Advaita Vision

Advaita for the 21st Century

Self Revealed, Part 7

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The following extract constitutes Part 7 (the final part) of a chapter from the above book.

The Absolute Self and the Ego

Self-Realization is the egoless state. Freedom from the ego is the quintessence of Liberation. It is abidance in the Self as the Self. The falsely assumed individualized “I" is completely removed by Self-Knowledge, and the one true “I,” the I of the “I,” alone remains. This Self is referred to by the Maharshi, Ribhu, and other sages as, “I-I.” That true “I-I" is the “I" in the statement, “I am the Absolute." In the Realization of the significance of the mahavakya (great aphorism) of the Upanishad, “I am Brahman,” Adi Sankara explains, the entire notion of “I" is removed, just like the idea, “a man is here," conceived when misperceiving a post in the darkness, is completely removed upon illumination being brought. Brahman alone is, and Brahman alone knows Brahman. When the “I" is removed, all of “mine" is also removed, as such is completely dependent upon the delusion of “I."

The ego is the root cause of delusion, illusion, bondage, and suffering. The ego is the root of the mind, even the very idea of an existent mind, and the root of all else. It is the first illusion to be imagined and the last to disappear. The ego is the cause, substance, and experiencer of all illusion. Without the ego, illusion is impossible.

The ego has no actual form of its own. It may be conceived as the experiencer, the thinker, the performer of action, the one who senses, the one who lives, the one who has attributes, and such. In essence, the ego is the concept of “I," in whatever guise it may appear.

All duality and ignorance is from the ego, by the ego, and in the ego. The universe has no separate existence, for the Self is all in all at all times and is unalloyed, and transcendent of the form of all, but the ego gives the deluded, wrong view of duality. The body is not one's home, for the Self is unborn and bodiless, but the ego gives the deluded view of the Self and the body as knotted together. Bliss is of the eternal Self, but the ego gives the deluded view that happiness is not here, not immediate and ever present as Being itself, and must be elsewhere. The ego appears as the knot between the Self, of the nature of pure Being-Consciousness-Bliss, and form. The formless Self, Brahman, alone is ever the solitary Reality, but the ego gives the deluded view of existent form, of something other existing, of a second, which it itself is. Yet, when inquired into to determine its nature, the ego, with all that depends upon it, vanishes, being unreal.

What and where is the ego? One should inquire into this deeply to realize the natural non-ego state, which is blissful and free from all bondage and suffering. The ego is merely a false notion—a bare assumption—of individuality, of a separate “I," which is the supposition of differentiation from the Absolute. The ego has no form of its own, and, so, to appear in any way, it creates an illusion of form and attaches itself to such. It itself appears as the misidentification with and attachment to the unreal forms of the mind, the senses, the body, and the world. Thus, in the course of spiritual practice, when one destroys these misidentifications and attachments, the ego dissolves. The “I" notion is the separate experiencer, the individual knower, the embodied entity, the doer of action, and the notion of an “other." It itself is the concept of a separate universe in which it, the “I," supposedly is. Upon the ego is based the illusory differentiation of the world, the individual, and the Supreme (jagat-jiva-para). The three are not three, but only That, the nondual Self. Only with the ego does the One appear to be three. It appears as it is conceived.

The world and thought are unreal, and so is the ego. One sees the ego's guises and its appearances. Where is its existence? One sees its effects, but where is the cause? If the ego is real in any manner, it should be actually experienced. If the ego is an entity, it should exist somewhere. If the ego itself is an effect, it should have a cause. One should inquire to determine if the ego exists at all.

Is the ego actually experienced? It has neither shape nor size, and it has no physical attributes. It is never sensed, for one never sees, hears, touches, or has any other sensory impression of the ego. The ego is not the word, “I," nor the particular thought of the same, for realized sages, who are fully identified with the true Self alone, may say “I," but they neither give rise to nor retain any ego. The ego has no form of its own and is never seen by itself as it is. Though the ego is an assumption of a division in Being, how can Being be dual or be divided in itself?

The ego “I" is not a quality or attribute of the Self, since it is not invariably related to it. It does not continue in Liberation or in deep sleep. Since it does not, it must belong to something else and not to the Self. To what does it belong? If one inquires, one will find that it belongs to nothing. It cannot belong to what depends on it, and the attributeless Self, being homogenous and ever changeless, will never have an ego at any time. If the ego were an attribute of the Self, the ego would be eternal, in which case, all Liberation, all scriptures, all spiritual life, all spiritual practice, all sayings of sages, and such would be futile and false. This would be absurd. It is better to give up the notion of the ego than to hold to it as alone being real. The ego is not a tem- porary quality of the Self. The truth cannot be like the case of an unripe fruit becoming a ripe fruit, in which there would be two stages, or states, for the Self, one with an ego and one without. The Existence of the Self is Absolute and immutable. If the ego were ever the Existence, as part of it or sharing in it in any way whatsoever, Existence would be changeful and transitory and would cease to exist. Being is always egoless and has no ego quality whatsoever.

Where is the ego? It is not in the world, which is unreal. It is not in the body, which is unreal and not the Self. It is not in the senses, which are unreal and not the Self. It is not in thought, which is unreal and not the Self. It is not in the flawless, unmodified, perfect Self. The ego is never actually experienced by itself and is not actually experienced in any of these. The ego dwells nowhere.

If the ego is not a thing in itself, does not reside anywhere, and is not inherent in anything, the remaining possibility is that its supposed existence is an effect produced by something else. The ego is not produced by the world, the body, the senses, the prana, or the mind. These produce phenomena, sensations, physical, subtle and mental experiences, and thoughts. These appear after the ego is differentiated, and so they cannot produce it, for the effect does not produce the cause. The ego is not produced by the Self, which is the Absolute. The Absolute Self does not produce or create at all but ever just is. That the ego is said to rise from the origin, or substrate, of the Self is expedient teaching intended to guide those desirous of Liberation to the Origin, the one Substrate, in order to realize its egoless nature. Such instruction should not be interpreted as the ego really being born or the Self actually giving birth to it. The ego cannot be self-produced, for to imagine so would be to suppose its pre-existence, which is absurd and which would lead to the consequent question as to what caused that pre-existent ego. This, in turn, would lead either to the delusion regarding the effects causing the cause or a mod- ification in the eternally, changeless Self, which possibilities have already been negated by the inquiry, or to an infinite regression. But the Self alone is infinite, and causality is not real. One can- not actually recall when this ego, the root of maya, began, was created, or was born, though there is the knowledge of perpetual existence, which is of the Self alone, for never was there a time when you were not, and never will there be a time when you will cease to be. Thus, the Self is ever the Unborn—neither coming from another state or thing nor giving birth to any—and the ego is unborn as it never comes to be. This may also be regarded as the final significance of the Maharshi's inquiry as to “Whence am I?" graciously given to show the method of tracing inwardly from where the identity of “I” derives, as well as “Who am I?"

How can there be the ego's effect (delusion), as the supposed cause itself has never come to be? The ego is an assump- tion. Who assumes this assumption? No one. Who knows the Knowledge of the Self? The ego “I" cannot know the Self, as the Self alone is capable of knowing. The “I" is inert, and the known is a mere notion, a vacuous imagining, and an assumption that is nonexistent. There is no ego to be ignorant or to be bound, to attempt to know the Self, or to return to it or unite with it. The Self is what you are, and it is innately egoless.

May this egoless Knowledge of the Self abide. May the Knowledge of the nondual, indivisible nature of the Self, the only true “I,” in which there is never an individual “I,” be.

The Absolute Self as It is

Always, there is one Reality, the nondual Self. All illusion arises without a real cause and vanishes in the Knowledge of the Self. Self-Knowledge, or Self-Realization, is the natural state, the only real state there is. Being is forever immutable.

The Self is the source of all. All depend on and appear in it. It is the beginning. The Self is that which pervades all. It is the actual existence of all. It is the middle. The Self is That into which all dissolves. It is the end. The Self, being universal, is all in all at all times.

The Self is solid Existence, invariable, unmodified, indestructible, and ever still. The Self is ever-shining Consciousness, the one all-pervading Light without a shadow. The Self is Bliss, the long-sought happiness, the invariable perfect fullness (Purnam), and the bliss of the sages. Being-Consciousness-Bliss is the Self of the sages, the Self of the aspirants, the Self of the Guru, the Self of the disciple, and the Self of all.

Knowledge is Being. Being is Knowledge. There is no duality in this. That is, in this, there is no knower and known, and no being one thing and knowing another. There is no ego in this. This is egoless Knowledge. The Knowledge is not a thought. It is transcendent Knowledge. In this Knowledge, the Self is itself the conviction and certitude in itself. The Self, itself, is the depth and power of meditation upon the Knowledge. The Self, itself, is the real teaching and the final proof of itself. The Self, itself, is That which is to be known, the knower himself, and the Knowledge itself. The Self, itself, is the revelation in the inef- fable Silence of Dakshinamurti and Sri Ramana Maharshi.

The Self has no states or degrees. It is not bound, not striving for Liberation, and not liberated. It is never bound, and there is no separate state of Liberation. There is, in the Self, no com- ing into being of illusion and no ending of illusion. In Self-Realization, no new thing has been attained, nothing has been made purer, nothing has been produced, nothing has been acquired, nor has one been transformed. What is stands self- revealed, and the possibility of bondage, with its concomitant suffering, is no more, as there in no unreality and no one to imagine it. In Self-Realization, there is no change of states between active and inactive, or between thought and its absence. Only one, uncreated, unchanged Existence is. In Self-Realization, there are no degrees of any kind. There is not a Liberation while alive contrasted with Liberation after disembodiment. There is no individual “I," no perception of forms, and no disappearance of the perception of forms. In this wakeful bliss, there is nothing further to be accomplished.

The Self is nondual, like space, formless, infinite, Being, Void, uncreated, timeless, and ever-existent. It ever is just as it is, and it alone is. This “ever is" is the significance of Silence.

(This concludes the chapter.)

Go to Part 1 of this chapter.

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