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!

Play of Mind

Hari OM

'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.

Do not fret at the apparent rush of this section on creation. It may appear 'glossed over'; bear in mind that we are on prakarana only - the 'infant' teachings of Vedantic philosophy, and it is a case of planting seeds for later germination. Grasp only the terminology and the essence of the meaning and implications at this stage. It ought to be considered also that Advaita Vedanta only pays homage to 'creation' at all because we have to start with what we think we know and can relate to… that in fact, none of this holds any substance at all…

Having been introduced to the Maya principle of illusion arising in Brahman, we have been told that it is of the three qualities, Truth, Activity and Destruction. No reference to actual creation here, you will notice. The dream in the dreamer is not 'created' by the dreamer. It was all an intrinsic part of the dreamer, not a seperate condition at all. The dreamer is the Truth, within which, for some time, activity takes place and 'creates' a world. Upon waking, that 'world' is destroyed and the dreamer knows it for the illusion it was. This is the implication. 

Very often, when a shishya comes before a Guru, that teacher will test the student right from the beginning… the question will be asked, "You go to bed at night and sleep. In sleep, this world no longer exists for you. Where does this world go? When you arise, is it the same world?  Who asks?"

This ought to set the serious seeker in a spin of investigation. The question would not be asked by such a Master without some basis for there being an answer. The entire inquiry through Vedanta is to obtain that very answer. Students are generally very eager to answer the teacher at the beginning of classes; whether to show their own prowess in thinking and argument, or simply to show that they appreciate being given such a nugget to work with.

The teacher will then tell the group that their answers, at this point, will most likely be of the श्रिष्टि -दृष्टि /shrishti-drishti vada; the model of 'created therefore seen' - an object-based theory. Advaita posits दृष्टि -श्रिष्टि /drishti-shrishti vada; the model of 'seen thus created' - a subject-based theory. In short, that 'world' arises within Consciousness.

In the next suutra of our text, we now find how mind itself arose. (Please note that no chanting clip is provided for this stanza, small technical 'hiatus'…)

एतेषां पञ्चतत्त्वानां स्मष्टिसात्त्विकांशात्
मनोबुद्ध्यहंकारचित्तान्तःकरणानि संभूतानि।
संकल्पविकल्पात्मकं मनः। निश्चयात्मिका बुद्धिः।
अहंकर्ता अहंकारः। चिन्तनकर्तृ चित्तम्।
मनसो देवता चन्द्रमाः। बुद्धिः ब्रह्मा।
अनंकारस्य रुद्रः। चित्तस्य वासुदेवः।
eteShaaM pa~ncatattvaanaaM smaShTisaattvikaaMshaat
manobuddhyahaMkaaracittaantaHkaraNaani saMbhuutaani.
saMkalpavikalpaatmakaM manaH. nishcayaatmikaa buddhiH.
ahaMkartaa ahaMkaaraH. chintanakartR^i cittam.
manaso devataa candramaaaH. buddhiH brahmaa.
anaMkaarasya rudraH. cittasya vaasudevaH.

"From the total sattvic aspect of these five elements, the inner instrument of the mind, intellect, ego and memory are formed. The mind is of the nature of indecision. The intellect is of the nature of decision. The ego is of the nature of notion of doership. Memory is of the nature of thinking or recollection. The presiding deity of the mind is Moon, of intellect is Brahmaa, of ego is Rudra and of memory is Vaasudeva."

The ten organs (note; tongue, by virtue of dual-purpose, is counted as two) as seen on the chart, are referred to as बहिस्करण /bahiskarana - the outer equipments. They are the 'interface' with the external. All the information received  and output by them is governed by the अन्तः-करण /antaH-karana - the inner equipments, as here described. The organs can only perceive according to their assigned purpose. Mind must perceive everything.

Mind, as we know it in English, is considered but one thing - the continuous flow of  वृत्ति /vRtti - thoughts. Generally, we think no more of it than this. Sanskrit, however, understands 'mind' to be but one of four inner tools with which we process the world. Let us briefly look at them.

ManaH; this is the mind portion. Thoughts in a state of volition are mind. "Shall we do this or that?... What is the movie tonight?... Is there a meeting?..." Mind is also the seat of emotions. One who is mind-dominated is likely to find decision-making slow, or even difficult, due to being swayed by moods, emotions, swings in like or dislike and so forth. This is why the Moon is considered as the 'deity' of the mind. In Vedic terms, when 'deity' is applied it is actually referring to the prevailing characteristic of a natural phenomenon. It is well recognised that we are prone to the wax and wane of the moon, just as are the tides of the oceans. This was observed by the ancient Rsis and nothing has changed this fact over the millennia!

Buddhi; this is the intellect portion. Still thoughts, but here they have moved into the realm of the rational; analysis and decisions; observation, reasoning, conclusion. Those who are buddhi-dominant are said to be 'rationalist'. There is strong logic and confusion is eliminated. There is a risk, for some, of becoming too hooked in this mode; dry intellectualism is cold and can lack tenderness of compassion.  The deity assigned here is Brahmaa - Prince of Wisdom - for knowledge and creativity arise in the intellect.

Ahankaara; this is the ego. It is constituted of the single thought "I" and is used in relationship to doing. Ego here is not about pride, as is so often thought in Western usage. It is the sense of individuality and it generates the idea that "I" am acting in the world; this may or may not result in pride, which is a subset of ego. The thoughts in manas and buddhi and in chittam (remembered thoughts) all keep changing. However, in ahankaara we find there is a consistency of the one thought of "I"ness which is present within all the other thoughts. This is where the Pure Self interfaces with the lower self, but due to "I eat", "I am tall," "I sleep," and so on, ownership of being individual arises, forgetting the universality of "I". It is this which leaves us open to wear and tear as we seek to defend our 'territory' of "me-ness" and it can often bring tears. This is why Rudra ('the maker of tears' - a form of Shiva) is the presiding deity of Ego. Shiva is the Lord of destruction (deconstruction), and we require the 'death' of the ego for suffering to end.

Chittam; 'memory' is the easiest way to think of this portion. Its function is reflection and recollection. All experiences are stored as impressions and can be brought into focus according to need of the moment - or sometimes unbidden. If we think of things in terms of computing; the brain is the hardware upon which our software can play; antaH-karana is RAM in which our software can run. Mind is the data processing system; intellect is the operating software; ego is the specific programming; memory is the storage retrieval system. There are lots of files and not all are stored within the active system - much is stored in 'the cloud'. These are the vaasanas. The presiding deity of this component is Vaasudeva, (a form of Vishnu - the preserver). He is the most sattvic of the deities here and it is true that for best recall we require to be calm and clear.

It follows, given the information about Maya, that the next aspect is that of rajas, which we will see next week. 

1 comment:

  1. True Yamini.The dream comes automatically.We cannot have dream of our design. Very meaningfully penned.


Hari OM
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