11 – Tattva Bodha: Your Nature = Sat-Cit-Ananda & How Happiness Happens


Discourse 11 analyses meaning of sat-chit-ananda, how happiness is denied and how it manifests.

Source: Tattva Bodha

Verse: (Intro Verse to What Self is and is NOT)

ātmā kaḥ?
sthūla-sūkṣma-kāraṇa-śarīrād vyatiriktaḥ (distinct from the gross, subtle, causal bodies)
pañca-kośā atītaḥ (…and is beyond the 5 layers of experience).
san avasthā-traya-sākṣī (…is the witness of the 3 states of experience)
sat-cit-ānanda-svarūpaḥ san (whose nature is of Existence-Consciousness-Fullness)
yaḥ tiṣṭhati sa ātmā (…who abides in this way, he is the Self)

The one who is distinct from the gross, subtle and causal bodies, who is beyond the five levels of experience, being the witness of the three states (of experience), that which remains in the form of existence, consciousness and fullness — he (is) the self (atma).

  • In this session we touched upon Sat-cit-ananda. Tattva Bodha merely point out what you already know. It's statements don't contradict your experience, but bring out what you innately understand. In this case, Tattva Bodha is pointing out —  you are that which Exists, and is Aware of your Existence, and experiences oneself as fullness. Although we can't contradict the first two (because you need to be Aware and to Exist to agree or disagree with anything) — we can contradict the last (“I am fullness”), because one generally experiences oneself as partial… thereby seeking objects/experiences to gain momentary sense of fullness/wholeness. Hence let's analyze the 3 words…
  • Who or What am I? What words directly point to my nature right now?
    1. cit:
      • Consciousness or Awareness that lights up. One in whose presence objects are lit up (such as: the experience of reading these words right now, world, memories, desires, thoughts, sensations, emotions, worries, joys, absence of thoughts). Another way to put it is, in your presence, there are objects-of-knowledge. Meaning, objects are blessed by that One who by illumining them — the objects come to Knowledge; come to Awareness; are revealed.
      • Nature of cit is to light up the stuff in the mind. Not only your mind, but everyone's mind. That's why your experience is not only Awareness (cit), but there is also awareness of objects.
    2. sat:
      • Awareness as explained above is sat. Sat means Awareness (cit) doesn't depend on anything for it's existence. Meaning noone is supplying you Awareness from outside. It's arising from you, because you are that. You, the self-evident, self-effulgent, self-shining one — in your presence, everyone else because an object-of-knowledge, or enjoys the status of “existent-thing”.
      • Awareness always remains true, not only in past, present and future, but also when there's no sense of time. 
      • So in short, sat has 2 definitions:
        1. Satyam: Not dependent on anything else. 
        2. Ever true: Obtains in all 3 periods of time, and when there's no time (like in deep sleep, or samadhi, or lost in art/drawing/dance/movie). EG: Time is gone; awareness IS. Space-gone; awareness IS.
          • Let's analyze what is “time” since we're on the subject: 
            • Past when existed, was present. Future when comes, will be present, until then, it's figment in mind. Thus to really know time, one should understand the Present/Now. Next question is, what length of time constitutes the Present? Suppose take Present millennium, yuga, century, decade, year, month, week, day, hour, min, sec… go on dividing… you'll never get to present. So what is Absolute True Present? When there's no length of time involved. IE: I, the Awarer of time. Meaning Awareness is true Present. And since all things are occurring in the Present, that means, all things are occurring in You.  Even to agree or disagree with this statement is occurring in the Present.
          • OBJECTION:
            1. Objection (from those who turn Awareness into some future event): I will become Aware (enlightened) one fine day in the future! I don't have Awareness right now! Only enlightened beings enjoy Awareness!
              • Counter: Right now there is Awareness of the fact that “you don't have Awareness”. One fine day in the future, there is Awareness of the fact that “you do have Awareness”. So what's the difference! Awareness hasn't left nor has it been gained. It's already true now. The only way you can make that statement is by turning Awareness (cit) into a mental notion (like a special feeling or suddenly experiencing yourself everywhere) – then expecting that projection to become true sometime in the future. 
            2. Objection: Can liberated person go back to ignorance (no longer liberated)?
              • Counter: Since liberation (moksha) is acceptance and recognition that my nature is Awareness, the question doesn't make sense. Because it implies one day the liberated person will suddenly stop being Aware. Everyone is already Aware. Ignorance is taking oneself other then Awareness. In fact, everything can go (including time); the only principle that can't is Awareness. So in short, liberated one (jnani) can't ever go back to ignorance.
                • EG: Think of pot-thought. How do you know it began? Because I am aware of prior absence of pot-through. Pot-thought is gone, because I am survivor of pot's absence, presence and departure. Hence Awareness itself has no arrival/departure. And this Awareness (the presence that survives) is Self (Atma).
    3. ananda:
      • Definition 1: Fullness / Limitlessness
        • Awareness has no spatial limitation, as Awareness has no form (height, width). Try to measure your awareness! Give it some concrete width/height value. Impossible! Meaning Awareness is formless, because only a form can be given width/height values.
        • Furthermore, you are aware of Space, just like time. To be aware of something, means Awareness is not restricted by that size of that something. And since you are Aware of space (that which accommodates the entire universe) — it means Awareness is even bigger then Space/Universe. 
          • Objection: But I am not Aware of the other side the wall of my house. Hence my Awareness is spatially limited!  Counter: We are not talking about the range of your senses. Were the wall not infront of you, there would be Awareness of whatever is in front.
        • So far, the word ananda means limitless (not bound by size). If you think about it, “limitless” can also be called formless or fullness. “Formless” means Awareness has no form; can't measure it; thus it's everywhere. And “fullness” means Awareness obtains everywhere. There's no place where Awareness is not. Awareness is not partial. For example you don't experience one half of you to be 60% aware, and other half of you to be 40% aware. You experience one full, unbroken Awareness.
      • Definition 2: Happiness / Bliss
        • Ananda, in certain contexts, is also defined as “happiness/bliss”, because the human mind can't grasp “fullness”; it has no emotional impact. However everyone values happiness. 
        • What is happiness not?
          • It's not fulfillment of desire, as can be unhappy after. And you can be happy without fulfilling desire (EG: hear a funny joke). Nor an object, as no one object gives happiness universally. Nor is it an ADJ to an object (EG: happy man; could be acting.). Not a place (EG: Beach). Happiness is not in a time (else a certain time would guarantee happiness consistently). Not within (mind); then wherever mind, there must be happiness. It's not absence of objects/thoughts, because can be seeing sunset/playing with dog & experience happy. Another myth is that happiness is when mind is gone; false because my mind is there when listening to music and I am happy.
        • Then what is happiness? 
          • In moment of joy, you (the subject) and object no longer stand as wanter/wanted. In otherwords, the subject no longer sees the object as different. Long as Atma is identified with the wanting Subject (composed of thoughts, desires, emotions, memories, likes/dislikes) — the Subject will want situation/object to be different.
            • EG: Father holds his newborn baby. He is happy. Suppose the baby poops in his arms. Frantically he passes the baby to the wife because he (the Subject) wants the baby (object) to be clean. Now the Wanter is born again. Moment the Wanter returns (“I want world/people to be according to my utopian version of life”) — one's happy nature is obscured by a WANT-thought. Finally the father holds the clean baby; once again subsiding the WANT-thought — once again giving way for happiness which was there all along.
              • Practical takeaway from above example: If I hold an object, without wishing it be more/less, for the time being, the mind's needs/wants/prejudices are temporarily suspended, and I am with the situation. I am able to enjoy the object.  So any object is enjoyable, depending on how you are looking at it NOW. Are you demanding it be different, and is it fair to do so? Could you change your standards as to what has to happen for you to allow yourself to be satisfied with this object/person? EG: Before, the object had to do minimum of A, B, C, D, E etc. Now, I will let myself be cheerful if the object does minimum of B. In short, when you become a non-demanding person, happiness goes up. One reason for children's effortless happiness, is they're not demanding situations be different, as they don't have enough experience to compare/contrast. 
        • What are you seeking when seeking happiness?
          • Unity between the demanding Subject & Object. IE: Seeking advaitam (not two). Until then, the Subject perceives a real difference between the Subject and Object (World); As thought Subject is one satyam and Object (World) is another satyam
          • In happiness, division of seeker/sought (subject/object, wanter/wanted) is gone. To the unwise person (ajnani),  they seem different, therefore one is willing to go great lengths to obtain the object.
          • In truth the pramata (Subject), prameya (object), pramana (experience or vṛtti [thought-form] that the Subject is having regarding the Object) fall within scope of Awareness (cit).  
          • In short, the subject is seeking freedom from smallness, when seeking happiness.
          • Here's the diagram we used in class to demonstrate that pramata (Subject), prameya (Object), and pramana (the thought-form arising in the mind when sense organs perceive the Object, together with own subjectivity added onto it) — all three obtain with scope of Awareness:
        • CONCLUSION: Ananda is to be understood, not experienced because we are already experiencing happiness (ananda) at various times of day, such as eating or being in company of closest friends. What is to be understood regarding Ananda? Content of any experiential-happiness is ananda (fullness; definition 1 above), just as content of any object is sat (IS-ness). And both ananda and sat are nature of I (cit; Awareness).  So we are not lacking experiencing of ananda; we lack knowledge that my nature is ananda (fullness).  Ananda (fullness) expression is sometimes roaring, quiet, smiling. Either way it remains full like the roaring full-ocean. The understanding is that fullness expresses in countless ways; therefore the wise person's focus is on this fact, thereby remaining relatively objective despite engaging in challenges. Yes, it requires deliberate effort in first few years, by re-introducing this understanding your day-to-day circumstances.


  1. Happiness Experiment: If I hold an object, without wishing it be more/less, for the time being, the mind's needs/wants/prejudices are temporarily suspended and I am with the situation. I am able to enjoy the object.  So any object is enjoyable, depending on how you are looking at it NOW.
    • Pick some object you feel has some power over your happiness (family, work colleague, partner). Are you demanding (whether implicitly or explicitly) it be different, and is it fair to do so? Is it fair to your happiness? Could you change your standards as to what has to happen for you to allow yourself to be satisfied with this object/person?
      • EG: Before, the object had to do minimum of A, B, C, D, E etc. Now, I will let myself be cheerful if the object does minimum of B. 


Credit for help in Tattva Bodha to Chinmaya Mission's Swami Advayananda, and Arsha Vidya's Swami Dayananda.

Recorded 6 Aug, 2023


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