Search & Read
Non-Reality of Objects for Dummies
Eric: I am not the separate self, Sundari. However, despite all my reading of the scriptures and James’ talks, I am still having trouble with realizing the non-reality of objects. Is there perhaps an explanation for dummies somewhere? Or should I just keep at it?
Sundari: You do need to stick with it, Eric, as I gave you the answer in my last email.
An object is anything you know, whether it’s a subtle object, like a thought/feeling or a seemingly solid object, like a tree or a table. You cannot be what you know. So ask yourself a simple question: Does the thought/feeling/table/chair know me? The answer is no. Why? Because objects are not conscious. Only I (the Self/knower/subject) make consciousness possible. By the light of the Self, the jiva appears conscious and can know objects.
But consciousness knows itself regardless of the presence or absence of objects. When Maya appears, there is (apparently) something for consciousness to be aware of. But as Maya is an object known to awareness as well, the Self, consciousness, sees only itself, always.
As I said to you in my last email on the nature of objects, when jiva under the spell of ignorance (Maya) identifies with the body, the material world seems to be “out there,” standing alone, solid and real. If you assume that you are the body, then the objects are out there and solid, for you. If you are not identified with the body-mind, then you have non-dual vision and see only yourself, consciousness.
All objects thus dissolve into the consciousness. Even science agree with this, although they do not call it consciousness; they call it the “unified field,” the substrate. Science does not know what consciousness is; it thinks it is an object of perception, which is impossible, because consciousness is what makes perception possible. It is subtler than the objects and cannot be known by an object. It can only be known by itself, the Self, consciousness/awareness.
When you see as the Self, the world is known to be a reflection of you, but you are not it. All objects are known to be nothing more than thoughts (experience) taking place in the mind (which is also an object known to you) and they are not real, because they are not always present, always changing. Only consciousness, you, are real because you are always present and never change.
The clearer, more sattvic the mind (reflective surface), the more distinct are the objects in it. Even though all objects arise in awareness, it is not as easy to see some objects as awareness (such as a chair or a rock), because they are obscured by tamas. The point is, if the mirror (mind or reflective surface) is clear, the Self as the object reflected in the mirror can be clearly known as an object of knowledge/experience. In non-dual reality, experience and knowledge are the same. There is no obscuration in a clear mirror.
Applying this teaching to your life means taking a stand in awareness as awareness and seeing all the subtle (thoughts/feelings) or gross (material) objects that arise in the mind as not-Self. It means disidentifying with the body-mind as your primary identity and identifying with the Self. The holding of the mind upon the reflection of the Self in a sattvic subtle body is a direct means to Self-knowledge by virtue of the fact that if the mirror is pure the reflection is perfect.
We have direct knowledge of the Self when ignorance is removed, and Self-knowledge is firm. Self-knowledge means that you know that although the reflection is you, you are not it. The reflection of the Self, even though just a reflection, is actually always perfect because the Self is always perfect, no matter the state of the mind/mirror. However, if ignorance (impurity/duality) clouds the mirror/mind, we do not see the perfection of the Self, the source of the reflection, and cannot know that what we experience all the time is the Self, it is who we are.
Because of the deluding power of Maya, we see only a distorted reflection and take it to be who we are. A reflection of the self, the subtle body, although it comes from the Self, reflecting off the reflecting medium (awareness plus Maya = Isvara = gunas) is neither real nor unreal, no matter how pure the mirror of the mind is. It is apparently real. The reflection is known to you (awareness), so cannot be you.
The source and the reflection are the same, but they are different, like the light of the moon comes from the sun but is not the sun, or the wave is the ocean but the ocean is not the wave – sat asat vilakshanam – something that is other than the Self but is not the object either. Self but not-Self, a trick of light caused by Maya. This is probably the most important teaching in Vedanta.
Sattva is the nature of the mind, and our ability to experience it depends on the balance of rajas and tamas present in the mind, which will be different for everyone due to their karma and conditioning. You can experience a more or less perfectly sattvic mind through guna management, especially when all the vasanas are rendered non-binding and the doer negated, but moksa does not depend on sattva, and neither does the enlightened person. A mind may be very sattvic but still in ignorance of its true nature as the Self. Conversely rajas and tamas may be expressing in the mind of a Self-realized person and not affect them at all, because they know they are trigunaatita, beyond the gunas.
As the jivanmukta, you know who you are and experience the bliss of Self-knowledge regardless of how the gunas are playing out in the mind. Getting hung-up on sattva is as much an obstacle to moksa as too much rajas and tamas. We call it the “golden cage” of sattva. All the gunas are objects known to you. And it is impossible to achieve (and maintain) a totally sattvic mind, due to the ever-changing nature of the gunas, which are always present together, with one usually dominating.
Thus the reflection of the Self may differ for everyone due to the way the gunas express and how much ignorance remains, but the experience of the Self is the same for everyone because there is only one Self and we are all it.
~ Love, Sundari