Search & Read
Isvara, or Brahman, Is the Name for All Forms, Not a Form
Thomas: I want to add this for my previous email. I know about blankness therefore the blankness is also brahman with name and form superimposed…
I am the sakshi in waking, dreaming and sleeping state. I am only the watcher utterly separate from the movie who is watching the first-person-view 3D movie, and the movie is also equipped with five-sensory input for truly live-action movie experience. Everything I see cannot be the sakshi that I am (I see the car, the car cannot be me; the object cannot be subject). I see the ego is transacting in the world, so the ego cannot be me but I am the final witness witnessing the ego.
Sundari: Correct, but awareness is a witness only with reference to whatever is seen. By itself it sees only pure consciousness. The self is a seer that never began nor ceases and is the all-seeing eye or “I” that sees only itself because there are no objects for it to see.
It would be more appropriate to say that the self, seeing only itself, is that which knows the seer with reference to the seen only when maya is operating. The self-aware self appears as a seer but it never actually is a seer unless seeing refers to its own self. When ignorance is operating the jiva thinks that the seer is different from the seen; in other words, that the subject and object are different. They are not different, although they exist in a different order of reality. All objects are apparently real, meaning not always present and always changing. Awareness is that which is real, that which is always present and never changing.
Thomas: I see the ego in waking and dreaming state but then there is blankness in deep sleep state, I cannot even think “I exist but I am not seeing anything now” because this thought also does not arise in the deep sleep state. But in the waking state the ego-thought arises so I can know there is ego in the waking state. So nothingness/blankness is also an object of knowledge. The substance of blankness is also existence-consciousness, therefore blankness is only brahman with name and form superimposed. But remember that although the movie is not self but dependent on self, it is arises in awareness, is made from awareness (like the spider’s web is made up of the spider but is not the spider) and dissolves into awareness upon investigation. (See the cause and effect teaching further down.) Awareness is always a witness.
Sundari: Correct. This is the cause and effect teaching: there is only one awareness out of which everything arises and depends upon, but awareness is always free of the objects. Awareness is adjata, unborn. Vedanta is the path of the unborn because it reveals that although there appears to be a creation, nothing ever really happened from awareness’ point of view. All objects are made up of awareness and dissolve back into awareness in that they appear in the mind and the mind appears in awareness. The mind (subtle body), like all objects, is an object known to you, awareness. The thoughts that appear in the mind belong to the gunas: Isvara.
The Cause and Effect Teaching
The apparent reality (mithya) is a union of paraprakiti or higher reality (meaning Isvara or brahman) and aparaprakiti (jiva) lower reality. Their common identity is uparaprakriti: awareness. Awareness is the both the intelligent cause, that which shapes the materials into form (without ever losing or modifying its own nature), and the material substance, meaning the effect from which the forms are created, like the spider’s web emerges from the spider and is made up of the spider. As consciousness is non-dual, there is no real world. When maya appears, awareness plus the gunas becomes Isvara, the Creator. Isvara or brahman is the name for all forms, not for a particular form.
Isvara is not a doer or a samsari. From the jiva’s point of view, Isvara is unlimited and the jiva is limited. From awareness’ point of view, both Isvara and jiva are limited. Even though Isvara is omniscient relative to the jiva (because only Isvara has knowledge of all objects) Isvara, like the jiva, depends on awareness to exist. Although Isvara is not conditioned by maya and is conscious and the jiva is conditioned by maya and is not conscious, both Isvara and the jiva are reflected awareness and make up the apparent reality. Therefore neither Isvara nor the jiva are real, “real” being defined as “that which is permanent.”
Maya, the power to delude (ignorance), is a power that exists in awareness so although its appearance gives rise to the apparent reality, maya is neither real nor unreal. Maya creates the categories of real and unreal. Without maya, there is no creation, no jiva and no Isvara. It is very important to remember that maya only covers a very small portion of awareness, because awareness cannot be covered. Awareness is that which knows maya, the apparent covering. Awareness does not create, but maya creates the apparent duality with apparent doers, jivas being the small doers and Isvara being the big doer. Once maya is transcended, i.e. non-duality and duality understood, ignorance falls away and only awareness remains.
Thomas: And to know that the car is moving in front of me, I must be the one who is not moving, observing this fact. To know the changing, I must be the one who is not changing. I know the changing between waking, dreaming and sleeping state which means I am the one who is not changing during the changing of the states. Is that true? Can this example become a valid proof to realize that sakshi exists also in deep sleep state? And please give me more examples or a teaching to make me really abide in the truth that the sakshi that I am also exists in the deep sleep state.
Sundari: Either you are conscious of things, or in the absence of things, you are aware of awareness. Deep sleep is “absence of things,” therefore in deep sleep, as in nirvikalpa samadhi, only awareness remains, and since objects are absent, only awareness is available to be known. The only reason we see ignorance when we look at deep sleep is because ordinarily we look at deep sleep via the viewpoint of duality. Through the dualistic viewpoint, it looks as if there are no objects to be aware of, in which case there is nothing there, meaning ignorance. Furthermore, form the viewpoint of duality, if we don’t remember seeing objects, we assume that “I,” the subject, was also absent. In fact, it is only lack of and ignorance of objects which we are remembering in deep sleep and therefore also the lack of a dualistic subject-identity which we usually identify with in the waking/dream state.
However, this kind of subject is only present in the presence of objects, when the duality of subject-object is operating. We usually do not keep inquiring to check what remains in the absence of all objects and resulting absence of the dualistic subject, which would be vishwa or taijasa – the jiva identified with being a jiva. What remains is only the self, awareness, and what remains to be known by vishwa is only awareness, therefore the essence of deep sleep is simply awareness aware of itself in the form of the suskma vritti, called prajna.
On a related note, one cannot contemplate “being aware of an absence of objects” as this is not literally possible to do because in order to be aware of an “absence” of “objects” the idea or concept of the objects which are absent must be present in the mind, and then the idea of “absent” must be present, both of which are objects. In other words, to even be aware of an absence of something, we must know this something in the mind, therefore the something that is “absent” is in fact “present” if only in the mind. It follows that we can never really be aware of an “absence of objects”; this is only an approximate description of an “experience” which the dualistic mind cannot imagine because it only deals in objects. That means that the only real way to truly be aware of an “absence of objects” is in fact to put attention on awareness and be “aware of awareness” which means no reference to objects at all, not even silently or unconsciously.
This line of thinking seems to support the argument in Vedanta that in truth there is no ignorance in deep sleep, neither of objects nor of the self, for there is no possibility to be aware of an absence of objects in deep sleep because awareness of an absence would imply objects being present, which implies a mind, which is by definition an experience not available in deep sleep. Therefore all that is available in deep sleep is awareness aware of itself. And so we come back to the statement in Panchadasi: “Either you are conscious of things, or in the absence of things, you are aware of awareness.” Of course, on waking up we assume the habitual waking-state dualistic point of view and that is why, as the scriptures say, it is important to get the knowledge in the waking state, in other words, it is important to “awaken” the waking-state jiva to its nature, remove its ignorance, for that is the only problem.
This all, of course, depends on the point of view from which we consider the idea of the absence of objects. From the dualistic waking-state mind’s point of view this argument is correct. Absence implies presence. “Absent” and “present” are only thoughts in the mind. From awareness’ standpoint there is no absence of objects because there is only awareness. Even if maya is operating and there is a presence of objects, they are known by awareness to be awareness only, so they are not objects actually, only apparent objects.
If we consider deep sleep, which is an object to awareness, there is a factor that needs to be considered. The Upanishad says a suksma vritti is present that makes experience possible in deep sleep. The self is not an experiencer so it does not experience bliss as an object. It is bliss, i.e. awareness itself. The waking jiva has to lose its subtle body to become prajna, the experiencer of the bliss of sleep, the causal body. The subtle body has intellect and memory which makes the ideas of presence and absence possible and the knowledge of duality. But prajna does not have a subtle body so it has no duality, “duality” being just a belief in the subtle body. There is duality, however, because there is experience: prajna experiencing the causal body, the bliss sheath. The bliss is caused by awareness reflecting on the causal body. Prajna, however, is also an object to awareness. Yes, it is the self but the self is not prajna.
Talking about this is difficult because of the limitations of words. Awareness aware of itself is an experienceless experience by an experienceless experiencer, which is to say that the bliss of awareness is not experiential. Awareness is the bliss of knowledge. It is just the factor that makes experience and objective knowledge possible, insofar as you cannot have maya, and therefore experience, without awareness. Awareness is the knower of prajna’s experience of bliss, just as it is the knower of the waker’s intermittent experiences of bliss and suffering and the knower of taijasa’s experiences. Awareness does not feel anything as prajna and viswa do. It is a non-experiencing witness.
The statement that there is no ignorance in deep sleep can be considered in this way. Ignorance for whom? Deep sleep is ignorance just as the waking and dream states are ignorance, the effects of maya. Deep sleep is a state in which the self appears as prajna wrapped up in experiential bliss. All three jivas are ignorant of the self in their respective states, except those waking state jivas whose self-ignorance has been removed, i.e. jnanis. Their identification with the state that they experience is what makes the jivas ignorant.
Another teaching to help you understand deep sleep is the teaching on the three jivas: there is only awareness which, when maya is operating, manifests as a jiva, awareness identified with the subtle body. The jiva is the generic individual. There are three states or roles that the jiva experiences: the waking, dream and deep sleep state.
These three states are always present for the jiva. The jiva or waking state entity (vishwa) can be extroverted and aware of objects outside (meaning the world) or it can be introverted (taijasa) and aware of its thoughts and feelings; the jiva can also be aware of the bliss of the causal body (prajna), all while awake. Therefore for the jiva there is the waking state of the waking state, the dream state of the waking state and the deep sleep state of the waking state.
The jiva as vishwa refers only to the waking state entity with its attention totally externalized and directed towards objects.
The jiva as taijasa refers only to the dream state whether the jiva is awake or asleep because the subtle body is turned inwards observing the thoughts and feelings (vasanas) as they arise from the causal body.
The jiva as the deep sleep entity or prajna only refers to the jiva who is experiencing undifferentiated consciousness, or the bliss of the causal body and the absence of objects. This can be experienced in deep sleep, or awake such as in nirvilkapa samadhi.
Thomas: Thank you very much, Sundari, for your help. I am really grateful for it.
Sundari: You are most welcome, Thomas. I hope this helps and apologies for the delay in getting back to you, we have trouble keeping up with everyone who writes in.
~ Namaste, Sundari