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The Eternal and Non-Eternal Jiva
Jane: During my time with Mooji, he used to quote a saying by a Vedanta master (I think it is Shankara) and he would present as follows:
Brahman only is real.
The world is unreal.
The world is Brahman.
In the online seminar given by Ramji this summer, he mentioned also this quote, but formulated slightly different:
Brahman only is real.
Jagat is unreal.
The eternal jiva is (non-different from) Brahman.
As you can see, Mooji speaks as the world being Brahman, whereas James said the eternal jiva is Brahman.
It made my mind puzzled. Is there a difference here, can one consider the eternal jiva as equivalent to the world? I am uncertain. Can you clarify the difference here?
(PS: I’m not sure now if Ramji talked about the eternal jiva or the non-eternal jiva; I am only sure he did not use the word “world.” But as this was heard during an online course, sometimes you do not hear properly.)
Regardless, it seems to me there is a distinction between the world and the jiva whether the eternal jiva within maya or the non-eternal jiva in maya. The jiva has its existence in an environment created by Isvara 2, the Creator.
Rory: You actually got it – the world is Isvara, and the term “eternal jiva” is another term for Isvara.
The Shankara quote is: “Brahma satyam jagat mithya jivo brahmaiva na aparah.”
The translation: “Brahman [the Self] is satya [real], the world is mithya [unreal] and the jiva is non-different from Brahman.”
“Jagat” means “the world” – not just this hunk of rock floating through space, but the entire phenomenal universe, which is Isvara (Isvara being both the intelligence that shapes the Creation and the very substance of the Creation).
“Jivo” refers to the jiva.
Ramji’s translation is more specific and accurate.
It’s likely that he said the non-eternal jiva. The non-eternal jiva is the apparently separate individual, the Self associated with a particular gross and subtle body.
It’s called the non-eternal jiva because, obviously, the gross body has only a finite lifespan. The subtle body continues to exist after the shedding of the gross body. It will again become associated with another gross body as long as fructifying karma compels it to keep incarnating to exhaust its vasanas and samskaras. With each birth, the subtle body has a different configuration because its memory is wiped clean and a different configuration of its old vasanas and karmas will come into play for that particular lifetime. That’s why, for all intents and purposes, it can be considered a “new” jiva, even though there’s actually nothing new in all of Creation, just constant recycling, everything running off the momentum of past karmas.
Another, more important, reason the jiva is considered non-eternal is because, with the advent of Self-knowledge, the ignorance that keeps it bound to karma ends. The jiva comes to realise its non-difference from the Self, its “karma account” is erased and it is liberated from the wheel of rebirth.
Isvara is the eternal jiva, awareness associated with the macrocosmic gross, subtle and causal bodies. Isvara is an eternal principle; it has no beginning and no end. Even at pralaya, the dissolution of manifest universe back into the unmanifest seed state, it remains in seed form and will reappear in form again at the next time cycle. Isvara is the controller of maya, wielding it to create and govern the entire cosmos. Unlike the jiva, Isvara is not subject to avidya, maya’s spell of Self-ignorance, and therefore doesn’t need liberating.
It’s correct to say that both Isvara and the non-eternal jiva are mithya because they have no independent existence of their own. Their existence is dependent upon the Self, just as a gold ring borrows its existence from gold and has no existence outside of the gold. There’s actually nothing there except gold plus the name and form of “ring.”
In the same way, both jiva and Isvara borrow their existence from the Self. The difference between them is a matter of upadhi. Isvara is the Self associated with the upadhi of maya, the cosmic principle which projects the entire universe (jagat) out of its own being. Jiva is the Self associated with the upadhi of a single gross-subtle body.
You might think of this as being like the wave and the ocean. Jiva is the wave; Isvara is the ocean. Both are actually the same awareness. The apparent differences are only differences in upadhi, or reflecting medium. Upon analysis, both the wave and the ocean are just water; and both jiva and Isvara are just awareness.
That’s the essence of Vedanta in a nutshell.