There is a mistaken view held by many that
with self-realization, the mind of an individual
disappears and so does any perception of duality.
This is in my opinion detrimental to a seeker,
as there is a eternal wait for perceptual duality to end.
Let us take a close look at the analogy of the
pot universe to understand what is really the
vedantic position on nonduality.
There are innumerable clay pots each of different
ages, colours, and appearances. Some have just
been born and some are close to being wornout.
Each of these pots has a sense of a limited potness
as in 'I am such and such days old', 'I am of
such colour', 'I am fat, thin, short, tall etc'.
(Please note that the sense of individuality,
stemming from self-ignorance, here belongs only
to the pot. The clay - the substratum of this
pot universe in this example - has no ignorance.)
One of the pots - Pot R - gains self-knowledge
thanks to another pot-teacher. Again, please
note that the teacher is also a pot alone. The
clay is a witness, an enabling principle - "upadRRishta
anumanta cha" in the words of the BG. It
is a realized "pot" alone that can
teach and enable Pot R to gain self-knowledge.
And what is that knowledge? Of course, that I
am in reality always clay - not from today, not
from the time I gained this knowledge, but across
all time, eternally. This knowledge is also that
every other pot in this pot-universe is also,
in reality, clay alone; that there is no discrete
thing called potness separate from clay.
After gaining this knowledge, pot R can safely
pay respects to, do namaskAram-s to the teacher
pot, (just as Shankara, in many texts that he
authored, always begins with a eulogy to his
teacher Acharya Govinda bhagavatpAda). His having
realized that 'all there is in Reality is only
clay' does not impede this transaction in any
Now, suppose that one of the other innumerable
pots, pot I, comes to pay respects to this pot
R in his hut. What is the vision of pot R? All
he sees is clay - sarvaM khalvidam brahma. There
is no duality in his vision. But pot I, though
also clay with this particular namarupA, is unfortunately
ignorant about its reality. It has come to pot
R with a list of problems (not the least of which
is fear its mortality and those it considers
its pot relatives). So pot R proceeds to tell
pot I: "asochyan anvvasochastvam" - "you,
who are clay, and thinking yourself to be a pot,
grieve over what is not be grieved" and
finally "tat tvam asi" - "that
clay you are". Please consider here now:
the very fact that pot R can say "tat tvam
asi" is because he sees pot I to be clay
alone! He is not telling pot I to drop his potness
and become clay; he is telling him that clay
you ARE - it is a statement of fact.
Now the ball is in pot I's court. Pot I may
be well qualified and immediately realize that
it is indeed clay; that there is nothing more
it needs to do; that anything it does it can
only do as a pot and that, as clay, it is always
a non-doer unattached, eternal etc.
Or it can tell pot R or one of its friends (perhaps
A on an e-list): "I understand I am clay;
in fact I have no doubt that I am clay, but I
am still shaped like a pot. Until my potness
disappears from my vision, I can never 'feel'
I am clay. Only on the day that I feel or experience
my clayness can I attain aparoksha knowledge
of the fact that I am clay!" Or he may exclaim: "How
can I vouchsafe that I am clay when all I can
see is pots everywhere? Did not pot R show me
that the shruti clearly says 'the knower of clay
becomes clay'? How then, as clay, can I be seeing
anything other than clay? The very fact that
I am still seeing pots tells me I have yet to
fully experience my clayness. There is a lot
more for me, the pot, to do before I can ascertain
the fact that I am clay in actuality!"
Of course, a pot D can now get into this conversation
and say:"Hey pot I - this is quite a tall
tale that pot R is spinning, saying that clay
alone is the one non-dual truth! Look at pot
R - he says that he is seeing only clay but,
if that is so, then how can he still see you
as a pot? He must be seeing two separate things
- clay and you the pot. If you really are only
clay, then how can you appear as a pot to him?
And then again, why should he teach you that
you are not a pot? After all, he can't see that
you are a pot can he? And, if he can, then there
is no nonduality because he is seeing two things
pot and clay!"
In the example above pit R is Realized pot I
is the Ignorant jivA and pot D is the equally
For a Realized Seer, a jnAni, there is perception
of duality, but His the vision is ever non-dual
Alone. His vision is of the wood alone, even though
he knows the wood table to be different from the
Hari OM Shri Gurubhyo namah, Shyam
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