'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.
What is to be expected of one who has crossed samsaara?
Ghathastha-diipa-vachchhashvad-antareva prakaashate ||51||
The Self-abiding jikvanmukta, relinquishing all his attachments to the fleeting joys of the world and satisfied with the bliss derived from the Aatman, shines inwardly like a lamp placed in a jar.
A jiivanmukta is a person still in living body who has attained the highest spiritual goal, Union with Self; he who has withdrawn his consciousness entirely from all BMI identification. This man of Realisation will, naturally, not be conscious of objects, variety of feelings or arrays of ideas.
To the one who is now at one with Self, there is nothing but the Self to illumine. When the Self-Effulgent Truth has nothing else other than Itself to illumine in its own Infinite Glory, how will it exist? This is the conundrum which comes to every student of Vedanta, especially in early stages whilst still wrangling with the concepts of the philosophy from the current, limited view. Indeed some advanced students even struggle and there are those who claim that this realisation cannot occur whilst the body remains. However, there have been plenty of Masters over the years who have been present and contributed to society, even whilst being in the state of Realisation.
The condition of the pure Consciousness, when it has no other object to be conscious of except the Self, is beautifully presented to us here. When a lamp is lit and put on a table, its glowing illumination plays upon the surfaces of the various objects in the room and in varying degrees of intensity. As soon as that lighted lamp is lowered into a pot or jar, the light of the lamp must come to illumine only the inner space of the jar (the analogy here is of a clay item, not glass as we may think in modern terms).
In the same manner, Consciousness, while playing through the equipments of our BMI, gets reflected upon the objects of the world and we see them as being separate entities because of this; but when we have withdrawn the Consciousness from the vehicles (the indriyaanis) and into Itself, It can illumine only Itself. The pot does not cease to exist, but the lamp within continues to burn. The lamp is not concerned about the pot, though, and if it were to drop away, the lamp still would burn. Consciousness, the Light of Existence, is present, whether or not there is a pot/body in which to shine. At no time, however, can the pot/body exist inside the lamp/consciousness. This is the subtlety of the philosophical example. When it is spoken of that there is withdrawal, it is not to be taken literally as being deep within… it is actually 'without' also, for the consciousness, like the light, is pervasive; unlike the light (and here is the limitation of analogy), Consciousness is all-pervasive. It pervades all, but nothing pervades It. At the moment of Self-Realisation, the final experience when the Consciousness comes to illumine the within, that experience is of an Infinite, All-pervading, subtlest of the subtle, ever-effulgent Self, of the nature of Pure Awareness. This is the depth of this shloka. It is explored a little more in the next.