attraction, from which all love proceeds and toward which it is directed. It should be heard and meditated upon constantly; when the mind is concentrated upon it, its true nature will be revealed. By the realization of the true Self, through constant hearing, concentration and meditation. Self-knowledge and immortality will be gained.
Yajnyavalkya continued thus: If a person loves and cares for another only for his material body and possessions, the lover is abandoned by the loved one. If we care not for the Self of another but love the dead matter, believing there is no soul in the person, do you think that person will be pleased?
No, that person will desert us instantly. If we love a priest (Brahmin) knowing that there is no Self in him, we shall be abandoned by him. He will immediately leave our company. If we go to a king, thinking that there is no Self in him, that he is only a mass of dead matter, we shall not be loved by him, but on the contrary we shall surely be forsaken by him.
He will drive us out if he realizes that we love him not for himself but for his material possessions. “For the same reason, he who knows there is no Self in the heavens, in the gods (Devas), in the Scriptures (Vedas), in animate and inanimate objects, shall be abandoned by each one of these.” If we think of a departed friend, believing there is no soul in him, we shall surely be deserted by him.
If we love God, knowing Him as a mass of insentient matter, without loving His spiritual, Divine and immortal Self or Atman, He will never come to us; we shall be forsaken by Him. Thus we can understand that whosoever knows anything elsewhere than in the true Self or Atman is and should be abandoned by everything, because everything exists as related to the Self. “The Self is all and all is the Self.” Whatever we see, perceive or think of, is inseparably connected with the Self (Atman); it is one with the Self, and is in reality nothing but the Self.
Here it may be asked: How is it possible for us to realize that everthing is the Self?
To explain this Yajnyavalkya gives the following illustrations:
"Now as the sound of a drum, when beaten with a stick, can be differentiated from other sounds by referring it to the drum or to the drumstick, which is the source of the sound, and not by any other means, so the existence of a particular object can be differentiated by referring it to the Self (Atman) which is the source of all knowledge and consciousness and without which nothing can be known."
“As the sound of a conch-shell or a pipe when blown cannot be differentiated without referring it to the shell or to the pipe, as the sounds of a lute when played can be known only by referring them to the lute; as these particular sounds are but various manifestations of one common sound, so the one common Self or Atman, which is the Reality of the universe, appears through the varieties of names and forms which we perceive with our senses.”
“As from the one source of fire, when kindled with damp fuel, gradually emanate clouds of smoke and flame which did not exist there before, so verily, O beloved, from the one great Being, the Self (Brahman), the common source of knowledge and intelligence has been spontaneously breathed forth all the knowledge that we possess, such as the four Vedas (Scriptures), the various branches of science and philosophy, and everything that exists in this world as well as in celestial realms.”
Ordinarily we ascribe scientific knowledge to particular individuals, but in realty every kind of knowledge that we find in different people,—scientists. Yogis, and philosophers, —has proceeded from that one source, the Self. As from one fire proceed smoke, sparks and flames, so from this one Infinite Self have come out all the sciences, philosophies and spiritual truths described in the different Scriptures of the world, as also the truths of art and history. The knowledge which we
possess and make use of in our daily life is the expression of that absolute knowledge which is eternal, one, indestructible and unchangeable, and which brings immortality to the knower, who realizes the Self.
At the beginning of the cosmic evolution all phenomena as well as all knowledge evolved from this one Infinite Self or Brahman. Just as a human being naturally breathes out the air that has entered his lungs, so the latent energy of the Brahman spontaneously breathed out knowledge and all phenomena which had potentially existed in it before the evolution of the universe.
Again, at the time of dissolution these return to that Infinite Being and remain latent as the energy of the Brahman in the same manner as rivers, streamlets, brooks and all waters that exist anywhere will eventually flow into one ocean. The ocean of the Infinite Brahman is the final goal as well as the source of all knowledge and phenomena of the world. “As the source of all taste is in the tongue, of all
touch in the skin, of all smells in the nose, of all colors in the eye, of all sounds in the ear, of all percepts in the mind, of all knowledge in the intelligence, so the source of all intelligence is the Self or Atman or Brahman.”
Thus Yajnyavalkya explained to his wife how the Infinite Self is the Beginning and end, the Alpha and Omega of everything. At the time of evolution everything comes out of it and during involution or dissolution everything goes back to the same source of all. The Infinite Self, Atman or Brahman, is one mass of intelligence without a second; there is no duality or multiplicity in this one substance.
"As a lump of salt has neither outside nor inside, but it is a mass of taste, so indeed the Absolute Self has neither outside nor inside, but it is altogether a mass of intelligence, unlimited, beginningless and endless." This infinite Being appears in two aspects, the universal, which is called Brahman, and the individual, which is called the Self orAtman.
As the source of individual consciousness, it manifests itself in various forms when it is connected with our body and senses; but when it leaves this material body, the senses cease to perceive their objects and the elements return to their causal states from which they arose. After death one cannot perceive the objects of senses.
“O beloved! Verily I say unto thee, although the Self is a mass of intelligence having departed from the body, it possesses no particular consciousness of a mortal.” The expression of intelligence on the sense-plane stops after death.
On hearing this, Maitreyi replied: “O wise lord! Thou hast bewildered me by thy statement, ‘This mass of intelligence possesses no particular consciousness after death.’ How can it be?” Yajnyavalkya answered: “O beloved! I do not say anything bewildering; imperishable is the nature of the Self (Atman).” For thy enlightenment I will explain it to thee. “The Self is deathless and immortal by nature.
So long as there is the duality of the perceiver and the object of perception, so long one sees, perceives the other, one smells the other, one tastes, touches, thinks, and knows the other.”
The individual Self perceives sense-objects so long as it remains on the plane of duality or relativity. The perception of sight is possible only when the seer is related to an object of vision. If we are not related to that which we call odor how can we smell it?
The ego can hear a sound or taste a savor by coming in direct relation with those objects of sensation. In this manner it can be shown that all perception and sensation require the relation between the subject and object; but when we go into deep sleep we do not see, hear, taste, smell or perceive anything.
These objects exist on the sense-plane, but when we are above and beyond it and have gone to that plane where there is neither sight nor odor nor smell nor taste, how can we see, hear or perceive anything?
All individual souls, who are in the state of dreamless sleep, become equal in their realization we cannot distinguish the soul of a man from that of a woman so long as he or she is in sound sleep; then it is impossible to differentiate them.
Similarly, in the state of Samadhi or superconsciousness, where there is neither duality nor multiplicity, but the infinite ocean of intelligence, what can be seen or heard or smelled or tasted ?
Where there is neither relativity nor any object of perception, how can one touch or know or think of anything? “How can one know that by which one knows all this?” Is there any power of knowledge, by which we can know the Self, who is the knower of all? No; because the true Self alone is the Knower of the universe.
If we seek to know the Self within us what will be the best method? By right discrimination and analysis we can differentiate the knower from the object of knowledge. In this process of discrimination we must mentally reject everything outside of the knower.
“Not this, not this.” Thus when all objects of knowledge, including all sensations, perceptions, thoughts, feelings and other mental and intellectual functions are removed by right discrimination, the all-knowing Self is realized in Samadhi.
The Self or knower cannot be comprehended by intellect; it is incomprehensible. The Self cannot perish; it is immortal. The Self cannot be destroyed by anything; it is unchangeable. The Self is unattached; it is not touched by any object. The Self is unfettered; it is free. It does not suffer; it is beyond all suffering. It does not fail, it is always the same.
“How, O beloved, can such a Knower be known and by whom ? Thus far, O Maitreyi, the true nature of the Self can be described; and beyond this is the realization in Samadhi (superconsciousness) which brings the attainment of immortality. He who has realized the Self, has become immortal.
The knowledge of that Self, which is the source of all love, the source of intelligence, existence and all that is blissful, makes one attain to immortality.” Thus saying, Yajnyavalkya, the great seer of Truth, retired into the forest, devoted his time to meditating upon that eternal. Self, and, ultimately realizing his true nature in Samadhi, he gained immortal life.
Self-knowledge being the goal of life, by that alone we can understand the universe, how it has come into existence, why it stands, and where it will go after dissolution. By knowing our true Self we can know what will become of all phenomena at the time of general involution, and if we wish to become immortal, we must know this Self or Atman; there is no other way to immortality.
“I know this great Atman, radiant like the self-effulgent sun and beyond the darkness of ignorance. By knowing Him alone one crosses the ocean of death; there is no other way; there is no other way.”
Self Knowledge by Swami Abhendanada published 1905