Author Topic: 4 factors inhibiting correct understanding of mahaavakya... Acharya Sadanandaji  (Read 1318 times)


  • Administrator
  • Newbie
  • *****
  • Posts: 32
    • View Profile
By  Acharya Sadanandaji

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.

Hari Om!

« Last Edit: April 06, 2015, 08:41:16 AM by Dr. Sadananda »