The Non-dual message of the Advaita doctrine is so deceptively simple that one feels tempted to say “I got It,” though in reality s/he has not. Fortunately for us, various scriptures and authorities like Shankara offer a number of means to test ourselves on our progress on the Knowledge Path so that we do not foreclose our sAdhana (practice) too soon. All through this Series of posts, we have been trying to provide many hints and markers that may help a committed seeker in protecting himself/herself from deluding prematurely that s/he is “Self-realized or Enlightened.” It has been our endeavor to present reliable self-appraisal mechanisms based on authentic sources and we shall continue below with a few more easily doable means of verifying the state of our “Realization.”
Shankara does not mince his words when he says at both 1.4.7 and again at 1.4.10, brihadAraNyaka:
अविद्याशोकमोहभयादिदोषनिवृत्तेः प्रत्यक्षत्वादिति चोक्तः | — Shankara at 1.4.10, brihadAraNyaka.
Meaning: “We have said that (true) Knowledge produces palpable results, viz. the cessation of such evils as ignorance, grief, delusion and fear.” The so-called claimants of Enlightenment or Self-realization should ask themselves and introspect honestly within, if they have really transcended “ignorance, grief, delusion and fear.”
Shankara also makes it clear at 1.4.10 that it is the “result of past work which led to the formation of the present body” and also that “false notions do not arise in a man of realization, for, there is then no object for them.” His statement makes it very clear that “prArabdha” (the kArmic load that has already begun to show its effects) pertains to ‘the body’ only, and not to the Consciousness component of the individual (jIva).
Providing further clarity on the above point, he adds, “Whenever a false notion arises, it does so on account of a certain similarity of something to another, without ascertaining the particular nature of that thing, as when a mother-of-pearl is mistaken for a piece of silver. And this can no more happen to one who has ascertained the particular nature of that thing, for the source of all false notions (that cursory resemblance) has been destroyed; as they no more appear when a right perception of the mother-of-pearl, for instance, has taken place.”
Therefore, there is no scope for the continued appearance of a fake snake after Self-realization, and the attitude that “it’s all business as usual post-realization” cannot hold.
There is yet another line of query that may be useful for a quick check on the truth of our assimilation of the Non-dual message. Shankara writes at 4.3.20, brihadAraNyaka, that “when ignorance is eliminated and knowledge reaches its perfection, the state of identity with all, which is another name for liberation, is attained. That is to say, just as the self-effulgence of the Atman is directly perceived in the dream state, so is this result of Knowledge.” Thus the purity of the mind which has successfully shed its impurities like rAga and dweSha (attractions and aversions) gets reflected in the themes of the nightly dreams. In contrast, if the mind is still burdened with the limitation of being a separate self, the content of the dreams will be different. For example, Shankara says that “when a man has the false notion called ignorance based on past impressions, [he dreams] that some people – enemies or robbers – have come and are going to kill him.” Hence, one may profit himself by taking a look into the types of dreams one gets to know how much purity his mind has achieved and if his ‘ignorance’ has really decimated! 😊
In the Canto 17, Chapter 4: Sustenance, Yogavasishta, there is an interesting dialog between Rama and his teacher, Revered Sage Vasishta regarding the “Fructification of Thoughts.”
Rama: “Sukra was really great. He could follow an Apsarasa (Celestial damsel) right into the Heaven. He desired to enjoy the Heavenly comforts
and he did. He desired to rule over countries and he could. He could even perform austerities and liberate himself when he wanted that. Whatever he thought, that took place. Why is it that everyone’s desires do not fructify like that?”
Sage Vasishta: “Rama!
सर्वैषणानां संशान्तौ शुद्धचित्तस्य या स्थितिः । — 4.17.3, Yogavasishta.
Meaning: Pure mind is that where all desires have attenuated.
मनोनिर्मलसत्त्वात्म यद्भावयति यादृशम् ।
तत्तथाशु भवत्येव यथावर्तो भवेत्पयः ।। — 4.17.4, Yogavasishta.
Meaning: In whatever way such a pure mind conceives, that materializes like the vortices in a river.
This is also referred to as ‘The Power of Truthful Attainment of Thoughts’.”
Thus, a seeker’s mind, which is pure, (i.e., free from the limitations of ‘me-mine’) after a clear and complete understanding of the Advaitc message, will find any thought within it materializing immediately.
The chAndogya Upanishad makes even more astounding series of proclamations in Chapter 8, Section 2 onward about “the power of the intention of a man who attained Self-realization… Nothing is impossible for that man.” It says:
स यदि पितृलोककामो भवति सङ्कल्पादेवास्य पितरः समुत्तिष्ठन्ति तेन पितृलोकेन सम्पन्नो महीयते ॥ — 8.2.1, chAndogya Upanishad
Meaning: If he (the Realized man) be desirous of the Region of the Fathers, by his mere will, his fathers come up to him; and having become successful in obtaining the Region of the Fathers, he feels happy and great. (Translation: Dr. G.N. Jha, 1942.)
Swami Krishnananda of the Divine Life Society explains how such a thing is possible in the following words:
“If he wants to see someone, say a forefather in the other world, he can see him at once. There is no such thing as ‘other world’ for that person who has realized the Atman. Just as this world is not, the other world also is not. There is only one thing, which is commensurate with his own Being. We can see our own fingers even though they are a little distant from our eyes, say two feet away. This distance does not prevent us from seeing them. Distance is ruled out here on account of the identity of the object with our own Self. The forefathers in the other heavens also can be seen at once the moment his will projects itself in that fashion.”
The Swami adds at the end of a long list of such wishes, at mantra 8.2.10, “It means to say that everything that we can think of,—relatives, friends, fathers, mothers, husbands, wives, good things, great things, pleasant things, objects of desire present in this world or in the other world—whatever they be, they do not take time to manifest themselves if the will is exercised in the proper manner. What is the proper manner? The will has to be in tune with the law of the Atman. This is the only condition. It must be a universal wish coming from every corner of the world enfolding within itself every object. Then there will be an instantaneous manifestation of all things to the satisfaction of the universal will of this Self-realized sage. Whatever be his wish, that shall take place, but his wish will not contradict universality, because the wish itself is universal.”
Shankara laments at the end of 8.3.2, chAndogya that so many of us miss the treasure that exists right under our feet. He writes in his commentary, answering a question he himself asks, ” But how can this unreasonable thing happen?” Shankara provides the answer:
“Just as the golden treasure buried underground, [is not known to the people], though they walk over the place, and the treasure can be easily discovered; In the same manner, all these creatures, who are beset with nescience (ignorance), though daily going to the brahman-Region, during deep sleep, know It not, i. e. they do not realize that ‘I have today become merged in the brahman; as they are carried away by the untrue, as described above; that is, they become drawn from their real forms by ignorance and other defects. Hence it is that this calamity befalls all creatures that though brahman is quite within their reach, they do not reach it.”
Those who are truly Self-realized will see brahman wherever they are and in whatever they may be doing, for, they have attained truly formlessness. Shankara says:
अशरीरता हि आत्मनः स्वरूपम् । — Shankara at 8.3.4, chAndogya.
Meaning: Disembodiedness is the intrinsic nature of Atman.
To be embodied is to have a limiting body (sharIra). A body not only gives a form, but it also conceals. Even space is then a body (a form) and it conceals the primordial sat-cit (Beingness-Knowingness). Formlessness implies not being restricted to any particular locus or, in other words, being all-pervasive. All-pervasiveness in turn implies absence of any scope for movement. When there is no movement, there is no opportunity for action to take place. In short, then formlessness means functionlessness. When form (rUpa) and function (kriya or vyAvahAra) are absent, any arising of a thought (nAma) will not happen. Then one will abide as the Infinite Bliss because that is Liberation (mokSha) – freedom from all nAma-rUpa-kriya.
ब्रह्मभावश्च मोक्षः । — Shankara at 1.1.4, sUtra bhAShya.
Meaning: Liberation is the state of identity with brahman.
आत्मा च ब्रह्म । — Shankara at 1.1.3, taittirIya.
Meaning: The Self is brahman.
आत्मा हि नाम स्वरूपम् । — Shankara at 1.1.6, BSB.
Meaning: Self is the same as one’s very essence.
The Series ends here.
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy
Fascinating post, Ramesam. You have saved the best for the last.
I made a few corrections after you had seen.
Ramesam, this is a very precious post! There is some distance between intellectually knowing and actual realization of “Tat Tvam Asi” – and you have extracted some good pointers from scriptures that will help the internal checking of the progress of an aspirant towards the goal.
+ transcending of ignorance, greed, fear etc.
+ Not bothered by the effects of prarabdha
+does not get bad dreams
+And then “JM sees or experiences Brahman everywhere”
This last one is an enigma where the questions pop – how does one experience or see Brahman? does JM see the world? I think your post on AtmaAnubhaava explains this well. “The “objective experience” when it happens in a dualistic environment WITH the presence of “tripuTi” (observer-observing-observed) and the “intuitive experience” when it happens in a Non-dual environment” As I understand, JM sees or experiences Brahman everywhere but this experience is without a subject – that is what Anubhava is!
Your Reference – Krishnananda also has explained this very well “You see a world and the Jivanmukta also sees it, but he sees it differently from what you see it because of the difference of the instrument of perception. For him an instrument does not exist. He himself is the instrument and he himself is the object seen. He has become that which he is seeing and so it cannot be called seeing, but it is rather ‘being’. Seeing, he does not see. It appears that he does not see, because there is nothing outside him, and yet, he sees everything because he is himself that”.
Your other pointer from CH 8.2.1 is hard to digest “instantaneous manifestation of every wish”
I tried read more from Krishnanada’s commentary that helps but I would love to hear more from the illustrious forum members.
Excerpt from Krishnananda) page (page 275)
“The words satya and anrita literally mean truth and untruth. Truth is the capacity to visualize things as they are in themselves, and untruth is that which obstructs this vision. Things as they are in themselves are not vitally disconnected from one another. There is really no distance between one object and another object. If distance does not exist, the difficulty in contacting objects should not arise. But the distance does exist for a particular type of consciousness which has limited itself and which therefore thinks that it is different from that which the whole universe is capable of in its completeness. This is the reason why those who are not in this physical world cannot be seen by people living in this physical world, and why the former cannot be contacted by the latter”.
Thanks for your comments and observations.
[I hope you also will read my latest post above on “Disembodiment.”]
You made very significant observations regarding how a jIvanmukta would “see” a world and how after Self-realization every wish gets “materialized.” As Ramana used to say, these are matters difficult for the finite mind to “grasp.” Hence his advice has always been that we will know when we come there! That is so true because, even if we conceptualize and develop the most befitting model to answer those questions, that model may not hold at all to be true from the POV of jIvanmukti! However, as you said, I would also await the inputs from other esteemed members.
But let me also ask you: Will any “desire” last when one is identified with the Infinite Consciousness – when one is everything and anything that can possibly be?
I am trying to understand your thoughts about prArabdha (or the lack of it) for the jivanmukta and I wonder if stepping outside the boundaries of traditional Advaita would help.
As you say –
“Shankara also makes it clear at 1.4.10 that it is the “result of past work which led to the formation of the present body” and also that “false notions do not arise in a man of realization, for, there is then no object for them.” His statement makes it very clear that “prArabdha” (the kArmic load that has already begun to show its effects) pertains to ‘the body’ only, and not to the Consciousness component of the individual (jIva).”
It seems to me that the following paragraph from the link below is relevant:
K: Now can we go a little bit further? What is a problem, what creates a problem?
Question: The memory of the experience.
K: You cannot cut out experience, can you? That would be to die, to shut your eyes to life, to become insensitive. Living is experience. Listening to all this, looking out of the window – it is all experience. But with us, each experience leaves its residue as memory, the scar of memory. Are you following all this? So memory is the problem, not desire or resistance. So can the mind live in a state of experiencing without leaving a residue as memory?
PrArabdha karma ordinarily manifests as experience that leaves a residue and produces AgAmi karma, but this progression is stopped in the Jivanmukta and there is no AgAmi.
I suppose you could then say that there is no (fruition of) PrArabdha for the jivanmukta?
Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi
D.: Why can we not remain in sushupti as long as we like and be also
voluntarily in it just as we are in the waking state?
M.: Sushupti continues in this state also. We are ever in sushupti. That
should be consciously gone into and realised in this very state. There is no real going into or coming from it. Becoming aware of that is samadhi. An ignorant man cannot remain long in sushupti because he is forced by nature to emerge from it. His ego is not dead and it will rise up again. But the wise man attempts to crush
it in its source. It rises up again and again for him too impelled by nature, i.e., prarabdha. That is, both in Jnani and ajnani, ego is sprouting forth, but with this difference, namely the ajnani’s ego when it rises up is quite ignorant of its source, or he is not aware of his sushupti in the dream and jagrat states; whereas a Jnani when his ego rises up enjoys his transcendental experience with this ego
keeping his lakshya (aim) always on its source. This ego is not dangerous: it is like the skeleton of a burnt rope: in this form it is ineffective. By constantly keeping our aim on our source, our ego is dissolved in its source. like a doll of salt in the ocean.
What JK is saying in the dialog referred by you, if my understanding is correct, is quite legit from the Advaita POV. However, I am not sure if you can say he is speaking about prArabdha.
JK is talking about action (experience) in the “now” leaving no trace (record) so that there are no carry forward effects of the present action to a future time. Bhagavad-Gita calls it as “Action in inaction.” The Vedantic term for it is “naishkarmya siddhi.” A simple thumb rule given by Advaita for such an action that would leave no future effects is to perform all actions without the sense of Agentship — “I am the doer”; “I am the owner.”
In the absence of a subject claiming ‘ownership and doership,’ the effects of the actions will be left orphaned and hence zero AgAmi.
For more details, please read any good commentary (preferably Shankara) on verses 18 and 19 of Ch 4, Bhagavad-Gita.
2. Ramana is using, IMHO, the word prArabdha, more like a “placeholder term” to explain everything taking place in the now – including the popping of the sense of “me.” I do not know if one can attribute it to prArabdha every time the ‘me’ pops up. However, Sage Vasishta gives a simple advice in Yogavasishta. His advice is that every time the ego comes up, counter it with an intentional egolessness.
For more details, please read Section 3, at p: 4 here:
Thanks for the response, Ramesam.
Been exploring the Mandukya Upanishad a little, lately, and find this to be part of my problem.
56. As long as there is faith in causality, the (endless) chain of birth and death will be there. When that faith is destroyed (by knowledge) birth and death become nonexistent.
Shankara Bhashya (commentary)
What is the harm if the law of cause and effect continues to operate? In reply we say:—As long as faith in causality is not destroyed by right knowledge, our course (of birth and death) in this world will continue. But when that faith is destroyed (by right knowledge) the world also ceases to exist for want of any other cause for its existence.
Sorry, that should be IV, verse 56
Hope you had explored the verse just previous to what you quoted. Shankara explained better in his commentary at that verse (i.e. 4.55, GK). He says there: “As long as a man thinks, ‘I am the doer of actions; these virtuous and vicious deeds belong to me … …’ cause and effect will operate for him.” Such a man will continue to wallow in the samsAra.
That was exactly the point I made in my previous comment about naishkarmya siddhi.