Aditya, Tuesday, March 14, 2017 1:58 am


Vedanta reveals leads you to enlightenment (Moksha) by first unfolding 2 main topics:

1)      Individual (You)

Who are you? Or if you ask this question to yourself you will say ‘Who am I?’. From here begins an inquiry into the nature of I (Self) called ‘Atma Vichara’.The Upanishad systematically guides you through this Self-Inquiry. Various models of the Self are then taught which we have previously seen: 3 bodies, 5 Sheaths, 3 States of experience. So what’s the conclusion of all these teachings? Who am I? Upanishad says there are 2 aspects to you: (a) Your body and mind (3 Shariras); (b) Consciousness (sat-chit-ananda = Atma = infinite happiness) which seemingly enlivens (a).

2)      Total Universe (Creation)

The Upanishad teaches us the entire Universe comes from only 2 things: Brahman and Maya. Maya is the seed (unmanifest) form of the Universe, just like the seed is the unmanifest form of the tree. And Brahman sustains Maya, just like clay ‘sustains’ the existence of the clay-pot (Satyam-Mithya). What is Brahman? Consciousness.  So from the Maya seed, the 5 subtle elements were born, followed by the 5 gross elements (i.e. the physical/gross Universe you see right now). And remember, your body and mind are a part of this Subtle/Gross Universe. This process of evolution is described in depth by the Upanishads and is consistent with modern Physics (Cosmology).

All the above was covered in previous summaries. Now, the Vedanta teachings further elaborate:

1)      Individual (You)

Consciousness (a – see above) associated with the 3 bodies (b) is given a name by Vedanta: ‘Jiva’ = A living being.

2)      Total Universe (Creation)

Consciousness associated with Maya is given a name: ‘Ishvara’ = God. ‘God’ in English isn’t exactly the same as ‘Ishvara’, but we will use this for now.

If we compare Jiva (You) and Ishvara (God), what’s the difference? Quite a lot it seems – Ishvara is big, all-knowing and powerful enough to create the Universe. Whereas Jiva is small, limited and can barely create a chocolate cake without a lot of effort! Technically put: Jiva is endowed with the 3 bodies, whereas Ishvara is endowed with Maya.

But, there is one very important similarity: Jiva (You) is essentially consciousness (Atma). Ishvara (God) is essentially consciousness (Brahman). Are these 2 different consciousnesses? No! Upanishad very clearly states there is only 1 Consciousness that pervades everything. Ekam eva advitiyam (Chandogya Upanishad). So Jiva (You) and Ishvara (God) are the same, at the level of consciousness.

But note, you are certainly not the same as Ishvara at the level of the 3 bodies and Maya – in fact you are very different. But these differences are not real (mithya) just like the unreal differences in the reflection of sunlight in different mirrors: Sun reflected in a dirty mirror appears dull, but the sun reflected in a clean mirror appears bright. The dull reflection thinks ‘I am dull’, and the bright reflection thinks ‘I am bright’. But how many sources of light are there in truth? Only 1 brilliant sun. And that one sun appears as multiple bright or dull reflections due to what? Due to the mirrors. The reflecting medium (upadhi) creates the illusion of multiple lights, with different qualities. So one thing, can appear as many things. So to: the Sun = Consciousness, Mirror = Maya/3 Bodies, Reflection = Jiva/Ishvara. One Consciousness reflects in your body making you; and it reflects in Maya making Ishvara.

So from the perspective of Atma/Brahman (the Sun), You and God are nothing but consciousness. There is a ‘oneness’ between You and Ishvara. This is the greatest truth revealed by Vedanta. This ‘knowledge of the oneness between Jiva and Ishvara’ is called ‘jiva-ishvara-aikya-jnana’. The famous and often quoted ‘tat tvam asi’ (You are That) teaching of the Upanishad reveals this oneness, called maha-vakya. This is the ultimate knowledge to be discovered by any being which will free one from suffering, rebirth and grant Moksha and everlasting peace.


Om Tat Sat.


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