Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Is I self-evident and is there effort involved in vichara?

The following is an excerpt from a discussion on nidhidhyasanam, status of a knower, and effort in vichara.

"Again in the stock example of rope and snake, the knower of the rope as rope and not as snake is different from both the snake that got projected due to ignorance, and the rope. This is not the case with regard to Self Knowledge, as
here the Knower itself is the Known."

My response:
I think this needs to be examined. If the Knower is the Known then what is
Knowledge? Brahman is not the Knower - Brahman is the Knowing that illumines
both ignorance and knowledge. There is a ignorant intellect that is in need of
the illuminating knowledge in order to recognize its mithya nature. This entire
vyavahara is in the realm of mithya. So the rope snake analogy maintains its
relevancy - only thing is the adhyasa or superimposition does not involve an
external object but involves the "internal" subject - the "aham" is superimposed
onto the anatma.
When one negates or ignores dream he does it in waking state, i.e. experience of
one state is negated in another state. In the same state, i.e. dream state, I
doubt whether one is able to negate the dream experience. Again the awakening
to Self Knowledge is in Waking state only i.e. it does not happen in a
“different state.

My response:
This does not mean that there is no "waking up" - when we say the person woke up
from the dream world into the waking world, it means that the dream world got
sublated, and was seen to be mithyA. In the case of samyak jnana also, there is
a sublation involved - where the waking state is ALSO seen to be mithyA - and
thereby is annihilated in toto the ahankara.
If within the dream state, without sublating that state - i.e. without actually
waking up, if someone keeps saying i know this is a dream state, it doesnt alter
his continued involvement in the dream - he simply becomes an informed dream
player - only when the waking up ensures his existential annihilation in toto.

NidhidhyAsanam as I understand is remaining in, abiding in, staying in
determined budhi/wisdom or intellect, i.e. the dhi or intellect is determined
and free from all doubts, and one remains in that determined intellect/budhi or
wisdom. Whenever such determined dhi gets disturbed, although such disturbances
are just mithya, one has to remind himself of the Mahavakya, and negate the
mithya. This may happen till the Knowledge gets assimilated, and it reflects

My response:
This "remaining in" has to be a continuous unceasing effort on the part of a
mind that has been made extraordinarily singlepointed - where like a flow of
water the content of the thoughts are continually of the conviction of aham
brahamsmi. This can only happen when one gradually frees oneself of all karmas -
sarvakarmasannyasa - because any karma involves a notional do-ership, and any
notional do-ership - even of one's nitya karmas or nishkamya karmas involves
ahankara. And such a ahankara is incompatible with a mind that is persistently
and unremittingly engaged in the aham brahmasmi conviction. These "disturbances"
are a pointer to persisting durvasanas which will keep propping up and leading
one to perfunctory modes of behavior, and at least in the initial stages can
only be kept at bay by building up on vairagya and a gradual and deliberate
turning away from mundane activities, and building up on shatsampatti.
With regard to one taking up Sanyasa or one becoming a Sanyasi, etc., what
difference it makes to such a GnAni whether he is sanyasai or otherwise.

My response:
Again, "becoming" a sannyasi is not an extra action or karma - it is simply a
process of un-becoming - of what? - of a "mundane" existence that consists in
involvement in a neverending sequence of cause and effect - of continuous karmas
and karmaphalas - where every karma reinforces the conviction of dehatmabuddhi.

Any amount of meditation on Aham BrahmAsi etc., will not liberate one, as one is
already liberated, and just because of his ignorance of the fact he is already
liberated, this Knowledge alone makes one recognize that he is already

My response:
True - knowledge alone makes one recognize this. However in this context,
meditation is not meant to secure a new liberation but to secure the knowledge
that one is ever-liberated. For that jnana-NISHTA alone needs nidhidhyasanam.
Without jnana-nishta, there is no liberation.

Liberation does not take place in time, as such liberation taking place in time
is not real being subject to time.

My response:
Liberation is never "real" because bondage itself is unreal. It has nothing to
do with the "in-time" clause.
In the case of Self Knowledge there is neither Vastu Tantra nor Purusha Tantra,
as in other cases, because here the Purusha and Vastu are one and the same.

My response:
Again, the Vastu is not a knower. And purusha is the ahankara that efforts under the spell of avidya - The Vastu does not partake in this entire vyavahara of
ignorance-bondage-knowledge-liberation - it is an univolved disinterested
witness - sakshi chaitanyam - a "mere" enabler that permits this entire
vyavahara to take place. Any knowledge is vastu tantra alone. It is always the vastu that enables the knowledge to take place - provided the right means of
knowledge is operational. In the case of atmajnana that pramana is the Shruti

With regard to any bhaAvana, I "know" I am a man, and is it required on my part
to have a bhaAvana that I am a man. It is bhAvAteetam. It is a piece of knowledge and it is so assimilated that it gets reflected in all me not affected
by desha, kala and vastu. Is "bhaAvana" voluntary or involuntary? Actually,here one has to free from all bhAvanas, including Aham BrahmAsmi, as one is
already that.
My response:
This bhavana "I am a man" is so ingrained in me because of beginningless avidya
that it is not easy to get rid of. I have complete nishta in this jnana! -
waking, eating, walking, talking, while doing every activity the one doubtless
bhavana I always entertain is "i am this body" - only when this dehatma bhava is
metamorphosed - with the help of knowledge gleaned from the Shruti mahavakya -
into sarvatmabhava. This sarvatmabhava ALONE is kaivalya or mukti. And for this
there has to be unceasing and singlepointed abidance in the conviction aham
brahmasmi and a gradual effacement of all thoughts contrary to that conviction -
vasanakshaya and manonasha.
sarvAtmanA bandhavimuktihetuh sarvAtmabhAvAnna paro'sti kascit
drshyAgrahe satypapadyate'sau sarvAtmabhAvo'sya sadAtmaniSThayA

There is no means for complete liberation from bondage other than identifying
oneself with the whole universe. This identification arises upon the rejection
of the perceptible world by continuous
contemplation on the atman.
How can such a thing be made possible for one immersed in dehatmabhava? katham
nu ghaTase dehAtmanA tiSThato? The answer is provided by Shruti -
sArvAtmyasiddhaye bhikSoh krtashravaNakarmaNah
samAdhim vidadhAtyeSA shAnto dAsta iti shrutih meaning-
bhikSoh krta-sravaNakarmaNah: to the Sannyasin who has engaged himself in
listening to the words of the Vedanta-texts and their meanings from the lips of
a guru who is well-established in Brahman
[brahma-nistha]. sarvAtmyasiddhaye: for the perfection of sarvatmabhava of the
form of kaivalya, which is the mark of emancipation. eSa: this sruti beginning
with `santo dantah': tasmadevamvit santo danta uparatah titiksuh samahitah
sraddhavitto bhutva atman yevatmanam pasyet [Brh.]: "therefore, one who knows
thus, who has controlled his internal and external organs, who has withdrawn his
mind from objects, who is patient, who has concentration and faith, let him
realise himself in his Atman".

"Self"-knowledge always is pertient only to the one who is "self"-ignorant. In the case of one self-ignorant the Self is NOT the "I" but the witness to the idea or concept of "I", as Shankara clarifies in the sutrabhasya. That Self - which is nothing but the witnessing awareness/consciousness, does not get involved in this vyapara - and is beyond ignorance and knowledge. That is the only point I am/was trying to clarify - it is subtle but crucial.

With regards to chittashuddhi - when you say "durvasanas in course of time will
disappear themselves" - let me offer a perspective that is a little different.
Tremendous degree of deliberate, unceasing, unrelenting and concentrated effort is required here - akin to "emptying an ocean using a blade of grass" - one drop
at a time!
Shankara says in BG 14.26 that as the characteristics set forth that characterize a sage "Udaseenavat" (Indifference) etc DEMAND EFFORT to achieve -
udaasenavat ityadi gunateetah sa uchyate ityetadantah uktam yaavat yatnasaadhyam, hence the sannyasi, the seeker after liberation has to CULTIVATE THEM, they being the means leading to the state of transcendence taavat sannyasinah anushteyam gunaateetatvasadhanam mumukshoh. Elsewhere too Shankara's words are almost identically phrased - 2.55 - thus indeed are these characteristics acquired through DIRECTED EFFORT yatnasadhyatvaat. Only with such stupendous efforts COUPLED WITH an enormous degree of Grace can one, with knowledge, secure the kingdom of Supreme Peace.

< >
Is the state of transcendence another state like Waking, Dreaming and Deep Sleep? Does it refer to Turiya? As I understand, Turiya is not a state at all but it pervades all the other states. The Teaching helps one to recognize that. If it is a state, then it is subject to change like the other states. Whenever one wants to be free, does he have to enter the state of transcendence, and if that is the case, does it not mean such freedom is not Real?

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You are absolutely correct that any state where there is a coming and going cannot be permanent. However let me give you my perspective.
To begin with that statement in quotes <

THEM, they being the means leading to the stateof transcendence> >
 is not my words but the words of Shankara. And Bhagwan Shankara again is referring to Bhagwan Krishna's words in that particular reference - which words? - "esha brahmi sthitih Partha" "that is the state of being established in Brahman"...and further "nainaam prapya vimuhyati".. "One does not become deluded after attaining this". How does one understand this in congruence with the fact that any state can only be impermanent?
First let us see how Bhagwan Shankara glosses this:
Sah puman, that man who has become thus, the SANNYASIN, the man of steady wisdom, the knower of Brahman; adhi-gacchati, attains; santim, peace, called Nirvana, consisting in the cessation of ALL the sorrows of MUNDANE existence, i.e. He becomes One with Brahman; yah, who; vihaya, after rejecting; sarvan, ALL; kaman, desires, without a trace, FULLY; carati, moves about, i.e. wanders about, making efforts ONLY for maintaining the body; nihsprhah, free from hankering, becoming free from ANY longing EVEN FOR the maintenance of the body; nirmamah, without the idea of 'me' and 'mine', without the DEEPROOTED idea of 'mine' EVEN when accepting something needed MERELY for the upkeep of the body; and nir-ahankarah, devoid of pride, i.e. free from self esteem owing to learning etc.

This steadfastness in Knowledge, which is such, is being praised:
O Partha, esa, this, the aforesaid; is brahmisthitih, the STATE of being established in Brahman, i.e. continuing (in life) in identification with Brahman, AFTER RENOUNCING ALL ACTIONS. Na vimuhyati, One does not become deluded; prapya, AFTER attaining ; enam, this Rcchati, one attains; brahma-nirvanam, identification with Brahman, Liberation; sthitva, BY BEING ESTABLISHED; asyam, in this, IN THE STATE of Brahman-hood as described; api, even; anta-kale, in the closing years of one's life. What need it be said that, One who remains established only in Brahman during the whole life, AFTER having espoused MONASTICISM even from the stage of celibacy, attains indetification with Brahman!

Clearly there is mention here, by Bhagwan Krishna, and resoundingly reiterated by Bhagwan Shankara, of the attainment of a transcendental personality, bereft of the deeprooted ideas of me and mine, with no desire whatsoever, not even for the maintenance or continuation of the bodily existence. So - to restate your question - if one attains to this "state" then can such an attainment be said to be permanent - like any other "phase" will it not have an end, being a "state"? How to say there is no return then? no end?
The answer - incredible as it may seem is this - that the time-bound state is the one WE ARE ACTUALLY IN! - this mundane samsaric existence we call life IS the "time"-"bound" existence -we are all bound in the pasha of Kala. And being time bound it does have an end - the end being signified by the rise of and the establishemnt in Knowledge, in the Absolute.
Until such time, being bound to Time or Kala by the tethers of Maya we are bound to be helplessly tossed about, akin to a carcass being mercilessly tossed by a crocodile that has firmly held it in its teeth. Only after lifetimes of strife, when we fall at the feet of Mother Maya - and surrender in toto - does She empower us with her Grace to end this time-bound state - the "state" of samsara-hood.
So yes - the Brahmi-sthitih is not a timebound state - indeed it is the ONLY state not "time"-bound - because it transcends time. It is our pristine unalloyed Existence - the Beatitude which is our very eternal Nature.
And that "attainment" and the "freedom" is not Real - not because it is a new state that seems to have been arrived at - but because our current bondage is not Real, our current existence being a fictitious dysmorphism. What is Real is ever the Self that is our very nature.
************ *****
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With regard to yatna or effort, I remember our learning by heart the multiplication tables. Initially when the teacher asks you “What is 16 x 7” you start from “16x1, 16x2. 16x3….till 16x7” and then only you are able to answer it. As the time goes, and as you apply the table every now and then, you do not have to start from “16x1, 16x2. 16x3.. . . etc”. The answer is spontaneous. This is the way I think when one dwells on “Aham BrahmAsi” as NidhidhyAsanam, in due course, there is no further necessity of such NidhidhyAsanam, and the wisdom of this knowledge shines spontaneously, without any effort. That is why I said, thedurvasanas etc, get dropped themselves.

************ *****
What you describe is fluency at a learned skill-set. You can also take the example of bicycle-riding - where-as initially you struggle and put great effort at it and subsequently it comes "naturally" - the example is to an extent valid, provided one considers the constraints of its applicability. Aham brahmasmi is not a new skillset, that I learn, and get fluent at. It is my intrinsic nature. It is not a thing I memorize, or get better at, or learn anew. I simply UN-Learn that which I am not, but think myself to be secondary to the hypnosis of beginningless avidyA. Like an actor lost in his role, lost in the drama, I harbor a deeprooted conviction in my identity as being the role that I am playing, and in the costume that I am wearing. Now and then, [perhaps during a brief commercial break :)] I might get a glimpse of the real me bereft of my mask, but it is ever so-fleeting - what does it take to recognize the real me and abide in that

recognition - on being told that this role that I am playing is not me - drop the mask, drop the costume, and walk away form the drama. Why? In order to wipe out my deeprooted conviction in my assumed pseudoidentity - that thanks to infinte number of prior births - and the Holy sprinkle of Maya's dust - is so deep-rooted in me, that it is immanent in my every breath, cemented in my every step. Unless I take time and effort, in breaking off from the samsaric drama, and introspect, with the aid of a teacher, it is impossible for me to overcome this conviction born of an utter and beginningless infatuation of the non-self. Hence alone is nidhidhyasana a committment unlike any other, and more importantly incompatible with karmas, which are ever tethered to the ahankara. Only then does nidhidhyasana efface the viparita-bhava of me being this body/mind and replace it with the sarvatma-bhava of the Univeral Self-hood.

See what the sage of Kanchi says "However much the mind and intellect might have matured, until the Brahman Realisation happens, mAyA does not spare you. Realisation is the apex of all sAdhanA. It cannot be achieved unless all karma is extinguished. "

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