QUESTION: Who is the individual self? Who is the Universal Self? How can they be identical and how can a statement like ‘Thou art That’ prove their identity?
MAHARAJ: The individual self is the centre of consciousness with reference to an individual person. To put it according to the Vedanta psychology, a person is an assemblage of several layers of bodies centring on a point of consciousness. There is first the gross physical sheath. Behind it, and permeating it, are the vitalistic sheath, intellectual sheath and causal sheath. The true Self is distinct from even this last. It is the centre of Self-consciousness which flows through and enlivens all the sheaths and integrates them into a whole, which we call the personality. In the state of liberation the Self is released from the hold of all these sheaths and becomes one with Brahman, while at the time of death it is temporarily released from the gross physical sheath alone, to be embodied in another afterwards. In release or Mukti the centre of consciousness gets united with the universal Self according to pure monists, or retains its individuality clothed in a divine body and participates in divine life, according to others.
The Universal Self is the Self of the whole universe. Just as our individual being is a physical body superficially, but basically a non-physical self-conscious entity, so also the gross totality we experience as the universe of matter and individual selves, is at the core of its being Sat-chit-ananda or absolute existence, awareness and bliss. Now this Satchidananda, the core of the reality, is the Universal Self.
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The Order on the March
News & Notes from Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission
Reminiscences of Sargachhi
(Continued from previous issue. . .) Swami Premeshananda (1884 – 1967) was a disciple of Holy Mother Sri Sarada Devi. For over two decades he lived at Ramakrishna Mission Ashrama, Sargachhi, West Bengal. Under his inspiration countless people led a life of spirituality and service, and many young men and women entered into monastic life. His conversations – translated from Bengali and presented below – were noted by his attendant who is now Srimat Swami Suhitananda Ji, one of the Vice-Presidents of the Ramakrishna Order.
The Three Gunas
Under the spell of God’s maya man forgets his true nature. He forgets that he is heir to the infinite glories of his Father. This divine maya is made up of three gunas.
The Story of Periaazhvaar
Srimat Swami Tapasyananda Ji (1904 – 1991) was one of the Vice-Presidents of the Ramakrishna Order. His deeply convincing answers to devotees’ questions raised in spiritual retreats and in personal letters have been published in book form as Spiritual Quest: Questions & Answers. Pariprasna is a selection from this book.
This is the ninth story in the series on devotees who had a role in the divine play of Bhagawan Sri Ramakrishna.
Naren Worships Mother Ganga
A fictional narrative based on incidents from the childhood of Swami Vivekananda.
The Katha Upanishad states, “Arise, awake, and learn by approaching the excellent ones. The wise ones describe that path to be as impassable as a razor’s edge, which when sharpened, is difficult to tread.”1
Swami Shivananda: A Living Light
(Continued from the previous issue...) In this article, Swami Shraddhanandaji reminiscences about his interaction with Swami Shivananda, one of the direct-disciples of Sri Ramakrishna and the 2nd President of the Ramakrishna Order. From 1957, Shraddhanandaji served in the American centres of San Francisco and Sacramento until his mahasamadhi in July 1996. This article was sent to The Vedanta Kesari by Lali Maly, a devotee of Vedanta Society of Sacramento, USA.
Shiva: Interval Between Enjoyment And Its Negation
Swami Nityabodhanandaji was a disciple of Swami Shivanandaji, the second President of the Ramakrishna Order. He was editor of The Vedanta Kesari, from 1942-1948 and later for three decades he was the head of Geneva centre of the Ramakrishna Order in Switzerland. This article is reproduced from the March 1968 issue of Prabuddha Bharata.