Adventures in Advaita Vedanta, the philosophy and science of spirit. We are one you and I; are you curious why?..


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Burn Ignorance

Hari OM
'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.

Having pointed out the nature of triputi - dRshta, darshana, dRshya (seer, seeing, seen) - and building the understanding that the knower and the known are one and the same, the following shloka goes on to emphasise that the meditator becomes the Knowledge and that, therefore, the 'knowing' becomes redundant.

@vmaTmar[aE Xyanmwne stt< k&te,
%idtavgitJvala svaR}aneNxn< dhet!.42.
Evamaatmaarnau dhyaanamathane satatam kRte,
Uditaavagatijvaalaa sarvaajnaanendhanam dahet ||42||
Thus, when the lower and the higher aspects of the Self are churned together, the fire of Knowledge which is generated shall burn down all the fuel of ignorance.

Ignorance is destroyed by the presence of knowledge. Once we know something, we can no longer claim ignorance. Here, BrahmakaravRtti - the Knowledge of Self - which arrives after sitting in contemplation and meditation, churning over all the 'book' knowledge ensures that the very state of 'ignorance' will itself be destroyed. This is the Knowledge beyond which no other knowledge is to be found. All ignorance is destroyed.

It's a big statement, but one which is reiterated throughout the shaastra. This is not a philosophy which postulates endless theory without proof; it provides the means and tools to carry out the necessary researches and 'experiments' which, if applied rigorously, and within the given parameters, is provable to all who embark upon it. Spiritual seekers must be detective, scientist, logician, and devotee; they must have stamina, determination and a desperate need to know the Truth of truths. It is a rare few who can reach the pinnacle of these searches, but there is much to be gained along the way, so nothing is ever lost.

The imagery used in this shloka makes reference to the ancient system of generating a flame to light one's cooking fire; placing a stick into a socket in another piece of wood and then turning the first at great speed and with strength and patience. Usually, a small wad of wool or cotton, or similar combustible fuel is placed in the socket or very close by, to which the flame can be transferred. Eventually, friction will result in heat, smoke and then a spark of fire. Knowledge/Higher Self, here, is the stick, ignorance/lower self is the cup and 'starter fuel'. Knowledge is rubbed hard against ignorance in order to remove it, the way the flame will quickly consume the starter fuel. The Self is used to destroy the ego self. Once gone that fuel - ignorance/ego - cannot return. It disappears in a puff of smoke! It is likely that Bhashya-kaara utilised his understanding of the Kaivalyopanishad for when writing this. Shloka 11 of that text reads;

"Making the Self the lower fire stick and Aum the upper fire stick,  through repeated friction causing the heat of knowledge,  a wise man burns up his bonds."

This verse describes the sustained burning away of ignorance as a decision and commitment. The wise one,  after having cognised the existence of the Absolute,  will willingly experience again and again the heat caused by the friction of increasing knowledge and understanding as it rubs against the till-now-accepted bonds of ignorance and desire
Significantly, each encountered experience of the heat of truth replacing ignorance, strengthens the courage and clarifies will.

In reaching for the Truth. one has to stand alone in the face of judgements by others who are still based in duality.  Gaining the faith to let go of one's delusions gives rise to the heat of battle in overcoming uncertainty.  The wise will have made a decision to disregard fear and doubt to gain the Truth. The bonds of desire are burnt away by the constant struggle towards the light of the Absolute Self, or God.

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