[Advaita-l] Atman -- soul or witness or both ?

savithri devaraj savithri_devaraj at yahoo.com
Wed Aug 26 15:52:25 CDT 2009

Namaste Michael - 
How indeed do we live the truth of "atman is brahman" - this is the billion dollar question. 
"Atma as the eternal witness" is not something we can practice, or something we can repeat to gain the experience of this statement - it is at best an inference from examining the three states and analyzing our experiences based on sruti. In each experience we believe we are the witnessing consciousness, I think we are deluding ourselves because consciousness is objectified is all these experiences and it is no more the eternal witness then. We really can't wilfully be the eternal witness.
In other words, it is not exactly a purusha-tantra sadhana to realize the pure consciousness. Many Sruti vaakyas have specified that realization is vastu-tantra, not purusha-tantra. 
When this exact question was raised, the answer from swamis living in austerities has been the same - perform nishkaama karma, clean the mind off of its dull and dross and leave the rest. 
In my opinion, the only practical thing to do would be to perform our nitya and naimittika karmas without attachment, and operate in the transactional world from a place of fullness fully believing we are the infinite and lack nothing, until this becomes our nature effortlessly.
my 2 cents,

--- On Wed, 8/26/09, Michael Shepherd <michael at shepherd87.fsnet.co.uk> wrote:

From: Michael Shepherd <michael at shepherd87.fsnet.co.uk>
Subject: [Advaita-l] Atman -- soul or witness or both ?
To: "advaita vedanta" <advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org>
Date: Wednesday, August 26, 2009, 8:33 AM

The mahavakya all remind us of the shared identity of atman and Brahman.

But how do we personally enter the truth of this ?

Some teachers and gurus emphasise the practicality of atman as eternal
witness, whom we can invite to witness every thought, every word, every
action; as a means to unite with Brahman in the simplest possible manner.

But I note that 'atman as witness' doesn't seem to figure much in classical
texts. Or am I wrong ? Is this more implied than stated outright ?

I'd appreciate comment.


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