Atman

ATMAN

Sri Sankara

The Atman that is Absolute, Existence and Knowledge, cannot be realised without constant practice. So one seeking Knowledge should meditate long upon Brahman for the attainment of the desired goal.

The mind, the sense-organ and so on, are illumined by the Atman alone, as a jar of a pot is by a lamp. But these objects cannot illumine their own Self.

As a lighted lamp does not need another lamp to manifest its light, so the Atman, being Consciousness Itself, does not need another instrument to illumine Itself.

The Atman regarding Itself as a jiva is overcome by fear, just like the man who regards a rope as a snake. The soul regains fearlessness by realizing that it is not a jiva but the Supreme Soul.

As the Sun appears after the removal of darkness by dawn, so the Atman appears after the removal of ignorance by Knowledge.

The tangible universe is verily Atman; nothing whatsoever exists that is other than Atman. As pots and jars are verily clay and cannot be anything but clay, so to the enlightened, all that is perceived is the Self.

The Atman Itself is not disqualified, as a body may be, by an arm which has been cut off and thrown away, nor is it qualified by what remains.

He is a knower of the Self to whom the ideas ‘me’ and ‘mine’ have become quite meaningless.

Just as the pure and limitless ether does not get attached to things nor is tainted, so the Self is always the same in all beings and free from old age, death and fear.

The Self is without adjuncts, indescribable, without parts, without qualities and pure which the mind and speech do not reach.

Illumining the modifications of consciousness which have for their objects waking, dream and deep sleep, the all-pervading Self is the same in all beings and is the witness of them all. The Sruti says that the knots of the heart are torn asunder, all doubts disappear and one’s actions come to an end when the Self is seen.

Just as there is no darkness in the sun as it is of the nature of light only, so there is no ignorance in the Self as It is of the nature of eternal Knowledge. Similarly, the Self has no change of states as It is of a changeless nature. It would, no doubt, be destructible if It underwent any change.

The Self should be regarded as Brahman Itself in accordance with the Srutis, “The Self is here and now’, ‘All the knots of the heart are torn asunder’, and so on.

The Self is not an aspect of Knowledge. There is no charge of manifold in It. It is therefore capable of neither being accepted nor rejected by anyone else.

Why should a man have even the least fear who knows that he is the Self comprising the interior and the exterior, beyond birth, decay, old age and death?

How can one be born who has known the oneness of the Self and Brahman, and is sure of the non-existence of the seed called ignorance?

The Self is not a thing which is unknown to anyone at any time, nor is it an object to be attained or got rid of.

Just as there is no need for any external evidence to know one’s own body, so also there is no necessity for any outside evidence to know one’s own Self.

The intense desire for the realisation of the Atman after renouncing all others, is alone the means for the attainment of the Atman.

Prior to the realisation of the identity of Atman with Brahman, the world of senses and other things have their definite form.

As long as the idea of the Self is identified with body-consciousness, that is, till the realisation of the Atman, the world perception – the reality of the world – is also equally valid.

The Self is conscious even in deep sleep as well as in waking and dream states as Its power of consciousness never ceases to exist and as It is changeless. It is only in the objects of knowledge there is difference, as the Sruti says, ‘when there is duality’.

Atman though ever pure (to a wise man), always appears to be impure (to an ignorant one) just as a rope always appears in two different ways to a knowing person and to an ignorant one.

The supreme Self on account of Its being of the nature of all-encompassing bliss, does not admit of the distinctions of the Knower, Knowledge and the object of Knowledge. It alone shines.

— reproduced from THUS SPAKE SRI SANKARA published by Sri Ramakrishna Math, Chennai, India.

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