Emancipation or Liberation (Mukti) Proposed by Vedanta

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The method of emancipation or liberation (mukti) proposed by Vedanta is based on the the following premises:

Brahman is the Supreme Tattva or Reality and its nature is absolute Being or Existence (Sat), Consciousness (Cit) and Bliss (Ananda). Brahman is non-duality only. Everything is Brahman. This does not mean complete identity with things, but that all things can be reduced to brahman. The most common example is the pot made of clay. The pot is no different from clay, but is a mere modification or different conditions formed from clay.

Note: Vedanta does not endorse the dualism Purusha and Prakriti (The Being and Non-Being) advocated by Samkhyas. For Vedanta, Being is everything.

The world is Maya, illusion, when perceived apart from Brahman. The pot is not experienced without the clay and so is unreal or Maya. But clay is perceived even apart from pot. Similarly, the universe has no existence apart from Brahman, the cause, and therefore, Brahman is the only reality.

Note: For practical purposes, the names and forms assumed by clay – Brahman – must be considered real; however, the values assigned to the world’s objects are mere projections (Maya) of the mind. These projections of the mind are called Upadhis (overlaps).

These Upadhis-attributes are superimposed to consciousness under forms of coercion both individual and collective. The collective aspect is what we call the Maya – the collective hysteria. “The world is Maya,” said Shankaracharya. The production of the Ego is not an isolated activity.

It involves joint decisions as a collective game. Therefore, do not understand the superimposition of upadhis like a voluntarist action, particularly conscious and fully individual. The Jiva is always inserted into in a social context and whose rules it is required to follow under penalty of being punished in some way. Institutions, ideologies, beliefs, etc. are forms of social and policy coercion that does not allow the Jiva act as a fully separate entity from its relationship with the environment, society, etc.

As an abstract unit Jiva – the self-consciousness (individuality) – is pure and is not self-determined in relation to the other (I am American, Indian, Polish, black, white, poor, rich, etc). The Jiva do not need this or that attribute to be a unit. The Jiva is a simply functional unit. That which Vedanta calls Ahamkara or Ego is actually a superimposition (upadhi) which limits the self-awareness (Jiva). The Ego is built through direct contact with the mother, the family, the environment, our surroundings, at school, etc. The world and society imposes the ahamkara and general cognitive schemes to Jiva, and then the Jiva – covered with false notions – begins to talk to herself “I’m ugly, I’m cute, I am rich, I am poor” . This “inner dialogue” is the result of ahamkara himself – it is defined, limited and imposes for the Jiva ideas that are external.

3. The Atman and Brahman are one. When reduced to its essence, the notion of self (Jiva) culminates in brahman. Hence the supreme premise that Atman (Self) is Brahman.

When we study the Advaita Vedanta, the most relevant question is whether all of these premises are pure abstractions or, on the contrary, if are ideas subject to experimentation. If they are pure abstractions, then the Vedanta philosophy is a sterile and does not lead to anything; but if these premises are subject to experimentation, then the Vedanta can offer a new perspective on life.

The premise that “Everything is Brahman” is subject to experimentation: we can see that all objects have – a lesser or greater degree – the nature of Brahman – the universe is endowed with Existence (Sat). The universe not only exists, but is life, energy and movement (Cit) and all creatures enjoy different kinds of Ananda (Bliss). Yes, different pots are made of the same clay that is Brahman.

The premise that the “world is Maya, illusion” when perceived apart from Brahman is also easily amenable to experimentation, when we see human beings assign subjective values to objects and to establish standards of beauty, for example, or external symbols of power, wealth and prestige. When we fail to see a person such as it is (clay), but impute it “name and form” – such as “he’s rich,” “he is poor,” “he is white”, “he is black” certainly that these are all projections of Maya. The source of all evil in the world is, indeed, the lack of love for Brahman.

* Note: The realization that a person is rich or poor, white, yellow or black are not projections, but facts. The values and the psychological burden that are assigned to these facts are projections of Maya.

“The tangible universe is really Brahman. Nothing that exists can be anything other than Brahman. As a pot and a jar are actually clay, and can not be nothing but clay, so for an enlightened person, anything that is perceived is the Being and nothing but the Being – brahman” Sankaracharya, Atma-Bodha, 48

This is an attitude that must be consciously cultivated by sadhaka. The enlightened person is one able to see and feel Brahman in beings and things – without allowing thoughts interfere “I like”, “I do not like”, “this is ugly”, “this is beautiful” – and this perspective alone is able to free the individual from the conditioned reactions, the Maya projections. This manner of seeing things – the moon, the trees, the animals – is so powerful that attracts kundalini into the sushumna channel.

“The humble sage, by virtue of true knowledge, sees with equal vision a learned and gentle brāhmaṇa, a cow, an elephant, a dog and a dog-eater [outcaste]”, Bh. Gita Chapter 5, Verse 18

Remains for us to now to find out if the Self is Brahman.

“By denying the reality of Upadhis (overlapping) with the help of the sentences of the Scriptures that say “Is not this, Is not this” one realizes the unity of the individual soul (Atman) and the Supreme Soul (Brahman), aided by the great Vedic aphorisms” Sankaracharya, Atma-Bodha, 29.

Upadhis – the mind impositions such as “I am this”, “I am that.” These Upadhis should be discarded and only the feeling of “I am” (atma-bhava) should be taken as the object of meditation.

“Is not this, Is not this” – is the well-known sentence “neti, neti” extracted from Brihadaranyaka Upanishad. The disciple must reject the notion of “I am the body,” and this includes the body’s senses (“I see,” “I listen,” “I speak”), the mind (“I’m sad,” “I’m happy “) and the faculty of discrimination (buddhi),” I understand “,” I think “, “I analyze”, etc.

After denying each of these Upadhis comes the assertion method, which is the supreme spiritual exercise of Vedanta.

Vedic aphorisms – are the four great Vedic aphorisms known as mahavakyas:

  1. Thou art That
  2. This Atman is Brahman
  3. Consciousness (of Self) is Brahman
  4. I am Brahman

The disciple should meditate. night and day, in every one of these little verses given by the Guru. When a definite degree of spiritual progress is achieved, then only the fourth verse becomes uninterrupted object of meditation.

Meditation should be enriched with reflections such as…

“I am free from changes such as birth, old age and death, because I am distinct from the body” Sankaracharya, Atma Bodha, 31

“I am free from sorrow, from attachment, malice and fearbecause I am something other than the mind.” Sankaracharya, Atma Bodha, 32

“I am free of attributes and I am free of all activity; I am eternal and pure, I am free from blemishes and desires; I have no form and I am always free ” Sankaracharya, Atma Bodha, 34
“I am really the One Supreme Brahman, which is eternal, pure and free. What is One, undivided and non-dual, and whose nature is Happiness, Truth, Knowledge and Infinite.” Sankaracharya, Atma Bodha, 36

This meditation always follows the itinerary of reducing everything to the Self. The feeling of ‘I’ is the common thread of this meditation.

“The impression of “I am brahman ” – aham brahmasmi -, created by the uninterrupted reflection (meditation), destroys ignorance and its derivatives (such as suffering, desires, etc.), just as the rasayana medicine destroys diseases” Sankaracharya, Atma -Bodha 37.

When the anubhava – the impression, sensation or feeling – of “I am Brahman” is achieved in a vivid manner, that is samadhi. This samyama (junction of dharana-dhyana-samadhi) must be practiced every day until it becomes natural and spontaneous (Sahaja).

The Vedanta Masters recommend the discipline of Yoga for to facilitate the attainment of the Knowledge of Atman.

“Sitting in solitary place, freeing the mind of all the desires and controlling the senses, should meditate with motionless attention in the Infinite Atman, which is One without a second.” Sankaracharya, Atma Bodha, 38

The Atman is not something out of individual field of experience.

“Though Atman is a Reality ever present, yet due to ignorance, is not captured. With the destruction of ignorance, Atma shows up. “ Sankaracharya, Atma Bodha, 44

Atman is a Reality ever present – All living entities have the feeling of being, that exist, which are attributes of Brahman. People say “I” all the time. However, due to ignorance, people do not realize this Self (Atman) in its purity and wholeness; the perception of the Atman is clouded by thoughts and Upadhis (overlays) as the sun is covered by clouds.

Through continuous meditation “I am Brahman”, the mind becomes a pure veil of sattva (purity) and you can then realize the Atman vivid and intensely. This brings with it a plethora of bliss, because the Being (Sat) and Ananda (Bliss) are one.


Prabhu Yogi2

Author: Yogi Professor Ramdas Prabhuji, Disciple of Shri Maheshwari Prasad Dubeyji in Shri Panchanan Lineage of Lahiri Mahasaya Kriya Yoga.

We Appreciate and Thank Nancy Swanson for Text Review!


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