Guru: Let us try this simple approach, What are you doing now
D: I am talking to you
G: What are you experiencing?
D: I am experiencing that I am talking
G: There are two 'I' s in your statement, which I is the real I
D; No I do not know
G See, the first ‘I’ experiences everything that is going on in the mind or citta. It does not undergo any change any time. That being, that which experiences, is the subject, nothing else is subtler than that. I am the subject, the awareness.
D: What about the second 'I'
G: The second 'I' that which acts, is considered as the self or ‘I’ by all creatures. but that ‘I’ is part of what is experienced by the first I, and hence part of the object itself. It is made up of various aspects of the material world. According to Yogis this 'self' or what is seen as the 'self' is made up of the three gunas, five bhutas, 10 indriyas, three internal organs as mind, ego and the intellect. What we consider as ourselves is really an object and the real self is pure unwavering consciousness.
D: Where is this 'adhyasa' or superimposition?
G In one way the superimposition of consciousness or awareness on the body complex explained earlier is adhyasa. The human body that moves around due to the pranas does not have awareness but appears to have consciousness. According to these darsanas, none of the 24 tatwas in the body has consciousness. All the cells in the body including the brain cells do not have consciousness and the awareness is not a product of matter or prakriti either. They explain, by following a step by step discussion, that consciousness can not be a product of matter.
G:Yes. The atman or the pure awareness which should be called as the real self or I, the first ‘I’ in your statement has no body or mind and none of the prakritic tatwas like matter. However we consider the Self to have a body mind etc and thereby superimposing the body/mind complex on the unvarying awareness as the self as all creatures do all the time
D: So this adhyasa is there in all creatures.
G Yes in this regard there is no difference among animals, human beings or even divine beings. But this adhyasa can be removed say the samkhyas yogis and vedantins. The samkhya karika, the Yoga sutras the upanishad have this-- the removal of adhyasa as their main teaching. The tool that is available but only to human beings is samadhi/samyama. With intense concentration the yogi is able to see the difference between the self and the body as clearly as I am able to see the difference between I (subject) and you (object).
D If the goal of all these philosophies is to bring home the truth about the self then why are there so many philosophies and so many texts.
G; There are subtle differences among these darsanas but this is the main theme. We may talk about the differences on another occasion. There is agreement in all of them that there is superimposition or adhyasa of the self on the non self and vice versa.
D: How do they try to overcome this?
G: By study, then analysis and deep contemplation, the procedure is well documented by Patanjali in Yoga Sutras. In Yoga the drisya atma or what is considered erroneously as the self which however is not the self is said to be made of 24 tatwas of prakriti as I explained at the beginning of this discussion. The Yogi first develops the capacity for deep unwavering concentration and applies to himself or whatever is commonly considered as oneself. The contemplation goes on step by step in four stages. The first stage is the contemplation on the physical or gross body made up of the 5 bhutas. Then the yogis concludes that the physical body is not the self, that adhyasa is removed. Then he/she gets into the next layer the subtle layer, the subtle body (sukshma sarira) and concludes that the subtle body is not the self. Then the buddhi tatva which alone helps to understand and considered it as the non self as something having no consciousness. Then finally he contemplates on the permeating three gunas or mula prakriti and removes the last layer of adhyasa. What remains is the pure self, the real self and with that the multi layered adhyas is removed
D: What of Samkhya and the upanishads
G; The samkhyas do not give the details of practice but they also give a similar approach. By contemplating on the 24 prakritic tatwas one is able to conclude without an iota of doubt that the real self in not the body, the body is not of the self, I do not exist in this body (na me naaham naasmi iti apariseshah)
D Then the upanishads. Why are there so many upanishads, If all the upanishads are meant to lead us to understand the self why so many of them
G;. Because there were many teachers and students with different capabilities and different questions. So they go about explaining the ultimate reality about the self in so many different ways. In Taittiriya upanishad, they consider the human body/mind complex as made up of five layers or kosas and try to remove each one of the adyasas to be able to directly see the true nature of oneself. The Mandukya upanishad considers the three states of the mind, the waking, the dream and then the deep sleep states all of which are only experiences of the true self and help the abhyasi transcend all the three stages of experience and reach a fourth unique state called turiyaa state in which all the adhyasas or superimposition on the real self are removed. The Bhagavat Gita reminds that the same unwavering consciousness experiences different sages of life, childhood, adulthood, old age and life beyond.
D; Thank you Guruji, let me think about it, is there any other adhyasa/
G Superimposing the illusory Universe on the never changing brahman is the mega adhyasa according to the advaitins
D Thank you Guruji please let us chant the shanti mantra (the peace chant) to end the discussion. I think I need some peace
I returned to US mid March after a four month stay in India. I have a few more programs coming up in April and May. In April I will be teaching the 100 hr Vinyasakrama Advanced TT program at One Yoga, Saskatoon in Canada from May 16th for 15 days. I understand that the registration is full. Here is the link