To meditate on a fact is not creating an illusion
The opponent says, ‘Your, Vedantic meditations are just like that. You’re trying by meditation to persuade yourself that the stump of a tree is a man. And all the time, really, you know that it isn’t.’
And Shankara meets this point. He says, ‘It’s not like that, because the scriptures tell us that these meditations which are given, are not symbolic but are facts, are true.’ And in the Brihadaranyaka the point is discussed at great length, and he points out that to meditate on a fact which is not yet realised is not creating an illusion, but it’s truth.
And so he, in the meditations here he says, ‘In the state of seeing exterior things, let him meditate that heaven is his head’.
The opponent says, ‘But heaven is not the man’s head’, and Shankara says, ‘No. Not as the Sankhya’s see the self, circumscribed by the body. But if this meditation is pursued up to ‘the point of knowledge, then he will find that it is so.’ The, self is regarded as having four quarters, of being of four quarters, quarters which are contained in it are contained only by imagination, by a vibration of the mind, and therefore you can’t see them, they’re there. There is a quarter here, which represents the state of deep sleep. And the state of the interior observation, and the state of the exterior observation.
And he says, The people in this state, well, when we are in this state, we see external objects and we are satisfied with those objects. To somebody who’s, we would call them now extroverted, the deeper states are simply dreams. It’s people just sitting with their mouths open and so on, sooner or later they’ve got to come back and have their dinner, haven’t they? Just unreal, just sort of figments of the imagination. But he says, In fact this is based on this, which is the inner light, and the exterior perceptions are based on the inner perceptions, and the inner perceptions are based on this massed consciousness which is here, but all this is a creation of vibrations of the mind. But in order to attain realisation of them, Atman, the true self which contains them all, begins here, and he has to, as Shankara says, in Samadhi, merge into this one, merge until he loses the external perceptions and becomes entirely internally, perceiving, then internally perceiving, to make a jump away from thought into massed consciousness, and then finally to burn this up, he uses the yogic term to burn the seeds, and attain to the Atman. Now he says, the field of this is the external objects, the field of this is the inner light, the field of this is massed consciousness. But the field of this is not given. But if we look carefully at the commentary we’ll see, the field of this is the other three as well as its own self. Well our teacher often spoke of this, the third state which we call deep sleep, but Shankara doesn’t call deep sleep in his commentary, not only deep sleep, it’s when memory disappears and the mind has been transcended.
There’s no consciousness of external objects, then the mind is transcended, no consciousness of internal objects, Shri Dada says this same thing, and then, finally the seeds, the impressions, are burnt up by worship and devotion and meditation, and then there is complete realisation of Atman. The third state, which we think of as unconsciousness, in fact is called omniscience, in the Upanishad, but that omniscience is lost when we return to ordinary life because the seeds of our ignorance block the manifestation of omniscience. But our teacher often referred to cases of scientists and artists who do succeed in entering that state still partially concentrated on a particular point, then they enter that state in which the concentration is completely transcended. But when they come back, the point on which they’ve concentrated, is illumined.
He gave many examples but it’s not very satisfactory to hear examples of famous artists and scientists because you think, Well, you’ve got to have tremendous skill, technical skill or knowledge, to have this sort of inspiration. So, some examples from ordinary life can be a very useful thing. The richest man in Japan, still, is a man who left school when he was thirteen, no education. But he built up the Matsushita Electric, Panasonic, this vast empire. His income is so great that the taxes are 90%. He says of himself, he says, ‘I’m making all this money in exports for Japan but of course it all goes over straight to the Government, but they let me keep a service charge of 10%.’ He’s not educated. He says, ‘It’s got some advantages.’ When something comes up in business, where you’ve got to see something’, he said, ‘my staff read a book about it, I actually go and look at it.’ And’, he said, ‘when a problem comes up, they try and find the answer in books, you see. But I have to think, because I’ve no real education, I’m not really at home with books.’ But he said one very interesting thing, that he has to, as the President of the company, he has to listen to a tremendous number of these talks on management and on company policy and so on, and the export figures and so on. They do a lot of these, this sort of thing in Japanese companies to create a sort of team spirit. Sony are the enemy, not just a competitor, but the enemy, and they, build it up like this. Well he says that he couldn’t understand these talks, you see. He was very successful but he couldn’t understand the talks on how to be successful.
And he says that he developed a skill of being able to shut off the voice. He had to be there as the President, he had to sit up in his frock coat and the wing collar and the tie and so on, as the President, but he could shut off the voice and then he could think about the actual problems, and ideas for the company. And he said, ‘Sometimes they were very fruitful, afterwards’. But he had to be able to shut out the voice.
© Trevor Leggett
Titles in this series are:
Part 1: Mandukya Upanishad
Part 2: You have to worship
Part 3: To meditate on a fact is not creating an illusion
Part 4: The luminous inner sphere of Tejas