Existence (sat), Consciousness (chit) and I (aham)

October 24, 2018

Our  group reading of Updesa Sara (The Essential Teaching) by Bhagvan Raman Maharshi (with commentary by Swami Tejomayananda of Chinmaya Mission. ISBN 978-81-7597-195-0) is continuing and now we are getting to focus on the inquiry of “Who or What am I, really?”

In last dialog (Shloka 17 and 18), we understood that the thought ‘I am’  or ‘I’-thought alone is the mind. The path of inquiry about ‘I am’ will lead us to know the absolute truth about the self.

Today we will be reflecting on Shloka 23 and 24.

Existence and  Consciousness Relationship:

Shloka 23:

sattva-bhasika chitvavetara |

sattaya hi chichittaya hyaham || 23 ||

Is there another Consciousness which illumines Existence? (No there is none). Because Existence is Consciousness and Consciousness is indeed ‘I am’.

( Previously, in Shloka 22, we learnt that “the ego – which is the driver for the ‘I’-notion, arises due to the ignorance of the Self, and since it is an effect of the ignorance, it is an illusion.)

If we think that Consciousness illumines Existence, then we have to recognize that Existence is different from Consciousness. In that case Existence will be an inert object. Now on the other hand, if we think that Consciousness is different from Existence, then Consciousness will have to be non-existent. We do realize that both of these conditions are illogical. More important, we do experience ‘I am’ and ‘I know that I am’! This can be true only if Existence and  Consciousness are one and the same and Existence-Consciousness is ‘I am’!

Relation between Individual and Totality:

Shloka 24:

Isa-jivayor-vesa-dhi-bhida |

sat-svabhavato vastu kevalam ||24||

From the standpoint of the gross and subtle body, there is difference between Jiva and Isvara, but from the standpoint of their true nature (“svabhava“), there is only one supreme reality.

In Shloka 23, we realized that Existence and Consciousness is one and it is the true ‘I am’! Now this does create a question about the Consciousness of the Individual (‘Jiva’) and Consciousness of the Cosmic Totality  (‘Isvara’).

Earlier in Shloka 8, we discussed the idea of contemplation without duality that ‘He is me’ is considered holy and superior to contemplation with duality (of  the individual and the Lord – Isvara). When the individual (Jiva) mediates on the Lord – Isvara with attributes, he views himself as being identified  with his BMI and the  Lord – Isvara as the creator of his BMI and entire universe. The difference of the creator and created is always maintained because the omniscient almighty Lord – Isvara and the finite conditioning of the individual can never be identical.

However, the Individual cannot exist apart from the Totality. The gross body cannot exist but for the five great elements of the universe. The total would be incomplete without any individual. The individual is born, exists and merges into the Totality alone. The analogy of Wave and Ocean fits very comparably with the Jiva and Isvara. Water itself is called Wave and Ocean due to the identification with different conditioning. Same way, Existence itself is called the Jiva and Isvara because of the difference in gross and subtle body equipment. From the standpoint of the nature (svabhava) of them they both are Existence and as such Conscientiousness. And as such they are one and the same.







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