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Isvara Is the Intelligent Cause and Its Effects
Sarah: What does the word “reflected” mean exactly, i.e. in “consciousness is reflected awareness”?
Sundari: When you look in a mirror and see your reflection, do you take it to be the same as you?
Sarah: Who/what is looking into the mirror, who/what is the mirror and who/what is seeing the reflection?
Sundari: The one looking in the mirror is the self – either self-aware or under the spell of ignorance. The jiva, the mirror and the reflection in the mirror arise out of awareness and are made up of awareness (like the wave and the ocean) but they are objects known to awareness. If the jiva is identified with being the person (the self under the spell of ignorance) then the person takes the image in the mirror to be who they are and experiences the reflection and the mirror as outside of them.
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 apparent reality ( mithya) is a union of paraprakiti or higher reality (meaning Isvara) and aparaprakiti (jiva), lower reality. Their common identity is uparaprakriti, awareness. Isvara 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; duality is a superimposition onto non-duality. Duality is the dream created by maya, the power to delude. When maya appears, awareness plus the gunas becomes Isvara, the Creator. Isvara 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.”
The reflected reality means just what the word implies: The object is a reflection of the subject. They are the same but exist in seemingly different orders of reality, that of the real and the apparently real. When ignorance is removed from the mind and the eyes looking in the mirror have non-dual vision, the self sees only itself (as it always has) but the jivanmukta still sees its apparent reflection in the mirror. The confusion is in thinking that duality disappears for the jiva once reality is known to be a duality. It does not – you, the self no longer under the spell of ignorance – still see objects “out there” but you are no longer deluded by maya and you know that everything you are looking at is you, awareness. You are no longer conditioned by the jiva or Isvara and you live as the self while still appearing as a jiva, with its own particular character and apparent life situation. maya/duality/ignorance is only a problem when you take it to be real.
Although maya gives rise to the apparent reality which is not real, 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.
Sarah: Awareness has the capacity to produce a dream, called maya. The jiva inside the dream, you say above, is not conscious. Both jiva and Isvara are awareness, but they are not both conscious? Where does consciousness come in?
Sundari: Yes, maya is a power that exists in awareness or it could not be unlimited. You did not read what I wrote last correctly. This is what I said:
“The most subtle ‘aspect’ of this teaching is the irreducible fact that because consciousness implies unconsciousness, it is not strictly speaking true to say that awareness is conscious. Awareness is without qualities, it is the non-experiencing witness and although it gives rise to all objects (who are not conscious) and Isvara (who is conscious), awareness is not ‘conscious’ in the same way. Awareness is that which makes consciousness possible in that consciousness is reflected awareness. Like Isvara, awareness is not a person; conscious and unconscious objects (Isvara and jiva respectively) arise when maya (ignorance) appears.”