'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.
If you are going to learn about quantum physics, you are likely to have decided to do so because you have first heard some experts in the field speaking upon the subject - they may have brought to the general audience some of the great examples of how and why the theory of QP stands up to testing and will draw 'pictures' to demonstrate some of the key concepts of the discipline. They will whet the appetite of the burgeoning intellects and capture the imagination also. These two things are required for that scientific discipline. This is true of Advaita too.
Having given one of the great analogies of Vedanta with reference to the kataka nut clearing the muddy water, Sri Shankara presses on. In Aatmaabodha, the Guru wishes the keen and able student to grasp the import and value of pursuing this study. It is a presentation to the wider audience to shake out those who have genuine intent for study.
तावत्सत्यं जगद्भाति शुक्तिकारजतं यथा |
यावन्न ज्ञायते ब्रह्म सर्वाधिष्ठानमद्वयम् ||7||
Taavatsatyam jagadbhaati shuktikaarahatam yathaa;
Yaavanna jnaayate brahma sarvaadhishthaanamadvayam ||7||
The world appears to be real so long as Brahman, the non-dual substratum of the entire creation, is not realised. It is like the illusion of silver in the mother-of-pearl.
Most of us can relate to walking along a beach somewhere and seeing something glint in the sun. The curious human being is attracted to such as that! Bending to pick up what appeared to be a shiny coin, we find that it was only a shell, it's insides turned outwards, the nacre there-in being sufficiently polished to capture the light and appear, for that briefest moment, as if it were precious metal. Most would feel just a mere prick of disappointment - although there may be some joy in the beauty of the shell, our eyes no longer mistake and the mind is no more deceived with the idea of silver where shell alone is.
Likewise, the Guru tells us that this whole world, as we currently perceive it, is nothing more than nacre - it is not the rich metal we believe it to be - and only when we get wise to this can Brahman reveal Itself to us. Having realised such, it is not that the world will disappear. The shell remains where the coin was thought to be, but the relationship is now fully understood. The shell is the substratum material upon which the nacre sits, permitting the chance of illusion caused by a trick of the light. When we hold the shell, we can see the nacre for what it is, but also appreciate that it is part of a whole, known as 'shell'. Similarly, Brahman is the 'shell' upon which the illusion we call 'world of objects' sits and by trick of the light called Maya, we are deceived into thinking it is shiny and worth having. If we learn to hold the world at arms length, we gain the wider perspective and find that all is not as it seems. Thus, in discovering The Truth, we can hold the world in our hands and admire the beauty, look upon the encrustations, see the flaws, but remain separate from them, knowing that they are no more real than that 'coin' we thought we had found.
Just as the dreamer, on waking, realises the truth of the dream and revels in the waking, so the seeker of the Divine Truth can move from this waking dream called life into Total Consciousness where no illusion remains.
Pay attention. Begin to notice when the eye is drawn to something; recognise how instinct drove the attraction but intellect follows to rationalise what has been seen. Make no judgement. Just note how often things of the world distract one. Note what arises within; start to recognise the basis of desire and how it motivates everything we do. Start to see the shell, not the nacre.