Advaita (Not two); Oneness, the Essence of Wisdom of the Upanishads
This page is intended for people with a logical mind and not for those with unreasonable beliefs.
The aim of this page is to outline the basics of ancient Eastern thought, coded in the Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita.
Advaita means 'one-ness', or 'not separate into two'. The term 'Advaita' is used here purely based on the meaning of this word. What is important is the idea, not the word. 'Vedanta' can also be used. This knowledge is quite ancient. Many of the early ideas developed in ancient times in the East were converted into Sanskrit verses and preserved in the Upanishads. The basic assumption of this philosophy comes from a golden rule which has been preserved in the Isavasya Upanishad:
'Isavasyam idam sarvam'
Meaning Isam (the One God) is present here and everywhere.
Nothing exists separate from the One God, because God is present everywhere.
A religious study is not attempted in this page. A lot of myths have come into existence in course of time, and one has to steer clear of them. Many Gods and Goddesses are worshipped, and the One God has been almost forgotten. Intelligence and freedom of thought has been largely replaced by fanaticism, pointless rituals, hysteria and silly stories, and anyone daring to think otherwise is discouraged. This page gives an entirely different view.
evam paramparaprapthamimam rajarshayo vidu: sa kalaneha mahatha yogo nashta: paramthapa [Bhagavad Gita, chapter 4, verse 2]]
Those great men of ancient times, for generations, knew this yoga or knowledge. This knowledge became lost across the long ages.
Popular misconceptions about Vedanta
Myth 1 : Vedanta teaches that the world is 'non-existent' and 'illusionary'. That what we see is 'false'.
Answer : That line of thinking is an off-shoot from Sri Sankaracharyar's ideas, nowadays popularly called 'Advaita Vedanta'. But Vedantic thought is very ancient, even before the Upanishadic time. Vedanta does not teach that the world is 'non-existent'. Instead, ancient wisdom warns that if you try to throw away everything and escape, you will be neither 'here' nor 'there'. Vedanta gives you strength to face your problems, not run away from them. It teaches that, to reach God, you will have to go through this world properly, and not away from it.
Myth 2 : Vedanta teaches that God is just a consciousness. It says that God has no mind of It's own.
Answer : That is confusion due to poor understanding. Vedanta teaches that the Supreme Soul has Universal Consciousness. Not having a 'body' or 'brain' like us is NOT a limitation for God. God is All-Powerful.
Myth 3 : Vedanta is very difficult. It is fit for scholars only.
Answer : God's presence is best felt among good people, not scholars. Vedanta is easy to grasp, but the balance is difficult to implement in practical life if one does not have a devotion to God. And most knowledge comes from corroboration within oneself, if one is on the right track.
The Three Factors in the Universe
1.Aksharatheetha (Also called Iswara, Isam, Paramathma (Supreme Soul), Purushothama, One God.
2.Akshara (Also called Brahma, Avyaktha, Sath(=true-stuff), Paraprakrithi)
3.Kshara (The perishable or changing matter. (Also called Asath)
Yet these three factors are same in a unique way. The how of it is explained in the following sections.
Iswara, Brahma and the perishable world are well explained, as Aksharatheetha, Akshara and Kshara respectively in the Bhagavad Gita and Upanishads. It is said that Akshara or the Cosmic Body has been "manifest" from the One God, and so Akshara exists in the One God and is part and parcel of it. Everything in the perishable material world exists in Akshara and is part and parcel of it. This shows how all the three factors are actually the same, and at the same time explains why these factors are supposed to be distinct from each other. The verses imply that the whole universe is alive, because the One God pervades everything.
The word Brahma means 'to grow' or 'to expand' or 'to swell'. It indicates the present state of the True-Stuff of the universe. This expansion is the character or guna of the Brahma. But Iswara is above all gunas. Brahmanda (=Brahma-egg) is considered to be the pre expansion state of Brahma at the beginning of creation of the universe.
Akshara (Brahma) is everywhere and is indestructible by any material means. (Ekam sath = The True-Stuff is One)
The subtle distinctions between Aksharatheetha (One God) and Akshara are to be understood well. Some more important verses of the Bhagavad Gita and the Upanishads are given in the page The Upanishadic idea of the Stuff of the universe - verses from the Bhagavad Gita.
The Supreme Soul
From the Bhagavad Gita
na jayathe mriyathe va kathachith nayam bhuthua bhavitha va na bhuya:
ajo nithya: shashwathohayam purano na hanyathe hanyamane shareere [Chapter 2, verse 20]
That Supreme Soul or Paramathma or Iswara was never ever born, nor does It die. And since It is now, it does not mean that It will not be. That Soul is unborn, is always, forever, and ancient also. As the (human) body is killed, It is not killed.
dehi nithyamavadhyohayam dehe sarvasya bharatha
thasmath sarvani bhuthani na thwam shochithumarhasi [Chapter 2, verse 30]
This Being in all these bodies (Soul) is everlasting and cannot be killed. So you are not supposed to be sorrowful about any of these creatures.
anthavantha ime deho nithyasyoktha: shareerina:
anashinohaprameyasya thasmath yudhasya bharatha [Chapter 2, verse 18]
The bodies of all these people have an ending in the future, it is said. But these bodies have their being in That body, the Cosmic Body or Brahma, which is imperishable, is always (not limited by past, present or future), and cannot be recorded (documented). So, do your duty.
avyakthadeeni bhuthani vyakthamadhyani bharatha
avyakthanidhananyeva thathra ka paridevana? [Chapter 2, verse 28]
These creatures or bodies are Avyaktha (unclear, in Brahma) at the beginning (before birth), they become Vyaktha (clear to the senses) at the middle, and again become Avyaktha at the end (after death). In this, why lament?
avyakthohakshara ithyukthasthamahu: paramam gathim yam prapya na nivarthanthe thadhathma paramam mama [chapter 8, verse 21]
This avyaktha is said to be akshara (Brahma), the final destination of all bodies. What reaches does not come back. That is my great body or abode.
brahmano hi prathishtahamamrithasyavyayasya cha sashwathasya cha dharmasya sukhasyaikanthikasya cha [chapter 14, verse 27]
I (Iswara) am the basis or seat of the imperishable Brahma, the everlasting dharma (course of right action), and definitely of all joy.
From Isavasya Upanishad
yastu sarvani bhutanyatmanyevanupasyati
sarvabhutesu catmanam tato na vijugupsate
The person who indeed clearly perceives all creatures and objects in the Athma (Soul) only, and in all creatures and objects the Athma (Soul), do not (cannot) wish or want concealment.
swabhavameke kavayo vadanthi kalam thadhanye parimuhyamana: devasyaisha mahima thu loke yenedam bhramyade brahmachakram
Many intelligent people say that the world happened due to the character or disposition of the Supreme Soul. Some say time is the reason. But none of those intelligent people do comprehend, they are all under illusion. The reason for the world and the rotation of the wheel of Brahma is the Glory of the Supreme Soul.
Sarvajeeve sarvasamsthe brihanthe asmin hamso bhramyathe brahmachakra prithagathmanam preritharam cha mathwa jushtasthathasthenamrithathwamethi
This massive wheel of Brahma is pervaded by the Supreme Soul, the Immense One, which is the Cause of all, and the Life of all, and the Base of all. It assumes that It is separate for a while (as the various manifest beings) before being welcomed back by Itself to enjoy It's immortality.
Some more verses which help in understanding the concept of Brahma, is placed at The Upanishadic idea of the Stuff of the universe - verses from the Bhagavad Gita
The essence of the Vedas
The word meaning of Veda is knowledge.
1. Rigveda - from Ithereya upanishad
Prajnanam Brahma: Inherent knowledge is Brahma.
Prajnane prathishtitham prajnanethro loka: prajna prathishta prajnanam Brahma is the verse.
Prajnanam means inherent knowledge. It is the Soul Itself. Everything rests in prajnanam or inherent knowledge, prajananam is the whole world, prajnanam is Brahma.
There are three types of knowledge - jnanam, vijnanam and prajnanam. Jnanam is learned knowledge, Vijnanam is proper understanding of the learned knowledge put into practice with skill, and Prajnanam is inherent knowledge. When one gets true knowledge (jnanam), it slowly becomes understanding, by which we automatically begin to walk the path (vijnanam). This is not a smooth process, problems surface about our understanding and we may be forced to retrace our steps many times. But in this process, inherent knowledge (prajnanam) about our true selves correlate with vijnanam and begin to surface. Prajnanam is not learned from outside, instead, it surfaces from inside.
2. Samaveda - from Chandogya upanishad
Tat twam Asi: That is you.
The search for God culminates in this vision within.
3. Yajurveda - from Brihadaranyaka upanishad
Aham Brahmasmi: I am Brahma.
The perishable I (the body, mind and intellect) exist in the infinite Cosmic Body or the Brahma.
4. Atharvaveda - from Mandukya upanishad
Ayam Atma Brahma: This Atma is Brahma.
The Atma or Soul, or the One God pervading in each and every individual living being, is equated with the infinite Cosmic Body or the Brahma.
The trinity derived from Old Wisdom
The trinity derived symbolically from the three factors of the Upanishads:
1. Vishnu, stable and eternal. The Father described in the Bhagavad Gita.
2. Brahma, the One who has come forth from Vishnu. The cradle of creation of all objects in the perishable world. The Holy Avyaktha (unclear) stuff.
3. Siva, the Kshara or perishing and renewing world.
What makes us believe that we are only the perishable body?
Man cannot perceive either the One God, or It's Cosmic Body, the Brahma. This is because there is access outside through only five sense organs, and perception only through the intellect. And there are also two strong Blocks binding the mind strongly to the body - 1. The block of Pain - pleasure. 2. The block of Likes - Dislikes. These are caused by akshara (paraprakrithi), with it's inherent three gunas (characters), namely sathwa, rajas and thamas.
Maya does not mean that what man perceives of the world is nonexistent. Maya just means that man is not seeing the whole truth but only a small part of it; and even parts of the truth that he perceives is not in the correct way. Illusion is different from non-existence. For example, for all practical reasons, the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. If it doesn't, all life on earth would end. Yet we know that the sun does not rise in the east, it is only an illusion, the earth rotates round its own axis and goes round the sun instead. Once we comprehend something, our perception changes accordingly.
daivee hiesha gunamayee mama maya durathyaya
mameva ye prapadyanthe mayametham tharanthi the [Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 7, verse 14]
This Maya of Mine, made up of the three gunas, is indeed difficult to cross over, but those who take refuge in Me (the Universal Soul), they cross over this.
Priesthood and God-Men
A knowledgeable society will neither support nor encourage priesthood. This is because every individual will be perceived to be equally in Iswara. There will be no scope for middle-men. That is why the Advaitic concept has never been favored by any established religion or priest.
At the most a teacher may be needed, that is all.
yamimam pushpitham vacham pravadanthyavipashchitha:
vedavadaratha: partha nanyadastheeni vadina: [Chapter 2, verse 42]
kamathmana: swargapara janmakarmabhalapratham
kriyavisheshabahulam bhogaishwaryagathim prathi [Chapter 2, verse 43]
vyavasayathmika budhi: samadhau na vidheeyathe [Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 2, verse 44]
Uncomprehending, unwise people utter and discuss flowery words from the various religious texts, bragging that there is nothing else. People who are full of desires, who believe in heaven as the goal, people who believe in rebirth and an assortment of special activities as the rewards for their actions, people who believe in the attainment of pleasures and riches as most important, people with such stolen minds, cannot be steady in intellect to firmly stay in the truth.
A true teacher will always encourage his students to find their way to the One God. He will never encourage others to pray to him. Therefore, if a person comes and tells you - "I am God, bow before me", rest assured. Whatever strength of intellect that person might have, he still lacks knowledge about himself and others.
maya thadamidam sarvam jagadavyakthamoorthina mathsthani sarvabhoothani na chaham theshwavasthitha [Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 9, verse 4]
This total Universe is pervaded by Me through Avyaktha (Akshara); all beings everywhere exist in Me, but I do not dwell in them.
We are all in God, but God is not limited to within us.
avyaktham vyakthimapannam manyanthe mamabudhaya: param bhavamajanantho mamavyayamanuthamam [Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 7, verse 24]
Foolish people who do not know My Indestructible Nature, Incomparable Greatness, and Supreme Position in the universe, they think of Me who is not even ever clear to the senses, as a mere human or form.
If you are seeing the One God who is everywhere, in a person also, then there is nothing wrong. But if you are seeing a person as God, then you have got everything wrong.
Way of life of the knowledgeable person
Advaita's teaching is two fold - It first teaches that everything in our 'kshara' world is utterly insignificant (completely time-bound and space-bound, that too very short and small), including ourselves (even if one is the Most Important Person on earth!). There should be no doubt about this. Thus it teaches us to take our life very lightly and destroys the 'ego'. Even great galaxies die and become nothing. Secondly it teaches us to do every duty with skill and responsibility and be productive to the society, so that we can act one with the Cosmic Body and know true happiness.
For every person, the realization of God should be from within himself. The attempt to find Godliness within oneself needs no priest. It is this attempt that counts for lasting happiness and peace.
Devotion is very important in the pursuit to know the truth and be one with it. Therefore devotion to anything is encouraged so long as it is kept in mind that anything and everything is pervaded by the One God. There are many ways but only ONE final destination. The many great poets of ancient times considered devotion to be the easiest way and actively encouraged it.
A strong sense of devotion to the One God within oneself gives a strong empathy to the true self within, which elevates the person from his usual forages in the perishable world, and helps him live in equanimity, doing his duty according to his dharma.
He knows that only the One God is his own. Everything else, including his body, his relatives, his wealth, all he will have to leave one day. Only the time and manner varies. On the face of it, this knowledge offers the indispensable truth and is fit for strong people only. However there is a lot more positivism in this concept. Actually, nobody is going anywhere. And we all have this eternal being within ourselves.
Therefore, from asking and pestering God for perishable items in the material world, the knowledgeable person associates his true self with the One within, which is everlasting; and stops running after the material world and lives happily, without the twin opposites of either renunciation or greed, performing his duties with devotion.
The Good, the Bad and the One God
In Eastern philosophy, the One God is neither good nor bad. These opposites form the necessary basis for the creation of any social being, the greatest example being man. Iswara is not bound by them.
Dharma is the course of right action. It differs in every living being. The dharma of man is not applicable at all for another life form. For a lion or tiger, the dharma is entirely different. For example, the inherent cruelty in the nature of a lion or tiger cannot be taken as "wrong".
The dharma of man is different from the dharma of a tiger. Man is manifested by the One God as a social being. His inherent nature is therefore good, which is in the nature of the human conscience. Therefore the happy and successful life of man in society depends on these concepts, and it can be taken that the One God favors the collective good in society. That is why it is impossible for an antisocial person to understand Advaitic knowledge. It would be like trying to write with a pencil, on water.
Within the human society, the dharma of a soldier is different from the dharma of a scientist. What is dictated by society holds a strong authority in the dharma of man, as discoursed in the Bhagavad Gita, to the warrior, Arjuna.
Society has a "collective mind", and it may have bad elements, like bad thoughts. In an ignorant society, there will be various religions, laws, police, judiciary, even army, and strict punishments. None of these are to be dishonored. If one feels need for improvements, that person can well try. But here again the dictum appears to be - first obey the law, then try to improve on it. At the same time there is no need to feel fanatic about anything. And all these laws or religion will have imperfections, and they will all point to betterment of oneself rather than more and more external laws.
The joke is that when the ignorant society disregards this arrow to the individual self and goes on making more and more external laws, every one of them will only provide more and more loopholes.
In a knowledgeable society no external law or weapon are required. An example of the latter is the ancient Indus valley civilization.
Actually, every individual is a unique variation, and has his own 'religion' or beliefs. The religion matures with the progress of the individual. This knowledge accommodates all these views.
When a person sees great tragedies and evil, and understands the temporary nature and perishability of this world, and still continues to do his duty for the betterment of society and against evil, with evenness of mind in success and failure by knowing that the rule of the One God is so complete and that he is but only an instrument, that person is called sthithaprajna, the Stable Minded. This state represents the highest level of knowledge in Vedanta.
Renunciation of the world
Since all forms of life are manifestations of Iswara, renunciation is not the way of life. This goes against the person's dharma. Work or karma is a source of happiness. How it is, is explained in the following section on yoga.
1. yoga: karmasu kaushalam [Bhagavad Gita, chapter 2, verse 50]
Yoga is skill in action or duty.
2. yogastha: kuru karmani sangam thyakthwa dhananjaya
sidhyasidhyo: samo bhuthwa samathwam yoga uchyathe [Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 2, verse 48]
Do work or duty disregarding attachment. Whether you are successful in your task or not, stay balanced and be steadfast in yoga. Yoga is this balance, this evenness of mind in success and failure.
karmanye vadhikarasthe ma bhaleshu kathachana
ma karmabhalahethurbhurma the sanghohasthwakarmani [Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 2, verse 47]
You have power only for action. Not even once do you have power to decide the fruits of your endeavors, namely success or failure. So your actions or duty should not be performed keeping in mind these factors. Also, for you, attachment to inactivity or indifference should not happen.
So do your best without worrying about the outcome, says Bhagavad Gita:
Karmajam budhiyuktha hi bhalam thyakthwa maneeshina:
janmabandhanavinirmuktha: padam gachandhyanamayam [Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 2, verse 51]
Those intelligent people, who think about the truth, who perform their duty or endeavor with skill, and with the evenness of mind with regard to success or failure (yogis), become totally freed from the restraints or shackles from birth onwards, and surely reaches the state of no sorrow.
sanyasasthu mahabaho du:khamapthumayogatha:
yogayuktho munirbrahma nachirenadhigachathi. [Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 5, verse 6]
Sanyasa (renunciation, strict control) without yoga is difficult or sorrowful, but those thoughtful people or yogis, doing their duty, quickly become one with or function in union with the Cosmic Body.
Happiness and freedom
Levels of happiness
indriyani paranyahurindriyebhya: param mana: manasasthu para budhiryo budhe: parathasthu sa: [Bhagavad Gita, chapter 3, verse 42]
The sense organs are great or noble, it is said, but more than senses, the mind is great, the intellect is greater or higher than the mind, and the soul or life is greater than the intellect.
1. At the sensual level: Happiness obtained from the senses may be called pleasure. Examples - a beautiful scenery, good food, or a good song.
Happiness at this level has two main drawbacks - 1. It is temporary. 2. It also has a ceiling or limit - any pleasurable sensation is perceived as 'boring' after some time.
2. At the level of the mind: This may be called 'joy', for want of a better term.
All pleasures do not give happiness of mind. Some may lead to profound grief.
vishayendriyasamyogad yat thadagreamrithopamam pariname vishamiva thatsukham rajasam smritham [Bhagavad Gita, chapter 18, verse 38]
The pleasure that arises from contact of the sense organs with the objects, which feels like nectar at first, but is like poison in the end, that happiness is called Rajasic.
People sacrifice some of their pleasures to get happiness of mind. Therefore this level is subtler but stronger than the first.
Happiness at this level is deeply influenced by social norms.
"Peace of mind" is happiness. "Freedom of worry" is happiness. Since mind is receptive, happiness in this level is "being", not "thinking". It is "letting go". If a person is constantly thinking about himself and "worried about being happy", that person can never be happy. People usually have lots of hobbies, likes, friendships, interests and diversions, which make them deeply involved. Joys last longer than pleasures, but they too are not permanent. They also depend much on factors outside - like the situations that people are in, present 'trends', other peoples' views and behavior etc.
Happiness at the first two levels has a trap. In an unstable person, objectives like money, power, and sensual pleasures can create longing-thoughts (sankalpa) about them. This leads to the so called chain of samsara, which is anticipation - disappointment - longing - fulfillment - desire - and when blocked, anger and frustration; when fulfilled, increased longing and anticipation. The tragedy is that such desire and longing (sankalpa) is actually for illusionary happiness, because the happiness that these people crave to get from such things are never worth for so much addiction, painful plotting and suffering. By their deluded mind they also make others suffer.
3. At the level of the intellect: This may be called 'delight', for want of a better term.
Sometimes people find themselves in situations where they have everything in the material world which are perceived in the mind as joys, but still they feel depressed. For normal people, this is because the intellect has identified a problem which the mind declines or dislikes to accept. The mind, in its natural state, always wants to be "free", to "let out of control". But you cannot run away from this problem, therefore you are depressed.
The intellect is the decision making, rational control above the mind. With practice, one can identify thoughts, pick up what is wanted, and wipe out the rest. This clarity of the intellect provides one freedom from worry, and helps decision making. It can be achieved by meditation and concentration.
Solving problems, helping others, sacrifices we make for a better good, doing one's duty with skill, self control, etc. all give rise to delight at the level of the intellect.
We see many great people, willingly undertaking hardships and untold miseries for what they have decided to be a for greater good. Such people are willing to sacrifice their present happiness of mind for happiness at a higher level. Therefore happiness at the level of the intellect is subtler but stronger than happiness of the mind.
yad thadagre vishamiva parinameamritopamam that sukham sathwikam prokthamathmabudhiprasadajam [Bhagavad Gita, chapter 18, verse 37]
That which feels like poison in the beginning, which evolves towards the end to be like nectar; born of happiness due to knowledge and self-realization, that happiness is said to be sathwik (pure).
4. At the level of jeevan (life): When one begins to perceive the 'other' eternal and all-embracing part of oneself, the ego begins to accept the other part also, and the intellect now willingly begins to submit to the jeevan or life, which is the Soul, or Iswara. Submission of the intellect can be made a lot easier by developing a strong devotion to God. At this stage, one may feel an 'Unbecoming' of one's ego. Many people develop a fear at this stage that they would willingly sacrifice everything in the material world in this state of mind, if they go further. But there is no cause for fear, as it does not mean one is to throw away any responsibility, including that to one's own perishable body. The feeling at the fourth level can be called 'bliss', and the happiness is subtler but stronger than at the level of the intellect.
Man is free to be happy at any of these levels. The two things to be borne in mind are 1. That happiness at one level should not conflict with its higher level, and 2. Should not fall into the trap of sankalpa leading to the chain of samsara as explained earlier. If it does, agony is what one gets, instead of happiness.
From the discussion it is evident that man's happiness cannot be judged simply by how much of perishable items he has, such as wealth, friends or relatives, or even his standard of life. No two people will be equal in their happiness even if all their possessions are equal in quantity. We see many people in the grasp of dreaded diseases, yet remaining perfectly peaceful in their life.
Knowledge of happiness gives proof that none of our values has to be ignored, and nothing bad has to be done, to be happy. Knowing the limitations of happiness at various levels give men real freedom. Instead of being slaves to the senses and greed, men become the masters, with strength to control, pick and choose. From animal, man evolves.
Knowledge about happiness can change the hardest of criminals.
In the Upanishadic times, men were not spoken of as good or bad. Instead, they were recognized into two types - the learned and the ignorant.
As a person ages, the pleasures and joys that he had so much relished in childhood would become boring and that person will gradually feel that he cannot enjoy them as he had done in his youth. This is a natural process. What is actually happening is that the person is "growing" to the third and fourth levels of happiness as he ages and becomes more mature. In India, tradition respects older people.
True happiness of the Soul is said to be the highest bliss that any human being in the world can achieve. But the Soul is hidden from the intellect by a multitude of pain-pleasure attachments and like-dislike ties which developed from interaction with the perishable world (kshara), beginning right from birth. Hence, these two are, naturally, the two opposites which we have to outgrow to become one with the Absolute Truth. When the mirror of a person's mind begins to get clear from the dust and dirt of these numerous pain-pleasure attachments and sankalpa, it begins to shine with wisdom, and pure and radiant happiness, reflected from Within. All we have to do is to stop running after pleasures and attachments; relax, and clear the mind...
yohantha:sukhohanthararamasthathantharjyothireva ya: sa yogi brahmanirvanam brahmabhuthohadhigachadhi [Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 5, verse 24]
The one with happiness from Inside, the one who is in union with Inside (Universal Soul), and the one with light (knowledge) from within, that yogi becomes the true manifestation of this base or Brahma, and becomes one, and acts as one, with the Cosmic Body.
bahyasparsheshwasakthathma vindathyathmani yathsukham sa brahmayogayukthathma sukhamakshayamasnuthe [Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 5, verse 21]
Similar to a person who is not bound by outside pleasures but enjoys happiness in the Athma (Universal Soul) within, the person who perceives Brahma in and as every body or thing feels everlasting joy.
The verse correlates with the mahavakya "Satchidananda Brahma", meaning pure, true happiness of mind is Brahma.
The Most Delightful Thing about the Advaita philosophy is that, when you are on the correct path, knowledge which correlates and corroborates with your study comes from within you. That is the real proof that you are on the right track.
Levels of consciousness
ya nisha sarvabhuthanam thasyam jagarthi samyamee
yasyam jagrathi bhuthani saa nisha pashyatho mune [Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 2, verse 69]
To that which is night for all beings, the self-controlled man is awake; that to which all other beings are awake, is night for the sage (muni) who sees.
Jagrad: In this state, both indriyas (senses) and mind are active. We are 'awake' and 'aware' of the changing part of the world (kshara) by these two factors.
Swapna: The state of dreaming. In this state, the indriyas (senses) are asleep, but the mind is partially 'awake' and 'aware'.
Sushupthi: This is the state of deep sleep, in which both Indriyas and mind are fully asleep. We are not 'aware' or conscious.
Thureeyam: This is a state reached by meditation, beyond the awareness of time-space assumptions of the kshara world, and thus being One with the Immortal Part. (Attained not through the senses or the mind. Therefore this state is spoken of as 'unknowable', yet 'attainable'.) It is being One with the Universal Consciousness (the Soul). There is no attachment to the body or to anything pertaining to the Kshara world at this level.
Breaking the Block of Pain
mathrasparshasthu kauntheya sheethoshnasukhadukhada:
aagamapayino:nithiasthamsthithikshaswa bharatha [Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 2, verse 14]
Cold, heat, pleasure and pain happen by the contact of sense organs with their objects. They come and go. They are temporary. Knowing this, you endure them.
Pain is perceived from two sources.
1. Body pain. Body pain is perceived by two faculties - a). the senses and b). the mind. Pain is 'known' only when the senses and the mind are awake.
When the senses sleep there is no pain. (eg. When a sensory nerve is cut off, the area that it innervates can no longer feel pain. Leprosy is also an example. And we all know what happens during local anesthesia)
When the mind sleeps, again there is no pain. (eg. unconsciousness, deep sleep, and the state called thureeyam mentioned before)
2. Mental (emotional) anguish. All emotional pain are of two types - one that comes from fear or apprehension, and the other that comes from sense of loss. In Vedanta, the study about yoga removes fear or apprehension, and study about the Universal Soul of yours removes both the fear and the sense of loss.
Breaking the Block of Dislikes
If a person feels either hatred or enmity to any other person, or if he is averse to any object in the world, he would feel utterly 'baffled' in putting this knowledge to practice. He cannot find God in them. Thus two exercises are important in living with this knowledge. 1. The training to try to rectify the mistakes of another fellow being, without any feeling of hatred or enmity. 2. The training to keep the body clean without aversion to any object.
The importance of these two can never be underestimated and if started from childhood itself, it is more advantageous. For the first, knowledge that the other person is God Itself would be the beginning. When one gives something to another person, he is giving to God. When he helps others, he is offering to God. For the second, aversion to an object is because of its relation to the perishable human body, and this knowledge will suffice. The 'bad object' is either an unwanted substance to the body, or harmful to it. This is a subjective feeling with relation to the human body, as we find millions of microorganisms feeding on even the most 'deplorable' substances. But at the same time one is not encouraged to neglect the protection to the human body, but is required to keep it clean, as it is the temple of God.
Idam shareeram kauntheya kshethramithyabhidheeyathe edadyo vethi tham prahu: kshethrajna ithi thadwida: [Bhagavad Gita, chapter 13, verse 1]
This body is the Temple of God, it is said. The one who knows, that person is called kshethrajna (One with knowledge of the temple) by the wise.
Breaking the Block of Sankalpa
sankalpaprabhavan kamamsthyakthwa sarvanasheshatha: manasaivendriyagramam viniyamya samanthatha:
shanei: shaneiruparameth budhya drithigraheethaya athmasamstham mana: krithwa na kimchithapi chinthayeth [Bhagavad Gita, chapter 6, verses 24,25]
Letting go all desires arising from sankalpa (enticing thoughts about material pleasures), and using the mind to completely control the sense organs, let the person, with his firm intellect, make the mind established in his self (Soul). Thus little by little, let him separate the mind from the material objects. Let him not think of anything.
Iswara and Brahma - significance of perception
Knowledge about the Soul enables a person to endure any suffering, disease and death, with strength and equanimity. Life cannot be explained away easily as 'for pleasure', or 'for play'. It is said that knowledge about the Soul burns away all fear, as fire burns away dry leaves.
yada bhuthaprithagbhavamekasthamanupasyathi thada eva cha vistharam brahma sampadyathe thada [Bhagavad Gita, chapter 13, verse 30]
When a person perceives all different manifestations or bodies (inanimate or living) and himself residing in one (Brahma), and from that one (Brahma) itself, the person perceives expansion or differentiation of all these bodies also, then that person becomes one with the Cosmic Body or Brahma itself.
Ihaiva thairjitha: sarggo yesham samye sthitham mana: nirdosham hi samam brahma thasmath brahmani the sthitha: [Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 5, verse 19]
Here, those men whose mind perceive sameness in everything, they have won in their life, because what is Equal, Without Blemish, is Brahma, therefore they become part of and reside in Brahma.
thatha: param brahmaparam brihantham yatha nikayam sarvabhutheshu gudam vishwasyaikam pariveshtitharamisam tham jnathwamritha bhavanthi [From Shwethashwatharopanishad]
Isam (One God) is greater than the kshara and greater and nobler than the Brahma. It is in all beings yet resides in them secretly, pervades all and encompasses the universe from all sides. True knowledge about this Being makes any person immortal.
Yada pashya: pashyathe rukmavarnam kartharamisam purusham brahmayonim thada vidwan punyapape vidhuya niranjana: paramam samyamupaithi [From Mundakopanishad]
The learned person who accurately perceives this golden, all powerful Isam (Soul), and It's birth canal (cradle) for everything which is the Brahma, that person becomes detached and goes beyond even all sin and virtue, and reaches the absolute sameness in everything, the One God.
The Upanishadic idea of the Stuff of the universe - verses from the Bhagavad Gita
The Physics page - Stuff and style of the universe - an attempt to explain the enigmas in Physics
C Radhakrishnan's Home Page
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Page written and compiled by Dr. Gopal K.R., Kochi, India.