Atma vichAra

The Self cannot be ‘known’ in any objective sense because it is the ultimate subject – there is no other subject that could know it. This is why science can never tell us anything about the Self. Science works by collecting data and analyzing it; formulating theories and then using them to predict what will happen when data are gathered in a different situation. This can never be applied to Self/brahman, because brahman has no data.

Strictly speaking, vichAra refers to investigation into ‘things’ so that Atma vichAra is effectively a contradiction in terms; the Self is not a thing. Spiritual investigation has to be done rather differently. The correct term is shAstra mImAMsA and it is really scriptural ‘investigation’ that we must conduct in order to find out about the Self. Monier-Williams translates mImAMsA as “profound thought or reflection or consideration; investigation, examination, discussion”. The philosophical branch that studies the Upanishads etc at the end of the Vedas (Vedanta) is called uttara mImAMsA. (uttara means “later, following, subsequent, concluding” but also “superior, chief, excellent, dominant”.)

We ‘discover’ the Self by removing ignorance. If someone holds up a screen in front of our face and then brings an object to show us, but keeps it behind the screen, we can say nothing at all about the object. However, as soon as the screen is taken away, the object is revealed to our senses and the perception takes place automatically. Similarly, knowledge of the Self is obscured by ignorance but as soon as that ignorance is removed, the Self is immediately self-evident; we do not have to do anything to ‘investigate’ it.

Scripture functions like a mirror. When we look into a mirror, we do not literally see our face and body, we only see an image of it. Yet this enables us directly to perform whatever actions are required on the body itself – combing the hair, shaving and so on. We do not shave the image but the actual hair on the face. Similarly, the scriptures do not directly represent the Self but the information therein, when explained by a qualified teacher, directly enables the ignorance in our mind to be removed, revealing the Self-knowledge which is as though hidden beneath.

Actions will never bring about Self-knowledge, since action is not opposed to ignorance. Nor will practices such as meditation or prayer. As Swami Paramarthananda puts it, meditation will only bring about quiet ignorance.

As Shankara puts it (if he was the author of vivekachUDAmaNi v.13): “It is through reflection over the words of a truly benevolent soul that one comes to a knowledge of reality, and not through bathing at sacred places, charity or hundreds of breathing practices”. [1] I.e. it is through shravaNa, manana and nididhyAsana and not through asking ‘Who am I?’ that one gains Self-knowledge.

[1] The Crest Jewel of Wisdom; viveka-chUDAmaNi, commentary by Hari Prasad Shastri, Shanti Sadan, 1997. ISBN 0-85421-047-0.

Vision Of Truth (sad darshanam) – Part 18

क्वभातिदिक्कालकथाविनाऽस्मान्

दिक्काललीलेहवपुर्वयम्चेत्।

नक्वापिभामोनकदापिभामो

वयम्तुसर्वत्रसदाचभामः॥१८

Kva bhAti dikkAla kathA vinAsmAn

dikkAla lIleha vapurvayam chet

na kvApi bhAmaH na kadApi bhamaH

vayam tu sarvatra sadA cha bhAmaH —18

 

asmAn vinA dikkAla kathA Kva bhAti = without us where does the saga of space-time shine?edikkAla lIleha vapuH vayam chet = when we identify with the body, the play of space-time begins; na kvApi bhAmaH na kadApi bhamaH = we do not exist in a place; we do not exist at a time; vayam tu sarvatra sadA cha bhAmaH = we exist everywhere at all times.

 

Where does the saga of space-time shine without us? When we identify with the body, the play of space-time begins. We do not exist in a place, we do not exist at a time. We exist everywhere at all times.

Atma is not localized at a place or time. Space and time are appearances in the self. Yet, due to ignorance we find ourselves localized in the space time framework. On gaining knowledge we know that it is only the body which is limited by space and time. The self is limitless spatially and temporally. Continue reading

Vision Of Truth (sad darshanam) – Part 17

 

 

भूतम् भविष्यच्च भवत् स्वकाले

तद्वर्तमानस्य विहाय तत्त्वम् ।

हास्या न किम् स्यात् गत भावि चर्चा

विनैक सन्ख्याम् गणनेव लोके ॥—१७

 

bhUtam bhaviShyachcha bhavat svakAle

tadvartamAnasya vihAya tattvam

hAsyA na kim syAt gata bhAvi charchA

vinaika sankhyAm gaNaneva loke—17

 

bhUtam bhaviShyachcha = the past and the future; bhavat svakAle = are in their own time,

present tadvartamAnasya vihAya tattvam = giving up the truth of that present; hAsyA na kim

syAt gata bhAvi charchA = will the discussion on past and future not be laughable; vinaika

sankhyAm gaNaneva loke = like counting in the world without the number one.

 

The past and the future are in their own time, present. Giving up the truth of that present , will not the discussion on past and future be laughable, like counting without the number one in the world?

 

What is time? It is a subjective phenomena. The sense organs are equipped to perceive objects. The ‘is-ness’ of the object is understood and this is not limited by time since it is eternal.When an object is perceived, the is-ness is known. Is indicates the present tense.  It is never the past nor ever the future. ‘Now’ is the word we use to indicate the present. The essence of ‘now’ is the self alone. How? Let us look into it. Continue reading

Vision Of Truth (sad darshanam) – Part 16

तद् युष्मदोरस्मदि सम्प्रतिष्ठा

तस्मिन् विनष्टे अस्मदि मूल बोधात्

तद् युष्मदस्मन् मति वर्जितैका

स्थितिर् ज्वलन्ती सहजात्मनः स्यात्—१६

tad yuShmadorasmadi sampratiShThA

tasmin vinaShThe asmadi mUla bodhAt

tad yuShmadasman mati varjitaikA

sthitir jvalantI sahajAtmanaH syAt—16

 

tad yuShmadoH = third person and second person; asmadi sampratiShThA = depend

on first person;tasmin vinaShThe asmadi = first person eliminated; mUla bodhAt =

by knowledge of the source;tad yuShmadasman mati varjitaikA= the one division-less

without the notion of‘that’,’thou’, and ‘I’;sthitir jvalantI sahajAtmanaH syAt = the self shines

and emerges

The third person and second person depend on the first person. By the knowledge of the source, the one division-less without the notion of ‘that’, ‘thou’ and ”I’, the self shines and emerges.

The words ‘you’, ‘that/he she’ etc (the third and second person) have their basis in the first person. The other becomes the second or third person only with reference to the first person.

Continue reading

upadesha sAhasrI – part 16

upadesha16

Part 16 of the serialization of the  presentation (compiled by R. B. Athreya from the lectures given by Swami Paramarthananda) of upadesha sAhasrI. This is the prakaraNa grantha which is agreed by most experts to have been written by Shankara himself and is an elaborate unfoldment of the essence of Advaita.

Subscribers to Advaita Vision are also offered special rates on the journal and on books published by Tattvaloka. See the full introduction

upadesha sAhasrI – part 15

upadesha15

Part 15 of the serialization of the  presentation (compiled by R. B. Athreya from the lectures given by Swami Paramarthananda) of upadesha sAhasrI. This is the prakaraNa grantha which is agreed by most experts to have been written by Shankara himself and is an elaborate unfoldment of the essence of Advaita.

Subscribers to Advaita Vision are also offered special rates on the journal and on books published by Tattvaloka. See the full introduction

upadesha sAhasrI – Part 14

upadesha14

Part 14 of the serialization of the  presentation (compiled by R. B. Athreya from the lectures given by Swami Paramarthananda) of upadesha sAhasrI. This is the prakaraNa grantha which is agreed by most experts to have been written by Shankara himself and is an elaborate unfoldment of the essence of Advaita.

Subscribers to Advaita Vision are also offered special rates on the journal and on books published by Tattvaloka. See the full introduction

Vision Of Truth (saddarshanam) – Part 13

बोद्धारमात्मानमजानतः यः

बोधः स किम् स्यात् परमार्थ बोधः ।

बोधस्य बोध्यस्य च सम्श्रयम् स्वम्

विजानतस्तद् द्वितीयम् विनश्येत् ॥—१३

boddhAramAtmAnamajAnataH yaH

bodhaH sa kim syAt paramArtha bodhaH

bodhasya bodhyasya cha samshrayam svam

vijAnatastad dvitIyam vinashyet—13

बोद्धारम् = knower आत्मानम् = oneself; अजानतः = of one who knows not; यः बोधः = whichever knowledge (other than self knowledge);  परमार्थ बोधः = highest knowledge;  स्यात् किम् = is it;  बोधस्य बोध्यस्य च = of knowledge and the object of knowledge; सम्श्रयम् = basis; स्वम् विजानतः = for one who knows oneself;  तद् द्वितीयम् विनश्येत् = for that (person) the two are negated.

Is any knowledge( other than self knowledge) the highest when the knower knows not oneself? For the one who knows oneself, the basis of the knowledge and the object of knowledge, the two are negated.

Continue reading

What is Death – part 6 and final (metaphysics or spirituality – non- duality)

Image

 

Meditation

‘There is doubt concerning a man who has departed. Some say, “He is”, and others say, “He is not”. Taught by you [Yama, god of death], I would know this. This is the third of my boons’.

‘Do not, do not insist: release me from this’…. Choose a hundred years, sons and grand sons… elephants, gold, horses… Naciketas, enter a great realm of desires: I will make you the enjoyer of your desires… but do not ask me about dying’.

Naciketas, the young seeker, will have none of that.

‘Since you, Death, tell me it is not easily understood, and no one else can be found who can teach this as you can, there is no boon to equal this’.

…………………………………..

‘Yama continues: ‘The wise one [inner self] is not born, nor does it die. [Hidden in all beings] it is not from anywhere, nor was it anyone. Unborn, everlasting, eternal, primeval, it is not slain when the body is slain.’  Continue reading

Vision Of Truth (saddarshanam) – Part 12

विद्या कथम् भाति न चेदविद्या

विद्याम् विना किम् प्रविभात्यविद्या ।

द्वयम् च कस्येति विचार्य मूल

स्वरूप निष्ठा परमार्थ विद्या ॥—१२

vidyA katham bhAti na chedavidyA

vidyAm vinA kim pravibhAtyavidyA

dvayam cha kasyeti vichArya mUla

svarUpa niShThA paramArtha vidyA—12

 

विद्या कथम् भाति = how does knowledge shine? चेदविद्या = if there is no ignorance; विद्याम् विना = without knowledge; किम् प्रविभात्यविद्या = does ignorance shine; द्वयम् कस्येति = the two; विचार्य = having enquired; मूल स्वरूप = original nature; निष्ठा = abidance; परमार्थ विद्या = knowledge that ‘I am the self’

 

If there is no ignorance, how does knowledge shine? Without knowledge, does ignorance shine? And whose are the two? Having enquired thus, abidance in the original nature is the knowledge that ‘I am Atma’.

 

Everything in the universe is in duality. When one talks of happiness, it is a relative term, relative to sorrow. With respect to sorrow, we can say there is happiness. The term happiness has no meaning in the absence of sorrow. Light is opposed to darkness. It exists since darkness also exists. No darkness implies, there is no existence for light. This is the world of opposites, the world of duality. Joy-sorrow, victory-loss, peace-agitation, like-dislike, worry-security etc are some such antithetical couples. They mutually exist because of the other and have no meaning without the other.  Continue reading