'Text-days' are for delving into the words and theory of Advaita Vedanta.
We are now studying Aatmabodha. As always, with each week, you are encouraged to review the previous teachings and spend some time in contemplation of the meanings as the affect your life. Please do consider purchasing the text. Remember, also, to recite the mangala charana before each study and review the lessons before each new one.
As the Guru builds the case for saadhana, the sincere practice of research upon the Higher, a fourth shloka is now given, with a clue as to 'how' one might Realise.
Akhandaanandam-ekam yat-tad-brahmetya-vadhaarayet ||57||
Realise That to be Brahman which is non-dual, indivisible and blissful; which is indicated by Vedanta as the immutable substratum, realised after the negation of all tangible objects.
Straight away we find this 'action' suggested - that the seeker must negate that which is not, in order to find that which IS. This is a powerful and effective philosophical tool.
No one can directly reach up to the dizzy heights of the All-pervading, the Brahman, because it is not an object for us to see and understand. It is the subjective Reality, which gives us the concept of life, illumining all our thoughts and deeds. It is not a 'something' which can be differentiated from any 'other thing'; it holds no similarities (and therefore no dissimilarities) to anything else. It IS That from which all other forms and experiences arise.
The upanishads indicate that to reach into this understanding, we must learn to negate that which is not a part of this substratum. Thus the whole of Vedanta, which is the philosophy expounded by the upanishads, gives pointers and lessons on how to approach this negation. We are not to seek to describe what Brahman is, a very difficult task which eludes even the greatest Masters, but to assess and eliminate what it is not. To be able to assert what is not, there needs to be an acknowledgement only that there IS something which lies at the base of all, the substratum, and for this practice we can assert Brahman as that very substratum. In order to know that there is not actually a ghost, we must acknowledge the post from which the illusion was derived. Ridding ourselves of that illusion is the challenge; quite often we are too comfortable with the 'ghost', with our uneasiness and would rather deal with 'the devil we know'. If we know and trust someone who helps us to see the underlying post, however, how joyous would it feel to not have to be ever on the alert for the ghost?!
Our minds are limited; the thoughts are jumpy and full of impurity. Everything which our mind perceives as objects of cognition changes or perishes over time. Yet, for all that, we have within us a perception of something unchanging. It is that core of us which prompts the big questions. What is the one life force on account of which there is the manifestation of matter? Who/what illuminates the inert matter to give it life? Which is the homogeneous, all-permeating essence in all objects? What is it that strings all things in the universe together?
This is the substratum we seek, the basis of ourselves and everything we perceive. It, itself, cannot be objectively pursued, but can be subjectively experienced as the Pure Consciousness. This shloka exhorts the student to take up the saadhana of negation.