Advaita : Some Basic Explanations - 4

hbdave hbd at DDIT.ERNET.IN
Thu Feb 21 00:57:38 CST 2002

Dear List Members,
Here is the posting no. 4.
Best wishes,
-- Himanshu
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Advaita : Some Basic Explanations - 4
                                                -- Himanshu

In the last posting, a question arose - Is the aanandamaya not
the dehin, the possessor of the body? In this posting we try to
answer that question.

We have to understand the four types of Consciousness ({\skt cetana}).
Basically, we find individual Consciousness -- called {\skt vya.s.ti}
-- and collective Consciousness, what people loosely call the God,
i.e. {\skt sama.s.ti}. Very roughly you can say that we are talking
about Self of an individual and God. There two levels of each as
explained below.

The explanation is in terms of an *analogy* of Akash ({\skt aakaa"sa}
space or void).

There are four varieties of Akash : {\skt gha.taakaa"sa jalaakaa"sa
meghaakaa"sa} and {\skt mahaakaa"sa}. These can be described as :

{\skt gha.taakaa"sa} -- "pot-space" : the space inside a pot
        ({\skt gha.ta}); the space seems to have been bound by
        the pot;

{\skt jalaakaa"sa} -- "image-space" : the image or reflection of the
        sky in the water filled in the pot plus the space within the
        pot; if one looks in a pot partly filled with water, there
        will be reflection of moon, stars etc. seen as if within the
        pot, that sky or space (i.e. the reflected space) is called

{\skt meghaakaa"sa} -- "cloud-space" : the space occupied by the
        clouds plus reflection of the sky in the clouds, is called

{\skt mahaakaa"sa}  -- "total-space" : all the space, totallity of
        space inside everything and outside, is called Mahakash.

Doubt : I do not see any reflection of sky in a cloud.

Reply : May be so, but we can not be sure that what we see as cloud is
really limited to the physical cloud. Clouds are made up of water droplets
and we know that water reflects light.

Now, using this analogy, the four types of {\skt cetana} are described.

{\skt kuu.tastha} -- or {\skt jiivasaak.sii} which is the basis of the
        {\skt aanandamaya}; it is analogous to "pot-space",
        {\skt gha.taakaa"sa};
        just as the space in a pot is not different or distinct
        from the total space {\skt mahaakaa"sa}, only there is seemingly
        an enclosing of it, though actually it is continuous with it,
        similarly, the {\skt saak.sii} or {\skt ku.tastha} is no
        different from {\skt brahma}, the Universal Being.
        This {\skt saak.sii} is called {\skt dehii} by Shri Krishna in
        It is not exactly same as {\skt aanandamaya}.
{\skt kuuta} = false; immovable, steady; despised; illusion, deception;
                a puzzle or puzzling question; peak of a mountain;

As pointed out by others on the Advaita list, the word {\skt kuu.tastha}
is taken generally having two meanings :

{\skt kuuta} anvil + {\skt stha} staying steady = one which is staying
steady, unmodified like an anvil of a gold-smith, i.e. the unmodifiable,
aatmaa, Self;

{\skt kuuta} mountain peak + {\skt stha} staying = one which stays at
the peak of a mountain; in RigVedic system of code words, a mountain,
especially mount Meru, denotes the pyramid of awarers that we discussed
in the previous posting. The peak of this mountain, i.e. highest level
of awareness, is {\skt aanandamaya} "Happy". Kutastha stays on top of
this, i.e. something higher than "Happy".

                          /\                    <--- "Happy"
                        /    \
                      /        \                <--- "Knower"
                    /            \
                  /                \            <--- "Thinker"
                /                    \
              /                        \        <--- "Sensor"
            /                            \
          /                                \    <--- "Body"


Doubt : Does this mean that Kutastha or Sakshi is enclosed inside the
{\skt aanandamaya} "Happy"?
Reply : No, Kutastha is evident at all the layers of awareness,
depending upon your present state. As we shall see later on, from view
point of Kutastha, there is nothing else existing.

Doubt : But your general interpretation till now for these awarers is
that they are one within another?
Reply : Yes, but that was to indicate the flow of information. Also,
please note that Kutastha is a very special type of "awarer", not
comaprable to any thing. We should postpone further discussion of this
till we have sufficient mental tools.

Looking at my artwork (!) above, you may think that Kutastha is able to
tumble down to any level on the mountain sides, but the levels (i.e.
awarers) are fixed in position.

{\skt jiiva} -- or what we roughly call Soul. What we have called
        {\skt aanandamaya}, "Happy" previously is also called
        {\skt cidaabhaasa}
         = {\skt cit} the brain activity + {\skt aabhaasa} reflection,
        just as the sun produces a reflection on a water surface,
        {\skt brahman} creates an illusion of Consciousness in the brain.

        That {\skt cidaabhaasa} plus the {\skt saak.sii} which is the cause
        of it, together are called {\skt jiiva}, Soul.
        It is analogous to {\skt jalaakaa"sa}, "image-space".
        {Water in the pot is analogous to brain activity, pot is shariira}

{\skt ii"svara} -- is analogous to {\skt meghaakaa"sa} "cloud-space",
        in the sense that unlike the "pot-space", which seemed to be
        enclosed and thus limited, the space occupied by clouds is not
        enclosed or constrained. Thus Ishvar, what is colloquially
        known as God, is not limited like a man.

{\skt brahman} -- like the total space, {\skt mahaakaa"sa} is
        everything and everywhere.

Because of this analogy, in which the pot ({\skt gha.ta}) seems to be
limiting or constraining the space, which is really the total space, this
body is also called {\skt gha.ta}. It seemingly constrains the
{\skt aatmaa}, which really is unlimited. The word is also used at higher
level of meaning, to denote this {\skt sa.msaara} the perceptions of this
world which gives pleasure and pain to us.

Though this body works due to presence of Self, the Self itself does not do
any action.

Doubt : Is Self not controlling all that this body does? Then how can
one say that it does not do any actions?

Relpy : You are confusing between {\skt jiiva} Soul and {\skt aatmaa} Self.
Just as on Sunrise all animals, including men, go about doing their activity
and on Sunset take rest in form of sleep, and thus are as if directed in
their activities by Sun, but the Sun itself does not do any of the action,
similarly the presence of Self is sufficient for the lifelike activities.
Taking another example, presence of a king make his officers to work, or
when a teacher entres a class, the students who are playing and making noise
get engrossed in their studies. You may say it is due to the authority or
"fear" of these directors.

Doubt : What do you mean by becoming Self? Every body has Self is
it not? Or, putting it other way, a person who well understands Self is
different from Self, is it not?

Reply : Of course, each one of us is Self only, but you have to know
it clearly. There is a saying in Gujarati {pe.te choru gaame kho"dyu.m}.
A forgetful woman, who was actually carrying her child on her lap, went
about the village searching for it. Every one is Self only, but we have
forgotten our real Self, take false "I" (like body, mind, etc.) to be our
selves and then go in search of Self.

There is another story illustrating this point. A lioness died after giving
birth to a cub. The cub was reared by a flock of sheeps. As he was brought
up amongst sheeps, the cub started thinking and behaving like a sheep only.
Thus he grew up to be a young lion. Once another older lion, who was on
prowl for his kill, was surprised to see this young lion amongst sheeps,
grazing like them, making meek sounds, etc. He approached the young lion and
told him "You are a lion, why do you behave like a sheep?" The young would
not believe. So the old lion took him to a water pond and made him see his
reflection. On seeing his own reflection, the young lion understood his true
form (a lion and not a sheep) and started roaring like a lion.

Now, did the young lion's body or mind get changed? No. Only his
understanding got changed. That was sufficient to make him a "lion" out
of a "sheep".

So, just as Self does not do any actions, a person who understands this
clearly also does not do any actions, because he understands that the
actions are done by the body/mind complex and not Self.

Once you understand that you are Self ({\skt aatmaa}) and thus are not the
doer of any action, you retire from all actions, not by actually stopping to
do the actions, but by leaving out the sense that "I am doing this action".
The actions are done by the body, the mind, but not me. The actions are
necessary part of this world, so I (as a body-mind complex) must do them
but "I" am not doing them.

Doubt : But there is no way can one *see* Self, which is attributeless
and thus not accessible to mind.

Reply : No, that is not so. Our {\skt "sruti} has said in several
places (e.g. {\skt manasaiva anudra.s.tavyam} [Brihad. Up. 4-4-19] that
Self should be seen by the mind only) that by digesting teaching from the
scriptures and from the teacher and by a mind cleaned up by various
spiritual exercises, one can "see" Self.

Dooubt : If we agree that the five layers of awareness, from "Body" to
"Happy" are eliminated as true Self, then in the end we are left with
nothing as an awarer! How do we *know* that there is Self?

Reply : One teacher amusingly answers this as : "How do you know that
your had a great-grandfather, you have not seen (experienced) him?"
Our immediate experience used with proper logical deduction allows us
to make extrapolation about things not immediately experienced.

Doubt : Does that mean that Self can not be experienced?

Reply : No, no, I did not mean that way. As the very nature of Self is
experience - {\skt anubhuuti} - but it is not an experience that one
object (experiencer) has of another object (experienced). Self can not
be object of experience of something else. It "experiences" itself only.
Please note that Advaita Vedantins use the word {\skt anubhuuti} as a
technical word. Though its normal translation into English would be
"experience", the nounces is different from normal experience, for which
words like {\skt anubhava} are used.
Doubt : Does that mean that Self can not experience normal objects of the
world, like stone, flower, river, etc.?

Reply : You are now going a bit deeper, we are going to discuss this matter
in some details in a later posting. A short answer is : it need not
experience these as the way our five-layered sharira experiences.

I think  we should stop here.

Best wishes,
-- Himanshu

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