[Advaita-l] Mechanics of Sefl-Realization - 1

Kuntimaddi Sadananda ksadananda108 at gmail.com
Tue Jul 20 11:37:32 CDT 2010

Mechanics of Self-realization:

Several questions were raised regarding the self-realization and the
status of a jnaani.
I am only going to present my understanding. Other scholars have
provided enough quotes from Shankara bhaaShyas and have helped those
who studied them with open mind.  We thank all those who took pains to
collect the information and discuss this on the list serve, whether
one agrees with the conclusions are not. Ultimately one has to
discover the truth by himself – uddharet aatmanaamaatmaanam
aatmaanamavasaadhayet– one has to uplift oneself by oneself to
discover oneself– says Krishna.

 I am going to address here: 1. Who is a jiiva? 2. What is
self-realization or what is involved in self-realization? 3. What is
the relevance of the body, mind and intellect (BMI) for a jnaani or
realized person in contrast to ajnaani? 4. What is the role of
praarabda for a jnaani? 5. What happens when jnaani or jiivan mukta
leaves the current BMI?  6. What is the result of jnaanam for jiivan
mukta while living in this body?  Many of these questions are
essentially the same but addressed from different perspectives. Some
of these questions have already been addressed in my perspective
series under - tat tvam asi – title.

In relation to the above questions I would like to refer to Uddhava
Gita that we are currently studying. Uddhava gita is from Shreemat
Bhaagavatam and is considered as the last teachings of Shree Krishna
before he left his BMI. In the last but one chapter, 23rd Chapter of
this Gita, Uddhava asks a very pertinent question to Shree Krishna
that is relevant to the topic of our discussion.  Uddhava asks
Krishna, - Oh! Lord!  1. Who exactly has samsaara? And who exactly
realizes? He justifies the question. The question arises, he says,
because there are only two things; a) The all pervading, ever present
aatma or the self ,  and b) anaatma or non-self, which is inert and
which includes all the kshetram or field of experiences discussed in
the 13th Ch. of B. Gita. Thus anaatma includes starting from the body,
mind and intellect all the internal mental concepts, ideas, thoughts,
feelings, etc, and also includes all external objects of plurality or
the world of plurality that the mind perceives or experiences during
the life of a jiiva.  Uddhava says, Atma, being all pervading, ever
conscious, and infinite, cannot have samsaara since it is pure,
absolute, immutable, self-conscious and self-existent entity. Samsaara
involves modification or vikaara; and aatma being infinite, by
definition, cannot undergo any modifications. On the other hand,
anaatma is inert and therefore cannot have samsaara either, since
samsaara involves suffering, for which a conscious entity is needed.
There is no other entity besides these two; aatma and anaatma.
Therefore, Uddhava asks, Oh! Lord!, who exactly has samsaara, who is a
seeker and who gets freedom from this samsaara- since aatma NEED NOT
have to realize, and anaatma CANNOT realize; and there is nothing
other than these two.  This question is bound to come to any sincere
seeker at one time or the other as he negates the five sheaths or
panca koShaas – as I am not this. Who is the one who is negating these
five sheaths since aatma does not have any sheaths and anaatma cannot
own any sheaths for it to negate. In simple terms, we can ask - who is
the one who is inquiring, who am I, since aatma need not have to
inquire and anaatma cannot inquire?

This question itself points to the mystery involved and hence
Krishna’s declaration that – samsaara itself is a real wonder indeed,
and so is the self-realization too– aascharyavat pasyati kaschidena ..
etc. No wonder even many great aachaaryas have misconceptions about
the nature of the reality as illustrated by GouDapaada in his
Vaithathya prakaraNa. These misconceptions are not new, and existed
before, and will continue to exist in future, as long as there is an
inquiring mind – and it is part of growing process. Saving grace in
all these, as GouDapaada says, is that all misconceptions also rest
only in aatma, and hence no need to change somebody if they firmly
believe in their misconceptions, since the all-pervading,
compassionate Lord himself will help them slowly in their evolutionary
ladder.  Hence His statement – yo yo yaam yaam tanum bhaktaH …Whoever,
whoever he may be he who, and whatever, whatever form (or concept) he
worships with full faith,  I will bless him in that and that form –
says Krishna. So let whatever understanding or misunderstanding one
has with full faith, let that be so; and he will grow in that or grow
out of that as he will be lead to the ultimate truth by the Lord
himself, if not in this life, in the life after. What one can do is
provide the correct teaching available so that those mature minds can
absorb it – that is how Lord also fulfils his promise of help.  Let us
address the questions as we go along.

1. Who is a jiiva? Every samsaari says I am a jiiva. But who is that I
am? Atma cannot be jiiva and anaatma cannot be jiiva. Hence this has
to be clear before we proceed further since it is the jiiva who is
going to realize that I am not samsaari when he gains the knowledge.

There are two classical examples that Vedanta uses to explain both
jiiva and jnaani – One is taking the example of light or jyoti and the
other is the taking example of space – these two are illustrated in
terms of 1. bimba-pratibimba or the original and the image and 2.
ghataakaasha or pot-space. The other classical example is the dream or
swapna. We need to recognize that there are limitations in all these
examples as they illustrate only some aspects. Hence one has to be
careful in extending them beyond their limitations.

Bimba-pratibimba:  The reflection of the original as the image in the
mirror – Shankara uses this example in Upadesha Sahasri in the 18th
Ch. as mukhaabhaasa- reflection of the face. I cannot see my face,
however much I try; I know I have one even though I do not see it
directly. Similarly aatma cannot know or recognize itself, even though
it exists – nay it is the pure existence itself. To see myself, I need
a mirror and in the mirror I see my reflection or image and from the
image I recognize myself or my face. Here we are introducing the
mirror as the reflecting medium. The image is mysterious third entity
which is different from the original face and different from the
mirror also. Image forms as long as there is 1. the original face in
front and  2. the mirror, and is recognized if there are eyes to see.
This image, the third mysterious entity has properties of both the
original face and the properties of the reflecting medium, the mirror,
yet it is different from the original face and also different from the
mirror. We can now apply this to aatma and anaatma –Wherever there is
a subtle body – mind –functioning, the light of all pervading
consciousness gets reflected in the mental plane – that image formed
is called chidaabhaasa. As long as mind is there or functioning, and
since all pervading consciousness is there all the time, there is
going to be reflection in the mental frame; and the formation of the
reflection is not a choice.  This cannot be avoided; and this fact has
to be recognized before we proceed further. Thus chidaabhaasa or
reflection will form as long as mind is functioning. The clarity of
the reflection depends on the quality of the mirror – in this case the
quality of the mind. If the mind is purified by saadhana, the all
pervading consciousness will -as though- beam forth with all its
glory. If the mind is dirty, the reflection will be poor. The
properties of the chidaabhaasa involve thus both the properties of the
original and that of the reflecting medium. Let us reinforce the fact
that original is unaffected by these reflections – it ever remains as
pure, all pervading light of consciousness.

Up to this is common for all jiivas as long as mind is there to
reflect, that is along as subtle body is there to reflect.

Going one step further, besides this reflection, the very presence of
the all pervading consciousness, by its mere presence, activates this
mind-pratibimba complex as enlivening entity. This is because what is
reflected is consciousness.  We say, there is life in that BMI, since
it is acting like a conscious entity –no one knows, what really life
is, other than through its manifestations?  Vedanta says that life is
the expression of this all pervading consciousness by its mere
presence activating the BMI-matter complex into a dynamic conscious
entity, by the formation of this chiddabhaasa. This formation of
chidaabhaasa is being referred to as anupravesa statement in
Upanishads. This happens as long as BMI is there, functioning. Thus we
have a chain of events: 1. As long as BMI is there, there is going to
be chidaabhaasa and 2. The life will be pulsating in that BMI. Death
is the separation of MI from B, where aatma as though manifests as
existence in the B and chidaabhaasa in the MI. From this we gather
that life is the expression of chidaabhaasa only. As long as MI is
there, jiiva will be there.

Next, when the senses (part of subtle body) bring in the attributes of
the objects out there to the mind, one perceives a vRitti, or a
thought of the object that forms in the pool of the mind. The
reflected light consciousness from the mind (or from chidaabhaasa)
falls on the thought, thus illumines the thought, and thus makes the
thought known. Thus we have sequence here – all pervading
consciousness first gets reflected in the mind pool and this reflected
light from the mind illumines the thought rising in the mind.
Knowledge of the thought becomes complete when the thought is lighted
or illumined by the light of consciousness reflected via the mind.
Original all pervading light of consciousness is pure and unaffected
by all these process – in fact nothing to do with any of these. The
first reflection, chidaabhaasa, in the mind depends on the purity of
the mind. The light falling on the thought is coming from this
reflected light or chidaabhaasa (pure or impure) only. Thus we have
first order reflection by the mind and second order reflection by the
thought. Hence the knowledge of the thought depends on the purity of
the mind. If the mind is dull, the knowledge also will not be sharp.
Mental discipline involves sharpening the mind so that thoughts become
crystal clear.

Now let us look at the sequence. All pervading eternally present
consciousness is ever pure and is unaffected by these processes – from
its point there is no mind even to reflect. It makes no sense to talk
about jnaanam or ajnaanam from its reference and it is called
paaramaarthika and no words can describe that – yato vaacho
nivarthante apraapya manasaa saha – says Vedanta.

As long as BMI or body-mind-intellect is there and functioning,
chidaabhaasa will form. At this stage there is no jnaani or ajnaani
either. As long as senses are functioning, they bring in perceptions
in terms of attributes of the objects that the senses can measure and
bring that information to the mind in the form of a vRitti or thought.
Thought rises in the mind only. The reflected light from the mind
(chidaabhaasa) get further reflected by the thought – this reflection
of consciousness is knowledge or I say I am conscious of the thought –
the contents of the thought being the attributes of the objects as
gathered by the senses, based on their capacity or efficiency. Thus
this process goes on as long as there are equipments BMI functioning
or life in that body. We will postpone the question for the time being
– that is, where did or why did this BMI come into manifestation in
the first place. We take it for granted that they are there to start
with. How did come, we will analyze it later.

Up to this every thing happens whether one is jnaani or ajnaani – as
long as the life is pulsating or BMI is functioning or there is
jiiivatvam or life in that BMI.
(rest in the next)

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