'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.
Last week we read further analogies of the Guru to aid our understanding as to the nature of the Unexplainable. There is a principle of Awareness which engenders the concept of 'life' in the form of consciousness and the Rsis have named it, in this case, as Aatman. This 'governing soul', however is not tainted by actions and thoughts and such like which occur as a consequence of the life it brings. This is now further brought out in shloka 22.
A}anaNmansaepaxe> ktR&TvadIin caTmin,
kLPyNte=Mbugte cNÔe clnaid ywaM_as>.22.
Ajnaanaan-maanasopaadheH kartRatvaadiini chaatmani,
Kalpyante-mbugate chandrechalanaadi ythaambhasaH ||22||
Due to ignorance, the tremblings that belong to the water are attributed to the reflected moon dancing upon it; likewise the agency of actions and so on are delusively understood as the nature of the Self.
There is notion which is prevalent in our thinking; "I" am the doer, the enjoyer - "I" am this or that - the ego seeks to claim everything as its own. All the ego owns is foolish restlessness! When we are in deep sleep, the ego is not present and this foolishness ceases. In our dreams and in our waking state, however, we move around and act out in our own little realities, like the tremblings of the water in this shloka's example.
It is only when mind, intellect and ego are 'awake' that action can take place and as a result, misguided as we are, we have attributed these things to The Lord (of whatever form we favour), that part of us we know must be present for us to be operating at all but which we cannot explain, cannot see. The Lord, the Aatman, however, has no part in our restlessness whatsoever. That Consciousness is merely the observer. Just as the moon, watching from on high, will see many a water ripple, but is not responsible for those ripples as such.
Further to this, we note again, that when the water settles in the bucket, per this analogy, we see the moon clearly reflected, not all fragmented and agitated as it was when the ripples were present. Likewise, when we sit and take control of the 'bucket' of our mind, we can still our inner water sufficiently to finally 'observe the observer'. We can see Aatman rightly. Purification of the mind, clearing it of all agitations from its daily flow and ego's blast furnace, we get a glimpse of our True Self.
This shloka is a 'keynote' verse in that it points to the need for purity and clarity, the two words which perhaps best of all describe the purpose and meaning of Advaita. We all, at some time or another, have declared that we need to 'clear our minds' in order to think better, is it not? We all know that we become too cluttered, like our computers with the caching of cookies, and become less functional as a result. When this happens, we loose a sense even of our ego-self, never mind our central True Self. A crisp new banknote, fresh from the mint, is launched into circulation. Over time it becomes tattered, dirty, greasy, perhaps laundered (literally and figuratively)… the more used it becomes, the less likely folk are to want to handle it. Shopkeepers might refuse it if it cannot be recognised, not seeing the value it represents, but only the face it presents to the world. Eventually it returns to the bank from which it emerged, its value to be reabsorbed into the great, universal, 'account'. Many people permit themselves to be treated by life's circumstances as helplessly as that banknote! The difference however, is that we all have the special part of us which can choose to alter those circumstances, or at least make the best of them. We can chose to be still and return to our 'Universal Account' for renewal and revitalisation. Our value then increases exponentially, the stiller we become. In that stillness we can look upon the agitations, the 'tremblings' of samsaara in proper context and thus smooth out the ripples by dint of our own effort. We come to see "I" am Aatman, and…
àkazae=kRSy taeySy zETymGnyRwae:[ta,
Prakaashor-kasya toyasya shaityam-agnaryarthoshnataa,
SvabhaavaH sacchidaananda-nitya-nirmalat-aatmanaH ||24||
Just as luminosity is the nature of the sun, coolness is the nature of water and heat is that of fire, so too the nature of the Aatman is eternal and pure Existence-Consciousness-Bliss.
At all times there is a positive effort put out by all living things to improve the circumstance of living. Nothing can wander away from its essential nature (dharma). We know the nature of the material world, but to know the nature of Aatman is rather more difficult. What can be determined is that there must also be an 'essential nature' for That and after much deliberation and personal experiment, the Rsis drew the conclusion That It is of the nature of Existence (the original spark), Consciousness (ever-present in all consciousness) and Bliss (a peace which passeth all understanding) and that, furthermore, it is Eternal and of Absolute Purity. You Are That.