POINTS FOR UNDERSTANDING
Brahman is eternal, formless, and all pervasive. Brahman is the essence of consciousness, pure Being-Awareness that makes all possible and in which all exist. Brahman is creative energy, the substratum of existence, and the source of all life, animate and inanimate. Brahman is both void and non-void, and neither void nor non-void. Brahman is both personal and impersonal, and neither personal nor impersonal. Brahman is one without a second, the Absolute Reality. Brahman is the Self within all living beings. Brahman cannot be perceived by sensual contact, but is realized within as Being-Awareness-Bliss (sat-cit-ānanda). These are not the qualities of Brahman, but are His nature. In other words, Brahman is Being-Awareness-Bliss.
The Human Condition
Human beings exert a great deal of time and effort in the pursuit of happiness. This is not just to satisfy their needs for food and shelter, but to satisfy their desires for wealth, power, love, sensual gratification, etc. However, all objects, mental and physical, are transient, they have a beginning and an end and are subject to change. In fact, the human condition itself is transient, being subject to birth, growth, sickness, old age, and, ultimately, death. Therefore, objects and objective experience cannot provide lasting happiness. As soon as one obtains the object of their desire, things change and, pretty soon, they have a new set of desires to fulfill. Human life then becomes the pursuit of endless desires leading to frustration and misery. The only remedy for this condition is to abandon the pursuit of fleeting, objective happiness and realize your oneness with Brahman, the nature of bliss.
The world and its contents are objects of consciousness. They are manifested in the mind. As such, they are no more or less real than objects in a dream. The difference between the dream and wakeful states is time, dreams are short and wakeful “reality” is seemingly without end. Another difference is that dreams are creations of an individual mind, while the objective world is the creation of the universal mind.
Consciousness is the nature of Reality. All that is, exists in consciousness. Nothing exists outside of consciousness. Without consciousness objects are not manifested, they effectively do not exist. In deep sleep, where one is unconscious of mind, body, and world, there are no objects; the objective world ceases to be. In the waking state, the world appears, and everyone is conscious of the same objective world. We all see the same trees, sky, buildings, etc. We all hear the same sounds; smell the same odors, etc. That is because we all share the same consciousness, which manifests the objective world. And since our consciousness is not an individual consciousness, but a shared consciousness, then our true Self, pure awareness that makes consciousness possible, is not our own individual self, but the one Absolute Self, Brahman.
The body, ego, intellect, mind, feelings, all things that make up the person are objects of consciousness and are, therefore, unreal. (They are unreal in the absolute sense, that is, they are impermanent, constantly changing, and therefore, insubstantial.) When these components are analyzed, one by one, it becomes evident that they are not one’s real self. Liberation from identifying the unreal as self is awakening, enlightenment, or Self-realization. The mind should be watched closely and all habitual thoughts, stories, memories, etc. that nurture the person should be identified and avoided. Those thoughts usually portray the person as the hero or the victim.
Māyā And Mala
The Absolute becomes the limited through māyā and mala. Māyā is the power of delusion, by which the mind projects, on the One Brahman, an individual self, a diverse world, and a personal God. Mala is the power of limitation, by which the infinite will, knowledge, and freedom of Brahman become restricted. In order to experience His creation, the Absolute undergoes māyā and mala, and appears to be a limited individual existing in a world inhabited by other limited beings and diverse objects. Spiritual practice purifies the mind and allows the limited individual to realize their true nature as the Absolute, which they have always been.
When the aspirant is ready, True Self is revealed. This awakening has three phases. The first is Self-realization, which is the realization that one is not an individual person consisting of a body, mind, senses, etc., but pure consciousness. This realization can be expressed as “I am awareness.” The next phase of awakening is the realization of the oneness of Being. This realization can be expressed as “I am Brahman; Brahman is everything; I am everything.” The final phase of awakening is when the “I” vanishes. This can be expressed simply as “Brahman is.”
Śiva And Śakti
Śiva, the passive aspect of the Absolute is tempted by Śakti, the dynamic aspect of the Absolute with delightful sights, sounds, smells, tastes, sensations, and an inquisitive, imaginative mind. Śiva becomes completely enthralled with Śakti’s temptations, to the point of forgetting His own identity. However, Śakti’s pleasures come with a price: birth, pain, sickness, old age, and death. Seeking to escape these, Śiva searches for the truth about Himself and discovers that He is divine and that Śakti is the manifestation of His own creative energy. And so the two, Who were always one, live happily ever after. The moral of the story is that you should rediscover your True Self, because you are Śiva!
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