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


Here is a place to linger, to let your intellect roam. Aatmaavrajanam is being written as a progressive study and, as such, can be read like a book. Anyone arriving at any time can simply start at the very first post and work their way through at their own pace. Please take time to read the info tabs and ensure you don't miss a post, by subscribing to the blog. Interaction is welcomed. Don't be a spectator - be a participator!

Word Contemplations; J

Hari Om
Monday is AUM-day; in search of meditation

These articles first appeared on Yamini-amma's personal blog. They were designed to promote deeper thinking on values, personal growth, Vedantic understanding - and to prompt conversation. Use them for contemplation either before or after your regular meditative practice. 

Jiiva …

...d'ya know, there are some twenty-six (yes - 26) entries for jiiva in the shabdkoshaH (dictionary)? I hadn't actually counted them before, despite knowing it was one of those (many) words in the Sanskrit tongue which has multiple meanings and nuance. It is such a contextual language. I am tempted, now, to leave this and wait till next year to explore all the twenty-six. I won't, though. With only a few exceptions, for purposes here and in the English connection, they all relate to one thing.

The soul.

Specifically, the individualised soul. The essence of 'beingness' that is not measurable by any scientific instrument. This is necessary to know because there is also the Aatman, the Universal Soul, from which the individual as splintered. This was mentioned in the first post (see sidebar for post links). The Biblical way of putting this is that we were made in God's image. There's a slight problem with that because the tendency is to consider it refers to our physical appearance. It makes of 'God' a physical being… Jiiva and Aatman are not physical - at least not grossly so. They are of the subtlest level of physical it is possible to be. Think Higgs' Boson and beyond. Beyond Higgs' Boson? - but that took forever to prove was not a fantasy!

That's the point exactly. It took great dedication, belief in the process of discovery, faith in the existence of what could not be seen. With all research of existing knowledge applied, with exposition and hypothesis based on proven formulae, it was possible for the Boson to be posited as a 'likely particle.'

The great minds of misted-aeons past, those mighty Rsis of the Sanskrit tradition, applied precisely the same rigourous intellectual and logical approach to assessing the nature of the human being and what might be the purpose of a life wherein we were given the gift to think at all. Their skill and standard of meditation, of union with That from which all emerges, has rarely been replicated. Some saints and sages have come close, though. They have done so by following the guidance of those Rsis - yes, including those of Christian, and other faiths.

Those who are prepared to sit in true communion with their jiiva cannot help but understand that it is a fraction of the Aatman - whether they use these names or not.

This is by no means an easy task. Most of us are far too busy engaging with the ego part of our antaH-karana**. We are 'getting on with life.' Many will say, that there is no requirement for philosophy, a spiritual anchor to live life. However, it is actually necessary to have a philosophy in order to live life, even if that philosophy is of the Charvaka ('food, drink, women') or the Atheism ('there is nothing') category. Make no mistake, these are philosophies, for they make statements about the nature of life and how it is to be lived by those who subscribe to them.

All philosophies are valid to their adherents. None of them, however, can negate the fact that the jiiva is present within us to drive us to consider the nature of existence. In the case of the Charvaka, spirit is seen as being the same as ego. No effort is made to enquire further, as the physical life has too much hold. The Atheist will state that 'there is no God' with the same fervour and vehemence as the fundamentalist Bible-thumper or the Qu'ran Crusader. By inference, it is considered that there is no 'spirit.' That same Atheist will walk in nature and talk of it with awe and respect, sit with a pet and feel the bond of love, and feel compassion for their fellow human-being and not understand that this very connection they are feeling is the jiiva within them. Their attachment to these things - as is the case for all of us - will come from the ego; how they view and talk about these things will come from manas; how they justify their feelings comes from buddhi; how they commit these things to long-term memory and relate to them in history comes from chitta.

Denying something does not mean it doesn't exist, it merely means that it does not exist for me at this time. This can be because we have not yet had the experience of it, or have no desire for that experience. Either way, we ALL have jiiva, from the rocks through the plants and animals, to we critters at the top of the evolutionary tree. The scientist will cry 'but there are checks and measures for everything, and all can be explained.' This is true… till the point where we cannot currently measure. 'There is no Great Creator!'… but I get ahead of myself... 

** The antaH-karana is the mental capacity, made up of four components.
Ahangkaara - the ego, individual sense of self
Manas - the mind, as in the flow of thoughts
Buddhi - the intellect, as in the assessor and adjudicator
Chitta - the container of the individual's history, for this life and other existences

Where does jiiva sit, then? Aatman is the Universal Consciousness and the Jiiva is the 'beam' - there are countless beams and they settle upon the material bodies. Only the human being can be conscious of this consciousness; that still, small voice which is the witness to all else which goes on in life. Not all humans are necessarily able to perceive this consciousness. (It is not, note, the same thing as physical consciousness, but an awareness beyond the purely material.)

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