Question about the causal state

sadananda sada at ANVIL.NRL.NAVY.MIL
Thu Oct 16 08:08:46 CDT 1997

Patrick S. Williams wrote:
>I'd appreciate a clear explanation of  what's meant when the term
>"causal" is used.  For example, I've been reading the treatment of
>Mandukya Upanishad by Swami Nikhilananda, in which he intersperses
>material from the sruti along with commentary from Shankara, Gaudapada,
>and himself.  The deep sleep state is referred to as "causal" because it
>precedes the other two states.  This makes some sense to me, although I
>suspect there's some additional meaning to "causal" in this context.
>But the term is also used to refer to other "states,", levels," etc.
>When it is used thusly, exactly what does it mean?  Why is "causal" an
>apt term in these contexts?

I will try to provide a brief account to the best I can:

The information is contained in the introductory book " The manual of Self
Unfoldment" by Swami Chinmayaananda, published by Chinmaya Mission West.
You can access CMW through the internet.  They have book department in
Philadelphia or you can give a call to the one close to you in Houston and
talk to one Mr. Gaurang Naanaviti who is the achaarya there.

Causal is the translation for kaarana, that which is the cause for the rest
of the bodies.

The following chart developed by Swami Chinyayanandaji and would help to
understand the concepts
                               Om(truth) or turiya
                         V(vasana) - causal state
    B- body                  M- Mind                   I- Intellect
        |                       |                         |
    P- perceiver            F-feeler                    T-thinker
        |                       |                          |
     O-Objects              E-emotions                  T -thoughts

Body with all 5 sense organs and 5 organs of action - with all pancha
praanas etc constitute the gross body - stuula shareera

Mind and intellect - the thought matter or thought world consisting of
mind, the emotional center, intellect, the discriminative center; chitta,
the memory ; and ahankaara (the ego - i thought) constitute the subtle
body, suukshma shareera. and Vasanas (likes and dislikes, inclinations and
tendencies) also called the avidya or ignorance constitute the causal body
or kaarana Shareera.

In the waking state, jagara, all the three bodies are at work, kaarana,
suukshma and stuula shareeras - although the gross body is emphasized - as
I am this gross body, I am here and not there etc.

In the dream state, swapna,  the identification with gross body is cut off,
only the  other two bodies, subtle and causal bodies are active.

In the deep sleep state, sushupti, even the subtle body is folded - no mind
and intellect that is  no thoughts and only the causal body is identified.
Our experience of deep sleep state is I enjoyed but I donot know anything -
so ignorance is the dominant factor.  Hence the state is also called
avidya, or ignorance. It is the sum total of vasanas that are the root
cause - karana - for being what I am right now.  Because of vasanas, I take
birth in such and such family, male or female, pursuits the interests that
are conducive to my vasnas. Hence causal body is the cause for type of
gross body and subtle bodies that I have. ( some total of all causal bodies
in the universe becomes the maaya - the creative power of the Lord - since
creation is there to fulfil the total vasanaas)

Vasanas are also called karma pala or karma - in the sense they are result
of ego-centric actions that leave subtle impressions in the mind.  The
total account of my vasanas is called sanchita karma (total bank balance),
of which I bring into this life only those that can be exhausted with
particular body in a given environment.  Thus I am borne in India and you
here, both to particular parents etc all due to the blue prints which are
knowingly or unknowingly made by ourselves.

The part that I bring into this life is called Praarabda karma.  In this
life, since I am given an intellect to think and choice of action, I
perform and when I do with ego-centric attitude, the action leaves more
vasanas which may or may not be exhausted in this life and those that
cannot be will be deposited into my account.  Thus I get caught up in the
vicious cycle of karma to janma to karma. And only way to break this
vicious cycle is through yoga -

Vasanas cause desire at the intellect level and agitations at the mental
level and propels action at the body level.  BMI are the only three
equipments we all have, and we yoke out our experiences through them.  I, a
conscious, existent entity, take myself to be a perceiver, P, when
identifying with body, take myself as feeler, F, identifying  with the
mind, and thinker, T, identifying with the intellect.  This happens because
I donot know completely about myself.  I know about myself only partially,
that I exist(sat) and I am conscious (chit), but I do not know that I am
ananda ( happiness or limitless state) too.

This is non-apprehension about myself or avidya.  This is the part of the
problem.  Ignorance itself is not bad - hence sushupti state where the I
-identify myself with ignorance - is sill unagitated and blissful.  But
when the mind wakes-up in the dream and waking state, non-apprehension of
myself leads to mis-apprehension of myself as I am the body, mind and/or
intellect which are actually objects of my awareness.  I mistake the
objects as subject I and suffer the consequence of that.

Questions that normally asked is when did this ignorance, avidya started
and who has that ignorence.  These are one of the burning issues of advaita
vedanta that others such as Sri Ramanujachar of VishiTaadviata and
Madwacharya of dvaita find fault with.  Shankar responds to this as it is
beginningless -
In atma bodha  he says:-

        anaadi avidyaa anirvaachyaa
        karanopadhih uchyate|

This avidya is beginningless and inexplicable and is called as causal body.

Of course the others interpret this as not the answer but escapism.

But we advaitins know that Shankar is very logical.  Ignorance has to be
beginningless.  This is true to all types of ignorance.  When did my
ignorance of chemistry started - It was there from the beginning from the
moment you told me that is something called chemistry.  If ignorance starts
in time, then before that one is knowledgeable and knowledgeable person
cannot become ignorant.  Of course another problem in the vasana state is
beginning and end are the concept of time.  Vasanas are there even before
the intellect or thoughts process and hence the time starts.  Hence it is
before even the time is conceived. Shankara also says it is inexplicable -
anirvachaneeyam - because the explanations belong the realm of intellect
and thoughts.  It is before even the thoughts raise and it is the very
cause for thoughts.  Logically it is perfect. ( The fact of the matter is
the other achaarya's although criticize advaita, donot have any better
answers to the question - when and how this all started - their answer is
it is all the leela of the Lord - His play - Christianity comes with
similar vague answer as the original sin - but it is considered as
blasphamy if one askes why I am borne when somebody else commited a sin -
There is no answer.  This original sin is the anaadi)

Some time back I had article  on who is the deep sleeper I, may be one can
download from the files if one is interested - it analyzes the
anirvachaniiyam aspect.  In the past, there were several interesting
discussions on that topic on advaita list.

I hope the concept of causal body is somewhat clear.

Typed fast, as usual the some of the errors can be attributed to that!

Hari Om!

K. Sadananda
Code 6323
Naval Research Laboratory
Washington D.C. 20375
Voice (202)767-2117

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