'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 now offers another verse which is directed at the student, as an instruction.
Aaiv*k< zrIraid d&Zy< bud!budvT]rm!
@tiÖl][< iv*adh< æüeit inmRlm!.31.
Aavidyakam shriiraadi dRshyam budbudavat-ksharam,
Etadvilakshanam vidyaadaham bhrahmeti nirmalam. ||31||
The body and so on, up to the causal body (ignorance), are objects perceived and thus are as perishable as bubbles. Realise (through discrimination) that "I am ever the pure Brahman entirely different from all these".
To live and act as 'I am the body' is our current state. We identify with the matter envelopments which are the body, mind and intellect. During identification, the subject (Aatman) forgets Its real nature and projects upon Itself an individual personalitly (jiiva) and takes on the sorrows and joys and all such. The five layers of matter have been explained (use this label to review). They are but vehicles in which the spirit can travel and express 'life'. The gross, subtle and causal bodies are but conditionings through which Consciousness can be the experiencer of that to be experienced in all the planes of existence (the triaavasthaaH).
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The Self, identifying with the gross body, becomes the waker experiencing daily life. That same Self, shifting with the body as it rests at night and identifying with the subtle body, becomes the dreamer. When the shift is into deep sleep, the Self is identifying with the causal body, the total lack of any interaction or awareness at all; and the term used for this is avidya - ignorance.
The sthuula, suukshma and karana shariiraaH are objects with which the Subjective Self takes up identification, as the waker, dreamer and deep-sleeper. If it is doing this, the Self, by logical deduction, must be something other than the objects it seeks to adopt. This deductive reasoning is the life and soul of Vedanta! Each step we take as shishyas (pupils) of this philosophy can only be managed once we have properly digested the previous one. The teacher will only give what we are capable of undertaking. If we fail, it is not the system or the teacher which are at fault, but our own lack of application and appropriate depth and breadth of thinking.
"Think!!!" was something that Gurudev often thundered from the podium. We are not being dictated to, we are not even being told this is the be-all and end-all… just that if we follow instructions as given, we cannot fail to draw the same conclusions as all the saints and sages who went before us.
In this shloka, Adi Shankaraacharya, gives out such an instruction. We are to rediscover the Self which is stuck with these objects. We are to do this by the use of viveka and vairaagya. It is only through discrimination that we can undo the entanglements with the BMI and realise that all 'this' which is brought through perception, feeling, comprehension etc., must be different from the one doing the perceiving, feeling and thinking. The Divine Spark within is the one illumator of each and every object. Things illumined are different from the illuminator (remember the lamp analogy). Thus, the objects recognised by 'me' are certainly different from the 'Me' within, the Eternal Subject.
This is the crux of any philosophical and spiritual pursuit. A question of existence is asked, and its answer lies only within; it requires of us the ability to detach from the objects of the world (including our very bodies) - to become 'objective' - and see things dispassionately. All 'clear thinkers' understand this process, but rarely is the process of that thinking itself broken down and put under scrutiny in the way it is through Vedantic teaching.
This shloka has been given out to the student with the expectation that the student is listening… shravanam. Tomorrow, a chance for true shravanam...