Advaita Vision

Advaita for the 21st Century


flower picture

Kuntimaddi Sadananda

ahaMkAra is what Pranipataji defined as a notional understanding that I am a doer. It involves 'I am' + 'idam', the Body, Mind and Intellect (BMI). BMI is inert and 'I am' is a conscious entity. It is an unholy combination, says Swami Chinmayanandaji.

The combination is involved when a conscious entity claims that 'I am this,' as BMI, and 'I am the doer'. In the process of understanding how exactly this notion arises, one has to dissect the mechanics.

As I am the all-pervading light of Consciousness but without the object present to reflect upon, the presence of that light of Consciousness cannot be recognized. Hence BMI is required, just as I need a mirror to see my face by means of the reflection of my face. Seeing the image of my face in the mirror, I recognize my face, although my face can exist independently of the mirror and the image is not my real face. Yet I need the mirror to see myself. The reflection is called chidAbhAsa. As long as the original face is there and the mirror is there and the proximity of the two are there, the image will form. It is the same way with respect to chidAbhAsa.

This is common for both the j~nAnI and aj~nAnI. Ignorance is taking myself as the image that is the light of Consciousness that is being reflected in the BMI. This leads further to the notion that actions done by the BMI are my actions; this notion is called kartRitva bhAva and is cause for bondage.

Self realization is using the very same image and understanding that I am not the image but the original face that is reflected in the mirror of the mind. The subtlety of this is that it is the mind that has to recognize that I am not the mind or the image in the mind, while seeing the image in the mind; that makes the process a little difficult and hence chitta suddhi, etc., are all required to accomplish this. BMI will still be acting as usual, depending on the vAsanA-s.

It is not the problem with the image, but it is the lack of understanding that I am not the image, merely the original that is being reflected and forming the image. But as stated above, the original face cannot be recognized without the image, even though the image is not the original face.

The j~nAnI is one who understands, using the same image or chidAbhAsa, that I am not this chidAbhAsa but I am the original, all-pervading chit that is being reflected and forming the image. Knowledge does not destroy the image; what it destroys is the misunderstanding that I am the image. If one argues that misunderstanding is ahaMkAra, then it is OK. But if ones says the image itself is gone, then there is a problem in that understanding.

Now, the j~nAnI can use the same image for the benefit of others � BMI will still be working but the j~nAnI can say, I am not the doer in spite of all the actions done by the BMI. It's the same story for the aj~nAnI too. He is not the doer also but owing to a lack of understanding of the act that I am not the image, he thinks he is the image.

The j~nAnI does not have ahaMkAra in the same sense of an aj~nAnI but transactionally operates using the same chidAbhAsa for actions that are being done thorugh the BMI, owing to the pressure of the vAsanA-s. As Pranipataji mentioned, there is no kartRitva bhAva in internal understanding; however, if you ask a realized master, Sir are you hungry? Do you want to have lunch? etc., he does not have to use strange expressions, such as, Yes this body has not eaten or this body needs some food to survive, etc. He can speak like anybody else with regard to vyavahAra: Yes I am hungry, Yes I want to eat some lunch, Yes I want to do this or that.

Nevertheless, in his understanding, he is utilizing the image to keep the BMI going. I am a teacher and he is my student can go on without losing sight that I am the all-pervading reality. Essentially, he has a visa to have the vision of oneness at the same time as playing the drama of life, as it should be played. According to scriptures, as long as prArabdha is there, the BMI goes on, the chidAbhAsa goes on and actions goes on. The level of understanding, however, is different for a j~nAnI versus an aj~nAnI - it is only the operations that are the same.

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Page last updated: 10-Jul-2012