Verse 1 continued…
Ramana Maharshi then puts down a question; “How can we remember this un objectifiable, one truth”. He goes on to answer in the same breath. Remembering it is abiding in it as one’s own self.
ABIDANCE itself is REMEMBRANCE. One cannot remember it as an object. Remembering is a thought; remembering constantly is repeated thought; forgetting is also a thought. The self is not an object of remembrance and forgetfulness. The constant abidance in it as non different from one’s own self is real remembrance.
It is not mentally repeating “I am Brahman”. Instead it is a firm, unshakeable conviction of one’s own true identity. Come what may, objective experiences, within and without keep changing but the truth is apprehended as is. If there is repetition of words in the form of remembrance then it is a mind- based transaction. Any mind based transaction has a beginning and an end (it also being an action). Hence, prior to the beginning of the action and post the action, the identity of Atma and Brahman, then, has to discontinue. If this is so, the eternality of Atma will be in question. Hence, it cannot be a mind-based transaction.
Unshakable abidance in Brahman as being non different from oneself is, in Sanskrit, known as sanniShTHA. Meditation on Brahman is abidance in Brahman without objectification.
The mind is useful to comprehend things that are other than it. Only objects can be grasped by the mind and organs. Atma is the very principle due to which mind, organs and objects exist; how can the mind know it? Atma is not some ‘thing’ different in creation. The unreal world, body and mind are in it. It is one, homogenous, all pervading principle which cannot fall in the grasp of the mind and the organs.
The mind is capable of contemplating only on either the known or unknown objects. Both known and unknown objects fall under the category of knowable. Hence, knowable implies objectifiable. Atma being the very essence of the objects and the mind, it cannot fall under the category of knowable. Hence, it is not knowable; meaning; it is not an object but the very subject. How can one know the subject? One IS the subject.
Ramana Maharshi has beautifully described remembrance of Brahman, not as a transaction done by the mind, in terms of knowing and constantly remembering, but as the very Abidance in it, as it being oneself. There is no other remembrance apart from being non different with the core.
In the kena Upanishad, the student approaches the guru and asks him what is that principle in whose presence, under whose direction, the mind functions, the prANAs function, the speech is uttered etc. Evidently, he to an extent knew that the body functions due to the presence of a higher power which by itself is uninvolved in actions. To gain clarity, he asks such a question.
To this question the guru replies that Atma is the ear of the ear, mind of the mind, speech of the speech etc. Atma is something which cannot fall in the grasp of words. So, he provided an indirect answer. He cannot say “there is this object due to which the mind functions; the prANAs function etc, since Atma is not an object”. He implies in his answer that Atma is un-objectifiable and is the essence of the mind, the ear, eyes, speech etc.
He goes on to explain the student that it cannot be objectified; cannot be known by the mind, known by words, speech etc. The uniform principle behind all objects is the Atma which is the truth of oneself. He thus brought out the non difference of the Atma and Brahman in an indirect way.
An aspirant, many times in his journey, starts looking out for some Self somewhere. Verses such as this one are reminders that there is no search required at all. All that is needed is to uncover the ignorance and discover the truth within, here and now.
Yes, this is said in different ways. I’ve been very influenced by Ramana and the subject/object discussion comes up often.
The perceiver cannot be perceived is how I’ve thought of it. The verses, as you say, are reminders that no search for the Self is required at all. The fact that the verses are there as reminders of the truth implies that we generally need reminding! I keep searching and forgetting! At least that’s how I’m stating it…but can I ever really forget the/my Self? I can’t. Yet it seems that I do! Some paradox seems at work in at the most basic level. Ha. I can’t seem to give up the search for long. Yet it seems there is nothing to search for. What could I possibly find that isn’t already present? Yet…..?
So I’m planning to take Swami Dayananda’s Gita home study course starting in October. After having read and studied Ramana, Nisargatta and others on my own, for a long, long time, I’m still feeling a lack of…….? In the end it may be no study or practice is necessary. But maybe one can say that only after much study and acquisition of knowledge and understanding. And maybe a feeling of lack is a matter of questioning “Who feels this lack?”
I think many people, maybe all, feel this sense of lack and we may try to fulfill it in the world by pursuits, pleasures, attainment of wealth, power etc. But none of those will satisfy it. Not for long… There are things that have to be done but to do them with expectation of gaining lasting happiness/contentment from doing them seems to be where illusion slips in. (this paragraph is from my own “conceptual” “experience” and what I think I “know”….my opinion only–just to be clear!!! Ha.)
SteveS….ps…thanks for the clear essay!
The student (in the kena Upanishad) also has this basic awareness that there is this principle within him. That simple knowledge is enough to bring one into spiritual enquiry.
Please do not worry about the searching and forgetting. The problem we face is that of ignorance and error and the only solution, therefore, is knowledge in the form of vedantik enquiry.
We being extroverted in nature, tend to look out for this happiness. Objective happiness is always attained externally. We, being habituated to this, tend to search for permanent happiness also externally.
Pujya Swami Dayananda ji’sBG Home study course is a very good start. Please also read Swami Dayananda ji’s book on tattva bodha. It has been published recently and is a good primer to Vedanta. Do not worry about the lack. Some say it some do not.
A spiritual journey is necessary to know that no journey is necessary. The scriptures give us the example a lady’s gold necklace which she was frantically searching for believing it to be misplaced. She asks everybody for help. Not getting any solution, she runs to an old member of the family who asked to cool down first and stop the search. After that, she was directed to check her neck; lo and behold! It was right there ALL THE TIME!!! The external search had to be stopped. The running to that family member and seeking help was necessary to know that no help was necessary.
Questioning “Who feels the lack?” might help with the backing of the shastra or one might fall into an infinite loop.
You are right. The sense of lack, imperfection and finitude drives us to aggrandize and seek pleasure externally. This is not permanent. Only a discerning can understand these pleasures to be undependable.
All the best for your study!