'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, having indicated the goal, the method of shravanam, mananam, nididhyaasana and hRshti, now flows into an exposition of the ideal practice.
@v< inrNtrk&ta äüEvaSmIit vasna,
Evam nirantarakRtaa brahmaiva-asmiiti vaasanaa,
Haratya-vidya-avikshepa-anrogaaniva rasaayanam ||37||
The impression 'I am Brahman' thus created by constant practice destroys ignorance and the agitations caused by it; just as medicine destroys disease.
There is a word within this shloka you ought to recognise immediately. It has a small difference. Most times here you will read it as 'vaasana'; the soft 'uh' vowel at end. This is the neuter form and has in excess of fifteen meanings but all related to 'perfuming, steeping, belonging' and similar. Our vaasanas are the fragrance of past lives and our current actions which belong only to our jiiva and they act as the 'exchange counter' through which we pay karmic debt.
Vaasanaa, however, is the feminine form. It still could be used in relation to our jiiva as it pertains to knowledge gained from 'memory', that is to say, past impressions, so the two forms are interchangeable in this regard. However, the feminine form has some twenty five meanings, all centred upon 'impression' as it is gained through ideas, longings, imagination.
Same word, either spelling appropriate when talking about the jiiva, but here having very specific purpose as the intent of this shloka is to 'impress' (!) upon the student the key purpose and benefit of dedicated and disciplined practice as outlined in the previous few verses. It is also the single biggest clue as to how to burn out one's personal vaasanaaH (plural)… supplant the mean and lowly habits with a much higher 'addiction'! It is, perhaps, the most 'FAQ' of early students of the philosophy, how to rid oneself of the inclinations and temptations which seem to appear from nowhere within us. 'Nowhere' is somewhere, and that somewhere is the Universal Bank where all our actions throughout time are logged. Each incarnation of the jiiva ensures a plethora of specific experiences by which that soul might add to the debt, or find ways to repay and wipe out the debt. It is the vaashanaaH which are responsible for the variety of personality and behaviours we observe in the species. The ego-self takes all these notions of personality as its own and hugs them saying 'this is who I am, so what?!' and in ignorance, feeds the negatives. If this is the life in which that jiiva is to improve, however, the notion will come that 'maybe there needs to be change' and moves are made to better the inner personality, the better to deal with the external. Eventually, the jiiva will be mature enough to enter a life where it comes to understand that only by ridding oneself of the ego and raising ideals and values can true freedom of personality arrive. This can lead to the final leap, the ultimate awareness and the removal of the ignorance of the True Nature of things.
By engaging in contemplation and deep meditation upon Brahman as Self, one and one alone, the jiiva has its final 'experience' as an individualised component of the whole. Connecting with that ultimate idea, all the nonsense which was called life before now is seen for exactly that - a play, an entertainment for the Self, nothing but a dream. Ignorance is thus removed by the 'rasaaya', the chemistry of the spirit, in the same way that medicine can clear the body of illness. In the same way, too, that medicine, once it has acted, leaves the body, so it is that even the sense of 'I am Brahman' will leave as the jiiva fully unites with Aatman.
This is not simple theory. All the texts of this philosophy point to this eventual Realisation. They do so because they are authored by those who have carried out the 'experiment' according to the parameters laid out and have proven it to their satisfaction. Not only one, but many mahatmas through time have reiterated; Self is One, seek only to return to Self and there know Bliss.
How, again, is this to be done?