Advaita Vision

Advaita for the 21st Century

Critical analysis of vedAnta paribhAShA Part XXIII
Dr. K. Sadananda

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Part XXIII - Self-Realization

We can now appreciate what is meant by self-realization involving the mind. Self or sAkshI does not need self-realization since it is the ever shining, all pervading, pure consciousness. And the mind, being inert, cannot have self-realization, yet without mind there cannot be any self-realization. As VP says, the mind itself can constitute a vRRitti. All vRRitti-s are illumined by sAkshI and the reflected light of illumination is the knowledge that includes self-knowledge. Hence, self-knowledge is due to reflection of the pure consciousness by the mind. The general reflection of the light of consciousness in the mind is the knowledge of 'I am'. When the mind is ignorant, it identifies the 'I am' vRRitti, which is more permanent, with other vRRitti-s which are variables, whose contents keep changing with the BMI – body, mind or intellect. Hence, a combined (united reflected consciousness of subject and object) mental state 'I am this', which is needed for all transactions, forms the current understanding of ‘I am’, since I am ignorant of my true nature. Vedanta teaches that you are not 'this' (neti, neti - not this, not this), guiding us to drop the identification of 'I am' with 'this'. What is involved here is not dropping 'this' by going into a 'this-less’ state such as nirvikalpa samAdhi or deep-sleep, but dropping the identification with 'this'. When the identification is dropped, what is left is pure reflecting consciousness or knowledge of ‘I am’. This 'I am' is pure reflected light of consciousness without any identifications; i.e. the reflection of sAkshI, the all pervading consciousness.

Hence self knowledge is the knowledge (in the mind) that the reflected light is nothing but pure light alone. This is similar to knowing that the sunlight reflected from all corners of the room is nothing but sunlight only. That reflected light of consciousness includes not only the general reflections all around in the mind but even the localized reflections by vRRitti-s that keep forming due to perception of the world of objects. That is the unity in the consciousness of the subject with the object, which is a criterion for perceptuality. Realization, therefore, is an understanding that I am not only sAkshI but sAkshyam too; i.e. I am not only the witnessing consciousness but the witnessed, reflected consciousness also. I am beyond both sAkshI and sAkshyam in that ever present pure consciousness that I am. This knowledge takes place in the mind only as reflected consciousness. The interesting aspect is that we need a reflected consciousness in order to recognize that I am not the reflected consciousness but the pure consciousness that is getting reflected because of the presence of upAdhi-s. I.e. we need a mind in order to be able to say that I am not the mind. We need a body in order to be able to say that I am not the body. We need speech in order to say I am not the speaker. Thus, we need upAdhi-s to say I am not the upAdhi-s. Without the upAdhi-s there is no realization since, without upAdhi-s, who is there to realize what? Hence, VP's declarative statement in the beginning to the effect that all perceptual knowledge is nothing but pure consciousness alone.

As long as the mind is there, the reflection will be there. The j~nAnI, who has understood that I am that light of consciousness beyond any reflections, can still enjoy all the reflections and uses his upAdhi-s without identifying with them for the purpose of transactions. This understanding gained by the reflected consciousness is like the reflected room light realizing that, even while reflection is occurring, it is actually the original light without which no reflection is possible. Hence, the j~nAnI, even while making use of his upAdhi-s, does not take himself to be the upAdhi-s; i.e. though using the intellect, he knows that he is not the intellect; though using the mind and its emotions, he knows that he is not the mind and the emotions; though using the body, he knows that he is not the body with its problems. He is considered to be a jIvanmukta, liberated while residing in the limited upAdhi-s. The upAdhi-s drop out due to exhaustion of the prArabdha karma, when there is no compelling reason to maintain them. Since that includes the subtle body, which is mind with all its components, all transactions cease including jIva-hood. There is no more cause for transmigration or rebirth. He is now pure consciousness itself even without any reflections - that is called videha mukti. We will address this issue again when we discuss the jIva and jIva sAkshI.

Coming back to the mind, VP states here that the mind and its attributes (including the ego) can be considered as mental states, which are illumined, and the reflected limiting consciousness forms the knowledge of these states. The perceptuality criteria can be applied by considering the mind and its attributes also as vRRitti-s. Just because we are considering the mind and its attributes also to be vRRitti-s, with associated attributive objects for the purpose of direct and immediate perception, we are not contradicting our assumption that they are directly illuminated by sAkshI chaitanya. To be cognized as a result of direct illumination by sAkshI chaitanya does not mean that witnessed objects cannot be vRRitti-s or mental states. It only means that, for their cognition, we do not need help from any sense organs. In addition, it also means that the other means of knowledge such as inference are not needed, since cognition of the mind and its attributes is direct and immediate. Hence, VP says that the advaitic masters have admitted ego or chidAbhAsa as a mental state which can be cognized directly and immediately, since the criteria for perceptuality are met.

Proceed to the next essay.

Other Essays in this Section (Perception):
01. Introduction Part 1. 28. Perception at the Individual Level.
02. Introduction Part 2. 29. Perception at the Cosmic Level.
03. Analysis of Time and Space. 30. Summary so far.
04. Knowledge is Continuous. 31. vAchArambhanaNaM.
05. Whatever you perceive is Brahman! 32. Re-examination of the Perceptual Process Pt.1.
06. Attributes and Substantive. 33. Re-examination of the Perceptual Process Pt.2.
07. Mechanics of Perception. 34. Re-examination of the Perceptual Process Pt.3.
08. Some Objections. 35. Re-examination of the Perceptual Process Pt.4.
09. Internal Perceptions. 36. Re-examination of the Perceptual Process Pt.5.
10. The Criteria for Cognition. 37. Nature of ‘ego’ and Self-realization.
11. Unity of limiting consciousness for perception. 38. Erroneous Perceptions Pt. 1.
12. Internal Perceptions (cont.) 39. Erroneous Perceptions Pt. 2.
13. Some Clarifications Regarding Internal Perception. 40. Analysis of Error - Part 1: khyAti vAda-s.
14. Some Clarifications Regarding Character. 41. Analysis of error - Part 2: vedAnta paribhAshA analysis.
15. Question related to jAti [species]. 42. Analysis of error - Part 3: naiyAyika objection.
16. Relation between an attribute and its substantive. 43. Creation as Transformation.
17. brahman is the changeless substantive. 44. Questions on ‘Creation as Transformation’.
18. Perceptuality of Objects: Definition vindicated (part 1). 45. Ontological Status of 'This'.
19. Perceptuality of Objects: Definition vindicated (part 2). 46. Two Layers of Ignorance.
20. Questions related to Perceptuality (part 1). 47. Conclusion of silver-nacre analysis.
21. Questions related to Perceptuality (part 2). 48. Perception in Dream.
22. Mind as Subject. 49. Negating false perception.
23. Self-realization. 50. Counterpositive.
24. Application to Illusions. 51. Summary of Mechanism of Perceptual Knowledge.
25. Determinate and indeterminate perceptions (part 1). 52. vyAvahArika vs. prAtibhAsika Pt. 1.
26. Determinate and indeterminate perceptions (part 2). 53. vyAvahArika vs. prAtibhAsika Pt. 2.
27. The position of vishiShTAdvaita.  
The next section in this series continues with the pramANa of anumAna (inference).

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Page last updated: 08-Jul-2012