'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.
We now approach a shloka which comes directly from the understanding that Aatman reflects within us at all times, but we fail to see it.
jIv> svRml< }ata Ô:qeit muýit.26.
Aatmano vikriya naasti buddherbodho na jaatviti,
JiivaH sarvamalam jnaataa drishteti muhyati ||26||
Aatman never does anything and the intellect of its own accord has no capacity to experience "I Know"; but the individuality in us due to delusion thinks that it, itself, is the seer and the knower.
A very important point is raised here in reference to Self and self, Higher and lower.
Firstly we must understand that Aatman (Brahman, OM…) holds no agency. It is the very Knowledge which permits all other knowledge and therefore requires not to act.
Secondly, we must understand that our intellect, in and of itself, has no ability to function. It, like the mind upon which it sits, is a physical tool of our material body (albeit an extremely subtle one) and tools in and of themselves cannot carry out the work for which they are built. Tools require 'workers' to use them.
Thirdly we are to understand that the spiritual 'worker' which wields the intellect, called as the jiiva, tends to get attached to its tool and "I"dentifies, resulting in a sense of doership and knowledge, forming the ego-self.
That which 'Knows' is Aatman. Aatman is reflected in the material equipments just as the moon is reflected on the bucket of water. That reflection is the jiiva, the Aatman's image, but not directly the Aatman itself. The one constant in everything is Aatman. Everything - absolutely everything - else is subject to alteration in one way or another. Aatman remains as the substratum, unchanging. When the Aatman becomes jiiva-form, there is sufficient consciousness in that form to get lost in the world of duality. It begins to attach and desire and think itself important. This confused ego-self loses its connection with the Whole Self. It does not understand that, just as the waves are but the same water as the ocean upon which they act, the jiiva is never actually separate from the Aatman from which it has arisen.
The illuminating consciousness, because of which there is an awareness of the objects and activities of the antaH karana, is that Supreme Reality. Thus, he who experiences all the waves of life's sorrows, joys, successes and failures, angers, passions and so forth, in knowing that Aatman, remains steady beneath them; in knowing the 'Knower', can stand unaffected by those waves. We can know we are happy or unhappy, but also know that the True Self is immune to these things because it is Happiness itself. That Happiness is our Truth, all else is false. None of the conditions of the mind is the Self; this is the constant wisdom of the wise man.