Author Topic: On the Nature of Enlightenment as Pratyabhijna - July-Sep. 2013, M.P  (Read 4936 times)

Subramanian.R

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An inquiry in the Light of the Dakshinamurti Stotram:

Part I:

(Swami Tanmayananda Sarasvati)

Introduction:

The goal of all spiritual sadhana is Advaita Siddhi (the accomplishment of non dual vision), which is also called Self
Realization (or God-realization, in bhakti terminlogy).  In Sanskrit, it is called Atma Satshakatkaram or Brahma
Sakshatkaram (realization of the universal spirit, shining as the indwelling Self of every being).  Upon inquiring into
the nature of this liberating Knowledge, the venerable ancient Rishis asserted that it is not a matter of reaching any
destination or gaining something anew (in terms of a variety of religious or mystical experiences) nor is it a transformation
of the mind-stuff and much less is it a product of any action, however, exalted.  Lastly it does not consist of mere purification
of soul. (Brahma Sutra Bhashya, Gambirananda, Advaita Ashrama, 2006; Sutra 4. 'tat tu samanvayat'.  See also Isavasya
Bhashyam.)

In the inner journey of the soul, there are a variety of landmarks which could be loosely described using the above terms.
They may have some limited validity on the relative plane, which strictly pertains to the preparatory stages of sadhana.  When
Paul Brunton queried Sri Bhagavan regarding the time required for enlightenment, He replied that it takes a long time to set
fire to coal, gunpowder catches fire instantly, (Self Realization, B.V. Narasimha Swami, 2002), and it is all a matter of maturity
of mind.  The final explosion that destroys samsara (the cycle of transmigration) with all its sufferings happens only with the dawn
of Self knowedge (Jnanadeva tu kaivalyam).

In Vedantic parlance, the nature of such enlightenment is more accurately described as PRATYABHIJNA or recognition of the
inner Self.  "It is pure, plain and as simple as recognizing a gooseberry fruit in one's palm and hence easy even for simpletons"
exclaims Bhagavan Ramana in His Atma Vidya Kirtanam.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.
             
   

Subramanian.R

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Re: On the Nature of Enlightenment as Pratyabhijna - July-Sep. 2013, M.P
« Reply #1 on: August 06, 2013, 10:18:31 AM »

continues.....

In the empirical plane of reality, the Jiva (individual self) is said to be covered by Avidya (ignorance) and consequently
has forgotten its real nature as being identical with the limitless universal Self (Brahman).  Instead, it has identified
itself with a limited body-mind complex, thereby falling into samsara and experiencing all its attendant sorrows endlessly.

After going through an elaborate process of spiritual sadhana, capped with self inquiry, one finally gains the 'saving
knowledge' -- which is direct and immediate (aparoksha jnanam) -- of one's true nature, as the immortal, limitless Brahma-
svarupam.  This discovery is called Pratyabhijnanam or recognition of one's original nature, the ever present spirit as the
ultimate truth, and this alone sets one free from the thraldom of matter and consequently samsara for ever.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.         

Subramanian.R

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Re: On the Nature of Enlightenment as Pratyabhijna - July-Sep. 2013, M.P
« Reply #2 on: August 07, 2013, 02:16:39 PM »
continues....

Etymological Meaning of Pratyabhijnanam:

The etymology of the word is traced as follows: 'prati + 'abhi' + 'jnana'.  'prati' and 'abhi' are prefixes to the root word
'jna', which means 'to know'.  Of the several meanings available for the prefix 'prati', two are relevant in the present
context.  One of them is 'in comparison with' and 'as a match for'.  'abhi' means 'facing', 'all around', 'both sides' or
'in front of'. Suppose you see a person called Ganesh whom you had seen years ago with characteristics corresponding
to his youthful age, status etc., which are vastly different 'compared' to his present features; then you discard the
incidental differences and quickly 'match their basic commonalities' (often in a subliminal way) and conclude that 'he is the
same person whom you had encountered in the past.' This is the standard process of recognition of any person or object.
(This feeling of deja vu is also such a recognition, as in the case of events or encounters.).

Such a sudden spark of recognition culminates in the flowering of 'knowledge or illumination' (signified by the root word
'jna').  The brief defintion of the technical term pratyabhijna is thus in the form of ascertaining the identity of a person, as,
'he whom I saw in the past, is the same person in front of me now.' Sri Suresvaracharya, in his commentary Manasollasa on
the Dakshinamurti Stotram, describes thus: pratyabhijnanam consists in sudden flash of memory triggering recognition of a
thing or a person -- in the form 'that is the same as this'. (soyamiti anusandhanam),  (Manasollasa says, 'bhaatsya kaschyati
purvam bhaasamaanasya saampratam, soyamiti anusandhanam pratyabhijnanam uchyate'.)  -- which having presented itself
before one's awareness in a past exprience (referred to as 'that'), once again becomes an object of consciousness at the present
moment of experience (referred to by 'this').

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.               

Subramanian.R

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Re: On the Nature of Enlightenment as Pratyabhijna - July-Sep. 2013, M.P
« Reply #3 on: August 08, 2013, 11:33:59 AM »

continues....

The second meaning for the prefix 'prati' valid in this context, is 'to return' or 'to traverse' in the reverse or opposite direction',
because with reference to the object cognized in the present moment, the mind quickly 'travels back' in time to compare it with
a past experience of the same object, by recollection.  Thus the attention of the mind (antahkaranam) is 'turned within' or 'reversed'
from the outside perception.   For, while 'cognition' takes place outside of oneself with the eyes operating outward, to reach out
to the object, 'recollection' can take place only by the mind's attention 'turning inward in the opposite direction'.  Thus smriti
(recollection) combines with pratyaksha (cognition) to make the knowledge of the object complete with re-cognition viz.,
Pratyabhijna. 

It is important to understand these concepts because language conditions our thinking, which in turn conditions our attitude
and approach to sadhana.  The use of precise, technical words is a powerful aid in removing the psychological cobwebs in the
mind which hinder our sadhana in the form of vagueness or incorrect understanding.  The process of gaining clarity is thereby
facilitated by cutting through many subliminal barriers.  Oftentimes, the same word can mean different things to different people
and a lack of consensual approach leads to bitter debates which are easily avoided by assigning precise meanings to specific
terms.  We shall shortly see in an instance of a philosophical schism germane to the present topic and how it can be reconciled  by
eliminating the confusion caused by semantics.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.
             

Subramanian.R

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Re: On the Nature of Enlightenment as Pratyabhijna - July-Sep. 2013, M.P
« Reply #4 on: August 09, 2013, 02:20:41 PM »
continues......

Philosophical Meaning of Pratyabhijna-Darsanam:

The core doctrine of Kashimiri Saivism, is in fact, called Pratyabhijna Darsanam or the philosophy of Recognition, which teaches
that the individual self is, in essence, identical with the universal Self (Siva), when we discard the upadhis of vyashti and samashti.
Abhinavagupta in his Isvara Pratyabhijna Vimarshini (Jaidev Singh, Delhi 1977) gives an elaborate exposition of the above, which
is in perfect consonance with the Advaitic position as enunciated by Suresvaracharya in Manasollasa (Dakshinamurti Stotram with
Manasollasa, Samata Books, Madras, 1978).  The pratyabhijna of Atman consists in Jivatma (the embodied self) becoming
conscious that He is omniscient etc., owing to intuitive recognition of His essential nature as Infinite Consciousness, after
casting away all the notions of limitations experienced by the jiva through its association with Maya.  Sri Ramana expressed
the same identity between jiva and Isvara  (Upadesa Saram) from the standpoint of their true nature, shorn of all their upadhis
(attributes). Sri Sankara declared the identity as 'Brahman alone is Satyam, the world being illusory and jiva is none other than
Brahman.  (Asangoham verse 18). 

In ordinary life also, pratyabhijna then consists in the 'unification through cogitation' (anusandhanam) of what appeared before,
with what is appearing now, as in the statement that ascertains.  'This is the same person that I had encountered earlier.'
Recollection of a past experience is paramarsha or smriti.  The present cognition is pratyaksha.  When both pratyaksha and
paraamarsha occur at the same time together, it ignites a re-cognition, which is pratyabyijna.  In fact, most of our daily vyavaharika
activities are founded on pratyabhijna only.  But it takes place so fast and effortlessly as a continual process that it is taken
for granted and hardly given the recognition that it merits!

contd.,

Arunchala Siva.               
   

Subramanian.R

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Re: On the Nature of Enlightenment as Pratyabhijna - July-Sep. 2013, M.P
« Reply #5 on: August 10, 2013, 10:46:03 AM »

continues.....

Sri Sankaracharya employs this concept of pratyabhijna brilliantly in Verses 6 and 7 of his celebrated advaitic hymn
Dakshinamurti Stotram, to refute the hypothesis that there is no substantive underlying Reality behind the empirical
world experienced in every day life, even though the world is treated as illusory by the proponents of that theory.
(Among various theories of 'erroneous cognition' (khyati vada), one major theory is 'asat khyati vada' which asserts that
though the world is as unreal as an optical illusion like mirage waters, it does not emerge from a real substratum.  Advaita
does not accept this view - akin to Berkeley's solipsism - because the illusion of a snake cannot arise without a substratum
of a real rope.  In the same way, the illusory appearance of the world cannot arise without a real substratum, namely Brahman
(This is anirvachaniya khati).  Illusions are superimposition which always require a substratum to be projected upon, whereas
hallucinations are purely mental creations without any real  substratum or basis.  Vedanta declares that the world is not a
mental hallucination but an illusion that requires a substratum.  This is in the commentaries of Adhyasa Bhashya of Sri
Sankara, using the standard illusions of rope snake and silver nacre examples.)

Perspectives on the Source of All Creation:

The brilliant philosophers championing the Great Void theory (which bears close resemblance to Taoist philosophy, an
altogether independent system), broadly classified the whole creation into Jiva or individual self (subject or the seer) and
Jagat, that is, the world (which is the object or the seen  encountered by the former).  These nihilist philosophers treated
Jagat as an illusory creation of the mind denying it altogether even objective reality (see khyati vada). Being ephemeral and yet
perennial source of suffering, it was not considered worthy of deeper inquiry.  Instead they chose to focus on the sufferer,
the Jiva and analyzed the three states of human experiences, namely waking, dreaming and deep sleep states.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.                 
   

Subramanian.R

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Re: On the Nature of Enlightenment as Pratyabhijna - July-Sep. 2013, M.P
« Reply #6 on: August 11, 2013, 06:27:31 AM »

continues...

They rightly concluded that sushupti (deep sleep) is the source of the former two conditions in which both the 'seer' and
the 'seen' are experienced.  Analyzing sushupti itself, they concluded that since neither Jagat is experienced nor even the
Jiva is available in deep sleep, the underlying essence of both these entities is Nothingness or the Great Void (sunyam)
from which alone they emerge.

Al existence therefore has nothing but non existence (asat) as its origin or primordial source, which is said to be the ultimate
Reality.  Nothing exists in a positively real manner in this world.  There is no positively existing underlying Reality either, beneath
the illusion of the world appearance.  Thus the Void indicates the complete absence of any Real Entity and is Itself not a positive
entity.  Many centuries earlier, Lao Tzu also stated axiomatically (without taking recourse to logical tools) that all the manifest
worlds have emerged from the Great Void, the Mother of all creation.  For the moment, let this be a valid aspect of Reality.

We will see later how this can be reconciled in a qualified way in the Advaitic tradition.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.   
   

Subramanian.R

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Re: On the Nature of Enlightenment as Pratyabhijna - July-Sep. 2013, M.P
« Reply #7 on: August 12, 2013, 11:27:59 AM »

The Vedantic World View:

Reverting to the earlier discussion, the question arises, why does the Jiva forget its real nature and lose its identity with the
universal Self and thus fall into bondage?  Vedanta sastra answers this question thus: the jivatma confounds itself with the
various layers of his / her personality because of the deluding power of Maya.  These layers are called the 'five principal
sheaths' (kosas), beginning with the gross physical body as the outermost layer (annamaya kosa) and ending with causal
ignorance (kArana sarira), characterized by the bliss of ignorance in deep sleep (Anandamaya kosa), which is the innermost
sheath.  It is to be noted that these various sheaths do not literally cover the Atma but are said to cover the Jiva only by
virtue of casting the veil of ignorance through the veiling power (Avarana sakti) of Maya.

Consider now some examples.  The pot does not hide the clay out of which it is made nor does the ornament conceal the gold.
The cloth does not suppress or smother the yarn it is spun out of.  The waves and the bubbles in the ocean do not ever
camouflage the water.  In these classical examples, the name and form (nama rupa) of the objects merely steal away our
attention from the 'substantives' of the objects and this alone is said to be the veiling of our sight.  It is not literal
blinding of our vision.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.             

Subramanian.R

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Re: On the Nature of Enlightenment as Pratyabhijna - July-Sep. 2013, M.P
« Reply #8 on: August 13, 2013, 10:56:32 AM »

continues...

Thus all "names and forms" turn out to be apparent modifications of the underlying reality, and are no more than resting
flimsily on the tip of the tongue.  (Chandogya Upanishad, Verse 6.1.4-6...'Vacharabhanam vikaro namadeyam, mrittika it
eva satyam..' When a lump of clay is shaped into a pot, the clay nature of the pot remains unchanged; so also, gold does
not lose an iota of its inherent gold nature, upon an ornament formed out of it.  In any such 'value added product', the
only change (or value addition) pertains to the acquisition of merely a 'name that corresponds to the new form'; hence all
such transformations (such as pot, ornament, waves etc.,) are only apparent, not real.  Thus they are said to exist only
on the tongue tip as mere names. In the examples cited above, only the substantives such as clay, gold, water, are to be
considered real.  Similarly the world as a whole is reduced to mere 'nama rupa', resting on the substantive Brahman.

The modifications are apparent because water never ceases to be water, when it takes the form of bubbles, waves, or even
a mighty tsunami.  Ontologically, 'nama rupa' thus enjoys the status of mithya only i.e. apparent reality.  Ascertainment of mithya
is thus reduction of all things into mere 'nama rupa' and seeing the underlying substantive as the real entity.  This process called
'mithyatva nishchaya is a powerful aid in assimilating Vedantic teachings.           
 
Modern examples make this even clearer. For instance, reading essay makes us unconscious of the paper on which it is
printed.  The movie pictures dancing on the screen make us forget the screen. Saint Tirumoolar (Tirumandiram, Verse 2290)
sings famously that a life sized exquisite wooden carving of an elephant form 'hides the timber' it came from and appears as
though real from a distance but the 'elephant disappears into the wood', upon closer inspection.  In the same way, the world
which is made out of five great elements masks the Brahman from which it has emerged apparently. Upon realizing Brahman,
which is the ultimate source of all creation, the world of forms disappears into its Source. It is not literal disappearance because
perceptions continue but in our understanding everything resolves into Brahman.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.           

Subramanian.R

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Re: On the Nature of Enlightenment as Pratyabhijna - July-Sep. 2013, M.P
« Reply #9 on: August 14, 2013, 11:14:37 AM »

continues....

Thus for Jnanis like Sri Ramana Maharshi and Sadasiva Brahmendra, the attention is ever on the Self, the substratum
for the world appearance, (Ulladu Narpadu, Verse 18) which is now reduced to merely a passing show projected on the
screen of Consciousness. But without direct knowledge (aparoksha jnanam) of the substratum, Brahman, the phenomenal
world of names and forms (nama rupa jagat) perpetually deludes us into believing it as a reality show!

The Identity Crisis of the jivatma and its Resolution:

Thus among the five kosas enumerated by the scriptures that 'supposedly envelope' the Jivatma, the gross materialists
(like Charvakas) confound the physical body (annayama kosa) to be the Self.  The biologists identity It with sense organs,
and the vital airs that enliven them (pranamya kosa) while modern psychologists (like Freud and Jung and others) reduce
the Self to the mind principle (mano maya kosa).  Some philosophers identify the Self with the constantly changing intellect
principle (vijnanamya kosa), comparable to a lamp flame which is new in very moment of its life.  (Yogachara Buddhist
proponents).  As mentioned above, some others repudiated these progressively evolving philosophical formulations with
powerful tools of logic and finally established the Theory of Void as the irreducible final reality.   (The Madhaymika School
of Buddhists)  No doubt, these are laudable intellectual feats representing significant milestones but in the uncopmpromising
search for the ultimate Truth, they fall short in different measures.

Acharya Sankara lists these various philosophical perspectives in Verse 5 of Dakshinamurti Stotram and exclaims it is the power
of Maya that causes the jivatma's various levels of mistaken identities.  In Verse 6, he rejects the concept of Void by invoking
the phenomenon of Pratyabhijna, occurring while awakening from deep sleep.  In Verse 7, this vision of recognition is extended
to various stages of life and establishes Self as one invariant factor, which enables all cognitions to take place and thus is their
very substratum.

contd.,                         

Arunachala Siva.

Subramanian.R

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Re: On the Nature of Enlightenment as Pratyabhijna - July-Sep. 2013, M.P
« Reply #10 on: August 15, 2013, 01:05:45 PM »

continues...

Echoing the Upanishadic declarations, Sri Sankara cites in Verse 4, the example of a clay jar, with many holes and a lamp
placed within, where the light emanates through the holes and illumines the objects in the room outside;  in a similar way,
the light of the Self flows through the five sense organs of perception, (Jnanendriyas) and illumines the world of our perception.
Thus the Self alone truly and independently shines and all the worlds shine only after that Intelligent Principle. (Katha Up.
v.2.5.15).  Bhagavan Ramana concurs identically with this position of Sri Sankara that the Consciousness principle inhering
in the Self alone constitutes absolute Knowledge and hence is not a Void -- Itself shining without any support whatsoever.
It supports and enlivens all relative knowledge.  (Ulladu Narpadu, Verse 12).

Exposition of Pratyabhijna - Darsanam through Analysis of deep sleep:

Sri Sankara cites in Verse 6 of Dakshinamurti Stotram, the universal experience of everyone after waking up from a refreshing
spell of deep sleep, exclaiming as 'I slept happily; I did not know anything !.  Analyzing this, 'not knowing anything' indicates
the 'absence of world' (called jagat abhava vrtti or nidra vrtti), which are technical synonyms for sleep).

However, in deep sleep, because one is not aware of oneself as in waking or dreaming, we should not hastily conclude that
one ceases to exist altogether, even temporarily

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.                     

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Re: On the Nature of Enlightenment as Pratyabhijna - July-Sep. 2013, M.P
« Reply #11 on: August 16, 2013, 11:27:03 AM »

continues.....

If it were so, as Bhagavan Ramana remarked, a Johnson going to sleep could wake up as a Benson, bereft of any continuity
in the identity of the person involved. (Talks No. 487).  The phrase 'slept happily' is the recollection component - smriti, while
the 'I' component indicates Pratyabhijna.  The phrase 'slept happily' cannot be classified as either pratyaksha (current
perception) or pratyabhijna (recognition), unless one makes the statement while one is asleep, which is clearly not possible.
This is because all the sense organs have been withdrawn into a passive, non operational condition (karanopsamharanam)
and no transaction with the world can occur during the sleep. 

To counter the objection of nihilists that since one is not aware of oneself in sleep, one becomes non existent temporarily
Acharya Sankara argues that if an object is not perceived, then there are two possibilities; either it is really absent or its
existence has been veiled by an unknown factor.  Before concluding that it is non existent, we have to make sure that there
is no veiling mechanism involved, which precludes its apprehension.  During deep sleep, Sri Sankara says the 'I' sense
(pure essence I AM) has not become non existent but has been merely covered by the veiling power (avarana sakti) of
Maya, just as during eclipse the sun or the moon is covered by the shadow of the moon or the earth respectively.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.           

Subramanian.R

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Re: On the Nature of Enlightenment as Pratyabhijna - July-Sep. 2013, M.P
« Reply #12 on: August 17, 2013, 02:57:17 PM »

continues....

Now during sleep, the mind has resolved into its causal body form (the kaarana sariram) and is only potentially existent
(bija avastha, i.e. seed state).  During transition into the waking state, the mind is roused from its potential form (or dormancy)
of the causal body, back into state of an operational inner instrument (anatahkaranam) by the projecting power (vikshepa sakti)
of Maya which is once again responsible for the perception of the world and oneself, thus making all transactions possible. 
But the mind in its causal mode of existence in deep sleep is capable of subconsciously registering one positive experience
(the pure presence, I AM) and two negative experiences viz., 'absence of the world' (jagat abhava vritti) and the 'absence
of 'I'-thought' (aham vritti abhava).

It is the recollection of these experiences, while gliding into the waking state that enables one to state clearly that 'I slept
well; I did not know anything. I was not aware of myself too.' 'While slept well' not know anything. I was not aware of myself
too.'  While 'slept well' refers to the past experience of the sleep and hence falls under smriti (recolection),  the 'I' component
of the statement does not come under this category of recollection of a past entity or something under spasmodically recurrent.
It must be classified as pratyabhijna because it refers to the past event of sushupti and its continued existence in the present
waking state too, without a break or an iota of change.

The only difference then is, in the waking state the 'I' shines prominently because it is available for interacting with the world
and exists in the 'transactional mode'.  In deep sleep, then 'I' becomes a non transactional entity (eclipsed by Maya) and
reverts to the merely 'existential mode' as pure awareness as pure essence (nirvisesha, saamaanya satta), that is, the non-
prominent substratum.

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.   

Subramanian.R

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Re: On the Nature of Enlightenment as Pratyabhijna - July-Sep. 2013, M.P
« Reply #13 on: August 18, 2013, 02:16:14 PM »

continues....

Thus the 'waker' himself was the 'sleeper' and being one and the same Jiva, it is a re-cognition.  It is neither a new cognition
(or knowledge of a new entity) nor mere remembrance of the past.  This is the essence of pratyabhijna.  Similarly, Self Knowledge
is also an awakening from the beginningless slumber of 'primal ignorance' (Mandukya Karika V.1.16) and is best described in a
paradoxical terms like 'Attainment of the Already Attained'.  (praptasya praptih) and 'Revelation of the Ever Revealed' (anaavrtasya
niraavaranam) !

In Verse 6 of Dakshinamurti Stotram, Sri Sankara clearly states that during sushupti, the experience of the 'absence of the world'
(jagat abhava vrtti) is because of the withdrawal of all sense organs of perceptions into a passive mode and the lapsing of the
mind into its causal seed form.  That is, the antahkaranam (mind) merges into the kaarana sariram (causal sheath), and ceases
to function as the 'inner instrument'. Both I AM  (the pure unqualified and limitless Sat aspect) and the 'absence of I thought
(aham vrtti abhava) are registered in the kaarana sariram which are recollected upon waking.  The imprint of the former, I AM
is responsible for the waker's statement, 'I did exist in sleep' and the imprint of the latter, 'the absence of I thought' is responsible
for his saying, 'I was not aware of myself in sleep.'  No one ever says, 'I did not exist in sleep!'  To claim non existence in sleep
is ludicrous, for effectively it means 'I died in sleep and revived upon waking mysteriously', since death is nothing but a withdrawal
of existence.'

contd.,

Arunachala Siva.             

Subramanian.R

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Re: On the Nature of Enlightenment as Pratyabhijna - July-Sep. 2013, M.P
« Reply #14 on: August 19, 2013, 11:34:56 AM »
continues.....

The Self being Sat Chit Ananda Svarupa, the power of Maya can only veil the Chit (consciousness) aspect but cannot destroy
the Sat (Being) or Ananda (bliss) aspects.  The Bhagavad Gita declares that for Sat (the Self, which alone qualifies as the real)
there can be no non existence while the unreal can never have existence.  (Bhagavad Gita 2.16).  That is why everyone desires
the happiness experienced in deep sleep and uncaused happiness inheres only in the limitless pure Existence principle (Sat
tattvam). (Who am I?).  Thus when a person enters the state of deep sleep, the Upanishad says, he merges with Existence,
which is the ultimate reality that constitutes the very nature of his Self and therefore attains his own Self. (Chandogya Upanishad
6.8.1.).

Bhagavan Ramana affirms that this Self ever shining as pure Consciousness in all three states, is alone to be known as true
Knowledge and can never be deemed as a void.  (Sad Darsanam v.14.).

In the next installment, we shall see how it is possible to arrive at a reconciliation of the Advaitic position with the Void
theory as also the experiential nature of enlightenment based on Prayabhijna.

concluded, for the present.

will be continued upon receipt of the next issue (Oct.-Dec. 2013) of Mountain Path.


Arunachala Siva.