You Are Awareness/Brahman: Dialogue with a Teenage Girl & Women in Vedanta

For only when knowledge is firmly grasped, it conduces to one’s own good and is capable of transmission, This transmission of knowledge is helpful to people, like a boat to one who wants to cross a river, The scriptures too say “Although one may give to the teacher this world surrounded by oceans and full of riches, this knowledge is even greater than that.”

Upadeshasahasri by Shankara, Verse 3

Preface

Having gone through the previous page, a reader may have got a general sense of what is Advaita Vedanta, the method Self Inquiry in this school, and may have also gleaned the fact that liberation in this school is direct knowledge of the ultimate reality called Brahman. One would have also got some idea of how women have featured in this tradition, which is so heavily based on dialogue and scriptures. In fact one of the meaning of the word Upanishads (from upa “by” and ni-ṣad “sit down”) translates to “sitting down near”, referring to the student sitting down near the teacher while receiving spiritual knowledge. Another meaning of the word is “setting to rest ignorance by revealing the knowledge of the supreme spirit” (Monier-Williams, A Sanskrit-English Dictionary). This is in stark contrast to other schools where meditation or worship or chanting are the methods for libersation.

One can witness the same three thousand years old process of dialogue and instruction being followed in the Facebook NEEV Psycho-Philosophy Group. Though it is a modern take, in the sense that dialogues occur online instead of the forest, and in English instead of Sanskrit. So the word Awareness is utilized more than the older word Brahman in the dialogue with my student Tannupriya, which I am presenting here.

After the dialogue Tannupriya encapsulates her understanding in her Journal next day, which I have posted as the conclusion of this article. This is a big jump in her understanding of life. The skeleton of Advaita Vedanta has been completed for her. With further living, pondering, questioning and dialogue, (if she continues on this path) the rest of body will be created, till it becomes a living reality of direct knowledge operating in her.

The dialogue I had with her is based on one of the most potent teachings of Advaita Vedanta based on Mandukya Upanishad. It is called examination of the three states of deep sleep, dream sleep and waking state (avastha traya). I have written about it in detail in my article Turiya : The Fourth State of Consciousness & End of Suffering

Tannupriya’s Journal: 13/8/2020

I chose this topic because for many days, I am seeing many posts coming of a man who is talking to a spirit. Is it something true?! I don’t know what happens after death but there is something mysterious which is unknown. That will be only known after death and I wouldn’t be back to my life again. It’s a one time process which happens and ends. I literally want to know that this talking to spirit is actually a real thing or its fake! I have a lot of questions in my mind regarding death. If the soul is immortal then where does it go? Can a soul or a spirit see people living around? Does the spirit gain powers after death? Several questions like this. Death is a topic which I will keep writing again and again to explore more of my views and thoughts about death.

Dialogue With Tannupriya on Awareness/Brahman

Tannupriya: Hello Sir !

Anurag: Hello Tannupriya

Tannupriya: Sir I wanted to ask you that when we sleep we always have a dream; So, is it our spirit who acts in our dreams?

Anurag: Spirit is formless. It never acts. It is the screen on which everything is happening. The Spirit is the Witness/Awareness of all that is happening in your mind/body/intellect in all three states of dreaming, sleeping and waking.

Tannupriya: Sir, dream always comes as something very unique.

Anurag: There is nothing unique in a dream. It is the same as the waking state. Just that time and space behave differently. But the waking state and dream state are identical in all other respects.

Tannupriya: It means that all the states are alike.

Anurag: All states are changing appearances on Awareness. Sleep state is closest to Awareness. Notice that there are no forms or action in deep sleep state.

Tannupriya: Yes sir. There is no action in deep sleep.

Anurag: So all action and forms are illusory…not real. Because they come to an end in the sleep state. A real thing never comes to an end.

Tannupriya: Yes sir. It happens.

Anurag: What?

Tannupriya: It happens that when we wake up the images or dream comes to an end and sometimes we forget it as we try to remember it.

Anurag: Yes. So all forms are unreal. Only Awareness, which is formless is real. Notice that you are aware that you slept (even though you saw nothing). That awareness is Soul/Spirit/Brahman. This awareness is the only thing that is present in all three states. In waking and dream state it is aware of forms whereas in sleep state, it is aware of no-forms.

Tannupriya: Ok sir. Sir, is it this way that we sleep and dream nothing.

Anurag: From the absolute reality of Awareness, nothing is ever happening 🙂 It’s like a movie playing on a screen. Nothing ever happens to the screen.

Tannupriya: So, the awareness which is the spirit remains the same and the states changes?

Anurag: Absolutely Tannupriya 🙂

Tannupriya: But sir. How can death be a sleep? We cannot come back from death but we come back from sleep.

Anurag: You come back again, in a different body.

Tannupriya: Does it happen exactly at the same time as of death? Do we become alive at the same time we die?

Anurag: In sleep do you have any knowledge of time? Time and Space are born after you get up from sleep 🙂

Tannupriya: It means when we are alive we are in action in a form of such body and when we are dead, it is nothing but an awareness which is going?

Anurag: Awareness is always there. Your body lives and dies 🙂 You are this Awareness in reality.

Tannupriya: Sir, you are saying that we are aware even in death or when alive. So, what is the difference in death and life ?!

Anurag: To Awareness there is no difference. It is immortal 🙂 That is why you are actually immortal in reality.

Tannupriya: Sir, then nothing changes when we die or born.

Anurag: No, as long as you know yourself as formless, immortal Awareness and see from this knowledge.

Tannupriya: When we think ourself as a form, is there awareness?

Anurag: Are you not aware of your thoughts and form?

Tannupriya: Yes, I am aware of my thoughts as well as form.

Anurag: Then, that is YOU: Awareness

Tannupriya: Ok sir.

Anurag: Great !

Conclusion: Tannupriya’s Journal: 20/8/2020

Today while having a dialogue with sir on the topic of death, I understood that awareness is nor an object neither any form. It is formless; awareness is you – yourself. We are the soul which is formless and it is awareness.

When we are alive, we are in a state of body, mind and intellect. When we are in a state of sleep, we are the same as dead because no actions and no forms exist here. Sleep is death. When you sleep, in that state you are out of any actions.

When we are awake we are in a state of actions. But still, there is an awareness and that is the spirit which is always present there in you.

9 thoughts on “You Are Awareness/Brahman: Dialogue with a Teenage Girl & Women in Vedanta

  1. Wow! Clear, lucid exposition in this article about extraordinary personalities. But one comment: Advaita Vedanta isn’t Purva Mimamsa but Uttara Mimansa. You might’ve gotten the terms reversed in the article. And why are you using Wikipedia as a source (Western scholars are the major dominant force there, so people might find it harder to believe Shankaracharya was really 12 yrs old when he wrote the commentaries etc.) Is it just a part-post for members of the study group? Or scholarly information?

    Like

    1. Thank you for your comment and words of appreciation. Thank you also for pointing out the Purva and Uttara Mimamsa error. I was totally oblivious of it. I shall edit it.

      I am usually very meticulous about my information, spending hours and hours cross checking data from multiple authorities. I don’t consider Wikipedia to be the source of information. I consider the references cited in Wikipedia to be the source of information.

      Well, that Shankara wrote his commentaries between the ages of 12 and 16 is what you shall find mentioned in all sources. It is not unlikely considering he died in the young age of 32 and taken sannyasa at the age of eight.

      I don’t see any problems with Western scholars. Many of them have done extraordinary scholarly work in Advaita. Though again I read a wide variety of sources for information. For exegesis of his works I go by Swami Satchidanandendra Saraswati’s work mostly, followed by Swami Paramarthananda and Swami Dayananda Saraswati.

      While I may speak very confidently about exegesis of Shankara’s work, I cannot claim that there cannot be variations in historical data I present. Indian history is notorious for lack of proper documentation and even scholars have a hard time reaching consensus on most data and dates. Thus I usually tend to give the sources which I have referred to in my article.

      This article was meant for the wider audience, not just for the study group.

      Like

      1. Thanks! I do love your deep inquiries on the blogs. I have to burning questions to ask for my spiritual path: Is brahmacharya (sexual abstinence) necessary for continuing effectively? Meditation has enhanced my mental focus and clarity, but as Swami Vivekananda said, a concentrated but impure mind is more dangerous than a scattered and pure mind. With the mental focus, while focusing on learning and meditation is good but I have problems stopping or dealing with strange sexual fantasies that start flowing into mind automatically, and am confused that (though I am able to suppress them a lot) suppression is not good and if I allow them to flow it just flows and … well that’s the problem. Should I allow it to happen and sexuality and everything to happen until it somehow runs out and lets me focus on the path?

        Second question is more personal. I’ve heard that Jnanis come to path because they see the suffering of themselves as well as others and once they are enlightened do their best to enlighten others too while in their body. (Swami Vivekananda’s writings?) So you being self realized, you frequently state that you “dont want to be entangled in organizations” and just help people who themselves come to you and ask for help. So sometimes it can imply that you are somehow averse to worldliness (and aversion supposedly gets destroyed with knowledge?) and not selfless enough to let your body mind (your body mind would be the one averse yes? Because you are witness.) run its course and even so go ahead and propagate your teachings. You say you get angry and fight with wrongdoing. But if you declare yourself enlightened and gather a following like all the dhongi gurus but spread your real teachings, would it not be just as worthwhile (a necessary evil?) as you getting angry and knowing You are not angry…for the same reason you steer clear of organizations etc. Am I making sense?

        Please clarify these.

        Like

      2. Hello Brahmachari

        I had told you to read all my articles because they would help you in getting a strong philosophical grounding for the questions you have raised and also help me in keeping the answers to your questions short. I am answering your questions now, assuming you have read the articles I had told you to read.

        Brahmachari: Is brahmacharya (sexual abstinence) necessary for continuing effectively?

        Anurag: Was Krishna a Brahmacharya? The path of liberation in Advaita is open both to householders and monks. The Upanishads has mentions of many householder jnanis like

        1. Sage Yajnavalkya was a Jnani who is a preeminent Acharya
        of Brahmavidya in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad. His two
        wives were: Kaatyaayini and Maitreyi.
        2. King Janaka as a famed householder
        3. Varuna was the Jnani-father of Bhrugu who was instructed
        into Brahmavidya in the Taittiriya Upanishad
        4. Sage Uddalaka was the Jnani-father of Shvetaketu in the
        Chandogya Upanishad
        5. Some Upanishads declare the fruit of Brahmavidya as
        (also) – ‘In his, this Jnani’s, lineage, kula, there will be no
        one who is not a Jnani’ [nAsya kule abrahmavit bhavati’]
        This shows that the Jnani will be / can be a father.

        Shankaracharya, being a monk and while strongly advocating monasticism treats these personalities of the Upanishads as ‘real’ and not imaginary. There is ample evidence for this treatment by him in his bhashyas.

        Brahmachari: Meditation has enhanced my mental focus and clarity, but as Swami Vivekananda said, a concentrated but impure mind is more dangerous than a scattered and pure mind.

        Anurag: Meditation is only a secondary means to self-realization and not the ultimate means in Advaita of Shankara. The ultimate means is Self Knowledge through Jnana Yoga. Meditation is a means in the Yoga School of Patanjali. The two paths are different. Swami Vivekananda mixed these two paths. I almost never do formal meditation. In Advaita we have something called Asparsha Yoga as described by Gaudapada.

        Brahmachari: With the mental focus, while focusing on learning and meditation is good but I have problems stopping or dealing with strange sexual fantasies that start flowing into mind automatically, and am confused that (though I am able to suppress them a lot) suppression is not good and if I allow them to flow it just flows and … well that’s the problem. Should I allow it to happen and sexuality and everything to happen until it somehow runs out and lets me focus on the path?

        Anurag: There is no “one size fits all” solution. Since I have clarified to you that even householders can become Jnanis, you can decide to marry. All depends upon your particular mental and emotional make-up. The Upanishads had the four stages of life scheme – Brahmacharya, Grihastha, Vanaprastha and Sannyasa – designed for intelligent exhaustion of vasanas. Like any schemes, however, one can take it elastically, not as a rigid rule to be followed. Some may follow it rigidly. It depends. Vasanas can be exhausted through Karma Yoga in a dharmic way by a householder. As Krishna said in BG 7.11:

        “O best of the Bharatas, in strong persons, I am their strength devoid of desire and passion. I am sexual activity not conflicting with virtue or scriptural injunctions.”

        In case you would like to take up Brahmacharya, it should be your svabhava, an inner nature. In this case, the struggle will not be “too much”. But if this is not your svabhava your vasanas will keep propelling you to fruition. In this case, it would be a wiser decision for you to marry. As Gita says in verse 3:35

        “It is far better to perform one’s natural prescribed duty, though tinged with faults, than to perform another’s prescribed duty, though perfectly. In fact, it is preferable to die in the discharge of one’s duty, than to follow the path of another, which is fraught with danger.”

        So you need to intelligently decide for yourself whether the path of Brahmacharya or the path of Grihastha is suitable for you. Both lead to Jnana. I chose the path of Grishastha. But I communicated to my partner that my path is that of Moksha. There was a mutual agreement on this.

        Brahmachari: Second question is more personal. I’ve heard that Jnanis come to path because they see the suffering of themselves as well as others and once they are enlightened do their best to enlighten others too while in their body. (Swami Vivekananda’s writings?) So you being self realized, you frequently state that you “dont want to be entangled in organizations” and just help people who themselves come to you and ask for help.

        Anurag: Yes, the above is true. I did social work for a decade and found that the root problem in the world is avidya. Till that is not resolved, the suffering of the world cannot be solved. I do not want to be entangled in organizations any longer because I want to help people with self inquiry rather than work for expanding my organization. I am not averse to it growing organically. As I write, gradually the number of people seeking my help and studying and assimilating Advaita through Jnana Yoga is slowly increasing. But my focus is not on numbers. My attempt is that I am genuinely able to help every individual. I have not stopped NEEV Centre for Self Inquiry. In fact it is slowly taking shape now organically.

        Brahmachari: So sometimes it can imply that you are somehow averse to worldliness (and aversion supposedly gets destroyed with knowledge?) and not selfless enough to let your body mind (your body mind would be the one averse yes? Because you are witness.) run its course and even so go ahead and propagate your teachings.

        Anurag: As you know that there are two realities here: Jnani as Self and Jnani as phenomenal self. The phenomenal Jnani keeps changing. For instance Ramana Maharshi got realization at an early age but for the next seventeen years or more he would be engaged in meditation/samadhi in Virupaksha Caves. After that one day he made himself available for people. A jnani goes through a long phase of stabilization and exhaustion of vasanas. Thus each Jnani lives differently from another Jnani on the basis of their vasanas. Some live active lives, some withdrawn, some teach, some don’t. And all these can also keep changing as one continues living. At present I feel the need to remain relatively silent and finish off with my residual afflictive vasanas, making myself available in a limited way. This may change in future depending upon the vasanas.

        Brahmachari: You say you get angry and fight with wrongdoing. But if you declare yourself enlightened and gather a following like all the dhongi gurus but spread your real teachings, would it not be just as worthwhile (a necessary evil?) as you getting angry and knowing You are not angry…for the same reason you steer clear of organizations etc. Am I making sense?

        Anurag: My anger has got nothing to do with organizations. All that is well past now. Neither do I need to protect myself from getting angry because I don’t get angry with external situations now. THe anger I talked about had to do with my wife majorly because of my vasanas and prarabdha karma internally and our specific relationship issues externally. The most intimate relationships bring out the deepest vasanas to the fore.

        All this has got cleared now. Though all that I had to pass through was earth shattering in a phenomenal sense. It was only due to Self Knowledge that I could bear the impact. I wrote about how I enetertained thoughts of suicide in this phase in my article: “How Does A Jnani Person Deal With the Negative Impacts of the World: Part 1/2 – Titiksha” here https://neevselfinquiry.in/2020/11/16/how-does-a-jnani-person-deal-with-the-negative-impacts-of-the-world-part-1-2-titiksha/

        Hope my answers have settled all your doubts. In case you have further doubts please let me know.

        Warm wishes,
        Anurag

        Like

  2. Thanks for your comment and your questions. I shall definitely answer your questions in detail. Meanwhile I would like you to read my three part article series on “Prarabdha Karma After Self Realization” starting from here: https://neevselfinquiry.in/2020/09/24/prarabdha-karma-after-self-realization-its-philosophy-part-1-3/

    Do write back to me after you read them and reframe or ask your questions again if they still remain.

    In case you would like to join our Advaita Study Group to discuss these questions, please let me know.

    Lastly Swami Vivekananda did not teach Shankara Advaita. He actually taught a version, which I call Yoga-Advaita. In Shankara Advaita samadhi is not the means to enlightenment.

    Like

    1. Thank you very much! Yes, I shall read “Prarabdha Karma After Self Realization” again (I already read it once before, but more deeply now).

      Like

      1. Hello Brahmachari,

        I hope you have gone through the three articles I mentioned. Please do not skip reading article 3, as it contains the answers to many of your questions. I forgot to add that my article “How Does A Jnani Person Deal With the Negative Impacts of the World: Part 1/2 – Titiksha” here https://neevselfinquiry.in/2020/11/16/how-does-a-jnani-person-deal-with-the-negative-impacts-of-the-world-part-1-2-titiksha/
        shall provide further understanding.

        Please do not hesitate to ask your questions if after reading these articles, any of your doubts remain.

        Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s