Advaita Vision

Advaita for the 21st Century

Self Revealed, Part 6

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The following extract constitutes Part 6 of a chapter from the above book.

The Self and the Mind

Inquiring to liberate the Self from every misidentification with thought requires thought-transcendent Knowledge. Such is the revelation of the Self, beyond all of the mind. Initially, this may be the revelation of the Self as the pure, immutable, witnessing Consciousness. In Realization, the Self, which is indivisible Consciousness, alone is. Those who are introspective, observing the changeful nature of thoughts and states of mind and desiring to be free of the mind, are intent upon discerning the inconceivable Self that is not to be misidentified with thought. Liberation from thought means abidance as pure Consciousness. Such abidance is freedom from all states of mind and their content. It is awakening from this waking-dream. It is the Realization of that which is not a state.

“Mind" signifies all thought, and Liberation from the mind means freedom from all thought of every kind. There are innumerable permutations of thought. Some deal with the senses and some are associations with the impressions of the same. Some are more subtle, and some are abstract thoughts. Some are memories. Some may appear as emotions of various kinds. Thoughts that are clearer, which are sattvic in character (of the nature of sattva), point toward Knowledge. Self-Knowledge is liberation from all of them.

The mind may be understood in terms of its aspects, such as manas and buddhi (mind and intellect), or as manas, buddhi, and citta (mind, intellect, and memory). Inquiring to know the Self, one can see that thought is a power capable of appearing in multiple ways or permutations with variegated content. The same power of thought may appear individually, in patterns, in modes, or as states of mind. Knowing this, one can take Sri Ramana Maharshi's direct approach of liberating the Self from the mind all at once.

A wise yogi frees himself from the mind, from thought, realizing that all duality, which is all experience other than the Self, is a creation of the mind. Such creation is due to thoughts and is composed of thoughts. Abidance free from thought requires one to abide free of dualistic notions regarding the mind itself. The unmoving Self does not travel through the mind, and thought does not drag the ever-still, transcendent Self about. The Self is silent and untouched, endowed with the supreme, solitary power of Reality. It does not contend with thought, as if thought were an enemy with its own power. Self-inquiry entails freedom from the pursuit of delusive thoughts that, in the form of tendencies or vasanas, form the samsara. Self-Knowledge is not merely a blank mind in which thought activity is temporarily stilled. For Self-Realization, one should know the Self's freedom from thought and the true nature of the mind. Inquiring, “For whom is this thought? For whom is this mind?”, one should seek Knowledge of the Self, beyond all mental modes and states. Inquiring, “Who am I?”, one should know true Being, interior to any thought, more formless than any thought, transcendent of all thought, and ever free from all thought.

The Self is changeless. Thought is changeful. How, then, can thought pertain to the Self? How, then, can thought define or confine the Self?

The Self is singular, stateless and modeless. Thought is multiple, appearing as thoughts, modes, and states. How, then, can thought pertain to the Self? How, then, can thought define or confine the Self?

The Self is homogenous. Thought has many aspects. How, then, can thought pertain to the Self? How, then, can thought define or confine the Self?

The Self is continuous Being-Consciousness. Thought is sporadic, and each thought is momentary. How, then, can thought pertain to the Self? How, then, can thought define or confine the Self?

The Self does not rise and has no disappearance. The rise and fall of thought can be observed by anyone who meditates with depth. How, then, can thought pertain to the Self? How, then, can thought define or confine the Self?

Thought, being objective, is the known. Thought has no knowing power of its own. The Self is the knower, the silent Witness of all thought. The Self is Consciousness, which is the knower, and the mind is the .field." Since this is always so, how, then, can thought pertain to the Self? How, then, can thought define or confine the Self?

The “I" knows thought; thought does not know the “I." I am the unknown Knower of all knowing: this is true Knowledge.

None of the attributes of thought are those of the Self. How, then, can thought pertain to the Self? How, then, can thought define or confine the Self? The Self is free from thought.

Thought can never conceive of the Self. The Self is never an object of thought. Thought always has an objective element in it. The Self is ever nonobjective. There is no such thing as a nonobjective thought, as the thought itself is always known and it is always the thought of something, be it gross or subtle. The Self is never an object and can never be the known. It is always Consciousness itself. Therefore, the Self is ever of the nature that is transcendent of thought. It is not known by thought, which means it is ever undefined by thought and cannot be bound by thought, no matter what the thought is.

What is called “the mind" is only the combination of thought and Consciousness. That combination is an illusion. It is the illusion of combining the ever formless with form. Consciousness is the Self and cannot truly be combined with thought, for the Self is formless and will not change its nature, is infinite and will not be added to, and is real Existence that cannot be combined with false appearances any more than the rope can be combined with the imagined snake, or the sand with the water of a mirage.

What is casually termed “mind" is only a collection, or movement, of thought. It does not exist as such, and it is not an independent entity. If thought is absent, there is said to be no mind present. Thought itself is inert. When the knowing Consciousness is confounded with thought, there arises the notion of a separate knowing entity called the “mind." Consciousness is the knowing aspect and is not a thought. No thought is Consciousness itself. Consciousness is the Self, and thus the Self is free from thought and free of the mind.

All that appears is only thought: the world, the body, the senses, subtle experience, and of course, thinking, itself. All are known in thought only. Thought, itself, is experienced as if all these things. All are only thought. Thoughts join only to other thoughts and affect only other thoughts. Thought appears as ideas, and thought itself appears as the things that concern those ideas. Thought cannot join with the Self and cannot affect the Self. Therefore, thought cannot bind. Thoughts affect only thoughts. The preceding thoughts generally determine the succeeding thoughts. The apparent interaction of things upon thought and thoughts upon things is entirely a play of thought, which is merely thoughts affecting thoughts.

Thought itself projects itself into itself. There is no “in" or “out," for such are only mere notions. It is just like the appearance of a dream thinker in a dream. There appear to be his perceptions of the objects and his interior thoughts, be they conceptions, associations, emotions, memories, etc. The whole of the dream, inner and outer, is actually just composed of thought appearing in various ways. As there are truly no internal and external aspects in a dream, though in the dream such appear, so it is with thought now in the waking state in which this writing is probably appearing.

Even the largest thought occupies no space, and the longest one endures for no time. Therefore, all that is conceived is maya, just as one thinks, envisions, dreams, and such with no respect to physical things, such as when thinking of a large mountain or dreaming of being in another place, without one's head enlarging or one’s body traveling to those places or those things being altered in any way.

All is thought, inclusive of the large and small, now and then, this and that, you and I, he and she, here and there, past, present, and future, all things, all actions, all occurrences, life and death, and all that is considered the universe-individual-God. The Self transcends all this, for it is free from thought.

Thoughts move in modes. Innumerable thoughts and modes are contained in states. Including all of them are three states: waking, dreaming, and deep dreamless sleep. In the first two, thought projects itself into itself, and the content of thought changes according to those states. The waking state is equal to the dream. In both, the same multiplicity manifests. In both, subject and object appear. The same kinds of mental functions appear in both states. In both, the same tendency to identify as a particular character with a particular body exists. Cause and effect are present in both states. Both are characterized by a nonperception of Reality and a misperception of Reality, which are equivalent to not seeing a rope and imagining it to be a snake. These two states, waking and dreaming, are mutually contradictory. Everything experienced in a state changes within the state itself or changes with the changing of the state to another state. Only Being-Consciousness remains the same, unaffected by the changes of such experiences and the change of state. So, what is present in the waking state may be absent in the dream state, and what is present in a dream is absent in waking. What appears within a state is that state of mind itself. The dreaming state of mind itself appears as all that is experienced in the dream. So, too, is it with the waking state experiences. The state of mind itself composes all that appears within it.

In the state of deep sleep, there is an absence of waking and dreaming thoughts and their content. There is, therefore, no world, no body, no senses, no ideas, no memories, and no “person" existing in the deep sleep state. Yet, Being-Consciousness still is, and that Being-Consciousness is the Self. The Self is, even in the absence of thoughts in deep sleep, as unaffected by the absence of all else as it is when all else appears in the other two states. Deep sleep is characterized by the presence of the cause but the absence of the effect. Therefore, it may be said that the unmanifest seeds of, or potential for, ignorance is present, but not the effects of such ignorance. In deep sleep, there is only the nonperception of Reality, while the projection, or hallucination, of multiplicity and form is not. The Self, Being-Consciousness, is free of both cause and effect. In Self-Knowledge, neither the veiling of the Reality nor the illusion of multiplicity, neither the nonperception of real Being nor the misperception of existence, exists. The Self is itself and knows itself as it is.

From Being-Consciousness comes deep sleep. From deep sleep comes dream, from dream comes waking. Each succeeding state occurs within the preceding one. All occurs within Being-Consciousness, and that is what one truly is. So, it is better to say that the states, and the worlds that appear in them, are in one's Self than that one is in those states. Being beyond the states, the Self is called “the Fourth," yet it is only one and in its own state ever. The three states are seen as three only so long as Consciousness is not known as it is. As dream is to deep sleep, emerging but within it, forming yet not really so, for it is within the formless, so is the waking state to Turiya (the Fourth), which is actually pure Consciousness. Turiya, or the transcendent state, is just pure Consciousness, which, being beyond the three states, is beyond the notion of a “fourth state." So, it is also called Turiyatita, “beyond the fourth." It remains as the one Existence, which is in, and which itself is, its natural, innate state ever.

The three states are not consistently present. The states are passing appearances. There are no aspects or phases of homogeneous Consciousness, which is partless. As it is Being- Consciousness, the Self passes unaffected through the states, unmoved by the presence or absence of thoughts in any of their permutations. Yet, how can the Self, being infinite, pass through anything else? The states revolve in the Self, not the Self in them. Yet, how can there be anything but the Self in that undifferentiated Self? The Self is infinite, detached, unaffected, the Reality devoid of misperception and nonperception, with no cause and having no effect. In final Truth, there are no states and no mind, and the Self is neither a cause nor an experiencer.

Though each thought may be regarded as affecting only other thoughts, for the Self is ever the unaffected silent Witness of all of them, each thought has nothing that actually connects it to another thought. All the thoughts are supported by Consciousness alone.

Thought has no knowing power. A thought cannot know itself, nor can it know another thought. No thought is self-existent. Each thought depends completely on Consciousness and is never known or experienced apart from Consciousness. It appears and disappears in Consciousness alone. So, thought is just Consciousness viewed as such. Thought is said to be a mode (vritti), a modification, or a form of Consciousness. Consciousness, itself, is forever formless, unmodified, and has no modes, for it is changeless and eternal. How can there be a form of the formless or a modification of the changeless? Or, how can there be a mode for the birthless and the eternal? Thought has no real existence. It is like a snake imagined in a rope or the waters of a mirage.

Thought, both as particular thoughts and as thinking itself, is not an attribute of Consciousness. A true attribute would need to be with that to which it is attributed always. Consciousness is not, by nature, a thought; nor does it have thought always. Therefore, thought is not the attribute of the attributeless Consciousness.

Thought cannot exist without Consciousness. Consciousness exists without thought. The self-existent is alone real, and the dependent does not truly exist. Thus, in reality, thought is unreal and the Self alone is real. The unreal is not an attribute of the Reality, the Self. The unreal is not experienced by the Reality, which is of the nature of Being-Consciousness-Bliss. What is not real and what is not experienced in or of the real does not exist. Thus, there are neither thoughts nor states. One vast Consciousness is.

The mind does not bind the Self, for it does not define or limit the Self, does not divide the Self, and does not alter the Self. The Self is not bound, for the mind has no independent existence. The Self is not bound, for there is nothing other than the Self and, therefore, no mind at all. The mind is nowhere but in the Self, yet, in the Self, there is no mind. The Self is not in the mind, though it alone pervades it to such an extent that the distinctions of pervader and pervaded do not exist.

Though thought exists only as the Self, the Self has never become a thought and has never given rise to thought. Thought is entirely unreal and does not exist at all. The Self alone is, and it is One without a second. The mind exists nowhere but in the Self, yet there is truly no mind in the Self. The true nature of the mind is only the Self. There is truly no mind at all, and the Self alone is. May this thought-transcendent, inconceivable Knowledge abide.

May the Knowledge of the nondual, invariable Consciousness, in which there is no such thing as the mind and which is the only true nature of the mind, be.

Go to Part 1 of this chapter. Go to Part 7.

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