Excerpt from a Satsang
As you have been seeing, Vedanta is a methodology of teaching, which reveals to you that you are self-evident, self-revealing consciousness that is neither matter nor energy. In romantic language I can say you are Divine – by Divine I would mean you are something which is not of this world of matter and energy – you are non-material consciousness. The consciousness that you are is neither the body nor the mind. It is the permanent, independent reality that supports, sustains, illumines and enlivens the ever-changing mind, body and world. It is the invariable presence in every experience of waking, dream and deep-sleep, which can never be negated, which is always effortlessly present.,
The consciousness that you are is present in waking state. When waking gives way to the dream state, it does in the presence of the invariable consciousness that you are. When dream gives way to the deep-sleep state, the consciousness that you are is present. Consciousness is the sakshi, the one in whose presence these three states are illumined.
Each of these three states of experience, depends on consciousness to illumine them and enliven them. Like wave depends on water, the three states depend on consciousness. Again like water is free of the wave, as the wave does not have an independent existence to limit water in any way, so too Consciousness, being satya, absolute independent reality, is free of the three states which are mithya – dependent, changing reality.
The question was asked atma kah? Who is atma? Who is the self?
To answer this,Vedanta being a teaching methodology, first negates what the self is not. Why? Because there is already a firmly ascertained conclusion regarding who the self is. Each of us has a self-identity in place – which is a mixture of self (consciousness that is the non-negatable, permanent independent reality satyam) and non-self (the dependent, changing reality of the body and mind). It is this mixture that poses as the self.
So Shruti (Vedanta) having to first point out that what is ‘I’ is indeed distinct from whatever it is taken to be says – the self is sthula-sukshma-karana-sharira vyatirikta. The self, is neither the physical body, nor the mind, nor the causal ignorance. Nor is it the five levels of experiences of the body, vital energy, emotions, thoughts, ego or ignorance. In fact it is the avastha-traya-sakshi, the invariable self-evident consciousness in whose presence the waking state, dream and deep-sleep states are illumined, sustained and enlivened.
Thus the self-evident consciousness that one is, being SAT, is the independent reality that sustains every experience and is yet uninvolved or unaffected by any experience.
This is not easy to accept. So some supporting logic is given. That everything is changing, and changing all the time, is a matter of our experience. To know change of state of being to another state of being, for any object – there must a changeless presence who witnesses the change. Shastra (Vedanta) points out that the consciousness that you are, is that changeless presence, who witnesses all the changes that take place in the three states of experience of waking, dream and deep sleep. You, the self-evident consciousness are invariable and changelessly present in every experience of waking, dream and deep-sleep.
Waking, dream and deep-sleep are states of experience – they come to go and you are changelessly present in all of them. This is a fact which one must know and assimilate.
The purpose of the avastha-traya-prakriya is to highlight the fact that different experiences come to go ... in the changeless invariable presence that is the self-evident consciousness that is you.
Tattvabodha goes into detail of what is the waking-state, dream state and deep-sleep state. When you are experiencing waking states, you use your physical body, sense and mind and you are given the name Vishwa in that state.
When you are experiencing the dream-state you have withdrawn from the physical body and sense, yet your mind is active. Shastra gives you the name Taijasa in the dream state.
When you are experiencing the deep-sleep state you have withdrawn identification from the physical body and mind, only prana is functioning. In this state you are totally free of any limiting conclusion and so you have the name praajnah here. You, consciousness are present illumining the absence of the subject-object relationship. In waking and dream states, you experience the subject-object relationship. In deep-sleep state the mind is not active and so there is an absence of the subject-object relationship.
The example I usually give is that of a lighted room. There is a room with a central light. Many objects can be seen in the room as they are all illumined by that light. Now you remove all the objects in the room. The light continues to be there illumining the absence of all objects in the room.
You are consciousness endowed with 3 bodies – physical, subtle and causal - each more subtle than the previous. Identified with all three of them you are a waker. But in yourself who are you – is the waker intrinsic to you? Is the waker you? Or is the dreamer you? Or is the deep-sleeper you?
Here is a crystal with a purple coloured cloth behind it. The crystal looks purple coloured. Yet if we think the purple colour belongs to the crystal that would be an error, because when you remove the cloth, you see the crystal is crystal clear! The purple cloth is an upadhi for the crystal – it makes the crystal appear to be other than what it is. So too the physical body, the subtle body and the causal body are upadhi’s for atma who is pure consciousness free of the physical body, the subtle body and the mind. If you take the self to be the physical body, the subtle body or the causal body it would be an error.
The crystal example is a good one. In reality the crystal is clear – do you really have to remove the purple cloth to render the crystal clear of the colour? I leave you with that question!
Om Tat Sat