'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.
Aatman is separate from all - yet we have had it suggested that without Aatman, life would not be present - or certainly self-aware. Aatman is the 'intelligence' part of life. We know that as Brahman, all life functions are given their 'juice'. It was mentioned last week also that due to the shortcomings of the average person, there has been a tendency to misconstrue what is Aatman ("God") and we attribute, perhaps, more than we ought to that Divine Principal. This is now discussed;
d&Zyte=æe;u xavTsu xaviÚv ywa zzI.19.
dRsyate-bhreshu dhaavatsu daavanniva yathaa shashii ||19||
The moon appears to be running when the clouds move in the sky. Likewise to the non-discriminating person, the Aatman appears to be active when it is observed through the functions of the sense organs.
As children, certainly, and sometimes even now as adults, we might look up at the night sky filled with scudding clouds and spot the moon peeking through them from time to time and - just for a moment - a trick of the eye causes us to think that the moon itself is doing the moving. Another more modern example is when riding on a bus or train and there is a sensation of movement caused by another bus or train beside us. It befuddles the brain!
The Aatman, that Pure Consciousness, illuminates our thoughts, words and deeds; if we have a sense of Divinity at all, then we can be inclined to mistake the actions as being those of the Self. By accepting that Self is nothing but ourself we might mistake biological function for mystical function. The sense organs operate in a mechanical fasion - the Self merely observes that action. The Self is the illuminator, yes, and the giver of capacity to function, yes; but it is not the function itself - that is left to the golakas - the 'wells of action'. The ear gathers the sound and transfers it to the brain. The eyes gather light and do the same. The fingers gather tactile sensations and transfer that information… and so on. Only when the functions hit the antaH karana, does the Aatman observe them. It is in the light of Self alone that all information is recognised and experienced. There would be no existence of life in the individual without Aatman.
A person who lacks viveka - the ability to discriminate real from unreal - cannot correctly understand the power which drives the living creature. If there is sufficient mental poise, good scientific observation and a modicum of intelligence, the student can easily recognise that the eye has been tricked and only the clouds are moving - and that the moon cares less about the clouds or the little critter on the other planet looking back at its effulgence! Likewise it can be seen that the agitations of life are only generated from the matter layers (koshaH) and the saakshi, the Aatman, is unaffected by them and is uninvolved in the daily nonsense of the subjective being.
Gurudev makes this statement in the book; 'We recognise Life as dynamic, because we observe It only through the vehicles of its expressions. Looking at a living creature, through its physical, mental and intellectual activities, we say Life is dynamic, ever-pulsating. In fact, Life as such is not active, the vehicles thrilled by Life act and these actions are superimposed upon the Self, and in this confused observation it seems as though the Self is active.'
All our earthly experience we improperly align with Self - which in fact has no experience, no agitation. It is silent and steady. To experience Self without all such eruptions is the goal of the spiritual seeker; to know Self in its silent existence is to realise Divinity.