Difference between Lower (Ahaṃkāra) and Higher Self (Ātman/Brahman) (33)


Lesson 33 explains the process of shifting the “I” away from false experiencing doer-enjoyer (ahaṃkāra), to true identity with Brahman (Awareness). Then claiming the identity right now – instead of mistakenly postponing it to a future point in time. Lesson 34+ shall build onto this, as we are building up a foundation before elucidating Bhagavad Gītā, CH 5, verse 13-21, which deals with jñāna-yoga (Self-Knowledge).

Terms used in class:

  • ahaṃ kāra: function of Subtle Body which takes ownership of the human experience generated by 5 senses (inner and outer), which are contacting Objects (external – like tree OR internal – like emotion).
    EG: Arjuna's eyes make contact with Droṇa (his teacher). This sensory data is processed in Arjuna's Subtle body, which gives Arjuna a certain experience in relation to the object perceived (Droṇa).
    In order for Arjuna to confidently validate that Droṇa is “MY” teacher, the experience of Droṇa has to be isolated and localized to just Arjuna's body-mind. If it wasn't, Arjuna couldn't tell if he is having experience of Droṇa – or if someone else is. Thus without ahaṃ kāra, functioning in the world would be impossible.
    The state of the world is that “I” is naturally accepted as ahaṃ kāra. This is why we always hear ourselves speaking “MY __”. My phone, my house, my wife, my liberation, my opinion, etc. This “MY” is ahaṃ kāra. It's what makes possible sense of individuality and warrants apartness from other individuals.
    Thus natural conclusion of an individual is: MY LIFE. It's only “MY LIFE” from standpoint of ignorance. From standpoint of jñāni, neither the “MY” (ahaṃ kara) is mine, nor the “LIFE” (jagat) is mine. Both “MY” and “LIFE” are Mithyā. Word “mine” in last sentence refers to Awareness/Ātman.
    • OBJECTION: I understand “Life” is Mithyā, because it's changing. But how is ahaṃkāra also changing? Because it has to be non-changing in order to witness all changing phenomena of the inner world (emotions/thoughts) and outer world (perceived objects by 5 senses)? Doesn't that qualify ahaṃkāra as unchanging and give it equal status to Brahman (unchanging Awareness)?
      ANSWER: ahaṃkāra is changing because it ceases in deep sleep or in coma for example. If it was present, then one could thoroughly, confidently and accurately describe one's experience of deep sleep or coma. Fact is, noone can. If one claims they can, then it wasn't deep sleep/coma, but Subtle Body was active (meaning ahaṃkāra/manas/buddhi were partially operational; which is why some coma patients upon waking claim they could hear loved ones).
      So how is it possible then to report that during deep sleep or coma or near death experience (NDE) –  there was nothing / blankness/ blissfulness?
      ANSWER: It is possible because Awareness (Brahman) continues “shining” while ahaṃkāra is absense during deep sleep/coma/NDE. So upon waking, one can by inference conclude confidently that there was nothing / blankness / blissfullness.
      EG: How is that each morning you confidently say (without feeling it to be a lie or false information), “I slept”? How is it you have proof there was sleeping, even though ahaṃkāra (including body/mind) was absent during sleep? Because YOU (Awareness) were there. 

      Another example is when we say “I zoned out!”. What happens during “zoned out” period? The 5 senses are still perceiving the world (eg; eyes/ears are working). However ahaṃkāra was unavailable or partially accepting the ownership of the sensory data. That's why one can't report accurately what happened during the length of “zoned out” period.

      In fact, during “zoned out” period, one has no sense of Identity (generated by ahaṃkāra). Meaning we can compare “zoning out” somewhat similar to waking version of deep sleep.
      So how is it possible to successfully validate that“I zoned out”, even though ahaṃkāra wasn't completely available? Because YOU (Awareness) were there.
  • ātman: brahman ‘seemingly' conditioned by 5 sheaths (or 3 bodies; Causal, Subtle, Gross). ‘Seemingly' means not actually. But “not actually” only qualifies TRUE from point of view of Self-Knowledge. Before Self-Knowledge, the “not actually” does NOT  qualify, because the “seeming” superimposition of body-mind ‘covering' brahman is ACTUAL for the ignorant person.
    In other words, Ignorant person (who in actuality is Ātman) genuinely takes themselves to be attributes of their body-mind (by help of ahaṃ kāra), thus we can't say “seemingly” for such a person.
    Seemingly only applies from point of view of knowing one's True Identity.
  • brahman: that which is non-negatable. That which is unchanging in past, present and future. Refers to one undifferentiated Consciousnesses (eg: water). While ātman refers to that same Consciousness operating through one of infinite microsomic forms (eg: just one wave being a non-separate part of the Water Ocean).
  • īśvara: the intelligent and material cause of the universe. All knoweldge, all power. The TOTAL.
  • jīvātma: Person whose “I” is placed in Body-Mind and not Ātman. Upon death, jīvātma takes on new physical body to continue it's sanchita karma (totality of all karmas from beginingless beginning), which can only be destroyed by Self-Knowledge (IE: shifting “I” to true identity; Awareness). We can say: jīvātma is a transmigrating soul going from one body to another for eternity… UNTIL mokṣa. Upon mokṣa, jīvātma gains a new name: jīvanmukti (liberated person while living and who's sancita has been destroyed thus another body-birth is impossible because “I” is disassociated from body-mind).
  • jñāni: a wise person (doesn't necessarily know the ultimate reality). OR can also mean: one who knows the ultimate reality.
  • karma-phala: final outcome, consequences or results delivered by performance of one's past actions
  • mithyā: That which depends on something else for it's existence (eg: wave is dependent on something else; the ocean. The ocean is dependent on something else; H2O – water). It's a term describing an object (meaning anything other then Satyam; Awareness) in terms of it's reality.
  • mokṣa: absolute freedom from limitation.
  • nididhyāsanam: Contemplation. Part of the process of knowing. It involves bringing the teaching back to our mind again and again to do away with our past habitual patterns, orientations, and disposition.
  • prasāda-buddhi: Whatever consequences of my action, accept gracefully.
  • puṇya/pāpa: Unseen results of our actions which accrue to the individual at some time in the future. Punya is pleasurable events or situations stemming from actions in keeping with dharma. Papa is difficult events resulting from the transgression of values or dharma.
  • śāstra: Comprises of 3 complete texts (granthas): Bhagavad Gītā, Upaniṣads, Brahma Sūtras.
  • rāga/dveṣa: Desires of two types: things that I want to have (rāga or likes); and things that I want to avoid (dveṣa or dislikes). They can be binding or non-binding.
  • Sattva/Rajas/Tamas: Three different dispositions or guṇas that people generally have in different measures.
    A person who has predominantly sattva disposition (or a sāttvic person) is one who is mature and cheerful; a rājasic person (with predominant rajas disposition) is active, ambitious and mostly guided by his personal benefits in choice of actions. A tāmasic person (with predominant tamas disposition) is characterized by negligence, slackness or sloppiness in his actions.
  • Satyam: That which exists independently (eg: H2O-water exists independently of the ocean/wave). It is a term describing an object in terms of its reality. It is also defined that which exists in the three periods of time, past present and future (in this case Brahman).
  • svadharma: Our own (sva) specific duties/to be done actions (dharma/karma). Svadharma is doing what is to be done by each individual in a given situation.

1) STAGES of Jñāna-Yoga:


We covered this in session 32.

Reason for Stage 1: One can't identity with something unless they know what are they identifying with. Once individual has been shown Ātman (one's true Identity), then next step naturally would be to…

STAGE 2: Learn to IDENTIFY with Ātman as Myself

  • Even during gestation period in mothers womb, “I” (Ātman) is linked with body. Upon birth and henceforward, “I am the body-mind” is unquestionably, unsuspectingly assumed. This assumption remains intact until it's destroyed by jñāna-yoga (more on this in next lesson).
  • Once jñāna-yoga has been expounded by a teacher, and listener has gained enough knowledge about jīva, Īśvara and Brahman… then at some point the student needs to assertively start CLAIMING his-her TRUE identity (Ātman).
    Ego will resist this, it won't feel authentic, because from beginingless beginning, the jīvātma has assumed itself to limited body-mind. This is why student needs to strongly assert his-her identity with statement like “I am the consciousness pervading this body”.
    Example of a wise sincere student: “I've heard enough knowledge from the highest authoritative sources of śāstra, which are all telling me that in actuality, and right NOW, my true identity is Ātman. Thus by this alone, I choose to gradually start objectifying my thoughts-emotions, and start consistently re-claiming over and over again that I AM indeed Ātman!” 
    Point is: By class 33, you've already been exposed to large amount of Knowledge contained throughout various Upaniṣads and Bhagavad Gītā. Therefore there's no rational reason to feel “fraud” or “inauthentic” by gradually beginning to CLAIM what YOU already are, by such statements as above.
    It would only qualify as fraud/inauthentic if one makes such statements like “I am free! I am eternal! I was never born!” (common Spiritual ego) – in form of one-liner affirmations without a proper methodology nor depth to support such claims. (This is prevalent 99.9% of time in Neo-Advaita world; subjects quacking “I'm Awareness” without ever knowing about Satya/Mithyā).
  • Body temporary gift from Lord. Can use it as MEDIUM OF TRANSACTION. Can't hold onto it permanently. So use it to fulfill the highest purpose in Creation: To reconcile that there is NO difference between Ātman (Brahman seemingly conditioned by 3 bodies or 5 sheaths) and Brahman. This reconciliation is what's referred to as mokṣa (Liberation). Anything other then this literally amounts to nothing.
    EG: A king who owns 40 palaces, 300 wife's and an entire country will lose it all upon inevitably death. Only to be reborn again as a poor man who's struggling for survival. From that point of view, one can see how fruitless any present life is. This will be talked about further in CH 8 of Bhagavad Gita, how jīvātma goes though endless life's accomplishing… yet in the big picture of eternity… what has one really accomplished!
  • Stage 2 is about shifting the “I”. Advantage: Fear of mortality goes (Body will die, not I). Eventual death of body is seen objectively. One releases the need of urgency of getting somewhere and doing “all these things”. What's the rush? To where? For whom? It'll all be given back to Bhagavan upon last breath.  😀

2) 2 Self's: (there's actually no two Self's, please throw this “two” idea soon as having completed this lesson. It's temporary helping guide for mind).

Lower (Body-Mind). Reflected (borrowed Consciousness).

  • jīvātma.
  • Ahaṇkāra (Karta; doer / Bhokta; enjoyer)
  • 3 Karmas (sanchita, prārabdha, agami)
  • Travels loka to loka (different worlds).

Higher Self: Ātman

  • No connection to Lower.
  • Independent.
  • Not bound by limitations of body. EG: Light pervades hand, yet independent of hands condition.
  • When body does, Awareness keeps shining, but no longer reflecting on medium (jīvātma).
  • All pervading like space. Already everywhere. Meaning can't change, nor move.

3) If consciousness can't undergo change, then can't perform action. Action = movement. EG: Talking, walking. Just like space. Can't vibrate either. Thus Consciousness = akarta, abhokta. Thus no karma-phala.

4) Jñāni claims Ātma as Self, lower ego becomes insignificant to him/her.

  • Previously ego important. Obsessed how many actions to do. “I'm getting old, time running out!”. And results.
  • Cognizes ahaṇkāra from mountain of Ātman.
  • From ground, tree (humans complexities) is big. From mountain, tree is insignificant.
  • How to recognize the tree of one's complexities objectively instead of taking everything personally? Shift “I” from body to Ātma. Look at body objectively, EG: “This is one amongst millions. Bodies come/go, the light keeps shining!”
  • Benefit? Puṇya/pāpa that occur to the jñāni's body-mind are insignificant to him-her and cognized objectively.

Recorded 22 Jan, 2019


  1. “ to start identifying directly with consciousness as myself”.
    These words of yours triggered something Andre.
    I have never done this.
    I now see clearly that no matter how intelligent I am( or am not) or how many different ways I try and look at things to achieve knowledge I can’t possibly do it, because I am always in the way as the perceived of an object.
    I am just making more and more complex ways of falling into the same trap, and thinking I must be making progress because I seemingly know more today than yesterday.
    It’s kinda funny really!?

  2. Just listened to talk again.
    “Higher self is not bound by limitations of the form”.
    Got that,
    “What happens when your body goes? What keeps illumining itself? You!”
    So the eternally existent self keeps illumining itself.
    Am I aware that I am aware if I am without an object to reflect this consciousness?
    What is my state of existence if my awareness lacks all qualities?
    Doesn’t this mean I also lack the quality of awareness that I am aware?
    Is this not the reason for a reflexes reality, it is created in order for God, Brahmin, Ishvara, Atman to be able to know itself?
    If this is true, then is existence as a Jivanmukta, one who has achieved moksa but still has a subtle body to enable perceptions, preferable to pure existence as a state without qualities?

    I don’t really believe my own argument as I am sure this would have been obvious to the Rishis, but I can’t see the flyin the logic from my current level of perception.

    1. ==========
      Doesn’t this mean I also lack the quality of awareness that I am aware?

      Question is turning awareness into an object, as if “I” can be with or without it.

      To correct understanding, let’s use a metaphore:

      Suppose H2O is Awareness.

      Ocean is Īśvara (from which waves are born, sustained and dissolved into).

      Wave is individual jīva.

      Can wave-Robert look for the H2O? No. Because wave is already the H2O.

      Can wave-Robet ever lack H2O? No. Because H2O is all there is in past, present and future.

      Can wave-Robert think about H2O? No. Because the electrical impulses of thinking themselves are H2O.

      Waves entire existence is not apart from H2O.

      All wave can do is own up to what is already TRUE right now. That’s the only job of Vedānta. To destroy notions which deny me from accepting the simple fact that even though my appearance is a wave (with apparent limitations at least while wave is alive), my real nature is H2O which is the reality of entire ocean.

  3. Hi Andre.
    Your first sentence answered my question completely.
    I am annoyed that I could not perceive this myself.
    I will try harder to have greater clarity.

  4. Acharya Andre,

    In taking ownership of my true nature as Ātman, I fall into two doubts when I contemplate on the All-Pervasiveness of Awareness.

    Maybe it has to do with steps in the teaching, as sometimes I accidentally try to understand one part of the teaching in terms of an earlier part that has been sublated (example: teaching first differentiated between Consciousness and Mind to aid discrimination between Satya and Mithya, but now in the teaching in Lesson 33 we see that Consciousness pervades the Mind as well).


    My first concern is: my mind is still in the mode of “There is 1) The Knower (Subject/Ātman), and there is 2) The Known (Object/Mithya).” Even if I think, “The Object appears ONLY in Consciousness,” there’s still a difference between Satya and Mithya. When I see an object, I see it as OTHER than the Subject. How can I concretely see Objects as none other than Me, the Subject?

    Maybe I’m jumping ahead and the question will be addressed in subsequent lessons? I only ask now because the All-Pervasiveness of Consciousness was introduced in Lessons 32 and 33, so it seemed appropriate now.


    My second question is: why is it impossible that Consciousness and Matter could be two separate realities? Is it because no Matter has been perceived outside of Awareness? This seems to be the answer, but I know you can give a deeper reply.

    Thank you.

    1. Nicholas,

      Keep it up. You have a wonderful, questioning mind. It will take you far and is your strength.

      When I see an object, I see it as OTHER than the Subject. How can I concretely see Objects as none other than Me, the Subject?

      Have faith in the order of this course. Reconciling, or seeing that object resolves in Subject, is only in chapter 13+, and for a reason.

      My second question is: why is it impossible that Consciousness and Matter could be two separate realities? Is it because no Matter has been perceived outside of Awareness? This seems to be the answer, but I know you can give a deeper reply.

      Consciousness and matter APPEAR to be two separate realities. They are actually not.

      For example, we have a desk. What is the content of that desk? What is it made of? What is it dependent upon? The wood.

      So in reality, there’s no desk. Because the entirety of that thing we call “desk”, is pervaded by the wood. The “Desk” depends on the wood for it’s existence, and has no existence apart from the wood.

      However, at the same time, we can’t dismiss the desk, as it has a functional reality, such as writing and eating on.

      In same way, if you look into your thought from start to end of it, what was the content of that entire thought? What was that thought FILLED BY? It was filled by your consciousness of it. There was no part of thought that was not filled or pervaded by your consciousness. Yes, the thought had color, sense, sound,etc… but besides that, it was nothing but consciousness which was taking form of a color, sense, sound. Just like wood is taking form of table, chair, legs, pole, etc.

      Let me know what arises from having read this, But first consider it.

      1. Acharya Andre,

        Thank you so much for your reply. Matter not existing outside of Consciousness, but instead being name-and-form dependent Consciousness, seems so obvious after I contemplate on it. Where has Matter been without Awareness? Nowhere. Matter is only appearance. Nothing is “without” or “outside” of Awareness. I’m beginning to understand when you taught that Enlightenment is simple as “Are you aware? Then Tat Tvam Asi!”

        Funny that I sincerely asked Ishvara for help reconciling my doubts, and when I wake up the next morning I see your answer in my email.

        I may be having a moment of clarity that will pass due to hardwired ignorance, but I will continue to contemplate your answer as I have total faith in the teaching. Clarity seems to come and go right now but I am grateful for clear moments.

        Thank you for continuing to answer my questions. I will likely have more in the future.

  5. As I think about the first question, maybe I am conflating the Subject who Knows All with Doer/Enjoyer who knows particulars? I’m starting to think I’m getting Ego-knowing mixed up with Unverbalized Knowing Ātman. Difficult to separate them, as even when I think “The ego wasn’t knowing in deep sleep,” the ego is who knows that the ego was unaware in deep sleep. But Ātman is aware of the ego’s knowing of the loss of itself in deep sleep. It seems like a very subtle distinction.

    1. Very easy to discern I-sense (ego / ahamkara) from Atma (consciousness).

      In waking, “I am Nicholas. I am a Vedanta student! I am an inquirer!”.

      Then in dream, whole sense of “I” is convoluted. “I am a beggar. I am a murderer!”.

      Then wakes up from the nightmare of having tortured or killed someone, and suddenly says, “Thank god I am not a murderer. So pleased that I am a good, kind person!”.

      Then falls into deep sleep. And sense of “murderer” and “good person” are non-existent. The I-sense has resolved.

      Then again, waking comes, and I-sense returns. The opinions about “I”, comes back.

      Then while in waking, this I-sense undergoes hundreds of changes. “I am moody! I am spiritual. I am son (in ref to my dad). I am friend (in ref to another person). I am employee (in ref to boss).”

      Then after full day of exhaustion, the mind is too tired to think. Now thoughts momentarily stop being dumped onto this I-sense mechanism, however the I-sense is still there.

      In other words, you can’t eliminate the I-sense. Even the wise person has it. Because I-sense (ego) is empirical order and is required to give sense of individuality. Otherwise, if I didn’t have I-sense, then when my body is hungry, I would start feeding you.

      Therefore, we leave the I-sense alone (also called: Subject or Knower). We simply recognize cognitively that the I-sense depends on that which is ever-present; Consciousness.

  6. Hi Andre,

    I’m done with half of this video, but I have a question. If I’m consciousness and not BMI, do I need to change my vocabulary? Example: My body is hungry, not I am hungry. My body has a headache, not I have a headache, etc.

    I ask this question because knowledge has eliminated ignorance. Then we have to practice what we have learned and the only way to do it is to change the vocabulary. But it would be nice if I am 24/7 at home. However, that is not the case when we are surrounded by relatives, friends, colleagues, etc.

    What is your advice? Thank you.

    1. ============

      Consciousness is the final reality. It’s known to all as self-evident existence. I am. I exist. I am conscious.

      Nobody needs to teach you to be conscious. You’re conscious effortlessly. Because consciousness is your nature.

      In presence of I, the conscious being – there is one given body and mind.

      The body-mind comes with a personality. It has certain way of speaking, thinking, emoting.

      The body-mind complex can say things like “I am hungry”, or “This body is hungry”, or “My body is hungry”.

      Both statements are illumined by “I”, the conscious being. The one who was present before the statement took place. Is present while the statement is being made. And continues to be present after the statement has ended. The conscious being survives all statements. The statement has no bearing on that which illumines the statement, which is you.


      Initially, becoming mindful to our language and thinking can help tremendously. It can help objectify the body and mind, as ongoing processes, rather then something that’s happening to me.

      There was a time when I intentionally resorted to changing vocabulary, like, “My mind is slow”, rather then “I am no good”. It helped tremendously. It created space to breathe internally. Not mixing up inadequacies belonging to this instrument, to my identity. However even that is a means to an end.

      PERSPECTIVE 3: Which addresses…
      I ask this question because knowledge has eliminated ignorance. Then we have to practice what we have learned and the only way to do it is to change the vocabulary. But it would be nice if I am 24/7 at home. However, that is not the case when we are surrounded by relatives, friends, colleagues, etc.

      We don’t have to change vocab in-front of relatives or boss or friends. It’s inviting awkwardness.

      All that is here is God. The word is God. Each letter that makes up the word is God. The body and mind is God. Time is God. Then what is there to “get away from”. Why change vocab at all with this understanding.

  7. Hi Andre,
    This video is interesting but raises many questions. I agree and accept what the Upanishads say “I am Atman” or “We are Atman”. But this does not solve our problem because I, as Atman, have a body to manage, and with the body, we have uncertainties in life to manage too. Given all the adverse circumstances that can surround our body, how should we approach uncertainties and threatening situations in life? Do the Upanishands or the Vedanta have a say in how to deal with uncertainties? Or, he says, that we should face uncertainties in view that whatever happens, we accept the results like Ishwara’s prasadam, and that is the only solution and nothing else (The 4 possible reactions of karma in the video of Karma yoga). What’s your advice? Thank you.

    1. ================
      Do the Upanishands or the Vedanta have a say in how to deal with uncertainties? Or, he says, that we should face uncertainties in view that whatever happens, we accept the results like Ishwara’s prasadam

      The book starts with Arjuna’s overwhelm. He is challenged by life’s demands and uncertainties. This is true for everyone.

      He asks Lord Krishna two questions:

      QUESTION 1: How do I manage life’s uncertainties? What is the meaning of a relatively successful wordily life? Do I run off to Rishikesh?

      Krishna says “Don’t run away, whether physically or emotionally. Avoiding issues makes them bigger”.

      The very challenges and uncertainties you face, is your very opportunity for growth. Each time we take a step to uplift ourselves (whether in career, studies, meditation, health), is a step forward in evolution. Unless one relatively settles accounts with Ishvara (meaning the world) – self-knowledge remains in the head, never drops to the heart and actualizes.

      And how do I live my live amidst a stream of uncertainties? I do the very best I can, one day a time, according to my strengths. Understanding there’s no “perfect” way to live or solve a problem or resolve a situation.

      And how do we convert our striving to live into a spiritual benefit? Through Karma Yoga.

      What is Karma Yoga?

      It’s way of being. It’s specifically undertaken by those who value moksha. To become a deserving recipient of knowledge and prosperity, we become self-reflective, thoughtful, and mindful of our actions. Why? Not so that “I can become a better person”. But because not only will my life be smoother, but I’ll enjoy a clean mind, capable of appreciating presence of Ishvara in all things, and understanding the big picture.

      It consists of 2 aspects:

      1st aspect (Right Attitude): Action itself cannot knock off ignorance. But Action done with right attitude, can prepare you for knowledge, as it matures the mind. What is the attitude? Whenever action is done, it’s keeping with universal ethical values (dharma, which is understood to be the Lord). Your actions consider the impact on the whole system and attempt to minimize damage/hurt/disharmony/unfairness whenever possible. Also keeping in mind, it’s impossible to remain 100% pure in actions, but we give it our best anyway.

      2nd aspect (Prasada buddhi): Even if result isn’t keeping with my expectations, I’m not ruffled when things don’t go my way, as I understand Isvhara’s laws never fail. Everything happens within God’s infallible laws/orders. Knowing this, one sees whatever comes as learning opportunity, a chance to grow further. What I receive from my past actions, is neither good nor bad. It’s just another thing delivered which demands another action on your part. Each time you apply an action that is keeping with ethical values, it helps purify mind further; it contributes to maturity. Each time, we respond to what happens in an unintelligent way, it forms a mental complex.

      QUESTION 2: What is the knowledge that brings permanent and final fulfillment?

      Self-knowledge. Which helps one recognize directly: Despite life’s challenges, it doesn’t move me (Consciousness). Knowing this, body-mind complex called Nicholas can participate in this world with greater composure, less anxiety, and more energy.

      So it’s not like self-knowledge makes one lazy. It removes anxiety which drains energy. Thereby making the person more available to do what has to be done.

      In short: Life challenges are to be dealt with. Problem continue for a wise person too until last breath. Nothing changes at level of relative situations. While dealing with issues, there is an understanding (not just of the head, but it’s brought down to emotional level), the whole thing is One manifesting as many.

      Warmly. Andre.

      1. Thank you Andre for your prompt and beautiful reply.

        In your reply, I appreciate the sentence ” Unless one relatively settles accounts with Ishvara (meaning the world) – self-knowledge remains in the head, never drops to the heart and actualizes”.

        This transfer from the Head to Heart seems very important.

        However, I do not understand : What does settling accounts with the material world or ISHWARA mean?

        Somebody has not settled accounts with the material world or ISHWARA does it mean:
        – He is still catering to the senses?
        – He is still chasing the material world with no equanimity &/or focus on Consciousness?
        – He still has not attained Dispassion?

        On the other hand, what does “Somebody has settled accounts with the material world” or ISHWARA mean?
        Does it mean:
        – He has sense control
        – He has mental equanimity, so his focus is on Consciousness.
        – He has dispassion.

        What is the attitude (attributes) of a person who has settled his accounts with the material world (a renunciate?) and the opposite? I would rather put it this way, how will I know that I have settled accounts with the material world?

        1. ==========
          What does settling accounts with the material world or ISHWARA mean?

          In a way, we’re always settling accounts with Ishvara, in form of people we meet, our emotional make up, managing our psychology, striving to become a cleaner and more pleasant human being, having some relative success in the material world, doing what has to be done in light of dharma. All these things are “settling accounts with ___”.

          So it’s not a one-time settling. But a life long process.

          An example: one is still carrying mini resentments for being hurt by someone in the past. Or operating with a low self-esteem (I’m unlovable, I’m not good enough, I can’t, I’m not meant to succeed).

          If mind is bearing “I can’t” in relation to ordinary, day-to-day challenges, that’s the SAME mind that’s playing the same tune when confronted with “All that is here is Ishvara”.

          In other words, intellectually “All that is here is Ishvara”, but one has the same emotional responses and judgemental thoughts, more or less, towards the society at large, or towards those who hurt us. Meaning the emotions are speaking a different language to what we heard or studied.

          Please take assurance, this initial discord between head and heart is normal and expected. This is why there’s nididhyasana (closed eye meditation, or open eyes contemplation and striving to re-frame situations that happen to us in light of the knowledge). Nididhyasana is a life-long process. It can’t be sped up.

          It’s life situations and challenges that drop the knowledge from head to heart. That’s why Vedic culture isn’t about running away from world, as it doesn’t give context to the knowledge. But being an active participant in the world.

          Each situation becomes an opportunity to recognize the whole thing is intelligence facilitating laws and orders in which every individual and object is participating. This ongoing re-recognizing and doing the best you can in light of dharma, is “settling accounts with Ishvara”.

          On the other hand, what does “Somebody has settled accounts with the material world” or ISHWARA mean?

          There’s no definitive what this looks like externally. I’ll give own example: Number of students who come to Vedanta are hungry for answers. Meaning one is in some type of psychological/emotional pain. Why? Because one has experienced limitations of the world, experienced enough disappointments, and found nothing has really solved the fundamental problem of isolation and separation in this vast universe.

          So in this sense, they’ve settled enough accounts with Ishvara to recognize limitations of material comforts.

          However, even this isn’t enough. Because a larger number isn’t willing to think, or simply isn’t a thinker. One wants shallow advice, something to do. Doesn’t want to look within themselves, get in touch with the pain, and reframe it.

          So in this sense, one hasn’t settled accounts with Ishvara (in form of emotional/psychological blockages). They have more settling accounts to do in that department.

          Then there are types who are thinkers, with brilliant intellect and logic, but disconnected from heart. Closed emotionally. Someone that’s hard to relate with.

          In this case, though intellectually brilliant, one hasn’t settled accounts with Ishvara (in form of social and emotional intelligence).

          So each serves as a potential block from transferring knowledge from head to heart.

          Overly emotional, doesn’t work. Overly intellectual, doesn’t work. Too isolated, doesn’t work. Too extroverted, doesn’t work. Middle-way as Buddha said it.

          So settling accounts with Ishvara is really the “middle-way”, a healthy balance.

          1. Thank you Andre for the detailed and satisfactory answer to my question. As I am given to read many text books on Vedanta, I came across the phrase “Love all and Serve all”, which I suppose helps in many respects to settle accounts with Ishwara.

            Before your answer was received today, I did not know that this phrase was already an answer to my question, but now I am more or less convinced that it helps settle the score with Ishwara. “Love all” of the conviction that all that is experienced is a form of consciousness (animate and inanimate matter), so that it does not allow conflicts to arise or incubate, and “Serve all” is the devotion to Ishwara of the conviction that I am Atma.

            My sincere thanks to you now and many more to come as I progress through the video series.

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