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Athmopadesha Shathakam Verse-11

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Athmopadesha Shathakam (One Hundred verses of Self-Instruction)
Translation & explanation of Verse-11

“The repeated “I”, I” contemplated from within
Is not many but remains One; divergent egoity
Being multiple, with the totality of such
The Self-substance too continuity assumes.

Akame palathallathekamaakum
Eee thukayilaham porulum thudarnnidunnu”):

Key message-
From the previous verses, we saw that how challenging it is to remain in the pure state of knowledge. In this verse, we are given another choice. It is whether to just be helplessly swept away, or to make an absolutist break from the tendency to succumb to these kinds of pulls by discerning the value implied in each such pull. This brings us to focusing our attention on the pure state.

“The repeated “I”, I” contemplated from within
Is not many but remains One; divergent egoity
Akame palathallathekamaakum)

From the experiment in the previous verse, we have seen that the same “I” in two persons who sit in a dark room calling each other. In this verse, the thought process based on that data is started. The answer from two persons contained the same “I” consciousness leads us to arrive the fact that though the two persons are identified as separate individuals in the cosmic world, the Self existing in them are same.

This “I” does exist not only in the two individuals referred in the experiment, but also in all of us. We all refer as “I” when we express about ourselves. In this thought process, it can be understood that “I” is the same in every one of us, which appears to be as many. But when each of us says “I”, it refers to the individual entity and not the multifaceted entity as a whole. Circumstantially, this is known to everyone. Hence, the truth is perceived as ‘many’ not as ‘one’. In that scenario, there appears to be a separation between all elements of things we observe and view.

At the same time, within everything and as a whole of everything, there exists an individuated truth. We do not think about that unifying aspect, because we all live in spiritual darkness. Here, a problem arises:- Is “I” an individual entity or not? We do often comprehend that it is individual, as well as multifaceted. When we consider everyone as single entity, we perceive that the same single “I” consciousness is present in everyone. On the other hand, if we view everyone as separate entity, the same “I” consciousness is perceived as individual personality.

Rational thinking process about taking into account of everything as a whole single unit is termed as the One Self or Samashtigatham. That process which considers everyone as separate entity is termed as divergent Self or Vyeshtigatham. Here we are confused on deciding whether the truth is individual entity or of multi-facet. It touches the paradox of the one and the many, which started to puzzle philosophers from pre-Socratic days in the West and the early pluralistic Vaisheshika and dualistic Samkhya philosophers on the soil of Indian wisdom.

One who sees all as one, in the context of non-dual or unitive understanding of the Absolute is the truly wise man. The possibility of seeing the one and the many together in the notion of the Absolute, which is really above even mathematical symbolism, has remained one of the puzzles of philosophers both eastern and western through the centuries. The Absolute is above all counts.

Being multiple, with the totality of such
The Self-substance too continuity assumes
Eee thukayilaham porulum thudarnnidunnu)

I understand the ‘I’ of the other by reference to my own ‘I’. Thus, this “I” is a great secret. In it is pure knowledge. It is also tainted by what is not pure, and can thus differentiate between ‘I’ and the other. The secret of the other is in ‘I’, and the secret of ‘I’ is also in the ‘I’. The One is in it, and the Many also originate from it. In the present verse, we are asked to look for an ‘other’ within ourselves. For this, the aham or ‘I’ is to be seen as ahantha: the ahantha of this moment and the ahantha of the next moment.

Ahantha may be translated as ‘I-consciousness’, but it has a larger implication. To understand it, we must first understand abhimaana. Abhi means in the present situation; maana means measurement. Your ‘I’ measures the present situation as that which belongs to this moment and has these characteristics. Whenever you experience something, there is a kind of knowledge content by which you measure its worth, you assess its meaning and what kind of affectivity you have for it. This value assessment determines the depth and kind of identity you have with that situation. This is the implication when we say ahantha, ego-identity.

In the passage of time, we go from one ‘I’ identity to another. When we are at our workplace, we have one kind of ego-identity. When we are listening to a class, our ego-identity is that of a listener. When we get up from sleep in the morning and decide to go out for any activity, we have a different kind of mind. While our ego-identities are many, we do not think that the person we are in the morning is different from the person we are in the evening. This is because, there is a continuity when we put together the essence of the differing ‘I’ identities. Guru describes it as follows - “Despite countless receding I-identities, in the totality of their substance, the one ‘I’ continues, unbroken”. It is the stage when we become a seeker of Supreme Truth with great diligence, relentlessly looking for the unbroken inner unity.

By attaining the above knowledge, we land on the correlating secret of the one and the many within ourselves. The one and the many are also lying in the transactional world of time and space where my whole unit becomes one. There are also others within similar kinds of bodies, with different kinds of value-visions and value-formations and different behavioral patterns. The problem becomes complex, but I am not afraid because, now I have a scheme to deal with it. It is with this preparedness we are entering into the arena of life, fully armed with a correlative scheme to live out our unitive understanding.

When the Guru here states that the sum total of the divergent multiplicity in consciousness attains to continuity with the One which represent the Absolute in a more finalized sense, he is only delving further into the structure of the notion of the one Absolute. The Absolute can have a positive side and a negative one. The conflict between the two has to be overcome by a dialectical approach. The one and the many can coexist without contradiction or paradox in the mind of the trained dialectician, while to the mechanistic thinker who is not a true contemplative, there is a glaring intellectual cul-de-sac (a dead-end street) over which he cannot jump. In this verse, the Guru is just raising the discussion on the subject of transcending contradiction and reducing contraries unitively.

In modern physics, we have begun to be familiar with terms like the continuum of space time. This language, which is non-Educlidian and non-Newtonian, is sometimes called that of Relativity as opposed to the Absolutism implied in the older classical science.
The continuum here presupposed as existing between the divergent Self and the One Self is to be understood in the light of the dialectics, which will reveal by itself stage by stage as we cover verse after verse in the sequence of verses.

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