Does a Liberated Person Also Experience Happiness from Objects?
Object-happiness (viṣaya-ānanda) is a name given to a phenomenon that naturally occurs in the subtle body.
Brahman is of the nature of sat-cid-ānanda (Existence-Awareness-Bliss).
Although Brahman pervades the entire world/universe (jagat) as its substratum (adhiṣṭhāna) – the manifestation of its nature varies from object to object.
The inert objects (eg: rock) of the world fully manifest only as Existence (sat).
The sentient subtle bodies (animals, humans) in the world fully manifest as Existence-Awareness (sat-cit).
Existence-Awareness-Bliss (sat-cid-ānanda) is only fully manifest in an subtle body that is predominated by sattva guna (pure reflector of Original Consciousness).
The subtle body becomes predominated by sattva when it is without any pursuit (like goals, desires, fears, wishes).
The subtle body is without pursuit when it attains a desired object that it was pursuing.
For example, when the man gets the girl, his pursuit disappears because the object of desire was attained. Hence his subtle body is predominated by Sattva, therefore experiences viṣaya-ānanda. Or person gets a raise, job.
Thus since the attainment of an object brings about a state of the subtle body in which it is able to manifest the bliss of the Self (brahma-ānanda), the manifested bliss is called object-happiness (viṣaya-ānanda).
The manifestation of brahma-ānanda (bliss of the Self) in the subtle body is a natural phenomenon.
It happens in every subtle body, including the subtle body of a jñānin (Enlightened person).
Therefore, a jñānin also experiences object-happiness.
The difference between an ajñānin (ignorant person) and a jñānin is that the ajñānin concludes that the happiness is coming from the object, while the jñānin knows that the same happiness is simply a manifestation of his own nature .
Thus while the ajñānin actively seeks objects, mistaking it to be the source of happiness… a jñānin only experiences object-happiness as an incidental phenomenon.
Object-happiness is experienced when the subtle body becomes predominated by sattva.
The subtle body becomes predominated by sattva when it is without any pursuit.
Isn't a jñānin always without pursuit?
Isn't he always aware of the fact that he is of the nature of ānanda (sat-cid-ānanda)?
The subtle body can be simultaneously aware of two things – only if one awareness is GENERAL, and one is SPECIFIC.
It can only be “specifically aware” of one thing at a time.
For example, imagine a person is cooking.
He is “specifically aware” of his action of cooking.
He can simultaneously be “generally aware” of his name, but he does not have the specific thought “My name is X”.
If someone comes and asks his name, the general awareness of his name can become specific, and he can think “My name is X”.
However, as soon as he is “specifically aware” of his name, he is no longer specifically aware of his action of cooking.
The action can continue, but he will be only “generally aware” of it, and the action will be mechanical.
In the same way, the subtle body can be specifically aware of either brahman OR the world (atma or anatma, self or not-self) at any given time — not both.
The subtle body is specifically aware of brahman only when it is in nididhyāsana (thinking of the Self) .
When a jñānin is engaged in the world, his subtle body must be specifically aware of the world, and only generally aware of brahman.
When his subtle body is specifically aware of the world, it can be predominated by any guṇa.
It can also be engaged in a pursuit, because it is not specifically aware of the fact that he is of the nature of ānanda.
Therefore, even a jñānin's subtle body becomes predominated by sattva and experiences object-happiness.
1) Excerpts from Vichara Sagara – A Nineteenth Century Vedanta Text