I AM Existence-Awareness: Method to Understanding Non-Duality (jnana-yoga / brahma-vidya) (180)


Lesson 180 exclusively teaches the method, by means of jnana-yoga (brahma-vidya) to understanding the final reality (sat-cit). Atma-anatma-viveka revisited. What is Sattvic Knowledge?

Source: Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 18, Verse 18, 19, 20


  • Verse 15:

    • 5 Layers > Action (doing/speaking/thinking) > PPM > Destiny + Rebirth.
    • Anatma: anything that is reported/experienced in 3 periods of time.
  • Verse 16:

    • Reasons why pure-self (kevalam ātmānam) is unknowingly/unsuspectingly mixed up with 5-layers:
      1. JIVA-SRISTHI: Jīva-sṛṣṭi dominates īśvara-sṛṣṭi. Living from imagination (what I expect OR want to believe because it gives me security/comfort).
        • EG: One doesn’t reply to you, and we start assuming what that means. We interpret before having the FACTS.
        • So what gives pain?
          • Your own thoughts give pain. The world has no effect on you; if merely reflects the quality of our thoughts.
          • What SHOULD be What ACTUALLY IS. The more jiva-srishti is overriding, the more pain is felt.  Resistance.
          • And right behind pain is fear. And fear appear to triumph over love, and time replace eternity. Yet both love/eternity are subject matters of God (ishvara-sristhi).
        • Jiva-sristhi useful for future planning, strategy. But for in-between moments, it’s a hindrance.
      2. GROSS MIND: The subtler the subject-matter becomes, the further out the mind goes. The grosser, the closer one feels to it.
        • EG: Element of space. No wonder Lord is synonymous with “out there” heaven/vaikuntha. Thus the purpose of temples, mosques, synagogues, and statues, idols; to help the GROSS mind relate with the subtle.
  • Verse 17:

    • Atma description:
      1. EVER-FAMILIAR: The ever-familiar presence of “I am”, which is NOT because of anatma-body-mind, but because of you (pure Self).
      2. ACTION-LESS: We have also established that Self is action-less. Meaning it doesn't have capacity to do, nor enjoys, nor suffers. But in association with the 5-layers, it seems to DO, enjoy and suffer.
    • Now knowing about Anatma & Atma, the inquirer makes 2 conclusions:
      1. Nothing can be done about the DOER/ENJOYER belonging to 5 layers, as it will continue to DO/ENJOY according to nature of jiva. And only once knowing this FIRST, own up to the fact that…
      2. I am the ever-familiar, ever-same presence, in whose presence, the different forms of doings, pains and sufferings happen.
        • Last session, comment was made about releasing the “doership”. This can only be done by SHIFTING FOCUS onto the ever-familiar presence, in whose presence, the doing continues as usual.
        • Deliberate FOCUS-SHIFT (done by buddhi) is initially called parokṣa-jñānam (indirect/intellectual knowledge). It involves deliberately making a choice between anatma (source of pain) and atma (source of contentment/joy).
          • Pain is illusion. Joy is reality (satyam). Pain is sleep (ignorance), while joy is Awakening. Pain is deception, while joy alone is Truth.
    • Analysis:
      • In one's experience, there's always 2 factors involved: Both factors are atma.
        1. That which is ever familiar. “I am”. Atma. Unmodified Existence-Awareness (Sat-cit).
        2. That which has no familiarity (modifying). 5 layers / jagat. Anatma. Unmodified Existence-Awareness (sat-cit) obtaining in māyā’s-3-guṇa-upādhi, making as though, it’s modifying.
      • LOGIC OF 1 & 2 ABOVE: The unfamiliar can only be stated/known in reference to the familiar. The modifications are only in reference to the non-modifying.
      • HOW TO APPLY: Know that each thought is a modifications of Existence-Awareness (sat-cit).
        • How to prove that each thought is Existence-Awareness? Because the thought (a) Exists, and (b) There is Awareness of it. Therefore the content of each thought/experience is Existence-Awareness / kevalam-atmanam.
  • Last session, we posed question end of Verse 17: How to strengthen distinction between atma & anatma?
    • Method 1: Change your vocabulary. Attempt to take out word “I” where appropriate.
    • Method 2: Objectifying anatma by knowing 5-components (V14) or 3-components (V18).
    • Method 3: Raising 6 success factors to Sattva-guna.


VERSE 18-40: Three types of: Knowledge, Action, Doer, Intellect, Will & Happiness

  • INTRO:
    • V1-17, Krishna summarized B.Gita into Karma-Yoga & Jnana-Yoga.
    • V18-40, Krishna will summarize B.Gita through 6 topics, each being 3-fold (SRT).

Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 18, Verse 18:

jñānam jñeyam parijñātā trividhā karma-codanā ।
karaṇam karma kartā iti trividhaḥ karma-saṃgrahaḥ ॥ 18-18॥
(Swami Da./Pa.) Knowledge (jñānam) (thought corresponding to an object), Object of knowledge (jñeyam), and the Knower (parijñātā) – are the threefold cause of action. The Doer (kartā), the Object (karma), and Instrument (karaṇam) (means of doing) – are the threefold constituents of action.

  • What Prompts Jiva In Actions?
    • Desire for enjoyment (ānanda), or desire for completeness (pūrṇatvā).
    • Doer of actions becomes the enjoyer of results. Enjoyment prompts more actions, thus reinforcing the doer. So we do actions to enjoy the results.
      • Enjoyership seems to precede the doership (which implies samskaras always existed; they never started at some point).
  • What prompts desires? Or what specifically prompts jiva into action, through which they can express desires?
    • 3 factors:
      1. Knowledge of the object [being desired] (jñānam). Inner thought of outer object. In other words, we do an action because we know there is SOMETHING (jnanam) to accomplish.
        • Made possible by antaḥkaraṇa, specifically memory.
          • EG: You’re told that Swiss chocolates are best; you desire to eat them. Or you’ve had Swiss chocolate before, and see it again, and immediately desire it.
        • Reason why modern age doesn't necessarily make it easier to attain moksha. Because the more one knows (jñānam) about various objects, the more one is caught up desiring. And more desires = deeper samsara.
          • It’s example of zero-sum game. Today, more choice for distraction, despite easier access to knowledge. Long ago, less chance of distraction, but hard to find information.
          • Since Vedas came (or any kind of text that liberates individual from samsara), there is never a “better time” to attain moksha.
      2. Object itself (jñeyam):
        • When perceive the chocolate (in TV, from friend, in store) – desire arises.
      3. Subject (parijñātā / ahaṃkāra):
        • Refers to the ahaṃkāra who owns the experience (jñānam). Who will further modify the experience by impression (vāsanā) of past enjoyment.
        • Finally chocolate-experience-vṛtti gets owned by ahaṃkāra, and declared as: “I” desire the chocolate!
    • In short: Subject, Object, Knowledge. OR Knower (ahaṃkāra), Known (jñeyam), Knowing (jñānam).
      • Do not confuse the Knower/Subject for atma-sakshi. However it can refer to atma-sakshi conditioned by ahamkara.
    • Example how the 3-fold shape Jīva’s destiny:
      • Object (jñeyam) > Gives rise to Knowledge (Jñānam) > Knowledge generates pravṛtti (going after thought) / nivṛtti (avoiding though) [which is influenced by [a] previous samskara [b] present state of mind] >  Translates into outward action (body/speech/mind per V15) > Generates punya/papa > Sculpts next life.
    • In conclusion, parijñātā jñeyam jñānam ca trividhā karmacodanā; Knower (Subject), the Known (object), and Knowledge (of the Known) – are the 3-fold that impel jiva to do/desire/consume.
  • ANOTHER PERSPECTIVE WHAT IMPELS US TO ACT: When 3 factors come together, acting is inevitable. Like water and hot oil coming together = inescapable explosion.  
    1. Doer (kartā):
      • The desire-loaded-jīva. Ātmā conditioned by ahaṃkāra. The subject.
    2. Object (karma):
      • Vyāvahārika object which was in potential in past, but due to collective jīva desires bringing out it’s potential-into-manifest, the object becomes a new desire for the jiva in his/her most recent lifetime.
    3. Instrument (karanam):
      • Body needs to be present to perceive and engage with the vyāvahārika-objects according to the jīvas collective fancies/desires. And mind needs to be present to assemble 5-sensory data into one homogenous internal representation.
  • NEXT: Krishna introduces 6 success factors for moksha. Or Bhagavad Gita will be summarized into 6 major topics.

Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 18, Verse 19:

jñānam karma ca kartā ca tridhā eva guṇa-bhedataḥ ।
procyate guṇa-saṅkhyāne yathāvat śṛṇu tāni api ॥ 18-19॥
In the Sankhya-philosophy Knowledge, Action and Doer are said to be threefold according to the distinction of the guṇas. Listen to them also as they are.

  • Why from Sankhya? Because Vedanta accepts anything that is logical/non-refutable.
  • Krishna will discuss 6 success factors mentioned throughout the BGita. Because for an endeavor to succeed (including moksha), one needs the right:
    • (1) Vision (jñāna) which is consequence of Knowledge.
      • EG: yathā dṛṣṭi tathā sṛṣṭi; As is our vision, so is our world. When like the person, see good in him/her. When dislike them, whatever they do, displeases us.
    • (2) Attitude of the Doer (kartā)
    • (3) Nature of the undertaking (karma)
    • (4) Intellect (buddhi)
    • (5) Fortitude/commitment (dḥṛti).
    • When all these are right, success and (6) happiness (sukha) are predictable.


  • INTRO FOR VERSE 20-22:
    • The individual goes through 3 stages of knowledge in reference to one’s identify. This 3-fold categorization will elaborate…
      1. Sattvic knowledge:
        • Comes to Vedanta. I am neither body, nor the travelling mind (with punya/papa). Ātmā I am.
      2. Rajasic knowledge:
        • I am jiva (mind / sūkṣma-śarīra).
        • Identifies as mind, which continues after death. Parents are only “mine” in reference to this body. I (mind) am immortal.
      3. Tamasic knowledge:
        • I am jiva (body). Person takes Self to be body as that’s all that’s perceived.
        • After death = end of me.

Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 18, Verse 20:

sarva-bhūteṣu yena ekam bhāvam avyayam īkṣate ।
avibhaktam vibhakteṣu tat jñānam viddhi sāttvikam ॥ 18-20॥
Know sattvic knowledge to be that by which one sees the non-dual, imperishable and undivided Self in all divided beings.

  • avibhaktaṃ vibhakteṣu tat jñānam viddhi; Right vision/knowledge is to see unity in diversity. Meaning holistic vision that enables us to see role of various parts, while holding the big picture.
    • EG of Sattvic Knowledge:
      • In order to live a decent life, I require wellbeing of body/mind/career. But also know, they are not the END.
      • I should never cheat someone, else they’ll lose trust in other people who can really help them.
      • Encourage others indirectly by you going first. Maybe it’ll motivate them to add something.
      • The same Intelligence is sustaining this and all bodies (despite difference in language, food habits, dress and religious beliefs).
      • The improvements in medicine, aviation, technology are contributions of people whose names I don’t even know.
    • What do these examples have in common?
      • Sattva-guna knowledges causes mind to think commonalities rather then differences/enemies.
      • Being mindful how your actions are adding/subtracting to the culture, workplace, the community, nation.
  • īkṣate ekam avyayam avibhaktam bhāvam vibhakteṣu sarvabhūteṣu; Sattvic knowledge is brahma-vidya/jnana-yoga by whose means one recognizes; Self illumining the thoughts-emotions-sensations of this BMI, is the same Self illumining thoughts-emotions-sensations of all BMI’s throughout the Cosmos.
    • Put another way, Self is the One field of Existence-Awareness in whose presence all minds become self-aware.
    • How to demonstrate field of Awareness?
      • Hand-fingers-light example.  Light is seen when it bounces on a medium. It can’t be seen in-between fingers due to absence of medium.
      • Similarly, soon as human-body grows within in field of Awareness, it becomes animated and self-aware.
    • I am space-like field of Awareness.
      • ANALOGY: Only because nature of space is silence (think of it as attributeless), can sounds be heard. Similarly, only because Awareness is formless, can there be form.
      • EG indicating understanding: A prostitute came to Śrī Ramakrishna to test/lure him. He prostrated to her feet, as though to a Divine Mother. She was filled with remorse for her act and became his disciple.
    • What is nature of “I”? My nature is non-participating, non-interfering, non-verbalized principle of Knowledge, in whose presence, anatma-forms come to knowledge (become distinctly known).

Keywords: shri ramakrishna, jiva-srishti, kevala atma, ātmā, anātmā, ātma, anātma, maya-upadhi, satchit, sat-chit, jñāna-yoga, brahmavidyā, brahma-vidya, purnatva, antaḥkaraṇa


Credit for help in Bhagavad Gita teaching given to Swami Dayananda (Arsha Vidya), Paramarthananda & Chinmaya Mission.

Recorded 23 Aug, 2022


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