Last month on AV I have seen a lot of churning of knowledge regarding Jivanmukta (JM) – does JM experience the world like a normal Jiva? It took me a while to understand what the differences were since I joined AV in the middle of these discussions. But now I can see two different positions regarding JM. These differences do not seem to matter as far as Videhamukti is concerned since per both point of views there is no experience of this world for a JM after shedding of the body. What is puzzling me and my discussion group is what happens to other jivas once one of the jivas is liberated – we seem to come to different conclusions based on each model. I want to share our conclusions and also our preferred models and the reasons for our preference.
Let me summarize the two positions being discussed as I understand them:
Dennis and Acharya Sadananda have nicely explained this in the following links:
Sorting out ‘I’, ‘ego’, BMI, jIva, Ishvara and Atman (advaita.org.uk)
(Edited by Dennis)
“The jIvanmukta is one who, though he still has upAdhi-s (‘jIvan’), has now realized (‘self-realized’) that he is the RC and not the medium (BMI) that is reflecting. RC is not different from OC, since it is the light of OC alone that is coming back as the reflection – just like the sunlight that we see. When we recognize that the sun is shining, we do so by seeing the reflected light from the sun. In the same way, a j~nAnI is one who has shifted his attention from ‘aham idam – I am this’ to the Consciousness that is being reflected as ‘I am’. I am not ‘this’; I am the pure consciousness that is being reflecting by all ‘this’. When ‘this’ is no more,i.e. when the BMI drops (death of the BMI), then the jIvanmukta ‘as though’ merges with pure OC, since there is then no RC because there is no BMI to reflect.
The jIvanmukta still sees Ishvara’s sRRiShTi, including the BMI that he was using before. Hence, consciousness is still reflected by the BMI but he now knows that he is really RC and the BMI can be seen as simply another object. Once the ‘snake’ is known to be a rope, the snake disappears. But the rope is still seen, since this is Ishvara’s sRRiShTi, whereas the snake was jIva’s sRRiShTi”.
My conclusion here is that I the jIvanmukta still sees Ishvara’s sRRiShTi, including the BMI that he was using before (but he knows it is mithya).
Position A – What happens to other jivas
What happens to other Jivas after one jiva realizes is explained by Acharya Sadananda in the link below – I presume that the illustration is based on the same model.
When Tom realizes, why doesn’t Dick? (advaita.org.uk)
“But then if there is only one knower…? Then if Tom realizes, Dick should also realize, if there is only one knower in all fields. How do we unravel that puzzle?In a way that is true – though of course only from Tom’s point of view – since, when Tom realizes, there is no Dick left to realize since He, Tom, has realized that there is nothing other than him, brahman.But, if we go by that argument, there is no one left for any discussions to take place! Let us assume that at least one must have realized since the beginning of the universe. If so, then we should not have the world of jaDa as well as the Dicks and Harrys left in the world, even to have this internet discussion. Since we are discussing j~nAnI-s and aj~nAnI-s, there must have once been some j~nAnI who was realized, leaving the world behind for others to realize, if they are interested (or to simply ‘enjoy’ the world, forgetting any realization, since who needs realization when there is nothing to enjoy)!
Unfortunately, it seems that j~nAnI-s have left behind the world without destroying it by their realization!
My conclusion here is that even if I am realized, the world continues for other jivas.
This position is based on Ajativada
My understanding in a nutshell:
• Nothing is ever born. Nothing manifested – GK 3.48; GK 4.71
• What is experienced is experienced by me only like a dream. 1.3.12, aitareya
• In terms of “experiencing,” there is that one unbroken eternal undivided content invariant “knowing”.
• Why does it appear as if it is ‘happening’ to me?
o That is simply due to ignorance of the Truth. – Shankara at adhyAsa bhAShya.
• Where is ignorance or who has it?
o The asker – whoever puts that question – Shankara at 13.2, BG and 4.1.3, BSB.
• What makes me see then that which is not really there?
o It is because of a “defect” in my perception – caused by the limitations of the sensing apparatus i use – Shankara AdhyAsa bhAShya
o In addition to the consequence of the defective sensing apparatus, I also claim ‘ownership and doership’ to all that is perceived. 3.27, BG
• How do I become free of this misery?
o By losing ‘ignorance.’ — Shankara bhAShya at mantra 1.2, kena upa
• Does just knowing that what I perceive is ‘unreal’ make me free from ignorance – a jivanmukta?
• The very ‘seeing’ of something other than what is true IS itself ignorance.
Regarding the question of whether a Jivanmukta experiences the world like a jiva has already been answered but the following links further discuss and illustrate this position:
Attainment of Self-realization is disembodiment.
In simple words:
[There is an] absence of perception etc. in the state of enlightenment.
1. Activities like perception are possible only as long as the seeker is still in ignorance of the Truth.
2. It is legit to say that the two entities jIva and brahman, though having opposite characteristics, are identical only because the individual is unreal.
3. The individual will be identical to the Self only after the individuating qualities [of the ‘self’] are removed.
4. None need to apprehend that Vedas (and teachers) will disappear and hence the Self-knowledge would not anymore be available because, as Shankara assures, the Knowledgebase will continue to exist as long as there is ignorance.
5. Ignorance exists only for one who thinks that he is ignorant (i.e. ‘I am a separate and a limited self’).
The Points # 3 and 4 above particularly invalidate any reason on the part of a seeker to presume, IMHO, that s/he is, already brahman, so long as she continues to be a separate self. IOW, one cannot be both a separate ‘self’ and brahman simultaneously.
Shankara makes it abundantly clear that all actions, perception etc. are valid and work only prior to awakening. He asserts that “The scripture also speaks of the use of perception etc. in the case of the unenlightened man.” He explains that all such actions that happen before Enlightenment are like actions taking place in a dream – i.e. unreal. Therefore, for a third time Shankara denies the possibility of perceiving a world in a post-Enlightenment situation – is the conclusion.
Positions B – What happens to other jivas after I am realized?
There is no world even now and the question of seeing the world, or not seeing the world, does not actually arise. Whatever is there now, will be there even afterwards. Just because someone has changed his mind, the world is not going to be different. But his mind has undergone discipline to such an extent, and has changed and transformed in itself, that it will see the world in the way it has to be seen. The Upanishads are never tired of telling us that the correct way of perception is to perceive the Self in things and not to see the form in them. This is exactly what the Jivanmukta sees. To see the Self in a thing is not to see the thing or the object as such.
My conclusion here is that once i. the jiva is liberated there is no world left; no other jivas are left and it is only Brahaman.
There never was any bondage or liberation (Mandukya 2.32)
My Conclusion regarding what happens to other jivasIn summary,
Position A is very logical and easy to grasp where ”where”a” jiva is liberated while other jivas have to wait for their liberation. But for me, this concept does not resonate with my advaita base of “ek meva advitya Brahman” & “neha nanasti kinchana” – there is only one Brahman & there is no diversity. This is more like Saloka Mukti where a soul upon death goes to Brahamaloka while other souls wait for their turn. Also, knowing that the Ishwar shrishti will continue to exist after my realization, I will have hard time leaving my loved ones (even though mithya) behind. 🙂
Regarding position B, it is not an easy concept to follow for many – where the world (and other jivas) vanishes upon “my” Self Realization. But it this better fits my advaitic base definitions of
एकधैवानुद्रष्टव्यमेतदप्रमयं ध्रुवम् । (BU 4.4.20) it should be realized in one form only.
अद्वे तो हम् पू र्णो हम् बा ह्यो हम् न न्तर (371 Brahmavidyaupanishad) I am the one without second.
There is no thread of vyavaharic plane left behind, and there is no fear of coming back not just for me but also for any of my loved ones. This is Kaivalya mukti with no threads attached!