Ever wondered who we are? Is this world, where we live in, real? What is the seen and who is the actual seer? Of course, we must have, at one point of the time or the other. But the important thing is, did we find an answer yet or are we still living with the question unanswered? This article draws the ideas mainly from Sri Sankaracharya’s “Drik Drushya Viveka”.
Let us start the journey with an interesting observations on how our senses deceive us. Before that, we need to define and differentiate the real and unreal or truth and falsehoods. That which seems to be, if it is as is for ever, it is real / truth. If it is not as it seems to be (even for a short duration), it is false. For example, consider an apple fruit and an apple toy (showcase fruit). Though the toy fruit looks like apple, it doesn’t smell and taste like the fruit apple. Thus, we are able to say one is real fruit and the other is a toy (unreal). Now, that we got a clarity on what is real and unreal, let us see by an example, how the senses make us believe the unreal or apparent real as the real real.
- Sight: When we look at a tree, physics tells us that the sun rays after getting scattered from the tree falls on our retina as an image with the help of our cornea. Then, retina sends few electrical signals to our brain. Brain decodes the information with the help of a powerful instrument called mind which tells the brain that what it sees is a “TREE” of so and so dimension. Now, one might be feeling where is the eye deceiving us. If one carefully observes the pattern in which I mentioned, there is a stage where, sun’s rays form an image in the retina. By common sense, everyone knows that the image of the tree that forms on our eye is just as big as our eyeball (of course it can’t be greater right?). Then what brain is receiving is actually the image of a big tree but shrunk to a size of an inch or so. Then how are we able to see/feel the tree to be so big? (Think)
Similarly with any other senses. Take another example as “Touch”
- Touch: When a mosquito bites us at feet, the electrical impulses go to the brain from the feet. But the information is processed in the brain. So, why are we not feeling the itch of the bite in the brain? We feel it at the exact place where mosquito bites right?
The answer to all these apparent paradoxes lies in the concept of “Mind”. Mind helps the brain to scale the things to “proper (in our regular terms)” dimensions. So, what we perceive from this world is nothing but a bunch of electrical signals received by the brain tinkered by the mind beforehand. So, if we hear our mother singing us lullaby, it is an electrical impulse. If we see a photo of Bhagawan, it is nothing but an electrical impulse. So, what we perceive i.e. what seems to be is not what it actually is. (i.e. we perceive the song, but it is electrical signal in its mundane reality). One can confirm this by the famous example of “the snake and the rope”. In that example, one can see that a person holds on to a rope in the dark confuses it with a snake. But if we observe closely, the electrical impulses of touch, to the brain are same whether it is dark or not (since touch has nothing to do with the sight). But his mind plays an important role and makes him think the other way. So, we observe that the perceived world not only depends on just sense organs but also on the mind. Therefore, all that is perceived is “Un-REAL” or a “Relative-Real”. Then where is the absolute reality? In all our examples, we dealt with sense organs, mind and the world.
- e. If world is the seen, sense organs are the seers.
- If sense organs are the seen, mind is the seer.
But is there a seer for the mind? If we closely observe, the answer will be affirmative. Mind depends on “Will”. Say, if we need to meditate or sing the song of Arunachala, our mind may play games by tempting us to go for a Cinema or a T.V. But, we often tend to overcome such temptations by enforcing “Will” upon the mind. But this “Will” comes from our “Buddhi”. So the buddhi becomes the seer of the mind. But this buddhi is the outcome/expression of the very “Ego” – the sense of “I am” and thus depends on it for its functioning. So, this “EGO” becomes the seer for the buddhi (which is the seen). Then, is this EGO the absolute reality? Let us see the state of a “Turiya (a state beyond deep sleep)” where, neither the senses nor the mind nor the buddhi nor the ego has a place of existence because of which we are able to comment nothing about it when we come out side of such a state, if at all we experience it (also it takes guru’s grace to be in such a state for eternity). But because we are able to gain back the ego, the budhhi, the sense and the mind after coming out of Turiya, we can conclude that all these probing instruments must have been in potential state (the Saadhya state) when one is in Turiya and they manifest (Siddha state) as soon as we are out of it. Because the permanency of these instruments is violated, we can positively conclude that even the EGO is not the absolute reality.
If one observes, we had gone from outward to inward in the search of Absolute reality. We established that neither the perceived world, nor the sense organs, nor the mind, nor the buddhi nor the ego form the absolute reality. If we sit silently and think in this process of elimination i.e. after eliminating the options as mentioned above, we are left with something (or someone ?) that which is deeper than the ego. It must be the very substratum into which all the probing instruments (senses, mind ego) are merging when in deep sleep (or beyond) and re appearing when awake. As this is the substratum, it does not depend on anything else. Neither space nor time can constrain it. In fact, it becomes the foundation and depending brick for the very creation that we perceive in the egoic state. So, this common substratum is nothing but the “True Self” or the “Absolute Reality” or the “Absolute I” or the “Only Reality”.
For those who realizes this, he sees the world not through his senses nor through his buddhi, nor through his mind, nor through his ego, but only as the very self – “I AM” of everything or everyone i.e. all the world visible and invisible is filled with just “I AM” or the only SELF. This leads him to experience and tap into the state of existence what we call as “Advaita” or “Non-Dual” – there is no dual to his perception, what all he perceives or experiences is “HIM-self” alone. This is the import of “I am that I AM” or “Aham Brahmasmi” or “Know yourself” of Bhagawan or any archaic statements in relation to the Absolute.
As there is no dual in this state of non-dual, one will agree with the absolute “I” in every aspect i.e. one sees eye to eye with the absolute “I” and thus becomes an eternal BLISS.