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'.
(Regarding stilling the mandala at the end of last week's post… focus absolute centre. You will find this more difficult than you may think beyond a mere second or two, but it can be done. Similarly, in meditation, in seeking the inner truth, this is what is required!)
If aatman is what might be called as 'conditioned consciousness', where the sadhak considers himself as an individual, material unit, then surely there must a state of consciousness which is not conditioned by all the kosas and lumbered with gunas and drowning in samsaara? There is and it is called चिदाकाश/chidaakaasha. Chit is consciousness, aakaasha is ether/space/universe (Sanskrit grammar rules turn the 't' to 'd' for the compound word). By undertaking saadhana through different means such as भक्ति/bhakti (devotion), कर्म/karma (appropriate action), or ज्ञान/jnaana (knowledge gain), humankind can overcome its conditioned state.
These मार्गः/maargaH (paths) of activity are available to all. There are a few folk who can undertake all, but mostly we are inclined to one form of activity as a priority according to our inner tendencies. Thus, Vedanta and Sanatana Dharma over all, allows for everyone from all walks of life, without discrimination, to make spiritual progress.
Each of the paths has a function in helping to overcome our antaH karana (mind intellect ego matrix) and reach for merging with chidaakaasha. If we use sunlight as our example, we find that there is only one source of the light; therefore Sun = Cidaakaasha. The light may be present in the room in which you sit now. It is also present in the room next door and in the house over the street. The light, broken into individual rooms like this, still remains light only and by breaking down the structures which 'box' it, we find it becoming its full and single state again. Light is light and nothing else. Equally, consciousness is consciousness and nothing else. All we have to do is understand that our material makeup has trapped and separated it. The light always is light and knows nothing else. Consciousness is consciousness and knows nothing else. Only the conditioning takes on the reflection such that we can say 'that is wall, that is chair' and so on. In light of consciousness only can we say 'that is mind, that is intellect' et cetera.
The one great aim is to return to natural and effulgent status of consciousness only.
This is the mystery, the secret of our purpose in life. All are looking for it, but very few understand this! Our true existence lies in this Absolute Knowledge. However, we are so trapped in our 'walls' that we fail to comprehend. One of the classic examples in Vedanta to demonstrate this disparity is that of the ghost in the post ( स्थाणु पुरुष/sthaanu purusha). In this analogy, the tale is told of the fellow who is walking home late in the evening along a familiar route. Having been associating with some friends at a hostelry, his mind is not on his feet (in the present) but on all the things which have happened and possibilities of what might happen. Although the post outside his house has always been there, this evening he comes upon it such that in the moment he forgets and instead thinks it to be a ghost, or a villain lying to ambush him. He runs screaming into his wife "Esha, there's a goon ouside!!!" His wife laughs and taking him back outside with a lamp, shows the post to him. "Ah, now I see!"
By turning our thinking differently, by learning well from our spiritual 'leading lights', we can see the self delusion we are under. This life is nothing but ghost. Cidaakaasha is the post.
Our current state is that of non-perception of the reality of the Universality of everything. In Sanskrit this is called अविद्या/avidyaa (without knowledge/ignorance). This is because our intellect is veiled (आवरण/aavarana) with ego and the mind is never still ( विक्षेप/vikshepa - agitation). Constantly these elements of being are creating the illusion of what we call 'world of plurality' (Maya). This projection is known as superimpostion, just as the fellow in our analogy 'imposed' a ghost upon the post. Reality is ever present, awaiting the dawn of recognition (knowledge).
We shall continue this section next week; we are the very crux of what Vedanta is about and it is very important that you go over it and give full consideration to what is being presented. Ask questions, voice doubts, allow new concepts to simmer!