The thought, by which one recognizes an object, and the object of the thought are identical. That is, in order to recognise the object, the thought must necessarily have the object in itself. If I have to recognise a pot, the thought or vrtti must assume the very form of the pot. Therefore, the thought is called 'pot-thought'. By the pot-thought alone, one recognizes the object pot.
For the recognition of atma - the self, also, there must be a vritti - a thought. This vritti is created by the Shastra and it destroys selfignorance. And this vrtti is brought back by the contemplator in nidhidhyasana. In the recognition of the nature (svarupa) of the self, the vritti assumes the very svarupa of the self, without objectifying it. This is not similar to knowing an object such as the pot. In the recognition of the svarupa of the self there is only one operation involved; whereas in the objectification of a pot, there are two operations.
One operation is the vrtti assuming the form of the pot and the second operation is the recognition of that vrtti, thereby recognising the pot. One is the objectification of the object (by the thought) and the other is the recognition of the thought. The objectifying thought is recognised by another thought, which is the the seer. I become the seer, the knower of the pot. Therefore, this I-thought, assuming the status of the knower, recognises an object through a thought, the pot-thought and says, 'This is a pot.'
Any piece of knowledge — where there is this peculiar connection, between the self, the knower, you, and the object that is objectified by that knower — takes place by these two operations. That is, the object is objectified by the thought and you cognise the thought. This is why you can say, 'This is a pot.' But, you cannot say, 'This is aatma (self)' Who is there to say it? I am the one who has to say it and, if it were to be so, then, the self, would become an object of the self who is objectifying it. Therefore, it would become non-self (anaatma) not aatma, just like any other object of your knowledge.
SEEING AATMAA IS DIFFERENT THAN SEEING AN OBJECT
The difference is that in the number of operations involved. Seeing aatmaa (self) implies only one operation; there is no second operation at all as there is when one sees an object. Only the first operation is there, the vritti that objectifies aatmaa, that assumes the very form of aatmaa. If I say aatmaa is pure consciousness, kevala-caitanya, shuddha-caitanya, and the recognition of this fact takes place, that recognition implies that the the vritti assumes the very form of consciousness and there is no other object involved. That particular form destroys the ignorance with reference to the nature of the self and then disappears. This, then, is the only operation that takes place, meaning that there is no second operation in the form of the recognition, 'This is the self' as there is in the cognition of other objects.
The one operation that does take place is only with reference to one's confusion about oneself, the selfignorance that was there; that ignorance is destroyed by the vritti. This is what happens in selfknowledge, in knowing the self. ( From Gita Home Study Chp. 6 Verse 21)
Om Tat Sat