'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 shloka last week was said to be 'shravanam', an instruction given out by the Guru, that the shishya is expected to listen attentively too. By taking in the essence of the teaching in that given instruction, the student must attend to further study and consideration of the subject. This is 'mananam' - contemplation.
degaNyTvaÚ me jNmjrakaZyRlyady>,
zBdaidiv[yE> s'gae inirNÔytya n c.32.
Dehaanyatvaanna me janma-jaraakaarshyala-yaadayaH,
shabdaadivinayaiH sango nirindrayatayaa na cha ||32||
I am other than the body and so I am free from the changes such as birth, aging, senility, death and so on. I have nothing to do with the sense objects such as sound and taste, for I am without these sense organs.
The shishya has been learning that everything which can be perceived, including his or her own thoughts, are external to the True Self, our natural state of being. Through the teaching thus far it has been established that there is an eternal 'substratum' upon which all else is placed. In the preceding shloka, the Guru asked of the student to pay attention to what had been taught and get serious in saadhana and begin to apply the theory in practice. Therefore, in this shloka, we 'hear' the shishya beginning the process. REMEMBER - YOU ARE THE 'SHISHYA! Don't just read and close; make it real.
Yes indeed, and here we are given the biggest clue as to how to begin the negation of the pluralistic existence. We can only undertake this level of contemplation if we have worked our way steadily through all the novice training, asked our questions, cleared our doubts and so forth. It is not that all doubts will be gone, but certainly any which remain will be very much more specific to Vedantic enquiry. All extraneous, mundane, worldly 'interferences' will have been largely removed by the time we are ready for this advanced level of thinking upon the Pure Self. Our questions will have moved from general 'faqs' to dedicated and pertinent inquiry.
As you sit in your next period of contemplation, you are to consider the points given above, from your own perspective. Being in Sanskrit, the lot is given at once, as well us giving the impression this can all be done at once. Not the case. Whilst the text must necessarily flow onwards and keep piling up the activity (as you will see), the actual practice is a much slower process and requires that each part falls into place before moving on to the next. The mind can certainly entertain the lot in one go, but the intellect and - most importantly - the spirit require much deeper analysis and inculcation.
Therefore, for practical saadhana, start with the physical level "I am not this body". Keep on keeping on in daily contemplation until there is a point where, even if it is only for a few seconds initially, there is a suspension of body-awareness. Don't get over-excited, keep at the practice, but now, when those moments come more readily and for longer periods of time, it is possible to move into the slightly more esoteric contemplation, that as the body is not 'me', neither can the changes which are wrought upon the physical being be 'me'. Keep on keeping on with this contemplation until such time as it makes sense and is fully accepted by your whole individual self. Then the next step, separation of that individual self with the experiences which come from the physical. This is the suggestion - nay, the instruction - which has been given to us and which we must carry out if we are seriuos seekers of Self Realisation.
Are you ready? Begin!