Advaita Vision

Advaita for the 21st Century

Everything is Brahman
Sri Atmananda Krishna Menon

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Sri Atmananda


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sarvaM khalvidaM brahma
sarva - whole, entire, all
khalu - indeed, truly

idam - this, known, present, this earthly world
- All this (universe) is verily Brahman

Chandogya Upanishad Ch. 3 Section 14 Verse 1

The Truth about this world is that the Reality, which is imperceptible to the senses, appears as this world when looked at through the senses. The ordinary man sees only the appearance and attributes complete reality to it. At the same time, he sees also the changeability of the appearance, but he shuts his eyes to it. All spiritual paths attempt first to show the Reality behind the appearance. When looked at from the Reality itself, there is no appearance either.

To take the disciples to the Truth, phenomenal illustrations are often made use of. For example take the gold and the ornament. The ordinary man, at the first glance, sees only the ornament. But on second thought, he admits that it is made of gold. He still lays greater emphasis on the form rather than on the gold, because he relies on his sensual perceptions. After some more thought, he admits that between the form and the gold of the ornament, the form frequently changes, while the gold remains constant. Since gold is the essential constituent of all gold ornaments and since the form is only a temporary appearance leaving nothing behind, he is forced to admit that the gold alone is permanent and that the form is merely an illusion. Thus, having been shown gold in its pure formless nature, he is asked to look at the ornaments from the standpoint of gold. Then he sees nothing but gold in the ornaments (just as a banker would). Even in the appearance it is the gold that appears and not the ornament. An 'ornament' is an 'ornament' only by convention, but actually it is only gold.

Now applying the illustration to the Self and the world, having separated the world including your own body, senses and mind from the Self, you are shown the Self in its pure nature. Taking your stand in that pure Self, if you look at the world, you see the whole world as nothing but your own real Self. This is how you are helped to experience the Truth of the aphorism: 'All is brahman'. The object of Vedanta is not to help you not to perceive the appearance; but to help you to see the essence, even when perceiving the appearance through the senses.

There is no superimposition
at any time.

Even the thought that there is superimposition,
is a superimposition.

There is no serpent in the rope
at any time.

There is no world in the Reality
at any time.

The Earth is not pot.
But the pot is Earth.

Consciousness is not the object.
But the object is Consciousness.

The wave and the ocean are both objects as such.
But in essence both are water, one and the same.

If you try to take away your mind from the ornament (as yogins do), the ornament disappears not by itself alone, but along with the gold; and you are left helpless, in the dark. But if you succeed in seeing the gold in the ornament and understand that the gold is the only part which is permanent, then in every subsequent perception of the ornament, you will emphasize only the gold in it.

Similarly, when you see you are not the body, senses or mind - which are but ornaments of the real 'I' - you have only to emphasize the 'I' in each. It is only a shifting of your interest, from the appearance to the essence, that is needed. Then, everything appears as gold or the real 'I'.

Pure gold comprehends all ornaments. It is formless, imperceptible and is by itself no ornament. The ornament is gold in some form, and is perceptible. When you put an ornament in a crucible and apply heat to it, it melts. Then the ornament part disappears and the gold alone remains over. Of course, this gold also appears in the form of the crucible. You cannot help this as long as you look through your eyes. Pure gold is formless and imperceptible. Having transcended objectivity, it is the Reality itself.

But there is, in daily practice, a temporary and artificial reality posited between the ornament and the gold. This is what we call the bullion. It is supposed to be more permanent than the ornaments and is therefore used as a standard to measure all ornaments. The bullion has also a form and is an ornament when coined. This fact is conveniently ignored when you consider the bullion as standard gold.

Similarly, the state of samadhi, considered by the yogins as the Ultimate, is only a state, limited by time. The absolute Reality is beyond all samadhi.

This is Note 1114 from the Notes on Spiritual Discourses of Shri Atmananda.

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Page last updated: 10-Jul-2012