This is a highly useful text on the subject of Advaita but it brings out the hidden problem that haunts the great and magnificent legacy of the yogas and Advaita in the Indian tradition: the concept of free will has no place and gets scrambled with ego as an illusion. It has to be said the Indic tradition is missing something. It has often been said, but the critics rarely understand the issues. It is pretty easy to scotch free will in the name of the path to enlightenment, but the tactic doesn’t really, even granting that most in the West have no idea what they are talking about.
I think that the yogas are stuck in their traditional slot: but the larger examination of human psychology points to the limits of the issue of consciousness taken alone in the human constitution. Man has a will,
except that it hardly looks like it. It is like a flag that blows in the wind, but doesn’t seem to correspond to anything real. The real issue is simple: the will and the ego are not the same. But man cannot detect his own will even as he uses it, or so it seems, all the time, but only in a marginal way. It is a difficult puzzle but the key may well like in Kant, and next to him Schopenhauer who seems to resolve all the issues, except that he doesn’t. The will corresponds to a thing-in-itself aspect of the human psychology and man is unaware of his larger potential. And yet the will in some fashion does enter the ego realm. But it can be realized (and meditation might have been the way to do it except that the will is the problem to be overcome, taken as ego, in the world of the yogic meditation). The world of Christianity seems to have found a part of the answer, although that has been mystified in extravagant metaphysics. But mediation would surely, if rethought, a hard task, be also the path to the will, but the reality needs its own methods. And then again we have the degenerate versions of Rosicrucian traditions ripped off and poisoned by a combination of Aleister Crowley and Nietsche, to say nothing of Gurdjieff. And then of course the sufi world has its finger in this pie, along with very ancient traditions of gosh knows where, the Caucasus, or what, as the strange figure Gurdjieff pointed out, with nothing much of any help save the ancient notion resurrected of the ‘real I’.
But I wonder if the New Age tide of Indic lore isn’t anything more than a third of the classic traditions, and what many have pointed to over and over, the the limits of the yogic range. The will is the third, and the second, …? The question of soul? There are two other traditions it seems, and these simply lack anything like the conceptual infrastructure of yoga and remain unrealized. But the Indic negative view amputates a key aspect of man. Perhaps it is in its own context right to do so. But the larger question still remains, but has been cluttered with a kind of demon effect, so visible in the Crowleyan nonsense which none the less flooded the dark side of the New Age bliss number with a toxic poison. You are free however to take a rain check on samsara, and meditate ego’s oblivions, and rebirths.
But the point is that a future spiritual/secular tradition is indicated to do justice to the larger complexity of man, cast as an kind imbecile of the will to exit samsara via enlightenment. It is a scrambled story and all the efforts to deal with the mystery have ended in failed nutjobs, like Crowley who missed the whole point. I must wonder if the sufi version (a la Gurdjieff) is any better, save to wave the flag of ‘will’ as the orphan of human psychology. In the future a new spirituality to come may bring the will into focus. It is not so distant from the yogas, and yet is entirely different, with no legacies that can help to realize the will, which in the poignant view of Schopenhauer is a mystery that enters the ego sphere in the act of real will, the ego otherwise a completely mechanical process.
Perhaps more on this later. It is anathema to the yogis, but time will tell what becomes of the ancient legacies of India in the future as the New Age tide recedes….