Namaskaar friends. We conclude this 52-part series Introduction to Vedanta, so nicely written and explained by Acharya K. Sadananda. Grateful to Sada Sir for allowing me to share these posts here. So much to learn for me. Worth reading these 52 posts over and over again. Please also share with all those who might be interested. Thank you all for patiently going through all posts and for your valuable comments and suggestions.
I consider myself to be an individual different
from others. I have to deal with the world
around me, from birth to death.
I do not know where I came from, nor where
I am heading. I am forced to deal with the world
around me – things that I like and things that I do not like.
Part XLII – Viewpoints of reality
The other main reference point with which we are concerned is called vyAvahArika satyam or transactional reality. From this reference we can look at the situation on a micro scale, i.e. the individual’s point of view or on a macro scale, from the collective totality viewpoint. Somehow we need to connect all of this (at least conceptually) to the absolute reference.
From the individual’s viewpoint, the existent-consciousness that advaita tells me I am, i.e. one without a second, appears to be associated with varieties of individual bodies, minds and intellects. How can one ‘I am’ become many? We gave a dream example before: how I, a waker, create a dream world consisting of varieties of objects as well as beings with their own bodies, minds and intellects (BMI) as well as myself with my own BMI. That power by which one appears to become many we have defined as mAyA.
At an individual or micro level, the consciousness-existence that I am appears to be limited by my BMI and I become a jIva or individual soul. We use the phrase ‘appears to be’ since consciousness-existence cannot be limited, just as space cannot be limited. Even though space is limitless, we divide this indivisible space into compartments as with different countries, states, cities and even different houses. Within the house we have different rooms where the bath room is different from bed room and kitchen, etc. Even the dividers that divide the space are within the space only. But these divisions are valid for transactional purposes or for our vyavahAra. Therefore transactional reality need not be absolute reality, although it is inherently absolute reality, just as indivisible space is inherent in the all divisions that we have made for our convenience or transactional purposes.
The situation is identical. All pervading consciousness appears to be divided into multitudes of things and beings just as in the dream. We have both insentient as well as sentient things and beings. In the dream, the differences (three types of differences stated above – sajAti, vijAti and svagata) appear to be real, as long as I am dreaming. However once I am awakened, all things and beings resolve into me, the waker. In the same way, the plurality of things and beings appears to be real in this waking world, and only when I am awakened to the absolute state of reality or pAramArthika satyam do all differences resolve into me, the absolute existence-consciousness.
Just as the dream is due to projection of suppressions and oppressions of the waking mind, an exactly identical situation occurs for the waking world. The total vAsanA-s become the root cause for the projection of the total world and individual vAsanA-s become the cause for the individual BMI. At the individual level, the total consciousness is reflected in the intellect as the ego – or individual I, which transacts with the individual BMI, without realizing that I am the pure existence-consciousness. Likes and dislikes or vAsanA-s of the individual manifest as desires in the individual intellect, agitations in the individual mind level, and actions in the individual body.
The jIva or individual I, or soul, ‘appears’ when the reflected consciousness in the BMI takes itself to be real, transacts as if it is real, and takes responsibility for the actions that go on in the BMI. It is like the villager who is sitting in the train but carries his luggage on his head so as to relieve the burden on the train. I, as an individual ego (as ‘I am this’), take the responsibility for the actions that are being performed. These ego-centric actions will leave vAsanA-s and the rest of the repercussions follow. I, the reflected consciousness (chidAbhAsa), move from birth to birth, from one field of experience to another, along with my subtle body and causal body in order to exhaust my vAsanA account.
Just as I go into deep sleep everyday (called nidrA or laya), folding everything into myself without any identification with BMI, so the totality (consisting of all jIva-s and things) goes into a ‘deep sleep state’ called pralaya. Similarly when I get up in the morning, all the things that were there before I went to sleep are projected again. And, in exactly in the same way after pralaya, when the Lord or totality gets up (his sleep is called yoga nidrA), the whole universe which was in the subtle form during sleep is projected back into grosser form.
This transformation from subtle to grosser form is called ‘creation’ in Vedanta. The totality or macrocosm supported by the consciousness-existence ‘I am’ is called Ishvara or the Lord or the creator. The same existence-consciousness reflected in the individual intellect is called jIva or soul. It is important to recognize that we are not equating the individual soul or jIva with totality or God. What we are equating is the essence – the existence-consciousness that I am. This existence-consciousness is the same, whether reflected in the microcosm or in the macrocosm. As long as I think I am only an individual with local equipments of BMI, then the world I see or with which I transact is different from the creator of the whole universe; God is different. Hence, if and when I view the creation or the world as different from me, then there is a creator or the father in heaven, who is different and who is omniscient and omnipresent.
The dream world of plurality is real for the dreamer. The material that the dreamer sees appears to be very real. It is difficult to convince him that the building that is on fire, together with the fireman that is trying to put out the fire, the water and the hose that are being used, and the spectators that are all watching are not really real. The reality of the dream is only for that particular dreamer, since it is projected by a single waker’s mind. The other beings have their own dreams to deal with. This reality at the subjective level is called ‘prAtibhAsika satyam‘, subjective objectification.
When a dreamer wakes up, all the dream world of things and beings resolve into the waker’s mind. Only then will he realize that all the dream world is only subjective – not really objective and therefore not really real. However for that waker, the waking world of things and beings are real and have objective or transactional reality. He would not accept that this is also like a dream. He looks for some scientific proofs, without realizing one cannot prove to a dreamer that the dream world is not real. He forgets that even the dream world was objective from the point of view of his mind in the dream, as with the fireman who was trying to put out the fire in the dream. The analogy is exact. We classify the waking world as objective reality, while the dream world we think is subjective reality. But that is only the waker’s notion. From the point of view of absolute reality, both worlds are only different degrees of reality but neither is really real.
We can now go one step further. I consider myself to be an individual different from others. I have to deal with the world around me, from birth to death. I do not know where I came from, nor where I am heading. I am forced to deal with the world around me – things that I like and things that I do not like. I came into a world that is already here, wondering why I am here, what is this world and who created it, and why I have to deal with it. All these questions were posed in the first post – Analysis of the Mind part I. Now we have a better idea of who I am and what is this world.
We posed a question in the second post as to whether the mind is matter or not. It is like the dreamer asking the question “is the dreamer’s mind made of matter similar to that of his gross body?” The dreamer can learn about different theories – Dream-Kantian philosophy or Dream-Descartes’ theory or Dream-Freud’s analysis of the mind, etc., all about the nature of the dreamer’s mind (remember that he does not know that he is dreamer and, as far as he is concerned, he is a waker and the world and the matter in front of him is real). But when he awakens from this dream, what will be his attitude to all these questions and answers about the mind and the matter of the dream body and dream mind?
Vedanta points out that any theory that is based on partial data is inconclusive. Hence, all western theories about the mind are based on partial data of the waker’s mind and therefore they are speculative at best. Vedanta says that any analysis can only be complete and full if all the data pertaining to human experience is considered. Hence, not only the waking state but the dream state and deep sleep states have to be analyzed in order to arrive at a correct conclusion. Such a scientific analysis is done by Vedanta in the Mandukya Upanishad, considering all the three states of human experience – waking state, dream state and deep sleep state. It concludes that I am none of the three states. I am there as a waker, I am there as a dreamer and I am there as a deep sleeper. I am there in all the three states and yet I am beyond all the three states. I am that limitless existent-consciousness, since there is nothing other than ‘I am’. That is the pAramArthika satyam – the absolute reality, independent of any religious doctrines, philosophies or theories.
This is the final essay in this section. Please post your queries, comments and suggestion below.
Pranaam from Kamal Kothari