[Advaita-l] Analysis of the Mind-7

kuntimaddi sadananda kuntimaddisada at yahoo.com
Wed Feb 6 08:55:14 CST 2008

                            7. Transmigration of a Soul

The life of everyone is driven by his or her desires to do ‘this’ or to have ‘that’ or to
get rid of ‘this’, etc., so that he can be happy. In these entire pursuits one is looking
for his happiness.  ‘This’ can be a person, a place or a thing.  My desires are different
from yours, which are different from his.  Some people want to become something great or
famous, some want to become artists, some actors or actresses, some dancers, musicians,
scientists, doctors, or multimillionaires or football players and some even vagabonds or
some just want to sit around and drink.  A mother can tell that the likes and dislikes of
two look-alike twins are different even when they are babies, as though each one brought
his likes and dislikes with him. Likes and dislikes (rAga and dvESha) which are two sides
of a coin are different for everyone.  Where do these likes and dislikes come from? 

Let us illustrate with an example: When I drank for the first time a delicious cup of
South Indian coffee, that someone has offered me, I liked it so much that I want to have
it again for the next day. While the cup of coffee that my friend gave me pleasure, which
is an immediate tangible effect, it had also intangible effect. It left behind a subtle
impression in my mind, to have that experience again. That subtle impression is called
vaasana, meaning fragrance of that action in the mind. Since I liked it so much, I went
to shop, bought all the ingredients needed, and started making it at home, first thing in
the morning.  I began to enjoy that hot cup of coffee in the morning, everyday. Every
time I enjoy that coffee, the subtle impression in the mind or that coffee- vaasana
becomes stronger and stronger, day by day. It comes to a stage that as soon as I get up,
I have to have that hot cup of coffee and without that I cannot do anything else. My
happiness depends on having that cup of coffee, otherwise I feel miserable, the whole
day.  Sounds familiar, is it not?  If I run out of coffee, I will run after from place to
place restlessly to get that hot cup of coffee.

Looking at the mechanics of this process reveals that deliberate or ego-centric actions
will leave intangible impressions of likes or dislikes called Vaasanas in the core of the
mind. These Vaasanas, in turn, cause desires at the intellect level, agitations at the
mind level, and actions at the body level. Unless those desires are fulfilled, I become
restless.  I go in search of environments that are conducive for the fulfillment of my
desires or vaasanas. All ego-centric desires are grosser manifestations of the subtler
impressions in the mind, the vaasanas. When vaasanas manifest as desires, they cause
agitations in the mind, and the mind becomes restless until those desires are fulfilled.
When the coffee vaasana manifests as desire for coffee, my mind is no more free to think
anything else other than that hot cup of coffee that I think I need for me to be happy. I
can suppress the desires temporarily, but they will spring again with greater forces, in
one form or the other. They will express as anger, frustration or irritation, etc. We are
all familiar with these experiences. On the other hand, when a desire is fulfilled, my
mind becomes calm and quiet, and I am happy until of course the next set of vaasanas
drives me to do something else.  I will be tossed from one desire to the other for me to
be happy. Life becomes a rat race, trying to fulfill one desire after the other.  

>From this example, we arrive at some important conclusions. Vaasanas are accumulated by
deliberate willful actions – we call them as ego-centric actions. Ego-centric means ‘I,
and I want’. Vaasanas can be favorable or unfavorable type, that is, they include both
likes and dislikes. These are subtle impressions in the mind, perhaps even deeper than
the unconscious mind in the western psychology. Even though actions are over, their
effect in terms of these subtle impressions will be long lasting. That is one of the
reasons why one should be very careful of how he acts or with what attitude he acts.
Action can also be done in such a way that it does not leave a vaasana or it can nullify
or neutralize the previous vaasanas; and that attitude in action is called karma yoga or
yoga of action, which we will discuss later. When vaasanas cause desires in the intellect
and agitations in the mind, the mind becomes restless. In the coffee example, unless I
have that hot cup of coffee in the morning, I am agitated and restless and cannot do
anything else.  When that hot cup of coffee comes, I am back to myself, and say that I am
so happy that I have my cup of coffee. Happiness did not really come with coffee, but
when the desire for coffee is fulfilled, all the agitations of the mind are subsided and
I am back to myself – I am free from a wanting mind or desiring mind. In those moments,
the mind is calm and I say I am happy, but conclude that coffee gave me happiness. Hence
the happiness that I want, I am actually tapping it from myself, because as we discussed
before, I am in reality complete and full or limitless by myself; and that is the state
of happiness. Hence happiness is my intrinsic nature.  Fulfilling the desire for coffee
has brought myself back to myself, where I become contended with myself, at least for
those few moments until another desires props up in my mind. One can get happiness that
one is longing far in this way by fulfilling the desires all the time. One serious caveat
is, as I fulfill my desires, the stronger those vaasanas become and there will be
situations where I will not be able to fulfill my desires. That is the time when anger,
frustrations and all other psychological problems arise. I loose my freedom since I
depend for happiness on something other than myself. Essentially I have become a slave to
my own vaasanas. As a corollary, we can now define absolute freedom is freedom from all
our vaasanas. All other freedoms that we talk about are only circumstantial or temporal

More vaasanas means more desires, more agitations, and I am continuously busy and
restless, and 24 hours are not sufficient to do what I want to do.  In the same vein, if
there are less vaasanas, there will less self-centered actions, the mind has fewer
agitations, and I am more peaceful with myself. My happiness depends less on the things
other than myself.  Suppose If I have no vaasanas, there are no self-centered desires, I
will have no agitations in my mind, and I am happy all the time with myself as I am. One
who revels in himself by himself, Krishna calls him as jnaani or sthita prajna or a
realized soul (aatmani eva aatmanaa tushTaH). In that state of fulfillment, any action
that I do then is not for gaining any personal fulfillment (since I am happy even
otherwise), but for the benefit of the society at large. Such a person is called
mahaatmaa or a great soul, and is revered for generations to come. They leave a mark in
the society with their self-less service. Anne Bessent called Mohandas K. Gandhi as
Mahaatma, and that became his title as people called him affectionately as Mahaatma

If we examine our lives, we go from one environment to the other to fulfill our likes and
dislikes.  We are driven by our vaasanas to seek environments that are conducive to
fulfill our vaasanas.  In the process of fulfillment, we only reinforce those vaasanas.
Thus we get caught up in this whirlpool of vaasanas – desires – agitations – actions –
vaasanas – more desires, etc. Every ego-centric action that we perform will leave its
characteristic vaasanas in the mind.  There are vaasanas that cannot be exhausted in this
life and they are stored in to our total account. The total account of vaasanas each one
has is called sanchita karma. Of the total account, we can only bring into this life
those that can be exhausted or those that are ready to germinate. The ones we bring with
us is called praarabda karma or one can loosely translate it as our destiny. Since we
always seek environment that is conducive to fulfill our vaasanas, we obviously seek
birth in a place, to particular parents or in an environment that is conducive to exhaust
the set of vaasanas that are ready to germinate. During living, being a will-full person,
we act and in the process of acting we accumulate new set of vaasanas that can be
exhausted in this life, if not put them back into our total account. The new set of
vaasanas that are being deposited into our account are called aagaami karma. Thus we have
a total account (sancita karma), we have brought from this account only those that can be
exhausted and is called as destiny (praarabda karma), and the new ones that are getting
accumulated are deposited into our account called aagaami karma. The vaasanas are called
causal body, which is the cause in determining what type of body, what type of parents
and what type of environment or what type of world around me that I need in order exhaust
my vaasanas. In this model every cause and effect is perfectly accounted.  No one gets
what he is not entitled. If there is God up in the skies, he can only be God, if he gives
what one deserves.  Or to put it bluntly, everyone gets what he deserves, whether one
wins millions in a lottery or looses those when stock market crashes. 

My vaasanas determine my world that I need that is conducive to exhaust them, the world
that you need is determined by your set of vaasanas, her world is determined by her
vaasanas. Hence total world is determined by total vaasanas of all beings in this
universe. Now whom should we blame for the type of the world that is created? If we do
not like the world we are in, we need to blame ourselves, since it is the world that we
need to exhaust each of our vaasanas, including the vaasanas of a mosquito that is trying
to get its share of the food that it needs for its survival. If I change my vaasanas, you
change yours and she changes hers and thus everybody changes their vaasanas then we
create a new world that is more conducive to our new set of vaasanas. If there is a God
up in the skies, He is bound to bless the type of environment that incorporates all the
demands of all the vaasanas of all beings in this universe. Total vaasanas become the
cause for creation for the total world. Now we can define God or Iswara. Total
consciousness or Brahman takes the role of Iswara, creates the total universe based on
the total vaasanas of all beings in this universe. It is like Star-bucks coffee shops
spring forth all over the country, to satisfy the coffee vaasanas of all coffee lovers in
the country. If no body wants to drink coffee, all the coffee shops will close in no
time. Just as individual has vaasanas, the family has the collective vaasanas that bring
them together to exhaust their mutual vaasanas. Same principle applies to groups and to
nations at large. Hence Vedanta says, if you want to change the world, begin that change
first in yourself. 

Now we are ready to define what a soul or jiiva is. When I die, I take with me my subtle
body (consisting of all the nineteen entities that we discussed) along with causal body
which is nothing but my vaasanas and gravitate towards a field that is conducive to
experience my next powerful vaasanas that is ready to fructify. To look at this total
scenario correctly, we need to look at the problem from both totality point or macro
cosmic point (or total vaasanas point), and from individual point or micro cosmic point. 

To address this issue correctly, we can examine from three references. First, from the
absolute reference, ‘I am’ stands for absolute, immutable pure consciousness-existence
that I am.  That is what Vedanta calls as Brahman – infiniteness or limitlessness is my
nature. It is ‘I am = Brahman’ is absolutely infinite; it is one without a second,
advitIyam.  We cannot say anything more since words which are limited and mind which is
limited cannot describe that which is unlimited. Only descriptions that are possible are
that it is indescribable, infinite, imperceptible, etc, all negative descriptions to
negate what it is not.  Even those descriptions are only from the point of finite,
mutable and perceptible things. It is beyond all words and there is nothing beyond this.
It is the very substratum of the entire universe, since it is ever existent and conscious
and infinite entity. From that reference there is nothing other than it. Since it can
only be one, there is nothing else to differentiate it from.   This can be stated as - it
is free from three fundamental possible differences – called in Sanskrit – vijAti,
sajAti, swagata bhedas. JAti means family or class of the same types.  We can say chairs
are one family or jAti, which is different from jAti of tables. The differences between
different jAtis are called vijAti differences.  The differences within the family are
called SajAti differences. For example, within the family of chairs, there could be
differences between one chair and the other. Finally, within the chair there could be
internal differences called swagata bhedas. For example, hands are different, legs are
different, etc. These internal differences, swagata bhedaH are possible, since chair is
assemblage of parts.  Brahman is a homogeneous mass of pure consciousness, which has no
parts for it to be parted. Vedanta says I am that Brahman and that is the absolute truth.
 Since Brahman is infinite or limitless, Vedanta calls its intrinsic nature as satyam,
jnaanam and anantam, brahma – It is of the nature of pure existences-knowledge-and
limitless or pure happiness. Realization of that as my intrinsic nature is called
self-realization, God realization, moksha, nirvANa, or liberation or freedom from all
differences and discriminations – it is the very goal of the human life itself.  It is a
fearless state since fear comes from the second. Vedanta defines this absolute reference
as pAramArthika satyam, supreme reality. 

Next reference we are concerned from our point is called vyAvahArika satyam or
transactional reality. In this reference we can look at the situation from micro scale
that is individual point and macro scale, from collective totality point. Somehow we need
to connect all this (at least conceptually) to the absolute reference. At Individual
point, the same existent-consciousness that I am, who is one without a second, appear to
be with varieties of individual bodies, minds and intellects. How can one ‘I am’ become
many?  We gave a dream example before, how I, a waker, create a dream world consisting of
varieties of objects as well as beings with their own tiny body, mind and intellects
(BMI) as well as myself with my own BMI. That power by which one appears to become many
we have defined as maayaa.  

At an individual or micro level, the consciousness-existence that I am appears to be
limited by my BMI and I become a jiiva or individual soul. We use the word – appear to be
– since consciousness-existence cannot be limited, similar to space. Even though space is
limitless, we divide this indivisible space into compartments as different countries,
states, cities and even different houses. Within the house we have different rooms where
bath room is different from bed room and kitchen, etc. Even the dividers that divide the
space are within the space only.  But these divisions are valid for transactional
purposes or for our vyavahaara. Therefore transactional reality need not be absolute
reality, although it is inherent in that, just as indivisible space is inherent in the
all divisions that we have made for our convenience or transactional purposes. 

The situation is identical.  All pervading consciousness as though or appears to be
divided into multitudes of things and beings just as in the dream.  We have both
insentient as well as sentient things and beings. In the dream, the differences (three
types of differences stated above – SajAti, vijAti and swagata) appear to be real, as
long as I am dreaming. However, once I am awakened all things and beings resolve into me,
the waker.  In the same way, the plurality of things and beings appear to be real in this
waking world, and only when I am awakened to the absolute state of reality or
pAramArthika satyam, all differences resolve into me, the absolute
existence-consciousness. Just as the dream is due to projection of suppressions and
oppressions of the waking mind, exactly identical situation occurs for the waking world. 
The total vaasanas become the root cause for the projection of the total world and
individual vaasanas become cause for the individual BMI. At the individual level, the
total conscious as though reflected in the intellect as the ego – or individual I,
transacts with the individual BMI, without realizing that I am the pure
existence-consciousness. Likes and dislikes or vaasanas of the individual manifests as
desires at the individual intellect, agitations at the individual mind level, and actions
at the individual body level. Jiiva or individual I, or soul, is when the reflected
consciousness in the BMI takes itself to be real, transacts as if it is real, and takes
the responsibility for the actions that go on with BMI. It is like the villager who is
sitting in the train but carries the language on his head to help the train in carrying
that luggage. I, as an individual ego (as I am this), take the responsibility for the
actions that are being performed. These ego-centric actions will leave vaasanas and the
rest of the repercations follow. I, the reflected consciousness (chidAbhAsa), move from
birth to birth, from one field of experience to the other, along with my subtle body and
causal body to exhaust my vaasana account.   Just as I go to deep sleep everyday (called
nidra or laya) folding everything into myself without any identification with BMI other
with the causal body, totality consisting of all jiivas and things – go into deep sleep
state called pralaya. Similarly when I get up in the morning, all the things that were
there before I went to sleep project back, exactly in the same way, after pralaya, when
the Lord or totality gets up (his sleep is called yoga nidra) the whole universe which
was in the subtle form during sleep projects back into grosser form.  This transformation
from subtle to grosser form is called creation in Vedanta.  The totality or macrocosm
supported by consciousness-existence ‘I am’ is called Iswara or the Lord or the creator. 
The same existence-consciousness reflected in the individual intellect is called jiiva or
soul. It is important to recognize that we are not equating the individual soul or jiiva
with totality or God.  What we are equating is the essence – the existence-consciousness
that I am, is the same, reflected in the microcosm or in the macrocosm.  As long as I
think I am only an individual with local equipments of BMI, then the world I see or
transact with is different and the creator of the whole universe, God is different. Hence
if and when I view the creation or the world as different from me, then there is a
creator or the father in heaven who is different and who is omniscient and omnipresent. 

The dream world of plurality is real for the dreamer. The material that the dreamer sees
appears to be very real. It is difficult to convince him that the building that is under
blaze and the fireman that is trying to putout the fire and the water and the hose that
are being used and the spectators that are all watching are not really real. The reality
of the dream is only for that particular dreamer since it is projected by a single
waker’s mind. The other beings have their own dreams to deal with. This reality at the
subjective level is called ‘prAtibhAsika satyam’, subjective objectification. When a
dreamer wakes up, all the dream world of things and beings resolve into the waker’s mind.
Then only he will realize that all the dream world is only subjective not really
objective, and therefore not really real. However for that waker, the waking world of
things and beings are real and has objective reality or transactional reality. He would
not accept that this is also like a dream. He looks for some scientific proofs, without
realizing one cannot prove to a dreamer that the dream world is not real.  He forgets
even the dream world was objective from the point of local mind in the dream, as in the
case of fireman’s mind who is trying to put of the fire in the dream. The analogy is
exact.  We only classify the waking world as objective reality, while the dream world as
subjective reality. That is only a waker’s notion.  But from the point of absolute
reality, both worlds are only different degrees of reality but none of them are really

We can now go one step further.  I consider myself that I am an individual different from
others.  I have to deal with the world around me, from birth to death. I do not know
where I came from, nor I know where I am heading. I am forced to deal with the world
around – things that I like and things that I do not like.  I came into the world that is
already there, and wondering why I am here, what is this world and who created this
world, why I have to deal with this world; all the questions that we posed in the first
post – Analysis of the Mind-I.  Now we have better idea in terms of who I am and what is
this world. We posed a question in the second post whether mind is a mater or not.  It is
like dreamer asking a question is the dreamer’s mind a matter similar to that how his
gross body is made? Dreamer can learn about different theories - Kantian philosophy or
Descartes’ theory or Fraud’s analysis of the mind, etc., all about the nature of the
dreamer’s mind (he does not know that he is dreamer and as for as he is concerned he is a
waker and the world and the matter in front of him is real) – but when he awakened from a
dream, what would be his attitude about all the questions and answers about the mind and
the matter of the dream body and dream mind. Vedanta points out that any theory that is
based on partial data is inconclusive. Hence all western theories about the mind that we
study are based on partial data of waker’s mind and therefore they are speculative at
best. Vedanta says any analysis can only be complete and full only if all the data
pertaining to the human experience is considered. Hence not only the waking state, but
dream state and deep sleep states have to be analyzed to arrive at correct conclusion.
Such a scientific analysis done by Vedanta in ‘Mandukya UpaniShad’, considering the three
states of human experience that everyone goes through – the waking state, the dream state
and deep sleep state. It concludes that I am none of the three states, I am there as a
waker, I am there as a dreamer and I am there as a deep sleeper, and I am there in all
the three states and yet I am beyond all the three states. I am that
existent-consciousness limitless since there is nothing other than I am – and that is the
pAramArthika satyam – the absoluter reality, independent of any religious doctrines, or
philosophies or theories. 

We need to address now how to realize my true state since I am currently stuck with the
notion that this world is real and the BMI is real my suffering is real etc.  How to
realize the truth expounded by Vedanta is of our immediate concern. This will be
discussed now

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