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Perhaps everybody has asked this question, but risking repetition, I'd like to ask, that once we realise the nature of our first person subjective awareness that experiences everything, how does one come to conclude that that atman, which is his personal "self", expands to encapsulate all living/non-living things?

I know that matter doesn't do a good job of explaining self-identity if you recall the Ship of theseus thought experiment, so this "self", if it exists, and it clearly does because I can directly experience my existence.

  • How does then, the concept of infinite consciousness arise?

  • Is it due to the nature of space: because as we move through space, we move our awareness to a different location in space (kind of like moving a diya around a dark room, illuminating different parts of the room).

  • If not, is it akin to the thought of panpsychism, which explains subjective experience by postulating the presence of consciousness as a fundamental feature of matter, aka consciousness being derived from matter at the most fundamental level?

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    The problem with you is that you are trying to understand infinite self Shiva with finite ego self Shakti of body i.e. mind and intellect and its words like vritiis, space, time, you and I etc.,. Can the finite understand infinite? No. Only the infinite can be known through infinite self, hence gyanis say Neti-Neti, not this, not this. Identifying self with body in ego and because of Maya Prakriti is the only bondage in the path of self realization. Buddha attained enlightenment only when he gave up the desire of body while meditating under Bodhi tree and taught non-self or no ego-ness later. – user16530 Feb 27 at 16:18
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    Not everyone can go to forest and dissociate with Moh of body because of Tamasik Kaliyuga. Hence, Bhakti yoga is advocated for masses which is not merely worshipping idols but surrender of ego as a servant alone has least ego, a true servant of God becomes egoless and enlightened eventually while fake hypocritic bhaktas and slave of Maya like greed, anger, ego etc., do Shiva vs Vishnu vs Jesus vs Allah etc., and create riots in name of religion and waste human life in useless comparisons with limited brain and life, die without peace as they preferred fake Maya over truth Shanti Brahman. – user16530 Feb 27 at 16:32
  • @ManuKumar I arrived at the non compatibility of body and self when I first questioned what exactly is the constant in my body and the unsurprising answer to that is obviously nothing. From their I understood the fragility of body-self. But yes I agree with you that it's not easy to cognize this truth mostly because science and society work together to reinforce our egotistical identity. – Weezy Feb 27 at 16:52
  • this post trivializes the insights of advaita. It doesn't have a serious tone. – S K Mar 6 at 23:58
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The problem with you is that you are trying to understand Atman using words, but you dont have to understand or know it, rather realize it. Even if a person understand every concept of Quantum-Nano Physics, Mathematical equations of modern scientists like Einstein etc., he is still in the realm of Prakriti i.e. worldly Maya and a bound jiva, to know Brahman one has to go above the material realm and divisions of even finite mind, ego and intellect where the knower and known are one i.e. Samadhi.

Brihadaranyaka Upanishad

3.8.11. This Immutable, O Gārgī, is never seen but is the Witness; It is never heard, but is the Hearer; It is never thought, but is the Thinker; It is never known, but is the Knower. There is no other witness but This, no other hearer but This, no other thinker but This, no other knower but This. By this Immutable, O Gārgī, is the (unmanifested) ether pervaded.

Futility of even knowledge for a Brahmgyani was explained by Ramkrishna Paramhansa

Suppose a thorn has pierced a man's foot. He picks another thorn to pull out the first one. After extracting the first thorn with the help of the second, he throws both away. One should use the thorn of knowledge to pull out the thorn of ignorance. Then one throws away both the thorns, knowledge and ignorance, and attains vijnāna. What is vijnāna? It is to know God distinctly by realizing His existence through an intuitive experience and to speak to Him intimately. That is why Sri Krishna said to Arjuna, 'Go beyond the three gunas.'

First of all you must discriminate, following the method of 'Neti, neti': 'He is not the five elements, nor the sense-organs, nor the mind, nor the intelligence, nor the ego. He is beyond all these cosmic principles.' You want to climb to the roof; then you must eliminate and leave behind all the steps, one by one. The steps are by no means the roof. But after reaching the roof you find that the steps are made of the same materials — brick, lime, and brick-dust — as the roof. It is the Supreme Brahman that has become the universe and its living beings and the twenty-four cosmic principles. That which is Atman has become the five elements. You may ask why the earth is so hard, if it has come out of Atman? All is possible through the will of God. Don't you see that bone and flesh are made from blood and semen?

One who knows the Atman, for him scriptures i.e. Vedas etc., are useless, rather what a true Brahmgyani speaks from experiences become the scriptures. Thats why there had been so many saints like Kabirdas, Nanak, Meera, Chaitnaya etc., explaining the same truth in different words. But unfortunately, unenlightened followers of saints end up in clashes and killing each other in the name of religion, sect-bashing specially in Kaliyuga and western nations where Tamas and ignorance dominates. These people have more hatred and affinity towards violence and showing others inferior in ego rather than comprehending their scripture completely and be free as they choose inferior animal instincts not the divine characters of Satva Atman. A Brahmgyani read scriptures, realize truth and becomes immortal living image of Atman Vidya/wisdom/understanding, which is confused as word Vedas or scriptures, while tamsik fools read scriptures entire life and fight each other based on their limited understanding and religion just like animals fight for some worthless region and perish in ignorance and without peace.

That which is infinite and one and pure love is Atman, but a jiva in Maya that is finite and full of hatred for others and their practices without understanding them in reality is Tamas and bondage of Maya. God who is Atman is sustainer of all regardless of their actions,, than how can a true Atman gyani ever hate of scared of anyone, thats why Buddha was not scared of Angulimala or mad elephant, Jadabharata was ready to give his life for tribal people, Prahalada was not scared of evil Hiranyakashyapa, Krishna instructed Arjuna in Atman Gyan to make Arjuna fearless via Gita during Mahabharata war.

Explanation of Atman by Krishna to Arjuna in Uttara Geeta

Uttara Gita

  1. The syllable Aum with which the Vedas begin, which appears in the middle of the Vedas and with which the Vedas end, unites prakriti with its own Self, but that which is beyond this prakriti united to pranava is Maheshvara.
  2. A boat is needed until one gets to the other side of the river, but when a man once crosses the stream, the boat is no longer needed for his purpose.
  3. As a husbandman throws away the husks after threshing out the corn, so does also an intelligent person give up the study of books after he has gained knowledge from them.
  4. As light is necessary to find a desired object in a dark chamber, but when once the object is found the light is necessarily put aside, so too when the object of supreme knowledge, kept hidden by the illusion of maya, is once found by the torch of knowledge, the knowledge itself is afterwards put aside as redundant.
  5. As milk is not needed by a person already satiated with the drink of nectar, so also the Vedas are not needed by a man who has already known the Supreme Deity.
  6. Thrice fortunate is the yogin who has thus satiated his thirst by the nectar of knowledge; he is henceforth bound to no karma, as he had become the knower of the tattvas.
  7. He that has known the unspeakable pranava as the one continuous sound of a big gong or like one unbroken thread of oil without division and separation, comprehends the real meaning of the Vedas.
  8. He who uses his own atman as one arani [a piece of wood that produces fire when rubbed] and pranava as the other, and constantly rubs the two together, he will very soon see the hidden fire thus produced by the friction of the two, even as he kindles the fire hidden in the bosom of the arani.
  9. As long as one does not see within the sublime rupa purer than purity itself, which beams forth like a smokeless light, he should continue his contemplation with a steady mind, fixing his thoughts upon that rupa.
  10. The jivatman, although seemingly distant from the Paramatman, is still very close to it; and though it has a body, it is still without a body; the jivatman itself is pure, omnipotent and self-evident.
  11. Although it is apparently in the body, it is still not in the body; it is not affected by any change of the body, nor does it take part in any enjoyment pertaining to the body, nor can it be bound down or conditioned by anything that binds the body

  12. As long as one does not acquire the knowledge of the tattvas, so long should he attentively perform all good acts, observe purity of body and mind, perform religious sacrifices, and acquire experience and knowledge by visiting sacred places

  13. At the time when the body oscillates backward and forward, the Brahmana who hesitates to believe that he is Brahman fails to understand the great subtle atman even if he be conversant with the four Vedas.

  14. Although cows may be of different colors but the color of their milk is one and the same, even so in the case of the jiva, the bodies may look different but the atman is one and the same in all.
  15. Food, sleep, fear and sexual desire, man has in common with brutes; it is only the addition of knowledge that makes him a man; if, therefore, he is devoid of this he is but equal to a brute.

Krishna himself was Atmagyani thats why Yashodra saw galaxies and entire universe in his mouth when she told him to open mouth because he ate dirt. When Brahma, personified Brahman appeared in infinte empty Brahman, he did self-enquiry and Tapas on the same thought for 100 years before getting enlightened and did all the creation. Thats why out of Tamas alone, people are told to do Bhakti of one God's avatars and Brahmgyanis, but hypocrite jivas who like darkness, Maya, oblivion and reincarnation dont practice their religion rightfully rather end up in fighting in the name of Shiva vs Vishnu vs Shakti vs Christ vs Allah arguments and waste their limited time, brain and rare human life, rather than practicing righteousness and attain liberation.

Swami Vivkeananda

Buddha is the only prophet who said, I do not care to know your various theories about God. What is the use of discussing all the subtle doctrines about the soul? Do good and be good.

Om Puurnnam-Adah Puurnnam-Idam Puurnnaat-Puurnnam-Udacyate | Puurnnasya Puurnnam-Aadaaya Puurnnam-Eva-Avashissyate || Om Shaantih Shaantih Shaantih ||

1: Om, That (Outer World) is Purna (Full with Divine Consciousness); This (Inner World) is also Purna (Full with Divine Consciousness); From Purna is manifested Purna (From the Fullness of Divine Consciousness the World is manifested), 2: Taking Purna from Purna, Purna indeed remains (Because Divine Consciousness is Non-Dual and Infinite), 3: Om, Peace, Peace, Peace.

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  • A lengthy answer:-). I doubt whether the OP will be satisfied – Srimannarayana K V Mar 6 at 10:40
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    @srimannarayanakv answer is targetted for logical OP as well some other orthodox sect bashers. – user16530 Mar 6 at 11:18
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    @Manu Kumar - extremely well put. But sadly there are currently active sects that go back to medieval times that deny what you have written and the quarrels you correctly say are useless are of vital importance to them even today, – S K Mar 6 at 11:34
  • To Moderators : Was this user (user16530 with name Manu Kumar) removed? May I know the reasons please? – Srimannarayana K V Mar 6 at 15:42
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As per my learning so far, Atma (to be very specific - Jiv-Atma) is singular/automic consciousness. Whereas, Bramha is Vibhu or supreme consciousness. Both are conscious entities and the conscious entities "do not dissolve into each other". Jivatma has its own properties whereas, Supreme soul has its own. Jivatma consist of 3 qualities - Ichcha (Desire), Gyan (Knowledge) and Prayatna (Efforts) where as Supreme Soul has additional quality - Anand (Bliss). When self realization happens that's when a soul actually understands its ultimate goal and continues its journey towards a God/Supreme Soul realization. Therefore, Self realization does not mean god realization. In conscious Samadhi, soul reunite with Supreme soul in a manner just like how a piece of iron reunite with fire. If you throw a piece of iron into fire and let it be there for some time, eventually that iron piece starts emitting fire. However, this does not mean iron is fire. if you take it out of the fire an iron will return back to its original state.

Therefore as per my learning, soul never become Bramha. These are 2 different conscious entities.

References -

Rigveda - Dwa Suparna Sayuja Sakhaya Samanam Vruksham Parishswajate |

Meaning - There are 2 birds (Atma & Parmatma) sitting on a tree (Prakriti), one bird (Atma) consumes the fruits (Karma Bhog) of the tree while other bird (Parmatma) only witness it.

Nyay-Darshan (Rishi Gautam) - IchchaDveshaPrayatnaSukhDukhaGyanani Aatmano Lingam ||

Meaning - When a soul come in contact with Prakriti it consist of 6 qualities - Ichcha (Desire), Dvesh (Hatred), Prayatna (Efforts), Sukh (Happiness), Dukh (agony), Gyan (knowledge).

Bijak (Sant Kabir) - Parasrupi Jiv Hai, Loh Jiv Sansaar | Paras Te Paras Bhaya, Shabd Bhaya Taksaar ||

Here, Paras is referred to Shabd (Parmatma) whereas, Loh is referred to Jiv-atma. Meaning - In supreme-conscious state, a soul achieve the properties (bliss) of Supreme soul.

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  • Please add references from scriptures to your answer. – Srimannarayana K V Mar 8 at 13:58

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