Swami Sarvapriyananda | Consciousness — The Ultimate Reality | Talks at Google
hello everyone thanks for joining my name is nitin pabuwal and i am an engineering manager in the gcp org today i am extremely pleased to welcome
googlefor having me this afternoon so today we are going to talk about
swamiserver priyanda to talk at
swamisarva priya nanda is the minister of the vedanta society of new york he is a monk a philosopher and a very popular teacher he teaches advaitha or non-dual vedanta philosophy and is also well versed in many other philosophies of the world he was recently granted the nagral fellowship at howard and has spoken at many large forums including tedx science and non-duality conference and many renowned universities and colleges he is very popular worldwide and also has a large online following on youtube as his
talkscater well to the scientific intellectual minds and he seamlessly relates ancient wisdom to modern society today's talk will explore the core of non-duality how it is realized its implications for the quality of our lives and broader implications for modern
consciousnessstudies it's a very subtle topic and will need your undivided attention so please avoid the urge to multitask there will also be an opportunity to ask questions towards the end through the chat feature on youtube so without further ado let's welcome
swamiserver priyanda so namaste namaste everybody thank you thank you nitin and thank you to
consciousnessis everywhere in our lives you are looking at me you're...
listening to my voice you're aware of sitting in the chair your environment light and sound all of this is possible because you are conscious there is
consciousnesswhen we see and hear and smell and taste and touch so
consciousnessis all pervasive i remember last week i was listening to this talk by christoph koch the chief scientist of the paul ellen brain institute where he was talking at the harvard bookstore about his new book the feeling of life itself and he said you know
consciousnessis the most important thing in our lives so he humorously said that if you give me a billion dollars and say you give up your
consciousnessand you can you can go on living you'll still be a living body you can just be like a zombie he said i wouldn't accept a billion dollars i can't trade my
consciousnessfor anything in the world and that's how important
consciousnessis today there is a great interest in
consciousnessstudies failed by the developments in neuroscience by the new imaging technology of the brain by the development of the internet and and artificial intelligence there is a tremendous interest in understanding scientifically what
consciousnessis where does it come from what does it do what are its possibilities and so on but
consciousnessstudies is not a new subject
consciousnessstudies is very very ancient as the philosopher evan thompson has written in his book sleeping waking dreaming and being he says
consciousnessstudies goes all the way back...
to the upanishads these very ancient texts in the hindu scriptures the vedas these upanishads contain the final the highest spiritual and philosophical teachings of the vedas dating back who knows 5000 years or more and they made a remarkable breakthrough in
googletalk today in the next few minutes the these very ancient insights into uh
consciousnessstudies so many centuries millennia ago and those uh insights into
consciousnessuh were developed into this body of of a philosophy called vedanta and over the centuries into this philosophy of non-dual vedanta which is a school of vedanta advaita vedanta so that's what i'm going to talk about this afternoon and this
consciousnessvery profound and very very important uh first of all for our personal lives and also for what they can do for this modern investigation into
consciousnessthe whole purpose let us remember of uh advaita vedanta non-dual vedanta was overcoming human suffering and attainment of lasting deep fulfillment we'll see how it works i'll try to present the essence of the teachings of non-dual vedanta in the next few minutes i want to flag something here though it's deeply rooted in the hindu traditions vedanta is the central philosophy of hinduism but there is something unique about non-dual vedanta it's not religion as it is generally understood you know you have to believe in something faith in something not at all it's quite the opposite it's rather...
understanding something realizing something seeing something let us say it is not even about extraordinary mystical experiences with which religion the mystical side of religion is associated rather and this is important it is about our daily experience you know just this experience which we are having everybody has this experience of seeing and hearing and smelling and tasting and touching of waking and dreaming and sleeping just our daily lived experience and applying a certain logic to it a certain philosophical logical investigation based on experience and reason we come to the startling insight about ourselves vedante is an investigation into ourselves to find out who or what we are and the claim that vedanta makes is that when we truly know what we are we will discover that we are not these limited beings of flesh and blood born at a particular time fated to grow old and diseased and die at some time later no this remarkable discovery that we are this immortal
consciousnessthat is the discovery and vedanta claims that we can all come to an understanding of this if we follow our experience guided by the insights of vedanta so here is this journey it's not a journey from not believing to believing in something it's not a journey from our present uh daily experience to some kind of extraordinary experience no rather it's a journey from not knowing to knowing to realizing to seeing that's what makes it incredible for this day and age there is nobody who is...
rational and scientific who could have any kind of objection the usual objections which are leveled against faith-based approaches so how do we do this what is the process in advaita vedanta the process is to investigate oneself our experience of ourselves there are methodologies developed in advaita vedanta which which help us in this investigation and i will talk about one of these methods and this is my favorite and it's found in a text called the drig drishya vivek written about 700 years ago by a philosopher in the south of india in this text we are led what is called phenomenologically you know in our lived experience uh step by step from the outermost aspects of our experience to a subtler inner aspect of our experience to what
consciousnessreally is the way it is done is the discernment the distinction between the seer and the scene and it starts very simply here you are looking at the screen looking at me on your screens and you become aware you take your attention from what you are seeing the forms that that we are seeing we take our attention to the eyes that the eyes are seeing we just attend to the fact that the eyes by themselves are the seer and they see this world around us all sorts of colors and shapes people and things all of them such a variety of things which are seen they are seen by these eyes and these eyes by themselves they are distinct from what they are seeing the seer and the scene are two different things they are not the same thing that is...
an essential insight which we are going to use so that's the first thing we become aware something very commonplace like any good teacher vedanta takes you from what is obvious to what is subtle and not so obvious so the eyes are distinct from what they see and the eyes by themselves see all different forms the changing forms which come before us then we go inwards more subtle we transfer our attention to the eyes themselves and then we become aware that i am aware of my eyes the mind is aware of the eyes the thought the we are that that when my eyes are open i'm aware that my eyes are open when my eyes are closed we are aware that our eyes are closed when we need glasses we are aware that the eyes need glasses so the eyes themselves become the so to say scene and object and the mind is the seer so now the mind is the seer and the eyes of the object and the world of course is still remains as the object now we notice immediately the mind whatever it is is clearly distinct from the eyes the seer and the scene are separate they are not the same thing the mind is the observer not only of the eyes but of the all the sense organs the entire sensory system the skin and the nose and the tongue and the ears in fact of the entire body so the mind is the observer of the body the seer and the mind and what it sees or what it observes what it thinks about they are distinct because the seer and scene are distinct different now we can go deeper the mind itself our thoughts our...
feelings emotions ideas that i understand all of this we are aware of the movements of the mind are also something that we are aware of that i am happy i am aware that i am happy i know that that i am pleased or i remember or i cannot remember i understand or i do not understand all these are activities of the mind the thoughts in the mind and they become the observed the scene and i whatever i am i am aware of the mind so i am the witness so to say of the mind and the mind is something that is seen now if the seer and the scene are distinct then i the witness of the mind whatever i am i must be distinct from the mind i am not the mind i am the witness of the mind the seer and seen being different i must not be the same as the mind i am something that lights up the mind that illumines the mind that is conscious aware of the mind the various thoughts and feelings in the mind now this is already very interesting because uh we generally most of us thinking people grown up we generally identify ourselves most closely with our minds i am this person who thinks feels has a personal story likes and dislikes a memory a narrative about myself this person this mind is who i think i am and here we are being told if you are aware of the contents of your mind that you cannot be the mind you are that which is aware of the mind that which is the witness of the mind this witness this witness self it must be
consciousnessit must be awareness by the very fact that it lights up the mind and...
the mind being lit up by
consciousnessthis conscious mind is now conscious of the body and the senses and this conscious mind body unit is now aware of the external world so now we have gone from a sense of bodily self to a sense of mental self to a sense of the witness of the mind body so who am i according to this way of thinking i am the witness of this body and mind being the witness of this body and mind i must be distinct from this body and mind i am what can i say about myself the one thing i can say about myself is obviously i exist and that i am aware what am i aware of i'm aware of the mind i'm aware of the body i'm aware of this body mind so the question who am i what am i this investigation of the self leads us to this uh appreciation and sort of intuitive grasp that i must be
consciousnessa witness of the mind and the body this
consciousnessitself our immediate uh uh immediate enthusiastic response to this would be hey that's interesting i would like to know more about this
consciousnesswhat is this like what am i this
consciousnesslike that cannot be done um that philosopher who wrote 700 years ago he says this conscious self this pure subject is not an object you cannot know it if you know it then what is the lower what is the one which is seeing so it is always the seer i am always the seer not the seed i am always awareness
consciousnessnot something that i am aware or conscious of so the seer is never seen in the words of that...
philosopher indrik viveka since we are trying to understand what
consciousnessis from the advaithic perspective it's very important to pause at this point this idea that
consciousnessis not an object this is a fundamental insight going all the way back to the upanishads this is something really i feel that vedanta can contribute to modern
consciousnessstudies the modern philosophy of mind is not something that is usually understood so i want to stop here for a moment and appreciate this carefully do follow me carefully at this point it's very subtle what do i mean that i
consciousnessthe witness am not an object then what am i what exactly exactly am i talking about at this point the old indian story of the tenth man is is helpful here what the story says is ten people ten friends were going on a journey and they cross this river on their journey and after having crossed the river they uh think did we all cross or did somebody drown let's count and one of them counts one two three four five six seven eight nine oh my god there are only nine people and this uh our the tenth person is has drowned and the others say no you can't be right let me count and each person who counts counts only nine people obviously they are not counting themselves but they think there are only nine people and we started out as ten so the tenth person has drowned and they sit down and they start crying and weeping and wailing until there's a passerby who sees them and asks why...
are you crying my friends oh sir what a tragedy there were ten of us when we started the journey and now there are only nine of us left obviously one of us drowned and our 10th person the 10th person our friend is dead he's drowned and we are so sad this man he sees all 10 of them are theirs so he asks how do you know that there are only nine or because we counted and we found only nine this man tells them relax it's all right all ten of you are there and they go where where's the ten person relax i'll show you i'll show you where the tenth person is one of you count one of them starts counting one two three four five six seven eight nine i told you so and this man comes and takes the counter's hand and turns the hand this way and says thou art the tenth you are the tenth dash in sanskrit you are the tenth and this man goes oh one two three four five six seven eight nine and ten ah the tenth person has been found and everyone wants to try it out and they say let me try and they count 9 and they turn the hand around and find 10. i am the 10th and so they are very happy now that might sound like a silly uh tale but it's actually very important as far as
consciousnessstudies is concerned because let's just ask why did they not find the tenth person and the immediate answer is of course they were not counting themselves but then a deeper question arises why where they're not counting themselves why were they not counting themselves the simple...
reason is because the counter found nine people outside one two three four five six seven eight nine and therefore the tenth person must be outside by that logic and there's a good reasoning actually i found nine people there there should be the tenth person right there but the ten percent isn't there the tenth person is not an object out there the tenth person is none other than the one who is counting now this this story is very important because uh it gives us a clue to what vedanta means by
consciousnessvedanta means by
consciousnesssomething that is in our experience not classifiable not objectifiable as this it's not an object whatever we are aware of is not
consciousnesswhatever we can see or hear or smell or taste or think of or understand or objectify in any way or remember none of it is
consciousnessit's an object shining in
consciousnessis like the tenth one when we when we investigate the world then the body and then the senses and the mind and the thoughts feelings awareness and then that which is aware of all of this now that turning of the hand that intuitive reflexive grasp it must be done in our own understanding it cannot be pointed out what can be pointed out is not
consciousnessin fact vedanta offers a very interesting definition an inside out definition of
consciousnessand this is important because one problem they have had with
consciousnessstudies till today is they're quarreling over definitions what is...
consciousnessand every definition of
consciousnessfor good reasons involves something objective but from a vedantic perspective this perspective which we have right now we immediately see where they are going wrong if you define
consciousnessin terms of behavior that's an objective thing you are mixing up what is not an object with an object if you define
consciousnessin terms of um thoughts in fact in terms of uh neuroscience you know says we'll trace it back to the fine activities in the neurons electrical activities endurance but from a vedantic perspective that's still not correct because that's an object too if you are aware of it through your instruments then it's an object of your awareness even the mind which is what we always take to be conscious vedanta says even that is not
consciousnessbecause if you are aware of your thoughts emotions ideas conceptions memories in fact all this process we are doing now in vedanta all of that is still object so vedanta gives us a very very precise way of defining
consciousnessis not this in sanskrit neti neti whatever we can be aware of either directly through our senses or through our minds or thoughts or indirectly through our instruments our scientific instruments all of it they're all objects they are not the tenth man that which is aware of all of them is
consciousnessit is the pure subject the non-objective subject it is uniquely distinct from everything else as the tenth man is...
distinct from the other nine this is something that is not yet understood i mean i was at this course i took at harvard last year on the philosophy of mind and we did a survey of all the work that is done on mind and
consciousnessand everywhere they're getting stuck at this point they're still trying to make
consciousnessinto something objective either reduce the mind into uh they don't distinguish between mind and
consciousnessto reduce it to body or to the brain or to behavior or to language and try to say that is
consciousnessand there'll be this other philosophers coming and pointing out that no it doesn't work um those who have read this you know uh thomas nagel's what is it like to be a bat or john sirs the chinese room experiment or the turing test why it does not prove
consciousnessor jackson's mary who did had never seen color and sees color for the first time they are all thought experiments to show that all the attempts to reduce
consciousnessdoes not they don't work there is a problem somewhere or the other all the attempts to see that the tenth man is nothing other than the nine you'll never find the tenth man among those nine so this idea we must accept from advaita vedanta that
consciousnessis uniquely distinct it's an entirely different category from the objective universe the universe out there the objective body even what is normally taken to be the subject the mind that is also an object and in our experience...
that's what we experience all the time so you can try this for yourself here is the world outside i'm aware of it now change your attention to the body to the eyes maybe i'm aware of the eyes change your attention to the mind the mind which is aware of the eyes thoughts feelings emotions i'm aware of the mind push backwards to suppose you drop the mind stop the blankness there's a blankness absence of thoughts but i'm aware of that too that also is an experience what is it that is aware of the blankness when there is no thought of the thoughts when there are thoughts of the body when it is experienced and through the body the external world what is the one thing which is lighting up all our experiences that is the non-objective
consciousnesswe call it sometimes pure
consciousnessbut pure not in the sense of it's good or bad it's just that it's not mixed up with any object yeah so that is one thing that vedanta tells us immediately we see the benefits of this if i am this non-objective pure
consciousnessdistinct from body and mind experiencing the body and mind and through the body and mind experiencing an external world then in a sense i am free of the body and mind the birth and aging and disease and death of the body i experience because i experience it it must be something different from me i am not it the ups and downs of the mind it's we are often tortured by the mind the mind is the cause of our greatest suffering the ups and...
downs of the mind the pleasure and the pain the frustrations and the anxieties and fear in the mind they are objects of my awareness i am not them i am ever free of them before they were there i was there when they come they shine in my light and when they disappear i am still the same shining light of
consciousnessso the upanishads put it in very poetic language that shining everything else shines by its light everything is lit up and that's literally too if true if you look at our own lives eye shining everything is is lit up by me by my light is everything lit up eye shining everything shines after me that's true of all of us each of us that is our inner what it's called a phenomenological experience so this great sense of freedom comes if you think about it even the worst of the experiences in the body even the worst of the experiences in the mind they are things they are not attached to me the
consciousnessno more than when i move my hand through this sunlight you know you can see the sunlight is not affected just reveals shines on my hand you reflect and you reveal all of these experiences so an experience basically how would you define an experience in vedanta see the thing becomes so elegant
consciousnessilluminating an object is experience
consciousnessilluminating the mind is an experience of the mind
consciousnessworking through the mind illuminating the body is a bodily experience
consciousnessthrough the body and mind is an experience of the...
world outside so experience is
consciousnessplus object that gives experience this
consciousnessalso is free of change it illuminates all change i mean it's it's easy to work it out that logically this pure subject cannot be a change because every change is testified to or revealed by
consciousnessthe word changes body changes the mind changes continuously but they are all revealed by this one light of
consciousnesswhich i am which is our real nature so this non-objective pure subject this is a very deep insight which i think is not yet fully grasped in modern thought in neuroscience or the philosophy of mind but we have to go further you know the subject was
realitywe still are not at the
realitynon-dual vedanta means
consciousnessis the only
realityafter which other than which there is no second
realitylet's go further a question is raised now this all right we are i am each of us is this uh pure subject awareness only illumining the body and mind but this awareness this pure subject how many of it how many of those are there if there are hundreds of people out there hundreds of pure
consciousnesses billions of people and animals billions of
consciousnesses or is there one here there is a division of opinion among some ancient philosophies the non-dual vedanta insists there is one
consciousnessshining through all of us but other philosophies ancient philosophies in india for example the sankhya...
which is pretty close to this in the theory of
consciousnessto advaita vedanta the sankhya says each of us has separate
consciousnesses and i will not go into the arguments here why advaita vedanta insist that it must be one
consciousnessbut i'll give you a clue when you if you ask this question why do you think that there is one
consciousnessthat we are all one
consciousnesswhy not many
consciousnessthat seems to be more reasonable advaita vedanta asks why would you think there are many
consciousnesses you see the question is like this if you ask why are there many do you think there are many bodies obviously you can see and you can count and you can see clearly see there are many many bodies living bodies are many are there many minds that's also very clear each of us when we express our opinions our knowledge our understanding our feelings clearly our minds are different very very different so they are distinct minds distinct bodies but consider this pure
consciousnesswhich is not mixed with any object so this
consciousnesswhich is not a body not a mind how would you distinguish one
consciousnessfrom another every distinction every distinction is either a distinction in the mind or the body or the external world so that's a clue that shows you why advaita vedanta thinks there's one
consciousnessa good example would be imagine a huge jar a clay jar maybe and inside that there is a lamp a big lamp shining and the jar has many little holes so from...
outside the jar it would look like many thin rays of light are coming out from the jar but if you look inside the jar there will be one lamp one flame which is shining so the bhagavad-gita for example says
consciousnessis one and undivided in all beings but it appears to be divided when shining through many bodies and minds again the implications are tremendous if we accept we are all one
consciousnessthen we are all one being actually not rhetorically not emotionally not in a feeling of we should all feel we are all brothers and sisters much deeper than that advaita vedanta claims at the deepest level of our being as
consciousnessitself we are actually one and the results for uh for example ethics this is this notion of oneness of all being one nation oneness of all existence this is the advaithic foundation of ethics i don't want to go into it too much but you know the whole problem in ethics is that you know the question of why should i be good what is the grounding for ethics ethic seems to be a question of emotion and culture and preference rather than of brute fact can you ground technically speaking axiology and ontology can you ground values in metaphysics and the feeling was that no you cannot derive an ought from an is advaita vedanta says you can at the deepest level because we are all one that's why um love is an is a true outcome it follows hatred is false because it goes against our deepest oneness ahimsa non-violence non-violence is fundamental sick...
because we would never want to hurt ourselves truly we would not we should not want to hurt others anybody else so this advaita vedanta this this non-dual
consciousnessthis awareness of one one
consciousnessit can serve as a basis as a foundation for ethics this is also something very new it's not appreciated at all even in the modern study of ethics this is what is lacking all right that's one more benefit but we are still not uh at the end of our journey so advaita vedanta is truly radical it you know it starts off by saying we are not the body not the mind not an object but we are the witness
consciousnesswe are the witness of body and mind then it goes further on to say that this witness
consciousnessif you appreciate it it's not an object it's a it's a pure subject not it is not um you know open to suffering and change and destruction uh increase or diminishing this is like a constant sun of awareness it goes further to say that it is one in all beings in all the billions of beings who have ever been and will ever be in all living beings it's one
consciousnessbut still it's not non-dual if you appreciate it it's just one
consciousnessversus the entire material universe so the entire material universe is out there from quarks to quasars from whales and dolphins to the bacteria and even the covad virus all of the the the the material world including our bodies the organic bodies which we have all it's all material according to...
vedanta in fact even mind is material everything up to
consciousnessis material the definition of material in vedanta is also very precise whatever is an object is material the sanskrit is jada whatever is an object is insentient and object to your awareness that must be a material even thoughts are objects to us that must also be material um so we have one
consciousnessbut billions and endless varieties of material objects so it's not non-dual it's still there's a lot of plurality out there the final step is taken in non-dual vedanta is that the question of what is the relationship between this one
consciousnessand this vast varied material universe what is the relationship indian philosophy had different answers one answer i'll give you quickly four answers one answer was the materialist reductionist answer of the ancient indian materialist jar walkers which is that the material universe matter is fundamental and
consciousnessis born of matter of material processes which is exactly what neuroscience is at right now whatever the advances even then it's the idea is it must be somehow rooted in matter notice it's the same tenth man problem the tenth man must be out there
consciousnessmust be brain or it must be language or body or behavior what else is there is among those nine people we are trying to find the tenth man so that is one approach the first philosophy is materialist rejectionist approach which is in principle the same today in spite of...
our tremendous advances in in science the second approach is just the opposite that
consciousnessis the producer of matter and this is not advaita not non-dual vedanta this is actually the theistic approach every religion in the world which claims god created the universe whether it's christianity or judaism islam or the varieties of theism in hinduism shaktism shaivism vaishnavism they all claim that there is a conscious entity all powerful omniscient and all of that which created the material universe so that's the second option
consciousnesscreates matter the third option is neither creates the other they are all fun both of them are fundamental realities material universe
consciousnessand they exist eternally and interact with each other who says that the most ancient philosophy of sangha in india which said prakriti and purusha
consciousnessand matter are two two entities it's very logical that's how we experience the world right we experience the world as i the subject and everything else is that is the other um in fact some theories now being explored seriously david chalmers the philosopher who coined the heart the term the hard problem of
consciousnesshe's the head of the mind brain
consciousnessunit here at nyu so he
talksabout the possibility he says that we must consider now the possibility that
consciousnessis a fundamental
realityof the universe just like time space matter energy very close to the sankey and dualism of
and the material universe being two which neither produces the other both are fundamental realities the fourth option i'll explore is the advaitic approach which is it says no
consciousnesswas not produced by matter and there are arguments for each of them
consciousnessdid not produce matter
consciousnessand matter are not fundamental realities both in interacting no rather matter the entire material universe is an appearance within
consciousnessit appears take it in three stages the material universe appears to you the
consciousnessit appears within you the
consciousnessand it cannot be anything distinct from you the
consciousnessso the material universe is an appearance in
consciousnessjust like a movie appears on a screen without the screen actually producing the characters and the objects in the movie or even better in our dreams we dream an entire world there is a sky and the earth and there are people there actions and even you are there in the movie in the dream as a you can see yourself there and all of it is an appearance in your mind the dreamer's mind without being a separate entity exactly like that and with there are very solid arguments at every step of the way uh why advaita vedanti insists this entire universe must be an appearance in
consciousnessnot all that crazy just a few months back i heard brian greene uh presenting his new book until the end of time um at harvard university and he mentioned that there it's quite possible that we uh...
could be a simulation in a virtual
realityor an imagination of a particular kind of brain he
talksabout it in his book he doesn't buy into it but he says it's not impossible it's it's um it's not there's nothing scientifically impossible about it so if
realityin which the material universe arises then the material universe is not a secondary
consciousnessit's not a countably different entity apart from
consciousnessjust as all the things that we see in the dream are not countably different are not distinct entities apart from the dreamer's mind so there in the dreamer's mind it's a non-dual
realitywhatever you see in the dream is not the second
realityapart from the dreamer's mind because without the dreamer's mind none of them would appear so the dreamer's mind is non-dual with respect to what it dreams about
consciousnessis non-dual with respect to what it experiences this entire objective universe now now those of you have been listening carefully you might say wait a minute you started by saying the seer and the scene
consciousnessand objects are different the tenth man is something different from the nine you separated
consciousnessfrom everything else now you are saying everything else is the same as
consciousnessisn't it contradictory no here is a very subtle point to grasp it is true that the seer is different from the scene but you have to ask yourself is the...
scene different from the seer
consciousnessis different distinct from its objects but are the objects of
consciousnesswhat kind of a question is this you know simple thing would be uh these glasses are distinct from this napkin and the napkin is distinct from the glasses they are different from each other but there's another kind of difference for example the waves in the ocean and the water the waves are distinct they come and go the water is apart from the waves in the sense that the water can exist as waves it can exist without the waves it can exist as water vapor and what have you but the waves are not different from the water because they cannot exist without the water you are distinct from your dreams all the characters that you see in your dreams you are distinct from them because you can you can exist without them you can you exist when you see them and when they disappear back into you you still exist but those characters in the dream the entire dream world cannot exist without you so they do not constitute a second
realityapart from you so the first step in advaita vedanta is to appreciate what
consciousnessreally is what am i as
consciousnessand then to see whatever i experience is actually not different from me the one
consciousnessknown as brahman or atman in advaita vedanta is non-dual advaita not two with regard to the entire universe so this is a tremendous claim and tremendous insight not new this...
has been pretty well known in india for thousands of years and there have been thousands and thousands of people in every century in every generation practicing it and deriving benefits from it so think about it investigate it the huge amount of material is available there i think it is for me at least it's the best thing that ever happened to me and so i love talking about it and sharing it with people i think there are a lot of questions nitin yes
swamiji thank you so much for an amazing and eye-opening talk so we can truly see we definitely have good questions coming in so let's get started with those the first one uh is the quintessential question for in in vedanta of course how does
consciousnesswhich is pure subject evolve into its contents which is objects and related is why does the one
consciousnessappear as many okay very deep questions this just shows the person who has listened to this has understood what is being said so we do come to that question so how does it evolve into uh its objects how does
consciousnessevolve into into its objects if you are saying
realityof the universe then how does it evolve into the universe that would be the question the direct answer is it does not it's like asking um how do how does the dreamer's mind evolve into all the people and the buildings in the sky and the earth and the ocean how does the mind become a world the answer is it doesn't by its unique capacity it only...
experiences a world projected within itself the entire process of evolution is within creation within the universe so given a certain state it evolves into other states and that's perfectly all right vedanta is comfortable with evolution in fact monir williams who first was british endologist who compiled the first english sanskrit dictionary he said these ancient indians were darwinists a thousand years before darwin so an evolution within the living system even an evolution of the cosmos that is in principle understood of course today with science we understand it much much better but in principle vedanta would have no objection to that but what vedanta says that
consciousnessdid not create did not become this universe that is the second theory of
consciousnesswhich i talked about that's a religious understanding god produces god creates this universe conscious advaita vedanta says no
consciousnessdoes not create an universe in that sense it's still whenever you are seeing anything you're still experiencing
consciousnessitself it's just this capacity of
consciousnessto project its own image why would it do so uh deep question in fact this is the question of why does the one become the many why how is the question of science and that's within the many but why at all would it appear see
swamiare saying why that the one does not become the many but it appears as the many you could still ask why does it appear as the many so this is a very deep...
question why does the one become the minute so basically the same question is why does anything appear in this universe at all i was just reading yesterday heidegger one of the most brilliant philosophers of the 20th century he says this question why does anything at all exist in this universe is the first question why because he says it's the widest possible question because it includes everything
consciousnessand all its objects it is the deepest possible question because it's not a question of a particular area of science it's not a physics question a math question or a biology question or a brain science question it's a deep it is the deepest question from which everything else emerges and he says it's the most fundamental question because of this last one when you ask why does anything exist why does the
realityappear as one appear as many remember this question and the questionnaire are also part of the many so i am part of this appearance of this universe and i am also asking about myself when i ask why all this in all this i am there so this question is asking about its own existence the heidegger calls it this question is the most fundamental question because you're asking why why why why you're asking a question about causality itself so this question is most fundamental most the widest question and the deepest question now i'm not trying to avoid the question i'm just saying let us understand how profound it is and let...
me give you just two answers and i'll i'll get on to the other questions uh one answer is vedanta says this question is illogical why is this question illogical because the question why you're asking for a cause whenever we ask why we're asking for a cause why is the grass wet because it rained because so why does the
consciousnessappear as the many you're asking for a cause but in between
consciousnessand the many in the many at the beginning of the many causation time space causation it's basically the stage upon which this
consciousnessbrahman plays out its drama of the universe moment you ask why you've already assumed causation you have already assumed the start of this manifestation because causation itself is built into creation i'll just leave it there but let me give you a simpler answer which i didn't find in vedanta text but it appeared to be the simplest possible answer you're asking why does
consciousnessappear as so many objects why what are the options to
consciousnessit could either appear as something or not appear as anything and that's exactly what
consciousnessis doing if you when you are awake when you are dreaming you have this entire waking world the dream world but when you are in deep sleep you have this blankness
consciousnessnot appearing as anything blankness the absence of objects is experienced and in waking and dreaming the presence of objects is experienced what else can
consciousnessdo it can...
be something or it can be nothing and it gives you both options if you look at the macro cosmic universe the vedantic idea that the entire universe is projected from
consciousnessappears as all of this and then again disappears you know the sritis tritipalaya the projection the sustenance and the final resolution of the universe so there is a period when
consciousnessor brahman appears as the universe and there is a timeless period let us say when it does not appear as the universe so there are logically two alternatives and both are provided by brahman brahma
consciousnesswould be like what are you complaining about yes very nice uh thank you so much the next question that we have is uh first asked early on in your lecture you explained so far that
consciousnessis aware of the mind but you also mentioned that it illuminates the mind it seems a little different could you explain how we know that it illuminates right illuminates is a better word the moment you say aware of the mind we get this general idea of uh when we are aware of something i am aware of the screen and the people and these questions so already the mind is involved thinking is going on it's being processed it's a process that's part of the mind it's not part of
consciousnessis not aware of the mind in the way the mind is aware of everything it's the mind is thinking about everything else and processing data
consciousnessis not like that
consciousnessis more like a...
light that uniformly shines on whatever is presented before it in it to it within it so let us say
consciousnessillumines the light metaphor is used again and again in advaitha vedanta so this is called the self-illuminous nature of
consciousnessin sanskrit swap prakasha it reveals itself and whatever is presented to it so it's not that
consciousnessis thinking about the mind yeah awesome the next question uh this was also asked earlier on uh since i am the witness awareness that means i am creating my own world and other entities is that correct witness awareness is it creating its own world i as the witness awareness remember whenever we are talking about it at this level we in most cases we still do not appreciate what is meant by the witness awareness we are still thinking of ourselves as a kind of mind one vedanta teacher he put it very beautifully in all the initial stages even when we feel we have understood it and people claim they have understood it i am the witness
consciousnessof witness awareness you have to be careful what are you smuggling into
consciousnessyou say what are you smuggling into brahman we are surreptitiously smuggling the body or the mind especially the mind into
consciousnessso it is not that we are creating this universe as we see it as we go along definitely we are creating the objects in our dreams but we are not creating the physical objects out there because the moment we say physical objects out there we are...
already located in a body and a mind so from this body-mind perspective i serve a priyananda i'm not creating manhattan it's not that kind of what is called subjective idealism subjective idealism is the mind creates its objects like like berkeley bishop berkeley for example or the ancient buddhist viganova is the mind only school of of buddhism shankaracharya the great teacher of advaitha he spends a lot of time and energy distinguishing vedantic theory of
consciousnessfrom the buddhist mind only theory so as a preliminary answer i would say if you want a straight answer no when we talk about am i creating my objects no you are not because already you are thinking of yourself as a body mind this
consciousnessplus body and mind the whole purpose in advaita vedanta is to put a lot of effort into shifting our paradigm of ourselves as a body with
consciousnesswith a body that's the first step and then body and universe will all be seen as appearances in
consciousnessnow just a little qualification for those who are well versed in philosophy and with vedanta there is the school of vedanta called drishti srishtiwada a sub-school of vedanta which does say yes you are the creators of your object just as in dreams you create objects and dream about them it's this world is also a virtual
realityyou are the creators of the matrix of this world so uh so that's a that's a school but there they say you must be firmly establishing the witness...
consciousnessidea and then only you can see that because all of these things are appearances in me and therefore creator also is very careful very careful you don't actually create anything whatever you think you are creating they are nothing other than you the
consciousnessappearing distinct from you yes great um next question is uh so i think this is probably going to be a good question to end with what are the methods for actual realization and entering the state of non-duality very good um the question would be what is the methodology here what is the practice here apart from the philosophy here the philosophy is the practice but there are things to be done let me outline that very quickly this is called the method of knowledge as distinguished from the method of faith the method of service or method of meditation the method of knowledge gyana yoga in this method or path of knowledge the actual practices are um literally hearing reasoning and meditating sravana manana nidithasana in sanskrit hearing is basically systematically studying this so we try to understand what is being said here try to grasp it not a question of believing in it try to get it this this stage will be complete the first stage is complete when i say all right i've read the books i've heard the
talksi know what is being said so then the first stage is complete the second stage is that i know what is being said but i have many questions about it i don't get it the second stage is to...
work it out most of these texts are in the format of questions and answers just like what we are doing here and a lot of questions are raised which are our own questions and many questions we wouldn't even dream about those are raised and answers are given we have to work through those questions and answers still till we can say confidently i get it you can ask me questions i can answer your questions i understand it i not only know the teaching but i also understand it it's clear to me i'm convinced i'm sold now what's the problem it's true that i get it but you know it's not a living
realityfor me i still kind of feel the same person we were promised that you would transcend suffering and attain a deep sense of peace and well-being i'm not getting that i still am buffeted by the ups and downs of life so the third stage is meditation meditation not in the sense of sitting quietly but what we have studied and what we have understood to dwell in that to marinate ourselves in that to assimilate that so
swamivivekananda uses the terms assimilation of what we have learned what we have understood so you meditate on that till it there's a moment a very clear moment of awakening but it seems absolutely obvious and effortlessly so after that even if you try the person who doesn't get it even by trying does not seem to feel that you are the witness
consciousnessthe person who gets it even without wanting to even without trying cannot will get...
it and even if it does not want it cannot escape from it it's done you once you walk through that gate it's done now there are associated practices if you do this we'll find there are problems coming up the problems are not with the teaching the problems are with our own mind so one problem is called scattered mind in sanskrit which shape so a practice of focus especially in these days of distraction the mind is is scattered more and more and it doesn't quite grasp or soak in the teachings so practice regular practice of meditation mindfulness you might say is is taught in sanskrit it is called upasana it combines both worship and meditation there's another level of practice that the mind is conditioned by negativities prejudices hatreds and passions and lusts and this has to be torn down cleansed so to say it's called the problem is called impure mind and solution is called pure mind and there are practices for that too so they are associated practices which which basically sharpen the knife which which clean the mirror that's a saying among the monks in the himalayas is your mirror clean the mirror is the mind but when the clean the mirror then these teachings take effect just like that they are very fast very direct very powerful wonderful perfectly on time thank you so much for joining us today
swamiji and for your enlightening words and packing so much wonderful content in such a little time really really appreciate you taking the time and...
it's been a privilege to have you with us thank you so much thank you and many thanks to the
googletalk back-end team as well for enabling this wonderful platform and for making this a smooth session and thanks to everyone as well in the audience for joining if you are interested in learning more about non-duality and