set A.
3. At time z, Oscar only remembers A.

Any ideas?


The Order of Melchizedek: Priesthood of Christ (English - Cantonese)


Judicial, Moral, and Ceremonial Laws - Slides/Audio


Eccl 12:11 All truth is God's truth

The words of the wise are like goads, their collected sayings like firmly embedded nails—given by one shepherd. (Eccl 12:11)
~All truth is God's truth. Truth always sets free. Truth is consistent and coherent. Truth is not bound to any religion or culture, it is above all of them. Truth is one. It is like the sun that shines over all. The True Shepherd guides us into truth.


The Man God Uses - Poem

When a man seeks his own glory,
And his ego stands in between,
Then faith can't be his life's story
And miracles are never seen.

To that man whose heart is meek
Faith comes simple as to a child.
He fears no failure, his faith's not weak
God works through him, be mild or wild.

© 2018


The Cross Poses A Choice

The Cross poses a choice: either we are crucified with Him or are the crucifiers of Him.

They who turn away, crucify Him afresh.

They who are crucified live as crucified.

There is the fact of death, there is the act of death.

As we have been put to death with Him to live by His Spirit, so we are to put to death the deeds of flesh by the Spirit.


Ecclesiastes 12:7- The Spirit

Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it. Eccl.12:7

All throughout the book, the preacher reminds us that everything is ephemeral, transitory, and vanishing like a vapor. However, towards the end of the book, at the point where he describes how the strong human gets weaker, ultimately falling to the ground, he mentions that there is one part of man that isn't a vapor after all: the spirit of man.

It is certainly foolish to ignore the spirit and focus all attention on things that are intrinsically vaporish and perishing. Jesus asked what would it profit if a man gained the whole world but lost his on soul. Nothing.

Therefore, we are reminded to remember our creator in the days of our youth.


Creationism, Compatible Theories Issues

Take, for instance, the account of the miracle of water into wine in John 2. There are at least three approaches to this:

The believer: He believes the miracle happened..
The agnostic: He doesn't know if a miracle happened and would like to know more.
The non-believer: He believes miracles are metaphysically impossible.

When it comes to the story of creation , there is not even the option of comparing a previous record of water in the pots vs later record of wine. It's like one only has the wine at hand to investigate if it was changed into wine from water a few moments ago, and no record or evidences beyond that. In such case, a naturalist will only attempt to find ways in which the wine came into existence. That is what the evolutionists are doing. Progressive creationists are a problematic intrusion in that they claim to believe in miracles but are unwilling to accept that the water was made wine just a few moments ago. So, they accept all the possible explanations of the naturalist interposing Jesus where the naturalist theory suffers lack of explanations. Eventually, the newer explanations will push away the supernatural element.

The problem with trying to explain away divine acts (such as creation and miracles) as compatible with scientific theories is that, eventually, one will make way for the theory. In Francis Schaeffer's words, the lower storey eats up the upper storey.


One Man Against A Sea of World

There are many who join the crowd,
There is one who stands apart,
And, what force can ever assail
That one man against the world!

A million-man army upon one man
Like a crashing wave may fiercely fall,
Some will vanish like sea-side sand
But he stands like rock who knows his call.

Do you know your sacred call?


Gaudapada’s Arguments against Phenomena, Creation, and Pluralism in Support of Non-dualism

Excerpt from Epistemics of Divine Reality (AAHE Thesis 2007, Google 2009, Lulu 2011)

The Advaitin Search for Unity in Diversity
Advaita philosophy is deeply religious and epistemologically based. The chief problem is ignorance and the way to ultimate liberation is by realization of Truth. Advaita means non-dual and refers to the doctrine that reality is ultimately non-dual in nature and all plurality and diversity manifest in nature is only illusory. Liberation consists in the dissolution of the knower-known duality. To quote from the Brhadaranyaka Upanishad:
Because when there is duality, as it were, then one smells something, one sees something, one hears something, one speaks something, one thinks something, one knows something. (But) when to the knower of Brahman everything has become the Self, then what should one smell and through what, what should one see and through what, what should one hear and through what, what should one speak and through what, what should one think and through what, what should one know and through what? Through what should one know That owing to which all this is known – through what, O Maitreyi, should one know the Knower?[1]
The doctrine of advaita (non-dualism) has its origin in the Upanishads though the systematization of it was eventually done by Shankaracharya (788-820 A.D.), a Brahmin from Kerala and disciple of Gaudapada whose Karika (expository treatise) on the Mandukya Upanishad contains the roots of advaita siddhanta (doctrine of non-dualism).
The Upanishads formed a portion of the Hindu Scriptures, viz. the Vedas. They were, in fact, part of the Aranyakas which were themselves a part of the Brahmana portion of the Vedas. Many of the Upanishadic doctrines originated among the Kshatriyas independent of the Brahmanas and Aranyakas which formed the sacred lore of the Brahmins.[2]
The word Upanishad is considered to have been derived from the root ‘sad’ meaning to sit down, and the prepositions ‘upa’ meaning near, and ‘ni’ meaning down. Thus, ‘Upanishad’ etymologically meant ‘to sit down near’ the teacher.[3] Some disagree to the meaning of ‘sad’ as ‘to sit down’ and think that it should rather be interpreted as ‘destruction or approaching’; thus, meaning by ‘Upanishad’ that which destroys ignorance by revelation of the Truth. It is, however, unanimously agreed upon that the Upanishads were secret teachings meant for the few who desired to know the truth.
Of the many Upanishads that exist (over 108), the Mundakya Upanishad is considered to best embody the doctrine of non-dualism. In only twelve mantras, it is thought as have packed into a nutshell all the wisdom of the Upanishads.[4] Together with the Gaudapada Karika and Shankara’s commentary on it, it forms a powerful argument for the inevitability of non-dual reality. In this research, the Mandukya Upanishad with Gaudapada’s Karika and Shankara’s commentary will be chiefly studied to find the rational epistemics inherent in their conception of reality as non-dual.
While for the Greeks physical reality was a major concern, for the Indians conscious reality was the major concern. While the Greeks tried to find what the unifying basis of all physical reality was as such, the Indians wanted to find what the unifying basis of all conscious reality was as such. The Greeks began from physics and proceeded on to metaphysics. The Indians began from the self, from consciousness, and proceeded on to metaphysics. The Greeks tried to analyze the known in order to understand the known. The Indian analyzed the knower in order to understand the known. Thus, the Indian quest for ultimate reality can be described as a search for a psychological basis of the universe.
This has several implications:
1.      In the search for the external, one begins with the attempt to first understand the internal, viz. consciousness.
2.      Before knowing what is out there, one begins with the attempt to first understand why knowing even exists.
3.      If consciousness as one experiences it is false, then all quest no matter how scientific it appears will be wrong headed. But if consciousness as one experiences it is true, then the quest can end up in truth.
4.      The problem is not why something exists, but why something such as consciousness exists. The knower is thus the starting point.
5.      Liberation, thus, becomes noetic; knowledge of the Truth brings salvation.
6.      No wonder, then, in advaita the Brahman is called Sat-chit-ananda, meaning Being-Consciousness-Bliss, with pure consciousness as the essence of being and bliss; bliss being that condition of being as consciousness in which no distraction or strife by virtue of duality exists.
The words “Brahman,” “Self,” “Reality,” “Lord,” “God,” and “Consciousness,” in the personal noun form refer to the Absolute and Ultimate Reality, Brahman. Following, then, is a brief exposition of the rational method employed in the search for reality as contained in the Mandukya Upanishad[5], and Gaudapada’s Karika and Shankara’s Commentary on it:
1. An analysis of consciousness shows that consciousness has four states; therefore, the Self has four quarters:
a.      Vaisvanara, whose sphere of activity is the waking state of external-world consciousness in which sensible objects are apprehended as real.
b.      Taijasa, whose sphere of activity is the dreaming sleep state of internal-world consciousness in which dream objects are apprehended as real.
c.      Prajna, whose sphere of activity is the dreamless sleep state of undifferentiated consciousness in which all being finds origin and dissolution, i.e., as doorway to the experience of the dream and waking states.
d.      Turiya (Self), whose sphere of activity is the state of neither internal-world consciousness nor external-world consciousness nor undifferentiated consciousness nor unconsciousness. Atman is uninferable, unthinkable, and indescribable; the Self that is unchanging, auspicious, and non-dual.[6]
2.    The fourth quarter is inferred from the first three as the only reality that answers to the first three. The fourth is not just different from the first three; it is, in fact, the only reality into which all the others merge on realization. The analogy is explained by analysis of the word Om.
a.      The word Om is made up of three letters, a, u, and m.
b.      A refers to Vaisvanara, which is first and pervasive, i.e., all experience is pervaded by it.
c.      U refers to Taijasa, which is intermediate to the waking and undifferentiated states, even as u is intermediate to a and m.
d.      M refers to Prajna, the undifferentiated state of consciousness as a mass, which is absorptive: that from which the waking and dreaming quarters proceed and in which they end, even as in the pronunciation of Om, both a and u end in and rise from m.
e.      Om refers to Turiya, the non-dual consciousness, which is neither this nor that, the culmination of phenomenal world. Thus, it is the one in which the first three states of consciousness merge at realization even as a, u, and m merge into Om on pronunciation.
Thus, the Mandukya purports to show that the Om is Turiya – beyond all conventional dealings, the limit of the negation of the phenomenal world, the auspicious, and the non-dual. Om is thus the Self to be sure, it says, and he who knows thus enters the Self through the self. Thus, the waking self can realize itself as Turiya, the true Self. Table 1 illustrates the above.
3.  Gaudapada goes on to prove how the first three states of consciousness are false and not real, while the partless Atman is the only reality and the substratum to all other experiences. Gaudapada’s Karika consists of four prakaranas (chapters) of which the first is interspersed between the passages of the Mandukya Upanishad.
An outline of the four prakaranas is as follows:
a.      Agama-Prakarana - It is a discourse on the Vedic text, viz. the Mandukya Upanishad.
b.      Vaitathya-Prakarana - It is a rational discourse on unreality. Having ascertained the meaning of the Vedic text in the earlier chapter, it now purports to rationally demonstrate the unreality of the phenomenal world.
c.      Advaita-Prakarana - It is a rational discourse on non-duality. Having shown that the phenomenal cannot be real on logical grounds, it now purports to rationally establish the verity of non-duality on logical grounds.
d.      Alatasanti-Prakarana - It is the chapter on quenching the firebrand, in which the firebrand is used as an illustration of Consciousness in vibration giving rise to appearances. It also purports to prove as false all opposing theories and demonstrate the finality of the advaita doctrine as well show the way of quenching of the firebrand, i.e., liberation from duality.

The arguments are as follows:
Argument from Dream
1.      Objects perceived in a dream are false since they cannot be located in finite body (II.1, 2).
2.      Objects perceived in the dream and the waking states, being common in the sense of both being perceived, are similar and, therefore, one (II.4, 5).
3.      Therefore, objects perceived in the waking states are as false as objects perceived in the dream state.
This argument is reminiscent of the old Chinese philosopher’s question: If I dreamed I was a butterfly and awoke to find myself a man, how do I know whether I was a man who dreamed I was a butterfly or was a butterfly dreaming I am a man? The above argument of Gaudapada may be reinstated in the following manner:
1.      Since consciousness is one, its perception must be consistent.
2.      To say that objects in dream are false but objects in the waking state are real is to say that consciousness is inconsistent in perceiving things.
3.      But if consciousness is inconsistent, then truth cannot be known for certain.
4.      Since the objects in dream are obviously false from the standpoint of the waking state, it must be inferred that the objects in the waking state are false from another standpoint, and so on, in order that consistency of consciousness be maintained.
5.      The standpoints cannot be infinite; therefore a final condition of consciousness must exist.
6.      In the final analysis, it must, for the sake of consistency, be maintained that the objects of both the dream and waking states are false.
7.      Therefore, the objects of both the dream and waking states are false and phenomenal plurality as it appears is unreal.
The dream and waking states point to subjective idealism. Though the objects of the dream and waking states can be denied reality, reality cannot be denied to consciousness itself. Thus, consciousness itself is the substratum to the objects of perception. And consciousness is non-different from the experiencer as Shankara explains:
The creatures visible to a waking man are non-different from his consciousness, since they are perceived through consciousness, just like the creatures perceived by the consciousness of a dreamer. And that consciousness, again, engaged in the perception of creatures, is non-different from the experiencer, since it is perceived by the experiencer, like the consciousness in the dream state.[7]
Thus, Consciousness alone is the only reality and plurality of objects is super-imposed on it.
Gaudapada’s dismissal of the phenomenal reality of waking state on the basis of his dismissal of the phenomenal reality of the dream state might be unjustified extrapolation, in the sense of certainty of knowledge. For by his argument only a probability emerges: this phenomenal reality of the waking state might probably be as unreal from another state of consciousness as the phenomenal reality of the dream state is unreal to the waking state. But how does one know whether or not the waking state is the rock-bottom state of consciousness? On what basis is another higher state of consciousness assumed? Gaudapada doesn’t give a clear answer, demonstrating the  hypothesis-drive of his reasoning. Faith seems to form a strong basis for the rationality of Gaudapada.
Argument from Immortality of Soul (III. 19-22; IV. 7-10)
This is an argument directed at those believers in rebirth who vouch for the immortality of the soul. It demonstrates that if the soul is immortal it cannot undergo mortality.
1.      A thing can never change in its nature (as fire cannot change its heat).
2.      The soul is immortal by nature.
3.      Therefore, the soul can never become mortal, i.e., it can never pass into birth.
By the word ‘nature’ Gaudapada means ‘that which is permanently acquired (samsiddiki), or is intrinsic (svabhaviki), instinctive (sahaja), non-produced (akrita), or unchanging in character (svabhavam na jahati ya).’[8] With this definition in view, he writes: “All souls are intrinsically (svabhavatah, by nature) free from old age and death.”[9] Consequently, saying that a soul becomes mortal by birth is to say that the soul becomes the opposite of itself in nature by birth, which is a contradiction in terms, seeing that the soul was first called immortal by nature and nature was defined as that which is permanently acquired. Therefore, if the soul is immortal it cannot become mortal in anyway. Thus, those who believe in the immortality of soul cannot rationally also sustain the theory that the phenomenon of birth and death is true. Hence, phenomenal events cannot be true.
Thus, this argument is meant to demonstrate that the phenomenon of birth and its accompanying doctrine of rebirth are rationally inconsistent with the doctrine of the immortality of soul. With reference to the doctrine of rebirth and creation, Gaudapada says: ‘Instruction about creation has been imparted by the wise for the sake of those who, from the facts of experience and adequate behaviour, vouch for the existence of substantiality, and who are ever afraid of the birthless entity.’[10]
Contrary to the supposition that souls become mortal at birth, which forms the core of the doctrine that Gaudapada attacks, there is also the belief that the soul never becomes mortal at birth; rather it is embodied at birth and gives up the body at death. Thus, the birth or mortality of body doesn’t affect the soul.[11] In that case, the phenomenon of birth and decay cannot be dismissed. However, this belief presently doesn’t seem to be the concern of Gaudapada.
Argument from Coming to Being (IV. 4)
1.      A thing that already exists does not pass into birth (for it already is).
2.      A thing that does not pre-exist cannot pass into birth (for something cannot come out of nothing).
3.      Therefore, there is no birth.
This argument, similar to Parmenides’ argument from coming-into-being, has in perspective not just the material universe but also being as consciousness and arrives at the conclusion by negation of two opposing views held by two different schools Indian philosophy, viz. the Sankhya and the Nyaya.
The Sankhya held that ‘something cannot come out of nothing; and whatever is, has always been.’[12] Birth is the manifestation of what is already in a latent form. Objects do not come to be; they already are. The Nyaya, on the other hand, held to the doctrine of non-existent effect, which taught that the effect, once non-existent, comes into being afterwards. In other words, something comes out of nothing.[13]
Gaudapada negates both the views by stating that neither the pre-existent nor the non-existent can pass into birth. However, since birth of objects is perceived empirically, phenomenal experience must be false. Thus, both the Sankhya and Nyaya by opposing each other in their views prove that non-dualism is true.
Argument from Disintegration (IV. 11)
1.      The only way the cause can take birth is by (at least partial) disintegration of itself.
2.      But nothing that disintegrates can be eternal.
3.      Therefore, if the cause disintegrates, then it cannot be eternal.
4.      But the cause is eternal.
5.      Therefore, it cannot disintegrate; i.e., it does not take birth.
This argument is based on the empirical notion that whatever disintegrates cannot be eternal. For instance, a jar that is disintegrable is not eternal. For it will soon be reduced to nothing by disintegration. Or it at least has the potential to disintegrate, which implies that it is not eternal necessarily, or in the absolute sense. Therefore, if the cause were to be eternal it must not disintegrate. Thus, the doctrine of birth is nullified.
Together with the argument from coming to being, this argument is a strong case for non-dualism. If something cannot come out of nothing, then something must be eternal. If this something is eternal then the phenomenal world is unreal; for eternality evinces birthlessness and non-disintegration. Since the cause must be eternal, therefore the phenomenal world is unreal.
However, the argument loses if it is proven that this eternal cause can create a contingent world out of nothing. But this is rationally difficult since reason lacks any synthetic (empirically demonstrable) way by which it can be proven that something can be created by someone out of nothing. The only cases where such creation out of thin air is seen are in magic or the conjurer’s trick. But the result of such creation is illusory and unreal and proof of the doctrine of non-dualism which states that phenomenon is illusory or unreal.
Following are several arguments against the cause-effect theory:
Argument from Sequential Consistency (IV. 15)
1.      By analogy, the effect is produced by the cause, even as a son is born of a father.
2.      The father cannot be born of the son.
3.      Likewise, therefore, the cause cannot be produced from the effect.
This is an argument from analogy against the Sankhya theory of effect within the cause and cause within the effect. It may be argued that the analogy is falsely drawn since it can also be seen that a tree produces the seed and the seed produces a tree. However, the analogy of the seed is begging the question since it stands in par with the analogy of the son (IV. 20). In the case of the seed, the seed produces a tree different from the tree that produced it. In the words of Shankara, “a series does not constitute a single substance.”[14] In the same manner the son may produce another son who may become father of another son, but he cannot produce his own father. Likewise, then how can the phenomenal world with the many selves be considered to produce the same cause that produced it, namely prakriti?
Answering this analogy is that of the clay jar, which emerges out of clay and, on dissolution (destruction), becomes clay again,[15] the material cause remaining the same throughout. The answer to this analogy is given below.
1.      Every causal relation has a sequence (wherein the cause precedes the effect).
2.      The Sankhya cause and effect are devoid of a sequence.
3.      Therefore, the Sankhya cause and effect have no causal relation, which is to say that the cause does not produce the effect.
The argument is a reductio ad absurdum wherein it is proved that if cause and effect are co-existent then, it is wrong to state that the cause produces the effect. With reference to the analogy of the clay jar, if the clay and the jar are co-existent, the clay cannot be considered to have produced the jar, since the jar is already there and need not be produced. Thus, the eternality of the cause establishes the impossibility of any further effect, as argued earlier, since the cause as eternal cannot its unlike effect, as the phenomenal world appears to be, nor can it itself undergo disintegration by producing out of itself something, nor can it be said to come into being itself since it already exists. This is capsulated in the following verse:
A thing, whatsoever it may be, is born neither of itself, nor of something else, (nor of both together). Nothing whatsoever is born that (already) exists, does not exist, or both exists and does not exit.[16]
That is to say that if a thing is said to already exist, it comes into being again either of itself or of something else or of both, since it already exists. Thus, if it exists it cannot come into being; if it does not exist it cannot come into being (for it cannot produce itself neither can something come out of nothing), and if it said to both exist and not exist it cannot come into being.  Thus, if the cause is already in existence, then it alone remains and no further effect like or unlike itself is possible. Consequently, the phenomenal world as a transitory effect cannot be true.
Having established the falsity of the phenomenal world and its objects, Gaudapada goes on to admit that external objects as they appear do exist from the standpoint of experience, say of color, pain, etc (IV. 24); however, this perception of external objects is relative to the present experience only. From the standpoint of ultimate reality, no external objects as cause of perception exist (IV. 25). As Shankara explains, on account of finding the external object to be unreal, it is not admitted to be the cause of knowledge, just as a snake seen on a rope is not. Besides, Shankara says, the cause is not a cause, since it is the content of an erroneous perception; and as such, it ceases to be so when the error is removed. Thus, the phenomenal world does not exist in the absolute sense. Accordingly, no external objects exist.
However, it may be said that this assumes the world as the only reality. This argument itself proceeds from the assumption that all Being is one. It then, logically follows that this Being is either self-caused, caused, or uncaused. It is impossible for it to be self-caused (born of itself) or caused (born of something else). But if Being is not caused then, it alone is eternal and devoid of all motions. Thus, phenomena as the panorama of cause and effect must be false.
Proceeding from this conclusion the argument goes on.
Argument from Perception and Being (IV. 26-28)
1.      If external objects do not exist then consciousness has no contact with them.
2.      External objects do not exist.
3.      Therefore, consciousness has no contact with them.
4.      However, if consciousness exists it should be eternal (for as already seen if it once was not, it cannot come to be).
5.      Consciousness exists.
6.      Therefore, it is eternal (has no birth).
7.      Consequently, consciousness is eternal and external objects perceived by it do not come into being as they appear to be so.
However, if it is contended that the transitory phenomenal world does exist, then the following arguments are in answer.
Argument from Eternality (IV. 30)
1.      If something is beginningless then it is also endless.
2.      The phenomenal world is said to be beginningless.
3.      Therefore, it is also endless.
This implicitly would mean that the world has no possibility of emancipation from the problem of pain for ever. However if the phenomenal world had a beginning then it cannot have eternal emancipation as the following argument shows:
Argument from Beginning
1.      If anything has a beginning then it has an end.
2.      Liberation has a beginning.
3.      Therefore liberation has an end, that is to say it is not eternal.
However, since it has been proved that the phenomenal world has no reality apart from the present waking state similar to the dream state, the phenomenal world which only is in the middle and neither in the beginning and the end of the waking state is unreal (IV. 31). The phenomenal world is called real only in the same way that an elephant conjured up by magic is called real by depending on perception and adequate behaviour. However, the magician’s elephant does not exist, so neither does the phenomenal world exist.
On the final analysis, everything can be doubted but consciousness cannot be doubted. And if consciousness exists, it must be eternal; for it cannot come into existence either by itself or by something else. Further on, since the soul is birthless, reincarnation and birth is false. External objects share in similarity with internal objects of dream and therefore do not exist; thus, the phenomenal world is unreal from the standpoint of ultimate reality even as the dream world is unreal from the standpoint of phenomenal reality. If the phenomenal world were true then, there could be nothing eternal and cessation of the world would have occurred already as is written: “It is beyond question that the phenomenal world (prapancah) would cease to be if it had any existence…” (I. 18). Obviously, since temporality and transitoriness is characteristic of the world in which birth and death of things is the only empirical fact. As such, then, there could be nothing eternal. But perhaps it may be said that phenomenal reality is created by a transcendent absolute reality in the sense that both are equally real.
But phenomenal reality cannot be causally related to absolute reality: If the cause is birthless then the effect must be birthless which is contradictory; if cause and effect are simultaneous then causal relation does not exist meaning the cause did not cause the effect, which is contradictory; if the effect and cause are mutually causative then, the father-son contradiction results. Thus, phenomenal reality cannot be the product of an uncaused cause. If it is not the product of creation then, of course, implicitly, all change, motion, and birth lacks an ultimate causal relation. Therefore, the phenomenal world has no real existence. Thus, from the absolute standpoint, only Consciousness or the Self is Reality.
Everything seems to be born because of the empirical outlook; therefore there is nothing that is eternal. From the standpoint of Reality, everything is the birthless Self; therefore there is no such thing as annihilation.[17]
Thus, only “Consciousness – birthless, motionless and non-material, as well as tranquil and non-dual”[18] exists. In the final analysis, by the way, both birth and birthlessness are categories that cannot be applied to Ultimate Reality (IV. 60, 74). However, if consciousness is non-dual, and phenomenal reality is unreal, then what accounts for the experience of duality or plurality in the world? To this the following explanation is given:
Analogy of the Firebrand
1.      As the firebrand appears to be straight or crooked when in movement, so does Consciousness[19] appear to be the knower and the known when in vibration (IV. 47).
2.      As the firebrand, when not in motion, becomes free from appearances and birth, so Consciousness, when not in vibration, will be free from appearances and birth (IV. 48).
3.      The appearances of the firebrand in motion are not externally caused. Neither do they come from anywhere else nor do they go anywhere else from it (since appearances are not things and so lack substantiality); likewise, when Consciousness is in vibration, the appearances do not come to It from anywhere else, nor do they go anywhere else from It when It is at rest. Appearances lack substantiality and therefore are unreal (IV. 49-52).
4.      In this way the external entities (appearances) are not the products of Consciousness; neither is Consciousness a product of external entities. Thus, the knowers confirm the non-existence of cause and effect (IV. 54). Consciousness is, thus, objectless and eternally without relations (IV. 72).
5.      As in dream Consciousness vibrates as though having dual functions, so in the waking state Consciousness vibrates as though with two facets as subject and object (IV. 61, 62).
The firebrand, thus, in its vibrant condition illustrates how qualitative, quantitative, and relational appearances occur when Consciousness is in motion. However, the illustration does not answer as to what accounts for Consciousness to be in motion, to which the following answer is given:
The Hypothesis of Maya
Even as objects appear to be real by magic, so do objects appear to be real through Maya (IV. 58, 59).
1.      In the same manner that magic is not an object that exists; Maya also is not an object that exists (IV. 58, 59).
2.      As a creature conjured up by magic (Yatha mayamayo jeevo) undergoes birth and death, so also do all creatures appear and disappear (IV. 69).
3.      The birthless Self becomes differentiated verily through Maya, and it does so in no other way than this. For should It become multiple in reality, the immortal will undergo mortality (III. 19). That is, the contradiction of “immortal is mortal” (A≠A) occurs.
4.      The imagination that a plurality of objects exists is the Maya (delusion) of the Self by which it itself is deluded (II. 19).
5.      Maya is not a reality in the sense that it exists separately of Brahman, but is only descriptive of the condition of self-delusion that Brahman experiences (IV. 58). If Maya were existent then non-duality would be false since the second is already imagined. If it were non-existent then the experience of duality could not be explained. Consequently, neither existence nor non-existence can be predicated of it. Attempts to call it as existent produces the error similar to calling delusion as a power that exists in the condition “the man is deluded.” Accordingly, the phrase “by the power of Its own Maya” (II. 12) may be re-phrased as “by self-delusion”.
Thus, vibration of Consciousness gives rise to the experience of diversity, which is Maya or delusion. In other words, the whole condition of vibration and phenomenal experience is Maya. The implications are clear: if the Self or Brahman can be self-deluded then It cannot be perfect. As O. N. Krishnan says, “If He is subject to delusion, then He cannot be considered omniscient and omnipotent.”[20] However, omniscience and omnipotence are attributes that are inapplicable to the non-dual Self. Therefore, it is wrong to talk of the Self as lacking or possessing any such attributes. As Shankara puts it:
…the Self, in Its own reality, is not an object of any other means of knowledge; for the Self is free from all adventitious attributes. Nor…does It belong to any class; because, by virtue of Its being one without a second, It is free from generic and specific attributes…. It is devoid of all action. Nor is It possessed of qualities like blueness etc., It being free from qualities. Therefore It baffles all verbal description.[21]
Another point which O. N. Krishnan makes against the Maya theory is that since Brahman by being deluded is the source of all evil in the world, while at the same time the law of Karma operates to administer justice in the world, how can it be logically conceived that the same deluded Brahman is the source of evils and injustices and at the same time dispenser of justice?[22] To which it may be replied that both Karma and rebirth are unreal from the standpoint of Ultimate Reality. In other words, they appear to be so only by Maya; as Gaudapada says: “Birth of a thing that (already) exists can reasonably be possible only through Maya and not in reality.”[23] Ultimately, if all is non-dual, what is that causes evil to what and what is that judges what? Further, being free of relational attributes such as “justice,” “goodness,” etc. do not apply to Brahman.
The process of Maya is described by the Karika as follows:[24]
1.      First the Lord (Brahman) imagines the individual (soul).
2.      Then He imagines the different objects, external and mental.
3.      The individual gets his memory in accordance with the kind of thought-impressions he has.
4.      The Self is, consequently, imagined to be the many.
5.      This is the Maya of that self-effulgent One, by which He Himself is deluded.
Regarding the relation of the individual souls with the Absolute Brahman, the following explanation drawn from an analogy of jars and space is given:
The Analogy of Jars and Space (III. 3-8)
1.      Just as space confined within the jars etc. merge completely on the disintegration of he jars etc., so do the individual souls merge here in the Self (III. 4).
2.      Just as all the spaces confined within the various jars are not darkened when one of the spaces thus confined becomes contaminated by dust, smoke, etc., so also is the case with all the individuals in the matter of being affected by happiness etc. (III. 6).
3.      As the space within a jar is neither a transformation nor a part of space (as such), so an individual being is never a transformation nor a part of the supreme Self (III. 7).
4.      Just as the sky becomes blackened by dust etc. to the ignorant, so also the Self becomes tarnished by impurities to the unwise (III. 8).
5.      The aggregates (of bodies and senses) are all projected like dream by the Maya of the Self (atma-maya-visarjitah, i.e., Self’s deluded-projection). Be it a question of superiority or equality of all, there is no logical ground to prove their existence (III. 10).
In accordance with (3) above, it is erroneous to suppose that an individual being is a transformation of the Self. For if that was true, then when an individual realized Brahman, cosmic liberation would have simultaneously occurred. Similarly, it is erroneous to suppose that the individual is a part of the Brahman, as if Brahman were a divisible whole. For if Brahman were divisible, then in accordance to the argument from disintegration it would not be eternal. However, if it were not eternal, then it could not be, in accordance to the argument from coming-into-being. Thus, Brahman is the eternal, unchanging, formless, partless, birthless, sleepless, dreamless, tranquil and fearless, non-dual Self (III. 36, 37).

[1] The Brhadaranyaka Upanisad, II.iv.14 (trans. Swami Madhavananda; Calcutta: Advaita Ashrama, 1997), p. 259
[2] Swami Madhavananda, Minor Upanishads (Calcutta: Advaita Ashrama, 1996), p. vi
[3] Ibid, p. viii
[4] Swami Krishnananda, The Mandukya Upanishad (Rishikesh: The Divine Life Society, 1996), p. 7
[5] Mandukya Upanishad, with the Karika of Gaudapada and the Commentary of Sankaracarya (trans. Swami Gambhirananda; Calcutta: Advaita Ashrama, 1995).
[6] Mandukya Upanishad 7, Ibid, p. 34
[7] Comment on Karika IV. 65-66, Mandukya Upanisad, p. 209
[8] IV. 9, Ibid, p. 162
[9] IV. 10, Ibid, p. 163
[10] IV. 41, Ibid, p. 192; the statement has overtones also of the permissiveness of myth for the common folk.
[11] Srimad Bhagvad-Gita II. 20-23 (tr. Swami Vireswarananda; Madras: Sri Ramakrishna Math, 1974), pp. 38, 39
[12] M. Hiriyanna, Indian Philosophy, p. 273
[13] Ibid, p. 239
[14] Mandukya Upanishad, p. 184
[15] M. Hiriyanna, Indian Philosophy, p. 278
[16] Karika IV. 22, Mandukya Upanisad, p. 173
[17] Karika IV. 57, Mandukya Upanisad, p. 204
[18] Karika IV. 45, Mandukya Upanisad, p. 195
[19] The word ‘Consciousness’ with capital ‘C’ here refers to Brahman, the Absolute Reality.
[20] O. N. Krishnan, In Search of Reality, p. 343
[21] Mandukya Upanisad, p. 32
[22] O. N. Krishnan, In Search of Reality, p. 343
[23] III. 27, Mandukya Upanisad, p. 134
[24] II. 16-19, Mandukya Upanisad, pp. 74-77


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