Session 11 shares heart of Advaita Vedānta in TWO major teachings. FIRST is using formula (A = B = C = A) to negate false sense of separation or space between You (Conscious Subject) and witnessed OBJECT.
And SECOND is importance of total surrender to Īśvara (the Lord) by help of Karma Yoga attitude.
Finally we briefly compare how Karma Yogi, Jñāna Yogi and Bhakti Yogi deals with life of seeming duality (Mithyā).
- All you see is Mind. Not “world out there”.
When I ask, “How do you know what is happening here?” the simple answer is “With my eyes and ears.”
But is it so simple? Can your eyes see by themselves or your ears hear by themselves?
Suppose you are sitting in a room, reading, completely engrossed by a fascinating book. Then someone calls your name from the doorway, but you don’t hear him/her. Why?
Because your mind is elsewhere, immersed in the book. Unless your mind is available, you cannot hear the sounds falling upon your ears. Nor can you see, smell, taste or touch without your mind.
You perceive everything through your mind. When you see an object, your eyes create an image of that person/object in your mind. When you hear the person, their words arise in your mind.
Those images and sounds are not physical; they are perceptions, thoughts produced by your senses.
Whatever is happening in the room or outside is known to you indirectly, via your mind.
It is as if your mind is a screen upon which your eyes project whatever they see, your ears project whatever they hear, and so on. You are aware of everything your senses cast upon the screen of your mind.
So the room/environment you directly experience at this moment is actually located in your mind.
I am not suggesting that the hall does not physically exist.
What I am saying is this: You directly experience only the contents of your mind. You are aware of your thinking; every thought that arises in your mind is known to you. You aware of your emotions; you know if you are happy or sad, joyful or angry.
You experience all these — perceptions, thoughts, and feelings — as they arise in your mind, bubbling up into your consciousness.
Metaphorically, they are all projected on the screen of your mind.
- Self (ātman) shines on the Mind (subtle body) as awareness. Owning to Intellects inability to discriminate Self from the Mind, one then says “I AM ____ (thoughts/emotions of the Mind)“.
Now another question naturally arises: How do you know what takes place on the screen of your mind?
To answer, no reasoning or analysis is necessary. Your own experience is sufficient to determine that you are directly aware of all mental events. There is no actual process involved.
You simply witness the everchanging flow of perceptions, thoughts and feelings as they arise in your consciousness, just like watching a movie projected on a screen.
Whatever you experience, anything you perceive, think, or feel, is an object of your awareness.
You are the awareful witness, the consciousness by which they are all known.
This consciousness is ātman, the truth of yourself.
Ātma is present in all of your experiences as the consciousness by which they are known. And yet, due to ignorance and confusion, it remains unrecognized.
Hence because ātman is always shining on screen of the mind (which is always experiencing)… you have wrong conclusions about “I”.
All your concepts about yourself are based on experience. Experiencing your body, you call yourself male or female, young or old, beautiful or plain. Experiencing illness, you call yourself sick. Experiencing disappointments in life, you call yourself a failure.
Yet all these experiences are only contents of a mind, and completely unrelated to the ONE SAME light which shines on billions of minds (YOU, atma).
Hence the purpose of Vedānta is to destroy those wrong conclusions. Through self-inquiry, you can re-examine your experiences and discover your mistaken notions, freeing yourself from the confusion and suffering they cause.
- Removing dualistic notion that “things are out there”, using (A = B = C) formula.
Choose an object (A) in your environment. EG: The wall of your room.
Where is the object from Step 1 located?
Answer: Naturally we say “It's over there”. That's true. But where is it really? On the screen of your mind (B). Physical eyes perceive the object, data is sent to the brain, and physical brain communicates it to mind (subtle body).
How far away are you (C, the one in whose presence the mind/emotion/thought/doubt is perceived) from your mind (B)? Is there any space? Do you somehow experience yourself distanced from the mind? Absolutely not. It's one total experience occurring right now.
So what you are perceiving right now, is nothing but Monitor-consciousness. Table-consciousness. Doubt-about-this-formula-consciousness. Emotion-consciousness. Thought-consciousness. Etc.
Yes, in real life we say “I perceive the table”. But formula is asking you, WHY is the table perceived? Because there is table-awareness.
So table (A), obtains in the mind (B), and mind is not away from you; the conscious one (C). So there's no distance between you and anything in this world.
If you debate with “Yes there is a distance, because my body is here, and tree is over there”, I'll counter with: And how far away are you (C) from that objection that just occurred in your mind (B) about the tree and body?
Again, zero distance.
Distance of objects, or notion of distance is just a thought occurring in the mind, from which you are never away from.
- Purpose of rituals
1st meaning of “Ritual”: According to Bhagavad Gīta 2.44…
What is purpose of rituals? The practice of rituals (karma-kānda) makes the mind single-pointed when it is pursued without specific desires, such a prepared mind alone is fit for steady contemplation over the Upanishadic declarations.
Further more, ritualism does not mean mere physical performance of ceremonies, but also includes all religious practices performed at the mental and intellectual levels of one’s personality.
Thus it covers (1) rites and ceremonies performed by the physical body; (2) prayers or devotion practiced by the mind; and (3) subtle discrimination, contemplation and meditation undertaken by the intellect.
2nd meaning of “ritual” in context of the text in class: 100% effort is put into rituals. Which only reinforces world of Mithyā. Most ritual actions are motivated out of lack, and are concerned with giving Jiva (the ritual undertaker) something MORE of. More peace, relative knowledge, harmony, success, etc.
Point is: Ritual (EG: Yoga, meditation, puja, etc) needs to be substantiated by Philosophy/Knowledge. It's equivalent to:
Chanting a mantra (without knowledge what it means) VS. (knowledge behind the mantra – in which case the mantra will have it's intended benefit).
- Introduction to 3 Gunas.
Reason for Arjuna's distress on Kurukṣetra was because of excess Rajas (emotional leading to non-clarity of one's svadharma or duty).
When Jiva is dominated with excess Tamas, Jīva is lethargic, heavy, lazy, sad, dull and AVOIDING (fear). Tāmasic Jīva is so dull, then only possible way of getting some joy is through SENSE PLEASURE. Any drug/sex addiction is due to excess Tamas. EG: Why are nightclubs “hot”? Because at night, Tama Guna is dominant, hence samsari is more prone to entertaining sense pleasures.
When Jiva is dominated by excess Rajas, then Jiva is active, passionate, energetic, erratic, quick, calculating. And seeks pleasure in fulfilling every Desire possible, be it senses, work, creating something, exploring the world, etc. Always MOVING.
How to cultivate SATTVA Guna?
By adjusting lifestyle in accordance with that which promotes a quiet peaceful, calm mind. Through Karma Yoga.
Ask: Is what I'm about to do (EG: meditation, listening to world problems on news) likely to result in a noisy mind, or tranquil mind?
Then act accordingly.
Read any biography of any guru. Common theme is they gradually distanced themselves not from world of Dharmic duty – but from “world of distraction, entertainment, seduction”. This is no accident. Protect your mind.
Further session on Karma Yoga will provide more detail HOW to establish mind in Sattva.
Summary: Sattva (goodness, constructive, harmonious), Rajas (passion, active, confused), and Tamas (darkness, destructive, chaotic).
- Why it's safe and why you should surrender to Ishvara (God).
Because you are NOT the author of the results of your actions. Why?
Because if you were the author, you’d be getting what you wanted 24/7, and wouldn’t be still seeking truth (moksa). You’d just be getting all day long, EXACTLY what you wanted, and ecstatically happy all the time. You’d be totally satisfied and wouldn’t be looking for ways to improve things.
By this clearly isn't the case for any jiva.
WHO IS THE AUTHOR OF CREATION? Ishvara, whose intelligence and material expresses as this physical universe, which also consists of laws and orders like gravity, temperature, ethics, etc.
How do we know all comes from one Ishvara? Because everything in creation depends on everything else. EG: Sun on hydrogen/helium. Plant on sun. Animal on plant. Digestion enzymes on plant. Etc.
So any attempt to CONTROL or modify the environment according to one's wants or desires, is indirectly revealing lack of knowledge of Ishvara. Because God isn't in business of pleasing you. It's function is to facilitate the needs of all living beings, including ants, trees, humans, dogs, snakes, etc.
For example if God wants a mosquito to live, that mosquito will BITE a human and give him/her malaria… whether person is a saint or a sinner. In reality, you and I are no more important then a mosquito in the big picture. Hard statement for the ego to hear!
Summary: Īśvara is not interested in you personally. Īśvara function is to maintain harmony of the TOTAL.
Translating this to PRACTICAL application: If my actions don't produce results that satisfy the needs of the TOTAL, then my actions will likely produce suffering immediately or later.
But if my actions do fulfill the needs of the TOTAL, immediate feedback will ensue in form of feeling good about oneself, without any sense of guilt.
QUESTION: What does it mean to say “Surrender to Ishvara“?
ANSWER: Trusting that this order is always delivering you exactly what you deserve, whether you like it or not. Because there's always a cause-effect relationship. One may not remember having hurt someone in school and gotten away with it. But according to the order, for every cause, an effect eventually fructifies. Thus to surrender to Ishvara, is to acknowledge the presence of this ineffable intelligent cause-effect order. Doing so, it produces a degree of mental composure, maturity and endurance when difficult times come.
- What Ishvara (God) IS – in 3 descriptions from Upanishad text.
1) Jagat Karanam – World creator
2) Karma Phala Data – Giver of fruits of action. IE: For every cause, an effect will eventually fructify back to the original doer of the action.
3) Dharma Raja (King of Dharma) – sets the rules/laws for sake of survival of species, and universe operating by a predictable set of orders.
- Karma vs Jñāna vs Bhaki Yoga.
Download visual mind map of this session.
10 July 2018