In this conversation, a questioner is attempting to understand the concept of oneness and unity. They inquire about the nature of reality and whether it is a person with the universe as its body. The teacher, Maharaj, responds by saying that whatever is said will be both true and false as words cannot go beyond the mind.
The questioner then seeks clarification on the distinctions between the person, the Self, and the Supreme. Maharaj explains that the person is never the subject, and the Supreme appears as the witness between the pure awareness of the Supreme and the manifold consciousness of the person. The various tendencies of the mind correspond to the different persons fighting among themselves for the use of the body.
When asked whether one can make peace between these persons, Maharaj replies that they are contradictory, and it is impossible to do so. One should see them as they are, as mere habits of thoughts and feelings, bundles of memories and urges. All of them say ‘I am,’ which is the sense of identity. However, it is patently false and the cause of bondage.
The questioner now understands that they are not the person but the pure and calm witness that gives a sense of being to the person. The questioner asks how they can know themselves as the Supreme. Maharaj responds by saying that the source of consciousness cannot be an object in consciousness. To know the source is to be the source. One needs to realize that they are not the person, but the pure and calm witness. Fearless awareness is one’s being, the source, the inexhaustible possibility.
When asked whether there are many sources or one for all, Maharaj says it depends on how one looks at it. The objects in the world are many, but the eye that sees them is one. The higher always appears as one to the lower and the lower as many to the higher.
The questioner inquires whether shapes and names are all of one and the same God. Maharaj responds that it depends on how one looks at it. On the verbal level, everything is relative, and absolutes should be experienced, not discussed.
When asked how one can experience the Absolute, Maharaj says that it is not an object to be recognized and stored up in memory. It is in the present and in feeling rather. It has more to do with the ‘how’ than with the ‘what’. It is in the quality, in the value; being the source of everything, it is in everything.
The questioner asks how the Supreme is affected. Maharaj responds by asking what can affect it and how. The source is not affected by the vagaries of the river, nor is the metal affected by the shape of the jewelry. The Supreme makes everything possible; that is all.
When asked how it is that some things happen and some don’t, Maharaj says that seeking out causes is a pastime of the mind. There is no duality of cause and effect. Everything is its cause. However, all that is said is that consciousness contains all, and in consciousness, all is possible. One can have cause if they want them in their world. Another may be content with a single cause, which is God’s will. The root cause is one, which is the sense ‘I am’.
The questioner asks what the link between the Self (Vyakta) and the Supreme (Avyakta) is. Maharaj explains that from the self’s point of view, the world is known, and the Supreme is unknown. The unknown gives birth to the known, yet remains unknown. The known is infinite, but the unknown is an infinitude of infinities.
The Supreme makes everything known but remains unknown, just like a ray of light that is never seen unless intercepted by always with you, but you have to know it to find it. Self-knowledge is the way to the Supreme. Without self-knowledge, the Supreme cannot be realized. So, in a sense, the Supreme is both accessible and inaccessible, depending on whether or not one has realized their true nature as the Self.
Q: Is self-knowledge the same as self-realization?
M: Yes, self-knowledge and self-realization are the same thing. To know oneself as the pure awareness beyond the person, to be free of all limiting concepts and identifications, is to realize the Self.
Q: Is there a difference between the jivatma and the atma?
M: Jivatma is the individual self, while atma is the universal Self. Jivatma is the reflection of atma in the mind, the individual consciousness that identifies with the body and mind. Atma is the pure awareness that transcends all individuality and is the same in all beings.
Q: Can the jivatma become the atma?
M: The jivatma is already the atma, but it doesn’t realize it. The jivatma is like a wave on the ocean, seemingly separate but ultimately inseparable from the ocean. When the wave realizes that it is the ocean, it becomes one with the ocean. Similarly, when the jivatma realizes that it is the atma, it becomes one with the atma.
Q: How can one realize the Self?
M: Self-realization is not a matter of doing something, but of undoing. It is the realization that one is already the Self, beyond all concepts and identifications. To realize the Self, one must inquire into the nature of the self, and see that all identifications with the body and mind are false. This inquiry is called self-inquiry, and it is the direct path to self-realization.
Meet Krishnaprasath Krishnamoorthy, a Yoga, Vedanta, and Hindu spiritual aspirant with a passion for sharing the ancient wisdom and practices of Sanatana Dharma. With 20 years of experience on the spiritual path, Krishnaprasath Krishnamoorthy has a deep understanding of the physical, mental, and spiritual benefits of Yoga, Astrology, Vedanta, and Meditation.