Ahymsin Newsletter: Yoga is Samadhi

Brahman and Brahma-Vihāra

by Swami Rama

This is an excerpt from Enlightenment without God, Mandukya Upanishad by Sri Swami Rama, published by Himalayan International Institute of Yoga Science and Philosophy of the U.S.A., 1982.

What is Brahman?

The word Brahman is derived from the Sanskrit verb root bṛha or bṛhi meaning expansion, knowledge, or all-pervasiveness. This word is always of a neuter gender; it represents Absolute Reality beyond the concept of male or female and all other dualities. Brahman is omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent; it is the very nature of one’s true Self. That Absolute Reality, that Supreme Consciousness, which is never affected by the ever-changing nature of the world, is Brahman. That which alone exists and allows the entire universe to appear within itself is called Brahman. That Brahman is no different from oneself; all of humanity is Brahman. From this point of view, all people are essentially one and the same. Placing duality and diversity within humanity is the greatest loss, and realizing the oneness within and without is the highest gain.

Universality and the State Beyond

Attaining knowledge of Brahman directly from within is called enlightenment. The human mind is in the habit of experiencing and projecting pains and pleasures, but when it is made aware of the everlasting Truth, one starts seeing things as they are. The mind identifies itself with the objects of the external world and thus places a veil between the aspirant and the Reality, but the moment this self-created veil of māyā (illusion) is removed, one attains freedom. The veil of ignorance covers human consciousness on three levels: the states of waking, dreaming, and deep sleep. Unless the veil over all these levels is lifted, the light of pure consciousness cannot shine. Thus, permeating one’s consciousness to the state beyond and expanding it to the Supreme Consciousness is called enlightenment. From the heights of enlightenment, one remains aware of all states – waking, dreaming, and deep sleep – and yet remains in the state beyond – turīya. Before casting off his body, such an enlightened sage lives in the world yet remains above. He sees himself in the whole cosmos and the whole cosmos in himself. His self becomes the Self of all.

The direct experience of the oneness of all, loving all and excluding none, is called Brahma-vihāra – frolicking in Brahman. This realization cannot be attained through mere reasoning or through the intellect; nor can it be attained through mere study of the scriptures, listening to the teachers, or repeating prayers without feeling all day long. The Upanishads that only that fortunate one to whom the knowledge of the Self is revealed can experience the joy and bliss of enlightenment. Unless the student opens the petals of the heart, knowledge of the divine experience is never revealed. Sincere effort with perfect surrender to the Absolute Reality alone is the way to welcome the dawn of eternal knowledge and peace.



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