Spiritual Message for the Day – Discrimination of Reality by Sri Swami Krishnananda

Baba Times Digest© | 15 July 2014 20:08 EST | New York Edition


Discrimination of Reality


Divine Life Society Publication: Chapter 1 – The Philosophy of The Panchadasi by Sri Swami Krishnananda


The world consists of objects, and every object is a content of positive or negative perception and cognition. The special feature of each object is that it is distinguished from the other by characteristics that are ingrained in it in a particular manner. This is why we see the world variegated in colors, sounds, tastes, touch, and smells. For example, we mark a difference between a cow and a tree, because we do not find in a cow the features of a tree, and those of a cow in a tree. Objects manifest a mutual exclusion of one another. It is this that enables us to know the multitudinousness that the world is.


We also conceive such difference as that between God and the individual, God and the world, one individual and another, the individual and the world, in addition to the differences among the various contents of the world. What it is that knows that there is difference, and how is difference known at all? A kind of consciousness in us is the knower of the different objects outside as also inside, and this difference is also known by consciousness itself. The world can be known by nothing other than consciousness. One and the same consciousness sees, hears, tastes, touches and smells, and it is also possible to be conscious of the consciousness of all these. Consciousness is a synthetic unity of apperception, it is all at once. Though the eyes cannot hear and ears cannot see, etc., and each sense has one particular function to perform, consciousness is the unity of them all. It is one and indivisible, and it is responsible for all the experiences in the world.


This same predicament is observed in the state of dream, also. The difference of the waking state is only in the permanency of experience which it reveals. While dream experience is short, the waking one is comparatively long. But there is no difference in the constitution, the make-up, or the construction of the two states. Though there is difference between waking and dreaming, there is no difference between the consciousness of waking and the consciousness of dreaming. This is testified by the experience that one and the same individual wakes and dreams, and asserts: “I dreamt.” While the waking state is due to actual perception through senses, dream is brought about by the memory of waking state on account of the impressions of the latter imbedded in the mind, which manifest themselves on suitable occasions. Consciousness has no forms or shapes.


In deep sleep, there is a persistent memory of one’s having slept and experienced joy therein. There is a total absence of experience from the point of view of consciousness, but the effect in the form of memory of having slept is enough evidence that there was some sort of experience even in deep sleep. This leads to the conclusion that the condition of deep sleep is one of a conscious experience, though this consciousness is not to be construed in the ordinary sense of the term. When we affirm that there was all darkness in sleep, it means, we knew darkness. Else, we would not be making such an assertion. To know darkness there must be knowledge, and knowledge is identical with the luminous intelligence with which the states of waking and dreaming are also experienced. There is, therefore, an unbroken continuity of consciousness in the states of waking, dreaming and deep sleep. And, consciousness has no beginning, middle or end. It is absolute.


One cannot conceive of the cessation of consciousness, since it is impossible to conceive of one’s own destruction. Consciousness precedes thought, volition and feeling. There is an immediacy in consciousness and it never becomes an object. The knower, knowledge and the known are one and the same and inseparable. There is not in it the opposition of subject and object, as in the case of the various things of the world. It is not known by itself, nor known by another; the former case is impossible, and the latter leads to infinite regress in argument. It is best defined as That which Is.


This consciousness is the Atman, and is the repository of supreme bliss. The bliss of the Atman is unvarying, as different from the pleasure that one feels with any set of objects which are changeful in nature. All things are dear and lovable for the sake of this Self, and hence all things are subservient to the Self. When the loves in regard to objects change due to changing circumstances in life, one realises at the background of all these that the love of the Atman stands unbroken and persists through change. Even displeasure with oneself is not in regard to the essential Atman within, but with certain painful conditions in life which are repulsive to one’s tastes, inclinations or desires. It is not existence that is hated, but certain forms of existence. None ever condemns or tries to negate oneself. There is an inner prayer from everyone that one may live for ever. ‘May I not cease to be; may I exist always’ is the deepest wish in every living being. This love is ingrained in the bottom of one’s existence.


It is never seen that the Self is subservient to objects. On the other hand it is seen that objects are subservient to the Self. On a careful psychological analysis it is observable that the love which people have for things outside is the outcome of a confused mixing up of the bliss of the Atman with the changing names and forms that make up what we call the world. Hence, in loving an object, the confused mind attaches itself to the changing names and forms in its ignorance and the false notion that its love is deposited in the objects, while in truth it is in the Atman, and even when we love objects we are unwittingly loving the universal Atman. Hence the Atman is Supreme Bliss, which is the only natural condition of spiritual existence, while all other conditions with which it associates itself are transitory phenomena, and unnatural.


From the above it would be clear that the Atman eternally exists as consciousness and is absolute bliss. It is Sat-Chit-Ananda, which fact is demonstrated both by reason and intuition. The identity of the Atman with Brahman or the Absolute Being is declared in the Vedanta texts such as the Upanishads, which is also established by reason. But this Atman is not seen, it is not visible to the eyes, and hence all the misery of individual existence. Nor can it be said that it is entirely invisible, else there would be no love or pleasure. That there is a faint recognition of the existence of the Atman is proved beyond doubt by the unparalleled affection which one has towards one’s own Self. But it is also true that it is not properly seen or known; otherwise, one would not be clinging to objects, the perishable forms of the world, which have neither reality in them nor the happiness which one is seeking. Thus there is a peculiar situation in which we find ourselves where we seem to know it and yet not know it. The beauty and the joy are not in things but in the Atman. And this is not known. It is falsely imagined to be in objects; hence the attachment that we cherish in regard to them.


Just as in a large group of students, who are chanting the Veda in a chorus, and where every kind of voice can be heard, it is possible for the father of one particular student in that group to hear the voice of his own son, due to his familiarity with it, though this voice is mixed up with the voices of others, the Atman with concentration on its nature can recognise itself in the midst of the millions of things of the world, amidst the deafening clamour of the senses, because its presence in them is natural and eternal. Just as the obstruction in the case of the father’s properly hearing the voice his son, is the crowd of the voices of others, so in the case of the Atman, the obstruction to its recognition is Avidya or Nescience, which has the twofold function of veiling and distracting consciousness. The veiling is effected by suppressing the character of existence and revelation in regard to Reality, and then manifesting opposite characters, viz., that it does not exist and it is not revealed. Hence we all feel that the Atman is not, and it is not known. This conviction which is brought about by Avidya is the deluding factor in the case of every individual. There is not only the veiling of Reality, but also the projection of phenomenality in the form of the universe outside, and the bodily layers inside. (Verses 3-14)


Excerpts from:


Discrimination of Reality - Chapter 1 – The Philosophy of The Panchadasi by Sri Swami Krishnananda


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