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Advaita for the 21st Century

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Chapter 15

viShayAnanda
The happiness from External Objects

Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter 5 Chapter 6 Chapter 7 Chapter 8 Chapter 9 Chapter 10
Chapter 11 Chapter 12 Chapter 13 Chapter 14

In this chapter, the happiness derived by the contact of the sense-organs with external objects is described. The bRRihadAraNyaka upaniShad says that this happiness is only a particle of the bliss of brahman (bRRihadAraNyaka upaniShad (4.3.32)).

Mental modifications (vRRitti) are of three kinds´┐Żcalm (sattvic), agitated (rajasic) and dull (tamasic). The sattvic modifications are detachment, forbearance and generosity. The rajasic modifications are craving, attachment, greed, and the like. The tamasic modifications are delusion, fear, etc. The Consciousness aspect of brahman is reflected in modifications of all kinds, but the bliss aspect is reflected only in sattvic modifications.

The same supreme Self dwells in all bodies. Though it is only one, it appears as many, like the reflections of the moon in different vessels of water. The reflection of the moon is clear if the water is pure and faint if the water is muddy. Similarly, brahman appears differently in different bodies, depending on the nature of the mental modification.

brahman is Existence-Consciousness-Bliss. The existence aspect alone is manifested in inanimate objects, but not Consciousness and bliss. This is because inanimate objects have no subtle body, which alone can reflect Consciousness and bliss. The Consciousness aspect is manifested in all animate beings, even when the mind is agitated, for we see that even a person who is unhappy is conscious. But the bliss aspect is manifested only when the mind is calm. A doubt arises as to why, when brahman has both the aspects of Consciousness and bliss, only one of them, Consciousness, is reflected in an agitated mind. When you look at the reflection of your face in a mirror, you find that the face in its entirety is reflected and not only some aspects of it.

This doubt is answered by giving two examples. When water is in contact with fire, only the heat aspect of fire is absorbed by the water and not the light of fire. But when a log of wood comes into contact with fire, it absorbs both the heat and the light aspects. Similarly, only the Consciousness aspect of brahman is reflected in an agitated mind, but both the Consciousness and the bliss aspects are reflected when the mind is calm.

When there is some desire in the mind, there is anxiety about whether the desired object will be attained or not. In such a condition there can be no happiness. But as soon as the desired object is attained, the mind becomes calm. The bliss of brahman is then reflected in the mind. The happiness experienced then is wrongly attributed to the attainment of the desired object, while it is really due to the mind becoming calm. This happiness continues only till another desire arises and agitates the mind. When a person has attained complete detachment towards worldly pleasures and is free from desires, his mind is absolutely calm and then supreme bliss is experienced.

brahman is existence, Consciousness and bliss. In inanimate objects such as stones, only the existence aspect is manifest, because they have no subtle body, which alone can reflect Consciousness. In all living beings both existence and Consciousness are manifest. All the three aspects of brahman are manifest in a mind that is predominantly sattvic.

brahman is in reality devoid of all attributes. The multifarious names and forms in the world are superimposed on brahman by mAyA. For those who are incapable of meditating on the attributeless brahman, meditation on brahman with attributes is prescribed in the scriptures.

When the non-dual, self-luminous, attributeless brahman is known, there is no triad of knower, knowing and known. Then there is infinite bliss.

May the Lord who is both Hari and Hara protect all those who, with a pure mind, surrender themselves to Him.

End of Chapter 15

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