Limitations of Awareness

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Limitations of Awareness

[March 3, 2007. Shri G. Lakshman came from Mumbai to have some spiritual discussion (satsanga) with Swami. His first enquiry was about the limitation of the soul in meditation and in deep sleep. Swami compared pure awareness in meditation to a lump of gold, which becomes inert energy in deep sleep and can be compared to a lump of iron. This comparison was given in the poem, which was sent to Dr. Nikhil as a reply to his poem entitled Selfless Love. On this point, Shri Lakshman raised the concept of the limitation of the soul even in the deep sleep, in which the soul is considered to be in its original state as per Advaita philosophy. According to Advaita the self becomes the unlimited Brahman in deep sleep as said by Shankara (Sushuptyeka siddhah).

Following is Swami’s reply.]

O Learned And Devoted Servants of God,

Shankara said that Brahman is achieved in deep sleep. The meaning of this statement is that Brahman is unknowable or unimaginable. In deep sleep nothing is known and nothing can be imagined. Such a state indicates that Brahman is unknown and unimaginable. In this state, the soul looses its awareness since the brain and the nervous system do not function (except some signals controlling the inner biological systems, which are constant throughout the life of the human being). This means that the soul becomes inert and enters into complete ignorance about Brahman in the state of deep sleep.

The full ignorance of this state speaks about the full ignorance about Brahman and therefore Brahman is achieved in this state as a completely unknowable item. Deep sleep is termed as Avyaktam in the Veda beyond which only the Lord exists (Avyaktat pursha parah). After [waking up from] deep sleep, the soul knows about itself and also about the other worldly items. Therefore, the maximum possible field of knowledge of the soul can only be the knowledge about itself as in the meditation or about other worldly items as in the waking state or dream state. The soul cannot cross these limits of knowledge. The maximum possible power of knowledge of a soul is, only knowing about itself or about the world; never about Brahman or God.

The soul in the state of meditation is pure awareness, which is a special work-form of inert energy, and hence it must be in the form of primary energy alone. In deep sleep it is the inert energy, which is also the form of primary energy. Primary energy is either in the form of waves or in the form of particles (quanta) according to science. Whatever the theory may be, energy has the form of waves or the form of particles. Hence, the soul has form and therefore has limits even in meditation or deep sleep. Therefore, the soul is not formless. Even space, which is considered to be formless, is supposed to be a very subtle form of primary energy according to science through the concept of bending of space around an object. When space is energy, it means that space also has the form of waves or particles.

Therefore, there is nothing like formless in this creation. Air contains molecules, atoms and sub atomic particles, which have form. Therefore, the word ‘formless’ has no meaning in this creation. The world is a composite of items with forms and hence the world as a whole has form and is not formless in the core region [essentially or basically]. The infinite limits of the world do not mean that the items in the world have no limits. Each item has limits and the number of such finite items is infinite.

Certain items have invisible limits and this does not mean that the item has no limits. The invisibility of the limits of an item is assumed to be the absence of limits and such an item is treated as formless or an item without limits. The item with visible limits is considered as an item with limits. Thus the formless items and items without forms are distinguished by the relative sense of invisible limits and visible limits respectively. Such classification is only in a relative sense and not in the absolute sense. The world with infinite limits can be taken as formless in the region of the boundary alone. Here, the nature of the world, which is the aggregate of finite items, is knowable in the core region. Hence you cannot say that the world is unknowable in the core region.

In the case of God, even the nature of God is unknowable in any region. Formlessness, meaning infinite limits, can be applied to the world, which is knowable, by its nature in the core region. But God is unknowable by His nature throughout and therefore you cannot say that God is formless like the world. Only the limits of the world are unknowable and not the central core of the world, which consists of imaginable items. God exists in the border of the infinite limits of the world as the source of the world. This means that God is beyond the world. Science has clearly proved that awareness is a special work-form of energy and hence the soul cannot be beyond space, since space is energy. Therefore, the soul has limits in any state.

The soul in deep sleep exists as inert energy with finite limits confined to the human body and therefore, we cannot say that the soul has infinite limits like the world. However, if you treat matter also as the inert energy according to law of equivalence of mass and energy, then in that case, the body can be also treated as a quantum of energy, which is in continuity with the external atmosphere of the cosmos [surrounding cosmos which is also composed of energy]. Now the soul, body and the cosmos become one homogenous phase in the sense of the basic form of inert primary energy (this is only an assumption and practically this single homogenous phase is not achieved).

You can achieve the single infinite ocean of cosmic energy and now you can say that the soul has become Brahman. But beware, the word Brahman is used here to mean the infinite ocean of inert cosmic energy since the word Brahman can mean any item, which is the greatest. This cosmos or cosmic energy is infinite but the whole core region is composed only of imaginable nature containing imaginable items. Hence, it is an imaginable cosmos with unimaginable limits and therefore it cannot be the unimaginable God, who is unimaginable throughout. Hence, you cannot say that the soul has become the greatest unimaginable God, who is also indicated by another meaning of the word Brahman. The confusion in the usage of the word Brahman must be clearly removed in this context.