You ask what is the nature of that 'perception
of the world' which follows when ignorance of
our true nature has been removed along with its
effect, namely, the misperception of the world
as non-brahman. Devotees regularly asked Sri Ramana Maharshi
that question in the form of "Does the j~nAnI still see
the world?" and he replied that the aj~nAnI cannot understand
the j~nAnI; first remove the ignorance of your real nature
then see if the question is still relevant. So what chance
do I have, as a mere student, to give a sensible answer to
I feel I appreciate your underlying question
though, namely - if the nature of the j~nAnI
(or j~nAna) is none other than Brahman and if
Brahman is one without a second then how can
there be an 'other' to be perceived or a 'who'
separate from the 'other' to do the perceiving?
Pure consciousness, or Awareness, (which is none
other than Knowledge/j~nAna) is never an object
I don't know if you would agree with this -
perhaps another way of asking the question is
as follows, 'can empirical experience and Knowledge
of Brahman co-exist?' In Upadesha Sahasri, Sri
Shankaracharya appears to suggest it does, as
a result of prArabdha karma having the power
to continue even after Knowledge has destroyed
the ego sense. Sri Ramana also suggests the same
when he states the following in "Forty Verses
v.18: The body is the Self, both to him that
does not know the Self and to him that knows.
The one that knows not believes himself to be
limited to the body and distinct from God the
All. To the knower of the Real Self within, He
shines as the Infinite Being, not other than
God. Great indeed is the difference between the
knower of the Self and the non-knower!
v.19: The world is real both to the non-knower
and to the knower of the Real. He that lacks
knowledge of the Real believes the Real to be
coextensive with the world. The knower of the
Real shines as the formless One, the basic substance
of the world. Great indeed is the difference
between the knower of That and the non-knower.
Might we say that we refer to someone as a
j~nAnI only by virtue of the presence of an upAdhi?
Without a upAdhi of any kind is there a j~nAnI
or only j~nAna?
Might we also say that empirical experience
is the characteristic of the upAdhi(s) lit up
by consciousness, while Knowledge or j~nAna is
the nature of the Self?
If this is the case then so long as the upAdhi
remains, there is the presence of both empirical
experience (mithyA) and Knowledge (j~nAna). What
is absent is the ego sense.
Right Knowledge has destroyed the ego sense,
therefore there is no state of false identification
with the body and mind for the j~nAnI. Properly
speaking, then, there would be no 'one' (no individual
independent of the upAdhi) to make this false
identification as the 'I thought' has already
However, the aj~nAnI (the unenlightened) can
only make sense of the j~nAnI's existence and
actions through the appearance of the upAdhi.
Ignorant of his own true nature and falsely identified
with his own body the aj~nAnI takes the j~nAnI
to be an individual body/mind separate from himself.
To come back to the question – can empirical
experience co-exist with Knowledge (J~nAna)? – we
have the following in Chapter IV (Verse form)
of Upadesha Sahasri. I have Swami Jagadananda's
version and translation of some of the verses
by A.J.Alston which are similar. I am using A.J.Alston's
translation of verses 4 & 5:
Verse 4: The seeds of action, which initiate
the body of the one who realizes the Absolute,
bring forth these two fruits - namely, empirical
experience (during the whole term of that body's
existence) and knowledge of the Self. Empirical
experience and knowledge of the Self must therefore
by mutually compatible. But all other merit and
demerit (except that which is responsible for
the present body) is contrary (to and therefore
negated by knowledge).
Verse 5: Whoever possesses knowledge of the
Self, which contradicts the notion that the Self
is the body as clearly as 'knowledge' of the
ignorant man affirms it, is liberated whether
he wishes it or not. Hence all this (the logical
compatibility of spiritual knowledge with empirical
experience and its incompatibility with all seeds
of future activity except those which initiated
the present life) stands proved, and we have
declared the manner of the proof.
We might ask how can Knowledge be the result
of 'action' as suggested in the verses. In an
earlier verse Sri Shankaracharya has already
Ch II: 3. A following Knowledge does not arise
without negating the previous one (e.g. the knowledge
of the rope does not come without destroying
that of the snake in a rope-snake).
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