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The teaching methodology

The creation method :
It is a variation of the cause/effect method. The chapter 2 of Mundaka Upanishad starts from the standpoint of the individual looking at this universe and wondering about its cause. The ultimate reality, Brahman, is first deliberately presented as the intelligent and material cause of everything, and the universe an effect 31. But further, the Upanishad negates this causal status of Brahman by saying, since the effect which includes all names and forms is only 'as though', the status of Brahman as cause is also 'as though'.

The three states of experience method :
This method that is presented in Mandukya Upanishad starts with the individual and the three states of experience we all go through 32. I consider myself to be essentially a waker. Since the waker is totally replaced in dream and deep sleep, the reality of my being a waker is challenged and negated 33. It is shown that the three states of experience (waking, dreaming and sleeping) and the corresponding physical, subtle and causal worlds that one experiences are also not as real as they seem. The Upanishad then points out the content of experiencer, experience and an object of experience (universe) is one reality, Brahman that is myself.

The five levels of error or the five 'covers' method :
This method which is presented by Taittriya Upanishad 34 starts with the different levels of errors one commits by taking oneself to be this body-mind-sense complex. It leads (adhyaropa) the student to first negate the notion that I am the body by showing more subtle reality about oneself to be mind, which in turn is negated by showing oneself to be intellect. The teaching then negates all the errors one by one (apavada), and shows one to be the invariable self that is present in physical body etc. but not confined to any of them.

This brief presentation of different methods utilized by the Upanishads can appear to be complex for the one who has no exposure to Vedanta. We would like to point out that our exposition is neither exhaustive nor it can substitute the live teachings where the teacher uses these methodologies to unfold the reality to make the person see what is. Our intention is only to illustrate that Vedanta is not just talking about some ideas tentatively, but is endowed with a deliberate and evolved method of teaching which leads to discovery of the truth.

It uses different forms of logic and reasoning to refute wrong notions, employs analogies or examples from our experience, and handles words in a particular manner to unfold its vision.

This introduction on the methodology of teaching will be incomplete if it does not include the commitment on the part of the teacher to make the student understand what he/she sees. That commitment comes from an infinite care and compassion for the student. During the process of teaching, there is also a lot of joy for the teacher to see growing clarity in understanding of a student.


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