Do we no know our own Self? Why do we really need Self Knowledge? What is the context of Atma Bodha or self knowledge ?
We exist but we do not know our self – adequately.
We are a combination of consciousness and inert matter both. This consciousness is called Atma. The inert matter is called Anatma.
Atma and Anatma are in existence from times immemorial both at individual or micro level and at the universe or macro level. Atma is the underlying consciousness which is a single entity, pervading all through the universe, in and out.
Anatma expresses itself as the gross, subtle and causal Universes at macro level. At micro level, Anatma manifests as the gross, subtle and causal bodies of individuals. The Micro level gross, subtle and causal bodies take birth from the gross, subtle and causal Universes respectively periodically and dissolve back into them. The Macro and micro levels both have Sristi Sthithi and Layam processes.
What comes in time has to dissolve and go back in time.
Because the gross, subtle and causal bodies are tangible and are constantly entering into various actions and transactions and changes – our identification is with this Sareera thrayam. Atma, which is invisible, though all pervading, is beyond tangibility for our five senses and mind. Therefore it not in our experience at all. But, this said, though beyond our normal experience, we are the Unchanging, all pervading Atma and not the ever changing, limited existence of Anatma.
Maya representing the Anatma has both Avarana Sakthi and Vikshepa Sakthi. It envelops us and deludes us in varieties of ways. The reader can read three ancient stories on how Maya deludes us in two of the earlier Blog Posts.
We go through birth after birth, life after life, being tossed between various dualities like happiness and unhappiness, friendship and enmity, health and ill-health and so on. No one alive can avoid these dualities. Their very nature is that the seeds of one are contained in the seeds of the other. Each of them is limited by time and space – and is finite in nature. This means that a period of happiness has seeds of sorrow growing within it and it is bound to throw you into a period of sorrow which again will be finite and will throw you back into a period of happiness. A period of health has seeds of ill health growing within it. Day has seeds of night growing within it. Every aspect of life like this comes bundled with its opposite. As we see in economics, boom and depression follow each other alternatingly. You can’t aspire for one – without inviting the other also. The quest of man has always been for permanent happiness, permanent health, and so on. We want only the positive without its negative aspect. But, unfortunately, both are coming bundled together. The nature of all Anatma is like this. Why so? The entire Anatma is subject to the cycle of sristi (Creation), sthithi (sustenance / growth) and layam(destruction / dissolution).
Anatma, which is not us, is one which we experience every moment. Atma, which is what we really are, is beyond all experience. It is like the eye – which can see every thing else, but cannot see itself. We need liberation from all experiences – to know our self and to understand that all that can be experienced is outside our self and is Anatma.
The Self cannot be experienced but can be identified with, with total self knowledge.
Atma is all pervading in the Universe of Anatma. While Anatma is inert (Jadam), Atma is Chaitanyam or Consciousness. Atma is all pervading, ever existing, ever bliss in itself, ever the same and never changing, totally action-free, and is the innate consciousness.
This means, that each human being also is Atma plus Anatma. If one identifies with Anatma, which is usual and widely prevalent because of Maya, one goes through the cycles of birth, sustenance and death continuously. Between birth and death, the bodies experience pleasure, pain, happiness, sorrow and all dualities of life.
This is because of Chidhabhasa, which provides our Intellect with a reflected consciousness, from Atma, the original consciousness. This reflected consciousness can act as the one implement available to us in our intellect, with which we can identify the true nature of Anatma and Atma, and finally identify our self with the real self, the Atma.
Identify with the Jadam (inert maya) or identify with the Chaitanya atma – This is the choice. Self Knowledge or Atma Jnanam enables you to choose the latter while lack of it shrouds you in Maya. Maya’s powers of Avarana and Vikshepa create in us all dualities of life and emotions like, desire, anger, greed, lust, pride, enmity and fear and so on – which make us run after all sorts of things in the Maya.
Buddha says – we are constantly endeavoring to create and surround our self with huge debris (which includes house, wealth, spouse, children and so on) – until finally we are reduced to debris our self. All things come from debris and go back into it.
This – is Maya.
The effort of Atma Bodha is to give us Jnana chakshu or eyes of wisdom – with the help of which, we can see our true self – see beyond Maya, separate the debris from the self and live on forever as Sath – Chith – Aananda Atma (Brahman).Now, with this context, Vs.63 continues :
What do they signify? Both Brahman and Jagath do exist in a way. Jagath comes from Brahman, gets sustenance from Brahman and dissolves back into Brahman.
We cannot see the same thing in the same way, a second time in Jagath – even a split second later. Jagath is therefore called Mithya. So, in an absolute and in a relative sense, nothing really exists (even for a moment) in the same way in the universe. You cannot see the same spouse a second time (in the same way). You and the spouse have both changed tremendously – to merit the tag – same. This is Jagath, this is Anatma.
Anatma is like that. In reality, Brahman is the only unchanging fact, the only Sath. Anatma, which comes from Atma and goes back into it – is like a mirage in the desert.
From a distance, because of sunlight reflecting on the sand, to our eyes, the reflection of sun light looks like a water source. When we go near, the same sun light makes it clear that it is a mere mirage with no truth in it.
Likewise, Only Atma shines forth in us. Only sun shines in the desert. Whatever else looks like shining is an untruth, a Mithya, like a mirage.
The crux of Advaitha philosophy is precisely this. The Jagath exists – and yet does not exist away from Brahman. It exists as Mithya, ever changing and never the same, having taken birth from Atma and going back to the same. Existing means consciousness. But, Jagath has no consciousness of its own. Consciousness is only Atma, which is all pervading and which is the eternal existence. Anatma has no separate existence.
What we see physically always – is never there in the same way.
What we never see – is ever there in the same way. This is the hard fact.
If we are experiencing any thing like the world or objects – these are unreal. Experience is not a proof of their reality - like our experience of mirages in the desert.
On attaining this Atma Jnanam, we know and identify with the Brahman that is non dual and whose swaroopa is Satchidananda.
What does this mean? Before Atma Jnanam, we do see Jeeva and Jagath as separate entities. Not only that – we see the universe as containing millions of things and beings. All seem to possess separate existence.
Once Atma Jnanam is attained, we see the reality that other than Brahman, there is no second entity. All else is Maya and Mithya.
Our Sareera thrayam comes from Mithya and goes back into it. There is no real difference between our Swapna Awastha and our Jagrad awastha. The latter is some thing like a longer Swapna awastha. This continues until we attain Atma Jnanam. On attaining Atma Jnanam, we see the Brahman in every thing including Sareera thrayam and Avastha thrayam both.
Even if Sun is shining very brightly in the sky, blind man can not see the bright sun. A person with eyes can only visualize the Sun.
Brahman is Sath Chith Aananda Atman – with eternal existence, all pervading consciousness, and eternal bliss. Yet, what is experience-able by the five senses and the mind is the physical Anatma and not the Sath Chith Aananda Atman. Atman is beyond such physical experience.
One who possesses Jnana Chakshu, or the eyes of wisdom, only is capable of knowing the Sath Chith Aananda Brahman everywhere in the universe.
In Maha Bharath, Lord Krishna is known to have displayed his Viswa Roopa twice. Once in the Kauravas’ royal Parliament – and a second time, at the start of Mahabharat war.
First time, no one in the Kaurava’s Court Hall could really see his Viswa roopa (which really means seeing him every where in the Universe). Lord Krishna bestowed Jnana Chakshu to a selected few devotees with Brahma Jnanam like Vidura to see his Viswa roopa.
The second time, Lord Krishna wanted his log time friend and disciple, Arjun to fight the Mahabharat War and annihilate the entire Kaurava Army, as his bounden duty. But, Arjun has a hundred doubts on whether it is good or bad, whether it is his duty or not and so on. Lord Krishna teaches him Atma Jnanam in the shape of Bhagavad Gita and also shows him his Viswa roopa. Arjun witnesses the Viswa roopa with Jnana Chakshus given to him by Lord Krishna and prepares for war . Atma Jnani, as we can see, does not stop doing karma. He goes about it with a new light. Karma phalam does not touch him at all.
Viswa roopa is Bhagavad roopa and also Swaroopa for the Atma Jnani. He sees no difference any more.