dwai

Most people misunderstand what Atman means

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Now you might accuse me of flogging an already dead horse, but I'd like to suggest that "this" is not the same as the "horse" that is considered already dead. The Vedantic Atman is not the same as that which is considered "self" in the general sense of the word.

 

Atman and Nairatman (Anatta) is a massive "bone of contention" between Advaita Vedanta and Bauddha dharma, but it is rooted in half-understood concepts of what specifically Atman means from the point of view of Advaita Vedanta. 

 

In Vedanta there is the concept of Jiva (a generic concept found in other systems of Hindu Dharma as well). Jiva literally means "living being". The key features of Jiva are as follows --

  1. Jiva is born and therefore must die (has a beginning and an end)
  2. Jiva the personality that transmigrates from one lifetime to another (or in other words, re-incarnates)
  3. Jiva comprises of the five sheaths or panchakoshas  --
  • the annamaya kosha or the sheath of food (anna means rice, literally), or the physical body
  • The pranamaya kosha or the sheath of prana (life force), or the energy body
  • the manomaya kosha or the sheath of the mind, or the mental body
  • the vijnanamaya kosha or the sheath of the intellect
  • the anandamaya kosha or the sheath of bliss

 

As one goes from outward focus (of the mind) to inward focus (towards finding the source of the mind), one encounters each of these sheaths or layers in meditation. Just as one clearly experiences and operates with their physical body and the thinking mind, one also experiences their energy body, their intellect (which is different from the mind in the indic tradition) or even the blissful nature at a higher level of experience.

 

The jiva predicates Ishwara, or God as the source of creation. With the help of the mind, body and intellect, jiva lives it's limited life, with one of several (or combinations thereof) of positions -

  1. There is no ishwara and all of this (material world) is a result of happen-chance interaction of matter.
  2. There is an Ishwara who is the creator, maintainer and destroyer and one's actions in their lifetime predicates whether they go to heaven (eternal joy and pleasure) or hell  (eternal suffering and pain). This type follow specific doctrinal guidelines which are purported to be resultant in their being able to go to heaven or hell, depending on how faithfully they have followed said doctrines.
  3. There is an Ishwara who does create, maintain and destroy the universe, but the Jiva has the ability to unite with this Ishwara through devotion, right action, yoga, etc etc. They still hold a separation between themselves and Ishwara, and their union with Ishwara is that of a benevolent Lord and devotee  (or a parent and child). 

 

Atman points to something else completely. Unlike the limited nature of the jiva who lives in a body, and depending on one's belief  -- transmigrates across lifetimes or goes to heaven or hell for eternity or starts as matter and ends as matter, the Atman --

  1.  is pure subject predicate, without which no manifestion can happen. At least that much is verifiable intellectually, from an "individual" perspective.
  2. It is neither a soul nor a personality. It is pure consciousness.
  3. It is empty as it is not a thing which takes up space or exists in time.
  4. However, both space and time appear in it.
  5. It is not something that can be experienced using the normal faculties and apparatuses (like the mind and the inner and outer senses). 
  6. It can be directly known - Aparoksha Anubhuti.

 

What Emptiness means in this case, is that it is empty of "thing"ness. It cannot be captured with any of the sensory apparatuses. It cannot be described by the mind. If the mind tries to find it, it fails and finds only stillness and silence instead.

 

The question that many people ask is "if that is the case, why call it Atman or Self?". The answer is because there is nothing more intimate than this. It is the root and the basis of everything we know. Knowing (with the mind and intellect) cannot be without it. What else can something so intimate be called? 

 

That which is called "nairatman or Anatta" is the jiva itself. It is the non-self. Atman is the selfless Self. It is the lightless light. 

 

However, it must be pointed out that ultimately, the Jiva is not different or separate from the Atman, because then, that would clearly be dualistic in nature. Jiva is a phenomenon that occurs as a result of mistaken identification with one of the five koshas, and primarily the lower 3 koshas.

More questions follow after this --

 

  • Why does that happens?
    • It doesn't really happen. It only appears to happen... :) 
  • How can you explain the fact that you (and others) wrote so many pages and commentaries on this topic. If it doesn't really happen, who and what is writing, and who and what is reading this? 
    • The appearance of separate beingness (jiva) is reading this. The jiva who appears to have been awakened, is writing this. So the Self is reading what the Self has written. Or no one is reading nothing, ultimately. It doesn't really matter :) 

 

In my humble opinion and experience, irrespective of what one sees or experiences, the root of one's consciousness in the manifest state, is the "I-ness" (aka I AM or I-I). This exists as witness to all things rising and falling, and staying with it, all things appear as part of it itself. The road, the landscapes, sky, people, animals, trees etc all are it's very own Self. This I have experienced before starting with the mind expansions and also after the mind expanded. This root does not change -- it remains empty and ever-present. 

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Hi Dwai,

 

Carl Jung likened his concept of ‘self’ to ‘atman’ but I know very little of Hindu conceptualization.  What to think of this analysis?

 

THE “SELF” IN CARL JUNG, ATMAN IN THE GITA AND ANATTA IN THE DHAMMAPADA

 

The noted psychoanalyst Carl Jung has contemporized the concepts of soul and spirit with his theories of the “Self.” His work on individuation and the “Self” have amazing parallels with atman of the Gita and anatta of the Dhammapada.

 

Jung studied the working of the human mind with meticulous detail and declared that the majority of us do not have complete knowledge of our mind. Workings of the human psyche, (conscious and unconscious mind) is as complex as the workings of our body. When we say ‘I know-myself’ we mean we know our conscious (ego) self only; we do not know our unconscious. The ego is only a small part of the psyche. The unconscious mind is hidden from us. It is hidden the same way as the anatomical and physiological workings of our body are hidden. Jung recommended that we pay all the attention we can to our unconscious.

 

According to Jung our psychic system has an organizing center, the inner source. He called it the “Self.” When our life is out of balance the “Self” sends signals in dreams in the form of symbols so that we can do something about centering ourselves. We also receive the signals from the unconscious as instincts, hunches, intuitions and synchronicities. Each is a spontaneous product of the psyche with which the “Self” hints at something we need to pay attention to.

 

When the ego (conscious) is willing to listen to the messages of the “Self,” the “Self” becomes more real. In order to progress spiritually an individual must train his ego to “listen” attentively to the “Self.” The individual who is attentive to the signs and signals from the unconscious feels guided by them. He develops an ability to find his way not only in the inner world but in the outer world as well. At some point, in the life of the self-aware individual, the ego encounters the “Great Man” within, blissfully merges into it, and becomes a national hero or a spiritual teacher.

 

Throughout the ages men have been intuitively aware of the existence of the “Self.” It is represented as an “inner companion,” “intimate friend,” or the “Great Man.” In Buddhism the “Self” is projected as the Buddha, in Hinduism as Krishna.

According to the Gita, at the core of each individual is a spark of the divine-atman. Through its eighteen chapters it discusses atman as dormant deep within. Hidden and unknown to most people, it is unsullied by the activities of the body. It is always at peace with whatever storms go on outside.

 

An unwise person is unaware of atman, and has no spiritual guidance. He follows his ego and thinks he “knows” himself. With

uncontrolled mind and untrained senses he is like a wildly flickering flame in a storm. The wise person, on the other hand, is like a steady flame in a windless place. For such a person atman is a friend and a guide. Just like Krishna is to Arjuna in the Gita. In the tenth chapter Krishna says, I am atman, the “Self” seated in the heart of all beings. He calls himself the inner guide and companion that can be experienced by deep devotion and by plunging deep into meditation.

 

The Buddha contradicted the basic principle of a divine core within humans. When asked about atman, he kept the Golden Silence. He simply said to look within and explore for yourself what you will find. He taught to put an end to the ego with the earnest effort in meditation and to rely solely on oneself and seek no other support. He taught that self-reliance is a practical spiritual tool and that one’s permanent ground of being is one’s own self.

 

The Dhammapada says that what lies deep within each one of us is untapped source of great energy. By staying in touch with it, it puts us on an inner path of spiritual growth. When our rational mind and the guide within work in unison, life becomes meaningful. The twelfth chapter of the Dhammapada says, “Guard yourself diligently,” “Before trying to guide others, be your own guide first. It is hard to learn to guide oneself,” and “Your own self is your master who else could be?” This teaching of the Buddha is called anatman or anatta meaning no-atman. Here the Buddha is talking not about traditional self such as in ‘yourself’ and ‘myself’ but about what Jung meant by the “Self.” The principle is strikingly similar to that of Jung’s “Self.”
The Buddha had intuitively figured out that self-understanding, self-will and self-development leads to self-maturation. “With yourself well controlled, you gain a master very hard to find.”

 

In summary, Jung’s “Self,” Gita’s atman and the Buddha’s oneself ultimately mean the same thing. The significant teaching is that we must pay heed to this ground of our being. Some time when we think logically and are ready to make a decision a feeling urges us to do otherwise. This is our unconscious sending a signal to follow our heart. The concepts of atman, individual self and psychic “Self” suggest that in humans there is an unchanging, everlasting and absolute inner source that is interdependent, that guides us on our life’s spiritual path. Stop and listen!

 

The survival of the self depends on “Self,” the spiritual source of being. When we meditate, pray or worship we may address a being outside ourselves but the “kingdom of heaven” is within us. The divine power dwells in the depths of our consciousness. It is our true nature.

 

(from http://www.madhubazazwangu.com/2010/08/jungs-self-hindu-atman-and-buddhist-anatta/ )
 

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Posted (edited)

maybe one being out of a billion of us are fully Self-Realized and walking around that way 24/7 so to speak...thus multiple quad-drillions of various beings are pending in Self Realization (a numbers guess?) - and if the Self is not worried about such a condition for beings on the earth, in the universe at large, and in what-ever unknown realms there may be - should we be worried - for everything will work out by the end of the cosmic cycle and then restart again (how could it be otherwise?) - ready or not....

Edited by 3bob

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Posted (edited)

2 hours ago, 3bob said:

maybe one being out of a billion of us are fully Self-Realized and walking around that way...thus multiple quad-drillions of various beings are pending in Self Realization (a numbers guess?) - and if the Self is not worried about such a condition for the earth, the universe at large, and what-ever unknown realms there may be should you be worried? .

 

I think your one in a billion figure is a tad optimistic :) 

 

Doesn't the Self strive to be Realised? 

 

 

 

Edited by Bindi
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that is a major question Bindi,  being that the "Self" does not and can not  to gain or loose anything or non-thing...so one might ask  who or what is it that is striving to gain or attain realization and why?  (being that the Self already is and always has been Realized)

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46 minutes ago, 3bob said:

that is a major question Bindi,  being that the "Self" does not and can not  to gain or loose anything or non-thing...so one might ask  who or what is it that is striving to gain or attain realization and why?  (being that the Self already is and always has been Realized)

 

My tentative answer is that the Self wishes to be realised at a conscious embodied level, but that requires that the Self has something to gain, and that it desires something. 

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that sounds very reasonable although I'd say that there is the problem of the "mind", which gains or loses things here or there, thus mind can never add to or gain the Self which is always complete.  So one might further wonder if that is so then how and why would such a  transcendent - which is complete - have desires and also plans to gain or lose something,  and what can it do and how does it solve the apparent "problem" mentioned? 

Edited by 3bob
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13 hours ago, Bindi said:

 

My tentative answer is that the Self wishes to be realised at a conscious embodied level, but that requires that the Self has something to gain, and that it desires something. 

Self doesn't wish for anything. To the Self there is no other ;)

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The Self is beyond any categories or aggregates...yet does it have a "supreme" nature beyond description yet with aspects that can be named...I'd say yes but we would have to ask the gods about such details.  Does the Self in a sense "spring forth" (in Joy beyond sorrow) as mentioned in the Upanishads yet also simultaneously remain still and silent?  I'd say yes but don't ask me how since such a knowing is beyond normal knowing.  Is the Self both personal and impersonal, both partial and impartial, and if so to whom, when or what - Itself?  Chinese finger traps are instructive.

Edited by 3bob

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29 minutes ago, 3bob said:

The Self is beyond any categories or aggregates...yet does it have a "supreme" nature beyond description yet with aspects that can be named...I'd say yes but we would have to ask the gods about such details.  Does the Self in a sense "spring forth" (in Joy beyond sorrow) as mentioned in the Upanishads yet also simultaneously remain still and silent?  I'd say yes but don't ask me how since such a knowing is beyond normal knowing.  Is the Self both personal and impersonal, both partial and impartial, and if so to whom, when or what - Itself?  Chinese finger traps are instructive.

Partial, Impartial, permanent, impermanent, personal, impersonal are all dualities that the mind thinks up. They too are appearances like the world itself is. The role of the mind is to divide and analyze...

 

Aparoksha anubhuti is precisely that "knowing", which is beyond normal knowing. 

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16 hours ago, 3bob said:

that sounds very reasonable although I'd say that there is the problem of the "mind", which gains or loses things here or there, thus mind can never add to or gain the Self which is always complete.  So one might further wonder if that is so then how and why would such a  transcendent - which is complete - have desires and also plans to gain or lose something,  and what can it do and how does it solve the apparent "problem" mentioned? 

 

My second tentative answer is that there is a sound or some other quality that is radiated by the transcendent Self, which causes us to search for its source. So then the wish and the desire are mine to know directly what it is that is radiating. 

 

 

 

 

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Very good original post, my direct experience is fully in line with it. 

 

As a reply to the other posts, Self does not radiate anything. It is unchanging, motionless and immutable. 

 

Yet from our ignorant perspective, the relative one rather than the absolute one, it seems like Self is radiating something yes - not sound but pure bliss. 

 

We are all looking for that bliss, for that happiness, because it's our true nature.

 

The bliss sheath is also called the darkness of ignorance sheath, as that is the mind's experience of it in deep sleep or unconsciousness. When we 'enter' deep sleep fully conscious (formless samadhi) then ecstatic bliss is 'experienced'. We could say Self is pure Existence-Consciousness and its first movement is bliss. Anyway, that is not entirely true, but only from our view as the mind. There might be a time when we might discover that what once was considered to be a sheath (bliss sheath) is actually our true blissful nature.

Edited by Nothingness
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being that there is no disconnect between the formless and form, or from stillness to movement, or from silence to light and sound, or from Brahman and Lord Brahma - thus... 

Edited by 3bob
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23 hours ago, 3bob said:

being that there is no disconnect between the formless and form, or from stillness to movement, or from silence to light and sound, or from Brahman and Lord Brahma - thus... 

Well there is a subtle difference. Form is appearance. Formless is lack of appearance. Brahman is beyond form and formless. 

Lord Brahma we can say is the "I AM". Brahman is that from which "I AM" seems to appear.

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well I did not say difference, which some seem to equate with illusions...while "no disconnect" is a verifiable fact per Om.

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