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Atma = Brahman

The famous Austrian physicist Erwin Schroedinger is known to students of physics as the man who gave what is called the Schoredinger Equation, a corner stone of modern physics. For this discovery, Schroedinger received the Nobel Prize. Schroedinger was very much interested in the philosophy of ancient Indians or Vedanta as it is called. Swami’s Discourses as also the Bhagavad Gita both echo Vedanta, setting it in the larger context of the relationship between man and God.

After extensive study of the Vedanta, Schoredinger wrote down another equation, which is given below. [This may be called Schroedinger’s second equation!] He said:

Atma = Brahman.

What precisely does this mean? That is what we shall presently explore.

It has been mentioned elsewhere that there are basically two paths to God, the ‘Outer Path’ based on Devotion or Bhakti, and the ‘Inner Path’ based on Self-enquiry. Both lead to the same destination, i.e., God. The Outer Path will help us to see God everywhere in the Cosmos; this Omnipresent God is referred to as Brahman. The Inner Path leads to the Indweller or Atma. In other words, Atma is the nomenclature used for referring to the God within. But then, we can’t have two types of God, can we, one within and one without? No, not possible, because God is only One. As Swami often reminds us, “Truth is only One but scholars refer to it in various names.” The Vedas proclaim the oneness of the God within and without by declaring: Ayam Atma Brahman, meaning that Atma and Brahman mean one and same thing. Schroedinger the physicist, gave this statement a more precise and mathematical form via his second equation.

Let us try to understand the deeper implications of this Cosmic Equivalence. Let us start with the outside for that is generally considered easier to understand. Right from ancient times, people in all societies and communities had no difficulty in believing that God pervades the Universe. It is difficult to understand the wonderful things we see around us, like the stars, the Sun, the Moon, the oceans, rivers, mountains, etc., without a Creator who first created them. The conviction becomes doubly reinforced when one sees the power in Nature [as say, during a typhoon, for example]. Gandhi put this fact beautifully when he said, “There is an indefinable mysterious power that pervades everything; I feel it though I cannot see it.” Thus, it is not difficult to accept God without, even though we cannot exactly see Him with our eyes.

What about the God within? Here, practically everyone has problems. When we talk of within, we mean within our body. Since we are so much wedded to the concept that we are the body, we cannot easily conceive that there is an extra-ordinary, invisible force within us. Advances in science have heightened the scepticism. If a person is asked, “How come the heart pumps without any effort from us?” the reply would be, “It is hard-wired; that is why it pumps.” “How comes the body knows time, like when milk teeth should fall, when hair should turn grey, etc?” Reply: “Oh, that’s because there is a biological clock within. It is built into the DNA.”

One can go on indefinitely in this manner. Swami sometimes asks: “Who painted the peacock? Who put a red beak on a green parrot?” Scientists can come up with mathematical non-linear equations that ‘explain’ such phenomena. Can everything be explained like this? Not really. Raise the matter of Consciousness, and immediately scientists go on the defensive. Some will say, “Wait, in a few years science will give the complete answer.” Others will say, “That is a grey area and I will not prefer to discuss that which I know nothing about,” and so on. The fact of the matter is that God and His Power can be very well recognised within also, if one cares to look properly. This is what Krishna told Arjuna, and what Baba has told us any number of times, in much greater detail.

First of all, let us look at ourselves, our body that is, from a purely mundane angle. The baby that is born is tiny – just a few kilos. In a few years it becomes quite big, and an adult can be anywhere between fifty to eighty kilos easily. Now what is the body made up of? Basically cells, no doubt of various different kinds. What are cells made up of? Molecules. What are molecules made up of? Atoms. How did these atoms get into the body? Via food. Where did food come from? From ‘outside’. Thus, at the level of the atoms, we see there is really no essential difference between the outside and the inside; in fact, the outside has ‘sneaked’ into the inside, if one might say so! Incidentally it is of interest to know that the atoms on earth form a part of the collection of all the atoms in the Solar system; in turn, all these atoms came from a star that was the parent of our Sun! Thus, we all are remnants of a star that once blazed in the heavens! [We may not be movie stars but are stars in a real astrophysical sense!] God, it is said, is the force within the atom. In that case, since we are made up of a billion trillion atoms, God is very much within us.

This is not all. Each of us is something more than a bunch of mere inanimate atoms. We are alive; there is a life-force within us. This life force is called Praana, and technically one speaks of five types of life forces [Pancha Praanas]. Despite all its spectacular advances, science does not have even an elementary clue as to the nature of this life force. Perhaps it never will [unless it changes its present perspective]. There are so many manifestations of the Divine force within us; each and every one of them is derived from God. As Baba often reminds us, we chant the hymn Aham Vaishvanaro ….before a meal. What does this hymn mean? It means that the One digesting the food and distributing the nutrition to the organs [so that they may do their respective work] is God! Who is the One that moves the limbs? It is God, and as the presiding deity of the limbs, He has a special name – Angeerasa. The mind is the most potent agency in the possession of man. All the advances in science and technology have been born in some mind or the other. Swami reminds us that the power of the mind reflects the power of God. In the Gita, Krishna says, “Among the senses, I am the Mind!” echoing the same sentiment. Added to all this, the Heart is the seat of God; that is why God is called Hridayavasi or One who dwells in the Heart. Baba has told us any number of times that the Heart is the Permanent Address of God.

Swami often tells us: “I am in you, with you, around you, below you, above you…..” Devotees are thrilled to hear this but few care to understand how profound this declaration is. It is a statement with deep implications. An atheist may say there is no God, but he is alive because of the Divine forces operating within him. God is always within us as the Atma, as the mind, and as the various forces that animate the body.

In short, gross matter is a manifestation of God in an inanimate form. Subtle matter [of which the mind is made] is a manifestation of God in a subtle form. Living beings are complex manifestations of God made up of both gross and subtle matter, and having within them various aspects of God. Man is the most complex manifestation of God in Creation, having within him extra-ordinary powers and capabilities, all derived from God. However, all these manifestations of Divine Power are conditioned in one manner or the other, by the Gunas. To put it crisply, they all are BELOW the Gunas. The Avatar, is a special exception. Externally, the Avatar looks very much like any one of us. The Avatar has a body, the body grows, the body ages, and so on. Nevertheless, the Avatar is special because unlike us, He is NOT below the Gunas; rather, He is ABOVE the Gunas. This is a vital difference. More about Gunas in a later chapter.

This brings us to three important words that Swami often uses. They are: CONSCIOUS, CONSCIENCE, and CONSCIOUSNESS. Let us try to understand these and relate to what has been said so far.

We are CONSCIOUS of the world around us. This has been earlier referred to as Secondary Consciousness; it is the faculty that enables us to become aware of our EXTERNAL environment. We are CONSCIOUS thanks to our sense organs [Karmendriyas] and the organs of perception [Jnanendriyas]. A scientist would say we are conscious of the external world due to the combination of the sense organs working in conjunction with the brain. Different terminology, but essentially the same description.

Conscience is what guides us from within. It is the voice of God.Picture1

Beyond the CONSCIOUS and CONSCIENCE, lies CONSCIOUSNESS. We must be clear about these three, the THREE C’S as one might call them. Baba often refers to these three C’s.

Let us establish the hierarchy. At the top is CONSCIOUSNESS. It is better to call it UNIVERSAL CONSCIOUSNESS [UC] or ABSOLUTE CONSCIOUSNESS [AC], which is the term used in Vedanta. UC/AC is nothing but Brahman, Atma, etc. In other words, UC represents God. Conscience is nothing but an aspect of UC that is resident within, and guides us [that is why it sometimes referred to as the voice of God]. Conscience is thus that ‘portion’ of UC that ‘relates’ to a particular Picture2individual. Thus, sometimes, Conscience is also referred to as INDIVIDUAL CONSCIOUSNESS.

UC or the Atma, is everything. All the power of the Universe springs from it. All the power of animation in the individual also springs from it. The enormous power of the mind also flows from the Atma. The life forces or the Pancha Praana are stimulated and energised by the Atma. An aspect of UC guides us acting as our [resident] Conscience. An aspect of UC animates us and helps us to become aware of the external world; that is, this is the aspect that makes us Conscious. Thus, as Swami often puts it, CONSCIOUSNESS [or Universal Consciousness if you prefer], CONSCIENCE, CONSCIOUS [meaning Secondary Consciousness] are all related and form a hierarchy. Incidentally, the Vedas declare:


This essentially means that the Individual Consciousness and the Universal Consciousness are one and the same. An individual experiences this identity when he sees ONENESS everywhere. What is the meaning of seeing Oneness everywhere? It means that one must see Sai everywhere, in every thing, all the time. Baba has a special name for this kind of unified feeling. He calls it: CONSTANT INTEGRATED AWARENESS [CIA]. He also says: Awareness means TOTAL UNDERSTANDING. In practical terms it means that other than God, there is nothing else in the Universe. Everything is God – stars, galaxies, planets, the Sun, the Moon, mountains, the sky, the clouds, water, fire, earth, the rivers, the oceans, the mountains, the trees, the animals, and so on. DOUBT: Are snakes also God? Of course yes, though most may not accept it. Swami says that ancients Indians swore by this philosophy of Oneness, and that is why they worshipped everything as God – the five elements, the Sun, the Moon, the oceans, the rivers, plants, trees, animals of all sorts, yes, even snakes! They never harmed any species. They constantly asserted in as many ways as possible, that EVERYTHING IS GOD, and that THERE IS ONLY GOD!

QUESTION: If a tiger is God, then why is it cruel?

ANSWER: The tiger is a part of Creation. Creation is a manifestation of God. The tiger is thus a manifestation of the Diversity that is projected from God. Externally, the tiger appears ferocious and even cruel. This is the dress that God dons when playing the ‘role’ of the tiger. Let us say there is a movie in which an actor is asked to play the role of a villain. The fact that the actor acts like a villain in the movie does not imply that the actor IS a villain; he is only acting like one. In the same way in Creation, God dons every role, both animate and inanimate. And He plays every role to perfection – in fact, God must be given all the Oscars every year!

Let’s get back to the tiger. It has beautiful stripes. That is one aspect of the beauty of God. The tiger is powerful – that is a tiny manifestation of the power of God. The tigress loves its cubs and protects them fiercely – these qualities are reflections of God’s love and God’s protection. Thus if one looks at the BASIS and not the superficial aspect, then one would certainly see God even in a tiger. But that does not mean that one should rush to pat a tiger on the back! As Ramakrishna Paramahamsa only put it, “Tiger also is God but it is better to admire this God from a distance than go near it!” Incidentally, the so-called cruelty of the tiger arises from the fact that it is [like all of us are] below the Gunas. This business of above and below the Gunas would become clear later.

Let us wrap us this chapter.

  • God is everywhere; He is within as well as without. He is present but in subtle form.

  • If we look for Him, we will find Him; otherwise not.

  • Within, we call Him Atma; without, we call Him Brahman. Two names but same God. Therefore, Atma = Brahman.

  • Wherever we turn, we are seeing or experiencing nothing but God.

  • However, this Universal presence and manifestation of God is not very evident to us. This is because we have become conditioned to superficial existence. We see only the ‘surface’ and not beneath the ‘surface’. On the surface, a mountain is a beautiful geographic formation formed due to upheavals of the earth’s plates, continents colliding etc. But beneath the surface, the mountain is manifestation of God’s majesty. And so on.

  • The true seeker MUST not see the surface but always below the surface.

  • Why? Because, looking at the surface can cause superficial feelings like desire, attachment, infatuation, hatred, jealousy, etc. All these promote the feeling of differentiation. Looking beneath the surface, on the other hand, promotes the feeling of unity; it enables one to see the underlying unity beneath the superficial diversity.

  • Human birth has been specially conferred to see Unity and not diversity. Seeing diversity and being guided by it is the characteristic of animals and demons. Being in harmony with diversity is human and seeing unity beneath diversity is Divine.

  • Man must perceive the Unity underlying diversity and thus discover his intrinsic Divine nature; it is for that purpose and purpose alone that the rare gift of human birth has been given.


    • The concepts discussed here are not easily found elsewhere. The presentation may appear a bit long and certainly complex, but needs attention in as much as it relates to the core of Baba’s teachings. A good grasp of the concepts herein would greatly help in understanding the essence of the teachings of Swami.

    • The aim of this discussion may be summarised as follows. It is to convey that God pervades the outside world; He pervades also the inner world; and the God “outside” is the same as the God “inside” as is only to be expected.

    • Stated as above, it might all seem obvious but the obvious is often not so obvious! Hence the need for such a chapter.

    • The Omnipresence of God must understood step by step. First we must realise that God exists always, in particular even when the physical Universe does not. Thus, He is truly beyond both Space and Time.

    • Next we must appreciate that once He has created the Universe, He pervades it in various ways. Thus, God is present in the Universe and He is also beyond.

    • God beyond the Universe is the ‘Ultimate Ultimate’ as one philosopher put it. This is the truly Formless God that the Vedas refer to as Niraakara Brahman.

    • It is often said that God pervades the entire physical Universe and that there is no place where He is not. Indeed this is true.

    • God pervades the physical Universe as the Immanent God and as the Transcendental or Causal God, if one might say so. These terms need explanation.

    • In Swami’s language, at the Causal level He is the Source of everything in the Universe, while at the Immanent level He is the Force behind the actions performed by the entities in Creation. For example, in a human, the Heart is the Source while the powers of the Mind and the body together represent the Divine Force. It is preferable to use the term Energy instead of Power, and so we shall use the term Divine Energy in place of Divine Force, most of the time.

    • So, the two things to focus on are the Divine Cause or Source, and Divine Force/Power or Divine Energy.

    • These two entities in Creation namely, Cause and Energy are referred to by various pairs of names. These include:

      Siva, Shakti,
      ParamAtma, Prakriti,
      Shankar, Bhavani

      and so on. In Western philosophy, the terms Spirit and Matter are more common. We shall generally use the terms Consciousness and Energy for this pair.

    • The next thing we must note is that Consciousness and Energy [or Divine Consciousness and Divine Energy, if one wants to be more fussy] are present everywhere in the Universe, including in so-called empty space.

    • We may find it difficult to accept the idea of energy being present in empty space. But even science admits of it. For example, in space there are vast stretches of emptiness. But light energy from distant stars travels through this emptiness in all directions. Since light is energy, we see that energy can exist even in empty space.

    • OK, so we agree that Consciousness and Energy pervade everywhere. Incidentally, one may recall here what Gandhi once said. He remarked: “There is an indefinable mysterious power that pervades everything. I feel it though I cannot see it!”

    • Arising out of the above, we next note that these two entities namely, Consciousness and Energy are present in the human also. The former is the Cause, while the latter is the effect. Especially where humans are concerned, Consciousness is often referred to using the term Atma, and Baba has pointed out several times that the power of every single organ of the human body flows from the Atma.

    • This Divine Energy that manifests in a living human body has a special name: Praana. Thus, if the eyes are able to see, it is due to this life-force called Praana Shakti. Motor activity, digestion, blood circulation, etc., all happen on account of Praana Shakti. In short, both Consciousness and Energy are present in the human body, as they ought to be.

    • At this point, it is necessary to make a reference to scientist’s definition of a living being. Many years ago, Academician Oparin of Russia said that a being may be said to be living if it performs the following functions:

    • It must show metabolism, i.e., it must be able to take in energy in a higher form and give out as waste, energy in a lower form.

      It must show growth and decay.

      It must be able to reproduce.

    • Now an automobile takes in energy in a higher form and rejects energy waste. It does not grow but it certainly degrades. And it does not reproduce. Therefore, it does not fit into the definition. Arguing in this manner, one could convince oneself that everything from bacteria upwards indeed fulfils Oparin’s criteria.

    • But there is one important ingredient missing in Oparin’s definition, and that is a living being is AWARE that it exists! Oparin left out Awareness or Consciousness because the scientific community is very allergic to using those words. They have no framework within physical science for accepting concepts like consciousness, that is why!

    • Awareness exists in living beings for the simple reason that everything HAS come out of Divine Consciousness in the first place. Take a rat; it knows it is alive, and when it sees a cat, it flees because it wants to protect its life.

    • In other words, while science may dodge the idea of Consciousness, in Spirituality, we must accord it the first place. Everything flows from Consciousness or the Atma.

    • This Consciousness [which, remember, is the same thing as the Atma] is all important. It is there BEFORE Creation and also during Creation. In fact, it is the backdrop against which all the evolutionary processes in Creation take place.

    • In schools we are taught: First there were no planets. Then planets formed. Then life appeared on earth, and after that the evolution of species took place, culminating in the appearance of man on earth. We need to fill in on all the missing details in the above simple picture.

    • There are two ways of looking at this. One is as follows: God à gross matter, gross matter à plants, plants à animals, animals à man, man à God. This cycle has already been referred to in the Guide Book. We now consider another point of view.

    • Remember the DNA? It is supposed to have two strands [intertwined in an extraordinary fashion]. In the case of evolution, there are three stands [like in some muscular proteins]. These are: 1) The strand of evolution of gross matter from the original Cosmic soup that existed at the moment of Creation. 2) The emergence of life from inanimate matter and the subsequent evolution of living species. 3) The evolution of Consciousness in man. All these three processes take place against the backdrop of the two entities referred to earlier, namely, Universal Consciousness and Divine Energy. These two provide the basic support and framework for all these evolutionary processes.

    • For every aspect of evolution mentioned above, Consciousness [or Siva, etc.] is the CAUSE while Energy [or Shakthi] is the DRIVING FORCE. [If it is any help, one may use this analogy: In a car, petrol is the cause, and the engine is the force!].

    • Now what is the meaning of evolution of Consciousness in a human being? This is an important question and needs attention. This is where three words used by Baba come into focus. They are: CONSCIOUS, CONSCIENCE, and CONSCIOUSNESS [which really means UNIVERSAL or ABSOLUTE CONSCIOUSNESS].

    • Let us start with the first word namely, CONSCIOUS. What does it mean? It means to be aware. Of what? Of the external world. All of us are aware or conscious of the external world [through of course the senses].

    • Animals too have this capacity of being conscious of the external world, and in some respects their sense of awareness is superior to that of humans. However, thanks to his brain, man can do incredibly well. Man’s immense scientific knowledge is a tribute to this ability.

    • But man’s capacity for Awareness does not stop with the external world. He can cognise the Internal world too, and this is far more important in the scheme of Creation, than becoming aware of just the external world.

    • When man becomes aware of the Inner Being and responds to it, we say that man is following his CONSCIENCE. Thus, following one’s Conscience represents a higher kind of Awareness; it implies climbing up the ladder of Consciousness.

    • Man will follow his Conscience when he recognises it to be the Voice of God. If he thinks a bit further, he would realise that God resides in others also. When this realisation sinks in deeply, he would become aware of what is perhaps the most important thing to be known in Creation, and that is: THERE IS ONLY GOD, NOTHING BUT GOD, AND HE PERVADES EVERYTHING HERE AS WELL AS BEYOND, AS THE SUPREME UNIVERSAL CONSCIOUSNESS. This is the highest state of Awareness.

    • The Awareness ladder is what was referred to earlier as the third strand of evolution, and going up this ladder is equivalent to evolving to higher and higher state of Awareness or Consciousness.

    • Seen in this light, one can see that from inanimate matter through plants and animals, God is preparing living beings to go higher and higher up. When the human stage is reached, humans must take off and not fall down like a lead balloon!

    • If one becomes God-conscious, then there is a take-off. If instead one sinks to the level of a beast or a demon though sporting a human form, then it means the “flight is going to end in a disaster”!

    • The sum and substance of this discussion is simply to convey:


    • And so the final score is: The Indweller, whom many just refer to as the Soul, whom others speak of as the Atma and so on in different terms, is no different from the Cosmic God who pervades the Universe and is often referred to as Brahman. Hence Atma = Brahman! In other words, or rather in Swami’s words,



    • What follows is a technical amplification of some of the concepts explained above. This amplification is intended to help the reader to understand some of the intricate concepts, that Baba touches upon in some of His Discourses. It is to be stressed that reading this portion is not absolutely essential. But those who are intellectually curious may find it useful.

    • In the above, two terms were used: Consciousness and Divine Energy. It must be remembered that these are not really separate from each other, and are dealt with as separate mainly for operational convenience. They are inseparable like the two sides of a coin. In what follows, we shall ignore the two sides and just focus on the coin as a whole. In other words, we shall henceforth use only the term Consciousness exclusively.

    • The basic question is: What are the different aspects of Consciousness, if any, that manifest in the micro- as well as the macrocosm of Creation? In this context, we shall consider

    • The three Akasas or spaces or worlds,
      The three states of existence of an individual,
      The inter-relations between the above.

    • Let us start with the macro. Now, for every effect, there must be a cause. If the physical Universe is the effect, then there must be a cause for Universe. Obviously, that Cause is God. Swami sometimes uses the terms Ishwara or Brahma to refer to the Causal aspect of God.

    • God/Ishwara/Brahma operates in His own world. This world/space/Akasa is called Chidakasa, and it is an absolutely super-subtle world.

    • From the Cause, we turn to the Effect or the physical Universe. The associated space or world is called Bhutakasa.

    • Is there anything between the Chidakasa and the Bhutakasa? Indeed there is, and it is the subtle world entitled Chittakasa. Now why does this intermediate space/Akasa exist, and what precisely is its role?

    • Consider the following example. There is an artist and one day he paints a picture. Here the artist is the cause and the painting is the effect. But before he actually paints, the artist must get an idea or a concept. Thus, in this case, thought is the stage intermediate between cause and effect. Philosophers maintain that so it is in the case of Creation also. Just as for a human thought occurs in the human mind, the thought of Creation occurs in the Cosmic Mind. Chittakasa is the space associated with the Cosmic Mind.

    • At this stage, the following table would be useful.


    • We also note that just Ishwara is the Presiding Deity of Chidakasa, the other two spaces also have their own Presiding Deities. The details are as below:


    • Swami has given a very simple and elegant way of picturing these three worlds/spaces/Universes, call them what you will. The basic idea is the following. For each space, there is a microcosm. These are: The individual Heart for Chidakasa, the individual Mind for Chittakasa, and the individual gross body for Bhutakasa. Starting from the microcosm, one arrives at the macrocosm simply by putting together all the individual units. In other words:

    • The super-subtle world is just the aggregate of all the individual Hearts. Likewise, the subtle world is just the aggregate of all the individual minds and the gross universe is just the aggregate of all the bodies. Swami in fact writes equaltions like:


      This establishes a clear one-to-one correspondence between the micro- and the macrocosm. A bit more of fine print has to be added.

    • We have already seen that there are presiding deities associated with macro worlds/spaces. There are similarly, deities associated with the microcosm also. The correspondence is as below


    • QUESTION: Are the three deities Vaishwanara, Taijasa and Prajna really different from Virata, Hiranyagarbha and Ishwara? Not really, and it is all a matter of nomenclature. The macro aspect is called by one name and the corresponding micro by another, that is all. To put it differently:

      Virata is the “universal” aspect of Vaishwanara.
      Hiranyagarbha is the “universal” aspect of Taijasa.
      Ishwara is the “universal” aspect of Prajna.

    • What the above implies is the intimate connection between the micro and the macro. The micro would always reflect the macro and what is not found in the micro cannot be found in the macro. This should call to mind the observations that Swami often makes: 1) You are God. All the powers that God has are latent in you also. 2) What cannot be found in man cannot be found anywhere in the Universe.

    • By way of wrapping up all this, attention must now be called to the three states of existence of an individual namely, the waking state, the dream state and the deep sleep state. Besides, there is also the question: WHO AM I? These two issues would now be considered.

    • First, the issue of the three states. The waking state is characterised by a complete awareness of what is going on around the individual. In the dream state, since one is asleep, the senses are at rest; however, the mind is active, and is responsible for the dreams that one has. In the deep-sleep state, even the mind is at rest. The above is a clinical description of the three states. We must now link all this to details of awareness or Consciousness.

    • In the waking state, one is fully conscious of the external world. In the dream state, this external awareness is muted. In the deep-sleep state, this external awareness [called elsewhere as secondary consciousness] is totally dormant. However, something else is active, and that is what is called the Primary Consciousness, which is always active.

    • Since the above is likely to be a bit confusing, the ideas are restated in a different set of words. 1) Primary Consciousness is always there, meaning that it is operative in the deep-sleep state, in the dream-state and in the waking state as well. 2) However, in ordinary people, this Primary Consciousness gets eclipsed in the dream and waking states; it makes itself felt only in the deep-sleep state. 3) We know that Primary Consciousness is operative in the deep-sleep state, for it is that which makes the Self aware of deep sleep and experience the refreshing effects thereof. 4) Secondary Awareness or Consciousness is a derivative of Primary Consciousness, and operates fully in the waking state and partially in the dream state.

    • And now we come to an important point. See figure 2. Figure2

      This figure tells us something about what may be called the “i” consciousness and the “I” Consciousness. The former is the awareness of the lower self or the body and the mind, while the latter is the Consciousness associated with the “I” or the Heart. Let us start from the deep sleep state. In this state the body and the mind are dormant, and the Heart alone is awake. Therefore, it is “I” Consciousness alone that prevails. This is what has been referred to earlier as Primary Consciousness. As one wakes from deep sleep passing through the intermediate dream state, one finally reaches the full waking state. Here our external consciousness [or secondary consciousness or external awareness] dominates. That is the “i” consciousness associated with the lower self prevails over the Higher Consciousness associated with the “I” or Primary Consciousness. This is one way of saying that when we are fully awake, our ego easily dominates and eclipses our True Self. Conversely, when we go to sleep, our ego is partly eclipsed in the dream state and becomes dormant in the deep sleep state. The “I” Consciousness now prevails at last, and experiences the Bliss of deep sleep.

    • Please note that deep sleep is by no means a very spiritual experience! It merely helps in recognising the transition from the causal to gross and the reverse transition from the gross to the causal. It is this analysis that led ancient Indians to understand the deep connection between the states of an individual and the states through which the Universe itself goes through at birth and at dissolution.

    • We turn finally to the question: WHO AM I? Normally a question of this type brings a reply like, “I am Smith.” Swami says that Smith is the name given to the body by parents but man is not just the body. Then who exactly is man?

    • We now recall statements that Baba often makes in this context. He says:

      You are not the one you think you are. You think you are the body but you are NOT the body.

      You are not the one others think you are. Others judge you by your Mind but you are NOT the Mind.

      Who then are you? You are the one you really you are! And who is that? You are You.

      Swami says, “You should say ‘I am I!’”

    • This “I” is the primordial entity that always exists, i.e., it is nothing but the Atma. In other words, although for worldly purposes I may be X or Y or Z, in the spiritual sense, all are the same, all are the Atma! That is the Reality.

    • To summarise: The individual has three states of existence.

      With the body, he experiences the gross. This he does in the waking state.
      With the Mind, he experiences the subtle. This he does in the dream state.
      With the Heart [the Cause], he experiences the super-subtle Causal state. This he does in the deep-sleep state,

      Hence, one must not merely see the world. One must not merely analyse the world. One must experience the world with one’s Heart!

    • One last and important point. God exists BEYOND Creation. Is there any state of existence that enables one to connect with this Absolute State of God? Yes there is, and that is often called the Transcendental State or Turiya State. This is the state where one experiences Pure Oneness. Such experiences are extremely rare and have been discussed in the Message of the Lord. It has been given to a rare few to spend their entire lives in this state! Blessed indeed were they!

    • To sum up, Primary Consciousness is the only Reality:


    • Baba says:

      Man can cognise the working of the world by understanding the nature of gross body, the Subtle body, the Causal body and the Super Causal body. What is true must exist in the waking, the dream, and deep sleep states. Truth is that which is unchanging at all times, the past, the present, and the future.

      Reality thus has three main parts. They are empirical reality, that we experience in the waking state, the illusory reality that we experience in the dream state, and Absolute Reality, that we experience when we know who exactly we are.

    • The following incident should be of interest.

      A devotee of Baba once had an unusual experience. At the time the devotee had this experience, he was living in a big city in India. He was high up on the social ladder, and also held an important position in the local wing of the Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organisation. Swami paid a visit to the city where this devotee was living at that time and naturally, the devotee had many occasions to interact with Bhagavan. One day, Swami was in the company of a small group that included this particular devotee. Suddenly, Baba turned towards him and asked, “Who are you?” Everyone was quite surprised, because Swami knew very well who this devotee was. As for the devotee himself, needless to say he was quite dumbfounded. Baba then restarted the general conversation, and after a while He once again asked this devotee, “Who are you?” The devotee could not make head or tail of the question and therefore remained totally silent. The others around were equally perplexed; Swami knew very well who this person was; why then was He asking the question again? Yes, there must be some deep reason behind, but what was that reason? No one knew nor could guess. General conversation started again, and a little later, Swami asked the question “Who are you?” for the third time! On this occasion, one of those present tried to tell Swami who this person was but Baba promptly shut him up.

      That night when he was alone, the devotee thought deeply about the incident. After much pondering he caught on to what Baba was telling him. Many years earlier, when he was a young man, he once casually asked the family Guru, more out of respect than any genuine interest, for some spiritual advice. The Guru asked, “Do you have a good photo of yourself?” The young man was quite puzzled by the question but politely responded, “Yes, I have.” The Guru then said, “Keep that photo by your bedside. Every night, before you go to sleep, take a good look at the photo and tell yourself, ‘That is not me, that is not me, that is not me…’” The young man was completely foxed. Was the Guru out of his mind? Politely he said, “But Guruji, the person in the photo is me!” “No, it is not you!” “What do you mean it is not me? Then who am I?” The Guru smiled and said, “Ah! That is what you should find out!”

      The devotee realised that Baba was telling him to embark seriously on the path of Self-enquiry! When Swami repeatedly asked the question, “Who are you?” He was not trying to find out the physical identity; rather, He was giving a broad hint that the time had come for the devotee concerned to seriously introspect to discover his true nature!


    Volume - 2 Issue - 8 Radiosai Journal - PSN 2004