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Vedanta Removes Suffering
Vanda: Liberation concerns liberation from ignorance... this jiva-self, being illusory, however, will attain liberation, since it does not exist. My question is: The scriptures speak of liberation of consciousness from the jiva – but does this mean that the consciousness that we are, the “total” Consciousness, will cease to manifest as self-ignorant jivas?
Arlindo: Yes, Vanda. Maya is a force/power, which projects the apparent-impermanent universe filled with an infinity of diverse objects that appear and change at every moment until they no longer exist. Among the many objects, jivas emerge, objects with a subtle body capable of reflecting consciousness and “poorly” perceiving their environment.
You are right, Vanda. Maya-Isvara is actually an object, a subtle energy which contains the intelligence-knowledge of the whole universe. It is the primordial dualistic modification: awareness-maya. But there is nothing ignorant about “maya-Isvara,” because it is an apparent phenomenon made of pure knowledge. As you have already understood, ignorance refers only to the objects in Creation.
All objects are inert (deprived of their own “light”). But intriguingly enough, human jivas exist in a condition referred to as “twilight.” Although they do not possess their own “light,” they reflect it (consciousness), thus creating a meager form of intelligence that is always mingled with ignorance. It is as if they eternally live in a sort of “twilight zone,” and therefore are incapable of clearly discerning and understanding what happens in their environment, much less its true fundamental identity.
Spiritual liberation refers to deliverance from this original ignorance, which is a “brand mark” of Creation: all objects are inert and therefore self-ignorant. The human jivas are born self-ignorant and almost invariably die ignorant. Only a few very rare individuals develop sattva guna (the reflective energy in the subtle body) necessary for introspection and contemplation of the real nature of reality.
Liberation only occurs to the jiva who directly and firmly understands his unlimited and infinite non-dualistic nature. He/she “become” free from ignorance concerning his/her own existence. It “obtains” the knowledge of its real nature, and such knowledge solves the fundamental drama of the human experience: psychological suffering. Knowing that you were never born and will never cease to exist solves all human problems at their root.
The jivanmukta is free from the self-ignorance that causes human suffering, but that does not mean that he has removed all aspects of ignorance that condition his experience. He continues to experience ignorance with reference to almost every other object of knowledge available in samsara. At most, we can say that he/she becomes wiser due to the quality of his mind which is naturally conditioned by a predominance of sattva guna.
Answering your question, the pure universal consciousness is “beyond” knowledge and ignorance, and it does not manifest itself as anything. Maya causes the apparent universe to arise, but in reality the universe is just like a mirage, “not-real.” Satya and mithya exist but in two orders of reality, although satya is the “causeless cause” of mithya as well as the substrate of mithya.
Pure consciousness, which is in fact the essence of all and everything, will never fail to “generate” the potential for the maya-Isvara phenomenon, which in turn projects the apparent universe in which jivas, almost entirely ignorant, may develop a rare desire for what is referred to as “moksa,” the self-knowledge that liberates jiva from the beginningless self-ignorance and its effect, suffering.