'Text-days' are for delving into the words and theory of Advaita Vedanta.
We are now studying Aatmabodha. As always, with each week, you are encouraged to review the previous teachings and spend some time in contemplation of the meanings as the affect your life. Please do consider purchasing the text. Remember, also, to recite the mangala charana before each study and review the lessons before each new one.
In shloka seven we discovered the truth behind the glint of silver was but mother of pearl; the light play briefly deludes the eye and riches are perceived. More than this though, is that the mind, ingrained with a vaasana which triggers avarice, enlarges the trickery and we reach for the shell that glinted, sure that it contained silver. On finding that it is only shell after all, we drop it and go in search of other glitter.
Naturally, analogies are incomplete, imperfect. We know that in fact there is a value market for the mother of pearl itself! Not the same rich market, but it is mankind's greed which builds a value where none previously existed. However, this example is not given to show the value of the nacre, but simply to start the student thinking about how easily we can be tricked into thinking something is more than, or completely different from what it truly is. This is the essence of Advaitic philosophy. Maya, the mother of trickery, keeps us in ignorance with constant illusions. There will be many more such examples of Maya's play as we progress in this study.
In the next shloka, another analogy is given; not, this time in direct reference to the illusions themselves, but as a start to explaining a bit of how the illusions arise in the first place.
%padane=iolaxare jgiNt prmeñre,
sgRiSwitlyaNyaiNt buÓudanIv vairi[.8.
Upaadaane-khilaadhaare jaganti parameshvare; sargasthitilayaanyaanti budbudaaniiva vaarini ||8||
Like bubbles in the water, the worlds rise, exist and dissolve in the supreme Self, which is the material cause and the support of everything.
Upaadaana kaarana… material cause. Here is a shloka which points clearly to scientific thinking; the Rsis needed a rational explanation for the physical world as we perceive it. Certainly in the very advanced stages, as has been hinted from the beginning of the text, all that is perceived is an illusion, just as dream seems real until we awaken. However, until a seeker is able to prove that theory for themselves (as all good scientists must do!), there are steps to be taken in order to build for the experiment. Most of us who read about quantum physics, or astronomy or any other such science, will never really reach the same understanding or even have the desire to sit and recreate the parameters in order to prove, say, string theory or red shift. Enough others have done so and written about it that we now accept on trust that there is truth in what we are told. Likewise, Vedantic seekers accept the professorial declarations of the Rsis, the sadhus, the saints and sages, the Guru lineage; the noble and able-minded who have worked the experiments, proven the theories and who generation after generation confirm the original findings. The key difference between having an interest in QP and AV is that Advaita Vedanta is provable by every single seeker who is prepared to travel its length, who has the stamina and the courage. Such a one is the mumukshu; such a one, due to that burning desire to know, educates his or herself and becomes the adhikaari, the fit personality for ever-more knowledge. The only 'examinations' faced are the internal ones. The only one marking the results is oneself.
Thus we are introduced to the fact that, at the moment, we must understand what is the 'material' from which the universe of objects is created. Creation as such can never be 'new'. Nobody can truly claim to be a creator of anything. This is because everything must come from something which preceded it. Ever since that very beginning, nothing is truly original. 'Creation' is actually nothing but a reworking, a reconversion of pre-existing somethings, an alteration of form, name, condition and so on.
In any creative process three factors come into play (notice that number again? Nature loves the triumvirate!) उपादाण कारण/Upaadaana kaarana, the material cause - as it suggests, the very fabric from which the new item is made. निमित्त कारण/Nimitta kaarana, the efficient cause - that from which arises the concept of creation. कारक/Kaaraka, the instrumental cause - that which permits the joining of the upaadaana and the nimitta, providing the condition in which creation can be formed. Classic example? The potter is nimitta, the clay is upaadaana and the wheel is kaaraka. This example will appear again…
The important thing to note is that, using the pot example, all the pots of the world, being of clay, are separate from the potter who made them; however, the point at which the pot is being formed, during kaaraka, the two are joined in the process; creator and creation are one. The material will only ever be clay, however, no matter how it is worked. It is the substratum, whether a humble diya or a fine china table-dressing.
The example given here in the eighth shloka as a variation on this. If you watch the ocean, the water (upaadaana) driven by deep energy of tides (nimitta) crashing upon the shore (kaaraka), bubbles will appear. Eventually they collapse and return to their origin, the water, only to rise as bubbles again at some other time on some other shore. Extrapolating, the Master states the universe works in the same manner. Planets and stars are the bubbles of this particular Universal Ocean, having arisen from some great, deep energetic movement. Like the bubbles on the shore, these planets and stars eventually will return to their material cause. That material cause as understood by the Rsis, is Brahman - the Self - Universal Consciousness. This is the substratum upon which our play stands.
Just as ocean is always (according to our viewpoint) ocean, Brahman is changeless and ever-present. Of itself, it cannot undergo modification; the modifications are only upon its surface, brief appearances of imagery.
This concept is taken up again in the next shloka.