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Man Mind & Matter- The Idea of Self and Consciousness in Upanishads

The Section of blog looks at mind and consciousness from the perspective actuality. Spiritualism and allied subjects are being talked by many Gurus, Philosophers, and Sanyasis through multiple scriptures. 

In today’s time availability of real meaning is very rare. Over a period of time the significances of ancients scriptures are miss-interpreted or distorted. Most of available forms are distorted or supplied in transactional form.  

This section of this blog divided in to three categories “Journey Within” “Man Mind & Matter” & “Self Actualization” (Spiritualism) . The term “Self Actualization” intentionally used to provide a neutral and free understanding replacing the distorted version “Self Realization”. Will be explaining in upcoming posts more about it. At the end of this post also explained how the information being collected while travelling. 

For initial few posts will be trying to describe various concepts according to scriptures and gradually shift towards writing experience & knowledge gained while travelling. Will also publish interaction with some of Yogis met during Greater Himalayan Expedition. 

Today will be discussing The Idea of Self and Consciousness in Upanishads. Before reading further humble request to keep your prior ideas, explanation , theories aside and start looking it as fresh with total awareness as being essential for a free mind. 

Idea of Self and Consciousness in Upanishads:

The idea behind Advaita Vedanta is the belief in non-duality of the Ultimate Reality. Here in Advaita Vedanta , Ultimate Reality refers to “Self” itself. The idea of self is quite central to the philosophy of Advaita Vedanta . This idea was mainly popularised by Adi Shankaracharya. The core idea of Advaita Vedanta is “Atman is Brahaman”. Here the Atman is considered as Self or Brahamana, which means “All soul” or the Universal Consciousness. Shankarachrya traces the beginning of the idea right from the idea of Absolute or Brahaman. Here the self is not part of the absolute or the brahamana, rather it is the Brahmana in itself. Thus the absolute nature of Self is the Supreme Brahmana.

The idea of self was quite central to the Upanishads era sages, who made it central to their discussion. According to the Advaita Vedanta, Self is the only real thing and apart from self, everything else enjoys an apparent reality, having no independent existence of its own. It can be explained by taking the example of water and the waves, where the waves and the ocean is just the apparent reality, where water alone is real. In the same way the forms in universe have only an apparent reality, self alone is real. 

There are three different concepts of Atman or the Self. In the first place it is used to mean the Ultimate Reality. In the first place it is used to mean the essence of a thing or phenomena or all that is, as without it nothing can exist. Thirdly it is used to mean the Self of a person and in this sense it means that it is the essential nature or reality of man. All the three ideas of Atman have their own respective importance. The term Atman, refers to all these three and its use is direct and primarily in all three senses. In the first sense, it means the ultimate reality. According to the Advaita vedanta. Reality cannot be two, as anything implies division, contradiction negation or conditionality fails the test of Supreme Consciousness, whose nature is eternal and of unconditional oneness and individuality. In case the Brahman and the Atman are different from each other, it means that one of them is not real or dependent or imperfect or incomplete or mutable or divided, while none of these can describe in true sense the idea of Brahanan, who is a negotiation of all of these. If the Atman and the self is considered as Ultimate reality, it refers to what was there in the beginning or before the manifestation of Atman into all. It means the one without a second. 

The idea behind second sense is that there must be something or phenomena of which something can be their essence. In case there is nothing apart from the Atman, then it cannot become other than Atman of which it can be the essence. When Atman is used to mean the self of a person then it means the essential nature of the man. 

When describing Atman, Shankaracharya says that Atman is self-evident or Swataha Siddha, as it is not proven by the extraneous proofs. Moreover it is impossible to deny Atman, because it is the very essence of the one who denies it. It is said that the Atman or the Self is the basis of all knowledge, presuppositions, and proofs. To put it in a much more clear way, “Self is within, Self is without, Self is before, Self is behind, Self is on the right, Self is on the left, Self is above, Self is below”. Sanakaracharya further states that the Ultimate Reality, which can also be called as Brahaman, mainly because of its all- pervasive and omnipresent character, and as Atman, because of its being of fundamental essence of early living being is one, which does not have a second. Shankarcharya concludes that the identity of a person gets completed between the Atman and the Brahamana. 

Adding to this idea Vacaspati Mishra says that Self alone is called Brahanan, because it is great and it is the cause of the growth. Even though this self is indubitable, non-erroneous and immediate experience of the nature of “I” as distinct from the body, the organs, the mind, the intellect, their objects from whatever might be designated by the term “this”. 

The Self is not an object of desire to know, “it is this I or not I?”. The Self being of the nature of the essential reality of one’s being, it is called Atman, which can never be an object by itself and it is always the subject. The subject- object distinction is made through a methodological process that puts the ‘seer’ apart from ‘seen’ in any given experience. This methodology is based on the logic that the subject cannot be an object, I.e the interpretor cannot be the interpreted. Therefore this analysis results in recognition of the inner most non-objectifiable subject of experience, which is the Self. 

According to Vacaspati it is beyond doubt, misapprehension, imagination though it illuminates them all, when pertaining to the non- self world. Atman is the character of self- manifestation. The relation between the gross and subtle bodies that the Atman seems to have, are not real, but otherwise in the ultimate sense of the world. Being the very essential truth of being both subjective and objective, Atman naturally transcends the categories of the desirable and the undesirable. Thus  according to Vacaspati, the Atman naturally transcends the categories of the desirable and undesirable. Thus according to Vacaspati, the Atman or the Self is beyond the range of injunction   and prohibition, whatever authoritative or ordinary. He also says that, “The Self varies not, nor changes in the midst of things that vary or change and it is different from them.”

While giving remark on the idea of Vacaspati, Radhakrishnan commented that the Pure Self or the Atman seems to be unaffected by the flotsam and jetsam of ideas which rise and vanish with particular moods. It is unaffected spectator of the whole drama of ideas related to the changing moods of waking, dreaming and sleeping. 


Self As Consciousness:

Atman is the Self, the centre of consciousness, which is indestructible, which can never be born or dead. The consciousness is a very important factor that forms the  nature of self, as without consciousness nothing is known or experienced or the whole enquiry would not be possible. Consciousness is considered as existence and bliss, mainly because they are  incomprehensible and meaningless.

When Vacaspati talks about consciousness of the Self says, “No one doubts am I?” The self affirmation “I am” comes before everything else stands above and beyond all arguments. No proof can make it stronger; again no disproof found them on “I am”, the unanalysable  feeling of mere Existence, of which nothing can be predicted except increase and diminution. 

The consciousness is the right at the core of subjectivity. In fact without consciousness, there is no subjectivity. It is constant in all experience. It is that factor through, which one is aware of the ever-changing emotions, moods, thoughts, perceptions and it is the consciousness thread that strings these experiences together under the rubric of a single self that varied experiences. 

When we associate self with pure consciousness, then it means that it is metaphysical, trans personal and beyond the ego consciousness. “From pure consciousness, which is the nature of absolute bliss, all beings arise, by it they sustained, and to it they render in death.” Those of us who possess ordinary human consciousness, however only the worldly appearance of names and forms is manifested to the mind and senses. In ignorance, we see the objects of absolute bliss, all beings arise, by it they sustained, and to it they render in death. For those of us who have ordinary human consciousness, however, just the worldly appearance of names and forms is manifested to the minds and senses. In ignorance, we see the objects of the empirical world, not Brahaman or Self. Consciousness does not need another consciousness to illuminate it, just as the sun does not need a second source of light in order to show its real nature. Consciousness is neither an object of perception nor an object of the world that can be defined by the words that used to differentiate one object from another. The self is the absolute consciousness, then by this it means that the self is different from ignorance, because consciousness can never be of the nature of ignorance.  

When talking about Self, the Gita says: “The self is neither born, nor dies, nor having existed it ceases to be. It is unborn, eternal, everlasting and ancient. It is not killed when the body is stain”. It is considered that Self has all these changes, when they have to experience by some other consciousness, which lead infinite regress. The ultimate experiencing consciousness is Self. This Absolute self- luminous, non dual, independent consciousness which is the sole Being. 


India On Road, under this section will be brining understanding & some of the actual interpretation of various texts collected by The Mystic Rider while travelling All India on Motorcycle for 1000+ Days. These information and articles are derived from available original scriptures like Palm Leaf Scripts, Stone Writings, and various similar sources. The Mystic Rider while traveling All India all 28 States & 9UTs covered around 150000+KM and visited many ancient temples, ashrams, math and tried to collect information on its original forms. While traveling in Grater Himalayan Range, he also fortunate to meet few Yogis (Monks) on tapashya (Meditation) in temperature way below zero degree, since years. With blessings of these Yogis who protecting the truh for millions of years, the rider developed his strength to collect and put some of the real information this section of blog.

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