ADVAITA DIALOGUE Continued from Page 1
201. S: I see the reason now. It is because the real Self has no identification with BMI
202. G: So You, when you are not identified with the BMI, are no more the experiencer.
203. S: Shall we translate all this to the happiness-suffering syndrome?
204. G: Yes. It is the identification with the BMI that brings you an experience either way.
205. S: If there is no such identification?
206. G: There is no experience of happiness or suffering. You are what you are.
207. S: If there is no experience of happiness, then how do you say my Self is Bliss.
208. G: Experience is by the mind; it goes from one state to another.
209. S: In the Self there is no mind to experience. Is that the reason?
210. G:Yes. The Self is Bliss. That is what all scriptures say.
211. S: But what does it mean to say that the Self is Bliss?
212. G: Bliss is our natural state.
213. S: If I go and tell this to an ordinary man, he will not believe it.
214. G: What is the natural characteristic of water?
215. S: Coolness and liquidity.
216. G: If water is hot, you will ask why it is hot. Won’t you?
217. S: Yes, I will. But I don’t see how it is relevant now.
218. G: The very fact that the hotness of water is questioned shows that hotness is not the natural characteristic of water.
219. S: In fact the hotness disappears after a little time. To get the heat back one has to apply external force.
220. G: When a fish is taken out of water it struggles to go back to its natural state of a watery atmosphere.
221. S: All this means that the unnatural state raises questions and implies struggle.
222. G: Good analysis. When you are unhappy every one asks why you are unhappy.
223. S: But when I am happy nobody asks me why I am happy.
224. G: That is because happiness is your natural state.
225. S: But I don’t have the experience of happiness as my natural state.
226. G: The moment you bring in the idea of experience, you are involving a mind.
227. S: What is wrong with bringing in the mind?
228. G: I shall take you to a situation where you are yourself nothing but bliss.
229. S: I am looking forward to it.
230. G: Do you usually sleep well?
231. S: Oh yes, I do. I sleep like a log.
232. G: Were you happy then?
233. S: It is a blissful experience.
234. G: But to register the experience, mind should be there. Was your mind active when you were sleeping?
235. S: Certainly not, unless I was dreaming.
236. G: Were you dreaming?
237. S: We were talking of the situation when I was sleeping like a log.
238. G: Good. So then how do you know you were happy then?
239. S: Well, it is only a memory after the event.
240. G: In order that it may be a memory, it has to be an experience by the mind, to be recalled after the event has passed.
241. S: What are you driving at? I am confused. The mind was not active then.
242. G: That inactive mind, brings back a memory of happiness, when it wakes up.
243. S: That is the riddle.
244. G: Scriptures say: The jIva which was one with the BMI, now goes back to the Self, during the sleep of the BMI.
245. S: But the Self is Bliss.
246. G: So the jIva is one with that reservoir of bliss, during the sleep of the BMI.
247. S: Interesting!
248. G: When the BMI wakes up, the jIva resumes its usual mistake of identification with BMI.
249. S: It sounds like a thriller now!
250. G: And the mind, with which the jIva is one now, borrows that taste of bliss with which the jIva was in contact.
251. S: You mean now the mind talks of happiness as if it were its own experience!
252. G: Wonderful. Shall we resume now the topic of the BMI and the Atman, the Self?
253. S: Is there a connection between them?
254. G: No. The Atman is unattached and unconnected to anything. It is alone.
255. S: Then why do we have to talk about it, when we are on the topic of BMI?
256. G: Because it is the Atman which gives life to BMI.
257. S: In what sense? In the sense that the Atman is life?
258. G: Let us not use the word ‘life’ in this context.It has already too many connotations.
259. S: Then what does the Atman do to the BMI?
260. G: It gives sentience.
261. S: What! Consciousness?
262. G: Yes, the mind will not be conscious but for the Atman.
263. S: What about the body?
264. G: A mysterious knotting of the BMI and the Atman takes place at the birth of the body.
265. S: Why do you call it mysterious?
266. G: Because even Vedanta says it cannot explain it.
267. S: But do they know why it takes place?
268. G: The why, probably. But the why and how of this knotting are both difficult questions to answer.
269. S: But this knotting is a fact?
270. G: For if not, we would have an impossible situation – of an inert BMI with a sentience borrowed from nowhere.
271. S. Does not sentience mean consciousness ?
272. G. In a sense, yes.
273. S: What is the Atman conscious of?
274. G. That the Atman is conscious of something is a wrong statement in advaita.
275. S: Why so?
276. G. Atman is Consciousness. There is no second object for it to be conscious of.
277. S. First my question is: What is Consciousness without the concept of ‘being conscious of’?
278. G. Let me try an analogy. Have you seen light, without any object that is lighted?
279. S. Do you mean light per se, without any object that is lighted?
280. G. Exactly. Whenever you say there is light, you mean only that objects are lighted.
281. S: But light produces a visual sensation alright.
282. G: Our problem here is whether objects have to be there or not for the presence of light.
283. S. Coming to think of it, yes, you are right. Light is independent of the lighted objects.
284. G: So do you accept that there can be light without any lighted objects?
285. S. Yes, if it is just a question of existence of light.
286. G. So also Consciousness exists without the necessity of objects to be conscious of.
287. S. Guruji, You have really given me a profound truth.
288. G. And Consciousness, say the upanishads, is Atman!
289. S: Earlier we concluded that Atman, the Self is Bliss.
290. G: Thus it is both: Consciousness and Bliss.
291. S: You also said there is no second object in the context of Atman. What is the idea?
292. G. Yes. Atman is one and one only, without any second. This is a statement from the Upanishads.
293. S: Does ‘one’ mean, it cannot have parts?
294. G: Right. Also, ‘Without any second’ means there is no object other than Atman.
295. S: What does ‘one only’ mean?
296. G: It means there is no second Atman.
297. S. What about the Atman in you and the other Atmans in the other bodies?
298. G: Your problem is because you are considering Atman as a finite package sitting in the body.
299. S. No. I understand Atman is pervading the entire body. But there may be other Atmans also.
300. G. Here is where you have to go back to the declaration: Consciousness is Atman.
301. S: Why can’t there be two Consciousness entities?
302. G: Consciousness has no boundaries of space or time.
303. S: So the Consciousness within me and the Consciousness within you are the same?
304. G: That is the point. Let the mind in me and the mind in you be not confused. It may lead to absurd conclusions.
305. S. Does it mean then that theAtman in all bodies is the same?
306. G: In all animate bodies, yes.
307. S: What about the inanimate? What about the universe of matter?
308. G: They are all Atman.
309. S: What! Is matter also Consciousness? That cannot be.
310. G: You are able to see, now, that advaita is not just a dinner conversation matter!
311. S. In fact earlier you said BMI is not Atman and now you are saying all matter is Atman.
312. G. Very smart. Now I have to extend your horizon of knowledge before I answer this.
313. S: I thought we are coming to the end of the discussion.
314. G: We are just beginning. Let us look at the universe around us.
315. S: I see a vast expanse of space and multifarious objects in it.
316. G: How long do they last?
317. S: Well, some of them last my lifetime; but some of them, like the stars, last for ever.
318. G: Don’t say ‘for ever’. You know even stars have a lifetime.
319. S. But the universe lasts.
320. G. Here we have to go back to our scriptures. It is said the universe itself has a lifetime.
321. S: What if?
322. G: So nothing lasts for ever. Everything passes away.
323. S: I am prepared to accept it as an innocuous truth.
324. G: It is not innocuous if you think further about it.
325. S: Please guide me which way to think.
326. G: The universe not only passes away but in the course of its life, it keeps on changing.
327. S: Of course, everything is undergoing a change.
328. G: What is change?
329. S: Change is something that occurs when one state of existence transforms into another.
330. G. How do you become aware of it?
331. S: I become aware of it by measuring it against the backdrop of a constant state.
332. G: Wonderful. That constant state – does it ever change?
333. S: Well, everything changes – in the context of eternal time.
334. G. So let us understand it correctly. There must be something that is constant always.
335. S: I do not understand the ‘always’.
336. G: Behind all sorts of all changes, there must be something that is constant, that is invariant.
337. S: What is that invariant constant?
338. G: That must be something that is independent of time and space.
339. S: Maybe, you are right. For otherwise, it will also change.
340. G: Good. We postulate therefore a basic entity that exists all the time and everywhere.
341. S: It is only a postulate.
342. G: No. The Vedas and Upanishads cry from the housetops that it is the Truth.
343. S: Either way it does not matter to me.
344. G: My dear, you cannot slight the Vedas like that.
345. S: Pardon me, Guruji. Then let us come back to that postulated basic entity.
346. G: Shall we give a name to that entity, for purposes of communication?
347. S: I have no objection.
348. G: Let us call it ‘It’ or ‘That’.
349. S: May I submit that you may think of a more descriptive name?
350. G: The Upanishads speak of it as ‘It’ and ‘That’. But they also call it ‘Brahman’.
351. S: Well, this is better!
352. G: What have you postulated about this Brahman?
353. S: That It never changes and It is everywhere and all the time.
354. G: One thing more.
355. S: Something more to be postulated?
356. G: No. From your own postulate it will follow.
357. S: What is it?
358. G. That It is infinite.
359. S: What happens if it is not so?
360. G: The postulated changeless character will not hold good.
361. S: Can you explain?
362. G: If It is finite, then addition of something from outside It will change the original ‘It’.
363. S: So Brahman is infinite. O.K.
364. G: It is also the all-pervading Consciousness.
365. S: How come?
366. G: We have still to see quite a lot of that basic entity, ‘Brahman’.
367. S: You have still to tell me about the meaning of Brahman.
368. G: I shall tell you what it stands for and you will get the meaning yourself.
369. S: By our own postulation it is the basic entity that exists always and everywhere.
370. G: It stands for the One Reality that pervades everything, animate or inanimate.
371. S: I would like an analogy for this pervasiveness.
372. G: Like gold in a golden ring.
373. S: Because of this pervasiveness, shall we say it is the Cause of all that exists?
374. G. Not only that. It is itself Causeless, nameless and formless.
375. S: Why nameless? We have already named it Brahman.
376. G. We only followed the Upanishads. Any other name would have suited it also.
377. S: But it exists. Everything that exists has to have a name and a form.
378. G: Everything that exists belongs to the category of pictures painted on a screen; while, ...
379. S: I see, Brahman belongs to the category of the screen.
380. G: So Brahman is like the ocean and everything else is a wave on the ocean.
381. S: But the ocean itself has a base, the surface of the earth.
382. G: That is why, analogies have to be used carefully. No analogy should be extended unwisely.
383. S: So is the ocean-wave analogy as also the screen-picture analogy only to tell me what supports what?
384. G: Yes. Brahman is the substraturm which never changes while everything else changes.
385. S: Like the movie screen which is the base for all the drama enacted on it.
386. G: That is a beautiful example. Hold on to it. We shall use it later.
387. S: Can we give a better analogy?
388. G: Brahman is beyond all analogies. It cannot even be imagined.
389. S: Is it because there is nothing else other than Brahman?
390. G: It is because it is beyond space.
391. S: I get the idea, but still I would appreciate an explanation.
392. G: Imagine space without earth, without water, without fire and without air. Can you?
393. S: Certainly, I can.
394. G: Now can you imagine something outside of space?
395. S: That is pretty difficult.
396. G: That is what I meant. Earth to water, to fire, to air, to space is a passage from the grossest to the subtlest.
397. S: The negation of each grosser entity is possible within the framework of the more subtle one.
398. G: Certainly. But once we reach AkAsha, space, the negation of that cannot be done by the finite mind.
399. S: And AkAsha is to be merged in something more subtle, that is, Brahman?
400. G: The Vedas only declare the existence of this entity and call it ‘sat’, that is, Existence!