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856comments on Atma Bodha

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  • Ramon Sender
    Aug 3, 2002
      Some comments on
      ATMA BODHA by Adi Sankaracharya

      (apologies for the length, but it seems important to
      get this out.)

      Quote to ponder while reading this:
      "We are as gods and might as well get good at it."
      Stewart Brand - Whole Earth Catalog

      Although it is true that what Sankaracharya terms ‘this round
      of existence’ is like a dream that appears real as long as what
      he names ‘the individual Atman’ appears impure, we must after
      Realization re-affirm the dream world’s ‘solidity’ in order to
      help bring down the light into what Aurobindo terms
      ‘inconscient matter.’

      Some quotes from ‘Atma Bodha’ with commentary. I
      apologize for the length, but I feel the need to get this out to

      7. The world shines as "real" as long as the Father of Reality,
      the One, the non-dual basis of everything, is not known.

      Comment: When non-duality is understood, everything is
      experienced as patterns and vibrations of varying frequencies
      of primordial ‘stuff’ that we call on one level ‘light,’ on
      another level ‘consciousness,’ on another ‘matter’ and ‘flesh’
      and so forth.

      7. (cont.) But, this world is an illusion like silver in mother of

      Comment: Perhaps more a reflection in the Pool of All
      Possibilities of the solar world above?

      8. The Supreme Lord is the material cause, the universal
      substratum, of everything.

      Comment: Although this is no doubt true, let’s not leap to
      conclusion above and beyond our tiny capabilities, as mere
      atomic flecks in the eye of our solar parent. The only Supreme
      Lord with whom we are capable of union, in my humble
      opinion, is the Solar Logos (as named in Alice Bailey’s
      writings and elsewhere).

      8. (cont) All the worlds rise, exist, and dissolve in Him,
      passing away like bubbles in water.

      Comment: I would change the above to read, “All the planets
      and asteroids and comets in our System rise, exist and dissolve
      in Him, ultimately passing away like bubbles in His Pool of
      Possibilities.” Keep in mind that in Sankaracharya’s world
      view, ‘worlds’ may not yet have been sorted out into star
      charts, and distances measured, astronomically speaking.

      9. All of this manifest, manifold world is projected by the
      imagination of the perceiver onto the eternal omnipresent
      Sustaining Lord, just as bracelets and other ornaments are
      made of gold.

      Comment: I would prefer to state the above “is projected by
      the overwhelming light-love-consciouessness OF the eternal
      (to us) omnipresent (also to all solar system residents)
      Sustaining Lord SUN, just as bracelets, etc. are made of gold,
      LIGHT (to quote Ram Das).

      10. Like all-pervading space, the Master of the Senses, is
      mistakenly associated with various conditionings, and
      appears to be different because of that conditioning, but
      becomes one again on themdestruction of these conditionings.

      Comment: I’m unclear how the simile works -- all-pervading
      space = various conditionings. But the gist is of course that the
      ATMAN, the Solar Consciousness, assumes various
      “conditional” guises and roles in the individual planetary

      11. Only because of its association with different conditionings
      does birth, death, name and stage of life appear superimposed
      on the Atman, just as flavor, color, and so forth are
      superimposed on water.

      Comment: Right on.

      12. [description of the physical body as the medium for

      13. [description of the subtle body as the instrument of

      14. [description of the causal body as ‘unknowable, timeless,
      indescribable’] The Atman should be understood as other
      than the three bodies (physical, subtle, and causal.

      Comment: I would once again define the Atman as one and the
      same as the Solor Logos, residing in the heart of our star.

      15. When united with the five sheaths [of the food-body --the
      physical corpus, the vital body, the mental body, the
      intelligence body and the bliss-body (the Breath of God)], the
      Atman appears identical with those five sheaths just as crystal
      appears blue in association with blue cloth.

      Comment: Let’s look at these sheaths more closely. We have:
      the physical (the cells), the vital (sugar-oxygen absorption by
      the cells), the lower mind (thoughts and ego), higher mind
      (purified thoughts) and the Bliss Body [Mind of God]. I’m a
      little shaky on this division between lower and higher mind, as
      well as what is meant by placing all five -- especially the ‘Bliss
      Body-Mind of God’ within the so-called “food-body,” but
      perhaps this will become more clear further along.

      16. By logical reasoning, the pure Atman should be separated
      from the five sheaths just as rice is separated from the husk by
      pounding it.

      Comment: Never heard of ‘logical reasoning’ getting anyone
      beyond their mind, but perhaps it’s possible for some?

      17. Although the Atman is all-pervading, it does not shine

      Comment: I think it does penetrate everywhere, but is occulted
      in the most dense levels of matter.

      17. (cont) It shines only on the discriminating intellect, just as
      a reflection in a very polished mirror.

      Comment: Its reflection can be best perceived by the
      discriminating intellect.

      18. Know that the Atman is distinct from all this earthly matter
      such as body, senses, mind and intellect, and like a king It is a
      witness of the modes of thought.

      Comment: Tat Sat - truth. The Solor Logos is Witness to All.
      Thus when we tread Sakyamuni’s Middle Path, balancing our
      awareness equally between the perceived and the perceiver, the
      Inner and Outer Awareness, we triangulate and merge with the
      apex of the triangle, the Witness/Solar Logos/Atman, but only
      its reflection in the Pool of Possibilities.

      19. To people without discrimination, the Atman itself appears
      to be acting while it functions in the sense organs. In the same
      way, the moon appears to be running when clouds gather in
      the sky.

      Comment: The Solor Logos remains forever ‘beyond.’

      20. Depending on the Divine Energy of Consciousness, the
      body, sense organs, mind and intelligence are active, just as
      people engage in their respective activities depending on the
      light of the Sun.

      Comment: The light of the Sun IS the Divine Energy of
      Consciousness. They are not separate. Even in the darkest
      night the Solar particles penetrated and imbue every corner of
      our planetary reality with consciousness-light-life. We are
      solar-driven entities.

      21. Through lack of discrimination, people superimpose on
      the stainless Reality [which is Being and Knowledge and
      Bliss] those qualities and actions of the body and senses, onto
      Reality, just as blue and the like are attributed to the sky.

      Comment: Amen, bro’! Although the Sat-Chit-Ananda triangle
      again has its reflection within the body’s three centers of lower
      belly, heart node and central brain capsule.

      22. Just as the tremblings of the water are attributed by
      children to the moon reflected in the water, in the same way
      from ignorance the agency of action and other limitations are
      attributed to the Atman.

      Comment: The Solor Logos, ever undefiled, penetrates all
      dimensions and layers of the System. However in the densest
      layers it can merely be perceived as a reflection of a reflection -
      - a distant echo of its purest self.

      23. Attachment, desire, pleasure, pain, and so forth are
      perceived when the mind is active, but are not perceived in
      deep, dreamless sleep when the mind is not active. Therefore,
      these characteristics belong to the mind and not to the Atman.

      Comment: All events can be witnessed by the Atman, but the
      Atman is not sullied by these.

      24. Just as light is characteristic of the sun, and coolness of
      water, and heat characteristic of fire, so the nature of the
      Atman is Existence, Consciousness, Bliss.

      Comment: Okay, the Solar Logos is all three, so the Atman is
      the Solar Logos - what we call the sun, our creator star.
      Light is universal consciousness filtered through the heart of
      our star, who burns out of love for his/her children. This light
      enters our being as a ‘vertical’ beam that our hearts transform
      into the horizontal energy that we call ‘love.’When we balance
      ourselves on the Middle Path, we become aware of this
      ongoing transformative process, which we then realize is the
      ‘ocean of bliss’ into which we merge every night in deep sleep.

      25. 26. [These deal with the confusion between the ego
      thinking it is the ‘knower’ and becoming attached and fearful
      of death and dissolution.]

      27. (cont) But, there can be no fear when it is understood that
      'I am not the limited, separate ego; I am the Supreme Atman.'

      Comment: All we are is patterned sunlight, and at the core
      eternally united with the Solar Logos, whether aware of it or

      28. As a lamp illumines the inert objects of a windowless
      room, so too the Atman alone illumines the intellect and the
      sense organs.
      29. As a lighted lamp does not need another lamp for
      illumination, the Atman, which is the very body of
      consciousness, does not need another consciousness to know

      30. After denying all conditionings thus: 'The Atman is not
      this, It is not this,' one should realize the Oneness of the
      individual Atman with the universal Atman, in accordance
      with the Profound Revelations of the Ancient Scriptures.

      Comment: The“Neti, neti” path (“not this, not this”) is one of
      several classical pathways to the Supreme.

      31. The body and other visible objects up to the 'Causal Body'
      are perishable as bubbles. Separate from all these, one should
      realize thus: 'I am the Attributeless Reality.'

      Comment: Okay, A.R., so what are you going to do about it?

      32, 33 [further elucidate that ‘I am not the body, the mind, the
      sense organs, etc.]

      33. (cont) Truly the Scriptures teach 'The Atman is without
      breath, without mind, pure...'

      Comment: This may be a reference to the highest states of
      Samadhi in which there is no perceptible breath and just the
      faintest of heartbeats in the Realized One. Open-eyed, fixed
      gaze is another aspect of this state.

      34. The Atman is without attributes, actionless, eternal,
      without desire and thought, unsullied, changeless, formless,
      always free, ever pure.

      Comment: We now must ask “What remains to be
      accomplished after realizing the Self?” Aurobindo teaches here
      that we must surrender ourselves to the descending Mother
      Force, and work for the divinization of our material cells.

      35. This Atman is like Space, pervading all things without and
      within, changeless, always the same in all, perfect, stainless,
      and motionless.
      36. I Am the Supreme Divinity, and only That, eternal, pure,
      free, one indivisible, blissful, non-dual, Truth Wisdom,

      Comment: Okay, so don’t bogart the chillum!

      37. The constant practice, with no other activity, of the
      impression, "I Am That" destroys ignorance and agitation, as
      medicine destroys disease.

      Comment: But “I Am That” should also destroy disease, and
      this is where the pedal hits the metal. None of the great saints
      and yogis of the past have been able to succeed in finally
      merging the inner and outer lights in a scietifically verifiable
      manner -- that is, ‘out in public’. I understand that there are
      those Arhats in the Himalayan caves who rumor has it are able
      to survive on light and air, and Tibetan lamas who have been
      described as having made amazing body transformations, but
      none of this has entered a scientifically verifiable state, and
      must remain hearsay.
      All I know is that even the most realized and truly saintly
      beings such as Ramana and Ramakrishna finally succumbed to
      mortality. Even Sri Aurobindo and Mother Mira, who fought
      heroically to ‘bring down the light,’ only survived to their
      eighties and nineties.
      So far, then, death is not conquered. You can argue whether it
      ever SHOULD be, what with the population crunch. As my
      mother used to say, ‘Think of the nightmare of a world where
      no one ever died!’
      But I believe that Gaia, as a conscious entity, yearns to be
      transfigured. Just what this transfiguration of matter will entail
      remains shrouded in mystery, but I am convinced that there is
      both a spiritual evolution and the devolution occurring, the
      aspiring of life towards the sun and the sun’s coming down
      onto the planet in the form of great teachers and avatars, that
      demonstrate in their own bodies the possibilities of conquering
      both fear and suffering, but ultimately death itself.

      38 thru 42 [instructions for attaining the state of Sat-Chit-

      43. Just as the Dawn destroys the darkness of the night and
      the sun then shines in fullness; so after the darkness of
      ignorance has been destroyed, the Atman shines of Its own

      Comment: This is a very moving image, and to me refers to a
      time when heaven comes to earth for all beings.

      44. Truly, the Atman is always present, yet not realized
      because of ignorance, just as the sun is always shining, but
      not known through the storm clouds. When ignorance is
      destroyed, the Atman is realized, like a missing ornament
      being found on one's own neck.

      Comment: I always find it amusing that when the teacher
      attempts to describe the very highest states, the image of the
      sun always appears, at least as a symbol of the Truth. How
      ironic that we must always abstract away from Reality to create
      yet another reflection in ignorance of what really exists.

      Prayer: I acknowledge you, oh Beloved Solar Being, as the root
      and cause and energy of my self on all levels of my existence. I
      celebrate you with every breath I draw, with every beat of my
      heart, and can only surrender my own highest self at your lotus
      feet, for You are the Atman energy that drives our ‘local
      universe’ that we call our Solar Home. What lies beyond You
      is beyond my ability to know, at least until I achieve total union
      with your brilliance on all levels of my being.
      Although my only desire is to dissolve into your heart, I take
      on the task of planetary living to devote myself to transmuting
      your rays into love beams for the good of all beings
      everywhere, and to work for the divinization of this form to
      prove that if I can do it on this my first birth into a planeary
      body, and despite having accrued a heavy burden of karma
      through various, then anybody can!

      45 through 53 [further descriptions of the realization of the

      54-65. [A beautiful hymn to the Atman, which of course I
      believe should be applied to the Solor Logos]

      Comment: Although there is “nothing to be attained after
      attaining this experience,” there is still “work to be
      accomplished” planetside. Yes?

      Some little snippets that close the gap between the symbol and
      the reality, in my view:

      65. ... But he who has the eye of ignorance cannot see the
      shining Atman any more than a blind man can see the brilliant

      Comment: Think of Plato’s story of the people in the cave.
      Think of how most people walk around in a trance, although
      some part of their awareness is always interacting with the sun
      (“Hm, cloudy, today.” “Hm, it’s clearing.” “Hm, a glorious

      and FINALLY

      67. Truly, the Atman, the Sun of Wisdom, which rises in the
      sky of the heart, destroys the darkness of ignorance,
      pervading all and supporting all, shines and causes
      everything to shine.


      68. He who renouncing all [UNCONSCIOUS] activities is not
      subservient to direction, place and time, worshipping at the
      Sacred Shrine of the his own Omnipresent, Stainless Atman
      which destroys heat and cold and is Eternal Bliss, becomes
      all-knowing, all-pervading and immortal.

      Comment: I’m working on it, yes indeedy. Especially the
      ‘immortal’ part needs fixing, folks.
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