Adventures in Advaita Vedanta, the philosophy and science of spirit. We are one you and I; are you curious why?..


Here is a place to linger, to let your intellect roam. Aatmaavrajanam is being written as a progressive study and, as such, can be read like a book. Anyone arriving at any time can simply start at the very first post and work their way through at their own pace. Please take time to read the info tabs and ensure you don't miss a post, by subscribing to the blog. Interaction is welcomed. Don't be a spectator - be a participator!

From The Gross...

Hari OM

Monday is AUM-day; in search of meditation.

Meditation & Life, with Sw. Chinmayananda (Gurudev).
We are now exploring the writings of Gurudev on our focus subject of Meditation. The book is a thorough treatment of the subject and extends to over 170 pages of closely printed text. No attempt is intended, here, to present the text in its entirety. However, important paragraphs and quotes will be given, within a summary of each section. You are encouraged to use the links on sidebar to obtain a copy for yourselves from CM publications.
Please remember that each of the posts under this title is part of a thought flow and it is important to go back and read the previous post in order to refresh and review the context.

4: Spirit Enveloped in Matter

"For the superman to emerge from a frail mortal, a scientifically complete and philosophically true investigation into the subject is unavoidable. We find the clearest and most extensive inquiries into this subject in Vedanta...the Rsis declared that each person is not merely a physical structure, but also a four-forked entity consisting of four distinct personalities; the physical, the mental, the intellectual and the spiritual."

Our Multiple Personalities.
Are you the clothes you wear? Is she the jewels which adorn her? Is that child the toy with which they play? No. These are accoutrements, matter envelopments which are adjuncts to the body which uses them.  We can comprehend these are extraneous to the 'truth' of the body. Similarly, the Rsis understood - and any who follow their line of enquiry - that the naked body consists of several layers of matter, in the core of which is the spirit. The comprehension being that all matter is extraneous to the 'truth' of our being.  When life, clothed in layers of matter, walks out fully clothed in the extra material to face the climate and a world of plurality, it is said to be a human being.

Gurudev now makes an observation which is so very pertinent in our current world state; "The modern world, in all its activities - domestic, communal, social, national or international - is at best feeling its way through the immediate darkness to reach still greater darkness when the government planners draft manifestos of human rights under the false conclusion that each individual is but a mere physical structure.  Materialism served by science can come only to the conclusion that more food and clothing, better shelter, more leisure and entertainment, and probably a little more education, will ensure happiness for everyone.  In short, people are considered not much different from mute animals who are aware only of their body existence. However, if we analyze the human being into three personalities in addition to the body, we can find out how these four act and react with each other, and how they can be developed and integrated through the process of divine contemplation and devoted meditation."

It is not difficult to understand that the gross body is nothing with the spark of live within it.  It is matter. All matter is inert until such time it is given some form of energy to enliven it. No sooner has life flown from the body, than it falls and starts decomposing into the very elements from which it was formed. Thus, the 'life centre' in each one of us is the sacred spot from which all activities emanate.  With that factor, even the mind and the intellect are nothing.

In Vedanta, the 'life centre', the Divine Spark of Life, is called the आत्मन् /aatman. The various envelopments are progressively more gross. The outermost 'envelope' being the body; which we call 'ours', so identified with it are we. To rise to a full understanding of even our intellectual selves can be a challenge; how much rare it is, then, to find those who can identify with the aatman within. There is much discussion in modern thinking as to whether mind is inert matter, or nonmatter having full consciousness. One wit has been quoted as saying "It does not matter if mind is matter and never mind if mind is not matter, for all that matters is that it does not matter!"

All schools of philosophy in India accept that the mind is made up of subtle matter and the body is gross matter. Aatman presides over both and is the subtlest of the subtle.

In the diagram, OM represents the aatman; our Self, our True Nature, omnipotent and omniscient. The drop into matter is represented by the panchakoshas, the five sheaths of matter from subtlest to grossest. You see that aatman, then, stands above and is not actually part of the matter-stuffs; it has no attachment to these things, but it is only because of its presence that the matter becomes aware or active at all. Whilst the two dimensional diagram shows this to be a pyramidal structuring, it ought to be taken more as an ever more internal process. From the body inwards to the lungs, inwards to the mind, inwards to the intellect then to the vital spark...yet this is also rather inadequate. It is simply about the subtlety of each matter layer. The more subtle the sheath, the more pervasive it is. An example might be a cube of ice. As ice it has defined shape and size; as it melts it returns to water, which of course can move into other spaces which the cube could not; the water when boiled becomes steam and thus can enter where even water could not and so is the subtlest form of water, whilst still remaining in the field of matter. For us, the body is the grossest and least pervasive. The praana (vital airs) can occupy not just the body but the space around the body, this is more pervasive. The mind can go places the body and the praana cannot - it is thus more pervasive again. The intellect can visualize places which even our mind could not, thus subtler still. Subtlest of all, and therefore the most pervasive, is aatman. It has the ability to be in and through all matter, but no matter can be in It. It is all-pervading, all-seeing, all-knowing, declare the Upanishads.

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