Advaita Vision

Advaita for the 21st Century

Self Revealed, Part 3

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The following extract constitutes Part 3 of a chapter from the above book.

The Self and the Body

For Self-Realization, it is necessary to know the Self as transcendent of bodily form and limitation. By liberating oneself from the ignorant misidentification with the body and its attributes, one abides as the infinite and the eternal.

Those who understand that they seek a Realization that is not a bodily state, and who are neither enamored of nor ashamed of the body, seek to discern the Self's freedom from the body and its attributes. That is, one should know the Self's transcendence of all bodily definition. The results of this knowledge of the Self's freedom from the limitations of the body and its attributes are bliss and peace that are undisturbed by bodily conditions, spiritual freedom from birth, growth, decay, illness, and death, and transcendence of action.

A wise yogi, intent on the supreme Knowledge, remains detached from the body, its attributes, and its activities. He utilizes the bodily form, while it is alive, as an instrument for self- less activity inspired by wisdom, by the desire for Liberation, and by the immensity of Grace, acting with corresponding equanimity, purpose, and devotion. The bodily activities are used as an instrument that expresses the divine. By contemplation on its wondrous workings, the body may be viewed as a reminder of the supreme Consciousness by which it appears, as does appear the entire universe. The emphasis is placed, not on the reminder, but on that of which one is reminded. Yet, the yogi abides unmoved by pleasure and pain, motion and inactivity, and birth and death. For invariable Bliss, one must know one's freedom from the body and all bodily attributes. Knowledge is Realization. It is neither something done nor is it any bodily transformation, but it is the comprehension of what is true.

The Self is formless, birthless, deathless, and immutable. It is eternal and infinite Being-Consciousness-Bliss. Realization of this results from liberating the Self, by the essential discrimination inherent in the inquiry, from the illusory bondage of ignorance, which is composed of the delusive assumption that the Self is something other than the true Being that it is. It is possible to realize this true Being only if one is thoroughly free of the ignorance that consists of misidentification with the body, for a body has form, birth, death, change, does not last forever and is not infinite. As long as there is any misidentification with the body, the real nature of the Self will not be known, or the Self will be misconceived in terms of the limitations of the body. When such misconception is relinquished by a deep inquiry into one's actual Being, the nature of the Self is self-evident.

The Self is changeless Existence. The body changes continuously, even if this change is noticed only after some time. How, therefore, can Existence be equated with the body?

The Self is birthless. There is no time when it is not. There is no experience, no knowledge, and no memory of nonexistence or of the commencement of existence. The body has a birth. How, therefore, can Existence be equated with the body?

The Self is immutable. There is no increase or decrease in Existence. The body has growth and decay. How, therefore, can Existence be equated with the body?

The Self is deathless. There is no time when Existence is not, and nonexistence cannot even be imagined without oneself existing to imagine so. The body is transient and is subject to death. How, therefore, can Existence be equated with the body?

The Self is partless, indivisible, homogeneous, pure Existence. This Existence is beyond its name. The body is a multiplicity of elements and organs, a conglomerate of cells, apart from which there is no entity that can be referred to as a "body." The body is matter. The Self is immaterial. How, therefore, can Existence be equated with the body?

The body is composed of matter, the very same that is contained in the food it consumes. Why should one regard that as oneself? Before eating it, it is not regarded as oneself. After eating it, it is, by delusion, regarded as oneself, provided one does not regurgitate it. After it passes along the system of digestion, it is certainly not regarded as oneself. Similar is it with the parts of the body. They are regarded as oneself only so long as they are connected with the rest of the body. The misidentification is, thus, arbitrary, and delusively associated with proximity to the rest of the form of the body. How, therefore, can Existence be equated with the body?

The Self is not momentary, but permanent without a moment's interruption. Its Existence does not cease even in the absence of perception. The body is momentary. It endures but for one lifetime. It appears only in the moments of perception. How, therefore, can Existence be equated with the body?

The Self is nonobjective and ever the knower. The body is objective and always only the known. How, therefore, can the Self's Existence be equated with the body?

The Self is attributeless Existence. The body is known by its perceived attributes, apart from which there is no body. How, therefore, can the Self's Existence be equated with the body?

The Self is continuous. It does not commence at birth, and it does not cease at death. Existence does not have the attribute of .living" or .dead." Existence and the Knowledge of Existence are full and not partial. Knowledge of Existence is not sporadic and does not move about to different parts. The Existence of the Self is the constant background of the body's appearance and disappearance, and, likewise, of the waking and other states of mind. The body is discontinuous in several ways. For the body, there is life and death. The experience of the body is sporadic in perception, with only one, or a few, parts, limbs, or senses experienced at any one time. Never is one aware of all of it at once. The body appears only in the waking state of mind. How, therefore, can the Self's Existence be equated with the body?

The Self is nondependent Existence. It is, regardless of the senses and corresponding thoughts. It is directly and immediately known. It is not known through something else. The body is entirely dependent on sense perception in order to appear. The senses depend upon the mind. There is no body apart from these. How, therefore, can the Self's Existence be equated with the body?

The body has no sense of “I." The “I" belongs to Existence. When the “I" sense is confounded with the body, such is delusion, and the Self is then assumed to be a bodily being or an embodied entity. There is no actual experience of being a body. There are only sense perceptions, which are misconstrued in delusion. There is actual Existence, with its own unbroken continuity, the invariable, constant knowledge that you are. There is no memory of being a body. There is the timeless knowledge of Existence. Memory is always only of something objective, yet the object itself does not exist. So, the memory of it is also un- real and cannot actually exist. The body is an illusion in time and space. The Self is not in time and space. How, therefore, can the Self be equated with the body?

The notions of an existent body and that the “I" is the body are only delusion, utterly dependent upon the conception of such. The Self is self-existent and not a notion or a product of a concept. The Self is naturally, without effort, thought, notion, or becoming anything other than what it is, the “I."

Therefore, the Self is not the body. The Self is bodiless, immutable, indivisible, unborn, undying, indestructible, ever-existent, continuous, formless, partless, beyond the elements or matter, nondependent, and self-existent forever. This is beyond all doubt.

The Self is motionless and actionless. The body moves and acts. The Self is not affected by the actions of the body. It does not act, move, or change by the results of the motions and actions of the body. Abidance in this Knowledge alone constitutes the truly still or actionless state. This alone is truly Liberation from karma, which can never be achieved within the context of the “I am the body" notion and its corollary concept, “I am the doer." All physical experience, from birth to death, inclusive of everything between, is only for the body. The Self is free of all of it and without birth or death. The body is inert and not endowed with Consciousness. The Self is Being- Consciousness and is never nonexistent or insentient. Being-Consciousness plus bodily definition is called “life," which, not being eternal or true, has a death. In delusion, one thinks that the Self, of the nature of Being-Consciousness, perishes, rather than that the bodily definition, being with a start and false, cannot last. Being-Consciousness, as it is purely, is bodiless and has neither life nor death. In Knowledge, this is clearly evident. Thus, one who abides in this Knowledge of the Self abides in imperturbable Bliss.

The Self is not located in a body. It is not in space. It is not located in relation to a body. That is, it is not in or out of a body. It is simply undefined by the body. The Self, being space- like but not in space, has no location. Being is neither a particular part of the body nor confined inside it. If it were a spot or in a spot, the spot could be pointed out, and that very form would be the Self or would contain the Self, but, then, the Self would neither be existence nor real, neither infinite nor eternal, and there would be no liberation from bondage. Then, the very declarations of the wise would become false. This result and its causes are absurd. If the Self would be located throughout the body or in a bodily spot, such location would be objective. The Self, though, is nonobjective, and the nonobjective cannot have an objective location or other objective attributes. If the Self were located in the body, when that part of the body underwent change or decay, so would Existence itself. If that part of the body would be lost, the Self would be lost; if forgotten, then forgotten. The Self, which is real Being, is never modified, is always present, and is never forgotten. If the Self would be located throughout the body, Existence would diminish and change as the cells of the body change. If one part were lost, even a single hair or cell, Existence would diminish accordingly. This, though, is not so, for the Self is changeless and ever undiminished. The Self is not located in the body. The entire assumption of being located in a body, as if the body were a container of the Self, is not true.

The perception, or idea, of a body and the notion of location appear in the mind, which is in, and illumined by, Consciousness, which is beyond all that. The known occurs within the knowledge of the knower, which is of the nature of Consciousness, and not one bit otherwise. Therefore, the Self is not the body and is not in the body. There is no birth or death for the Self, and the Self does not enter into or exit out of the body. It is not in relation to a body. It is not in the body now, nor is it out of the body at some other time. It is locationless.

The Self ever is as it is, with no modifications. What it is, it is always. The body, with its transience and mutability, is not an attribute of the Self. The Self does not possess a body, for, other- wise, it would always have it, which is not so. Possession of a body is not in the nature of the Self, and the Self, being Reality, never changes its nature. The Self does not have a body, as pos- session implies division, or the duality of the possessor and the possessed and posits their relation. Being is nondual and indivisible. Existence is Absolute and infinite. It is not in relation to anything. There is not anything to which it could have a relation, as a finite object might. The Self does not have a body, as an attribute can only be for a “thing," and pure Existence is not a thing. The Self does not have a body. In this lies its great freedom.

The body does not possess, or have as an attribute, the Self. The attributes of the body are not the attributes of the Self. The body is a form. The Self is formless. The formless does not have a form in any manner. The Self is infinite and space-like, ever the same, and bodiless. The infinite does not wear a body, and the space-like has no form. The body does not possess the Self, and the Self does not possess a body.

May there be the conclusive Knowledge that the Self is not the body, the Self is not in a body, and the Self does not have a body. Know the Self to be bodiless. Thereby, abide as the Self, the bodiless Absolute. May this Knowledge shine steadily.

Go to Part 1 of this chapter. Go to Part 4.

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