Application - that is what 'Workings-days' are about!
We are now undertaking basic technical discourse on Vedanta. The text forming the basis of these posts is 'Kindle Life'.
We have been looking at the 'material' structure of our existence through the panchakosha-s; the five sheaths of substance ranging from the gross through to the subtle. You are reminded that each week, before commencing with the current post, it is good practice to re-read the previous week's teaching to ensure absorption and to improve the flow of understanding. If questions arise, write them down - let them out! Certainly patience will mean that answers and clarity are likely to follow at some point in the reading, but a large part of Vedanta is practice and part of that practice is mananam - the mulling over and the formulation of questions arising from doubt or the need to affirm understanding. This is application.
Let us continue with our look at the fundamentals of the philosophy, picking up with the concept of Consciousness as the very spark of Life.
Universal Consciousness, aka Cosmic Mind, aka The Self, for reasons that you are asked to accept at this point but which will be explored much later in study, identifies with the shtuula shariira. It manifests as The Waker, partaking of and enjoying the transactional world and the experiences it provides. The very same Self is able to withdraw from the gross and enter suukshma shariira, the dream state, experiencing the confusing and exotic world of dream. Still more, Self can withdraw into karana shariira, the causal state of deep sleep, experiencing nothingness. One thing underpins all three states though. The element which is aware of the three. The Real Self, the Pure consciousness, Aatman. It is the place of आनन्द/aananda, Absolute Bliss. It cannot be experienced through our usual perception, which pertains only to the physical world. To attain this aananda, we must exercise deep discrimination and understanding that nothing of matter, matters; that all we currently perceive is but superimposition upon the Self. This requires पञ्च कोष विवेक/pancha kosha viveka - the ability to see through the illusion of the five sheaths.
Everything that goes on externally to us, at personal, community or global level, is running its own course according to karma. The only control each individual has is that over themselves. No matter how unfortunate the circumstances, or how wonderful, each is responsible for their own action or reaction and this will depend on their capacity to see things for how they truly are. It is for this reason that a firm understanding of the pancha kosha-s and the part they play in the great mystery of Life is important.
What is this Self? Those sages of old, the Rsis, saw through all the matter and discovered that there was an underlying principal of sentience common to all. It is the nature of things that names must be given in order to explain them, so Aatman was chosen. It equates to 'God'. This sentience, or consciousness, is what provides the ability to perceive. It does not of itself perceive, or think, or analyse. However, by manifesting within the physical, it becomes a fraction of its Whole Self and breaks down into the ego-self… the PFT (see BMI posts) - Perceiver, Feeler, Thinker. The classic analogy given is that of electricity. Like all such examples, it has limitations but it is perfect for trying to grasp the nature of Aatman.
Electricity is present, unmanifest, everywhere. It awaited discovery. When found, it was harnessed and bound to physical processes; the culmination of which is that it expresses through many different appliances such as the vacuum, the refrigerator, the light bulb and so on. Each of those items is said to be 'the vacuum' or 'the bulb' … but they are nothing without the electricity which gives them their worth. They are mere matter 'sheaths'.
Likewise, there are birds, bees, fishes, and there are humans. All have 'electricity' but not all use it the same way. In fact, all use it without questioning or being aware of it - just as the bulb does not know it would not exist without the power which makes it glow. Similarly, just as the electric current which brightens the bulb is the very same 'juice' of the vacuum and the refrigerator, so the Aatman is the same in all living things. Unlike electricity, however, Aatman is aware. It is that which knows all these differences but can remain untouched by them. It is साक्षि/saakshi, witness, of everything. It is this very essence which is 'tappable' by all who sit in appropriate meditation; it is this which explains why apparently disparate nations, in their deepest philosophies, come to the same conclusions.
It is this Aatman which captures the attention of the Aatmaavrajanam, the roaming soul which seeks its eternal home. It is this Aatman which Vedanta does its best to reveal to the sadhak prepared to make the efforts of learning, applying and experiencing. Currently this must be done through the physical equipments available, the BMI matrix.