Search & Read
Micro and Macro Causal Body
Don: Greetings, Sundari.
I was reading your November 2016 satsang What Is Sleep and Why Is It So Important?, and you said this:
“The subtle body, or microcosmic causal body (subconscious), which seems to belong to the jiva (although it really belongs to Isvara) and produces the jiva’s karma, ‘disappears’ into the macrocosmic causal body, or the deep sleep state. It is the same for everyone. The macrocosmic causal body is another name for Isvara. It is pure tamas.”
Would it be more correct to say the subtle body AND the microcosmic causal body (subconscious) “disappears” into the macrocosmic causal body (deep sleep state/Isvara)?
Sundari: The subtle body and the microcosmic causal body are the same thing because the subtle body is the vehicle for the jiva’s vasana load, its unconscious conditioning.
Don: A second question: Would it be fair to say that the relation of the microcosmic causal body (which you say belongs to Isvara) to the macrocosmic causal body (which you say is Isvara) is like the analogy of the wave to the ocean?
Don: I find that since words are so important to the teaching of Vedanta, I find myself being rather picky with statements, as it seems sometimes I can interpret words or sentences differently then what possibly was meant.
Sundari: Vedanta puts us into a whole new world of perception because it is so insistent on the correct and conscious use of words – it teaches through the implied and not usually the ostensible meaning of words. For self-inquiry to work, where the ostensible meaning does not work, we must take the implied meaning, based on logic. For instance, if we say that there is an identity between Isvara and jiva, what do we mean? We can’t work this out with the ostensible meaning of this statement, because Isvara is consciousness plus the world and jiva is consciousness plus the subtle body. Isvara is omniscient, and jiva only knows its subjective reality. We must take the implied meaning by removing all the non-essential variables to get to what is non-negatable, the fact that both Isvara and jiva are awareness.
Don: Besides the two examples just stated, here is another example: “The macrocosmic causal body is another name for Isvara. It is pure tamas.” I can interpret that to mean that Isvara is pure tamas, which I’m not sure you meant, but rather deep sleep is pure tamas. It seems I am getting too lost in semantics, but reading the various satsangs and books, it would seem the inquiry demands attention to words.
Sundari: The technical teaching on Isvara and the causal body are complex because they are synonymous, but there is also a subtle distinction. Isvara is pure awareness wielding maya, so it is two things – consciousness and matter. Therefore Isvara is conscious and by default makes maya (matter) look conscious, which it is not. But when we investigate matter, we find that it too is consciousness even though consciousness is not matter. Isvara in the role of Creator creates, sustains and destroys everything. Deep sleep is synonymous with the causal body and with pure tamas – matter, or pure ignorance. These are subtle points, but it’s important to understand the distinction; you are quite correct in pointing it out.
Don: Speaking of the microcosmic causal body (subconscious, you say), does it have some relativity to what Daniel Kahneman speaks of in his book Thinking, Fast and Slow as System 1? Reading his book after seeing it mentioned by James in his second book The Essence of Enlightenment, I could not help but see a parallel between this Western psychological explanation and the Vedantic microcosmic causal body.
Sundari: Yes, we have both written extensively about the correlation between Vedanta and Kahneman’s use of the terms “System 1 and 2” as they apply to Vedanta. James references these terms often when he teaches. I wrote an article on it almost four years ago; you will find it under Articles in Publications on the website.
Don: The idea of the fast-thinking System 1 in Kahneman’s book gives another perspective for me as to how those vasanas can so subtly keep reasserting themselves, those devious rajasic and tamasic “qualities.” Should I call them qualities or energies, or how about devious Isvara?
Sundari: Qualities or energies both work, as all three gunas give rise to typical thoughts, feelings and actions. It would be nice if we could hang some personal qualities on Isvara, but unfortunately we cannot, because Isvara is trigunaatita, not affected by the gunas. The gunas are impersonal principles that operate in the field of existence. The only way the field can function to allow jivas to work out their karma is if the gunas have the possibility of playing out from one end of the spectrum to the other.
Don: This attention to words and their meaning in the study of Vedanta, along with the knowledge of the gunas and Kahneman’s work on fast thinking, is showing this little jiva how lazy (tamas) it is, and here it was thinking it was so rajasic!
Sundari: Rajas and tamas are really one guna – rajas/tamas – because they always work together. Wherever you find one you find the other. Excess rajas always causes tamas and is also the antidote for too much tamas. Rajas is the most difficult of all the gunas to understand and manage, and is behind most of the jiva’s suffering.
~ Love, Sundari