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The equation you are that

Resolving the equation

The whole commitment of the Upanishad is to reveal to the individual that 'you are that', tat tvam asi). You, the individual, are equated to that, Isvara. How can I can be Isvara? How can the Upanishad equate me, with my individuality, limited knowledge and power to Isvara, the cause of the entire universe, with all knowledge and power? It is true that there is a difference. According to the vision of Upanishads, it is only a seeming difference that can be solved upon inquiry. For example, in an equation like E=mc2, matter=energy, the two sides are dissimilar. However, upon inquiry, one understands that the difference is only apparent and not real. Similarly, the identity cannot be found in the immediate meaning of the two terms of the equation, the individual and Isvara but only in their implied meaning, which reveals both being essentially existence that is limitless consciousness.

Let us introduce two words to help us understand this equation. An upadhi in Sanskrit is 'that which as though lends its attributes to something else'. Upahita is 'the one which as though takes on the attributes of something else'. Let us take the example of a crystal and a red rose. When a red rose is in proximity to a crystal, the crystal appears red. Here, the rose becomes the upadhi because it as though lends its attribute of 'redness' to crystal. And the crystal becomes upahita as it takes on the attribute of redness. Now suppose you change red rose to yellow rose, the yellow rose will become upadhi for the crystal, the upahita. Note that since redness or yellowness is only 'as though' taken on by the crystal, you need not physically remove the flower to make the crystal clear. Crystal is always clear. That means if one understands that crystal is clear, in spite of the appearance of 'redness', one understands that 'redness' belongs to flower and not to crystal. That means, one need not physically remove the flower to appreciate the colorlessness of crystal.

Now we can examine the relationship between the individual and consciousness, I. As we have seen before, consciousness is always free from the conditions of the body-mind-senses complex. However, consciousness appears to be confined to one's body-mind complex, which accounts for one's sense of limitation and inadequacy 74. In this case, I the consciousness is upahita, as it as though takes on the attributes of body-mind-senses, and the body-mind-senses are upadhi, as they seemingly lend their attribute to consciousness. This results in confusion, a universal mix up because of which a person says: "I am 40 years old, I am mortal, I am tall, white, etc. ", conditions which are actually connected to the body ; "I am angry, sad, I know this, I am ignorant of this, I remember this, etc." connected to the condition of mind.

The reality is that these attributes belong to the body-mind complex (upadhi) and not to consciousness (upahita). Consciousness is always free from any attributes and untouched by the condition of body-mind complex.

However we have to note that the analogy of crystal and flower can not be transposed totally to consciousness and individual. Because the crystal and the flower enjoy the same order of reality, both are empirically real. But between consciousness and the individual, there is a relationship of satyam and mithya, as we have seen before. While the body-mind-senses depend entirely upon consciousness for its existence, consciousness is completely independent of them. That means, this individual upadhi itself, depending for its being on consciousness, as though lends its attributes to consciousness. As a result, I, consciousness, appears to be limited.

Now if we examine the relationship between Isvara and consciousness, it is the same. We have seen before, that the status of Isvara, the cause of the universe, with all knowledge and power is mithya, as it itself depends upon consciousness, that is satyam, for its existence.

In this case, consciousness is upahita as it takes on the attribute of creator of the whole universe, even though itself is free from any attribute. Whereas, the status of creator of the universe (Isvaratvam) is upadhi, as it as though makes consciousness appear as creator of the universe.

That means, the status of Isvara as creator of the universe, depending for its being on consciousness, itself becomes upadhi. It as though lends its attributes to consciousness. Consciousness in turn is upahita, as it as though takes on the status of being the creator of the universe.  

To sum up, upadhi alone (the body-mind-senses complex on one hand and all knowledge and power on the other hand) accounts for the apparent difference between individual and Isvara. In reality, there is only one consciousness that you can see from two different standpoints, the individual upadhi (the body-mind-senses complex) and Isvara upadhi (the laws governing the universe of forms and the forms themselves) 75.

That means, from the standpoint of the ultimate reality, there is only one non dual consciousness that is satyam, upon which both the individual upadhi and the universal upadhi depend for their being. In other words, consciousness has not undergone any change whatsoever to create this universe.

To understand this, let us take the example of wave and ocean. The wave can understand that the wave is water and the ocean is water. There is only water as though appearing in form of different waves and ocean. By understanding all that is here is only water, the wave can say 'I am the ocean', 'I am everything that is here', as the difference between wave and ocean is only in terms of form, but not in terms of content, the water.

When this identity between the individual and Isvara is understood, the sense of limitation and bondage born out of identification with body-mind-senses goes away 76. I understand I am consciousness and all that is here is me, one non dual limitless existence-consciousness.


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