[Advaita-l] A Perspective - 7

kuntimaddi sadananda kuntimaddisada at yahoo.com
Sun Nov 22 05:44:20 CST 2009

Jnaana yoga and Self Realization – V

We discussed that Jnaanam is immediate and direct, since the object of Jnaanam is the very subject itself which is ever present. Shree Sureswara says in Naiskarmyasiddhi that by Shravanam alone one can gain the knowledge –tat tvam asi– once I have the clear understanding of the terms – tvam- the subject of the sentence, and tat asi, the meaning of the predicate involving ‘tat’ and the identity relation implied in ‘asi’. The knowledge will take place immediately, if the terms are understood the way Vedanta implies. For knowing ‘tvam’ or who that ‘I am’ is, one has to use anvaya vyatireka knowledge to differentiate the subject, I am, from any object, this is. That discriminative intellect is called viveka. Shankara defines it as nitya anitya vastu viveka – discriminative intellect that differentiates the subject, I, from the object, this.  In all objective or transactional knowledge, there is a tripuTi or three fold aspect of
 pramaata-prameya-pramANa, knower-known-and the means of knowing are involved. Among the three, only pramaata remains the same while prameya, the object of knowledge, and pramANa, the means of knowledge keep changing. In the waking state, mind in conjunction with conscious entity, I, becomes pramaata, while prameya, the world of objects, keep continuously changing, and the means, pramANa, also changes depending on the objects to be known.  As we go to dream state, mind that has been a part pramaata, now itself becomes an object of my perception as it projects multitude of plurality. The projections of the mind keep changing and I, using part of the mind become pramaata or knower of the field.  In the deep-sleep state the mind is essentially folded and I alone am there – as a saakshii, a witnessing consciousness, without any knowledge of objects, and therefore no associated thoughts present. Thus in the deep-sleep state, the absence of all projections
 or absence of duality becomes the subject of knowledge, thus itself forming an experience. The common experience is I was there in the deep-sleep state, but I do not know anything. I would not even go to sleep, if I think there is even a remote chance that I am not going to be there during that time. When the mind awakes, the recollection of the absence of the mind (as in missing 18.5 min of Nixon tapes in the Watergate case) occurs but expressed as ‘I slept well’ and ‘I did not know anything – space, time or object-wise. The one who was awake even in the deep-sleep state cannot be called as pramaata, since the status of pramaata comes with tripuTi with prameyam and pramANa present. In the deep-sleep state, I am pure saakshii, the witnessing consciousness, witnessing ‘nothing or no-thing’.  In fact Vedanta says I, as witnessing consciousness, am present all the time, in the waking, dream and deep-sleep states. ‘tvam’ in the ‘tat tvam
 asi’ refers to that pure witnessing consciousness.  All the states of experience come and go; I am ever present and ever awake as saakshii. Krishna says that saakshii is the universal consciousness, the ever present, knower of all fields, KshetrajnaH; Kshetrajnam ca api maam viddhi sarva kshetreShu bhaarata; and that forms the mahaavaakya. 

Now let us discuss some problems or pratibandhakas that inhibit the correct understanding of the mahaavaakya. Mind always has a tendency to project or objectify any knowledge, since it works in the field of tripuTi alone. tat vijijnaasaswa – one has to inquire into the nature of reality, says the Upanishad. The inquiry can only be done with the mind.  That is, I, with the mind is the enquirer, since mind by itself cannot do any inquiry without the support of a conscious entity. Hence, I say I am conscious of the inquiry too. That is what pramaata means involving the tripuTi-s. Hence even in the self-inquiry, the mind habitually has a tendency to project or objectify what that ‘I am’ is, while the scripture is trying to guide the inquiry by saying that you are not this – na iti– na iti – not this – not this.  Mind is used to objectify and the scripture says it is the subject that is involved in all objectifications.  In the very habitual
 objectification, I miss the subject, the conscious entity, or to state exactly I do not pay attention to the subject. This is the major problem for many spiritual seekers.  Even the advanced student of Vedanta, although understands that he is that witnessing consciousness, he still looking for some Brahman out there. Everybody says I understand Vedanta but I have not realized. That the understanding itself is realization, is missed completely. One of the problem is that during the saadhana time, the mind is set to look ‘out there’ for Iswara, while the scriptures keep pounding at us repeatedly – na idam yat idam upaasate- not this that you worship is Brahman, since any worship involves objectification. One has to switch from karma yoga to jnaana yoga in the evolution of self-realization. Hence we understand Vedanta but mind is not ready to switch. Vedanta is good to listen in the class but when problems come, I rush to the temple to take shelter
 in Bhagavaan. Vedantin is one who understands Vedanta, and when the problems come seeks solace in that understanding – as Krishna says ‘maatrasparshaastu kounteya shiitoShNasukhaduHkhadaaH, aagamaapaayino2nityaaH, tan titikshaswa bhaarata|| - only because of sense-contact one undergoes suffering, they come and go and therefore forbear them; as what comes and goes is only mithyaa or anaatma, while I am ever free and effulgent ever present consciousness. What comes and goes is due to praarabda. That teaching has to sink in.  Then the world that comes and goes is seen as vibhuuti of the Lord or vibhuuti of myself.  

The confusion for many Vedantic students can be formulated in terms of four ways: 
1. I have an understanding, but I am not a jnaani, since I have no knowledge of Brahman.
2. I have understanding, but I have not realized; I am not a jiivan mukta.
3. I have understanding, but I have no experience or Brahma anubhava, I need to meditate on it; no more these intellectual gymnastics.
4. I have understanding, but I am not liberated or I am not mukta.

These confusions are interlinked. They get confounded by statements by some experts. Here are some statements.  It is very difficult to realize. Advaita is very difficult to understand, why the teaching cannot be simplified. Bhagavaan Ramanuja says jnaana yoga is paradharma, while karma yoga is swadharma; it is better to do swadharma than paradharma, said Bhagavaan Krishna. Best and simple path is prapatti or sharaNaagati.  In kaliyuga, all one has to do is bhagavat naama samkeerthana, that is singing the glories of the Lord with the faith that He will take care of everything. To added difficulties, some say, one has to take up sanyaasa to realize; even if one is a jnaani. As a gRihastha, one cannot realize; may be possible then, but not now. Even those gRihastha, who have claimed that they have realized have not really realized, because of the previous proposition that only sanyaasins can realize. There is a difference between jnaani and jiivan mukta.
 There are several types of jiivanmuktas (dvaita in advaita!), and the list goes on and on, and the confusion perpetuates. In contrast, Vedanta says you are nitya mukta swaruupaH, you are eternally free. There seems to be big misunderstanding here. 

The statements that I have understood Vedanta but I have not realized, and I am looking for aatma anubhava or the experience of self-realization, I need to meditate on it, etc., are all in a way reflections of objectification of that Brahman with inherent remoteness associated with it.  The Vedic statement is aham brahma asmi – I AM BRAHMAN – it is not I will become Brahman or I have to realize Brahman, but I am right now and right here, ihaiva, Brahman only. The tendency to objectify Brahman occurs at subtle level, in the very longing to know Brahman, and thereby resulting in the loss of discrimination or viveka at that subtle level. ‘aham dhyaata param dhyeyam akhanDam khaDate katham?- how can you divide that indivisible as meditator and meditated, asks dattaatreya in avadhuuta gita. That I am the very existence-consciousness that pervades the subject and the object, the meditator and the meditated, has to be clearly understood using the
 discriminative intellect. Such a suukshma buddhi or subtle mind develops as one constantly listens to the teachings of the scriptures taught by a competent guru, and reflects on it until the indivisible substantive of the subject-object duality is clearly understood. Then one recognizes that I am – the substantive of both the subject and the object without destroying the subject or object. It is pure understanding a fact as a fact. That is the knowledge that removes the wrong notions of taking ‘this’ as ‘I am’, which is the very essence of ego. That knowledge is immediate and direct, if the pratibandhaas or obstacles for the knowledge are removed. It is like seeing the midday sun, direct and immediate, as soon as the obstacles, the clouds ‘covering the sun’ move out. The clouds can never cover the sun, yet clouds appear to cover the sun. The clouds that are covering the sun, I can see them only because of the sun that is being covered.  In
 the very seeing of the clouds, if I should ‘see’ the sun covered by the clouds by seeing the sunlight that is illuminating the clouds, then I see the sun all the time. I cannot see the sun directly anyway, but I can recognize the sun by the reflection of the sunlight by the objects, objects include the clouds that are covering the sun.  This discriminative faculty to differentiate the eternal from ephemeral can develop only if the attachments to the ephemerals are given up.  Hence, vairaagya or dispassion is extremely important in order to shift my attention from the objects to the subject. 

The following provides a glimpse of the process of self-realization. If bright light is all over the room I cannot see that light. In the middle of a room-space even though there is light all over, I can not recognize it. However if I place an object, then I can see the object, since there is light falling on the object for me to see the object, and I say there is an object out there. Interestingly, the truth is I can never see the object. What do I see? I see the reflected light that falls on the object. The IMAGE of the object based on the light of reflection, forms as vRitti or thought in the mind. The content of the vRitti is the attributive content of the object (starting from form, which is based on reflected image of the original). Extending the analogy further, it is again not the vRitti that I ‘see’. The vRitti is like an object that forms in the mind, but as it raises it reflects the light of consciousness that is all pervading and ever
 shining. The reflected light of consciousness is the knowledge of the vRitti – just as the reflected light from object makes the object known. I cannot see the all pervading sun light if there are no objects reflecting that light.  In the same way I cannot ‘see’ the all pervading light of consciousness without the vRitti or thought reflecting the light of consciousness. In the outside light case, even though it is the reflected light from the object that I am actually seeing, my attention is not on the reflected light but on the form-attribute or attributive content of the object that is reflecting. I do not even recognize the light but recognize that this is the object different from the other object purely based on the images formed based on reflected lights. In the same way, I do not pay attention to the reflected light of consciousness from the vRitti or thought but get carried away with the contents of the thought. The discrimination or
 viveka or meditation is to shift my attention from the contents of the thoughts to the light of consciousness reflected by the thought. The thought content is the object ‘this’. Meditation therefore is to shift my attention from the contents of the thought to the light of consciousness reflected by the thought, because of which I have the knowledge of the thought. Without the thought, there is no reflection; yet it is not the contents of the thought that I must pay my attention, but to the reflected light of consciousness by the thought. 

Now, here is what true renunciation or sanyaasa involves. True renunciation, in simple terms, is renouncing my attention from the contents of the thoughts without getting carried away by them, and then shifting my attention to the light of consciousness that is reflecting the thoughts.  This is the essential meaning of the statement- ‘tyaagenaike amRitatvamanasuH’. The thought-contents are the attributes of the world of objects. Thus renouncing the world is renouncing the world of objects. When I say I am attached to the sense objects means that I am getting attached to the sense-contents of those thoughts. Sanyaasa yoga involves, then, renouncing my attention from the thought-contents (sanyaasa) and attaching my attention (yoga) to the light of consciousness reflecting from the thoughts.  This process is easier, if the contents of the thoughts are centered on the thought of the Lord, than on the sense objects, because of the possibility of getting
 hijacked by the sensuous thoughts. This, in the essence, is japa-yoga. If thoughts are not there, then we have a mind without the thoughts.  That is pure reflecting pool of mind which forms the basis for the thoughts. Thoughts are natural for the mind. If there are no thoughts the mind goes to sleep.  When the mind is free from thoughts, it is ‘as though’ non-functioning as in the deep-sleep state.  Light of consciousness also gets reflected by the mind-pool as the background reflection and is called chidaabhaasa or just saakshii or more correctly upahita chaitanya.  If the thoughts are there in the mind, besides the background mind reflection, the localized thoughts also get reflected by the all-pervading light of consciousness.  Thus if thoughts are there, I am conscious of the thoughts and if thoughts are not there I am conscious of the absence of the thoughts. That is the silent mind, in say nirvikalpaka samaadhi. This is our normal outlook,
 since we are looking at the contents and the absence of the contents of the thoughts. It is like looking at a bag, full or empty. In either case, we are not paying attention to the light of consciousness because of which I have the knowledge of the thoughts and knowledge of the absence of the thoughts. As long as there are upaadhi-s, the mind and intellect, the light of consciousness will be getting reflected as the thoughts rise or subside. If thoughts are not there, in the silent mind, I am aware of the silent mind. That means the light of consciousness getting reflected by the silent mind and I am aware of the absence of the thoughts. Thus awareness involves the reflecting light of consciousness either of the thoughts or of the absence of the thoughts. I am not the silent mind or the mind with the thoughts. Meditation is shifting my attention all the time to the reflecting consciousness and recognizing or realizing from the reflected light of
 consciousness that I am the light of consciousness that is getting reflected. That is the essence of self-realization. Firmly abiding in the knowledge that I am pure knowledge or pure light of consciousness in whose light the reflections are taking place in the mind with the thoughts or without the thoughts. Looking at the reflections, I have to be conscious of myself since it is my light that is getting reflected. This is similar to looking at the reflected image in the mirror, I recognize my original face since it is my face that is getting reflected. Now, the scriptures come and teach me that I am, in fact, the all pervading the eternal light of consciousness that is ever existing, and it is that light alone that is getting reflected in multitude of BMI and all the distortions and abrasions in the reflections are due to the nature of the reflecting media. Chinmayam vyaapi yat sarvam trilokyam sa charaacharam|, tat patham darshitam yena, tasmi shree
 gurave namaH|| The light of consciousness pervades everything, in all three fields of experiences, the waking, dream and deep-sleep states. To that teacher who is pointing to that reality, my prostrations. 

In essence, the all-pervading self by itself cannot realize and need not realize. The inert mind cannot realize, being inert. The one who needs to realize is the intermediate pseudo ‘I’, who is confused between the subject and the object, and identifies himself with the inert object as, I am this; the essence of my ego. Because of this confusion, I am taking myself what I am not as I am and suffering as a consequence of that misunderstanding. 
It is to that confused I, Vedanta teaches through a teacher and it is that confused I that needs to realize by seeing the truth clearly.  The self-realization is then shifting my attention first to the reflection of the light of consciousness from the mind or from the thoughts that rise in the mind and see myself as myself using the reflected light of consciousness as I am the light that is getting reflected. Thus self-realization is possible ONLY when there is light of consciousness (which is always there), and there is the mind and there is reflection by the light of consciousness by the mind, that is the knowledge of the mind, with or without thoughts. I, the upahita chaitanya, currently identifying myself with the contents of the mind or thoughts in the mind as I am this – now pay more attention to my light of consciousness that is getting reflected by the mind with the thoughts or without the thoughts that is involved in all jnaana prakriyas. By
 recognizing that I am that light of consciousness that is getting reflected by the mind with or without thoughts, I recognize or realize that I am in fact the pure all pervading eternal light of consciousness that Vedanta is teaching in the statement – tat tvam asi. 

This is similar to recognize or realize the beauty of my face by looking at the reflected image of my face in the mirror. I am not the image in the mirror but I am the original but I cannot see the face without the mirror. I cannot see the light of consciousness that I am without any reflecting medium present – that medium can be either the silent mind or the mind with the thoughts. This is what Vedanta calls as upahita chaitanya – that is upaadhi sahita chaitanya, consciousness that is reflected by the localized equipments, the mind. Constant awareness of the reflecting light of consciousness – is the knowledge of the consciousness or constant awareness of I am – I am – what Ramana calls as – aham aham tayaa sphurati hRit swayam, spontaneously rising in the very core of my personality as I am – I am – I am.  This constant ‘I am’ or ‘aham spuraNa’ realization is termed also as akhanDaakaara vRitti or continuous reflections by the
 mind with thoughts or without thoughts. The aham sphuraNa or I am thought again and again rises in the mind only, since saakshii is akarthaa, abhoktaa, and ajnaata too. Hence realization is only in the waking state, where the mind is active. It is not the absence of the mind, but the mind that is dynamically involved in the inquiry, with the help of conscious entity behind, but now in the direction provided by Vedanta shravana and manana. What is absent or gets dissolved is the mind that is extrovert. The introvert mind, which is now called pure mind, is turned inwards to enquire within, and is now able to shift its attention from the thought to the reflected light of consciousness from the thoughts that arise, and then realize that saakshii the witnessing consciousness or the upahita chaitanya that I am is, in fact, is pure infinite absolute consciousness, that I am as Brahman. This understanding is clearly expressed by the example of –pot space. Pot
 space is Upahita Akaasha – or space enclosed by the pot walls, the upaadhi of the pot. As long as pot is there, pot-space is there. Self realization for pot-space is to recognize that I am not the pot, but I am the space in the pot. Up to this part is tvam padaartha jnaanam –i.e., understanding of ‘who that I am’ is. Now, Vedanta further teaches the pot that the pot-space, that you think you are, is in fact the total space, that is eternal, indivisible and immaculately pure in spite of the apparent limitations due to enclosure of the pot walls, sometimes even stinking due to something other than the space put in there – that is the tat tvam asi- statement. For pot-space to realize that I am the total space, it has to understand the mahaavaakya - tat tvam asi statement. Similarly via anvya-vyatireka I understand that I am the upahita chaitanya. To that student, Vedanta teaches that - You, the upahita chaitanya is, in fact, – tat asi -  that
 all pervading Brahman which is satyam, jnaanam and anantam. Pot-space does not have to break the walls of the pot to recognize that I am the all pervading space. It recognizes that even the pot-walls are in me and not that I am in the pot. They are in me but I am not in them- look at my glory, Arjuna. 

All these examples – reflected consciousness – or pot-space, etc, are meant for only 1) to recognize that I am that light of consciousness that is constantly getting reflected by the mind with or without the objective thoughts and 2) and as long as upaadhis are there as in the case of pot-space, the consciousness ‘as though’ is limited as the upahita chaitanya. Hence the scriptures says – yo veda nihitam guhaayaa parmevyoman – recognize that param brahma in the very core of one’s own individuality – the heart or the essence of the individual – the hero of ones individual’s autobiography. Therefore, Upaadhi-s are required for reflecting the light of consciousness. Recognition of myself is only via reflecting medium of the upaadhi-s. As long as the upaadhi-s are there upahita chaitanya is being recognized as I am that. It is direct and immediate since it is the recognition of ever present and ever evident fact. The ignorance of I am
 this and this will go away immediately once I understand that I am that because of which the knowledge of this and this can arise. yan manasaa na manute, yenaahurmano matam| tadeva brahma tvam viddh, nedam yadidam upaasate|| - that which you cannot think of but because of which you are able to think of, that alone is Brahman, not this that you worship – says Kena.

We will address in the next post the four ways of getting confused by a Vedantic student mentioned above, as this write-up is getting too long.
Hari Om!

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