'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 Guru, having given instruction to the shishya to meditate (shravanam), and the student taking on board the information (mananam), practice ensues… sitting in meditation upon the Higher, which is called as nididhyaasana. It must flow as a consequence of purposeful and worthy mananam; there must remain no questions or doubts in order to process in nididhyaasana. The following two shlokas demonstrate the flow of reasoning.
Aàa[ae ýmna> zuæ #Tyaidïuitzasnat!.33.
ingRu[ae ini:³yae inTyae inivRkLpae inrÃn>,
inivRkarae inrakarae inTymu´ae=iSm inRml>.34.
Amanstvaanna me duHkha-raaga-dvesha-bhyaadayaH,
Apraano hyamanaaH shubhra ityaadi-shruti-shaasanaat ||33||
Nirguno nishkriyo nityo nirvikalpo niranjanaH,
Nirvikaaro niraakaaro nityamukto-smi nirmalaH ||34||
I am not the mind; therefore I am free from sorrow, attachment, fear and so on; because, as the scriptures say, "Self is without praana, without mind, is pure, et cetera".
I am attributeless, actionless, eternal, formless, desireless, (without) thoughts or modification, ever liberated and pure.
The shishya, having taken a position of meditation, follows through on the logic provided by both the teacher and the source of knowledge, the scriptures. This last is important, because no matter how skilled or logical we may think ourselves to be, there must be one accepted source of authority to which we can refer and stabilise ourselves. Even the most experienced of orienteers carries a map and compass!
Equally, all seasoned travellers will have studied their maps thoroughly and committed as much as possible to memory. This makes travelling much less cumbersome and less prone to problems whilst on the journey.
This is a key factor in Sanskrit tradition; indeed the whole tradition depends on 'mouth to mind'. Not rote learning. Rote learning only requires us to be able to reproduce in the way a camera can reproduce a scene. It is two dimensional. In learning, through repetition, the shaastras, the shishya must also inculcate the knowledge and test it and make it their own. It is not about passing written tests then forgetting that stuff and moving on to the next. It is about lifting the words, juggling with them, extracting their lakshana and merging with understanding. Becoming the knowledge, not just regurgitating it. Thus it is three-dimensional.
Here, then, we have an example of the shishya who has studied and disciplined themselves sufficiently that they can be fully focused on Self-analysis. Having made the study which informs the nature of Self, the meditator now seeks to empty the mind, to release all joys and sorrows, which come from attachments built through likes and dislikes; lets go of fear and other such things as anger, hatred, jealousy. These things must be dropped, for they are ego states and hold back union with that which does have any of these identifications. The process is through negation of what "I" am not, then affirmation of what "I" am.
In successfully releasing the lower, there can be moments spent with the Higher and it is there that the student can gain some experience of that pure, unadulterated State of Being. There is nothing present other than Consciousness. A glorious, shining 'Is-ness'.
Bear in mind that this practice can take lifetimes! If in previous incarnations our jiiva has done the prep work, then in this life itself, moksha may be ours. However, that the goal may be not attainable in this life does not mean we ought not to strive for it. What is more, it can transform our daily living. The 'Is-ness' which we glimpse in our advanced meditations helps to draw us ever onward on our spiritual quest. What, though, might be expected if we are one of those rare and blessed individuals who can establish fully in yoga, the union of the Self? This will be taken up next.