Happiness is the absence of desires. Whenever your mind does not long for anything, you are happy. In the interval between the fulfillment of one desires and the cropping up of the next, you are happy. Why do you sing in the shower? You don’t do it to please yourself or anyone else; you do it simply because you are happy. At that time, the mind does not long for anything; all the window dressings, the masks you wear for people, are removed with your clothes you are with yourself. Your singing is an expression of the happiness felt by a mind that rests in the Self.
Everyone suffers from a sense of limitation but no one accepts that, because one cannot be happy as a limited being. Through analysis we can identify three types of limitations. The first is the limitation of sorrow. Sometimes our sorrow is very eloquent, sometimes it is only an unwept sorrow; but the basis of sorrow, the feeling, ”All is not well with me” is always there. That the human heart is subject to sorrow is a limitation no one wants to accept.
Another limitation that we feel is that of time. Nobody wants to die today; everyone wants to live a day longer. Animals and plants also have this love for life. Even a tree bends to grow towards the sun. Only if we find that this world can no longer give us happiness do we think of quitting it; if a person is healthy and happy, he or she wants to live on. Perhaps it is this love for continuity that accounts for the desire to have a son or a daughter, or urges one to engrave one’s name on a stone. No one wants to disappear without leaving a trace.
We know that we shall all die one day, and yet we want to live for at least today. The desire to live today is the desire to be eternal; we do not want to admit that we are mortal, even though we know very well that our birth and death are marked on the-sands of time. Mortality, a limitation with respect to time, is the second limitation that we cannot stand.
The third limitation that humankind suffers is ignorance. If a person is not enrolled in a school or a training institute, he or she will at least stand at the window to see what is happening in the street. This behavior is an expression of our innate love for knowledge. We cannot stand ignorance; We always want to know something more.
If you examine all your pursuits, pravritti प्रवृति or nivritti निवृत्ति, you will discover that all your life you have been trying to overcome these three limitations. You seem to have concluded that you are sorrowful, mortal, ignorant. You seek more security and more objects so that you can be comfortable in your life; much of your time is spent in going after things that are meant m make you happy, to keep sorrow at bay. Another part of your life is spent in pursuing things that will keep you going just one day more; you do exercises or take vitamins and proteins out of a desire to live a little longer. A third part of your life is spent gathering knowledge. For some, such as scientists, who regard knowledge as the most important goal in life, this is the most predominant pursuit, but everyone does devote a part of his or her life to learning. Picking up a newspaper in the morning is prompted by this quest for knowledge; reading the Gita is motivated by a desire to seek freedom from one‘s sense of inadequacy. Thus the three things we seek in all our pursuits are freedom from sorrow, freedom from death, and freedom from ignorance.
The Lord Krishna says that all the three limitations, are illegitimate; that is, all three are asocya अशोच्या, matters that do not warrant any grief. A problem can be solved only if it is legitimate. If you see a snake on the road you can choose to avoid it or chase it away, so that you can continue on the road. Encountering a snake is a’ legitimate problem and it can be solved by such actions. But if the problem looming large in your mind is illegitimate, how can you solve it by an act? Let us consider the famous example of a rope mistaken for a snake by an imaginative mind. The illegitimate, projected snake and the fear one experiences on seeing it cannot be removed by beating the snake or by throwing a stone or by praying or clapping. The snake and the fright caused by it will go away only when one comes to know that there is no snake in fact. When one sees the rope, the problem is solved and one’s fear goes. In this case, one solves the problem not by action, but by knowledge. A legitimate problem can be solved by action but an illegitimate one can only be solved by knowing that it is illegitimate.
If I can make you see that a given problem does not really exist, I have released you from it. The knowledge that the limitations of sorrow, time, and ignorance do not really exist for you frees you from these limitations. That knowledge is called sankya, that which is clearly seen. it is unfolded by Vedanta.
There are many occasions in life, many situations in life that I can change. If I have enough resources, I can change the furniture in my house, I can buy new clothes, I can eat out three times a week, I can camp out every week-end, I can have a new hair-cut, it’s endless. If it’s cold I can buy a heater. If it’s warm I can buy an air-conditioner. A new micro-wave ……yes there are a lot of changes that I can make.
If I have no resources but a lot of creativity, I can do the same things that I do every day, in new ways! I can cook food with the same ingredients, but it tastes different and good. I can lay out the table in new ways. I can sing and dance a little differently each time and enjoy it too. I can change my job, my apartment, my car. If I have a big heart, I can express the love in my heart in many different ways too.
I can change my attitudes and my behavior if I choose to. I can tighten what needs to be tightened and loosen what needs to be loosened. If I am very inflexible and rigid as a person, I can become more flexible. If I am critical always and finding-fault I can try and change that too. If I am angry and always want things my way – well I can look into that too if I want to. If I always blame others for my problems, I could see if that is true. If I am a person who does not know how to draw boundaries, then I can learn how to do that. I am always emotionally dependent on someone and it has become painful for me, I can learn how to grow out of that. If I am very fearful always, I can learn to face challenges boldly. If I’m so bold that I become fool-hardy, then I can learn to exercise caution.
Whatever I can change, if I feel I need to change it – I should change.
But I don’t call all the shots in life. There are some situations which are what they are, some events that have taken place, which I cannot change. I cannot change the weather of the country. I cannot change the politicians immediately! I cannot change the fact that a near and dear person has passed away. Sometimes I have family responsibilities, my boss is a pain and I cannot change my job. Above all I cannot change people – this includes my parents, my spouse, my in-laws, my children, my boss, my co-workers, friends, employees. I cannot change my past – happy or sad. I cannot change my childhood. I cannot change my age. I cannot change the way I look very often….the list is endless.
When something cannot be changed whatever it might be – when I find that I have an incapacity to order things as I want – I feel helpless, sad, agitated and angry. I get into a depression very often too.
Now this is the hard fact – that the situation cannot be changed. If I want people to change why should they? They might want me to change too. Maybe I also don’t want to change. Nobody can make a person change unless that person really wants to change. This is how it is. Maybe if I try to understand the background from which the person comes, then I can understand them better and feel some compassion towards them instead of anger. Maybe my expectations are unreasonable. Maybe my expectations are reasonable but the person cannot meet them, or does not want to meet them. Whatever the reason, this is how it is.
Would it not be just easier to accept gracefully that this is how the person is, this is how the situation is, this is how my past was, what has happened has happened. I cannot do anything about it. If I can change something I will – if I cannot, I accept it just gracefully. When I accept, there is a relief because my resistance to a fact is gone.
But the capacity to accept gracefully what I cannot change is not something that I am able to do easily. But at least I can have a value for it. I can have a value for it only if I know what benefit I get from it. To understand the value of graceful acceptance, let’s see what I get if I don’t have this acceptance. Then we can see what can help us.
When I am unable to accept a fact that cannot be changed – I feel helpless, I feel anger and resentment. All my present moments are occupied only in brooding and thinking and repeating the scenes again and again. I lose my self-esteem and destroy any chance of joy I might have in the current moment. Supposing I am walking and there is a beautiful sunset- I am unable to enjoy this truth about my present moment – I spoil my present moments with brooding about the past, the injustice, how I would like the situation to change. And if I keep up this frame of mind of resistance and pain indefinitely, my health is affected. I get ulcers, heart-problems, headaches, body-pains. I find no joy in life and my sadness spills over to others in my environment.
Now when the fact is that I cannot change the situation, does this frame of mind help me? Or does it hurt me. Very clearly, I am hurting myself. Do I want to continue to hurt myself? That is the choice I am faced with. I can continue to hurt myself by retaining this resistance to facts and working myself up into hurting and feeling bad – or I can just let go -by accepting. Consciously dropping my will to resist an unchangeable fact.
I have to see this very clearly and have a value for the peace of mind and a certain relief that results because of this acceptance of facts. Once I have a value for it, then there are ways to help myself to let go. Here devotion to the Lord born of understanding the Lord is invaluable. For understanding the Lord come to Gita class! Here an understanding of the Lord as All-Intelligence and seeing the fact that whatever there is in this creation is in Order, ( even disorder is in ultimate order) there is a meaning behind it all, there is a purpose is very important. The purpose of my life is to grow – maybe because of these situations now I can pray. Growing devotion in the form of a growing trust in the Lord’s order, a growing trust that every situation has a purpose and meaning behind it all and it must be all for the best even though I may not be quite able to understand it right now.
I recognize that I am helpless in accepting the situation and then when I am helpless I can seek help from the Source of All- Help – the Lord in a meaningful prayer. Seeking help when I need it, is intelligent living. So I can make this prayer to the Lord:-
O Lord, may I have the maturity to accept gracefully what I cannot change; may I have the will and effort to change what I can; and may I have the wisdom to know the difference between what I can and cannot change.
Sorrow does not happen; you contrive it. When you hear the news of someone’s death, you are only shocked; only after the news sinks in does sorrow slowly develop. Like jealousy and “other emotions, sorrow is built up. Happiness is natural to you, sorrow is not. If sorrow were natural, you would be happily sorrowful; but you want to get rid of it, and you can get rid of it, because it does not belong to you. Though it looks as if happiness comes and goes, it does not. It is only that your confused thoughts sometimes keep you from enjoying the happiness that you are. You think that this world makes you sorrowful, and that giving it up will help you; but you cannot give up the world totally as long as you are alive. As Lord Krishna has said in Gita, no one can remain without activity even for a moment:-
न हि कश्चित्क्षणमपि जातु तिष्ठत्यकर्मकृत् (3.5)
na hi kaśhchit kṣhaṇam api jātu tiṣhṭhatyakarma-kṛit
There are very few failures. You may have failed an examination, that is all. Yet you remember that alone. If you do not remember what has happened to you, how can you call yourself a failure? Can you become sad Without memories? No, you cannot. Sadness, depression and frustration are all because of memories. Memory is not meant for these things.
Memory is given for certain purposes. Tomorrow when you get up, you will not ask your wife, ’Who are you? Where did you come from?’ If you are unable to remember whether you had already eaten, you will be eating lunch again and again. Therefore memory is only meant for recognizing a few things in order to survive. Memory does of course, play a role in cognition and understanding also. Memory is a faculty given to you by Bhagavan and not for self-judgement. You are the one who is aware of memories, knowledge, ignorance, your mind, its conditions, senses, the body and the world.
Therefore who are you? You should have only one answer: “I am the one who is aware.”
Swami Dayanada Sarawati
Go back to the first day you can remember. Please come up with a day, during the time in your waking hours, when you were totally free from want and desire. You do not have desires for fun. Your desires are important to you and you want to fulfill them so that you can be happier and fuller than what you are now. When you were a child, you wanted a toy and your mother said, ‘No’. You wanted to play and your mother said, ‘Play later, study now.’ When you did not want to go to school, your father said, ‘You have to go.’ When you did not want to wear certain clothes, your father said, ‘You must wear them.’ When you wanted something else like a balloon, the answer was, ‘Not now.’ One more chocolate? ‘No.’ There were number of desires which you did not fulfill as a child, in the school or at home. This repeated day after day. As a young man or woman, again desires remained unfulfilled. Now you are an adult and the desires have only multiplied. Still many remain unfulfilled. Can you come up with one day where you were completely free from desires? Even today, you have number of desires of which some have been replaced because you could not fulfill them.
Thus you have always believed that you were a wanting, inadequate person. You want to have a bigger house in a better locality and a better job. You wish your son or daughter was a little different. Your daughter-in-law must, of course, be different! You wish everything were better. Thus, you want so many things to be different in your life.
Then suddenly, in between you hear a joke, you laugh. There are moments in your life you pick up glimpses of joy. One day, out of the blue, the stars and sky seem to be very beautiful. They seem to capture your imagination and make you happy. When a child lies there putting the big toe in its mouth, watching the sky, you feel so happy. Or it just laughs at the ceiling for no reason. You do not know why but you find yourself laughing along. You become as innocent as the child at that time. Where there is laughter, there is joy. There are moments in life, when you get what you want or when there are some desirable sensory experiences, then you are happy. You read an inspiring quote or a wonderful sentence, you become happy. You see a nice cartoon, you are happy. You observe something amusing happening on the side walk, you are happy or you simply hear a slapstick joke, you are happy. There are hundreds of occasions in life, whether desires are fulfilled or not; with all your problems, self-condemnations, opinions about yourself, in spite of all this where you find yourself happy.
That happiness is you. There is no demand there, because you are fullness which manifests when demand is absent. The mind then sheds and forgets all the problems, desires and wishes. It just gives up all that and you find you are happy. Happiness only happens when you forget about yourself! When clouds go away, the sun is seen. When the clouds come, the sun is not seen.
Similarly, the clouded mind, the demanding person that you have been with the mind, gives up the demands for the time being because of the desirable situation. You find fullness manifests. But again you demand because you do not know the truth. You only go by experience, you do not know. That the experience of happiness is you, you do not know.
Not knowing that happiness is you, inevitably a new thought arises and you begin to remember your demands, wishes, problems and you are the same old person. You become happy one moment, that is you and the next moment, you are sad, that is not you. But that is the available you, demanding you. So happy, sad, happy, sad; if you know it alternates in this way, life will be wonderful. There will be no problem because you know happiness is going to come next minute and you can be happy still. Even if sorrow comes, it does not matter, do not worry because happiness will follow. But life is not like that. The length of sorrow far outweighs the period of happiness.
In happiness, you cannot say that the world is not there. The world is very much there. You listen to music, you are happy. You listen to the Swami and he jokes, so you are all happy. At that time the world is there, you are there, the mind is there, eyes are there, ears are there, the self is there. See what is not there, then you will understand unhappiness. You do not want the Swami to be different and you do not want yourself to be different. You do not want this hall to be different, or any situation to be different. When you are happy, what happens? There is no dividing line between you and me, meaning there is no demand. You are very much present, but the demanding you is absent and you are happy.
The world does not create any dent in your fullness. It does not create any division in your consciousness. Your fullness can accommodate the whole creation. Fullness always continues. This is what happens whenever your mind is non-demanding, you are non-demanding. That happiness is nothing but fullness, limitlessness, you. This is You!
We all have desires that remain unfulfilled, throughout our lives. These desires are of two types. The first is a desire to do, to accomplish something. Whether or not you fulfill this desire, does not bother you. We do not refer to these desires as kama because they do not bind you. These are desires in whose fulfillment you find yourself happy and in whose non-fulfillment you do not become sad. Everyone has “a few desires like that.
Binding and Non-binding Desires
Suppose you desired to have an evening walk. It rained and you could not go for the walk. If it does not bother you then the desire is of a non-binding nature. You may have wanted to meet somebody. You could not meet that person and it does not bother you. Then that desire is a non-binding desire. All great masters too, have desires to fulfill. They undertake lots of activity, all of them are necessarily backed by desires. These are non-binding because they have mastered desires. Binding desire is when the fulfillment of a desire makes you elated and its non-fulfillment reduces you to a wanting person.
You all have had desires in your life which you felt should have been fulfilled. Without their fulfillment, you found your lives to be incomplete. All throughout life, from the time your memory is activated, you find you have always been a desiring person. Desires which are binding in nature are called kama. I gave the argument that in spite of these desires being there, you do find yourself happy occasionally. That there is a possibility of your being happy in spite of these desires, can prove a point. Perhaps to be happy, you do not require to fulfill all your desires. Although, mark the difference, you can happily fulfill all your desires. Therefore if fulfilling all your desires alone makes you a complete person, it is impossible for anybody to be happy without fulfilling all these desires.
Binding desires are also of two types. First is the desire to avoid, get rid of something and the second is the desire to get, experience something. Both positive and negative are included in this type of desire. You have those desires to stall events from happening or to avoid and get rid of things which irritate you. These desires are meant to keep sorrow away. The positive desires are those in whose fulfillment, you hope to be happier than you are right now.
In spite of these desires if one can be happy, perhaps you do not require anything to be happy. Let us analyze happiness a little closer. The wrong notion is that we become happy fulfilling a desire and unhappy when we do not. Sometimes you fulfill a desire and become happy. On the other hand, sometimes you fulfill a desire and find yourself unhappy because you did not know what was in store.
You cannot conclude that only by fulfilling a desire everyone becomes happy. For instance, you happen to hear somebody say something flattering about you like, ’You are wonderful and beautiful etc.’, then you become happy. You may find something amusing and you are happy. You take the newspaper, see a funny cartoon, start laughing and you are happy. No desire was fulfilled in order for you to be happy. Therefore, you do find yourself happy occasionally.
From where do you get these moments of happiness, which come in spite of unfulfilled desires? They either come from outside or from inside. That is exactly our contention. Some say that happiness is outside. They go after things for happiness and we call them materialistic.
And then there are the spiritualists who say happiness ‘ is to be discovered inside. If you think the outside world makes you happy, we need to see what all constitutes the outside world.
The Nature of Happiness
There is no given object in the world called happiness. Otherwise, you would all want to possess that object. There is neither such an object in the world, nor is happiness a perceivable attribute to an object, like a blue lily or a white lotus. You also do not see happiness sticking to an object. Suppose you see a happy man, how do you know he is happy? ‘Yes, he is happy Swamiji. He laughs all the time.’ He may be smiling, but behind that smile, that laughter, whatever joy is there may be as false as his teeth. Therefore, you do not know, you cannot judge. You cannot also say happiness is an attribute to an object, an adjective to its appearance. Happiness is neither an object nor an attribute of an object. What else is there in the world then?
Is a particular place happiness? Is a particular time happiness? Is a particular direction happiness? No, none of these are. Happiness is neither in the East nor in the West. One person is going from west to east for happiness, and the other fellow is going from east to west. Both of them are moving in opposite directions looking for happiness. You cannot really pinpoint any particular time or place in which you are happy.
Your external world is now finished with objects, attributes, time and place. There is no other source of happiness available externally. None of them can be looked upon as happiness.
If you say happiness is not outside, happiness is inside, what does it mean? Do you search inside the body, where there is a kidney full of stones, a bloated liver, a heart prone to attacks, a stomach meant for ulcers? Certainly, none of these is a source of happiness. You can say mind is the source of happiness. So that means when you are sad you will not have any mind. Actually, when you are sad, there is lot more mind than necessary. I told you, sadness. does not come by a single thought, you have to work for it. Therefore, you cannot say that the mind is a. source of happiness. In fact the mind is the problem.
‘Swamiji when the mind is happy, I am happy.’ In fact even when the mind is unhappy, you are still happy. You are the one looking at the mind and you are happy. At that time, the mind becomes a non-demanding, pleased mind. All your demands are met with for the time being. Either all your wishes are fulfilled for the time being or you have forgotten all those wishes and demands for the time being. Something overwhelmingly fascinating has captured your imagination. You are a complete, non-demanding person at this time. The world is there like music. The world does not rob you of your happiness. The senses do not deny you happiness, much. less does the mind. The mind is, the senses are, the world is, you are and yet you are happy.
The only thing absent at this time is your seeking. You cease to be a seeker. You want neither yourself nor the world to be different. That has nothing to do with the mind. It is not the intrinsic property of the mind. The mind is meant to think, nothing more than that. It is not meant to make you happy or anything. When the mind is pleased or you are pleased, the mind is very simple, appreciative and admiring. You find yourself a happy person. Understand that happiness is an experiential word, in which your own fullness, limitlessness is manifest.
The outside world is there. I am there. There is harmony between me and the world. I am not seeker with reference to the world, the seeker is gone. The world and myself have become one. There is only wholeness, fullness, oneness, limitlessness. It is what happens when you appreciate the stars, appreciate good music. On all these occasions, there is no hindrance between you and the object. Both become one undivided whole, without the dividing factor. The dividing factor is nothing but the thought, ‘I am the seeker, this is the sought,’ or ’I want this to be a little different.’ And the moment is gone.
You can appreciate a lot of things Without money. Money can provide a lot of things, but you are the one who is going to make use of them. Do Whatever you need to do to make your life comfortable. Then, to make your life happy, you have to discover you are fullness. In every moment of happiness, you are yourself. At that time, you forget all your demands. All your life is a struggle to forget yourself. The moment you remember yourself, you become unhappy. Music makes you forget, movies make you forget, a disco makes you forget, more than one drink makes you forget. This is the whole tragedy. There is no greater tragedy in life than not being able to be with yourself. You cannot accept yourself. You cannot stand yourself, for you are a desiring person, a wanting person.
You are the very content of happiness.
The Gita says the contrary, ’You are the Very content of happiness and not the desiring, wanting person.’
प्रजहाति यदा कामान्सर्वान्पार्थ मनोगतान् |
आत्मन्येवात्मना तुष्ट: स्थितप्रज्ञस्तदोच्यते || 2.55||
prajahāti yadā kāmān sarvān pārtha mano-gatān
ātmany-evātmanā tuṣhṭaḥ sthita-prajñas tadochyate
prajahāti—discards; yadā—when; kāmān—selfish desires; sarvān—all; pārtha—Arjun, the son of Pritha; manaḥ-gatān—of the mind; ātmani—of the self; eva—only; ātmanā—by the purified mind; tuṣhṭaḥ—satisfied; sthita-prajñaḥ—one with steady intellect; tadā—at that time; uchyate—is said
Happiness is an experiential word, the truth of which is nothing but limitlessness, yourself. The one who knows this fact revels in himself, आत्मन्येवात्मना तुष्ट: स्थितप्रज्ञस्तदोच्यते, प्रजहाति यदा कामान्सर्वान्पार्थ मनोगतान् O Partha, Arjuna, such a one gives up all desires as they arise in his mind. He not only gives up the desire to do but all desires to be happy afterwards also. He does that only by being happy with himself, आत्मन्येवात्मना तुष्ट:. He is happy, being awake to the fact of his fullness. Such a person has no more axes to grind. He is free and his wisdom is true. Lord Krsna calls him a ’sthitaprajna’ स्थितप्रज्ञ because his prajna प्रज्ञा, knowledge is firm, clear, and without doubt.
Therefore, it is only a matter of clarity, of clear understanding of your being free from any limitations. All self-judgement is purely born from ignorance of oneself alone. Knowledge makes you recognize yourself as a completely free person. You are free enough to do anything, even start a new industry. You can do whatever you want. You are not doing anything to become happy afterwards. If you think you are doing something for happiness, you will be unhappy all the way. This clarity of vision about oneself is not experience. Understand this clearly. In an experience, you have a moment of happiness which is in actual fact, the experience of yourself. That experience has to be understood and assimilated in the form of, ‘Happiness is nothing but myself alone.’
This understanding is exactly what Vedanta is out to give.
यद्वाचानभ्युदितं येन वागभ्युधते !
तदेव ब्रह्म त्वं विद्धि नेदं यदिदमुपासते !!
May you know that alone to be Brahman, which is not revealed by speech (but) by which speech is revealed, and not this that people worship (as an object). (Kenopnisad 1.4)
The first line reveals primarily the pratyagatman, the inner self, that which is ear of the ear, etc., that which is neither known nor unknown, but the basis of both the known and the unknown. In the second line the inner self is pointed out as Brahman by saying tadeva brahma tvam viddhi, may you understand that is Brahman.
While Chandogya Upanisad says, “tat tvam asi” that (Brahman) you are,” here, the teacher Says “tad eva brahma tvam viddhi”, may you understand that alone to be Brahman.” That ‘you,’ is the eye of the eye, ear of the ear, etc, and which is neither the known nor the unknown. All these details make the meaning of tat very clear; it is you. Understand that consciousness alone to be Brahman which is you, in Whose presence you are aware of all these things. Brahman means limitless, the cause of everything-that from which everything has come, and unto which everything goes back. You are that Brahman.
Yada vaca anabhyuditam: That which is not revealed by the word. Anabhyuditam means na prakasitam, not objectified by a word. The vastu is not revealed as the direct meaning of any word. It is unlike the object ‘pot’ that is revealed by the word ‘pot’. However, the vastu is revealed by words through implication, after creating a context.
Yena vag abhyudyate: By whose presence a word comes to manifest. Here, we have to take into account all that is connected to a word-by whose presence alone a word is a word, a word is pronounced as a word, a word is heard, a word is understood. In the presence of the invariable pratyagatman alone a word is heard and its meaning understood. So too, it comes to manifest.
The word ‘vak’ can also be taken to mean the organ of speech. That caitanya, consciousness, which the organ of speech cannot objectify, but because of which it is able to function, is Brahman. This meaning is given here because a story is going to be narrated later, based upon this fact.
That vastu which is not revealed by a word, but because of which a word comes to manifest, is referred by the word, ‘tat’ which, in the context of the previous unfoldment, means ‘you’. The mantra exhorts you to understand tad vastu, that caitanya, to be Brahman.
The word Brahman is already arrived at in the language. It is derived from the root brh, in the sense of growth. Brhatvad brahma, that which is big or brhmanat brahma, that which is capable of growing into jagat. Both meanings are applicable here. The bigness here is aparicchinna, unrestricted. Hence, Brahman is ananta that Which is limitless-time-wise or space-wise.
An object is limited both in terms of space and time – previously it was not, now it is. Whereas, Brahman is unlike any object that exists in time and space. Space itself is paricchinna, limited. Even though space is relatively all-pervasive, it does not pervade Brahman. In fact, Brahman pervades space. That is why space is part of the jagat. Therefore, space also is mithya. It has kale-pariccheda, time-wise limitation, because it is collapsible, as we know from the experience of sleep. Brahman, being limitless, has no spatial or time-wise limitation – means it is not born, it is not gone, it does not grow, it does not decline.
Brahman is not a object, and so there is no vastu-pariccheda, object-wise limitation. Brahman sustains time and space, and .it sustains everything else that exists in time and space. No object enjoys an independent reality without the reality of Brahman. Therefore, every object is Brahman. This is the meaning of Brahman, that which is ekam eva advitiyam, one without a second.
Let us look at the word, advitiya, without a second. A second thing can cause three types of bheda, difference, to a given thing – sajdtiya, vijaatiya and svagata bheda. A coconut tree, for instance, is different from other trees within its own species. There are many coconut trees, and this is one of them. This is sajatiya-bheda, a limitation caused within one’s own species.
Then there is vijatiya-bheda. Vijati means something belonging to a different species. A tree, for instance, is different from the rocks, rivers, and so on. If the tee is a coconut tree, then there are varieties of trees like an areca nut tree, an oak tree, and so on that are different from the coconut tree. In the genus of coconut tree itself there is a dwarfed coconut tree, a hybrid coconut tree; there too, there are varieties. Things that come under botany, things that come under zoology, and [things that come under geology are all different. Within botany itself there are varieties of plants like a vine, a creeper, a small plant, a big tree and so on. A jati, species, keeps on dividing itself endlessly. But you can bring them all under one jati, one subject matter of botany, because they have certain commonness about them. The coconut tree is distinct from a dog that comes under zoology. This is called vijatiya-bheda, a limitation caused by things of different species.
Finally, there is svagata-bheda, difference within a given species. A given tree has varieties of differences within itself like the” leaves, the flower, the fruit, the trunk, and so on.
Taking one’s own body, one can see all these bhedas. It has sajatfya-bheda, because there are many human bodies. It has vijatiya-bheda, because it is different from the body of any other being, like a dog . and so on. Then, it has svagata-bheda, varieties within the body such as the head, shoulders, hands and so on, each one being different from the other.
All these bhedas are not there in Brahman. There is only one non-dual Brahman that is revealed by the sastra. All that is here is that Brahman. Since a second Brahman is not there, there is no sajatiya-bheda, limitation or difference caused by the same species. Further, as there is nothing other than Brahman, there is no vijatiya-bheda, limitation caused by a different species. Brahman is satya, and everything else is vikara, apparent modification, and hence mithya. Mithya cannot be counted along with satya. Brahman being non-dually one, and everything else being mithya, does not add to the one. In Brahman itself there are no parts and hence there is no svagata-bheda. Brahman is satyam jananam anantam. It is pure caitanya, consciousness, which is neither knower-known-knowledge but the truth of all the three.
Tad means pratyagatman, the inner self, consciousness. Tad is predicated here to Brahman. The subject matter pratyagatman has already been introduced, about which the teacher reveals something here. We do not really require a pramana to arrive at the existence of oneself. By drg-drsya-viveka, subject-object-analysis, we can come to know the subject, the self, is not subject to objectification. Recognizing this self-revealing consciousness is Brahman, is the result of veddnta-pramana.
Suppose I say, ‘tvam asi, you are,’ you do not get anything out of this sentence without knowing the predication. Tvam is the subject about which something is going to be revealed. Here, an akanksa, expectancy, is created to hear what the predication is; what is it that the speaker wants to convey about the subject? Suppose, I do not say anything after saying tvam asi, What does it mean? Each one, per his or her psychology, will read the silence. “You are,” creates, in the listener, an expectancy. The speaker fulfils the expectancy, communicating what he or she intends to convey, which is called vivaksa (the intention to say).
The subject, srotrasya srotram, is already introduced, but needs to be predicated. This is where pramana walks in to say, “tad eva brahma tvam viddhi – you understand ‘that’ to be Brahman.” That ear of the ear which is not objectified by the organ of speech, and because of which the organ of speech functions, is advayam brahma, non-dual Brahman, and that Brahman you are. That means there is nothing other than you; the thought is not other than you, the knower is not other than you, the object of thought is not other than you. Any other knowledge implies a knower-known difference. Here, the knower is you, the knowledge is you, and the known is you. That is the revelation.
The teaching is, “May you understand that to be Brahman.” There are no two entities here – yourself and Brahman. You are Brahman. If you are ignorant, well, Brahman makes that ignorance exist and known. Like anything else, this ignorance also is mithya. What does not exist by itself, but draws its existence from something else is mithya. Ignorance draws its existence from the same consciousness alone. Hence, ignorance is also mithya; it goes away in the wake of knowledge. Therefore, tad eva brahma tvam viddhi. Let there be no ignorance with reference to the fact of the self being consciousness, satyam brahma. That is the whole intention of the teaching.
That vrtti, the cognitive thought that takes place in one’s buddhi as a result of teaching, is known as akhandakara-vrtti, a cognition in which the knower-known-knowledge are resolved into one awareness. That means all the three are you.
Generally, a vrtti is the connecting link between the object of knowledge and the knower. When you say, “This is a pot,” pot is the object and you are the knower of the pot. The pramana-phala, the result of operating a means of knowledge, goes to you, the knower. Between you and the pot, the connecting link is tadakara-vrtti, the thought having the form of a pot. Akara means a form. A given thought assumes the form of the object it objectifies through perception, inference, words, or recollection.
You, the knower, look at the thought and say, “This is a pot.” That pot thought is called idam vrtti. You are the knower all the time. Therefore, you say, “I am the knower, and the whole world of objects is different from me.” With this kind of division in thoughts, you move around knowing different things in the world.
Now, you are told by the sastra, tad eva brahma tvam viddhi, understand that Brahman you are. That consciousness is Brahman which is the mind of the mind, without which there is no thought, there is no object of thought, and there is no knower.
Further, on analysis, you recognize that Brahman as the intelligent and material cause of the jagat. That means the whole creation is non-separate from Brahman. Therefore, your body is Brahman, your senses are Brahman, your mind is Brahman, the knower is Brahman, the cognition is Brahman; everything is Brahman. In this vision you recognize the invariable consciousness cit, as satyam brahma.
In other words, cit is sat. Once you say Brahman is satya, everything the knower-known-knowledge is Brahman. That means it is the whole. That is why it is called ananda or annanta. Being the whole, it is not an object of any of these words, but rather known more by implication. You are not in any way, anywhere, circumscribed, limited.
“That consciousness is Brahman” is the maha-vakya, a sentence revealing the oneness of you and Brahman.
In this mantra, there is also a negation of what is not Brahman. Brahman is generally understood as God, the cause of the world. People worship Brahman as Visnu, as Siva. Is that not Brahman? It is Brahman if you include yourself. That which includes both the subject and the object is Brahman. Nedam yad idam upasate: Not this, which people meditate upon.
Upasana means ‘people worship’. The sastra does not criticize or condemn upasana; on the contrary upasana is included. However, one should not construe that the form alone is Brahman. When a topic is considered, due respect is given to the topic. The consideration is showing respect.
Upasana is fine, but the upasya, one whom you Worship, includes you the upasaka too. If the upasya and the upasaka are one, then the upasana-phala, the ultimate result of worship, is gained; the payoff is recognizing the fact that both the updsaka and the upasya are sustained by one consciousness, Brahman, which is srotrasya srotram; that is why it is satyam. Therefore, What people worship is also Brahman, but that alone is not Brahman. These are sentences revealing an equation and one must see the truth of these sentences. One has to inquire into them thoroughly, curbing the tendency to gloss over.
Every Upanishad must have a maha-vakya महावाक्य, not just four Upanishads. For the sake of समन्वय samanvaya, showing that all four Vedas have only one तात्पर्य tattparya, vision, four maha-vakyas are quoted, one from each Veda:
- तत् त्वम् असि, Tat Tvam Asi -> That Thou Art.
from Chandogya Upnishad, Samaveda.
- अहम् ब्रह्मास्मि, Aham Brahmasmi -> I am Brahman.
from Brahadarnayaka Upnishad, Yajurveda
- प्रज्ञानम् ब्रह्म, Prajananam Brahma -> Consciousness is Brahman.
from Aitareya Upnishad, Rigveda
- अयम् आत्मा ब्रह्म, Ayam Atmā Brahma -> This self is Brahman.
from Mandukya Upnishad, Atharvaveda.
In fact, every Upanishad has maha-vakya. Without a maha-vakya there is no Upanishad, there is no Gita, and there is no शास्त्र sastra either. Any sastra reveals what is to be revealed, and therefore, maha-vakyas are seen in all the Upanishads.
In maya-vakyas there are no differences. It is not proper to create differences among them, like some people do. Some claim that, tat tvam asi is an upadesa-vakya, a sentence giving the teaching; aham brahmasmi is an anubhavakya, a sentence revealing the experience of oneness, and so on. The whole Upanishad is meant for upadesa, revealing an equation between जिव Jiva and ईश्वर Isvara.
सदेव सोम्य इदम् अग्रे आसीत!
छान्दोग्योपनिषत, Chnadyogyop Upnisad (6.2.1) says, “This world was there before as ‘sat’ सत्. Without any differentiation”. Pure knowledge alone was there before. The jagat जगत् (unverse) is now differentiated. For this differentiation to take place, knowledge has to manifest. The time has come now for the jagat to get out of the un-manifest condition. ‘The time has come’- this is only an expression because time itself is yet to come. Getting out of the un-manifest condition is like waking up from sleep. You wake up because of the prarabdha प्रारब्ध karma. But lsvara ईश्वर does not have any karma to clamor for fructification. The karmas of the individuals in the un-manifest condition clamor to manifest, and we refer to that condition when we say, “The time has come”. What does lsvara do now?
From the un-manifest, the world manifests. This is cyclic. Here we are talking about a given cycle. Before the manifestation, there must be a certain motion, some commotion is involved. That is pointed out here. The Sankhyas say that before the creation there is some commotion in pradhana प्रधान, the cause, consisting of the three gunas – sattwa सत्व, rajas रजस, and tamas तमस. They are in equilibrium in the un-manifest condition. That equilibrium gets disturbed due to some vibration and the creation starts. Here we ask, “How did it get disturbed? Who disturbed it?” Purusa पुरुष, the conscious being, has nothing to do with pradhana. Other than purusa nobody else was there. If pradhana gets disturbed on its own, then it should always be disturbed. How come the disturbance did not take place so far? Another section of the Sankhyas, who accepts lsvara, says, “lsvara disturbs the equilibrium.” Then What is the occasion for lsvara to disturb it? Sankhyas have no logical answer. But every one of them has to point out that before the creation there must be a disturbance in the un-manifest, and there was a disturbance.
It is like the factor that wakes you up in the morning from sleep. Why do you wake up in the morning? What makes you get up? While you were sleeping you did not have any agenda to wake up. In sleep you do not recognize anything. A person who is sleeping should be sleeping all the time, sleep being a pleasant experience. No. There is a karmic pressure working. One more day you have to live. You have to undergo the experiences that are brought about by the karma on a day-to-day basis. This is one model of explanation, the karmic model. You can also give a physiological model. The body had enough rest, and, of course, it is hungry in the morning. A physiological stimulation in the body wakes you up. A psychological explanation also is possible. But it is all finally karma only. Day-to-day karma has got to be exhausted.
Similarly, something happens before the creation. Whenever we say ‘creation’ you must take it as one cycle. It has no end. This creation is like the previous creation. The previous creation was like its previous creation. Thus every creation was preceded by a creation. In between two creations Isvara brings about dissolution, which is called pralaya प्रलय. When one goes to sleep, one dissolves one’s own individuality and ceases to experience any object. This dissolution is called laya लय, sleep. When the creation goes to dissolution it is called pralaya. After dissolution and just before creation there must be another state, and that is said to be tapas in the sastra शास्त्र. The nimitta निमित, occasion, for the tapas is the karmas of all the beings that clamor to fructify.
Tatah annam abhijayate: the un-manifest world is born from that Brahman ब्रह्मन्. Anna is food. Adyate iti annam, that which is eaten is called anna. Here it means, that which is going to be experienced by all the manifest jivas जीव later. The entire jagat that is devoured at the time of dissolution is anna. It refers to avyakta अव्यक्त, the un-manifest. Anything with distinct features, anything that is created, is vyakta व्यक्त. That which is in a causal form, without distinct features, is avyakta. If you take a seed, the entire tree is there in it. The tree has a number of distinct features like trunk, branches, leaves, flowers, fruits and so on. But if you look into the seed, you do not see any of them. At the same time, you know that the tree has come from the seed alone. Given the time, place and atmosphere, all those features will manifest. The seed in vyakta, manifest form, is a tree. The tree in avyakta, un-manifest form, is a seed. Similarly, the causal form of this World called anna or avyakta is the upddhi of Brahman. It is also called maya. When the sruti says that anna is born, it means that Brahman identifies – with this upadhi, identifies with the knowledge of avyakta which is going to be manifested later as jagat, and thereby, it becomes the potential cause for the creation. The avyakta has to be differentiated for others’ perception, and this differentiation is called the creation or manifestation.