'Text-days' are for delving into the words and theory of Advaita Vedanta.
[You are reminded that reviewing the previous week's posts will become essential as the meanings of the Sanskrit terms may not be repeated. There may come additional or alternative meanings, but all should be noted. As study progresses, the technical terms must necessarily become 'second nature' to the student. When the Sanskrit is used, the translation will fall easily into place - or likewise, if the English is used, the Sanskrit term must easily come forwards.]
Please revisit THIS post and chant the mangala-charana. Please use the TattvabodaH label to access all posts relevant to this text.
Have you reflected on the beginninglessness of ignorance, and its impermanence by virtue of its removal by knowledge? Let not the words slip by your eyes, or the impression be shallow. Take the teachings in deep, work them over as given by the example of the questioner within the text.
Indian readers may have pondered on the kaarana shariira and wondered about the role of vaasanas, those debts of karma which are often said to be the cause of who we are. These of course will be dealt with in other contexts, but know that they are implied within the text studied last week, as vaasanas are a part of ajnaana. This lack of knowledge is given as it is common to all, however vaasanas, one of the components within ignorance, are responsible for the differences in personalities and life path. The ignorance itself is the cause of life as a whole. Vaasanas are not mentioned specifically under the kaarana shariira question simply because, at this stage, we are not looking at individual purpose and condition, but at life as a unit. They are part of the cause of our existence for sure, but are dealt with separately, for ultimately each of us is interested only in what it is that brought "me the sorry individual" to this pass!
त्रि -अवस्थाः /tri-avasthaaH - THE THREE STATES
Remember that we had learned earlier that the sishya (student) posing the questions within this text is considered as an adhikaari - one who is 'fit', in that there has been preparatory learning and therefore the absolute basics has been learned. Thus, having enquired as to the nature of enquiry itself, and how it is that the body and the individual fit into this research, the next question is about conditions in which the individual can find his or herself with regard to the gaining of experience. One might have expected Adi Shankaraacharya to have gone to an explanation of the panchmahaabhoti or the pancha-koshas, or other such material, but as he has been expounding on the subtle influences of existence and how it manifests, this is the logical place to introduce the states of consciousness.
"What are the three states ?
They are the waking, dream and deep sleep states."
The range of human experience is wide indeed. We experience the physical world as sound, touch, for, taste and smell via the sthuula shariira; the emotional world as desire, anger, love, compassion and so forth; the intellectual world as ideals, concepts, imagination et cetera, both those two via the suukshmaa shariira. It is possible, also, to experience the absence of all these, if we can move ourselves into the kaarana shariira.. We have learned about the three bodies by which experience can be had. Now the question is asked as to the different levels of consciousness by which we can vary or alter the experiences. Each of us undergo these states each and every day.
ज्ञायते इति या सा जाग्रदवस्था।
स्थूलशरीराभिमानी आत्मा विश्व इत्युच्यते।
GYaayate iti yaa saa jaagradavasthaa.
sthuulashariiraabhimaanii aatmaa vishva ityuchyate.
"What is the waking state ?
That state of experience in which the sense objects like sound are perceived through the sense organs like the ears, is the waking state. The Self, identifying with the gross body is then called 'vishva' (waking state ego)."
As we read this, we consider ourselves to be awake. As we make our meals, we consider ourselves to be awake. Well, perhaps our eyes are open, but how available is our mind?! Joking aside, waking is the state through which we act and interact with the world, albeit at various levels of alertness. The definition given by the Guru here is that waking is the state in which we come to perceive by the use of all our senses. In other states, knowledge of different forms may come to us, but what defines the waking state is the activity and direct perception via the indriyas. We also express ourselves fully in our waking state. As this is the case the waker is said to be 'vishva' - completely functioning.
It is only in the waking state that we are totally identified with our shtuula shariira. In dream and deep sleep, all sense of the physical becomes blurred or absent. Also, in waking state, we are in full contact with our suukshma and kaarana shariiras also - your physical body is sitting reading this - the reading itself is happening via the subtle body and, if fully awake, the concept of your higher Self watching you as you do this is also present.
All transactions happen via the gross body. The objects in the waking world are experienced through the sense organs. The notions of doership, expectation of results and enjoyment arise within this state; thus we find a presence of ego ("I"-ness). The waking world appears to be solid and real. Objects and events seem to have a cause and effect relationship, with uses and functions according to their own 'laws'. We consider that we rise each day to the same familiar world and therefore give the waking state a greater reality and importance; for within it we form attachments to objects, beings and happening and thus are affected by what happens to them. We easily dismiss our dreams as unreal, but find it excessively difficult to dismiss the world.
Keep in mind that each state is a conditioning of the Self; the "Greater I'' becomes deluded and identifies with the waking state ego, believing itself to be separate from all other objects. Within that though, if we are functioning correctly, there is the witness Self wondering at all that goes on and we are at least vaguely aware of that part of ourselves; it is the part which takes the truly alert into the path of philosophy and spiritual research.