Upanishad Course – Chapter 11
The class started with a contemplation session during which we heard a story, a story that detailed our biography. A story about how one man mocks another man lazying around. When prompted to get up and do something that will make him rich and prosperous, the second man tells the first one that if the whole purpose of doing something is to make enough money so we can laze around, isn’t what he was doing now (not doing anything) the same?
One of the preparations for doing Dhyana is to be grateful. Being grateful makes us feel that we are working so hard to feel quiet, still and silent. Being grateful becomes more important in times of uncertainty. This is a course on how to destroy the instinctive way of living. In this context, destroy means to disidentify from all that is making us feel that we can create joy. Disidentification is not an outer journey, it is an inner journey/practice. In our course, we have given a lot of focus to what is it that conditions us. The large conditionings are known as Desha (space), Kala (time), Vastu (matter). This conditioning affects all including how knowledge is facilitate for us. In lesson 10, Sw. Tejomayananda ji described ‘Paroksha jnana’ (another’s knowledge). Generally speaking, it can be described as ‘That’. ‘Pratyaksha jnana’ is still my own knowing but it is still using an equipment (eyes, mind, etc). Generally speaking, it can be described as ‘This’. That and This only exist when there is conditioning. So the question arises, how can all this knowing help us feel unconditioning? It cannot! Pujya Guruji shared the funny yet forceful story of the tenth man. The person was counting only others, not himself. We need to stop counting others! Only then will we go from ‘That’ to ‘This’ to ‘I’. The application of counting others means to stop depending on and desiring others. Others can here refer to objects and not just people. When we stop counting others, we go from Paroksha to Pratyaksha to Aparoksha.
My knowledge of me: Aham Brahmasmi. The verse that states the importance of Aparoksha jnana is from Chandogya Upanishad. 7:23:1: That which is infinite is joy! There is no joy in that which is small (limited). Infinity if joy, joy is Infinity. Indeed, you should long to know that which is Inifnite! Rishi Narada responds: “O great one! I need to know the Inifinite!”
We can relate to this teaching by thinking as follows: Entities (articles, beings, circumstances) are the farthest most, closer than that are experiences like neutrality, likes and dislikes and closer than that are equipment (body, mind, intellect), closer than that is the ego. All these are Alpa (limited, small). Further you go from the ego, smaller they become. There is no Alpa (smallness) in Bhuma (bigness) just like there is no darkness in lightness. So if there is any sensation of ego, sensations, experiences, entities, they are all just an appearance. An appearance cannot effect Bhuma or Sukha (joy). An appearance cannot effect real change. We should therefore not be affected by it. When others are counting articles, beings and circumstances, we should not be affected by it. When the mind is going through likes, neutrality and dislikes, we should not be affected by it. When we are honest about desires, we should know that all the objects of our desires are uncertain and even when we have gotten it, it is uncertain. Living with constant uncertainty leads to frustration and fear. The only solution to this is ‘Know I’. Aparoksha jnana is all we need because the nature of ‘I’ is Bhuma, Sukha and we all already have it.
Review of lessons:
Lesson 1: Introduction- emphasis was on Upanishad (upa=near, ni= determined, sad=existence).
Lesson 2: Adhikari- Us, the student, one who is solid with Viveka and Vairagya.
Lesson 3: Adhikari- Us, the student, one who is solid with Sampatti and Mumukshutva
Lesson 4: Vichara- one with the above qualities starts to reflect on that which is deeper than the gunas, vichara on jeeva and jagat.
Lesson 5: Atma vichara- Such reflection is following the path of Shreya. The path of rightness is hard initially but easy finally. This is an investment and requires being visionary
Lesson 6: Also a lesson on Atmavichara and focuses on the reason behind why we don’t feel who we are- Avidya. We have forgotten who we are and are trying to figure this out
Lesson 7: Brahma vichara- Two techniques given on how to reflect on the Infinite- svarupa lakshana (nature of Inifnity)
Lesson 8: Continuation of Brahmavichara by tatastha lakshana (indirect way to know the Infinite). If there is creation, its source is Infinity
Lesson 9: Brahma atma aikya- you and all that you have engaged in is all existence. Chandogya Upanishad: Tat Tvam Asi, Kaivalya Upanishad: Tat Tvam Eva, Tvam Eva Tat
Lesson 10: Also on Brahma Atma Aikya. Shift from existence to awareness. We used references from Taittreya Upanishad on jnana and Chandogya Upanisha on joy.
Lesson 11: The best students of Advaita Vedanta are the ones who are most prepared. In the sacred sense, the best students are the ones who are most pure. The best students know their nature through Sravana. The next best students need Manana in addition to Sravana because they still have a sense of asambhavana (doubt about how Tat and Tvam can be Asi) and this lesson provides more details on Tat and Tvam. Details remove doubts. We have already studied how we are not the three bodies (gross, subtle and causal bodies) that go through the three avasthas (states of waking, dreaming and deep sleep). This lesson now gives additional details on the koshas. The term ‘nihita guhayam’. Nihita means ‘exists’ and ‘guhayam’ means a cave. Nihita Guhayam= exists in a cave. Practically, we can think of nihita as being centered and guha would mean coverings. Our center, Atma is in the multiple layers of coverings. However, due to ignorance, we have to come to feel that the center is the covering. This is known as viparita bhavana (inverted identification). Vipirita also means a perverted identification. We have to make this identification right. This is called pancha kosha viveka, to orient the coverings and rediscover the center. This can also be called guha viveka.
Mantra to explain this teaching (Taittreya Upanishad, 2: 4: 1):
Yatah vachah nivartante (where speech returns)
Aprapya manasas sah (the mind cannot reach it)
Anandam Brahmanh vidvan (the one who knows the joy of Infinity)
Na bhibheti (they have no fear)
Kadachat iti (they never have fear)
Tasya eshah eva sharira atma yah purvasya (the Atma of the former sheath is this sheath): the covering that is more close to Brahma is the mind and the covering above the mind is breath and the covering above that is the body.