Padmapāda, in his commentary upon Sankara’s introduction to the Brahmasūtras, explains that there are two factors involved in the very notion of ‘I’: there is the ‘not this’ (anidam amid) aspect which is the Self and there is the ‘this’ (idama śa) or objectified aspect which is the ego and which consists of all cognitive states including the self-reflexive cognition of ‘me’, the historical person who has an identification with a set of memories, who has a particular personality and who carries a certain sense of self-worth, etc. Padmapāda says that the idea of ‘I’, as consisting of both these aspects, is a matter for one’s own careful consideration. Thus in the Advaita of Śa kara and Padmapāda the ascertainment of the essential Self is not so much a matter of a ‘mystical’ experience occurring in time as a matter of enquiry consisting of the careful and concentrated inspection of and reflection upon one’s ordinary experience. Through the discrimination of the outward or objectified factors from I, Advaitins conclude that the true Self can only be Pure Consciousness or Pure Experience (anubhūtisvarūpa). Thus there can be no ‘objective’ experience of the Self because Consciousness itself is Experience.

Michael Comans, "Later Vedānta" (in Brian Carr & Indira Mahalingam edd. Companion Encyclopedia of Asian Philosophy. London: Routledge, 2001. 1

2 Answers 2


It is an adhyatmik experience.

This Atman cannot be attained by the study of the Vedas, or by intelligence, or by hearing of sacred books. It is attained by him alone whom It chooses. To such a one Atman reveals Its own form.

Katha Upanishad I.ii.23

You keep doing spiritual practices as suggested by your Guru and wait till the Atman reveals Itself to you. I don't know how the Atman will reveal Itself.

However, there is a peculiarity about the Advaita experience.

When men of knowledge, conversant with the rules of Yoga, become as fixed as a stake of wood, and as immovable as a mountain, then are they said to be in Yoga. When one does not hear, and smell, and taste, and see; when one is not conscious of any touch; when one’s mind becomes perfectly free from every purpose; when one is not conscious of anything, when one cherishes no thought; when one becomes like a piece of wood, then is one called by the wise to be in perfect Yoga. At such a time one shines like a lamp that burns in a place where there is no wind; at such a time one becomes freed even from one’s subtle form, and perfectly united with Brahma. When one attains to such progress, one has no longer to ascend or to fall among intermediate beings. When persons like ourselves say that there has been a complete identification of the Knower, the Known, and Knowledge, then is the Yogin said to behold the Supreme Soul.

Mahabharata Santi Parva Section CCCVII

All distinction between the subject and the object is dissolved in the Advaita experience. Nobody can say what the Advaita experience is like because there is no 'I' to report it. So what Comans is saying that there is no objective experience of the Self is not completely right. The correct position is that no one can say what the Advaita experience is like.


There are many ways of reaching the self. I have experimented for years.Not out of greed for joy but out of exploring what I should explore for. I have not reached but I sense what lies ahead. Since it is a state where the senses are blanked out, and thus hunger, anger etc disappear, a calmness and disconnection take place. Some may call it satchidananda. So you probably may not objectively experience it

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