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No descriptions or sequences really apply to the Truth || Acharya Prashant, on Raman Maharshi (2019)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
10 min
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“How do the triple factors, that is – the knower, the known, and knowledge, which are absent in deep sleep, Samadhi, etc., manifest themselves in the self, in the state of waking and dreaming?”

Sri Raman Maharshi:

“From the Self there arise in succession:

(i) Chidabhasa (reflected consciousness), which is a kind of luminosity.

(ii) Jiva (the individual consciousness) or the seer or the first concept.

(iii) Phenomena, that is the world.”

Question: How do the knower, known, and knowledge that are absent in deep sleep, arise in the waking state and in the dreaming state. After all they don’t really exist. From where do they come? This triad of Gyaan-Gyaata-Gyeya (Knowledge-Knower-Known) from where do they come?

Acharya Prashant(AP): (Repeating the question) How do the knower, known, and knowledge that are absent in deep sleep, arise in the waking state and in the dreaming state. After all they don’t really exist. From where do they come? This triad of Gyaan-Gyaata-Gyeya (Knowledge-Knower-Known), from where do they come?

Ramana Maharshi says, “They come in a succession.” What’s a succession? First of all comes the Chidabhasa , which is reflected consciousness. Maharshi calls it a kind of luminosity. Secondly, the Jiva, the individual consciousness, which is the seer or the first concept; the one that stands at the center of all perception, all illusion. Then, phenomena, which is the world.

It’s a sequence that is being described here.

How does it happen that from nothingness, so much suddenly appears? You were in deep sleep, and there was absolutely nothing. And then you find that you are there, and the entire world is there. How does it happen? Maharshi is putting that in words, giving some kind of a sequential framework.

Then the second statement from Maharshi is:

“Just as the lamp illumines the lens, etc., while remaining unaffected, the Self illumines the ego (Chidabhasa), etc., while itself remaining unaffected.”

Question(contd.): When we are presented with various descriptions about self, and how from self everything springs up, typical tendency of the mind is to create a mental concept about the self – which is not in one’s own experience – and reach a conclusion about who am I.

AP: Yes, nice.

Question(contd.): As I understand that, this question has no answer, just the questioner has to ultimately vanish. Please help me understand how this tendency of the mind to conceptualize, can be overcome. How these descriptions about Self or Brahma should really be used in the Gyaan maarg (Path of realisation)?

AP: You see, it is because the mind is in perpetual appetite for concepts, sometimes concepts have to be fed to it. If you will ask Raman Maharshi, “Does it really happen this way?,” he will say, “The way it happens is not available to description.”

But look at your question. If you will ask me this question, then I have only two options – either to keep mum, totally silent, which is the best response to your question; best, but not useful, because you will not be able to know my Silence. My Silence is an alien thing to you.

Raman Maharshi puts so much value on Silence, and yet you see he has spoken so much. In some sense, he was made to speak this much, because his Silence, in spite of containing everything, being very eloquent, was incomprehensible to us.

Actually, only Silence can comprehend Silence, and therefore Silence has no need to comprehend anything. Therefore, Silence will not be usually effective as a tool of communication. In special cases it would be, usually it would not be.

So Raman Maharshi has to speak. Therefore, he has presented this sequential order. What is he saying? He is saying, “So you are deeply asleep, and there is nothing. There is just a blissful emptiness – sushupti . You are in the Aanandmay Kosh , the zone of unmitigated bliss. That’s sushupti .”

And then somebody comes and just shakes you up a bit and, maybe slaps you, and then the world returns. How has the world returned? Maharshi says, “First of all, there is a general illumination, in which nothing is there except the illumination. You do not know whether the world is, or whether you are. And then you come. And then the world comes.” That’s the sequence.

The fact is Maharshi is telling stories to kid a kid. It’s almost like you have in the movies, you know. Have you seen the sequence in movies? It’s a very familiar sequence. The fellow is unconscious, and then he very gradually opens his eyes. And what’s there in the frame now? Hazy light, nebulous frame in which nothing is particularly clear. This, the Maharshi is calling as ‘general illumination’.

First of all this comes, as they show in the movies. So the frame has become illumined. And then, the camera moves to the face, the eyes of the fellow. And he is opening his eyes, and he is becoming self-conscious; self-conscious. And then he rolls his eyes. And now in that wake, illumined, nebulous frame, objects start appearing in a blurred way. Somebody’s face appears, very blurred face. And there is (making buzzing sound) hummn…hummn…hummn…as if the camera is not able to properly focus. The sounds are there, but sounds are not clear. It’s as if a 150 rpm record is being played at 60 rpm – an incoherent mixture of sounds.

Those of you who enjoy Saturday night parties know what I am talking of, right? I am just describing your state when you wake up on Sunday afternoon… hummn…hummn…hummn…That’s what Raman Maharshi has described in a more sophisticated way.

First of all there is just general illumination, you feel something is there, some light. Then self-consciousness returns – “Okay, I’m there.” And then gradually the world also returns. That’s all that is being said here. Get it?

Question(contd.): Quoting Raman Maharshi again,

“Just as the lamp illumines the lens, etc., while remaining unaffected, the Self illumines the ego (Chidabhasa), etc., while itself remaining unaffected.”

~ Sri Raman Maharshi

You know all this is there, and my mind quickly turns it into a framework, a concept. How do I avoid this tendency?

AP: Avoid this tendency by seeing that this is a tendency; this is a tendency, not the Truth. We tend to do this with the Truth. We know that we do this, so we better be cautious of ourselves.

That’s the thing about tendency – it comes to you forewarned. It comes to you not as a surprise, but with a forewarning. You know how you are, don’t you? Then how dare you trust yourself?

Tendency has this great limitation. It is stubborn, very strong; it does not change. And that’s how you can detect it – it does not change. It is the same today, as it was yesterday. Then why entertain foolish hopes?

The mistake you committed yesterday, is bound to be repeated today. So it’s easy to avoid becoming a prey to tendencies. Tendencies don’t change.

But man is special. We fall in the same hole twenty times one after the other. Tendency laughs. The twenty first time the tendency itself comes and tells you, “You know, I am tendency. And I warn you that you’ll be falling in the hole. And I’ll tell you, in spite of the warning, you would still be falling in the hole.”

And you go ahead and fall.

Has there ever been a new mistake? How funny! That which piques you today, is it not the same thing that brought you down five years back? The names, forms change. Faces change, situations change. Has the tendency changed? The place where you fell, the time of the fall, the apparent reason of the fall, all these have changed. But has the tendency to fall changed?

That’s the thing with tendency.

It’s almost like playing an open hand. Such a confident player is she; she does not hide her cards. She says, “Here, this is what I have, this is what I have, this is what I have.” No. And you will still lose. We very well know how we are, and we still trust ourselves. We are still confident of ourselves.

Remember – that’s the advice.

Remember – not God, remember – her (the tendency, maya ).

God is not an object to be remembered. It’s foolish to remember God. Remembrance of maya is what is meant by remembering God. God is not an object to be remembered; God is remembrance itself. If you can constantly remember how foolish you are – that’s Godliness.

You don’t have to remember the greatness of God. The greatness of God is immeasurable, unthinkable, inconceivable. You don’t even have to bother going into it. Don’t try to remember this and that, and stuff about heaven, and God did this, God did that.

Kiddish! God never does anything. Just remember who we are. And it’s easy to remember, because we remain the same. It won’t tax your intelligence to remember who you are, it won’t even tax your memory. It’s obvious.

Therefore, if there is one trait that is like poison to the lover of Truth, it is confidence. Nothing brings you down like confidence. The day you start feeling assured of something, is the day you have lost it.

And the worst assuredness is called either ‘self-assuredness’ or ‘assuredness about Truth, or God’.

The True lover of Truth has to be an unrelenting skeptic. He has to be uncompromisingly ruthless. What is it that he must be skeptical of? Everything, everything that comes from him. If his God comes from him, then he must be skeptical even of his God, because it’s not God you are talking of, it’s ‘your’ God you are talking of. Your God is ‘your’ creation, be very-very cynical of him. That’s the one trait that characterizes the true seeker – a total absence of confidence. He keeps asking, probing, and never concludes. He never stops at something.

He never says, “I have found a center. I have found a destination.” He never says, “The end has arrived, so I can conclude.”

Conclusion means ending, right?

He never ends.

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