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It also appears as the object of consciousness,
then it is called matter; the Absolute Being,
however, is neither matter nor is it the same
as ego. It forms the background of our ego,
therefore it is our true Self. When we have
realized it, we have known God as well as
the relation which the phenomenal universe
bears to Him; and the best method of be-
coming conscious of this Absolute Being is
through the realization of our true Self, or
Atman, as it is called in Sanskrit.

Some people think that self-annihilation is

the ideal of the Vedanta Philosophy, but it
36



KNOWLEDGE OF THE SELF.

is not so. The true Self, according to Ve-
danta, can never be destroyed. If self-anni-
hilation were the ideal, then the Self would
be subject to change and destruction; it
could not be the same as the Absolute Being.
The Vedanta Philosophy, on the contrar}-,
teaches that the true Self is absolutely inde-
structible and unchangeable. How is it then
possible for anyone to think of its annihila-
tion? Destruction of Self is just as impos-
sible as the destruction of the Absolute;
therefore self-annihilation cannot be the high-
est aim and ideal of life.

Self-knowledge alone helps us to realize
the absolute Truth and to attain perfection.
It is considered to be the highest wisdom.
When Socrates asked the Delphian Oracle
"What is the highest knowledge?" the an-
swer came, "Know thy Self." By the word
"self" here is meant not merely the ego,
but the true Self. The same knowledge of
the real Self has been glorified in India from

the most ancient Vedic period. Vedanta, the
37



VEDANTA PHILOSOPHY.

rationalistic portion of the \'cdas, describes
this Self-knowlcdi^c as the highest ideal of
life. If \vc wish to know God, we must first
know our true Self; we must ask within
ourselves who and what wc are in reality,
where wc have come from, and what becomes
of us after death ? These questions are of
vital importance. Ordinary' people cannot
solve such j)roblenis, their minds are too
busy with the affairs of the phenomenal
world. But an earnest seeker after Truth,
who is discontented with the knowledge of
material objects, wishes to go below the sur-
face of phenomenal appearances and docs
not stop until the ultimate goal, the reality
which underlies all phenomena, is discovered.
His aim is to fmd the correct solution of
these problems by knowing the true nature
of his ego as well as of the universe. He
may start with the objective world, but gradu-
ally, as he advances step by step and reaches
farther and farther in his search after Truth,

he comes back in the end to his own Self.
38



KNOWLEDGE OF THE SELF.

Because the true Self is the center of the
universe. The phenomenal world, which con-
sists of the objects of sense-perception, may
be compared to a grand circle, the circum-
ference of which lies in the gross material
forms and the innermost center of which is
Atman, the true Self.

The nature of this true Self, according
to Vedanta is infinite. It is neither limited
by time nor conditioned by space relations.
The Scriptures describe God as the center of
the universe, but Vedanta says that Self or
Atman is also the center of the universe, and
that the true Self is one with Divinity. The
moment that we realize the Divine Self within
us, we understand that the realm of the
same Atman extends to the sun, moon, stars,
and even to the most distant planets, the
light from which takes hundreds and thou-
sands of years to reach us. Wherever there
is existence, whether on the physical or
mental plane, there is also the manifestation

of this Divine Self. That by which we know
39



Sly



VKDANTA PHILOSOPHY.

the existence of the external world, by which
we arc conscious of our bodies, senses and
mental powers, is our true Self. It is not
far from us, yet it is beyond the reach of
mind and intellect. The Self is thus de-
^^^^scribed in the fourth verse of the Isha Upani-
shad: "It (the Self) is beyond all vibration and
I , motion. It is one, and swifter than mind. The

^ iV ' * senses never reached it, it transcended them

all. Though standing still, it overtakes the
mind and senses which are running fast. It
is the source of all mental activities, sense-
powers and the various forces of nature. "

Modem science tells us that the whole
world is the product of matter and material
forces. Matter, again, as we have seen in
the first chapter, is nothing but a certain
state of motion or vibration of some sub-
stance, the true nature of which is unknown
and unknowable. Ever}- particle of the uni-
verse is in constant motion or vibration.
That which we call heat or light, sound or
taste, odor, touch or any object ol sense-
40



KNOWLEDGE OF THE SELF.

perception, is nothing but a state of vibration
of the same unknown substance. Sir WilHam
Crookes says: "At thirty-two vibrations per
second, is it shown that we have the first
beginning of audible sound, and that sound
ceases to be audible when it reaches to some-
thing less than thirty-three thousand vibra-
tions in a second. The vibrations of heat
and light rays are almost inconceivably more
rapid. They are expressed in no fewer than
fifteen figures, whilst the vibrations within a
single second of the recently discovered
radium are expressed in more than nine mil-
Hons of millions of millions." The whole
world consists in the vibration of atoms, or
the most minute particles of material sub-
stance, but above and beyond all this vibra-
tion there exists the Absolute Reahty, the
true Self, which is the source of knowledge,
intelligence and consciousness. It is through
this Self that we know that there is such a
thing as vibration.

Here the question rises: Who is it that

41



VEDAN'TA rHILOSOniY.

kno\YS that the world is a mass of vibration?
Docs vibration know itself? It cannot.
"Motion produces nothing but motion," this
is one of the laws of nature which has been
confirmed by modem scientists. Motion can-
not produce knowledge. Knowledge is some-
thing which is not the effect of motion or
vibration; but it is that which enlightens our
minds and makes us see and understand that
there is such a thing as motion or vibration.
Therefore the Upanishad says: "That which
does not vibrate is our true Self." Search
within and see where is that which does not
vibrate, but which is the Knower of all vibra-
tions and actions.

"It goes faster than mind." "We know
that mind is the fastest thing in the world;
thought travels faster than electricity, or any
other current that exists on the physical
plane. Sir William Crookes reasons that
"the thought vibrations which issue from
the brain may really have their beginning at

a point where it becomes no longer possible
42



KNOWLEDGE OF THE SELF.

to estimate the vibrations which are caused
by the most subtle forces of physical nature."
Furthermore, he adds: "If we can any way
realize the concept of a force which is capa-
ble of creating thousands of trilhons of
vibrations in a second, and if we add to this
idea that the velocity of these vibrations is
equalled by their rapidity, we see easily enough
that thought may put a girdle about the
earth in an infinitesimal fraction of time."

We can exchange messages by wireless
telegraphy between here and England or any
other part of the world, but thought trans-
ference is quicker than wireless telegraphy.
The mind of a person who is sitting here
can go straight into the sun, or beyond the
sun into the infinite space where the ordinarj'
force of electricity will not reach perhaps —
even there the mind can run in the shortest
interv^al of time. Time exists in mind. What
is time? Time means succession in thought.
When one thought rises after another, the

interval between them is what we call Time,
43



VEDANTA PHILOSOPHY.

SO it is subject to mental activity. That
which is swifter than mind is the true Self.
Our real Self can go quicker than thought-
current and even where mind cannot reach.
It travels evcrj-where. Self or Atman forms
the background of the mind, therefore the
Self is quicker and faster than the activity
of the mind. Mind can go nowhere without
depending upon the Self, the Knower. It
remains absolutely inactive when it is sepa-
rated from the Self.

"The senses never reached it, it transcended
them all." The senses cannot reveal it;
sense-powers cannot express the true nature
of the Self, because they are limited by time
and space, while the Knower of time and
space must necessarily be beyond the reach
of the senses. When we see the sun, the
very sight depends upon self-consciousness;
that is, we must be conscious of the fact
that we are seeing something, and that con-
sciousness must depend upon our true Self.
The sun will not be seen if our mind and

44



KNOWLEDGE OF THE SELF.

eyes are separated and cut off from Self,

the source of knowledge, intelligence and

consciousness. Depending upon that source

of consciousness and intelligence, our mind

works, our senses perform their functions

and the body moves. Therefore, the Isha LtXiJi^ v

Upanishad continues: "It (Self) moves and it ' "

moves not; it is far and likewise near. It is

inside and also outside of all this. " When the

body moves, the source of intelligence, or our

true Self, appears as moving, but in reahty

it does not move. Where will it go? It

cannot go anywhere. When we move a jar

from one place to another the space within

the jar appears to be moving; but does the

space move in reality? No. What is it then

that moves? We do not know; the form

appears to be moving, but the form again

is limitation in space. It may be said, "If

space does not move, then the form cannot

move." It seems to be like a puzzle, when

we tiy to answer it at every step we meet

with insoluble problems.
45



VEDANTA PHILOSOPHY.

The whole of life is a mysten'. We en-
deavor to find some explanation by studying
nature, but nature puts us into more con-
fusion. Science does not help us; she takes
us up to a certain point and there she leaves
us without showing anything beyond, with-
out telling us what to do and where to go.
Such is the condition of our relative knowl-
edge. When properly analysed, it appears to
be a partial expression of the absolute knowl-
edge, which is the real nature of the true
Self. Relative knowledge, however, will not
help us in solving the riddles of the universe.
If we wish to know the ultimate Truth of
the world we must go beyond nature and
seek the explanation in the realm of the
Absolute. Nature is called in Sanskrit Mdyd;
she deludes us, yet we arc living in nature,
and our body, senses and mind are parts
of nature. The more we study nature, the
more we are deluded; we do not come to
any final solution. Scientists have arrived at

certain conclusions, which are hke conclu-
46



KNO\\XEDGE OF THE SELF.

sions in which nothing is concluded. Science
tells us that the ultimate goal of everything
is unknown and unknowable. Here Vedanta
comes and advises its students to study not
merely nature, but our Self or Atman; then
all confusion will be removed and the Abso-
lute Truth will be reached.

Nature makes us see that the Self moves
when the body is in motion, but in reality
the Self is immovable. Nature makes us
feel that Self is very far from us, but it
is the nearest thing that we have, nearer
than this body and mind which we consider
to be the nearest; our true Self, however,
is in reality the nearest of all. " It dwells in ^\fjiAA-^_^'^
everything as its soul or inner nature, yet it Oj-*-^-^-*^
is outside of everything." How can that be?
If it dwells inside how can it dwell outside?
Space exists inside as well as outside. Take
the space within this room, which is confined
by its walls. This space appears as inside
the room; but what are the walls, are they

separate from space? No; they exist in and
47



VEDANTA rillLoSOPHY.

through space, ihcy arc nothing but space.
The space of the- walls limits the space that
is inside the room; but does it limit in reality?
No. It is outside also. Can we limit the
infinite space? By no means. Similarly, if
we tr)' to limit our Self by our mind we fail,
because mind is not large and strong enough
to keep the Self out; sense-powers cannot
limit it; physical forms can never divide it;
because each one of these exists as related
to the Self. The Self or Atman, when
properly realized, appears as unlimited and
infinite. We say that we are finite beings,
but in reality we are not finite. There is
only one Infinite Existence which expresses
itself through finite forms. As finite forms,
existing in space, cannot live outside of it, so
all these various individuals live in and through
that infinite space of Reality which is called
the Absolute Self.

"He who realizes all beings in the Self,

*^ and the Self in all animate and inanimate

. ^ , (^ objects of the universe, never hates anything

48



^..a v].y*^'



KNOWLEDGE OF THE SELF.

or any being. " * Hatred proceeds from
imperfect relative knowledge, which makes us
perceive objects as separate from one another.
But when we see our true Self in others, how
can we hate another without hating our own
Self? It would be impossible for Self to
hate Self. As it is impossible to hate our
true Self, so it would be impossible to hate
the Self of any being. This is one of the
results of Self-knowledge, where Self-knowl-
edge is there can remain no feeling of hatred.
When hatred is gone, jealousy and all other
selfish feehngs, which we call wicked, disap-
pear. What remains? The ordinary love,
which stands in opposition to hatred, vanishes;
but Divine love begins to reign in the heart
of the Seer. True love means the expression
of oneness. As love for body makes us feel
one with the body, so love for the true Self
makes us feel one with the true Self; and if
we see that Self In others, we cannot help



* Isha Upanishad, verse 6.
49



VEDA NT A rillLOSOPHY.

loving them as wc love our Self. Now we
understand the meaning of "Love thy neigh-
bor as thyself." It is not an extraordinary
teaching. Vedanta has always taught this
truth. People of the western world say that
Christ was the only one who ever taught
in this way, but they do not know that this
is the verj' foundation of the ethics of Vedanta.
Love means the expression of oneness in
thought, word and deed. "Where all beings
have become one with the Self, what delu-
sion, what sorrow can there be to him who
has once realized this unity?"* Self-knowl-
edge leads to realization of oneness with all
beings. When all beings appear as parts of
one universal Self, there is neither delusion,
nor fear, nor sorrow, because there can
exist no other thing outside of Self or Atman
for which one can grieve or from which one
can suffer. Sorrow and fear arise so long
as there is the sense of duality or multiplicity.



* Isha Upanishad, verse 7.
50



KNOWLEDGE OF THE SELF.

If all objects of fear and sorrow become one
with the all-pervading Divine Self, then fear
and sorrow must vanish. But so long as
we think of other beings which exist outside of
our Self, we cannot avoid grief and suffering
which arise on their account. In absolute
oneness, however, there cannot remain fear,
sorrow, suffering, separation or self-delusion.
This is another resuk of Self-knowledge.

Some people may think that Vedanta
teaches us to be selfish, but this is far from
true. The self becomes dead; the lower
self vanishes, and with its disappearance all
selfishness is destroyed. The word "Self"
must not be taken for lower self or selfishness.
It stands for Atman, the higher Self, which
is our Divine nature. There is no other
expression in English by which we can con-
vey the real meaning of Atman. We shall
avoid confusion, therefore, if we use the
Sanskrit word "Atman" to express our true ,^X

Self. Then no one will mistake it for selfish- fr ^^ ^
ness. "The Atman has pervaded all, efful-

'i



VEDANTA PHILOSOPHY.

gent, incorporeal, scatheless, untouched by
brain or ner\'c centers, pure, sinless, a poet
(Kiivi), wise, omnipresent, self -existent, he
has disposed all things aright for eternity. '' *
That Atman (Self), who is the center of the
universe, is all-pervading. Wherever our
mind goes, the Atman goes there. It is the
source of the light of intelligence; it is pure,
spotless, sinless. Here you will notice that
\'edanta teaches that we are not bom in sin
and iniquity, but that our Atman or true
Self is sinless. By this it does not encourage
us to do sinful acts, but it tells us that the
moment one acquires Self-knowledge, from
that moment one ceases to do anything
wicked. The Atman is in the body, but it
has no body. It is formless, that is, beyond
gross and subtle forms. There arc forms
which we cannot see except through the
most powerful microscope, even such minut-
est forms do not affect the Self. It is abso-



* Isha Upanishad, verse 8.
52



KNOWLEDGE OF THE SELF.

lutely beyond all forms; but at the same time
it can appear in any form, and all forms exist
in it.

Atman is beyond all nervous activity, or
the function of the brain. The materialists
maintain that when brain and nerve centers
vibrate, self-consciousness is produced. But
Vedanta contradicts their statement by saying,
"Beyond the reach of nerve centers and
untouched by brain powers." It is not
affected by the changes of the body; there
may be variations in the color or form of the
physical body, or the body may be diseased
or have some part mutilated, but that disease
or mutilation will not produce any change
in the true Self or Atman. Therefore, Self-
knowledge makes one free from nervousness
and other physical ailments.

The word "Kavi" means poet, and also
means the seer of things. Self is described
as the greatest poet of the universe; this is
one of the most beautiful expressions and
attributes that can be given to Divinity —
53



VEDANTA PHILOSOPHY.

He is the poet, His poetry is the universe.

He is also described as the greatest artist.

His art we see in tlie sunrise and sunset.

The sun, moon and stars arc nothing but

the paintings on infinite space by the hand

of the Almighty artist.

True oclf or Atman is above good and

evil, beyond virtue and vice. Some people

ask: How can it be above good and evil?

Others say: It is only good. Good and evil,

however, are two relative terms; evil exists

in relation to good, and we cannot separate

the one from the other. If we wish to take

good, we shall have to take evil also. So with

virtue and vice; one cannot exist without being

related to the other. The Absolute Self is

above all relativity; therefore, it is above

good and evil, beyond virtue and vice. "There

is no other seer than this Atman, no other

knower. " Who can be the knower of the

universe? There is one eternal Knower who

knows the existence of all objects, and the

knower in us is only a part of that eternal
54



KNOWLEDGE OF THE SELF.

Knower or God. The vast majority of man-
kind do not know this great truth; the
preachers do not teach it, because they them-
selves do not understand it. If God is the
Knower of all, then the Knower in us is a
part of God. Vedanta tells us to realize the
individual knower first; then will the Knower
of the universe be known.

The Atman or true Self is never the object
of knowledge, but it is always the subject.
The cosmic or universal Knower is the same
as that which people worship as God. Thus
by the light of Vedanta we can see God close
to our souls; but in the Scriptures of special
religions He is made remote. He is driven
far out of our reach. Vedanta brings Him
nearer than anything we possess. Although
this Atman is all-pervading, yet it is beyond
everything; it dwells in all things, still it is
not the same as anything. It is never aflfected
by phenomenal conditions. It transcends the
changes of nature, yet it permeates nature.

It is its own cause; in it cause and effect are
55



VEDANTA PHILOSOPHY.

identical. Tiic Atman has no ca'jr,c, yet it
is the cause of all; and at the same time
it is beyond the law of cause and effect. The
Self has existed by itself from the beginning-
less past and will continue to exist through-
out eternity; no one can see its begimiing or
its end, because beginning and end refer to
time, and our search after them, being within
the sphere of mental activity, is also subject
to time. We may search for the beginning
and end of the phenomenal universe, but as
the Atman (Self) is above all thought and
beyond time and space, it can have neither
end nor beginning.

^ *' It is all- knowing. " All relative knowledge
is only a partial expression of that wisdom
which constitutes the nature of the Atman.
Now we see that the attributes which people
generally give to God, such as. He is omnis-
cient, omnipotent, all-pervading, eternal, in-
finite, are also given by Vedanta to the Atman
or true Self. True Self is the Soul of our

souls. Self-knowledge reveals that the attri-
56



KNO'\\X.EDGE OF THE SELF.

butes of God are also the attributes of the
Atman. "Those who do not reahze this {)jgj^L
true Self, dwell in the darkness of ignorance
and go through the misery and sufferings
which exist in that darkness." They are
always fearful and unhappy. They fear
death and everything that threatens their
earthly existence, and they make their life
miserable by attaching themselves to a par-
ticular form of manifestation which they are
afraid of losing. They love sense-enjoyments
and worldly pleasures, they feel disappointed
and discontented if they do not find these,
and they consider that this earthly life has
no other higher aim or ideal. The life of
such persons is nothing but a continuous
chain of fear and unhappiness. Those who
are rich fear loss of fortune; those who have
reputation and high position are afraid of
losing them; while every man or woman
suffers from the fear of disease and death.
Do you suppose that these people will ever

enjoy true happiness on this earth? No.
57



VEDANTA ririLOsoriiY.

They alone are truly happy who have become
absolutely free from fear. Perfect happi-
ness comes and all fear is conquered when
Self-knowledge is gained. For this reason
each one of us ought to make constant efforts
to acquire it in this life. The light of Self-
knowledge dispels the darkness of ignorance
and frees us from fear, sorrow, miser)', birth
and death, as also from bondage, imper-
fection and delusion, which proceed from
ignorance.

This ignorance is likewise the mother of
selfishness. It has the power to veil the
Divine and absolute Atman and to make us
identify our true Self with the material body.
Thus when forced by the inscrutable power
of ignorance (Avidya) we forget our real
Self, think of ourselves as the sons or daughters
of mortals, we become finite and subject to
such limitations as are understood by the
term "selfishness." Self-knowledge destroys
ignorance and makes one absolutely unselfish.

Blessed is he who lives in the sunshine of
58



KNOWLEDGE OF THE SELF.

Self-knowledge, having risen above the clouds
of fear and selfishness which gather in the
night of ignorance. What is this world? It
is produced by ignorance and bound by
fear. Knowledge of the Self destroys all
worldliness, brings spiritual strength and
makes one fearless, as God is fearless. Does
He fear anything? How can He? The mo-
ment we realize that God dwells in us, how
can we fear? How can we have fear of
death when we know that death merely means
a change from one body into another, and
that our true Self or Atman is unchangeable ?
Those who do not possess Self-knowledge
are miserable, and will be bom again and
again on this plane of ignorance until they
have learned to realize their true Self.

Self-knowledge is the only source of happi-
ness; it will lead to perfection and freedom.
You may seek freedom, but how can you
obtain it when you have become a slave of
fear and earthly conditions? You are a

part of Divinity. Feel it, realize it, and all
59



VEDAXTA rHILOSOPHY.

these tics will drop away and you will be
free. The allainment of this freedom through
Self-knowledge will bring to you the realiza-
tion of your oneness with Divinity. Then
you will be able to say: "That light which
I see in the sun is in me; and that which is
in me is in the sun. I am the Lord of the
body, senses and mind, and I am also the
Lord of all phenomenal objects."

"I am the light of the universe, through


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