[Advaita-l] A Perspective - 12

kuntimaddi sadananda kuntimaddisada at yahoo.com
Sat Dec 12 09:54:38 CST 2009

tat tvam asi – III

tat tvam asi or you are that, is an instructional statement by a teacher to the student. From the point of the student the statement translates to - I am that. The subject ‘I’ has to be understood from the point of the individual and the predicate ‘that’ has to be understood from the point of the whole universe. Thus we have two essential entities in the universe, the subject I and the object ‘this’, which appears to be distinctly different from the subject. Equation then involves the identity of the subject and the object which, in principle, cannot be equated, since our understanding is subject can never be an object and object can never be a subject. Most importantly, the subject is a conscious entity and the object is unconscious or inert entity. The identity equation at a superficial level involves equating the diagonally opposite entities.  Since this is the scriptural statement pointing out the truth, there must be deeper meaning than
 just equating the two superficial incompatible entities.  

It is important to recognize that -that, tat- refers directly to the universe which is perceptible and not to the creator, Iswara, who is imperceptible.  Hence advaita does not say- I am God-, as some philosophies interpret advaita. Since – that- is a pronoun, the context that pronoun is used has to be understood to extract the intended identity in the statement. By implication, of course, it includes the creator of ‘that’ since creator and created are inseparable as discussed in the prelog that establishes the identity relation, by the statement – bahushyaam, prajayeya – let Me become many and He became many. Become is obviously is different from create. Gold becomes ornaments, while goldsmith creates ornaments, and thank God, goldsmith never becomes an ornament.  In the case of Universe, both the material cause and the intelligent cause are one and the same. Therefore in the statement – I am that – as the Upanishad originally intended,
 the identity is directly with the universe and indirectly with Iswara also.  Hence the repeated instruction by teacher to the student is – aitadaatmya idam sarvam, tat satyam, sa aatmaa, tat tvam asi - where the order of the statements are very important. The essence or substantive of the entire perceptible universe – idam sarvam – is that existence principle – tat satyam. Once establishing, or more correctly the teacher reminding, that the essence or substantive of the universe is nothing but the SAT, or the existence principle that he stated in the beginning of his discourse, as the existence alone was there before creation, the teacher then reminds that the existence principle is the same as the consciousness or as - that self – sa aatma. Thus –tat- involves a two-level understanding. The first level of understanding is to look at the whole universe from the point of the material cause which is nothing but SAT, the existence principle.
 The second level of understanding is to look at the whole universe from the point of intelligent cause, sa aatma – the consciousness, the self. Thus –tat- involves both jagat and Iswara together represented as one –that. Once having the total understanding involved in the meaning of – tat or that – as abhinna nimitta upaadaana kaaraNa, the inseparable intelligent and material cause of the universe, which can be objectified as that, the teacher points out the identity relation – tat tvam asi or you are that or I am that. Thus the whole objective universe which is different from the subject I, is included in – that. Thus the identity relation establishes identity of the subject and the object or oneness of jiiva, jagat and Iswara or the division-less-ness, since the declaration at the very beginning of the Upanishad involves – existence alone was there in the beginning which is ekam, eva, advitiiyam – one, alone, without a second.
 Shankara states that the three words – one, alone and without a second – are used to negate all possible types of observed or assumed divisions – jiiva-jagat-Iswara or sajaati-vijaati-swagata bhedaas – differences within the species, differences between different species and any internal divisions of any kind. This echoes in the Kaivalya Upanishad statement – mayyeva sakalam jaatam, mayi sarvam pratiShTitam, mayi sarvam layam yaanti – tat brahmaasmyamadvayam – The whole universe is born from me, sustained by me and goes back into me, the non-dual Brahman that I am. Thus the identity relation of tat tvam asi involves clear understanding of substantive of both the subject and the object, or understanding of the substantive of the jiiva-jagat-Iswara, the indivisible existence-consciousness that I am. 

For seeing the oneness of the subject and the object which appear to be diagonally opposite to one another, it requires a subtle mind (suukshma buddhi) that integrates in contrast to a sharp mind (tiiShNa buddhi) that divides. It is the mind that synthesizes than the mind that analyzes or differentiates. The habitual mind that is extrovert and trained to look at the differences in the objective world has to be retrained to look within the subject-object division to see the oneness that pervades the two. This is called viveka – or discriminative intellect that discriminates the substantive oneness from the superlative duality. Shankara defines the viveka as nitya anitya vastu viveka – a discriminative faculty that differentiates that which is permanent for the superficial impermanent. This is accomplished by bhaaga tyaaga lakshaNa that we discussed in the previous post taking the classical example of – this is that Devadatta, soyam devadattaH. To
 see the oneness of Devadatta in that Devadatta from memory who had attributes of BMI distinctly different from this Devadatta, we need to discard the attributive knowledge of this and that Devadatta and focus our attention to see the oneness of the individual that pervades this and that Devadatta. If we are attached to the attributes and pay more attention to them ignoring the individual that is being referred to by the attributes we will never be able to see the oneness, since attributes are distinctly different and do not equate. This requires a dispassionate mind to reject that which is superficial attributive objective knowledge and focus itself to that which is substantial. This is called vairagya or dispassion. This methodology of bhaaga tyaaga lakshaNa has to be applied to both tvam padaartha and tat padaartha individually and then together to arrive at the identity relation that is stated in the tat-tvam-asi statement. 

Application to tvam: 

tvam, from the student’s point refers to – I am, the subject that everyone is familiar and tat or that is an object different from the subject. The identity is therefore involves realization of oneness of the subject I and the object – that. The fallacy of the whole human problem lies, in fact, in this very identification of the subject, I, with the object, this, as I am this. Every bio data is centered on this aspect only, as I am this, this and this. When I say I am the body or the mind or the intellect (BMI), I am, in fact, identifying the subject I with the local object, such as this body, mind and intellect, which are the objects of my knowledge. Hence the advice of the scripture is to negate this identification as I am not this – neti, neti, and to recognize myself as objectless awareness. On the other hand, the instruction of mahaavaakya is I am that where that stands for the whole objective world. The identity emphasized by mahaavaakya,
 therefore, is the subject I is identically equal to the object, that. 

Is there a contradiction in the teaching?  On one side the scripture says I am not this and the other side it says I am that. These contradictions are only at a relative reference. When I say - I am this – that identification is actually ahankaara or ego where the subject I is identified with object this, this being the BMI. Since BMI is so close to me, even though they are objects like the rest of the objects in the world, the relationship with BMI is different in three ways from the rest of the world. 1. Intimacy – Although they are instruments for experiencing the world outside, they are so intimately associated with - I am- to the degree that I mistake myself as BMI and operate with that notion from birth to death. Even after death, the MI will get separated with the gross body, but my association with MI will remain life after life or field after field. 2. Sentiency – In the very presence of existence-consciousness that I am, the intellect,
 and the mind and the body get enlivened that they behave like sensuous entities. Biological, physiological, psychological and intellectual operations are possible in the very presence of the sat-chit ananda swaruupa of the self; although self itself has nothing to do with those operations. 3. Superimposed problems: When I identify myself starting from mind or intellect as I am this – ahankaara or ego arises as agent for all transactions with the world using BMI.  Thus ego is nothing but notion that I am this where this keep shifting from Intellect to mind to body.  This identification that I am this is so complete that it is very difficult to drop this identification. Because in this identification as an ego, there is an inclusion and exclusion involved. I am this (ahankaara or ego) – involves an exclusion of - I am not that, and also - this is mine (mamakaara, notion of mine)- involves an exclusion of - that is not mine. The survival of Ego rests
 in the very exclusion of what I am not and what is not mine. This forms the basis for samsaara. All pravRitti are only trying gain all that I like, which is currently not mine and nivRitti is trying to get rid of all that I do not like, which is currently mine. My likes and dislikes keep changing. What I liked at one time and obtained it with considerable effort, now I want to get rid of it, since I do not like it any more or it does not meet any more my expectations.  On the other hand, in the tat-tvam-asi statement, the identification is not with the local this but with the global this – idam sarvam, that includes everything in the creation, the entire universe of objects without any exclusion involved. Idam sarvam involves the infinite universe in front of me as puurnam idam. It includes even the BMI that I am currently negating as not this, by the neti-neti meditation.  Hence Krishna says in Gita VII 4-5– ahankaara or ego is also part of my
 eight fold lower (apara) nature, while my higher (para) nature is that which supports or is substantive for all this lower nature. 

Bhagatyaaga lakshaNa application, therefore, requires first the disassociation of myself with this local identification.  This, that I currently identify, is being limited, and in this very identification with the limited I am superimposing the limitations of the BMI on myself. Hence I suffer the consequences of that superimposed limitations.  Thus the continuously changing attributes of the local BMI are mistaken as my changing attributes. To recognize my true nature or tvam padaartham, which is attributeless pure existence-consciousness, I have to dissociate myself with the identification from the attributive local BMI.  This dissociation is a pre-requisite before I can identify with the essence of the global objective world. In short, this dissociation of my identification with the local BMI is the essence of sanyaasa or renunciation. This renunciation is essential before I can identify with the global objective world. This requirement is mistaken for
 the external renunciation which is neither necessary nor sufficient but yet helpful in dropping the notions of I am this.   Once I have renounced the identification with the local BMI, I am ready for the identification with the global objective world, which is called yoga. Thus sanyaasa-yoga is involved in understanding the mahaavaakya, tat-tvam-asi. 

In the previous posts, we have addressed that -I am- is pure saakshii, the witnessing consciousness that I am. This we will arrive in the process of dissociation of myself with the local BMI that I intensely identify with. Identifying with the mind, I am taking the role of a knower or pramaataa.  A question was raised pertaining to changing mind and therefore a changing pramaataa. Without falling into the trap of kshanika vijnaana vaada, we need to examine the jnaana prakriya or process of how the knowledge takes place and is stored. Pure consciousness is all pervading and self-luminous. The inert mind reflects the light of consciousness. That is the general background reflection called chidaabhaasa. As the thoughts rise in the mind, they get illumined by the reflected light from the mind. It is like moon is shining because of the sun and in the bright full moon objects can be seen by the reflected light of the moon.  Moon itself does not have any light
 of its own. It is only the reflected light of the sun which illumines the object. Indirectly it is the sunlight only. In fact even in a bright day, we are able to see things inside the house, not directly by the light of the sun, but by the reflected light from the sun outside. In the same way the mind reflects the light of consciousness which is all pervading and in that reflected light the thoughts that arise get further reflected. Reflection of the light of consciousness is knowledge. Now we ask, who is the pramaataa or knower? A simple answer is I, identifying with the mind, take the role of pramaataa, when objects are known via pramaaNa.  This identification with the mind is the ahankaara or ego. As the mental moods change the ahankaara also changes. The knowledge as soon as it arises is stored in the memory. I, identifying with the mind, (essentially ahankaara or ego) can recollect the stored knowledge from the memory. When I am doing my Ph.D. the
 current knowledge as it happens, is known by me, the current ahankaara. When I recollect the past knowledge stored in my memory, the ahankaara or pramaataa was different, hence the remembered knowledge belongs to past or remembered ahankaara. Thus we have now as though two ahankaaras – the present one who knows the present knowledge and the past one who knew the past knowledge. Now when I claim I was the one who studied from first grade to yesterdays Masters, I am the same one who is now doing Ph.D. we are essentially equating the past ahankaara with the present ahankaara. Both have different attributes. Yet the equation is done without any problem because there is one common factor, I am, which was at that time with a particular attributive mind or ahankaara and now with different attributive mind or ahankaara. In this identification of myself with the common I, I am dropping all the divergent attributes and only equating the essential I that was
 present at that time and present now. This common I is called pratyabhigna. In arriving at the common I, I am essentially using the bhaaga tyaaga lakshaNa as in the case of the example – this is that devadatta. This is what Krishna refers to in the 2nd chapter – dehino2sminyathaa dehe koumaaram youvanam jaraa| tathaa dehaantarapraaptiH, dheerasthatra na muhyati|| - I am the same one with child BMI, then the youth BMI, now with mature BMI – and Krishna extends this further to life after life- every time with a chidaabhaasa, with a subtle body reflecting the consciousness that I am. Now when make a statement identifying myself with the pratyabhigna or saakshii chaitanya, as I was the one who went through grade 1 to Masters and now doing Ph.D. equating the past ahankaara with the present ahankaara by dropping all the attributives of each ahankaara equating only the essence or substantive, I am identifying myself with the saakshii. Who is doing that?
 Again, it is ahankaara only that is making about his pramaataa status in the past and in the present too. This is because saakshii is pure saakshii or witnessing consciousness, ever present and it witnesses even these claims that I am making now as .. when I was child I did this, and when I was a youth I did this, and now when I am mature I am doing this, etc. In claiming that I am a saakshii also it is re-cognition of oneness of I am that is involved by its very presence, but appearing as though with pervasive operation by attributive ahankaara(s). We have to be clear in this since ahankaara operates at different levels of understanding. Even in jnaani, there is ahankaara that has to operate but his ahankaara is like snake whose fangs have been removed. We become paanaga bhuushaNa where ego becomes an ornamental snake to decorate around the neck but dare not even hiss without our permission– chidaananda ruupaH sivoham sivoham.  Who makes those
 claims? It is ahankaara only by identifying temporarily for the purposes of transactions with the objective mind. Thus cognized ahankaara is the present one, remembered ahankaara is the past one and but re-cognition of oneness of ahankaara in the past and the present and ever present is the saakshii that I am. Self re-cognition or self realization involves recognition that I am ever present as saakshii in all transactions without myself involved where transactions are done with identification with BMI. Without transactions no knowledge can take place as we discussed before, but the self-knowledge involves recognition of the existent consciousness as saakshii – that is the meaning of tvam – arrived at by bhaagatyaaga lakshaNa. One who recognizes is not saakhii but ahankaara only but the one whose fangs have been removed by purification process or sadhana chatuShTayam. 

Hari Om!

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