‘pratyabhijna’ and ‘pravilApana’ form the two limbs of Advaita sAdhana. We have to practice these two with full involvement and clear understanding. Total commitment and unswerving focus are necessary for this practice to happen.
All our thoughts are the particulars sparkling out of the Knowingness. If we look at our thoughts from the stance of Knowingness, everything that is noticed including the body will dissolve in that vision. It is pravilApana.
We have to keep paying attention to the Beingness everywhere. Be focused on the all-pervading space-like Beingness which is present at every spot and ignore the form that pops up at each locus. It is important that we should not look at the Beingness as if it is an object sitting out there. We should get the feel that it is “I” as Beingness and Knowingness that is present at each locus. Such a vision requires total involvement.
“What “I” am is my “Knowing”; Knowing is Being. When I know that I am, that spark of the presence of the Knowing arises inside. When I know the things out there, my ‘Knowingness’ appears as though going outside. But because I am my Knowingness, effectively, I am coming out from inside riding on my Knowingness.” This is the way to experientially feel and expand ourselves. We should keep expanding ourselves as we cognize our Self in every name and form. As we expand thus, all the objects fade into us. Right now, they look solid because we are looking at them with the feeling that they are solid. Practice dissolving the ‘solidity and form.’ Keep looking from the position of Beingness and Knowingness alternately.
The melting process may begin with ‘mithyAtmA’ inside and then proceed to melt the things outside (the gauNAtmA). Alternately, we may start with the melting of the things outside and then melt the mithyAtmA. One can proceed either way.
We have to be ever attentive to the spark of Knowingness in us. This spark extends outside the body too. Wherever that spark of Knowingness is present, “I” am present there. We have to constantly pay attention to that ‘spark’ of Knowingness or Beingness. This is the true Advaitic samAdhi. or nididhyAsana – be able to see, as explained by Shankara at 1.1.5, sUtra bhAShya, that all that is inside, outside as well as in-between (i.e. the body) to be non-different from brahman.
It needs to be emphasized that the seeker must be able to see the body as well as the objects of the world without any difference from (as sajAti to) brahman. It is not enough just to see the thoughts inside to be of the nature of the Self. Nor is it adequate to see the outside world to be the Self. In-between these two lies the body. We should not forget the body. Body is the biggest impediment. We must be able to extricate ourselves from the feel of being inside the body and view the body as one of the objects in the world. It would not serve any purpose so long as we still locate ourselves inside the body and think that everything outside is Self. It is not actually possible to see the world as the Self, if we confine ourselves within the body. It would imply that we are a finite entity. As a finite entity, we cannot ‘see’ (experience) the Infinity. When we can mentally extricate our self from being within the limits of the body, we will not be confined to any one single location. We will be expansive like space, permeating and pervading all that is!
When we ask “Where am I?,” the “I” in the answer usually refers to the dehAtmA (body-self). We have to cultivate the ‘sarvAtmabhAva’ (“I am All that IS”). The Dakshinamurti stotra (hymn) written by Shankara tells us that the ‘sarvAtmabhAva’ is Unity with the Universe:
सर्वात्मत्वमिति स्फुटीकृतमिदं यस्मादमुष्मिन् स्तवे
तेनास्य श्रवणात्तदर्थमननाद्ध्यानाच्च सङ्कीर्तनात् ।
सर्वात्मत्वमहाविभूतिसहितं स्यादीश्वरत्वं स्वतः
सिद्ध्येत्तत्पुनरष्टधा परिणतं चैश्वर्यमव्याहतम् ॥ — verse 10, Dakshinamurti stotra.
[Meaning: The verse points out to the all pervasiveness of the indwelling Spirit, Atman . By the recital, contemplation and meditation of this hymn, the disciple attains the state of oneness with Atman and realizes Its Unity with the Universe, thus becoming the very essence of the eightfold blessings.]
We have to recognize and realize the fact that “I am not merely confined to the inside of the body but I am present permeating everything everywhere.” Till that is attained, one will have innumerable doubts and questions. As long as I am identified with the body, everything else will be seen to be different from ‘me.’ We think that the Supreme Self is somewhere apart from ‘me’ at a remote location and that we have to make tremendous effort to reach It. As a result, we become vulnerable to multiple problems. The moment “I” see myself to be omnipresent, as the sat-cit that is everywhere, “I” will be the Supreme Self.
When the individual dissolves in the “I” that is now the Supreme Self, the separate-self fades away. The world too fades away like the objects in a dream. A Jivanmukta sees the world in that faded form. The world will not fully disappear for a Jivanmukta because the body still present as an adjunct.
Practicing in this manner, we remain as the substratum Knowledge. We will be an embodiment of Knowledge itself, and not confined to a gross body. We will be an expansive body that pervades everything. It is called as “mahima” in the chAndogya Upanishad.
स भगवः कस्मिन्प्रतिष्ठित इति स्वे महिम्नि यदि वा न महिम्नीति ॥ — 7.24.1, chAndogya Upanishad.
[Meaning: Revered sir, wherein does that rest? In Its own Majesty, or not in Majesty.]
Questioned by Sage Narada, Sage Saunaka replies that the Supreme Self is Its own expansion. The word ‘mahima’ means to spread. So Self exists in Its pervasion. We may say that the earth is in space. We may say that the Sun is in space. But where does space exist? It exists in its expansion, its spread. Space exists by itself. No container holds the space.
Likewise, “I am in the form of sat.” The “I” is Knowingness. The “am” is Beingness. The “I” in this sentence is not the finite I identified with the body, but the all-pervasive “I.” It is the “I” who is everything. This “I” has to be constantly meditated upon, thought over. We should consider ourselves to be spread everywhere and not confined. The only tool we have for this sAdhana is the mind. Hence, we have to practice using the mind. Rituals, rites, worship, yoga etc. involving the sense and motor organs will not help in this process.
There is only the Self (“I”) appearing as Beingness and Knowingness everywhere. Feel that the “I” is omnipresent. The presence refers to sat. “I” is Knowing. It is cit. We feel that the objects that we are seeing around are present. Who is it that thinks so? It is “I”, Knowingness, that thinks so. Being seated at a specific point, how are we able to know something at a distance? How are we able to see the entire room we are in?
ज्ञानं यस्य तु चक्षुरादिकरणद्वारा बहिः स्पन्दते ।
जानामीति तमेव भान्तमनुभात्येतत्समस्तं जगत्
तस्मै श्रीगुरुमूर्तये नम इदं श्रीदक्षिणामूर्तये ॥ — verse 4, Dakshinamurti stotra.
[Meaning: He whose light gleams through the senses like the light emanating from a pot with holes (in which a lamp is kept), He whose knowledge alone brings the state of knowing (I am That), He whose rightness makes everything shine – to that DakShinamurti, who is embodied in the auspicious Guru, I offer my profound salutation.]
As Shankara says, our Knowingness spreads out through our senses everywhere. Otherwise, we would not have known anything. And remember that the Knowingness is our Self Itself! So, if it is said that the Knowingness ‘spreads,’ it means that “I” am spreading. Knowingly or unknowingly, we are expanding with each of our cognitions. We should proceed experientially feeling our own expansion. Then our body too fades into our Self. There is no Advaita sAdhana so long we stay confined to our body. We have to cross the boundaries of our body for Non-dual practice. Recognizing the substratum is pratyabhijna and dissolving all that is into the Knowingness is pravilApana.
When everything is dissolved, “I” alone remain. That is a–dvaita. That is the Non-dual Self-realization. We must be able to taste It while we are still alive.
(To Continue …. Part – 6/6)