Discovering oneself: Part 2/2

creationSo how do we know how Brahman is? The teacher says that each object of experience has 5 aspects: asti, bhāti, priyam, rūpam, nāma. Asti = ‘is’. You know the meaning of the word ‘cat’, but not pay attention to the meaning of the word ‘is’, which means ‘isness’, which means ‘existence’. When you say ‘cat is’ you mean that the existence of the cat is. Any object of experience you can name is.

Existence is the intrinsic nature of Brahman, the Reality. In what form is Brahman? Brahman, the Reality, is in the form of existence. In all the variety of objects existence is one and the same, just as, despite the variety of opaque objects and colours, light is independent and one, unmoving and unchanging. We do not notice existence, just as we do not notice the light. Why? The human mind is not attracted by something that is uniform, the same and unmoving. Existence is one, independent, eternal, all-pervasive Reality. Therefore, we do not pay attention to existence. When things are experience, light is; different things are brought in, still the light is there; when things are removed, light is still there. It’s the same with existence.

Bhāti  – ‘shines’. You can’t say that something shines without saying that it is. How can you say: The flower shines? Because there is cognition of the flower. ‘Flower is’ means existence of flower is, which means cognition of flower is. You cannot say something is without knowing what it is. The word ‘bhāti’ stands for cognition and cognition implies consciousness.  ‘Flower is – means flower knowledge is – means flower cognition is – means flower consciousness is.  Bhati stands for consciousness.  Consciousness is in the form of cognition – of any object. Consciousness is, therefore cognition is; therefore you can say it shine; therefore you can say ‘it is’.(37:00)

When you say ‘asti’ you mean existence + nāma-rūpa. When you say ‘bhāti’ you mean consciousness + nāma-rūpa.

Priyam – ‘I like it’ or ‘I don’t like it’.  Every object has priyatvam, desirability, the status of being desirable.  Priyam stands for ānanda hetutvam, the cause of happiness: even though the object is not the source of happiness it serves as the instrument that triggers pleasure, for the ānanada to come up. The word ‘priyam’ stands for fullness, limitlessness.  Every object has asti and bhāti and someone can say ‘I like it’. It also has nāma and rupam, name and form. When you experience an object you see all five aspects.

Asti bhati priyam stand for existence, consciousness, limitlessness are of the nature of Reality, brahman. In what form is brahman? Is in the form of asti bhati priyam in every object. What about the nāma rūpa? They belong to the jagat, manifest universe of gross and subtle objects of perception, and are subject to change. We see nāma rūpas are many, they are mithyā, they do not have independent existence and they are subject to time and spatial limitation. They are non-eternal and non-all-pervasive, whereas Brahman is one, independent, eternal and all-pervasive. Do not think of existence, consciousness, limitlessness as three different things: all are one and the same. Pure consciousness which is the very existence, of the nature of limitlessnessis Brahman.

When we see an object we see only nāma rūpam jagat, but we do not see asti-bhati-priyam, Brahma rūpam. The teacher says we need to separate this asti-bhāti-priyam from nāma-rūpam, we need to have discriminative knowledge of which three of the five aspects are satyam, absolutely real, and which two are mithyā, as tough real. Nāma-rūpa, belonging to the jagat, are mithyā, and asti bhāti priyam (sat cit ānanda) are satyam.

This is brahma sarga viveka, discriminative enquiry into the nature of Brahman. Can we separate the asti bhāti priyam from nāma-rūpam? Just as we cannot physically separate the light from the illumined object, so also we cannot physically separate consciousness, which is existence, which is of the nature of limitlessness, from nāma-rūpa. We can separate cognitively: this is brahma sarga viveka. Once you know what is satyam and what is mithyā you will not depend on the universe for security or happiness. Also you will not think that the universe is the source of unhappiness.

What about brahman and ātmā, are they different? No they are one and the same because cit, the consciousness, which is available for recognition as the knower, the subject of knowledge, is sat, the existence, with reference to the universe. They are not two different things: sat alone is cit; cit is sat. And sat is anantam, of the nature of limitlessness.

The veiling power of māyā is the cause of saṃsāra, the cycle of rebirths. This veiling power has to go and then saṃsāra will also go. The veiling power of māyā goes through three stages:
• the systematic, regular study of the scriptures with a teacher, with commitment and faith.
• reflection on what one has studied to secure one’s understanding
• contemplation on the secure understanding to eliminate the rising of habitual error.

One needs to do a lot of systematic, regular study of the scriptures with a teacher before one thinks about contemplation: without sufficient study it will not be useful to try to contemplate. Study will give a lot of clarity. It needs to be followed by reflection and then contemplation. Contemplation will bless one with the ability to discriminate the permanent from the transient: once there is discrimination the covering on the truth will be removed, and thereby one can be free. Then the difference will be very clear: discrimination between Self and non-self will be very clear, so also discrimination between the Absolute Reality and the universe will be very clear. Thereafter it will be very clear that Brahman, the truth of the universe, and ātmā, the truth of oneself, are one and the same.

Go to Part 1

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About Peter

I am a student of traditional Vedanta, in London, an interest that started in 1970s. Current Influences: In 2007 I attended a talk by Swamini Atmaprakasananda on Ganapati Atharvashirsha – and knew I had found my teacher. I am current Secretary of Arsha Vidya Centre UK, an organisation established to make available in the UK the teaching of traditional advaita as unfolded by Swaminiji and her own teacher, the illustrious HH Swami Dayananda Saraswatiji, the most respected teacher of traditional advaita.

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