5 – Drg Drsya Viveka (5-7): Duality Doesn't Contradict Non-Duality – What is Ego (I-sense)?


Lecture 5 explains the main methodology of non-duality which is satya-mithya. The 3 bodies (Gross, Subtle, Causal). What is the Subtle Body made of? Relationship between Consciousness & I-sense (Ego). Iron-ball and fire example.

Source: Drg Drsya Viveka

VERSE 5: Description of Consciousness

न उदेति न अस्तम् एति एषा न वृद्धिं याति न क्षयम् । स्वयं विभाति अथ अन्यानि भासयेत् साधनं विना ॥ ५॥
na udeti na astam eti eṣā na vṛddhiṃ yāti na kṣayam । svayaṃ vibhāti atha anyāni bhāsayet sādhanaṃ vinā ॥ 5॥
This (Consciousness) does not rise (is unborn) and does not set (is immortal). It does not increase or decay (is immutable). It shines by Itself and It illumines others without any aid.

[COMMENARY: Science talks about origin of reflected consciousness (cidabhasa) when matter evolves in a certain form. But consciousness (sakshi) is eternal, without beginning or end.  It has no dimension or size. It is not confined to any particular location. Consciousness illumines everything but is not illumined by anything else. We need not make any special effort to experience sākṣī, because it is ever-experiencer and self-revealing.  Sākṣī effortlessly illumines the mind by its mere existence.]

    • So far, we’ve created two categories, (1) drshya: Anything seen, and (2) drk: Awareness which is not affected by anything.
    • If there are 2 different categories, then Awareness would become limited, because drsya (such as mountain/body/mind) is not drk-Awareness.
      • In other words, when there are two, one limits the other. EG: If we have small thing, and big thing, then since small is not included in the big, then big is limited. Yet, Awareness is defined anantam (Limitless), which means it doesn’t have a second.  
    • To understand that Awareness is Limitless (without boundaries / doesn’t end at some point), we need to understand drsya-jagat as mithya, and drk-Awareness as satyam.
    • SATYA: What which enjoys an independent existence.
    • MITHYA: That which has dependent existence. Doesn’t mean it’s illusion.
      • Person A says it’s a table. Person B says it’s wood. Both are right, but both can’t be equally right, else table and wood would be synonyms. Since they’re not synonyms, then one is more right then the other.
      • If you say “table” is more right, then I’ll say “Fine, then I’ll keep the wood, and you can have the table”! Thus “wood” is more right, because existence of table depends on Wood. Can’t even imagine table without wood. In reference to table, the wood is satyam (independent existence; wood is not confined to life of table). The wood; pervading the table, is free of table. It transcends the table.
        • However wood also becomes mithya because it has dependent existence on cellulose/lignin molecules > C.H.O atoms > particles > concepts (mathematics). This is where science ENDS, and Vedanta takes over.
      • If entire drsya-jagat is reduced to CONCEPT, then what is remaining? CONCEPTS and Drk.  If there are only 2 things left, then what is the relationship between them? Concept enjoys dependent reality (mithya), while Awareness is free of concepts.
      • Therefore entire universe becomes mithya, and final satyam is drk-Awareness; your true nature. Thus if you discover true nature of I as Awareness, you become the Existence upon which the entire universe depends.
  • Therefore:
    • svayam vibhāti (Awareness independently shines/exists), and atha anyāni bhāsayet (Everything else shines after it; depends upon it for it’s existence).
      • EG: Object shines after Sun. If close eyes, won’t see Sun. Thus Sun shines after eyes (bhati / self-shining). Eyes shine after Mind. Mind shines after Awareness. Awareness is self-shining.
    • Sādhana vinā: Drk shines/exists without a secondary aid. It is independent and free of mithya’s attributes.
    • So far we’ve seen that Seer is one. And Seen are many. That’s still incomplete. Have to explain away the many-Seen. They’re all mithya depending on the Seer.
      • EG: “Body” becomes a nāma for a form-which-consists-of-many-limbs. However, limb like “heart” also becomes a nāma for form-which-consists-of-many-molecules. Science stops at Concepts, and can’t find the final end, because the final end is Satyam (which is only discovered through scriptures as self-revealing I).
        • Each level of assemblage has a different function. And we only give reality to the most outer name-form-function (EG: arms, legs).
        • Upon investigation, the name-forms which we placed our “I” in, are completely negated from standpoint of their smaller constituents.
      • Furthermore, mithya doesn’t mean “same”. Thus can’t dismiss it because mithya is functional.
    • Therefore this knowledge of satya-mithya relationships remains equally valid at any time. While mithya is undergoing changes, no change can be noticed without satya-Awareness. In every thought, there is an invariable presence; Awareness. The content of each thought  is Awareness.
    • Awareness is neither a SPECIFIC experience, nor is it not experienced; thus don’t have to produce it; only remove the notions which impute that Awareness is something that’s supposed to be Seen.
    • No one can deny existence of Awareness.
    • No one can impute attributes onto Awareness.
    • No one can deny world is mithya.
    • No one can deny relationship between CONCEPT and Awareness.
    • Satya-mithya is not a belief.
  • NEXT VERSE: Defines the mind in more detail, besides just “thoughts”…


Verse 6-12: Formation and Function of the 3 Seers (Sākṣī, Mind, Sense Organs)

VERSE 6: Consciousness obtaining (reflected) in the Intellect

VERSE 6: Consciousness obtaining (reflected) in the Intellect
चित्-छाया-आवेशतो बुद्धौ भानं धीः तु द्विधा स्थिता | एका अहङ्कृतिः अन्या स्यात् अन्तःकरण-रूपिणी ||

cit-chāyā-āveśataḥ buddhau bhānaṁ dhīḥ tu dvidhā sthitā | ekā ahaṅkṛtiḥ anyā syāt antaḥkaraṇa-rūpiṇī ||
The intellect (thoughts) appears to be conscious on account of the reflection of Consciousness present in it. The intellect (thoughts) is of two kinds. One is the ego (ahamkara) and the other is the inner-instrument/antahkarana (mind, intellect, memory).

[COMMENTARY: Consciousness (“I”) shines (or is reflected) on the mind, illumining all it's blemishes and limitations which are falsely attributed “mine”. The mind consists of [1] ahaṅkāra – produces I-sense, and [2] antaḥkaraṇa, which includes manas (doubting faculty), buddhi (determining faculty) and chitta (memory). World objects are illumined by the sense organs. Sense organs are illumined by the mind. Mind is illumined by consciousness. The relationship of the three seers is thus explained.]

  • 3 BODIES:
    • Gross Body: Made of 5 elements. Science model is of atoms/molecules.
    • Subtle Body: It's subtler matter. EG: I can see grey-brain, but don't see your green-tree-and-blue-sky-imagination. I don't see your thoughts.  We think Subtle Body is sentient, but the sentiency is borrowed from Awareness.
    • Causal Body: Every action I do, has seen (immediate feedback from universe which gives insight about my action) / unseen result (that which is carried forward and can't be received immediately or in this lifetime). 
      • Unseen comes back as:
        • Punya: Unseen result of a noble action. It's experienced as comfort/enjoyment (EG: People are showing their love for you, caring for you, you have wealth, talents).
        • Papa: Unseen result of inappropriate action.  It's experienced as discomfort/obstacle.
      • Therefore Causal Body is account of your punya/papa.  Like a bank-account.
      • How will you experience discomfort/comfort? Through the body, thus new body after death.  Can't divide world into privileged/unprivileged because everyone has mixture.
  • Getting back to Subtle-Body, it has 4 Types of Modifications:
    1. Manas: Emotive mind that’s designed to give you corresponding emotions to given situations. Problem come when we add our own stories, then emotions are not keeping with empirical reality. EG: See someone hurt, and one gets a kick out of it.
    2. Buddhi: Cognitive/thinking capacity, with which you’re understanding Vedanta.
    3. Citta: You can’t have thoughts without memory. Past is constantly being utilized to make sense of present. Any person with Dementia will tell you it’s miserable to not remember.
    4. Ahankara: I-sense. EG: Every activity of mind gets attributed onto one place; the I-sense. It produces seeming-stability. However it too goes in Deep sleep and changes between Dream/Waking. Even within Waker, I-sense changes in reference to your opinions about yourself.
      • For most, I-sense is final reality of “I”. Vedanta says, your I-sense is changing, but what’s not changing is ever-available Awareness, in whose presence opinions about I are modifying.
  • NEXT VERSE: Speaks of relationship between ahankara and Awareness…

VERSE 7: How Life Transfers to the Body

छाया-अहङ्कारयोः-ऐक्यं तप्त आयः-पिण्डवत्-मतम् | तत्-अहङ्कार-तादात्म्यात् देहः-चेतनताम्-अगात् ||
chāyā-ahaṅkārayoḥ-aikyaṁ tapta āyaḥ-piṇḍavat-matam | tat-ahaṅkāra-tādātmyāt dehaḥ-cetanatām-agāt ||
It is considered (by the wise) that the identity of the reflection (of Consciousness) and the ego is like that of the heated iron ball. That (identified) ego (in turn) due to identification (with the body) enlivens the body.

[COMMENARY: I-sense (or mind) and consciousness are intimately connected, like an iron ball heated red hot by fire. They cannot be physically separated.  Seer (consciousness) makes seer (I-sense) conscious. And seer (I-sense) makes seer (physical-sense-organs) conscious. The three form the living individual. Ignorance is to confuse the three seers. The three seers cannot be physically separated, only by cognitive discernment. Vedanta says seer (consciousness) is the real ‘I'. Others are useful but incidental. At death, seer (mind) leaves and body; loses it's seer capacity, as body cannot borrow from seer (consciousness) directly; it can only borrow from seer (mind).]

  • Every changing thought, sensation, emotion gets centralized in I-sense (ahamkara), which is also part of mind. The totality of this I-sense changes as so many things are imputed on it.
    • EG: As teenager, “I am a fast runner”. As adult, “I am a scholar”. It makes you feel like your existence is an individual and unique doer/enjoyer.
  • What is the relationship between ahamkara and Awareness?
    • Fire is heating an iron-ball. When you touch the red-hot iron-ball, you experience it hot and see it as red. When actually iron-ball’s nature is cold and color is silver. Furthermore, you don’t see the fire in the iron-ball, but the presence of fire is recognized in the iron-ball as the heat.
      • If you don’t use discriminative enquiry, it seems there’s only one thing; the iron-ball, and it’s nature is red-hot. You assume redness and heat belongs to iron-ball (body-mind). And the fire (Awareness) is limited to the shape of the iron-ball.
      • The wise needs to tell you, there’s two things. The iron-ball. And fire. The heat and light belongs to fire. And shape belongs to iron-ball.  You don’t need to separate them. You simply discriminate by knowledge. “Shape and cold belong to iron. While hot and light belong to fire”.
  • In same manner, whatever is going on in ahamkara (EG: I am happy, gloomy) – is attributed to Awareness. And nature of Awareness (such as limitless/immortal) is attributed to ahamkara.
    • The limitation of metaphor is both iron-ball and fire are available for objectification and can be separated. Whereas Awareness isn’t objectifiable, and can’t separate it from Ahamkara.
    • Then how will you know that Awareness is different from ahamkara if can’t see them like iron-ball & fire?
      • For example, at one point “I am happy”, another time, “I am gloomy”. Happiness and sadness are incidental. What is invariable is the content of each description from start-to-end, which is Consciousness that is still here now.
  • So where do you find Awareness? In your ahamkara. And how do you know Awareness is different from ahamkara? Because ahamkara is changing. How is ahamkara changing? By various adjectives you’re assigning onto “I am” all day long; including how I experience myself, how I feel about myself, etc.
    • Since I-sense is changing with adjectives, and no adjective sticks to you, shows you (Awareness) are not the ahamkara.
    • The I-sense will never go. Through the I-sense, one understands that Awareness is that which doesn’t change in contrast to the changing. What’s more ahamkara is mithya, and the content of mithya is satyam-Awareness.
    • Purpose of ball-fire was to show, there are 2 things, while it appears to be one. Attributes are superimposed on each other. IE: “I AM good”. “I AM” is Awareness (fire) and “good” is the thought (ball). So Awareness becomes “good”.  So thought is imputed on Awareness, and Awareness is imputed on thought. 
    • Proper understanding: Thought isn’t separate from Awareness, and Awareness remains free of thought. Thought is variable. Content (of thought) is invariable; free from thought-attributes.
    • Time/space also has dependent reality on Awareness. How to show?…
      1. Time and Awareness Relationship:
        • For long time science believed time-space is absolute. Einstein showed time-space is relative to the observer.
          • EG:
            • If go to outer space, time would feel very different to earth, because earth objects change how you experience time.
            • Two twins are born same time on earth. One stays on earth. Another goes space travel at light speed. 50 years later, comes back to earth. Both twins have aged differently.
            • Pitṛ pakṣa: Annual event when, they offer ancestors food to show gratitude for passing on values to us. We do it once a year, but for them it’s once a day in pitṛ loka as time is different. Rishies understood relativity of time.
        • What is relationship between Time & Awareness? 1 hour is a name for 60 minutes. So 1 hour we agree upon, consists of 60 parts. 1 minute > 1 sec. Just as object collapses into parts, so does time. What remains finally is concept of time, which necessitates Awareness. So time is also mithya (dependent).
      2. Space and Awareness Relationship:
        • In science, time and space can’t be separated as work together.
        • Suppose we ask, “What is distance between my body and your body?”. 1 meter, but 1 meter consists of infinite smaller units. Each point is further divided. Infinite points make up one 1 meter.
      • Awareness is the only thing that’s the content of time/space and not dependent on time/space.
      • All things depend on Awareness. Where is this Awareness? In your buddhi as self-evident I. Then using the Pramana, you help “I” (where ignorance is centered on) see it has no actual limitation, even though it seems confined to buddhi.
      • Not only do you understand Awareness is free from I-sense, but also Awareness is truth of time-space and all sentient/insentient objects.
    • You only need 2 proofs to show the satya-mithya relationship between thought and Awareness:
      • AWARENESS SURIVES THOUGHT: Before thought comes, I am. While thought is, I am. After thought goes, I am. So if “I am” survives one thought, then it applies to all thoughts.
      • AWARENESS DOESN’T TAKE ATTRIBUTES OF THOUGHT: Attribute of one thought is not carried forward to another thought. EG: Rose is not carried onto the chair. Meaning, if rose-thought was stuck to Awareness, then when I’m Aware of the chair, it would have a rose over it.


Course was based on [1] Drig Drishya Viveka book by Swami Tejomayananda [2] Book by Swami Nikhilananda [3] Neema Majmudar.

Recorded 17 Jan, 2024

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