'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.
By having indicated intellectual process in the discovery of Self in shloka 16, using the analogy of threshing grain (shravanam), winnowing (mananam) and mulling (nididhyaasana), Sri Shankara goes on to say;
sda svRgtae=PyaTma n svRÇav_aaste,
buÏaveva_aaset SvCDe;u àitibMbvt!.17.
Sadaa sarvagato-apyaatmaa na sarvatraava-bhaasate,
Buddhav-eva-abhaaseta svachccheshu pratibimbavat. ||17||
The Aatman does not shine in everything although it is All-pervading. It manifests only in the intellect, just as the reflection in a clean mirror.
Aatman, being infinite, is by Its very nature All-pervading. Although it is available in the cognition of all objects, in the pure intellect (buddhi) alone can we realise the Self (Aatmaa… hence 'bodha', to perceive, to comprehend, to recognise, realise…), just as in a clear and polished mirror alone are we able to see our reflections truly and distinctly. This shloka declares that our 'reflection' is actually in all the objects of the world, but most of the time we do not see this, due to the reflecting surface being impure. In the modern day we have physics telling us that light falling on any object gets reflected from it and these reflected rays bounce back to our retina, so all we are actually seeing is reflection. This process goes on even on a rough granite surface - but we do not see ourselves there as there is no polish to capture our image and reflect that image back to us. In this shloka, then, the Guru understands that the light of Aatman is present in everything, but cannot be understood as itself due to the imperfect surfaces - meaning that all we see is a granite wall, a lawn of grass, a hillside of corn; only be 'seeing' with our intellect to we come to understand that all these are but ourselves also, that we are all within the One.
Within his narration on the text, Gurudev uses the analogy of a government of a nation. It is centred in the main city of the country (usually!) and cannot actually be seen by the natives of that country, yet the effects of governance are to be felt even in the remotest village. To see the seat of government, to see the politicians who, collectively are the government, each citizen would have to make the journey to the capital, indeed to the specific address within the capital. It takes time and effort, but those who are keen will make the journey.
Likewise, although Brahman, the Supreme Consciousness, the substratum of all this plurality, has an influence in every part of our world and life, unless we sit and focus and work to clear our mind and intellect, we have little hope of getting to the 'command centre'.
The body is gross, seeking only to be fed and watered; the mind is restless, seeking only to be entertained and busy; hence it is through the subtle intellect alone that one can learn to be calm and steady - albeit with time and effort. In that serene quietude which can be obtained with that practice, the effulgent Self can be recognised - just as we recognise our face in the bright, clear mirror.