Ignorance of Brahman is NOT an Action Problem – but Knowledge & Superimposition (adhyāsa) (10)
Ignorance of Brahman is NOT Action Problem – but Knowledge & Superimposition (adhyāsa) (10)


Session 10 starts with giving practical example applying Spiritual sādhana to purify Mind, by driving to work (through Karma Yoga spirit of Compassion). Followed by 2 paths all humans are confronted with each day.

Then we discuss why problem of Ignorance of one's nature is due to lack of Knowledge, not lack of right Ritual. (Although rituals aid in cleansing the Mind which is required for understanding Upaniṣadic statements or brahmavidyā; highest knowledge.)


  1. Converting mundane activity like car driving – into a Spiritual sādhana – through spirit of Karma Yoga.

    What does “yogaḥ karmasu kauśalam (BG 2.50)” mean?  HINT: ___ in action.

    Skill in action has 2 parts: (1) Intention; deliberate-action (2) Taking into account how deliberate-action is affecting others.

    Why would you want to be mindful how your actions (speech, tone, driving, shopping, walking, breathing, thinking) are influencing others?

    Because it snaps Mind out of it's “Unconscious competence” (auto-pilot mechanical) mode.

    Meaning this interrupts Vāsanā's (main obstacle to mokṣa) because of which Jīva helplessly continues creating new Karma, which then returns back, which Jīva has to then address with another Action, which then creates another Karma. This is saṃsāra. It's endless.

    Furthermore, “thinking about others” promotes the highest trait a human can express: Compassion (expressed sensitivity).

    Add to that, mindfulness trains Intellect to become highly alert. Improves it's discriminating power (satya-mithyā). Which is bases of Self-Inquiry.

    EXERCISE: Where else could you demonstrate “skill in action“?

    How about not talking loudly on phone in public. Or turning down music volume. Or smiling first vs. expecting another to smile first. Or not walking so fast in public (which gives away a Rājasic-cluttered mind.)

    Worth Noting: Every person is a role model in society. Easy to talk “changing the world”. It starts by living as an example for others to subconsciously notice, without vocally expressing it. People learn by observation.

  2. Two paths all humans are making each day. Explains self-contradicting behavior.

    The basic knowledge of what is noble and ignoble is known to one and all. In spite of such knowledge one chooses the vicious path, which is detrimental to one's well being.

    The Ṛṣis analyzed the reason for such conduct and discovered that there are two distinct and separate paths in life, namely (1) Path of the Pleasant, (2) Path of the Good.

    Human beings face the problem of choosing one of the two paths at every single moment of their lives.

    The “Path of the Pleasant”, pleases, fascinates and entices an individual  to take to it.

    On the other hand, the “Path of the Good”, which is based on sound religious tenets, is resisted by an individual.

    The former caters to one's own sense gratification and provides one with immediate pleasures abut subsequently results in disappointment and sorrow.

    In contrast, the latter is detestable in the beginning but later on leads one to permanent happiness and a sense of fulfillment.

    Example: Man meets woman at shopping mall. She says her husband and children are away on vacation. Later in day, they share an alcoholic beverage. Man notices she is tipsy and flirtatious to him.

    Man has two choices: (1) Go with the emotional flow and satisfy both of their senses, (2) Man rationally thinks for her and says “no”, knowing she'll later feel guilty and would be determental to her family.

  3. How to FAIL in life…

    Veda's point out purpose of life in 4 stages. Starting from lowest to highest: (1) Kāma (2) Artha (3) Dharma (4) Mokṣa

    Wise people are innumerable. Example: Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu demonstrates the peak of living a Dharmic life.

    However it is devoid of stage 4 (mokṣa) – essentially still ignorant of one's eternal Nature and consequently results in rebirth no differently then one in pursuit of Kāma, Artha.

    Although irony is, stage 4 comes AFTER stage 3. Meaning, living a Dharmic life (stage 3) qualifies one for Self-Knowledge (stage 4).

    The danger is getting stuck in a “Dharmic” wise life. Then mistaking and feeling like one is living “the highest purpose“. It's equivalent to (1) Being stuck in Sattva; feeling “divine” and “pure” all the time (2) Sahaja Savikalpa Samadhi; permanent samadhi but with Jīva form still being identified with – still dualistic.

    Meaning: One must INCLUDE Self-Knowledge (brahmavidyā) amidst a Dharmic life.

  4. Two kinds of Intellects.

    1. tīkṣna-buddhi:

    Gross intellect. Used to resolve worldly matters Outwards

    Example of using tīkṣna-buddhi: Stacking bricks, solving impossibly complex math equations, brain surgery, quantum physics, rocket-science, mowing the grass.

    This gross intellect is incapable of appreciating the Subtle/invisible. Hence it discards Religion and OBJECTIFIES Consciousness as if it's another Object to be dissected, studied and analyzed.

    That's why you can have a genius scientist with 10 Nobel Prizes about the Mithyā dimension discoveries, yet when Religion mentions the invisible all-pervading Satya dimension, the scientist immediately Objectifies it into another Mityhā. Hence no point arguing.

    2. sūkṣma-buddhi:

    Subtle intellect. Used to discriminate Satya/Mithyā (Real/Unreal). Intellect used for Subjective investigation. Inwards.

    This is the intellect needed for mokṣa. How to develop it? By listening to the Upaniṣadic declarations (Vedānta) whose sole purpose is to get you to think and question Reality. Of course, other means of Knowledge also exist. Vedānta is not the only. But it gets the job done impeccably; so we'll stick with Vedānta.

    Example of using sūkṣma-buddhi: Self-inquiring about the ExperiencED-Object against the ExperiencOR-Subject and ExperiencING (Relationship between Subject-Object).

  5. Why Arjuna didn't get or missed the true meaning and depth of “I am the Whole” (sarvam brahmaḥ)? And solution Kṛṣṇa gave thereafter…

    It's emotional attachments to things, situations, God, people… that's preventing one from seeing WHAT-IS. This is why Karma Yoga exists, to extinguish those emotional attachments… which primes the mind for Knowledge per Vedānta teachings.

    Another reason is because Arjuna believes “I AM the doer“. This is experience for all ignorant Jīva's. Believing action outputted by your body-mind-intellect belongs to YOU. In reality, it's done by Īṣvara(2). Hence we prescribe Karma Yoga where Jīva continues doing SAME actions as any other day. But with a different attitude, whereby each action contributes to exhausting the notion of “I AM the doer”. And sublimates it into “I AM the witness of the doing which is done by the real doer called Īṣvara(2)”.

    This is why Kṛṣṇa recommends Karma Yoga FIRST. To help Arjuna deal with his Emotional attachment (result of likes-dislikes; vāsanā) to performing his svadharma. And so that Arjuna get's rid of the doer (ego), which reflects belief “I AM separate from God and the World“.

    Meaning: All the Self-Knowledge in the world reaps no benefits to one whose Mind continues to be disturbed by likes-dislikes (rāga-dveṣa). Hence only way to mokṣa is to FIRST purify the Mind. How? By prescribing Karma Yoga which exhausts vāsanā's – hence stilling the Mind. Instead of reinforcing them – hence agitating/exciting the Mind.

    Side note: Karma Yoga is not the only sādhana for Mind Purification. There are dozens. Patañjali Yoga Sūtras, A Course in Miracles, different methods in other Vedāntic texts, Bhakti Yoga, Raja Yoga, Kriyā Yoga, etc.

    However, because we're studying the Gītā, we'll discuss only Karma Yoga, which coincidentally is the foundation of every sādhana in creation. Hence we're not missing anything out.

  6. Karma Yoga purpose: Surrender the “doer” (ego) to Īṣvara/God.
  7. Ignorance of one's nature is due to lack of Knowledge, not lack of right Ritual.

    No ritual can produce Enlightenment. Because every ritual, action (done by one who thinks they’re limited), is LIMITED. So how can limited action produce UNLIMITED RESULT (which is nature of Self).

    Meaning: Nothing one can do to produce Enlightenment. But at the same time, you CAN and MUST do something. Because you need to do an Action to get Enlightenment (even Knowledge acquisition is an Action). Hence we face a contradiction.

    How to resolve this contradiction?

    If Jīva can't do anything to get Enlightened (since every Jīva is already Enlightened), then what's the Jīva's problem? Is is problem of ACTION? No. It's an understanding / ignorance problem.

    So Vedānta doesn't produce your Enlightenment, since you're already already Self/Consciousness/Brahman. Vedānta just removes your ignorance.

    And how does one get rid of this Ignorance?

    By gaining knowledge. Action won't remove Ignorance, because Ignorance motivates action. So every action done out of Ignorance, only reinforces Ignorance which one is trying to remove. Solution to this is ACTION done in Karma Yoga spirit – which we'll unfold in future sessions.

    What does Ignorance mean? Opinions, beliefs that I have about 3 things:

    (1) Jīva: Who I am as a person – conscious being – Jīva.
    (2) Jagat (Īṣvara2): Physical world – matter – objects – mithyā.
    (3) Īṣvara(1): Consciousness – Self – satya.

  8. Snake-Rope example to introduce students to topic of Superimposition (adhyāsa) – for preparation in following session how to remove superimposition of not-self onto the Self.

    Download sheet used in class here.

    Two kinds of superimposition:

    1. Īśvara-sṛṣṭi:

    Mirage of water (creation of Māyā) on desert (Consciousness, Self, or substratum called adhiṣtāna).

    Mirage doesn't end for the Enlightened one. It's just known to be Unreal.

    Mirage of water on desert is seen by father (Enlightened) just like it's seen by son (ignorant).

    Only difference is: To father, the STATUS of mirage is known to be Unreal. Hence Enlightened one (jñāni) isn't motivated to participate in world (mirage). While saṃsāri son is chasing ever-changing mirages.

    2. Jīva-sṛṣṭi:

    Snake-rope. Jīva's projection (vikṣepa-shakti) of B-M-I ends when ignorance is destroyed by Vedānta.

    EG: Duryodhana projecting his own envy-jealousy onto the Pāṇḍavas. This is Jīva's own projection, called: jīva-sṛṣṭi.

Download visual mind map of this session. Book on superimposition used in class.

3 July 2018


  1. Tracey Hughes on March 22, 2019 at 7:33 pm

    Wow Your Karma Yoga explanation is so good. I have never heard of it put this way. It makes so much sense. I am working my way through your fantastic, very informative videos. I went back to watch the first 10 again. I picked up so much more the second time listening to them. Thankyou very much. I would love to come to you class but could not commit to weekly attendance due to distance to be travelled so these videos help me to be there.

    • mm Andre V on March 27, 2019 at 7:15 pm

      Indeed, I too find most value in 2nd/3rd listening of videos.
      1st Watching: Seed planted.
      2nd Watching: Soil Watered.
      3rd: Organic Fertilizer added.

  2. Ishwari on May 26, 2020 at 9:02 pm

    Is it the case that a person has to have good karma to be able to follow their swadharma, assuming they know what it is? Your question re: “Would I be doing this if I wasn’t being paid for it?” is saying that we would want to follow our swadharma for the love of it, i.e. for the intrinsic reward and not for any extrinsic reward like money or status.

    It seems that only a minority of people have the opportunity to do this, and those who can are very “fortunate”. For example, many who want to be actors or artists have to work, say, waiting on tables or driving taxis to make a living and may only rarely, or perhaps never, make a living from the work they love and in which they have a talent. Many people are working in “jobs”, not in what they feel to be a vocation, out of economic necessity. Where does this leave the necessity of following one’s swadharma?

    • mm Andre V on May 27, 2020 at 8:57 pm

      Svadharma has 2 definitions:

      1) Responding appropriately to immediate demands of the situation you find yourself in. This is ongoing. And situation based.

      EG: I’m trimming grass front of the house. You’re walking by with shorts. It’s my svadharma (most appropriate action) to stop the trimmer so particles don’t hurt you.

      2) Turning your whole life into a platform for expressing your unique talents.

      EG: If one’s talent is to extract the real story out of people’s minds (through one’s sweet communication skills), then considers journalism for a smaller company. And if they discover company is pushing them to distort the information for sake of TV ratings, then find another company.

      Many people are working in “jobs”, not in what they feel to be a vocation, out of economic necessity. Where does this leave the necessity of following one’s swadharma?

      In such scenario, following svadharma is highly unlikely.

      Because most are attached to comfort of world security, and will protect it even if it doesn’t bring joy and actually causes damage to society.

      Why is this the case?

      Because the order of 4 stages of life are violated. 4 stages in proper order are:

      1) Dharma: Before putting any action into the field, we must FIRST must know what actions are right/wrong. EG: Don’t cheat/hurt others.

      2) Artha: Ensuring we create world security/wealth for ourselves… under guidelines of #1 above. EG: Don’t earn by cheating others.

      3) Kāma: Now we can ENJOY what we ETHICALLY earned. (Enjoying what I earned by stealing/cheating, is shallow enjoyment at best).

      4) Mokṣa: Realizing 1-3 only brings temporary fulfillment. So we purse permanent fulfillment; liberation.

      So what is solution to pursue svadharma if not doing already? Ask, “What am I talented in? What do I find easy, which others find boring or hard? Where do I have patience, where others don’t?”.

      One HAS TO start making small changes, small actions, small decision to move in alignment with their talents. Otherwise, no amount of lecturing/motivation will work. Mind remains in constant agitation when it’s made to do activity NOT in line with it’s talents.

      How to know one is working for money in line with svadharma? Overtime doesn’t feel like work, but utter joy one can’t get enough of!

      What if getting out of job situation is completely out of the question? Then change attitude towards work. “I’m not working for money or my family or myself. I’m working for God alone”. > Karma Yoga.

  3. Ishwari on June 9, 2020 at 9:19 pm

    Thank you for that comprehensive response, André.

Leave a Comment