Advaita Vision

Advaita for the 21st Century

Everything is Brahman
Shyam Subramanian

flower picture


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(Posted to the Advaitin Egroup, September 2006)

Everything we see/perceive IS Atman or Brahman. It already is Brahman as it is. In fact it alone IS.

The plurality we perceive, we experience, we objectify is not "hiding" or "covering" Brahman - it IS verily Brahman. This has to be very clearly understood.

Let us take the example of a flower. What do you see? A flower. What do you really see? Brahman. Then what is flower? It is a nAma-rUpa - name and form. Is it for a nanosecond different from Brahman? No. In order to see its "Brahmanness" in an unalloyed, pure and pristine form, do I need to remove the corolla, the corona, the pistils, the stamen, etc. one by one because they are not letting me see the Brahmanness in the flower? Of course not. The flower IS Brahman in its pure form. It is only in understanding that we say the flower is Brahman plus "flower" nAma-rUpa. In reality there is no "plus". There is no "flower" other then Brahman. In fact there is only Brahman.

How many times is this idea repeated in the Upanishads?

IshAvAsyam idam sarvam - All this IS Ishvara.

Omityetadaksharamidam sarvam - Om IS the whole of this universe.

sarvam khalvidam brahma - All this IS Brahman.

Every leaf, every drop of water, every cloud in the sky, every object, animate and inanimate, is all Brahman. Whatever you perceive at any time at any place is only Brahman and nothing but Brahman.

And the Self or Brahman is ever-pure, ever-pristine. Impurity is possible only when there is duality. When one alone IS, where is the question of impurity in relation to it? This has to be clearly understood.

Any concepts of an impure form of Brahman, adulterated form of Brahman, partially pure form of Brahman, purest form of Brahman, real form of Brahman, need to be completely squashed, if we are to progress in our right understanding of Vedanta. In fact Atman is formless. What then would it mean to talk about a pure form??

Let us take the example of a clay pot. The potness is only a notion. The pot is clay. There is no "pure" form of clay that needs to be objectively experienced to know that the pot is a nAma-rUpa only for clay. The clay pot IS clay in its pure form. The potness is only in the (mis) understanding.

Now suppose there is a particular "form of clay" which is available for viewing in Vaikuntha or Kailasha or is available for special viewing between 9am to 10am (like a matinee show). If this clay is in essence any different from the clay that constitutes the clay pot then the two clays are decidedly different. Then the statement all this (in the pot world) is verily clay becomes unsubstantiated. If all this is clay is a truth in the pot world then every pot IS clay. Every pot is "pure" clay.

Now another point. The pot does not cover the clay. The pot CANNOT cover clay. For the pot to cover clay it needs existence. The "pot" borrows its notional existence from clay. Something unreal cannot "cover" something real. In the pa~ncha kosha prakriyA, when we negate the gross body, we do not need to peel off our skins to know what is underneath - it is a "negation" only in the understanding that this gross body is non-separate from the vastu and does not exist separate from the vastu. Not for a moment should we think of the gross or the subtle body in any way "covering" the Atman.

In the immortal verse (7) from the mANDUkya upaniShat:

turIya is not that which is conscious of the inner (subjective) world, nor that which is conscious of the outer (objective) world, nor that which is conscious of both, nor that which is a mass of consciousness. It is not simple consciousness nor is It unconsciousness. It is unperceived, unrelated, incomprehensible, uninferable, unthinkable and indescribable. The essence of the Consciousness manifesting as the self in the three states, It is the cessation of all phenomena; It is all peace, all bliss and non-dual. This is what is known as the Fourth (turIya). This is the Atman and this has to be known.

The Atman can NEVER be objectified. It can never be perceived. It can never be inferred. It is not a "mass of consciousness" It is the Subject, the Witness, the Self. This has to be known or realized.

Hari OM Shri Gurubhyo namah, Shyam

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