Part IX - Internal perceptions
Here we need to discuss how an internal perception
occurs. Under this topic, we are not concerned about
the recollection from memory as internal perception.
By ‘internal perception’, what we mean is
the knowledge of mental moods – the feelings of
being happy, unhappy, desire, anger, fear etc that arise
in the mind. When I say I am happy, it is an experience,
together with the knowledge that ‘I am happy’.
When I say that I am happy, the statement is immediate
and direct – one does not have to say: “let
me think whether I am happy or not”, or “let
me meditate on it to see if I am happy”; one does
not have to look at some cause-effect relationship to
deduce that I must be happy for such and such a reason.
‘I am happy’, ‘I am unhappy’, ‘I
feel bad’, ‘I am afraid’ etc – these
emotions are all mental moods which are immediately
and directly illuminated by the witnessing consciousness.
Hence the mental mood <happy mood of the mind> is
illumined and the reflected limiting consciousness is
cognized as ‘I am conscious of the happy mood
of the mind’. 'I am happy' is not a recollection
from memory, although I can be happy by recollecting
some pleasurable experience that happened in the past.
In that case however, the recollection of a past experience
affects me (or not) in the present. (Many people
say that they ‘live in the past’, particularly
if they are sorrowful experiences, by continuously recollecting
those experiences again and again like continuous re-runs
on the TV – we call these ‘attachments’).
The negative mental moods, such as anger, jealousy and
sorrow, cause a significant drain of mental energies
resulting in mental depressions and other neurotic problems.
Sometimes, the root cause for these may be a desire
or an extreme dependency on some particular outcome.
If these desires are unsatisfied, it can result in frustration
and anger. Mental depressions can occur when there is
no control of the minds or control of the external situation.
Krishna points out how a mind can spiral down from intense
desire, through anger, to delusion causing loss of discriminative
All vRRitti-s that arise in the mind are immediately
illuminated and the resulting reflected consciousness
from these is known. That means we are conscious of
them immediately as they arise in the mind. It also
follows that there cannot be a vRRitti without it being
seen immediately. What that means is that I cannot think
or be happy, unhappy or angry without my knowing it!
Therefore all vRRitti-s or mental moods are illumined
and reflected immediately by the ever present witnessing
Here we can raise the question whether 'I am happy', ‘I
am unhappy’, ‘I am angry’, etc are thoughts
or mental moods separate from thoughts, although both are put
under one category as mental moods or vRRitti-s. From experience,
we find that these vRRitti-s are not of 'thought forms', but
just simple mental moods.
[Aside: Recently I had an extensive discussion with
Swami Paramarthanada-ji about three aspects which are
1) Concerning vRRitti: vRRitti is a mental mood, and
thought is also a mental mood – hence translation
of vRRitti as ‘thought’ is not inappropriate
(note the double negative). We have ‘idam vRRitti’ (thoughts
about this) and ‘aham vRRitti’ (the 'I am'
thought). vRRitti is also a feeling which need not be
expressed as thought or as a conceptualization of that
feeling. Hence translation of vRRitti as thought is
difficult here – it looks like it is as difficult
as translating the feelings into thought forms! Hence,
it is sometimes better to stick to translating vRRitti
as ‘mental mood’ or as ‘feeling’,
particularly when it comes to internal perceptions.
2) I asked him about my statement that “Existence
of an object can be established only by the knowledge
of existence. Otherwise, it is indeterminate.” Swami-ji
said that this is correct, provided that I clarify that
it is the ‘knowledge in the minds of some conscious
3) Regarding ‘biological time’: From the
second point, it follows that the knowledge, which has
to be in the mind of someone, includes Ishvara, as well
as any other conscious entity. He agreed with my statement
about vaishvAnara in the operation of biological clocks.
Anyway these are clarifications from Shree Swami-ji
for those who are interested. In the present context,
we are now dealing with feelings of happiness, anger
etc. as mental moods. These need not be the same as
thoughts involving conceptualizations, but one can consider
them to be mental moods expressed as thoughts and not ‘after
the fact’ thoughts. I would prefer to refer to
them as ‘mental moods’ or feelings, rather
than as ‘thoughts of the feelings’. ]
Hence, 'I am happy' as a thought is different from
the mental mood of happiness. Thought is a conceptualized
entity while the happy mood does not involve conceptualization
of the state. Similarly, 'I am angry', 'I am frustrated'
etc. These emotional moods are experienced directly
and immediately. Hence, when I express my happy state
of my mind with a thought or vRRitti as an 'I am happy'
thought, I am actually no longer happy, since I am now
busy cognizing the thought instead of simply being happy.
VP says that mental moods are known immediately as
they rise in the mind. When we formulate those moods
in terms of thoughts, we are now describing the moods
instead of cognizing them. Hence, the 'I am happy' statement
or thought is different from being in a happy mood.
Cognition of the mood is different from the expression
of the mood as thought and subsequent cognition of the
thought. These latter expressions are after the fact.
(This happens also when we cognize an object through
perception. If there is jar in front of me, I see the
jar and cognize it as 'Here is a jar'. That part is
immediate. This cognition can be follow by, 'I know
here is a jar', which is an after the fact or cognition
of the ‘knowledge of cognition’).
Hence, when one tries to express feelings in terms
of thoughts, one necessarily fails. Words and thoughts
cannot express those feelings, although words (or sometimes
facial or other bodily gestures) are needed in order
to express those feelings to others. In fact, in the
case of fear etc, the body also reacts to the feelings,
in terms of adrenal reactions – high blood pressure,
accelerated heart beat etc. Thus, we can also state
that mental moods of anger, jealousy, frustration, etc.
(i.e. negative moods) cause perturbations in the mind
in response to the situations that are being faced.
These mental perturbations will trickle down to perturbations
at the body level in terms of physical and/or chemical
reactions. On the other hand, the positive emotions
are mental moods that make the mind calm and quiet with
all mental perturbations having become quiet, at least
momentarily. That results in apparent perception of
happiness, which is associated with my intrinsic nature,
since I am Ananda svarUpa or of the nature of pure bliss,
which is non-dual. It appears from this that the positive
mental moods are actually closer to absence of
normal mental moods since, under these conditions, the
witnessing consciousness beams forth in its true glory
(which is felt as 'I am happy', etc.).
The expression of love is also similar, wherein duality
ceases between the lover and the loved. The negative
moods of hate, anger, etc take the mind away from myself
and duality is exemplified. Fear arises from the second.
Cognition of these mental moods of happiness, unhappiness,
anger, fear, etc., do not need to be expressed via thoughts.
Hence, internal cognition of the mental moods is direct
and immediate cognition of the mental states. Similarly,
the state of realization, that is the realization of
my original nature – ‘I am’ as sat-chit-Ananda
svarUpa – is called akhaNDa AkAra vRRitti, the
unbroken formless form of mental mood. Here again, the
vRRitti is not a thought form but similar to a mental
mood, involving unbroken cognition of myself as the
self that I am. It is not like other moods that come
and go, but is the constant awareness of the ever-present,
self-illuminating consciousness that I am. This intense
feeling of self recognition is in the mind only. It
is not recognition of the reflected consciousness (as
in reflected light) but cognition of the original consciousness
(as with the original light in the room or sunlight)
which is ever present. This is unrelated to any reflections
that may or may not occur. It is called akhaNDa AkAra
vRRitti, since that recognition is in the mind only,
like the room light or sunlight falling in the room.
When that realization arises, there is no more feeling
that I am the limited, reflected consciousness. Here,
it is not that there are no more vRRitti-s that are
getting reflected as limiting consciousness(es). These
are cognized as such without having the notion that
'I am this'. I.e. the vRRitti-s ‘this’, ‘this’ and ‘this’ are
getting reflected as they rise in the mind but there
is no longer any identification with these vRRitti-s
as ‘I am this’, since I have now realized
that I am the background, ever-present witnessing consciousness
and not the limited, reflected consciousness 'this'.
Once I have known who I am and abide in that knowledge
of who I am, then I can still take the role of 'I am
this' for transactional purposes, but with clear understanding
of who I am. I.e. I am not the limited consciousness
'I am this' but the limitless consciousness, which was
referred to earlier as sAkShi chaitanya or the witnessing
consciousness in relation to sAkShyam, the witnessed
limited consciousness. We can state that the difference
between the state of realization and the state of ignorance
is only this. We have, for all our cognitions, the sAkShi
or the witnessing consciousness in whose light the mind
and its moods are being illumined and the reflected,
limited consciousnesses by which these illuminations
are cognized. When I am ignorant (i.e. when I do not
know my true identity), I take myself to be a constant,
reflected, limited consciousness 'I am this' – where
'this' keeps changing as the reflected limited consciousness
of the mental vRRitti changes with body, mind (including
memory) and intellect thoughts. That identification
of I am with 'this', (where ‘this’ is a
reflected limited consciousness) is called EGO.
With changing 'this', my identification also shifts.
In the state of realization, I recognize that I am that
akhaNDa AkAra vRRitti – a continuous original
consciousness that ‘I am’ and not the reflecting
consciousness that I used to think that I am. 'I' is
still called vRRitti but is now an unbroken vRRitti
since my attention is shifted from specific reflections
to the original general light of consciousness. The
localized reflections and cognitions will continue as
part of the metal moods but my identification is now
shifted from the reflected limited consciousness to
that which is continuous and ever-present – the
ever-shining, original consciousness, which still illumines
as before the moods that arise in the mind.
Nothing has changed except for the shifting of my attention
of who I am. I used to think that I am reflected consciousness
and now I realize that I am the original consciousness.
Since the original consciousness is ever present, there
is no confusion in terms of understanding who that 'I'
stands for. It is like recognizing that I am the original
light that is beaming all the time instead of the reflected
light of that original light from the vRRitti-s or mental
moods that still continue as before. The contents of
the limiting vRRitti-s may also change now, since there
are no more egocentric desires and their resulting thoughts.
All vRRitti-s are now centered on the totality that
Actually the language fails to express properly the
correct understanding, as the scripture says the words ‘return
back’. There is now knowledge in the sense that
I now know who I am and no longer take myself to be
what I am not. The vRRitti knowledge eliminates the
ignorance of who I am. Shankara says that as a result
of realization, kRRitvA j~nAnam svayam nasyet - having
eliminated the ignorance, this is also eliminated. What
it means is that Self-knowledge is not knowledge as
a thought but knowledge as a fact. Once I shift from
what I think I am to what I really am, the knowledge
or self knowledge is of 'I am' period without any qualification.
Bhagavan Ramana says “aham aham taya”, the
thought ‘I am - I am’ etc spontaneously
rising in one's mind. This is the pure knowledge that
we discussed earlier - which is also expressed as akhaNDa
AkAra vRRitti. Better to leave it at that, than try
to explain any more with words!
Proceed to the next