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Lamp of Non-duality (Advaitha Deepika) Class III

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Translation & explanation of Verse-4
In the Consciousness that underlies all functions
Does exist no world, nor ignorance, its causal seed;
When the lamp shines, no darkness remains thereabout;
The burning wick blown out, the lamp gets extinguished and darkness appears too.

(“Vrithisthamaam arivil viswavum illathinte
Vithaam avidyayathumilla vilakku vannaal
Addikkil engum irulillutanangu varthi-
Vittaal vilakku poliyunnirulum varunnu”):
That even a very common physical object like a piece of cloth, when closely examined, is found to be pure and unconditioned Consciousness in essence, is what was laid bare in the last verse. To always function is but natural with Consciousness. Functions constantly change, and as a result the experiences that get formulated in Consciousness also incessantly alter, giving the impression that the objects experienced also are fleeting. Ornaments, whatever their forms assumed, never cease to be gold in essence. So too, our ever-altering experiences, whatever their forms, never cease to be Consciousness in essence.
In the case of the piece of cloth we examined in the last verse, cloth’s existence ceases to be or it disappears in the existence of yarn; its non-existence alone remains. Likewise, the yarn’s existence is not found in the cotton fibre; only its non-existence remains. So too, the being of none of these would be found in the existence of Consciousness, the ultimate Reality. Though not existing, there is an inherent possibility in Consciousness for all these to appear. Such a non-existence of an effect in a cause, prior to the former’s emergence is known as praag-abhava (anterior non-existence). For example, the praag-abhava of pot exists in clay. Likewise is the praag-abhava of the world in the existence of pure Consciousness.
That the praag-abhava of the world exists means, the world does not really exist, and hence the words, “In the Consciousness that underlies all functions, doe no world exist”.
How does the world that is simply non-existent, appear to exist? Because of avidya (ignorance). What is avidya? That possibility of error because of which one does not perceive what is really real and perceives the unreal as real, is called avidya. Under its influence it is but natural that one does not see Consciousness as real and does see the apparent world as real. As a result we happen to think that each of us, while being only transitory functional modes of expression of one Consciousness, has our own separate existences. Consequently we feel, the meaningfulness of life depends upon others and other objects. The contact with them, if favorable, is thought of as making life meaningful, and, if unfavorable, as making life miserable. Life then is felt to be fearsome, and the most fearsome of all phenomena is death. Death, at whatever cost, should be avoided – such is the way we treat it. One ultimate means alone avails to avoid death as well as to be saved from all fears: getting rid of avidya, the cause of all of them.
How to get rid of avidya? First we should find out where it exists. If it does exist anywhere at all, it should be in the one Consciousness for the simple reason that Consciousness alone has real existence. To think that avidya (ignorance or the absence of true knowledge) can exist in Consciousness is simply absurd. And nothing other than Consciousness has existence either. Ultimately thus, avidya can have no existence of its own, and hence the words, “Nor does ignorance, the causal seed of the world, exist”.
What then is it that we call avidya? It is simply like calling the absence of light, darkness. Darkness has no being. Brightness can be present or absent. Darkness is merely the name given to the absence of light. Avidya, likewise, is the absence of vidya (knowledge).
If Consciousness alone exists, then how can there be absence of knowledge? Consciousness or knowledge, in fact, does not cease to exist nor does it disappear. Simply we remain oblivious of the reality that Consciousness alone exists. Our seeing or not seeing Consciousness as what really exists does in no way affect the existence of Consciousness as such, but doing so affects us. Not seeing what really exists, causes us to think of what is not real as real and to live accordingly.
Why do we then not see the real as the real? Suppose you go to a jewellery shop to buy ornaments. There you examine the type of ornaments you need, looking for the particular design you like. All ornaments are different in your perception. But the jeweler sees all of them as just gold in different forms, and he fixes their price simply by weighing the gold content in them. Likewise is our case. Our perception of us and of the world is so conditioned that we see each of us and everything perceptible as different realities, never seeing the one all-underlying Substance. This conditioning is called avidya. We have to decondition ourselves to see all this differently looking apparent forms as one Reality manifesting itself variously. And that Reality is what we just now saw as Consciousness in essence, and is popularly known in Vedanta as Athma (the Self) and Brahma (the Absolute). Deconditioned thus, we find all the endlessly multiple entities as merging and disappearing in the being of the one Athma or Brahma. The most intriguing factor is that without assuming such modes of appearance, the one Reality/ Consciousness (Athma or Brahma) cannot exist pure and simple. And as with gold, the very manifest forms end up becoming a veil that hides the one Reality from being perceived. The potential for such self-hiding self-manifestation is mysteriously inherent in the one Reality, and this mystery is what is known as Maya.
One way alone is open before us to remove the darkness of avidya, as is the one way of bringing forth a lit lamp to remove ordinary darkness. Bringing forth the lamp of non-dual wisdom (Advaitha Deepika) dispels the darkness of avidya. Then alone it is revealed that the world that appears has no existence of its own, nor does avidya, its causal seed, and that everything is a magic-like Maya.
A lit lamp sheds its light all around; so too if the lamp of wisdom is lit in life, then no avidya can overrule it. The world will then be found to have no real existence. No suffering, no fear, not even the fear of death will then have any place in life. Nonetheless, our predicament is such that even though the lamp is already within us, it is as though it has been extinguished. The lamp in us needs relighting. Otherwise, life will remain totally submerged in the darkness of avidya.

Translation & explanation of Verse-5
Closely examined, this world is found non-existent,
it being mere avidya.
To those who are ignorant of Being as such,
It looms as the world simply because of delusion.
When a lamp is lit nearby, no ghost appears to be,
But for those afraid of darkness
The very same darkness looms as ghost.

(“Araaikil eeyulakam illithavidya tathvam
Oraathavarkkithulakaay vilasum bhramathaal
Araal vilakkerikililla pishachithandhakaaram
Bhayannavaniruttu pishaachu polaam”):
Why are humans roused to think of the meaning of life? Everyone intends to live happily, but the happiness they dream of is never enjoyed to its fullest. Though dreaming of a happy state, at times one plunges into the depth of unimagined miseries. By no means and at no cost, it is possible to keep out suffering in life absolutely. For this reason human beings live in fear of suffering. Given the unavoidable difficulties and distresses of life, how can we live free from fear? This is a fundamental problem in life for which everyone knowingly or unknowingly is in search of an answer. Some are fully aware of the seriousness of the problem; some are not. Either way they need a solution, and the only possible solution is what the present verse suggests.
What is ultimately Real (sath) was brought to light in the first four verses, and that Reality (sath) is Consciousness (chith) alone. Fear and suffering are caused by events that happen in the world. We too were born as part of the world, as part of the beginingless and endless flow of events that take place in what really exists. Every event or the outcome of every event reacts with other events or the outcome of other events. That is the way the unfoldment of events takes place in the Reality.
Consciousness (chith) in essence, this Reality can never remain inert and inactive. Always alive and active, it manifests itself as newer and newer apparent forms, one after another, and one continuing into another. The Reality, being Consciousness in essence, must also know what takes place in Itself.
This Reality, while being sath and chith, is also ananda (Value experience) in content, and hence evaluating every event as desirable, undesirable or indifferent is but natural within Its self-unfolding and self-knowing function. Desirable events cause happiness, undesirable events unhappiness or suffering. How to avoid the latter is the problem before us.
Reality (sath) being Consciousness (chith) in essence, is always functional, and hence gross and subtle phenomena appearing and disappearing in Reality (sath) is but natural. We form a part of it. The aggregate of this constant flow of events is what we call the world. The Saskrit word for world is loka, meaning “that which can be looked at”. What is ultimately Real in all such perceptibles, as we have already seen, is chith alone. The real cause of all suffering and fear in life, in short, is our habit of treating the perceptible world as real in itself. Realizing Consciousness alone as really existing transforms the world, all the events in it, we individual beings who experience them, the actual feeling of happiness and suffering, all into mere ripples that appear and disappear on the surface of the boundless ocean of Consciousness. Knowing what is ultimately Real – which is sath, chith, ananda – is the one and only way that saves us finally from all the miseries and fears of life.
Every wave is inseparably one with the ocean, i.e., it has ho existence apart from the ocean. So too, we individuals, the world, events in the world, the happiness and suffering they cause, which are all mere waves that emerge and reemerge in the ocean of Consciousness, do not exist apart from that Reality. Whatever the transformations that take place in It, they are all really that one Substance in essence. Yet, we remain completely oblivious of being that Substance, even as we remain as It.
Why is it so? Because avidya veils from us the reality that we are all essentially one Consciousness even now. The result is that we perceive the apparent phenomenal manifestation of Consciousness or Athma – what we call the world that has no existence of its own – as real, and remain ignorant of what we really are in essence. Mysteriously self-concealing is the functional dynamism of Athma. Knowing is one of its many functions. This function may result in right knowledge or wrong knowledge. The possibility of the latter type of knowing, particularly concerning what is real, is what is to be understood as avidya.
To get rid of suffering and fear in life, first we have to become aware that we are being misguided by avidya. How is it possible while we are already under the spell of avidya? There are masters who have already transcended the bewitching spell of avidya; they will guide us. Narayana Guru was one such. Hence his assuring words: “Closely examined, this world is found non-existent, it being mere avidya”.
Once this message of the world-being-not-real is heard of from a Guru, what we need is to search for what is really Real. When an ardent seeker meets a real Guru, the Guru leads the seeker to the Real as well. What thus we attain finally is termed thathvam here. Thath means “That”, standing for the Reality we are searching for. Thvam is a suffix meaning “the state of something being itself”. Thathvam thus means the state in which “That” or Reality is itself pure and unconditioned, rendered here as “Being as such”. Knowing Thathvam thus means becoming aware that one Consciousness alone exists underlying all appearances. Unless and until thus knowing thathvam, one constitutes to count the world as real. The thathvam realized, one becomes enlightened that everything is nothing but one Reality or Consciousness unfolding itself incessantly, just as all ornaments are different forms that one gold-substance assumes.
Wrongly understanding the apparent forms as real is what is known as bhrama (delusion). It happens only when reality and unreality are not discriminated. In such an indiscriminate state of knowing, one may be taken for the other and it is called bhrama. This error simply vanishes upon knowing what the Real is. The certainty we come to thus is known as pramaa. Getting rid of bhrama and attaining pramaa is what we need. As bringing in light is the way to dispel darkness, so too getting rid of bhrama is to be attained by dispelling the darkness of avidya by bringing in the light of wisdom (jnana).
What is wisdom? I, the individual, realizing that what is real in me is the ultimate Reality alone. That Reality is Consciousness; thus I am Consciousness. It then becomes revealed that the one Consciousness that I am unfolds itself as everything everywhere as well, and that is what we call the world. The grossest aspect of that manifestation is what we call matter, and the subtlest aspect, mind. Realizing thus-wise constitutes the essential content of wisdom.
Fearing ghosts in the dark is something common among humans. No one then thinks patiently whether such a being called ghost exists or not. Yes it does exist: really, it is none other than the ghost of ignorance in each of us. What is perceived as a ghost in ordinary darkness is nothing other than the darkness itself. Hence the way of freeing someone from the fear of ghosts is not arguing with him in order to convince him that ghosts do not exist, but is to simply bring forth the light. Likewise, freeing human beings from fiendish fears and sufferings is to be accomplished by bringing forth the lit lamp of wisdom, or else the lamp getting lit on its own.

When some Sanskrit students visited, Narayana Guru asked whether they are learning Ayurveda Medicine along with. Students replied that they are learning only Sanskrit Literature and Grammar. Then the Guru said “learning Grammar helps to say the meaning of the Scriptures, but learning Medicine brings money also.

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