Antiquity of Advaita Vedanta (was Re: An Open Letter to All)

nanda chandran vpcnk at HOTMAIL.COM
Thu May 25 08:42:13 CDT 2000

>I am not a seer.

I don't think any of us in this list are.

>You said in your mail: "knowledge of the Self".  This statement somehow
>gives me an impression that the Self is something different that has >to be
>known.  In which case the knower has to be different from the >Self to know
>it. If the knower is different from the Self then the >Self cannot be the
>Absolute which Vedanta avers.  Would you like to >change the statement to
>mean "Self-Consciousness is liberation" >instead of  "It's knowledge of the
>Self - Atma jnAnam - which effects >liberation."

You've raised a very important question. The greatest problem with
understanding VedAnta or Yoga is that the state they describe is not natural
to us. Most people who try to understand Patanjali or Shankara only at the
intellectual level, seldom understand them. But those who try their hand at
meditation are much more succesful at understanding their teachings.


Because by nature consciousness flows outwards. Most people are seldom aware
of themselves and their attention is predominantly on the objects that they
experience in life. The state commonly called self-consciousness is only
slightly better. It is the consciousness of one as the body and mind - the
phenomenal self. The attention towards the external world is redirected
towards one's phenomenal self. Most of the confusion/misinterpretation in
Advaita is due to people trying to understand it from this stage.

True self-consciousness is the consciousness reverting back on itself. In
this stage you'll know that you're not the body and mind. This *I think* is
Self realization itself - it's knowledge of knowledge.

When you're on the path, with a good bit of meditation though you might not
be truly self-conscious, you can still distinctly identify yourself apart
from the body. But still this is not pure consciousness, because the ties to
samsAra still exists.

When you can atleast identify yourself apart from the body - that would be
vivekam. This is the stage from which Advaita can be understood and Shankara
is pretty clear about it. At this level one can know that he's not the body.
But this kind of consciousness can be maintained only at meditation with
concentration. When one's not concentrating and one interacts with the
external world, this consciousness is lost and one again naturally
identifies with the body and becomes the phenomenal
self again.

So it is thus that one's different from one's true Self.

>Again you wrote: "Search inwards - meditate and find that subject"
>Who is the one who has to search inwards ?  Who is the one who wants to or
>finds the subject.  Is that(he) not the pursuit of the search ?  The
>searcher is the goal of the search.  In other words how can one search
>oneself ?  What I am driving at is that one cannot search and find >Atman
>at all.  It(We) has to be conscious of itself(ourselves) that is >all.

It's you as the phenomenal self, identified with the body and mind, who
searches for yourself who's pure consciousness. With more meditation it
is you - as the application which is consciousness - who searches for

>SVS: Can Atma Vichara lead to liberation ? Or does it show that you are
>already liberated ?  Does Atma Vichara show you the rope or does Atma
>Vichara just remove the snake (allusion to the Vedantic metaphor of >the
>rope and the snake).  Is it not enough for one to realize that >there is no
>snake and the rope would stand exposed.  I guess, we don't >have to attain
>liberation, but just know that we were never bound.  I >feel when we reach
>that stage even attempts at realization will seem >like a dream.

If you're able to distinguish yourself apart from the body, then quieten
the fluctuations in your consciousness (which itself is the mind) and
then revert back into yourself and know yourself - this is the consciousness
of consciousness or knowledge of knowledge - this logically I think is

Consciousness itself is the application and this is why there's no
consciousness in deep sleep. Pure consciousness means identification with
the heart or soul of consciousness - it's consciousness of consciousness.
That's the reason one's asked to meditate on the
heart centre. And when one's doing Atma vichAra, it's common experience that
there's a tug between the head and the heart. The feeling of consciousness
in the head is the mind - the result of the meeting of consciousness with
the brain. The heart is the heart of
your consciousness.

The effort is towards trying to be conscious with one's whole being, than
with the mind.

The four stages can be mapped like this :
1. consciousness of the external world with little consciousness of oneself.
2. consciousness of one's phenomenal self - identified with the body and
3. consciousness of one as distinct from the body. It's still only
consciousness and there's individuality. So there's still you who's
conscious of something else.
4. self-consciousness - consciousness of consciousness - mukti - all
individuality is lost and one becomes consciousness itself. Here when I say
consciousness, it is not like somebody being conscious of something. It is
being consciousness itself.

But the truth is only you. So the thumb rule in the process is only
searching for yourself. Always try to know, you who knows - the subject. As
long as you stick to that you cannot go wrong.

>[Please don't get angry, I see in your mails that you are severe with
>mediocrities like me.  Instead I request you to teach me].

I'm so embarassed that you should think of me like that. I should develop

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