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Sankar Jayanarayanan kartik at ENG.AUBURN.EDU
Mon Jul 28 14:19:51 CDT 1997

Venkat Puntambekar <venkatp at SYNOPSYS.COM> wrote:

> I have often wondered how this "True Self" is explained. Infact
> in my reading (quite limited), most authors and translators have used
> words like, "Pure COnciousness", "the real self", "your true
> identity","eternal love" and "eternal flame" etc. etc...
> Why are there such esoteric labels.

According to advaita, the true Self is the "Knower" which is Brahman. And the
next question, naturally, is what Brahman is.

Shankara explains in his brahma sUtra Bhaashhya that Brahman is never
introduced to the student as an object, since It is not "referable" to
as such. The only way to know Brahman is when all differences or divisions
of the world into categories is removed and Brahman is what is "left over" and
is known to be the Self of the idividual, for the Self can never be denied.

> I mean, why can't we just
> say (Please correct me if I am wrong), everything that you do is
> because of that.

The Self is not to be thought of as a doer. Krishna makes this very clear
in the Gita.

> I have spent time in front of the mirror wondering
> who is it that is seeing my reflection. It cannot be my eyes, for
> they are just an instrument to see. When you see someone who is
> looking, seeing. For that matter, I am typing this mail. Who(what) is
> causing my fingers to type. Is this the real SELF.

In the very beginning of his commentary on the brahma sUtra, Shankara says
that it is natural in the human tendency to conceive that to be the Self
which is not the Self by making statements like,"I am this" or "This is mine."

[For example, when you say something like "I am this which is typing this email"
or "My fingers"]

When such erroneous ideas about the Self are removed, the Self shines of
its own accord.


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