'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.
This next shloka gives one of the great and classic analogies used to explain adhyaropa-vada, the erroneous perception of something by superimposition something else.
Swa[aE pué;vd-æaNTya k&ta äüi[ jIvta,
jIvSy taiÅcke êpe tiSmNd&:qe invtRte.45.
Sthaanau purushavad-bhraantyaa kRtaa brahmani jiivataa,
Jiivasya taattvike ruupe tasmin-dRshte nivartate ||45||
Just as a post appears to be a ghost, Brahman appears to be a jiiva because of ignorance. The egocentric individuality is destroyed when the real nature of the jiiva is realised as the Self.
The analogy itself is not so difficult to comprehend, perhaps; the concept it represents is still a slippery customer though! If you have been keeping up with the reading and the required level of contemplation after each teaching, then it will not seem quite such a stretch.
In our current era of 'rationality', the concept of ghost may not be the most adequate description here. However, it is not so difficult to think about those moments we get caught out thinking there is someone standing before us in the dark when walking round a corner to get to the bus stop or the parked car… only to find it was a signpost or a shrub!
Really? That hasn't happened to you? What about those nights in winter when you are putting out the garbage cans and, thinking about other things are distracted, then you turn round and jump from fright at the 'body' behind you. For a split second you forget that you had pulled the recycling bin out too. In that briefest of moments, you truly thought there was someone lurking and all your defences came alive. Are you catching the drift of this? Just about everybody, at one time or more, experiences this phenomena of thinking there is a person before them and it turns out to be a hunk of metal or a small tree.
In delusion alone can we imagine and recognise that item (the 'post') to be another being (the 'ghost'). Philosophically, the important thing to note now is that it is the NON-apprehension of the post-item which, however briefly, causes the MIS-apprehension of there being a person-ghost.
Moving this concept along we are then asked to understand that Aatman (here called Brahman), the Single True Self, is the substratum item which we do not apprehend and therefore, through erroneous projection and ignorance of that Truth of Existence, apprehend nothing but false existences. As splinters of that True Self we are aware of other 'selves' and spin and wind them around our own version of reality, become ever more attached to our bodies and, indeed, those other 'bodies'. This shloka, then, is describing to us that what we think of as 'the world' is entirely of our own creation because as the True Self, we have somehow become distracted and lost sight of our truth.
However, if we do the work advised to us in philosophy, just as the person-ghost will drop away as our knowledge of the actual post-item reasserts itself, so too the world will drift away from our deluded selves and the Truth of our Solitary Self will at last be revealed. It will be akin to waking from a dream. Whilst in the dream, we are inclined to take it for real. Only on waking do we know it to be false. Only by recognising the truth of the post can the deluded one recover from the angst of seeing the ghost. Only by working to see the Self Alone can we remove the delusion of plurality. The way to do this is to end the ego.