'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.
The text has been taking us through stages of spiritual progress. Shravanam, mananam, nididhyaasana… now there are two shlokas which explore what an advanced meditator may express; consider this stage as 'experiential affirmative processing' or ùi:q/hRshti - rapture.
sda svRsm> zuÏae in>s'gae inmRlae=cl>.35.
Sadaa sarvasamaH shuddho niHsango nirmalo-chalaH ||35||
Like the space, I fill all things within and without. Changeless and the same in all, always, unattached and without stain or movement.
In the seat of repeated and thorough contemplation, there comes the point where the practitioner enters full meditation and in those moments experiences the unity with the Universal Consciousness. In those moments the understanding of that unity becomes experience and that experience is expressed here in relation to the nature of space, first - that it is all pervading. There is no place where the Self cannot be. What is more, it is discovered that, as related in the teachings, the stability of Beingness is there; It cannot be changed and therefore, as It is present in all, there is a sameness which is within all, tying the whole of plurality to this one factor within. It is seen also that this Self is of the nature of eternity (sadaa = 'always'), It is without beginning and without end and due to the fact It cannot be altered in any way, It is as pure as pure can be (nirmalaH). Further, no matter where It is, It is without movement (achalaH), demonstrating an understanding of the stability of True Self and why it is that all who seek It will, with due application, discover It.
Self is as present as space appears to us now; It is always here and never anywhere else; due to Its stability it's discovery is described similarly by all who find their way to It. When a person who has never tasted sugar is repeated,y told that sugar is sweet, the only way they can ascertain this is to seek out some sugar and taste it for themselves. The intellect may have grasped the concept of 'sweetness' from other things which have been tasted along the way, but none of these things is pure sugar itself. Only by locating and taking a spoonful, can the seeker discover the correct nature of sugar and in doing so find that all those who declared such were, in fact, telling the truth about it.
In coming to the understanding declared in this shloka through direct experience, just as the taster of sugar is likely to express surprise and delight at the discovery of that 'truth', so there remains only one thing left for the meditator to declare.
sTy< }anmnNt< yTpr< äüahmev tt!.36.
Satyam jnaanamanntam yatparam brahmaa-hameva tat ||36||
I am verily that Supreme Brahman which is eternal, pure, liberated, One indivisible, blissful, non-dual Truth, and am of the nature of Existence-Knowledge-Infinite.
Full realisation dawns and the seeker cannot help but declare the joy and surprise at the discovery! Why 'surprise'? When we go looking for an object, we expect to find it. It is something we saw before and expect to see again. When we go looking for something which, even if intellectually we accept its existence, is actually beyond all our general perceptive ability to observe, there will always remain an iota of doubt about that existence and right up until the moment of absolute experience - the process of seeking itself - keeps us from absolute acceptance and belief. Thus, the relief of discovery that there is indeed a Truth common to all will explode forth as not only joy, but relief in the form of surprise. "It's True It's True It's True!!!"
Of course, Vedantins are not likely to be this effusive in the physical sense, but this is sensation within. Absolute Bliss.
Throughout the Sanskrit texts it is to be read that there is really only one worthy goal for an intelligent and aware human being to aim for; spiritual completeness. It is expounded through highly intellectual philosophy, but in the end it is only by practicing, following the formulae provided in those very same texts, by carrying out the experiments of personality and correcting ourselves accordingly, to follow the footsteps of the mahatmas who travelled before us, that we can even begin to hope that we might one day reach these Heights. It is verses such as these, so cleanly and non-fussily put by Sri Adi Shankara, that we can engender hope of such possibility. All who dedicate themselves to the study of philosophy will certainly carry at least the intellectual awareness of the True Nature of Self, even if not actually experiencing it - this is known as jnaanachyaasa; the practice of Knowledge. It is the contemplation of that Knowledge in regular and disciplined meditation which will finally make the knowledge not just another object we carry with us, but our very own experience.
Constantly practice control of the mind; retreat little by little from the entrapment of the physical body and the life we currently know; this is the way to build spiritual stamina. Even if that pinnacle is beyond our reach, this daily and dedicated practice will bring the Light of the Lord into our small beings; we cannot help but glow with the tranquillity it brings. We find our ego drops away and our daily actions and interactions are improved, as we no longer attach desire to outcomes. Our thoughts and impulses are all about the Higher and that is a beautiful thing.