Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Upadesa Sarah of Ramana Maharshi – Sloka 18

Vritthayasthvaham vrittim aasrithaah
Vrittayo manah viddhyaham manah

Word meaning
Tu – Now
Vrittayah manah – Thoughts are the mind.
Vrittayah aham vrittim aasritaah – the thoughts indeed depend upon I-Thought.
Viddhi – Therefore know that
Aham manah – I-thought is the mind.

Sloka meaning
Now, thoughts are the mind. The thoughts depend upon I-thought alone. Hence know that I-thought is the mind.

Maharshi here gives the explanation about the mind which was mentioned in the previous sloka as vanishing when enquired into its nature and source.

It is a very well known fact that mind is full of thoughts. Therefore, mind is thoughts alone. If there are no thoughts, then there is no mind at all.

Sankalpa Vikalpaatmakam Manah – says Vedanta
Mind is full of thoughts and modifications.

When I am writing this mail, it is a thought being converted into words and into the computerized words. When a person starts meditating, it is a thought that propels the act of meditation. All these times, there is the mind acting.

If a person doesn’t think anything, then there is no mind at all. The very nature of mind is confusion or doubts. The moment thoughts vanish – all doubts vanish. This is the reason why a person when he understands a topic clearly, all doubts vanish & he gets happiness (temporary happiness). This is because at this point of time, the mind has ceased to function as there are no doubts or thoughts.

Hence, mind and thoughts are synonyms.

Now, Maharshi says that the thoughts depend upon the “I-thought” for their existence. Or in other words, the “I-thought” is the source of all other thoughts.

Let us just try to analyze this. When a person is starting to think something, there must be the “I-thought” present. “I-thought” is nothing but the Ego or Ahamkaara. Without the thought that I am the thinker, no thoughts can arise. This thinker is being attached or identified with the act of thinking. This thinker or Ego is also termed as Jeeva or individual Self in Upanishads. Without jeeva existing, no thoughts can arise – because for all thoughts, there should be a thinker who is endowed with the power of thinking. This is called “I-thought”. Only when the thought of “I-I” is present, can any other thought arise.

A person thinks “I am intelligent”. This very statement can be split into two parts – Aham or I part & Idam part of this part (objects part). Here the two parts are I and the property or attribute of intelligence. When these two are mixed together or superimposition occurs, the thought occurs that “I am intelligent”. It is easy to understand here that intelligence is a dependent attribute where “I” is an independent entity. Therefore “I” must have been created or arised before the thought of intelligence.

Therefore Maharshi says that all thoughts are preceded by the “I-thought” – the thought of individuality, the thought of ego, the thought of being the doer-enjoyer of all actions.

Since it has been proved that “I-thought” is the source from which all other thoughts arise, it is not tough to apprehend the truth that all thoughts are modifications or changes of “I-thought”. The effect of all thoughts can never be different from the cause of “I-thought”. Therefore all thoughts are “I-thought” alone with some changes or modifications. And since the thoughts are the mind, therefore “I-thought” is the mind.

The mathematical equation of what Maharshi is explaining can be put as

Mind = thoughts
I-thought -> thoughts (-> creates or changes into)
Hence, I-thought = mind.

Maharshi in the previous sloka explained that the mind itself is not at all present & when enquired into its source will vanish. In this sloka Maharshi goes to the source of the mind which is the “I-thought”. When this “I-thought” or Ego’s source is enquired – it vanishes and merges into the Self because it is from pure I or Consciousness that “I-thought” arises. Maharshi explains this step of enquiring into the source of “I-thought” in the next sloka.

A person should not confuse or mix I with I-thought. I is pure Consciousness without any doership or endowed with capability to do actions. But I-thought is the first thought arising out of Consciousness which becomes endowed with doership and hence enjoyership also. This I-thought of Ego is the doer of all actions – it is responsible for the perception of the world, the sorrows, the sufferings, the temporary happiness, bondage and liberation also. This I-thought arises out of Consciousness because of ignorance. Ignorance in itself has no cause – it is beginningless but has an ending when knowledge dawns.

One may question here that how come there is no cause for ignorance and will this not make ignorance also a reality without birth and death???
This objection is valid only if ignorance is a real entity. Ignorance is in itself illusory and has no existence at all. Such an illusory ignorance need not have a cause because it is not real. It can seem to exist at the present time like the snake is seen at a time in the rope (even though the snake has no cause at all). But when the reality that there is no ignorance and that ignorance is an illusion seen in Consciousness is known, ignorance vanishes & hence it has an end. When the reality of rope is known, the snake which seemed to exist vanishes or the snake has an end. As the illusory snake has no beginning but an end, similarly the world caused out of ignorance has no beginning but an end.

All the above explanation is for the ignorant person who perceives the illusory world even as the dream world is being perceived as real during dream.

For the known person, there never was any snake in the rope and similarly there never was any ignorance & there never will be any ignorance.

A little investigation will show that there can never arise any thought in the Self because the Self is pure, perfect and complete. Such a contented and perfect thing cannot have any desire so that thoughts may arise. And moreover, the Self is one without a second – and there is no second thing apart from the Self about which it can think. Therefore, there never was any I-thought, there never is any I-thought and there never will be any I-thought. The I-thought which seems to exist now is unreal like the snake seen in rope and water seen in desert.

The slokas that Maharshi, Sankara and Upanishads put forth for removal of ignorance and bondage is only to pacify the intermediate seeker & to make the seeker wake up from the illusory dream of duality and ignorance in the world. As a dream lion is capable of waking up the dreamer, similarly this process of enquiry is capable of waking up the ever-realized and seemingly ignorant Consciousness to wake up and realize the ultimate reality of Nitya Sudha Buddha Mukta Atma – ever-pure, realized and enlightened Self or Consciousness.

In any illusion, when the source of the illusion is enquired, the illusion vanishes and the source or substratum alone remains. Similarly when the illusion of the world which are nothing but thoughts – and thoughts which are the mind – and the mind which has its source in I-thought or Ego – and its source are enquired, this illusion of I-thought vanishes and the pure I or pure Consciousness alone remains behind.

That state is the state of Absolute Being – the state where the thinker exists without the adjunctions or the quality of thinking and without any thoughts – the state where the Subject exists without any objects. Here one should remember that the thinker or the Subject gets the status of thinker or Subject only when thoughts or Objects are there. But when thoughts and objects vanish – only the thinker and Subject remain without any distinctions or dualities. This absolute state is the natural state of the Self or Consciousness. This is the state of each person even now – but this reality is not known because of illusory ignorance and its creations.

As a person dreaming doesn’t realize that there never was any dream and that the dream world I am seeing and experiencing is unreal – similarly the waking person in ignorance (which itself is an illusion and absence of the knowledge about the Self) doesn’t realize that the world is an illusion alone and hence unreal. He doesn’t realize the ultimate reality of SARVAM BRAHMA MAYAM – everything is pervaded by Brahman, SARVAM KHALU IDAM BRAHMA – everything here is Brahman alone and that AHAM BRAHMASMI – I am that Brahman alone.

This Self or Brahman or Consciousness a person already is. What the Upanishads and Vedanta does is to remove the ignorance veil that obstructs this ultimate reality being experienced or known. Vedanta by means of telling about one’s own nature removes the ignorance about one’s own nature which is obstructing the reality about one’s own nature. Thereby, when this ignorance is removed by the vritthi or the thoughts propounded by the scriptures – the Self alone shines, one without a second.

As Gaudapada Acharya and Yoga Vasistha explain,

There never was any duality, there never is and there never will be any duality. Whatever is being perceived is the Self or Consciousness alone. The I-thought which arises out of Consciousness can never be different from the Consciousness as the dream world and its object arising out of the dreamer is not different from the dream. And hence, mind is also Consciousness, thoughts are also Consciousness, the world and its objects are also Consciousness alone. This reality is not known and hence Consciousness is clearly experienced when traced back to its source. All these are only names and forms of Consciousness. Names and forms are not realities and only illusions seen in the reality. Therefore, when the reality of Consciousness is known – without any adjunctions of names and forms – a person realizes that names and forms are also Consciousness alone. Hence, at that time duality vanishes. The sorrow and sufferings occur due to likes and dislikes alone. When the non-duality is known, there is nothing to be liked or disliked and hence sorrow-sufferings vanish – and only pure eternal bliss inherent in the Self is realized and rejoiced.

This is the ultimate aim of Vedanta.

Sankara says in Brahmajnaanavalimala
Ghata khudyaadikam sarvam mrittikaa maatrameva
Tadvad brahma jagat sarvam ithi vedantha dindima

Pot, wall are all Mud alone. Similarly the world & its objects are Brahman alone – this is statement of Vedanta.

Only when this ultimate non-dual reality is realized can a person gain eternal bliss inherent in the Self. Dual perception is the cause of all trouble and sorrow. The one and only end to this is realization that duality is unreal and an illusion seen in Brahman or Self alone & when Brahman is realized, the person realizes that the world is Brahman or Consciousness alone – there is no duality here but only Brahman.

As Yoga Vasistha says
Samastham khalu idam brahma sarvam atmedamaatatam
Aham anya idam cha anyad ithi branthim tyaja anagha

O Rama endowed with purity of mind, everything is Brahman alone – the Self or Consciousness alone is seen as the world. Hence renounce the illusion that “I am different, this or these objects are different”.

Tathe brahmaghane nitye sambhavanthi na kalpanaah
Vitchetchayah payoraashau yatha raama na sanmayaah

As bubbles, waves don’t have any existence apart from water – similarly in the ultimate reality of Brahman, no illusions are possible & all illusions have no existence at all.

Na shokah asthi na mohah asthi na janma asthi na janmavaan
Yad asthi tadeva asthi vijvaro bhava raaghava

O Rama, there is no sorrow, no delusion, no birth & nothing is born. Whatever is present, that alone is present – hence don’t get sad.

Here Vasistha puts forth the logic that there is Brahman alone. Whatever is present, that alone can be present at all times – the unreal can never exist – the real alone exists. The scriptures and experience tell that Consciousness or Brahman alone exist – hence there is only Brahman which is being wrongly perceived as the world.

This Brahman is not something to be attained after death or after going to Brahma loka – but this Brahman is one’s own very Self or one’s own very nature. There is no other reality separate from Brahman – whatever is wrongly perceived as an illusion is also Brahman alone. Hence the world that is wrongly seen is unreal as the world but real as the reality of Brahman. As there is no separate reality from Brahman which has existence, the Self or Consciousness which experiences its own existence has to be Brahman alone. This is what Upanishads and great Mahatmaas proclaim. This reality that “I am Brahman, I am everything – there is nothing but Me alone” is to be realized and this has been put forth in the Upanishads and in this short yet complete work of Ramana Maharshi.

Maharshi in the previous sloka explained that when the source of mind is enquired, mind vanishes. In this sloka, Maharshi said that mind has its source in I-thought. In the next sloka, Maharshi is going to explain the way to realize the source of the I-thought – which is the Self or pure Consciousness knowing which eternal bliss is rejoiced and nothing else remains to be known.


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