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Gita Lesson - 1903: Self-Revealing Brahman

Bhagavad Gita
Unit - 19
Lesson - 1903: Self-Revealing Brahman
By Raja Subramaniyan

Brahman is self-revealing. To perceive anything in the creation we need the corresponding sense organ supported by mind. In addition, we need appropriate environment.

Example: To see a cat, we need eyes. Our mind should be supporting the eyes. In addition, we need sufficient light to illumine the cat.

However, in case of Brahman it is self-revealing. We do not need any sense organ nor mind to know that we exist. Even in deep sleep, we are aware about our existence, which is proved by our ability to recall that we had a sound sleep.

We need to analyze ourselves, to perceive the Brahman. The presence of a huge taproot can be inferred by seeing the size of the tree. Similarly, by negating all the inert objects in our body/mind complex, we can infer the consciousness.

Example: Although the camera is not seen in the picture, mere presence of the photograph proves the existence of a camera beyond any doubt.

Our five senses and the mind along with the rest of the subtle body moves from birth to birth until we are able to infer and gain this knowledge of Brahman. Knowledge of Brahman is gained through Jnana Yoga.

Many people do not have the required level of maturity of mind to pursue Jnana Yoga. As a result, they continue to travel from one physical body to another countless times. They take all the five senses and the mind with them and continue to strengthen them through the experiences in the world. Since the interaction with the objects of the world is done without the right knowledge, people continue to make the bonding to the Eternal Cycle strong.

Example: Aroma of a flower is carried by the air without having any effect on the space.

Flower - Physical Body
Air - Subtle Body
Aroma - Impression
Space - Indwelling Atman

The physical actions cause the impressions, which influence our preferences and knowledge. Even after the destruction of the physical body our impressions, preferences and knowledge survives, just as the aroma survives after the destruction of the flower.

We will continue to be bound to the objects of the world, since we travel with these accumulated impressions, preferences and knowledge birth after birth. The only way to gain liberation from this bonding is Jnana Yoga.

Jnana Yoga consists of three steps as detailed below:
1. Inquiry
a. This involves reading, learning, studying under a competent teacher and gaining the knowledge on the central theme of Vedanta with respect to:
i. Self
ii. World
iii. God
iv. Cause of suffering
v. Means of liberation
vi. Meaning of liberation
b. This should be done systematically, consistently for a long duration.
c. Filtered listening should be avoided.
d. One should have complete faith in the teaching of the teacher and the student should put all the effort to understand the teaching as it is taught. Questions should be restricted to understanding what is taught and nothing beyond it.
e. The role of the teacher is more important than the role of the student.

Teaching 138: We should understand the central message of Vedanta

2. Introspection
a. This involves thinking and reflecting on what is learnt
b. According to the teaching, the world is an illusion and it does not exist. Nevertheless, one experiences the world. This contradiction has to be resolved in this step.
c. The student should use logic and teachings of the other religions to validate the message from Vedanta.
d. This step should be done until doubtless knowledge on the central message of the Vedanta is gained.
e. During this step the role of teacher and student are equal in validating the knowledge.
f. After this step, the student should not quote his teacher as a validation for his knowledge. He should internalize the teaching.

Teaching 139: We should validate Vedanta through scientific investigation

3. Inner Transformation
a. This final steps enables one to gain the benefit of knowledge
b. Even after gaining the correct knowledge, one may respond to the world as if it is real. This is due to habit formed in countless previous births. Intelligence knows that the world is an illusion. However, the mind does not live by this knowledge. Whenever a problem is faced, mind begins to oscillate as if the problem is going to affect the changeless and immortal self.
c. The solution involves meditation on the correct knowledge. This is similar to making pickle. It takes time for the mango to get soaked in the oil to absorb the spice. The new knowledge has to sink into the mind so that it does not give reality to the world.
d. Vedantic Meditation should be done until one is firm on the knowledge that the world is an illusion in all the transactions in the life.
e. There is no role for any teacher in this step. The entire effort is on the part of the student.
f. The ego is completely surrendered and the mind sees the truth that the life goes on according to God's will. There is no difference between free will and god's will if the ego is completely surrendered. There is no role for mind in living life. Prior to completing this step, the mind was giving running commentary of life, which is the cause of all problems. One need not say, 'I am happy' in order to be happy. In fact when one is really happy, there are no thoughts.

When all these three steps are complete, one becomes a wise person.

The wise person sees everything with the right vision. He sees a living being and infers the Brahman as follows

1. Living being is a combination of the AEM, which is an inert object. It includes our body and mind complex. The reflection of consciousness in the mind gives sentiency to this inert object. This combination is assumed as the living being or the ego. By rejecting this as an illusion, the wise person sees Brahman as consciousness.
2. Since the living being is always changing and the observing consciousness, the Brahman has to be changeless.
3. Living being is mortal and Brahman is eternal. Therefore, the Atman is immortal.
4. Living being appears to be the doer of all the actions. Actions are part of the illusion. By nature, the AEM is ever changing. All the actions perceived by us are part of this illusion and are not done by us.
5. The non-existing ego assumes the role of the enjoyer. The Brahman remains unaffected by the changes (both actions and results are part of the actions) since they are all part of the illusion

Thus, after completing Jnana Yoga, one knows himself to be ever witnessing joy. He merges with Brahman and do not return to the illusion. There is nowhere to go since one has reached the destination. Life will be joyful thereafter.

This knowledge can be gained only those whose minds are well prepared through Karma Yoga and Upasana Yoga. Since most people lack these practices, Jnana Yoga appears to be difficult. Even if they pursue Jnana Yoga with sincerity, they will not gain the knowledge until their minds are matured.

Chapter 15: Jnana Yoga [Verses: 06 - 11]

15.6 That abode of Mine is not illumined by the sun or moon, nor by the fire. One who reaches it never returns to this world.

15.7 The living entities in this world are My reflections. Due to conditioned life, they are struggling very hard with the six senses, which include the mind.

15.8 The living entity caries the six senses from one body to another as the air carries aromas.

15.9 The living entity, thus taking another gross body, experiences the sense-objects using the ear, the skin, the eye, the tongue, the nose and the mind brought from the previous life.

15.10 The deluded people do not understand how a living entity can quit his body, nor can they understand what sort of body he enjoys under the spell of the three elements (AEM). Those whose eyes are trained in knowledge can see all this.

15.11 The (Jnana) yogis, who are situated in self-realization, can see all this clearly. But those whose minds are not matured do not find Him, though they may try to.

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