December Newsletter from Srivatsa Ramaswami--The Subject
For 2019 I have a few programs lined up. I will be teaching a 5 day program of Upanishad Vidyas at Yoga Vahinin Chennai in early January. I am scheduled to teach 100 hr Vinyasakrama yoga TT program at Yoga Vahini Chennai, One Yoga In Victoria (with Yogayagnyavalkya), Canada and Loyola Marymount University Los Angeles. I am also scheduled to teach Nathamini's Yoga Rahasya a rare text of Sri T Krishnamacharya at Yoga Chicago in Chicago. I may also be teaching a 6 day program of vinyasas and samkhya Karika in Salt Lake City, Utah
For details and contact info visit my website
When you have a basketful of green grass and extend it towards a cow, it will approach you but when you with an angry face and a raised arm wielding a big stick approach the cow, it will instinctively run away from you. Similarly I approach people who are friendly and helpful to me but run away from those or factors that are harmful and cause pain to me. Yes all creatures,animals and human being, spend the entire time working towards getting happiness (Pravritti) and avoid unhappiness (nivritti). Then what is the difference between human beings and other animals. Human beings constantly invent new methods to humour themselves and avoid unhappiness like better clothes, housing, entertainment and newer and more powerful medicines and treatments. And some, not satisfied with the incremental happiness of mundane existence, would like to a quantum leap in happines by going to heaven hereafter. But basically both animals and human beings are focussed on getting happiness and avoiding unhappiness
But a few human beings sit back and ask a question that normally nobody asks and try to find answer to it. "All my life I am trying to keep myself happy and avoid unhappiness, sometimes I succeed and sometimes I do not. Who am I, what is my real nature,for whose happiness this person, this me works so hard? Then we may have a different body of knowledge, a vidya, called adhyatma vidya, knowing the nature of one Self or what constitutes the Self.
Sages of Samkhya Yoga and Vedanta schools all try to help answer this question. The answer they provide is awesome
"That the object (Vishaya) and the subject of those objects (Vishayin) are two distinct entities is pretty obvious. They are within the range of the meaning of the words ‘Yushmat (You)’ and ‘Asmat’ (I) respectively, and have natures as opposed to each other as light and darkness. It is clear and well established that they cannot transform themselves into each other. That being the case the attributes of these two also , cannot transform themselves into the nature of each other.
And therefore, the superimposition or mixing up of the object, on the subject which is denoted by word ‘Asmat’ or 'I"and has pure awareness as its self, is necessarily unreal (Mithya) or incorrect. All the same, it is a natural course of worldly conduct resulting from false-ignorance (Mithyajnana) (in a person) , to superimpose or mix up the object and the subject which are absolutely different from each other. Mixing up or superimposing their respective attributes, mutually on each other, through failure to discriminate or distinguish either of them from each other, and by coupling truth and untruth together. This leads to imagine thus — ‘I am this’, ‘This is mine’. This is on the lines of the introduction to Brahma sutra by Adi Sankara
The body mind complex which is made up of organic matter and biological energy (prana )is identified erroneously by everyone from time immemorial as the Self. But it is an object for the the Self whose only attribute is consciousness/awareness which is ever present without undergoing any change. This pure awareness is the one that is really the subject and is aware of the objects presented to it by the senses, coordinated by the manas ,analyzed by the buddhi and presented to the Subject for experience. The object includes, it is important to note, not only those presented through the senses but also the whole body mind complex. Thus the object will be both the body mind complex of the individual and the sense objects experienced. So superimposing the body mind complex on the subject which is only pure awareness is avidya. Likewise considering the pure awareness the never changing one which is the subject as having a physical body is to mistakenly attach a characteristic not belonging to the subject. It will mean that all things, actions, associated with the physical person does not belong to the subject at all.
Yoga and Vedanta help us to understand and clearly see the separation of the real subject and the object. The default understanding that the subject is the conscious individual with a body brain indriyas complex is a fundamental mistake. Looking at it differently, considering the brain body senses complex has consciousness is a mistake. Samkhya yoga and vedanta help us to recognize this fundamental mistake about the subject object dichotomy, humanity has been making from time immemorial. Every creature in one of the innumerous lives as a human being --after many many lives spent in pursuit of fleeting pleasures and happiness-- contemplates to realize that the subject is pure consciousness and is distinctly different from whole universe observed through the senses along with the individual(erroneously considered as the subject) made up of the mind body indriyas complex as part of the observed universe.