[Advaita-l] A Perspective-8

kuntimaddi sadananda kuntimaddisada at yahoo.com
Wed Nov 25 10:43:54 CST 2009

Jnaana yoga and Self-Realization - VI
The self-knowledge alone removes the self-ignorance.  The self-ignorance is ignorance of myself. This is the first and fundamental problem and sometimes referred to as muula avidya, primordial ignorance, in order to distinguish the ignorance of say objective sciences, such as ignorance of chemistry, physics, etc. This fundamental ignorance causes secondary problems; and there lies the samasaara. The classical example is the ignorance of a rope lying in the alley.  However, that ignorance of an object result in mistaking the object as a snake due to similarities in the attributes gathered.  This is a secondary effect of ignorance. This further cascades into other problems; fear, anxiety, insecurity, and increase in blood pressure, and action in terms of running away from the perceived snake to protect oneself, etc. Innocent rope has nothing to do with any of these.  This error is called subjective projection (technically called praatibhaasika). Although
 the snake perception is subjective, the actions that result as a result of subjective notion are objectively experienced including running away from the scene. In contrast to this there are also objective errors or vyaavahaarika errors. Typical examples are mirage water or clear crystal appearing as red when placed on or near a red cloth, appearance of sunrise and sunset, etc.  The appearance of mirage water where there is only dry sand arises due to objective factors which are nothing to do with the perceiver, the subject.  It arises due to the reflection of sunrays at a glancing angle.  The two errors can be stated as – I see it, therefore it is (as in the subjective error case) – It is, therefore I see it (as in the objective error case).  Both errors involve taking something other than what they are, atasmin tat budhiH, and they are called by Shankara as adhyaasaH. In the subjective errors, once I learned by subsequent operation that it is rope
 and not a snake, there will be no further perception of snake of that rope. Hence all the secondary reactions will also be removed, not necessarily immediately, but slowly. The rapid palpitations of the heart that occurred on the vision of snake may die down slowly after recognizing that it is not a snake but a rope. On the other hand, the objective errors will continue as appearances even after knowing the truth behind the appearances.  We can differentiate the two errors – subjective error as jiiva sRiShTi or created by the human mind, and objective errors as Iswara sRiShTi or created by the global mind. Hence, the objective errors, which remain even after knowing the truth behind the appearances, will be admired as part of Iswara vibhuuti or glory of Iswara. Both subjective and objective errors play a role in the self-realization – one sublimated as result of knowledge, while the other admired as Iswara shRiShTi or liila. 

Similarly, the ignorance of one’s own self or self-ignorance can lead to secondary problems. Since I do not know myself (or know just enough about myself), I take myself what I am not as myself and then suffer the consequence of that mistaken identity. This is called misapprehension. Ignorance of myself is non-apprehension, and taking myself ‘what I am not’ as myself is misapprehension. These are normally referred to as aavaraNa and vikshepa; ignorance ‘as though’ covering the knowledge of myself is aavaraNa and identifying with the plurality as ‘I am this’ is vikshepa. 

How does this identification of myself, the subject, with what I see, the object, occur?  A simple example illustrates our normal experience. I was lying down on a lazy-boy chair in an air conditioned room after scrumptious meals, and for entertainment started watching a movie on TV. The movie became interesting as I watched. As in a typical Indian movie, after the hero and heroin performed all their duets and all that, they got separated by fate, and they were running in a hot sun, in a desert, without food or drink for days to save their lives from the gangsters surrounding them from all directions. I am puffing, panting and sweating, with tears running down my eyes, watching desperately whether the hero and heroin are going to make it or not. I forgot completely where I am and who I am, and forgot even that I am watching an Indian movie where hero and heroin have to live happily ever after, and I identify myself intensely with the two characters in
 the story, who are running in a desert in a hot sun. Their limitations have become my limitations. I forgot that it is just the shades of light and darkness dancing on the TV screen. I am comfortably sitting in a lazy-boy chair in an air conditioned room after full meals. Neither I am in the hot sun in desert without food and drinks, nor the actors who played as hero and heroin are really suffering in the hot sun without food and drinks. Yet, in those moments, my suffering is real and a box full of wet tissue paper in the waste basket is a direct proof.  Just by forgetting myself and identifying with the characters on the TV screen, I can undergo so much suffering, what to mention about the suffering one can go through by not knowing who I am, and taking myself to be this body, mind and intellect as myself. 

The identification starts taking this physical body as I am, and subsequently the mind and the intellect as I am. The attributes of body, mind and intellect, BMI, became my attributes and their limitations as my limitations. At body level I take myself to be mortal, at mind level I take myself to be unhappy and at the intellect level I take myself to be ignorant of the rest of the world. I tried to solve these three fundamental limitations by pravRitti and nivRitti, acquiring things that are conducive for their happiness and getting rid of things that cause their discomforts. Thus attachments and aversions, raaga and dhveShas, start accumulating with resulting vaasanaas or tendencies accumulating life after life – all in the desperate attempt in making myself – immortal, knowledgeable and limitless – satyam, Jnaanam and anantam. Hence Vedanta comes to my rescue declaring I am trying to solve a problem where there is no problem- as we discussed

We are all familiar with the above scenario of how I got into this state that I am trying to get out. Most important to bear in mind is there are two aspects that are involved, and this should be clear. 1. The fundamental is the ignorance of myself, which is beginning-less like any other ignorance.  2. The next is the ignorance born vaasanaas that I have been accumulating life after life. Total account is sanchita, and the ones that I brought to exhaust in this life is praarabda and the new ones that I accumulate while living here is aagaami. Thus we have ignorance and the ignorance caused vaasanaas. 

The nature of ignorance is, it is anaadi or beginning less, but with the knowledge, it gets eliminated. Knowledge and ignorance are like light and darkness. They are diagonally opposite to each other. Just as the moment a light is turned on, the darkness in the room is eliminated.  It is direct and immediate. Similarly via inquiry along the lines specified by Vedanta, the ignorance of myself goes away with the knowledge. It is also direct and immediate.  Once the ignorance gone, IT CANNOT COMEBACK AGAIN – yat gatvaa na nivartante taddhama paramam mama. If it comes back, then it will have now aadi or beginning for ignorance again, which is not possible. Now let us carefully apply the discussion we had in the previous posts.  Once I understand that I am pure light of consciousness that is all pervading and that these BMI are just upaadhis (like pot walls for pot), by analyzing and inquiring into the essence of mahaavaakya – tat tvam asi, I now know,
 who I am.  I have UNDERSTOOD that I am not this body, not this mind and not this intellect but I am pure witnessing consciousness which is the same in all pervading consciousness, since scriptures says you are the THAT. As JK puts it - It is an understanding as an understanding as a fact not just as understanding as understanding as a thought. This understanding as soon as it rises, like darkness removed by a light instantaneously, it removes ignorance immediately and directly.

The mahaavaakya, tat tvam asi, understanding involves two aspects. 1. It is an understanding that I am is full and complete, satchidaananda, without any limitations; that is the full implication of the tat tvam asi –statement.  2. The second aspect of this understanding is to understand that nothing else is required for me to understand. 
I am the light of consciousness reflecting even the thought of ‘I understood tat tvam asi’. This is beautifully expressed in Kena, when the student first screams out – I UNDERSTOOD, then he hesitates that the teacher may misinterpret his statement that he understood as conceptualized thought – NO, I UNDERSTAND IT NOT – then again he hesitates that the statement does not represent the truth – NOT THAT I DONOT UNDERSTAND IT – naaham manye, suvedeti, no na vedeti, veda ca| The problem is inherent with nature of this subjective knowledge of the subject itself– yato vaacho nivartante apraapya manasaa saha – says Vedanta – the words and mind cannot reach there – words and mind operate predominately in the objective world and cannot describe the subject which cannot be objectified nor that understanding of oneself by oneself using  - aatmanaa atmaanam aatmaiva pasyati – oneself only sees oneself by oneself. 

Now what happens after this understanding?  No, there won’t be any flash lights flashing all over my face or there will be some hallo rising behind the head as you see in pictures. Only difference is, now I am all happy all by myself, since that is my nature. I will not be putting a face (in India it is called caster-oil face) as though I am carrying the whole world on my shoulders. Expression of inner joy becomes natural since it cannot contain itself. Other than that, I will be compassionate, where compassion is required; and I will be angry where anger is required; and ready to shed tears where they are required and sympathetic where sympathy is required. I may still get a pat here and kick there; some praising me and some criticizing me. That is all part of the drama of life.  For others, I look just as before; perhaps they notice that I am less agitated or less worried or less angry, since they cannot differentiate real from acting real. No, I am
 not going to do any tom tom that I am a jnaani, since they do not believe it anyway, since, as I said, they do not see any hallow after becoming a jnaani. Besides, why should I go and declare to anybody that I was stupid before by taking the inert body as I am (ignoring the fact that everybody is in the same boat). 

However, from the point of myself, I am full and complete, and nothing else I need for me to be happy. Things may still come on the way and those that come will go also. Blood pressure will still be there, knee problems will still remain, and sugar problem still remain – and one can have throat cancer or hand that may have to be amputated, etc.  Those are the natural problems of the matter, therefore it should not matter. They may cause some inconveniences at the BMI level. I will still fell pain and hunger at BMI level. But none of the BMI problem will affect me as I have understood that I am none of them. They are all in me but I am not in them. That is the clean understanding of my true nature. Hence Shankara says:

yogaratova bhogaratova sangaratova sangha vihiinaH|
yasyH brahmani ramate chittam nandati nandati nadatyeva||

One may be a yogi or one may be bhogi, a man in downtown, one may be associated with people or one may be in the caves of Himalayas all by himself. It is not where he is what he does where his mind is reveling. He mind is always tuned to aham brahmaasmi and reveling in that understanding in whatever he does or does not do. 

With this understanding of what understanding is all about, now let us look at the common problems a saadhak faces in this realization. Major common problem as we discussed exhaustively is not appreciating the intended meaning of ‘tvam’ padaartham. I assume tvam stands for the egotistical ‘I’ rather than witnessing consciousness that I am. Hence questions, how I am be that all pervading reality?  That is blasphemy some dvaitins even declare. Therefore a shift in understanding of the meaning of ‘tvam’ is required before the mahaavaakya can be understood in all its glory. Here doubts arise in not appreciating the correct meaning for tvam – padaartham. Hence Shravana and manana, constant listening to the scriptures and reflecting on them are the only means to solve this problem. Discussions about the issues are vehicles for reflection and for clarification of the thoughts. That understanding takes place by constant awareness of myself by using
 discriminative faculty by shifting my attention to the witnessing consciousness than witnessed or objectified ego. The viveka and vairaagya, both are involved in shifting my attention to the reflecting light of consciousness that I am from the contents of the thoughts that arise in the mind including the egotistical thoughts as I am this and this. That includes I am great spiritual seeker or I am great bhakta or even I am the humblest person in the world. All complexes, worries, anxieties, and assertions rest with the ego only that involves taking tvam as this BMI.   Even if such thoughts arise, I have to be vigilant enough to keep shifting to the witness of even these thoughts. Then they will subside unceremoniously. That is the saadhana required to understand tvam padaartha and then to understand the mahaavaakya as I am that. 

What is nidhidhyaasana then? 

We discussed in the above two aspects involved with self ignorance. One is the ignorance of my true nature. Self-Knowledge and only the self-knowledge will remove that ignorance. We said that is immediate and direct once we understand that we are the witnessing consciousness. Ignorance once removed will not come back, EVER. Most of the Vedantins common complaint is that even though they understand the truth, once they go into the world of transactions, the knowledge does not seem to remain as they get carried away with the contents of the thoughts. This is a universal problem. 

Hence we discussed in detail about the two problems – 1. One is ignorance and 2. The other is the ignorance generated vaasanaas. Ignorance is removed by knowledge – direct and immediate since they cannot coexist – that is what aparokshaanubhuuti – as in - You are the 10th man - story. Knowledge removes ignorance immediately but not the ignorance generated vaasanaas. This difference has to be understood. Shree Sureswaraachaarya says vaasanaas are not the ignorance but they are byproducts of the ignorance. They are avidyaa janita vaasanaas, that are the vaasanaas caused by ignorance that I had before I understood the facts. These vaasanaas are the habitual notions that formed life after life due to the beginning-less ignorance. [By the by - Playing with the word HABIT, Swami Dheeranandaji of Chinmaya Mission, Washington DC, says that HABITS die hard. Even if one removes H, a-bit still remains. If one removes A, bit still remains, if one remove b,
 it still remains, and only until the ego designated by little i is removed, the truth t will not be fully revealed.] The knowledge removes the ignorance; the habitual notions do not go. They can only go by habitual or constant awareness that I am the light of consciousness that is reflecting the thoughts and not the thought contents. This constant awareness of myself until all the habitual notions get dissolved is, what is called, nidhidhyaasana. Now we can also appreciate the previous statements that one has to take up sanyaasa, even after knowledge, etc – all that means, in order to remove my habitual thinking due to prior vaasanaas, I have to seek a place where I can do that constant reflection of my true nature that I understood by Shravana and manana.  Nidhydhyaasana is required as part of self-realization for shifting my attention continuously what Krishna calls as abhyasena tu kounteya vairaagyana ca gRihNate-  detachment from the contents of
 the thoughts and practice of shifting my attention to the light of consciousness that I am. Vaasanaas caused by ignorance can be removed by knowledge generated counter vaasanaas that can neutralize them. Here is a verse from Naiskarmya siddhi by Sureswara:
baadhitatvaat avidyaayaa vidyaam saa neva baadhate|
tadvaasaanaa nimittatvam yaanti vidyaasmRiterdhruvam|| - I-38
Once the ignorance has been eliminated by knowledge by shravanam and mananam, it cannot again come back and eliminate the knowledge. If someone experiences again suffering or samsaara, after sharavanam and mananam, it is not because of ignorance which has already been eliminated but due to the vaasanaas that were formed as a result of ignorance that existed before the dawn of the knowledge. Vaasanaas form the habitual impressions left behind due to ignorance. The remedy therefore is not that I HAVE TO TAKE BHOUTIKA SANYAASA. One can take if that is helpful. The truth is, I need to bring back into my memory, again and again, what I have understood before, namely, I am the pure consciousness because of which I am conscious of this world of plurality. They are all in me but I am not in them. None of them can affect me, the ever present light of consciousness. They rise in me subsist in me and go back in to me. I am eternal, while they come and go. This
 constant shifting in awareness into my true nature and looking at the world as nothing but as my own vibhhuti is the nidhidhyaasana.  This shift becomes natural, as I shift more and more, until I firmly abide in the knowledge that is gained already. Initially, I get lost in the worldly thoughts, even though I understood that I am the light of consciousness. However, as the habits die down, I am back to myself more and more and until I firmly abide in myself.  That is what dRiDaiva niShTaa or brahma niShTaa or firm abidance in the knowledge that I am – I am – I am, free from any of this – this and this. 

That jnaana vaasanaas or more correctly called jnaana smRiti will remove the habitual notions formed by ignorance.  Shree Sureswara says when I get firmly established in the jnaana niShTa or constant awareness of myself, the knowledge of awareness of myself raises continuously, and spontaneously, rather than sporadically only during the class. This is also what Bhagavan Ramana says in terms of ‘aham aham tayaa spurati hRit swayam’  - I am – I am – etc spontaneously raises in the core of my personality.  Thus as even as the avidyaa vaasanaas raise jnaana vaasanaas will also be automatically invoked. This tug of war goes on through out the life as one lives through the life.  Abiding in the knowledge becomes natural as the vaasanaas become weaker. Hence, avidyaa vaasanaas can be handled by jnaana smRiti which is called nidhidhyaasanam.  That Jnaana smRiti becomes natural for an evolved Vedantin. This is what abhyaasa and vairaagya or constant
 practice and renunciation involved. There are no short cuts here. 
 How long it takes? It depends on how strong the habits are, how disciplined my mind is and how intensely or how frequently I bring back into my sphuraNa or memory the realization that I am pure light of consciousness, and that all this and this and this are mithyaa only. The more and the more I live in that understanding the less and less the habitual vaasanaas have distractive role. Hence right living, whether taking sanyaasa or not, will be helpful to keep the mind in that understanding. It is not for jnnana but for jnaana niShTaa- firm abidance in that knowledge or what swami Paramarthanandaji calls as internalizing the teaching. One can say that one who has understood is jnaani, and one who abides in that understanding is jiivanmukta – recognizing that these are artificial designations and it better to dispense them; for one very good reason, we can never know others state of understanding. Any further differentiations in jiivanamukta status are
 also unnecessary complications of the simple truths. Once one has understood, then how far he abides in that knowledge depends on how strong his vaasaana-pulls are. Only the individual will know and others can never know for grading another person as jnaanai but not jiivanmukta, etc. It depends on how far he understands the truth of himself and abides in that truth and does not depend on aashrama, birth, caste, creed, or place of origin, since all these pertain to BMI, which one is trying to recognize as I am not that. Hence Shankara says in VivekachuuDaamaNi:
jaati niiti kula gotra duuragam, naama ruupa guNa doSha varjitam|
desha kaala vishayaati varti yet, brahma tatvam asi bhaava yaatmani|| 
One is free from jaati, niiti, kulam, gotram, naamam, ruupam, guNam, space, and time and objects – since all of them belong to physical body. While the understanding is that I am not the physical body. Infiniteness is my essential nature where none of these are real.  

Now let us look at the statements:

1. I have understanding, but I have no knowledge, or jnaanam.
2. I have understanding, but I have no realization, I am not a jiivan mukta
3. I have understanding, but I have no experience or Brahma anubhava.
4. I have understanding, but I am not liberated or I have no moksha.

All the above are four-fold powerful confusions that we get into. First the understanding has to be clear, since it requires the understanding that I am pure witnessing consciousness that is different form the BMI – that is the nature of the tvam padaartham. Once I understood, then the identity implied in the mahavaakyam or aphoristic statement has to be understood without any doubts. That understanding is knowledge. And If I have that knowledge I am jnaani since I know who I am now, and that jnaanam eliminates the self-centered ignorance. Since in this understanding I am identifying myself as the totality, Brahman, There is nothing more to be done after this understanding. That fact has to be understood as part of understanding that I am Brahman. Since Brahman is infinite, understanding of the mahaavaakya – tat tvam asi – is understanding that I am Brahman, therefore free from any limitations. I am jiivan mukta. That abiding knowledge that I am
 Brahman will not remain due to the pressure of vaasanaas that were accumulated before the dawn of knowledge. These vaasanaas can only be eliminated by constant reflection of the fact – or jnaana smaraNa – of aham brahmaasmi and therefore everything else is only mithyaa. The more I recapture of true nature, the more I get firmly established in that knowledge until I become brahma niShTaa. That is same as jiivanmukta. There is no other Brahman anubhava – I am longing for experience of Brahman, then that Brahman that I experience is not Brahman since any experienced Brahman is only an object of experience. On the same token I cannot meditate on Brahman since the Brahman that I meditate upon become non-Brahman, since it is an object of meditation.  

We have so far concentrated from the point of tvam and arriving at the knowledge. For completeness we will analyze the tat padaartham and the validity of the identity relation. 

Hari Om!

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