Q1: When I was in the constant of awareness that I was Brahman I used to enjoy the Thoughts that all indeed was Brahman. Since I progressed to the simply I AM I am not enjoying the earlier feelings of thinking everything as Brahman. Is it that the state of being in simply I AM is absolute absence of any thought whatsoever?
Q2: How to overcome the sleep state to be in constant awareness of Who am I? Please some practical hints!
Regarding my second point I intended to know more about the Fourth State in which the Saints wait to consume all their Prarabdha. How is this state practised and what are the skills of it?
Please shed some light on how do the realised but unpractised people live in their day to life while all the time immersed in their truest identity. My readings tell me just to let things happen without least botheration how they happen. Is it this way?
A (Peter): These questions make a strong case for why seeking proper guidance in this work is vital. Vedānta isn’t something that anyone can just pick up from a book, any more than anyone can dive straight into advanced mathematics from a book. If one doesn’t have a basic concept of numbers and the ways they combine through addition, multiplication, subtraction and division then how could one cope with the more esoteric realms of the subject? And compared to the science of self-knowledge, which is subtler than the subtlest, higher maths is crude. Self-knowledge needs appropriate prep work before the books make sense.
These questions are about two things: the questioner’s experiences and the personal spin the questioner puts on his experience or what’s read. In every experience or cognition or idea (even the Aham Brahmāsmi idea) there are two parts: a thought ‘plus’ consciousness. Fixation on the thought part – on ideas, theories, contentions – is a sure-fire way of missing the Reality, ‘I’, consciousness. ‘I’ can never ever in a zillion years become an object of experience; I am ever the experiencer. And one’s interpretation, backed only by personal authority, is always to be treated with suspicion.
Here is a breakdown of the statements in the questions:
- ‘The constant of awareness that I was Brahman’ is a thought. (The use of the past tense gives it away!)
- The experience of ‘enjoy(ing) the Thoughts that all indeed was Brahman’ is another thought. (Enjoyment is for the jīva only: Self is not an enjoyer.)
- ‘Progressing’ to ‘the simply I AM’ is yet another thought. (One cannot ‘progress’ beyond Brahman. To see Brahman as different from ‘I’ is ignorance.)
- The experiencing of ‘not enjoying the earlier feelings’… you guessed it… even more thinking.
- The idea that you need ‘to overcome the sleep state to be in constant awareness of Who am I’ is an unsupportable idea, i.e. more mental activity. (In the sleep state, when all thoughts have resolved, one abides in the consciousness, the very ‘I’ that is being sought.)
- The idea that ‘the Fourth State (is one) in which the Saints wait to consume all their Prarabdha’ is not just an idea but a totally erroneous one.
- As is the idea that ‘this state (can be) practised’ and that skills are involved…
And now for the practical advice: If Thought 1 had any authenticity, then Thought 2 would not be possible and Thought 3 would not be necessary. If Thought 4 is disturbing then return to Thought 1 which, though inauthentic, has the slight merit of at least seeming to be less agitating. Don’t bother with Thought 5 or Thought 7 as they are as impossible to attain as is cleanliness from bathing in mirage water. Correct Thought 6 because it is plain wrong…
My most practical advice is: stop self-study as it is producing wrong ideas, or change any existing gurus because they are misleading you. Find an authentic, qualified teacher who will guide you, step-by-step, in removing ignorance through a proper understanding of Tuīrya and śāstra.
A (Ramesam): By now it is perhaps clear to you that Advaita is not about having any specific type of experience (enjoyable or otherwise) or even about progression from one experience to another.
Non-dual teaching is also not about resisting thoughts or stopping them. As UG said once, thoughts do continue as long as breath continues! In fact, the relationship between thoughts and breath is exploited in prANAyAma and other yogic methods – but all these ultimately help in achieving a focused one-pointed mind sharpened enough to take up Self inquiry in a resolute manner. Exercises directed at ‘thought control’ by themselves do not lead to Non-dual ‘realization.’ The “Amness” of “I” or “Beingness” is eternally existent in spite of and irrespective of thoughts. So one has to be alert to notice this unceasing “Beingness” even when thoughts are there rather than be carried away by the content of the thoughts.
As you put it in the last part of your second query, the four words “Just let things happen” encapsulate the entire Advaita teaching excellently if they are completely and correctly understood. Forget about your thoughts of Brahman or progressing to something else or seeking some “experience.” Stay with those four words and see if you really “get” what they mean. Let us not get into complicated theories or technically valid or invalid terminologies. Keep it simple.
If all things ‘just happen’, please appreciate that there is no one there (including a ‘you’) judging and deciding what is desirable to happen and what is to be stopped from happening. In other words there is no controller of the things and events, exercising his/her likes and dislikes. There is no gatekeeper. So you do not have a separate existence as a distinct entity apart from all that is there. What exists is all just Oneness – a singular identity (in a mathematical sense).
Immaterial of the fact that a situation is comfortable or uncomfortable, happy or sorrowful, it is welcomed with a deep non-judgmental “Yes” and lived from moment to moment. There is no desire to change anything, or to avoid something or prefer another thing. You stay firm and stable unaffected and unperturbed by the happenings. This does not mean that you will be insensitive like a stone. You will be fully aware and alive. But you will not live with an idea that things are happening to a ‘me’, an entity that is contracted and living within a small body-mind which I identify to be myself. It is all “I” only everywhere in and outside the body-mind, without any divisions as internal and external. There is no ‘me here’ and a ‘world out there.’
A “realized man” does not notice anything not because there is nothing but because there is no ‘thing’ separate from himself to be noticed. That is the life of a realized man. He “real”-ized what is truly Real – that there is no separate individual confined in a body-mind and what there is, is only a live single happening that is Life.
In the Western type of study and education, we tend to look for a “How to” manual for all actions. We are accustomed to ‘act’ and we expect a result as an outcome of our action. But the reality is different. You do not have to produce “Reality” as an outcome of an action taken by you as if Reality did not exist before you took up an action. The unfragmented “Whole” is the Reality in existence forever.
You are already that “whole.” You have overlooked your “Wholeness.” You have misidentified yourself with the smallness of the contracted body-mind. Even while you are with this false belief of who you are (“I am a contracted body-mind), you have NOT stopped being the “Whole.”
So you do not have to do anything following a “How to” method to be what you actually are. Just come out of the false belief. The only thing to do is to constantly remember that you are not the person that you take yourself to be (confined within the body-mind), but you are that very “Knowingness”, that sensitivity that knows all things.
Say a thermometer measures 20 deg C. The 20 deg C is not the thermometer. It is that capability to measure the temperature that is the thermometer. Similarly, the body-mind is something you are aware of. The Awareness (You as Knowingness) is what you are.
There is not a fraction of second that goes without you being aware. So you are that Awareness 24/7. You do not have to “do” anything to be “Aware.”
If you imbibed this Truth, what ought to be clear will be:
1. You are not any specific thing that you are aware of (including the body-mind) but you are Awareness Itself.
2. You are effortlessly “Aware” 24/7 and you do not have to “do” a thing to be “Aware.”
3. Remember not to mis-identify yourself with a contracted body-mind, a thing that you perceive.
4. Do not be judgmental with your likes and dislikes about things as they happen because you are not any specific thing/event/situation/experience happening but you are the “Whole.”
5. In fact any desire to alter/change/modify a situation seeking a specific experience is ‘suffering’ because you are identifying yourself as a distinct person aloof from the object which is being experienced. When the Oneness of the experiencer and the experienced object is understood, the holistic ‘experiencing’ only remains without multiplicity. And that is Non-duality.
6. Because we have lived with a mind that is habituated to differentiate a ‘me’ here and a ‘world’ out there for so many years, the mind keeps coming back to its old ways and veils the true Oneness that I Am. If it happens so, we have to gently remind ourselves who we truly are by surrounding ourselves with all such ‘aid memoirs’ that can bring us back to Oneness. There is no shortcut nor a bypass. Perseverance is the word rather than being lost in some esoteric and mystic concepts of ‘prArabdha’ etc. until the mind abides naturally and effortlessly in Oneness.
A (Dennis): In reality, there is only Brahman. In reality, there is nothing more to say.
At the empirical level, there is the individual ‘I’, which is a reflection of Brahman (for the sake of talking about it). The individual ‘I’ experiences and has thoughts and feelings. In this respect, it is meaningless to differentiate between “awareness of Brahman” and “simply I AM” – both are the individual mind thinking/feeling/experiencing. Any differences between what you perceive as being these two states is not of any relevance. There is no ‘progress’ here.
What do you mean by ‘progress’, anyway? You were always Brahman and always will be. All you can say is that once you did not realize this and then (hopefully) you did (or will). The only meaningful ‘progress’ is the removal of Self-ignorance. Afterwards thoughts, feelings and experiencing continue as before; the difference is that you now know that you are Brahman irrespective of the nature of those thoughts etc. There is no attachment or threat in any of them because you know that they cannot touch you.
The deep sleep state is what it is, for the enlightened and unenlightened alike. It is rest for body and mind. Mind being resolved, there is no experience or awareness for anyone. On awakening, the individual continues in his or her state of Self-ignorance or Self-knowledge. There is nothing to be done here. All that has to be done is to purify the mind and gain Self-knowledge!
What the Mandukya Upanishad calls ‘the fourth’ (turIya) is not a state. It is the non-dual reality itself. Upon enlightenment, we know that who-we-really-are does not act. Consequently, no further karma is accrued. Because the prArabdha karma is that which brought about this (apparent) embodiment, it continues to play out until the body dies. This is so regardless of whether one is enlightened or not.
So there is no ‘fourth state’, nothing to be practiced and no skills. Simply purify the mind as per sAdhana chatuShTaya sampatti and then gain Self-knowledge through listening to the scriptures unfolded by a qualified teacher.