Breakdown of Reality According to Upanishads (99)


Lesson 99 shows what is the relevance of bringing Ishvara into your life. And further analysis to show how everything in the world resolves into All Knowledge, All Power. Also misconceptions about Ishvara.

Summary so far:

  • “I” is distinct from body-mind-sense complex.
    • But “I” has a special relationship with it. Because of this relationship, there is an unceasing pursuit of freedom. Pursuit doesn’t leave until relationship is looked into.
  • Having negated who I am not, then who am I?
    • What remains after negation is Awareness/consciousness (cit in Sanskrit).
      • “I am” Awareness, not qualified by body-mind-senses. Hence never affected/displaced by their ongoing changes.
      • How to validate this?
        • During presence and absence of thoughts, Awareness is true. The very awareness, I am. Thus “I am” independent of thoughts belonging to this person.
        • The “I” can’t be memory because:
          • Noone has to remember “I AM”.
          • Even upon amnesia, entire life is forgotten (including name), but the fact that “I exist”, remains as true as to a healthy mind.
        • “I” can’t be the “I-sense” (aham kāra) because:
          • It’s another function of mind whose only function is to capture and localize experiences to a single body-mind, and not confuse it to another.
          • Second reason is because “I-sense”, disappears in deep sleep. But “I” don’t go out of existence.
            • We can demonstrate this in 3 ways:
              1. If “I” goes out of existence during sleep, then everyone would be afraid to sleep. Only reason we sleep is because we know the same presence that I know myself to be, will be true tomorrow.
              2. There is knowledge that deep sleep is a state of: nothingness, no thoughts, no experience, blankness, darkness, blissful ignorance.
                • To know or relate to this fact, means “I” pervade the deep sleep also.
              3. We all look forward to “deep sleep” and not “dream”. Implying, there is knowledge that during deep sleep, “I am” free of this limited-person. Meaning:
                • To look forward to deep sleep, means there is a presence, in whose presence, the absence of duality is enjoyed.
                • And it can’t be the mind that’s enjoying the deep sleep, since there is no life-story in deep sleep.
                • Thus only other option is the presence, with whom there is a connection even during waking state.
            • SUMMARY OF 3 STATES:
              • Awareness is also present throughout 3 states of experience: waking, dream, sleep.
              • Since 3 states have no connection to each other (different worlds of themselves), then the mere fact that I know of all 3, implies “I am” the knower of all 3.
              • Thus independent of all 3. Free of all 3, including the Waking State where all Karmas are generated. Meaning “I am” free of karmas (as they belong to body-mind within the temporary 18h waking state, only).
  • Is this Awareness limited?
    • It’s without limit. It has no boundaries. It has no start and end, even though the body-mind makes it appear “as if” it is bound.
    • Any limitations we give to ourself, are only in reference to body-mind complex. But not to the presence.
  • Then what about the rest of the universe?
    • How does body-mind complex and other objects come into being?

Firstly, why are we conducting this inquiry?

  • If we don't have the big picture, then small things in life become big. Everything is important.
  • Stress, confusion, mental/physical fatigue.
  • Distracted by various schools of thought.
    • EG: Yoga asana, pranayama, siddhi powers, channeling, astral projection, mobilizing energy (Tai Chi Chuan, Qigong, Aura/Chakra Cleansing, Silence, 3rd eye opening, Kundalini Raising, Psychedelics are the shortcut, etc).
  • When philosophies are practiced without the knowledge of big picture, they’re only able to create partial/temporary transformation in various sectors of life. But never TOTAL transformation (complete identity shift).
    • EG: Psychology/psychotherapy still operate in the framework that “I am this body-mind with a story”.
      • Helpful individual overcome relative confusions, paving way for spiritual teachings.
    • Reason they don’t cause a total identity shift is because, the person behind all actions hasn’t recognized that my nature is already full, whole and complete.
      • Thus any action contradicts my nature… reinforcing apparent smallness, which I am attempting to rid of using modalities.

How is Bhagavad Gītā & Upaniṣads Different?

  • They start out with the big story of life (fundamental questions)… within which we can fit in our individual story.
    • EG: Gives full puzzle piece of picture. That way never lost during any pursuit, as vision is clear.
  • What does the Bhagavad Gita story include?
    • Cause of universe.
    • Corrects the notion that the Cause is away from us. It shows Cause pervades the universe.
    • The Cause also supplies capacity for one form to interact with another form. Like roots & water, sun & earth’s rotation, North Pole & magnetic North.
  • B.Gita uses metaphor to demonstrate life of a person without the big picture:
    • Imagine many beads (objects, people) around one string (Ishvara).
    • If you miss the connection of the string (that is in-and-through all beads), then:
      • Life focus is other beads from birth to death.
      • Feel small, insignificant.
        • Contributes to psychological complications like:
          • Seeking validation.
          • Wanting to stand out.
          • Pretending to be upset to get attention.
          • Trying to become someone.
          • Black/white linear thinking.
      • Me (bead) VS. them (bead).
  • SUMMARY: How is knowing Ishvara relevant to our lives?
    • We are caught up in our notion of “I am a small, limited, separate, unworthy individual”. And can never free ourselves from this sense of limitation… until one free’s oneself by discovering one’s unity to the WHOLE.

Revision of Ishvara:

  • 2 factors needed to make anything…
  • In case of pot:
    • Efficient cause (nimitta karanam): Pot-maker (one with intelligence of the pottery).
    • Material cause (upadana karnam): Clay.
  • In Ishvara case, two causes are inseparable:
    • Efficient cause: Puts together smaller forms into larger assemblies.
      • EG: Wood = cellulose + lignin.
    • Material cause.
      • If you look into any material form, it’s reducible to a smaller form.
      • Meaning any form (at any level) is nothing but name-within-name, form-within-form.
      • Each name-form is efficiently organized to produce a larger-form with a useful function capable of interacting with other sentient/insentient forms.
  • Both efficient/material cause is called: Isvara (All Knowledge, All Power).
  • Want to see both causes in action?
    • Look at sperm cell. Alive with own intelligence, looking for the egg.
    • Process of meiosis (cell division).
      • Involves process of splitting (intelligent) and duplicating (material).

How to appreciate the presence of Ishvara?

  • Can be appreciated through presence of laws and orders (we have seen last session).
  • Biological:
    • Destruction of species also part of biological order.
      • EG: Many species become extinct since beginning of life on earth.
        • EG: Dinosaurs become extinct, to give way for mammals. Mammals to human beings.
        • Thus extinction of dinosaurs is not a “no-order”.
        • Order makes one form extinct, gives rise to another.
  • Karma/Dharma:
    • Order of causes-effect relationship. Connects past, present and future.
    • In reference to humans, it provides the individual results in form of pleasant/unpleasant situations unfolding each day.
    • We can’t verify Karma/Dharma directly:
      • No way to verify presence of karma/dharma, because don’t have access to details how actions are connected to results, whether this life or past.
      • However it does answers many questions why people have different experiences in life.
    • Karma/Dharma are mentioned in B.Gita/Upanishads. Way scriptures work is:
      • Whatever they say, HAS to make logical sense upon inquiry (not be contradictory).
        • It should not contradict my reasoning, while at same time it's teachings should go above my reasoning.
        • And even when they take me above my reasoning, it still doesn't contradict my newly evolved reasoning.
          • EG: Chess. When see a brilliant move, only then it makes perfect sense. But couldn’t see it before the move was made, even though entire board was infront of you.
            • Applied to upanishads, they say, “World is relative”. Then through observation, we discover that each name-form is relative to another name-form.
              • EG: Rock > mineral (pumice, granite, sandstone, quartz) > quartz > oxygen/silicone atoms.
    • WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF CREATION? WHY ALL THIS? (Also answerable through knowledge of Dharma/Karma)

      • Firstly, “What is purpose of creation?” isn't right question, as again it falls under assumption “There was a first beginning.”
        • Science even confirms, nothing can be created, nor destroyed. It's got nowhere to go.
        • Meaning, everything already exists since beginingless beginning. And whatever exists is governed by intelligent laws/orders.
          • EG: Today is incomplete, without tomorrow. And Tomorrow is a consequence of today. And within today/tomorrow, there are sub-orders, like: Psychological, biological, chemical, gravitational, electrical, etc.
      • If all name-forms and laws-orders resolve into all-knowledge-power… then what is the relevance of the universe of infinite names-forms?
        • Mandukya Karika, Chapter 2 by Gauḍapāda:
          • Purpose of the creation can be understood ONLY from standpoint of jīva.
          • All jīvas come into existence first. Require a loka for experiencing, for sake of exhausting their karma (puṇya-pāpam).
          • In keeping with their actions put out into the field, all varieties of objects in internal (mind-sense organs), and external worlds are created in the waking world.
            • Thus every jīva goes through every experience that is manifested by all knowledge-power.
          • Every experience is classified as favorable or unfavorable.
            • Based on this classification, jīvas develop likes/dislikes.
            • Based on likes/dislike impressions, the jīvas are compelled to act in the world.
            • Wherever there is attachment, jīvas will go after that. Called: pravṛtti.
            • Wherever there is aversion, jīvas will go away from that. Called: nivṛtti.
          • And due to this process, the cycle of experience, likes/dislikes, pravṛtti/nivṛtti continues endlessly.
          • Summary:
            • As person experiences/learns… he encounters favorable/unfavorable experiences, which lead to pravṛtti/nivṛtti. EG:
              • Disgruntled employee = unfavorable experience = nivritti   = aversion.
              • Pleasant person            = favourable experience   = pravritti = attachment.
            • Because of this, more karmas are accumulated, and rebirth happens as it has to continue exhausting from previous life, because cause never go without an effect. Where will cause go, since nothing can leave the One reality.


  • OBJECTION: Where is order (Ishvara) in this world? I only see suffering, violence and poverty. Seems Order itself is contaminated.
    • ANSWER:
      • “Order” means existence of cause-effect.
      • To Demonstrate, everyone is endowed with, Dharma: Sense of right/wrong.
      • Human is also endowed with freedom to follow / not-follow dharma.
        • If don’t follow, order provides 2 results:
          • Seen (immediate):  EG: cheating/lying, immediately provides feedback of guilt.
          • Unseen (future): Surfaces in future which shows past actions were inappropriate.
      • Conclusion:
        • Presence of order means, results are produced according to actions.
        • Any apparent disorder is result of choices people made in past.
          • EG: As long as overconsume, order produces effects like global warming.
          • Thus it’s up to you/me to make wiser choices, if wish order to produce more favorable results.
      • Story to illustrate shallow reasoning when it comes to presence of Ishvara:
        • Barber cutting hair. Client asks, “Is there a God?”. Barber says “There is no God”. Client says “There is God”. Barber responds, “If there is God, why so much suffering in the world?”. Barber feels good about his smart reasoning.
        • After haircut, client brings in a man with ungroomed, messy hair… shows to barber, and says “There is no barber in this world”.
        • Barber says, “What you mean! I just gave you a haircut. Absurd to say, there is no barber”.
        • Client says, “If there was a barber, then there wouldn’t be anyone walking with ungroomed, messy hair.”
        • Barber understood how question applies to topic of God.
        • Story shows common argument about non-existence of Ishvara, using simple reasoning.
        • Barber understood: Just because there’s a barber, doesn’t mean there will be Order to someone’s hair (as it’s up to person to align oneself with that order).
  • Misconception 1: Whatever happens is result of Ishvara’s likes/dislikes, who punishes one person, and rewards another.
    • Rational:
      • If Ishvara is all knowledge-power, then why has Ishvara let world get into a unfavorable state?
      • Why would Ishvara ALLOW rape, violence, abuse?
    • Reason for this thinking:
      • Ishvara creates world and stands separate from it. Watches our actions and rewards/punishes us.
      • Creates images of wrathful God, who despite being all-loving, He let’s us suffer.
      • Ishvara is impersonal:
        • Cause of Universe (Ishvara) is not a person, but all-intelligent order which facilitates results according to our actions.
        • Analogy:
          • If rub back against tree, we get injured. Hurt is caused by the tree, but can’t hold tree accountable. Tree was remaining as it is, without agenda to hurt or not hurt.
        • More one recognizes this fact, more one relaxes about whatever happens.
      • Ishvara is one grand order to whom we give different names according to order’s function. EG:
        • Sarasvati: presiding deity for laws/orders that govern intelligence.
        • Lakshmi: wealth.
        • Ganesha: resolving confusions and complications.
        • Therefore, Ishvara is recognized as one grand order, seen from different aspects.
  • Misconception 2: When did all-knowledge-power begin? Linear thinking.
    • It manifest as names-forms, and becomes unmanifest potential at time of dissolution.
  • Misconception 3: Ishvara is energy.
    • It’s not energy because:
      • Energy doesn't have intelligence to organize itself.
      • Energy/matter exist within time/space.
  • Misconception 4: Ishvara knows what’s going to happen in the future.
    • Everyone is contributing to how universe is to shape itself in future.
    • Even if you ask Isvara what will happen 300 years from now, Isvara can't answer, because it depends on our actions today.
    • Nothing is static/predetermined.  Everything is in constant flux.
  • Misconception 5: Other worlds have advanced civilizations which much higher understanding of Ishvara.
    • What is definition of Universe? Time/space/objects.
      • Therefore any logic which applies in this world, applies to ANY world.
      • Because the intelligence that organized this world, is same intelligence that organized THAT world.
        • Knowing this, you don’t waste time travelling to “better worlds”.
        • Meaning, even if don't know details about something, can say: “THAT form cannot come without a cause”.
        • That’s why Vedas can make postulations about 14 lokas.
  • SUMMARY: Therefore, there is one All-Knowledge-Power, appearing as names-forms.


Universe has a relative reality, not absolute reality.

  • QUESTION: What is the relationship between the universe of names-forms, and all-knowledge-power (Ishvara)?
    • What is the reality-status of this world?
  • So far we’ve seen that everything in universe is apparent (EG: mountain). It ultimately resolves into one all-intelligence.
    • All objects resolve into name-form within name-form.
      • Meaning: We can’t find one final substance/material from which all manifestations come from. Because when look into any form, we find resolves into smaller form.
        • At same time, can’t claim objects do not exist.
  • Meaning, no object is absolutely real. At the same time, can’t dismiss objects as unreal.
    • How to resolve this paradox?
      • Upanishads bring two terms to describe any object in terms of it’s reality-status. (EG: Hand).
    • Two terms:
      • Satyam: that which exists independently.
      • Mithyā: that which depends upon something else. (Depends on satyam for it’s existence).
    • Context:
      • Every object is empirically (observationally) true. But it’s reality resolve into something else.
        • Meaning it has a dependent reality. So any objects reality is mithyā.
            • Mithya does not mean it's totally false / illusion.
            • Mithya means it's empirically true.
            • Mithya is not totally real, nor totally false. It has in-between reality.

Example of satya/mithyā relationship:

  • Table is mithyā because it’s existence depends on the wood.
  • Wood is mithya because it depends upon cellulose/lignin.
  • Cellulose is mithya as is depends upon C6, H10, O6.
  • Oxygen is mithyā as it resolve into Atom (atomic number 8).
  • Conclusion:
    • If every form is mithyā, WHAT is the reality which every form depends on?
      • Satyam: which is all-knowledge, all-power. Which even time-space resolves.
    • Meaning when look into any form, we find presence of all-pervading intelligence that appears as atoms, molecules, fibers, wood and table.

Summary of Satya/Mithya:

  • What is mithya?
    • Mithya refers to objects (names-forms manifested of One intelligence).
    • Mithya applies to unmanifest:
      • Mithya-objects which are not manifest now, will become manifests in 1-sec from now or in years to come, according to an intelligent order… which is also a manifestation of the One intelligence.
  • What is satyam?
    • The One Intelligence which puts all mithya-objects together.
      • Mithya-objects themselves are also the One satyam-intelligence.
    • Satyam-Intelligence is independent of mithya-objects.
    • Demonstration how satyam can retain itself while manifesting mithya objects:
      • We retain our intelligence (cause of dream), while dream mithya-objects are changing.
      • You don't take on any dream mithya-objects. If it did, when you wake up, dream objects would stick to you.

Without satya-mithya, it’s a vision of Dvaita:

  • In actuality, forms don't create duality because they all come from One reality.
    • Meaning, there are no two things called objects and intelligence. There is only intelligence APPEARING as objects.
  • Therefore if don't understand satya/mithya, then you give absolute reality to everything.
  • CONCLUSION: Can’t find beginning of anything in the world (meaning, no substance claims absolute reality). Not knowing this, causes question, “What came first?”.
    • Father can’t come into manifest without also being a son. Vice-versa.

Concluding the Cause of the Universe with some Glories:

  • Cause of Universe (Ishvara) is not matter of belief. When examine any name-form, we see there is an intelligence that makes possible the network of laws to work together.
    • We can recognize this intelligence in any form in this world:
      • EG:
        • How long would it take for a human to figure out how far sun should be to create ideal living conditions.
        • Or bees building a honeycomb hexagonal structure, mimicked by humans to create structurally strong designs like roof.
          • Also use their wings to air-condition their hive.
        • Octopus to mimic the texture/color of the surface.
        • Spider to build a sophisticated web formation.
        • Electric eel to generate burst of electricity.
        • Ants build a bridge out of themselves, to help other ants transverse over water.
        • Chemiluminescence: light produced through mixture of protein/enzyme, with very little heat generated. EG: Firefly, beetle, jelly fish.
          • Humans still haven’t achieved efficiency of animals, even though LED is closest.
        • Rats teeth always sharp. Because teeth are hard on one side, soft on other. When used, soft wears faster, keeping teeth constantly sharp.
          • Finding used in saw blades that sharpen themselves.
        • Crabs keep exact time of tide cycles. If moved to different time size, still respond with equal accuracy.
        • Number of chirps snowy tree cricket produces per minute, corresponds to air temperature.
        • 8 planets (excluding Pluto since 2006, IAU) moving around sun with precise schedule.
  • So all natural occurring phenomena, bring-out aspects of all-intelligence.

What have we seen so far?

  • Any object, is a form within a form.
    • The form exists “as though”, because when looked from another standpoint, the form no longer enjoys it’s apparent status.
    • All names-forms resolve and enjoy their existence as the One Intelligence called Ishvara.

Next topic:

  • Seems all-knowledge-power is the final truth (satyam) of everything.
  • However, the question is, where did all-knowledge, all-power come from?
    • There is one more final reality which even Ishvara depends for it’s being…

Recorded 27 Oct, 2020



  1. Hi Andre.
    Vedanta talks about the three states:
    Sleeping &
    Deep Sleep.
    As you know, yoga also describes Turiya, which it calls the fourth state.
    A level of super consciousness.
    What does Vedanta say about this?

  2. Thanks Andre.
    Makes perfect sense if I see Turiya as para -prakriti.
    This is where the more complete teaching of Vedanta is so useful.
    Before I had to guess what the conscious state of Turiya was like as it was simply described by the generic term ‘super consciousness’
    There was no real context.
    Very helpful ?

    1. Another question is, why do Vedas use so many words for Consciousness? So far, we have: parā-prakṛti, turīya, brahman, ātmā, sat-cit, sākṣī (witness), pāramārthika, etc.

      Because creativity is privilege of humanity, singing glories of the One in numerous terms.

      It’s also reason for most common confusion, “levels of consciousness”, often stemming from young spiritual communities.

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