he essence of spirituality is the search to know our real self, to discover the true nature of consciousness. Till we are not aware of our true self we identify ourselves with our thoughts, feelings, memories and our personal self. Our experiences are always changing, but the self that went through them remains the same. The body changed, the mind grew with more information, the senses experienced so much, but the “I” that saw everything from beginning to end was always there. It is omnipresent and eternal and it knows all. It know what you want and knows difference between right and wrong. It is the very essence of being aware. This ever-present sense of being is so obvious that it is easily overlooked. We fall into believing that the outer world is real and fall into traps that make us believe that happiness and fulfilment is something we have to aspire for and work for. Not being connected to our true self is the reason for suffering and misery. We feel incomplete, unfulfilled and we are unable to feel real love and seek happiness and run with goals and targets towards an illusionary another moment.
As per Advaita Vedanta, if you are aware of something, it isn’t really you. The real you (the atma) is the part that is aware. It’s not anything ‘of which’ you are aware. Everything that goes on inside your mind including your own body, mind, senses and identity that you are aware Of, is not you. Advaita says that that Brahman is the one and only reality and everything else is a mere appearance, projection, material reflection, formation or illusion.
The Atma, the individual self, has no separate existence of its own. It is but a projection or reflection of Brahman only in each being. A jeeva experiences duality and separation due to illusion, egoism, desires, and other impurities and gets bound to the cycle of births and deaths and the laws of karma as long and remains so until liberation is achieved. The world in which we live is a mere illusion, like a mirage. It appears in our consciousness due to the activity of the mind and senses. Since we depend upon them, we do not perceive the real Brahman, the ultimate reality, who is hidden in all. Through knowledge, detachment, purity and renunciation, one can see the Supreme Self hidden in all and attain liberation.
*******Brahman and Atma*********
Brahman is the only truth; The supreme, absolute and eternal reality. It is the cause of all, and the only stable and permanent reality. Atma is perceived as individual self, the hidden reality, in all aspects of creation. When the Self or Atma overcomes its veiling of Maya, it experiences non-duality of existence and realises its non-difference from the Brahman. Brahman in his absolute state is Nirguna (without qualities and attributes). However, in a relative state we perceive him to be having certain attributes and refer to him as Ishwara, the lord of the universe. In the ultimate sense, Ishwara is also not the cause, but only an effect or a reflection of Brahman in the quality of Sattva.
*******The Unreal World**********
Advaita Vedanta says that the world is unreal, not because it doesn’t exist, but because it exists only as long as the Self is present in the awareness as the subject. When the Self is withdrawn from the consciousness, the world disappears. It is ever changing, unstable, impermanent and subject to destruction and decay and is said to be an appearance, projection of God, like a mirage, or a story. Our senses make it seem real and permanent. The world exists because of our perception of duality and will disappear when we enter the state of non-duality or pure subjectivity, which is the state of the Self. When we overcome the illusion and develop detachment from the sensory objects we enter that state of pure awareness where the duality between subject and object, or the knower and known simply vanishes into the ocean of existence and the Self alone remains. If your Intellect gets in the way of accessing your true Self, just recall a moment in time, when you were peaceful and content. This could be in presence of nature, a loved one, in time of creative expression or anything else which induced a sense of serenity and made you lose yourself. That is the real you.
Jnana Yoga uses this kind of examination called viveka (discrimation) and leads you to your true self as a loving, conscious awareness. It leads you to realise that even your mind and the ego self that you regard as you are not you as you are aware of them. This direct experience of awareness is the experience of your true nature, your unconditional nature, the you without patterns, higher self or inner Buddha. Your true self is only lived. It is connected to everything as love, joy, unexplainable bliss and knowingness.