Thursday, May 19, 2011

Vedanta: The Message of the Upanishads

Vedanta is the knowledge that makes you see every experience of yours (and that of others) through the perspective of eternity. The common thread in all experience is the experience of self - 'I am conscious... (of ...... ).'  'I am conscious' of the world; I am conscious' of my body, 'I am conscious' of my mind and so on. 

How do I know I am conscious (of this or that)? I am conscious of the 'flower' because I see with my eyes, smell with my nose, etc. I am conscious of 'my thoughts' because my thoughts manifest in my consciousness. I am conscious of 'my consciousness'  because of .....? Because of no reason other than - 'I am what I am'. 

Vedanta terms this  'I am conscious' experience as 'consciousness'. 'I am conscious' is an experience different from other experiences, since consciousness is not an object of experience. Even when I 'I am conscious (of consciousness)', what I really mean is that I am conscious of the 'fact' (that I am consciousness). 

The experience of consciousness is not a process. I experience my consciousness not because of eyes, ears or mind. I experience my consciousness not because of a mode of experience. I experience my consciousness because 'the experience of consciousness' is what I am.
This experience is termed as the 'self-evident experience' in Vedanta. 

As the self-evident experience, you are timeless, spaceless, attributeless by nature. Everything comes and goes in time, everything changes, everything relative except for the self-evident experience that you are. This is what is revealed in Vedanta by saying 'You are Ishwara (the Lord of Creation).' 

'I am Ishwara' is a contradiction in terms in the literal sense. How can 'I' the inividual be 'Ishwara' the Lord of the Universe? Vedanta uses this obvious contradiction to imply a higher truth, viz, the self-evident experience that is my nature is the self-evident experience that is Ishwara. This oneness is absolute - 'satya', while the differences are conditional and apparent 'mithya'.  

In fact, all of Vedanta crystallizes into this one fact alone.... You are Ishwara, the reality of all creation. In terms of eternity, only you, the self evident experience exists. You are not the individual who is bound by change. You are the eternal, ever free, all pervading and self evident experience.