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You Are the Gold and the Ring
Allan: Is atman different from awareness? What is the higher self?
Arlindo: Hi, Allan. Atman is synonymous with awareness, pure consciousness, self, brahman, paramatman, the Absolute, etc. Many names referring to YOU!
There is only one self. Sometimes people refer to a “higher” self. But if put that way, you will need to bring in the “lower” self, meaning duality. People sometimes do so as an attempt to differentiate the personal self (individual self) from the impersonal self (awareness). But the self is non-dual, and therefore cannot be higher and lower.
There is only one self, YOU, the light of consciousness appearing from time to time as the individual. Awareness is your primary and “true” nature, and the individual is your secondary “apparent” nature. What is real (YOU) and what is apparently real (Allan) exist simultaneously in different orders of the same reality – just like the gold and the gold ring. There is only YOU, the self, or atman, if you prefer.
Allan: Okay, Arlindo, but if I am the self, it means that the self talks and acts… but I am not the jiva! Vedanta says that the self is actionless. How to transcend the jiva?
Arlindo: Yes, Allan. The self talks and acts, but only in this apparent reality – only through the apparent jivas. Talking and acting happens in mithya. Your understanding is getting better, but be careful with the word “transcend.” Better to say that you are other than Creation, other than the jiva – or that you are before, during and after jiva/Creation and that Creation depends on you, but you do not depend on Creation. You do not need to transcend the jiva to be brahman. You are always the self, but the self is not an experiencing entity. The self apparently experiences – and only in mithya. It needs duality, the subject-object, in order to have an experience. It is like an apparent play between you (awareness) and Allan (jiva), and the truth is that you are both!
You are not either/or. You are not the gold or the ring, you are both, the real and the apparently real. All talking is the self apparently talking through the jiva, who is but an appearance in mithya. When Allan talks, it is both Allan talking and the self apparently talking. These two orders of reality exist at the same time. As you say, you know that the jiva and the world exist in you. Awareness, Isvara, jiva and the world all exist simultaneously, one within the other, from the subtlest to the densest. The waves exist at the same time as waves, as ocean and as water. Water is the essence, ocean a first superimposition and wave a second superimposition on water. Allan is one among an infinity of superimpositions on awareness – an upadhi.