Tat Tvam Asi Equation & Advaita Misconceptions (100)


Lesson 100 reconciles apparent differences between limited individual and limitless Ishvara by showing they both resolves into one same Brahman.

So far we've done two inquiries:

  • 1) Who are you?
    • You are that in whose presence, everything is objectified (including your own body/mind changes).
    • Only difference between body-mind and other objects is you have special relationship/connection with one body-mind. Like with with one house.
    • But in both cases (body-mind / objects), I don’t become what I know about.
      • EG: I know of table, I don't become table. I know of thought, I don't become that thought.
      • Meaning I am presence which is free of everything.
    • Next question: Is this Presence unique to just me?
      • Method 1: If it was different to another, then it must have some attribute. But all attributes belong to body-mind.
      • Method 2: EG: There is one undivided space in which all objects are. But presence of objects, as though, creates divisions.
  • 2) What is cause of universe?
    • Above inquiry doesn't answer where all objects come from. And HOW they, seemingly divide the undivided Awareness.
    • Any effect requires two causes:
      • Maker: If whole universe is intelligently put together, then maker MUST BE all knowledge-power.
        • EG: Maker of pot has knowledge of pot, but maker of everything, has knowledge of everything.
      • Material: What makes time-space-objects.
        • If there is material separate from the maker (all-knowledge, all-power), that implies there is already space, time and objects. Logic breaks down.
        • Therefore only other possibility: Material and maker are not-two. Meaning, Ishvara is in-and-through every form in universe.
  • Next question: If Ishvara is everywhere, how come I don't see Ishvara?
    • Look into any form, you see it is forms within forms. We end up where?
      • If use normal knowledge, end up at quantum physics, which stops at question: What is final building block from which the smallest of the smallest is made?
    • Vedanta continues where quantum physics stops: Final building block of everything is not any particular particle, but all-knowledge, all-power.
      • Organizing every level of form to become next successive assembly.
      • Hence there is one intelligence appearing AS all objects.
  • Next question: Where was all knowledge-power before time-space-objects manifested?
    • Same intelligence was there, but in potential.
      • Metaphor: Today you have potential for tonight's dream-world, which it yet to manifest. Meaning same entity is present, in whom potential for world exists.
    • This means there is no “start” of creation. It’s in beginningless cycles.

What if I don’t know about the one Cause of the Universe?

  • Then even if I know about Nature of “I”, there will be continued seeking/fascination into world. Sucks me into the small things. Worry. Loss of childlike beginners mind. Hinders evolution.
  • If don’t see relevance of Ishvara, one is bound to exhibit heavy treats like: Lack of humility, living in a bubble, hard to relate, intellectual superiority, prone to criticizing/complaining, poor manners/culture, questionable integrity, not easily trusted.
  • Instead, if recognize every word, idea, thought, postulation comes from the One Cause (from which Time/Space itself is born), then you are at general peace with anything from thereon. Which brings lucidity.

Final part of Oneness equation:

  • So far it seems that the One Cause (all-knowledge-power) is the final truth (satyam). However there is one more final reality which even Ishvara depends for it’s being.
  • To demonstrate this, we need to bring in Oneness equation called: tat tvam asi.
    • tat (that): referring to Cause of Universe (Ishvara).
    • tvam (you): referring to the the individual jiva.
    • asi (are): You, the individual, are equated to Ishvara in reference to Consciousness. Meaning both you and Ishvara enjoy the same reality appearing as two different things.
      • QUESTION: But how can I (limited knowledge-power individual) be equated to Ishvara (limitless knowledge-power)?
      • Firstly, we must acknowledge there is a difference in knowledge/power between individual & Ishvara. However difference is apparent and resolved upon inquiry. How is it apparent? Let’s demonstrate with an example…
        • E=mc2 (Energy = Matter).
        • Before resolving: two sides of equation are dissimilar.
        • After resolving: we understand that matter transforms into energy; vice-versa.
          • Thus difference between two sides is apparent; not real.
          • And the understanding is not pointed out directly in the formula. Formula only shows what is true.
          • How to understand what is true, takes place through guru-śiṣya paraṃparā.
  • To test understanding of what is an equation:
    • Is (5 = 5) an equation? No.
    • Is (Individual = Ishvara) an equation? No.
    • Is (3 + 2 = 6 – 1) an equation? Yes. Even though looks different on both sides, upon solving, there's no difference.
    • Meaning if we make a mistake on either side, then you’ll be in a deeper delusion then before solving it.
  • In terms of Oneness, we need to discover:
    • What is the relationship between “tat” (Ishvara) and “tvam” (individual that I find myself to be)?
    • So far we know:
      • Individual = limited knowledge/power.
      • Ishvara  = all knowledge/power.
      • And goal is to find a resolving point between these apparent differences. Where is identity between individual & Ishvara? What is point of resolution between individual & Ishvara? Existence-Awareness (sat-cit).
    • Individual intelligence depends upon Consciousness/Awareness for it’s existence. Because without Consciousness, there’s no thought. IE: What is there to illumine the thought?
    • Thus content of every thought, emotion, memory, cognition & I-sense… is Consciousness.
    • While Consciousness remains independent of intelligence. And is present in thought and silence, as we’ve seen in 3-states of experience example last week.
    • Therefore, what is the irreducible reality, without which there's no individual intelligence? Presence of consciousness/awareness.
    • Firstly let's revise some points about Ishvara
      • Ishvara is All-knowledge-power, constantly undergoing change to create, sustain and transform every particle in the universe.
        • EG: Take any object. Takes lots of intelligence to put it together. Meaning, wherever there is object (at any level), there is intelligence. EG: We don't know how many cells in own body. Thus it's obvious we didn't create it.
      • Ishvara is the total intelligent order as both manifest & potential.
        • EG: My body in 5 years will continue aging in a predictable way. Meaning potential carries order how body will be in 5 years.
      • Isvara manifests itself in form of cause-effect order, which matches present results to corresponding past actions.
      • There’s no final material in the universe. Because every form resolves to time/space, which further resolves to all-knowledge-power that existed before time-space-objects came.
        • So there is only intelligence appearing as names-forms.
          • EG in Mundaka Upanishad: Many sparks arise from conflagration of one flame. Meaning there is one flame appearing as many sparks.
    • And for this very intelligence to put together the entire universe, in requires presence of Consciousness. Just as no amount of knowledge is useful unless entity is Conscious.
    • So what is the irreducible reality, without which there's no all-knowledge? Presence of consciousness/awareness.

Bringing point of resolution for both sides of equation: asi

  • Point of resolution is: Consciousness (Brahman), which is explained by 3 words: sat-cit-ānanda.
    • Sat: Existence / presence. Is-ness of things.
      • Knowledge IS. Time-space IS. Quark IS. Proton/electron IS. Atom IS. DNA IS. Cell IS. Heart IS. Human body IS.
        • “IS” = always true, unchanging, in which mithya names-forms resolve into.
    • Cit: Neither individual-intelligence nor all-intelligence can exist without Awareful, conscious presence.
    • And the glory/nature/beauty of this Conscious Existence (sat-cit) is: ananda (limitless).
  • Therefore, satchitananda is the final (satyam) which everything depends on… including Ishvara.
  • So what is satcitananda? The awareness in whose presence I come to know Īśvara and my own body.

Context using a hierarchy model:

  • Stage 1: From Limitless Consciousness (Brahman), there is a potential to manifest the universe. Unmanifest potential called: maya.
  • Stage 2: When potential manifests as universe, that same potential is called: Ishvara (God).
  • Stage 3: Ishvara manifests individuals called: jiva. (You happen to be one of them). Just like you (ishvara of your dream), manifests characters in the dream, called jivas.
  • Meaning, the One non-dual Consciousness appears as:
    • Microcosm: jiva (body-mind-sense complex).
    • Macrocosm: Ishvara (time/space and laws governing all forms, including jiva forms).
    • While Consciousness does not undergo any changes whether universe is manifest or unmanifest. Consciousness is satcitānanda. Enjoying itself as limitlessness.

Applying to real life while living:

  • How to see oneness in all beings?
    • We recognize, where there is individuality, there is all knowledge-power, that's not only organizing your body, but everyone's form.
      • This same all-knowledge-power was available even before universe came.
      • And what is truth of all knowledge-power? Satcitananda.
  • Order:
    • Brahman: The final reality.
    • Maya: All-knowledge (sarvajna), all-power (sarva-shaktiman) in potential. 
    • Isvara: All knowledge, all-power manifesting the universe. Ishvara knows all that is here is One appearing as many.
    • Jiva: doesn't know that all that is here is One appearing as many.
    • And right now, all 4 are present. This is why Vedanta can't be contradicted by any logic, because all 4 are true from different standpoints.

To help understand the One Reality further, let’s bring back wave-ocean metaphor:

  • Wave can understand itself as water, and entire ocean is water.
    • Meaning there is only water, as though, appearing in form of waves and ocean.
    • And only after PROPERLY grasping all 3 realities (wave, ocean, water) – wave can say:
      • I am the ocean.
      • I am everything that is here, because the content of both wave and ocean is WATER alone.
  • This very understanding is called mokṣa.
    • What is mokṣa?
      • Truth of me is the truth of everything.
      • And while alive, one’s limitlessness is understood in spite of apparent limitation of individuality.
    • What is non-mokṣa?
      • A wave continues to live as a wave, until it recognizes two more realities.
      • Until then, the individual lives in samsara (caught up in individuality / focus on beads). Keeps being reborn to continue notion of itself as a limited entity.

Cautions about the big picture:

  • Caution 1: Wave says “I am part of the Ocean”. Jiva says “I am part of Ishvara”.
    • 2 schools of thought:
      • Visisthadvaita:
        • All that is here is Īśvara, and you are one part of Ishvara.
        • They stop at Ishvara.
        • I am one entity of total.
        • It's not wrong. Just doesn't go all the way.
      • Advaita:
        • Forms are different. Content is One.
        • Meaning at level of content, there's no difference between individual/Īśvara. This is what “Tat tvam asi” is pointing out. Both (jiva/Īśvara) are the same satyam-reality.
  • Caution 2: If dig deeper into universe, we can discover consciousness.
    • This is impossible. Because wherever there is mithya, that’s exactly where satyam is.
    • Wave doesn’t need to go deeper into itself to discover the water.
    • Equation is not done at level of form, but level of content of all forms. Everything resolves in water.
  • Caution 3:
    • After listening to Vedanta, person still takes “Awareness” to be function of mind. Then they superimpose limitlessness onto the mind’s notion.
    • Produces unrelatability, “I am above the scriptures, the guru, the universe”.
    • Humility is the best indicator that this mistake is not being made.
  • Caution 4:
    • If I am limitless, then I can get the world to do as I desire.
    • Law of attraction mindset: I have capacity to influence the universe according to my fancies.
    • Reality check: Before 2008 financial disaster, millions read Law of attraction, expecting to make a fortune. Then crises happened. Many lost their savings.
    • Reason we buy into idea “I control variables of universe”: If I don’t know where my boundary of control ends, I will include entire universe into it.
  • Caution 5: Modern teachings, “Bypass Ishvara”, since it’s mithya. Only focus on nature of “I”.
    • Rational: Why should I think of cause of universe, if everything collapses into Awareness.
    • Why do people skip Īśvara and go straight to “I am limitless Awareness”?  Want quick escape from past life pain/guilt. Just discard world as mithyā.
    • Reality check:
      • Your individuality has to undergo a certain growth, to see your connection with the universe. Need to care for self-image, emotional life, how to make decisions, build resilience.
      • If skip Īśvara, then individual growth doesn't take place. Which makes person live in delusion of Oneness.
      • To get the full vision, you need to become a Deserving Recipient. This takes effort.
  • Caution 6: Since everything is One, thus I have to love everyone and be equal to all.
    • Why is this incorrect? If love everyone, you're inviting abuse. EG: Yuddhisthira was inviting abuse of Duryodhana by being just to all.
    • Solution: Need to establish boundaries.
  • Caution 7: Nature of “I” is achieved through a sudden insight in deep meditation.
    • Common belief: Something clicks while meditation, then Enlightened.
    • Reason for belief:
      • Without knowledge, mind tilts towards path of least resistance.
      • EG: Religious mind imagines Jesus coming down from clouds for rapture. Spiritual mind imagines in it’s own way.
    • Reality check: Per B.Gita, only way to mokṣa is through rigorous inquiry, analyzing aspects of life.
  • Caution 8: Ishvara is mithyā.
    • This is true, but Intelligent Vedantin has no need to declare Īśvara as mithyā. Here's 3 better, humble ways to say it:
      • Īśvara's truth is Awareness and Ishvara knows it, while I don't. And Īśvara through His teaching, is showing you, “Hey little child, you and me are ultimately one!”.
        • Meaning, I need to acknowledge that grasping Reality is not fully in my control. And there is one intelligence, by whom, even this little mind (trying-to-understand) is governed by.
      • Wave says: I am pervaded by the Ocean, and the reality of Ocean is water, so wherever there is Ocean, there is Water.
      • Both individual and total are appearances of One reality.
        • I don't know it. But total knows it. Therefore whole teaching comes from Ishvara.
        • So no question of negating appearance.

Final conclusion:

  • How is Vedanta different from modern healing systems?
    • Other systems:
      • I have to be a better human being. Focuses on improving “I-sense”.
      • Negation. Focuses on negating what I am not.
    • Vedanta:
      • It doesn't negate the apparent differences.
      • It points out how we miss out on intelligence which makes all forms what they are.
      • This intelligence is called Ishvara, which has it’s existence in one final reality; Awareness (Brahman).
        • They enjoy a satya / mithya relationship.
        • Strictly speaking, can’t use the two terms interchangeably. Because Ishvara refers to intelligence. Brahman refers to Awareness.

How does this matter in my daily life?

  • Wherever you are, that's exactly where Isvara is, making your form what it is. Meaning if don't know Ishvara, will live as isolated form.
  • You no longer live in meaningless/random world.
  • You will respect all the forms, which follow certain cause-effect relationship.
  • Fear gone of tomorrow / feeling of persecution. Lack of trust.
  • Less stressed, more patient.
  • Resilient towards challenges.
  • Cheerfulness, light, playfulness.
  • No more victim mode.

Recorded 3 Nov, 2020



  1. Andreji, your website is well maintained and I like to read your summary on various topics. I follow Swami Parmarthanandaji’s lectures and various Swamis of Chinmaya Mission
    In lesson 100, I find you mentioning Maya as the Ananda aspect of Brahman in potential form. This I found as a revelation. As I have not heard this explanation before. If we say ananda as Maya, will it be equal to saying Maya is as real as Brahman?

    1. Hi Geeta,

      I remember doing this lesson.

      If we say ananda as Maya, will it be equal to saying Maya is as real as Brahman?

      Brahman enjoys capacity to manifest the universe. Capacity is called Maya, which means sarvajña (all-knowledge), and sarva-shaktimān (all-power) in potential. Relationship between the two is satya-mithya. Maya has no existence apart from Brahman. Brahman exists independently of Maya.

      For example, a woman enjoys a potential to be a mother. If she doesn’t manifest that potential, it doesn’t make her any less or more. Her identity remains woman. If she does give birth, her identity is still a woman. And the “mother” label depends on woman for it’s existence.

      So we’re not saying maya = Brahman, nor Brahman = maya. Rather, it’s a satya-mithya relationship. Brahman is satyam (independent). Maya is mithyā (has dependent reality).

      In this particular discourse, I’ve taken a different approach, rather then what’s been heard in scriptures…

      When we use the word ananda (in sat-cit-ananda), that word “ananda” means limitless. However, can the mind even grasp that abstract word? No. I can further say it means “not two” or advaita. However even that remains uninspiring for average listener.

      To help connect with word “limitless”, we can say, “limitless-knowledge, limitless-power”. Now we can connect to the word.

      In fact, after death of jñāni/jīvanmukta’s physical body, I remain not only as Brahman, but as all-knowledge, all-power. Knowledge/power is my limitless glory, yet I remain free of them.

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