Three stages to the advaita vision

1. Recognising: “I alone, the Self, the knower, am consciousness.” Consciousness is known to be the Self in one’s own mind, i.e. as the svarūpam [intrinsic nature] of the knower, distinct from the body-mind-sense complex and the external world. 
Various analytical methodologies, prakrīyas, are used (in conjunction with studying with the teacher) to arrive at this step of understanding: logic and scriptural study are both employed. The prakrīyas include dṛg dṛśya prakrīya [seer-seen analysis], avastā traiya prakrīya [analysis of the three states of experience: waking, dream and sleep], pañca koṣa prakrīya [‘5-sheaths’ analysis]…

2. Understanding: “I, the consciousness behind the mind, is one and the same in all the minds, and behind everything in the universe.” (This is like understanding that H2O, the truth of the name and form ‘wave’, is the same as the truth of every wave and also the truth of the entire ocean.)
The prakrīya used to arrive at this is the pañca koṣa prakrīya [‘5-sheaths’ analysis]…

 After these two stages, jīva-Īśvara aikyam [oneness of individual and Lord, the cause of the universe] is firmly established. This is arrived at by understanding that the truth of the individual is consciousness, and that this consciousness is nothing but Īśvara at the cosmic level.

3. Seeing: “I, the consciousness alone, am satyam, and everything apart from consciousness is mithyā [not non-existent, not absolutely existent, but ‘as though’ existent]” And that mithyā is ultimately nothing but consciousness itself. This creation is nothing but ‘I’, the consciousness + name and form ‘universe’.
The prakrīya used to arrive at this is the kāraṇa kārya prakrīya [cause-effect analysis]…

 After this stage, jagat-Brahma aikyam [oneness of the universe and Brahman, the absolute Reality] is established, i.e. everything is resolved into the one-without-a-second Reality. Brahman alone exists.

This is the advaita vision.


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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.

2 thoughts on “Three stages to the advaita vision

  1. Great! May I suggest that the first sentence of point 3 is still part of the recognition of point 2? The real revolution of point 3 is ‘the recognition that mithya is nothing but consciousness itself’, meaning that ‘this creation is nothing but ‘I’, the consciousness + name and form ‘universe’.’
    In view of the discussion on Dennis blog how do these three stages relate to jnana resp. jivanmukti. Is there a relation at all?

  2. Dear Sitara, Thank you for your comment and suggestion. The difference between Stage 2 an 3 is quite subtle and your observation that the key is the recognition that mithyā is nothing but consciousness itself is quite true. Yet there IS a difference between recognising that there is one consciousness which is the truth of everything (Stage 2) and seeing that the mithyā universe has no independent existence, that it isn’t a second parallel reality (Stage 3).
    Here’s an illustration for this: we start off by just seeing a wave and taking it to be a real, independent thing. Then, once our attention has been alerted to the fact that the wave is nothing but water, we can flick attention from wave to water, from water to wave: it’s a cognitive shift to be aware of both instead of the previous awareness of just the wave. And then we extend or thinking to realise that not just the one wave, but all waves, as well as the very ocean itself, is nothing but water. Then finally, when we really look deeply into the matter, when we search for what a wave really is, we conclude that it is not ‘on’ the water, not ‘in’ the water, not ‘mixed’ with water. Even as we’re looking at it, the wave vanishes: there is only water. Wave is just the name of a particular form adopted by water. There is only water: the wave has been resolved into its truth, H2O.

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