Variations in Brahman

Variations in Brahman

When I say “Variations in Brahman” I don’t mean variations in Brahman itself but rather in how it is known. How a person shifting into Brahman knows it.

At the high end of Unity consciousness, God Realization unfolds with a distinct variation.

On the one side, you have those who unite with God. This causes the transcending of Atman into Brahman and a distinct “loss” of the intimacy of the Unity stage for a time. Brahman becomes a distinctly different stage. Like the ego in Self Realization, Atman as if falls away.

On the other side are those taking a more devotional stance. They retain a slight separation from God to allow love to continue to flow. This separation or “remains of ignorance” retains some quality of the process of experience and the dynamics of consciousness. Thus there isn’t the same loss of Atman but rather a shift in perspective from Atman to Brahman. Atman is seen as Brahman.

There would of course be variations in degree also. As I’ve noted, it takes some ignorance for a person to remain to know Brahman. And there is degrees of devotion too.

I’d noticed in the past that some of the Upanishads seem to use the terms Atman and Brahman almost interchangeably. At first I thought this was sloppy translations but in looking at the Sanskrit, I realized that wasn’t necessarily true. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (a devotee) also spoke of Brahman Consciousness as the completion of Unity Consciousness rather than as a completely distinct stage. Recent reading and correspondence has highlighted this distinction.

Even in the Mahavakyas we see examples like this:
Ayam Atma Brahma – “Atman is Brahman” – Mahavakya from Mandukya Upanishad 1.2 of the Atharva Veda

Yet in other contexts, these 2 are described quite distinctly. There can be a very distinct shift out of consciousness (Atman) in the Brahman shift. Then only Brahman is relevant. For example, in Shankara’s famous phrase:

“The world is unreal
Only Brahman is real
The World is Brahman”

But if we think back to Self Realization, we know that it becomes clear post-awakening that the ego is not gone. It is only that it is no longer the centre. It was the identification with it that fell away.

It is much the same here – consciousness does not cease. It just ceases being the centre, the everything. Our relationship with it changes. Brahman is conscious rather than being consciousness (and its dynamics).

Brahman is the merging of opposites into a totality greater even than consciousness. That merging* comes to include everything as it progresses. A mature form of Brahman is inclusive of all prior stages, unlike those prior stages.

Thus, there are variations in the entry process but there is also the maturation itself that comes to be inclusive of what had fallen away prior. But now from the new perspective. As I get more data, we’ll see how much the two styles continue as distinct flavours.

* described variously as devouring, eating, absorbing, and so forth

Last Updated on June 16, 2016 by

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  1. zen pig

    One of the deepest questions I have is “why are we here”. I know that many feel it is Brahman here to experience Brahman, or God finding him/her self. but once one sees this ‘boiling vastness of potential” so to speak, (and I don’t even know if this is the tip of the iceberg, or the actual glimpse of Brahman or God), we all want to come back into the world of play. even Buddha said that he was going to keep on “keeping on” until all creatures were enlightened. But, once all creatures are enlightened, would that not be the awakening of Brahman from his long dream, where the universe starts anew? my gut feeling is that there is more to the story, but hell if I know what it is, and probably will never know. for me, it is like the story of Santa Claus. we learn the truth that there is no Santa Claus, and yet, we still make believe. (well, most of us do), and even for those who don’t. the so-called logical positivist among us, can we say that there lives are any more rich? I once opened to this point where I saw very clearly that all talk, all words were meaningless, even our definitions, were just empty, and yet, here I am. using words. playing in this form. maybe it is all as simple as play. I use to fight this play, this “coming back” until I saw very clearly that this was just another aspect of ego, trying, once again. to gain control. now days, I sit in meditation, and let life surprise me. so my question, is,……… this search for truth, just another way our ego is trying to “make a deal”, to gain something? of course, these are questions I ask myself, and I don’t expect an answer any more. the whole story of “why is there anything at all”, seems to be unanswerable. (sorry for the long post, but 5am, and two cups of strong coffee does this to a guy)! cheers.

    1. Hi ZP
      On the question of why we’re here, it rather depends on what we see “we” is. One, for example, I mention in The Value of Experiences.

      You can also search Purpose for more on the subject.

      The way I use the term Brahman, Brahman is beyond consciousness and thus doesn’t “experience”. I’d also suggest Brahman and God are not synonymous.

      What you describe is a glimpse, but of lively potential, an aspect, not the whole thing.

      And no – when all creatures are enlightened, it is the climax and conclusion of creation. Then there is a sleep cycle and then creation starts anew. I touch on some of the paradoxes around this here:

      I would say the search for truth is part of our evolutionary function, an aspect of that increasing knowledge through experience. The ego may hijack that, claim it for itself, etc. But that search is somewhat innate and is stirred alive.

      I’ve not found the question “why is there anything” unanswerable at all. I touch on the mechanism and purpose in a number of articles here. But the answer isn’t a tidy thing. Just as creation is multi-faceted, so too is the answer. But of course, these are just words on a screen. What is deeper there wants to find out for itself.

  2. Jim

    Well said, David. I remember the discussion we had about the Atman disappearing, and now all is Brahman, but this recognition that Brahman replaces Atman as our point of reference, completes the understanding (of course there is no point of reference as it was known before, but if there was it must be Brahman).

    This also jibes with a recognition lately, that as we mature in Brahman, the ever deeper and more powerful relationship we develop with ourselves and the world around us, begins to give rise to “miraculous” events. We used to hear a lot about “support of Nature”, but more and more there is no distinction between us and Nature or external reality, which therefore become considerably more malleable, as we continuously expand into Brahman. An ability to influence meta-events.

    The full ripeness of Unity must converge here, too, now beyond simple recognition, into the world of action, using thoughts as the roots of same. Onward and upward.:-)

  3. Daruma

    Dear Davydia, did Brahman shift somehow correlate with the opening of Adyashanti’s mentioned “gut” spiritual center, where all primordial fears are stored, and the transcendence of those fears are the gate in to Brahman? Where “gut” (or “hara”) is on the map of unfoldment?

    1. Hi Daruma

      No. The gut I correlate with Unity. The release of the primordial fear caused by separation and the resulting core sense of identity are resolved, leading to the end of the division between “inside” and “outside” and the dawn of oneness.

      Brahman is a later stage that is post-consciousness and post-Atman. That began unfolding here after the root.

      I understand Adya has begun speaking about a no-self stage that would correlate. While many use “no-self” in the context of post-ego and initial awakening. Adya seems to be using it as in no-Self or post-Atman. I’ve not had a chance to read his material on the subject yet though.

      Note that the head-heart-gut experience is common but not causal so not everyone experiences the stages with the same points. Not everyone even notices a chakra correlation.

      This particular post is quite advanced content. I explore this stuff as it’s rarely covered. If you’d like to explore how I frame it better, take a look at articles on the right of the Key Posts tab above. There is also links on the page to a series of articles I did on 2 of Adya’s books.

  4. William G. Wood

    Hi David,

    David, I have some questions about this, thanks.

    Some Vedic scholars define Brahman as the “Absolute.” Maharishi, on the other hand, is very clear that Brahman is not the Absolute (pure Being). “Brahman (Totality) is the knower of Brahman,” he references from the scriptures, and that Brahman would not exist without the knower of Brahman.

    Maharishi also discusses Brahman in terms of Nirguna (without qualities) and Saguna (memory of many) in another context, as part of our “intellectual perception.” He says of Brahman:
    “‘Param Purusha [supreme silence] we have in Brahm, and Brahm, the One, is made of memory [Para Prakriti]. It is one and it has the memory of many, one in many. So one in many means unity in diversity. These are the one in many. So one in many is or can only be, one with the memory of many’.”

    He then describe the nature of Brahman: “‘And who is the tenth [value of Brahman]? That who is saying, nine Prakritis of Totality, nine Prakritis of Brahm, nine collective Prakritis of Brahm. He is the collector. He has a unified state of nine Prakritis. The unified level of Prakriti has nine Prakritis, and he is the tenth of Purusha—so the tenth, Purusha.”

    First, who is the “he” to which Maharishi refers, and how does “he” and the “unified state [para] of nine [individual] Prakritis” relate to Brahman Consciousness?

    Second, you say that in the shift to Brahman, Atman is seen as Brahman, or, we could say, Brahman alone is. Yet this statement, upon further examination, reveals a Knower (Brahman)–Known (alone)–Process of Knowing (is) relationship. Brahman does not seem to be alone, but is very wrapped up in subject-object-process of observation relationship?

    Third, Brahman seems to be very complex, not simply “alone is.” Brahman incorporates unity and diversity as part of its very nature, or it couldn’t be Totality. Brahman is not the Absolute, it is the Absolute (Param Purusha) and transcendent Nature (Para Prakriti) together by virtue of our consciousness, the Knower. It would seem that the Knower (consciousness) is supreme, or “alone is”?

    But you say, “Brahman is the merging of opposites into a totality greater even than consciousness.” It would seem that consciousness, the Knower is the center, not Brahman. For instance, in the quote above, “Atman is Brahman,” it appears that Brahman alone is, yet this quote could be also read to suggest that Atman alone is, because Brahman has no relevance outside of Atman, but Atman can exist outside of Brahman, meaning Brahman is just one aspect of Atman. Brahman is Totality by virtue of consciousness’ ability to know Itself. After all, it seems that Brahman is just another state of consciousness, not the other way around. I know I am missing something!

    Thank you for your patience, I have been struggling with these questions for a while.

    1. Hi William
      Yes, the problem with words like “absolute” is that it’s relative to a relative. In other words, it’s a dualistic term where Brahman is one. The framing suits CC or Self Realization but becomes less suitable further along. I rarely use the term now.

      “Being” is also a function of the sense of existing. This arises in consciousness. Like the old SCI tape 8 quote “existence become conscious.” Brahman is prior to that duality.

      The knower of Brahman is itself. Consciousness knows itself and then when atman (consciousness) is transcended, we come to know Brahman, the great. Similar with Parabrahman. The qualities that give rise to consciousness are within Brahman. This is how Brahman knows itself. It is alert to its own nature but it is not “experienced” in the way things are in consciousness. There is no sensory input and the qualities don’t blend to become consciousness. There is just knowing. “Brahman is the knower.”

      On the 10, this is a reference to one of the ways he described the 10 stages of Unity. I reviewed those here:
      I’ve not seen anyone for whom Unity unfolded in quite this tidy a way but there is certainly a progressive unification of all the levels of experience within that. As mentioned, there are seed qualities within Brahman that are experienced as and within consciousness. These are qualities of Divinity.

      Sometimes, when he uses the term Brahm rather than Brahman, he seems to be talking about ParaBrahman. But that’s not clear to me as I wasn’t around in the final years when he brought that out.

      “He” seems to be Purusha, the Shiva value.

      Brahman is totality. It is everything while being nothing. It is the resolution of all paradoxes and dualities, even that of conscious/ not conscious. The complexity is in putting that to words. Brahman itself is not complex.

      Here, Brahman was initially experienced as supreme but is now seen as the “afterglow” of Divinity. Consciousness is seen as an expression of qualities, attempting to know Divinity.

      “Alone is” basically describes out highest knowing. Even in Self Realization, we can see Consciousness as that alone is. Then it becomes Brahman, then Divinity. “Knowledge is different in different states.”

      I disagree that Atman can exist outside of Brahman because the qualities that give rise to consciousness are in Brahman. Atman is a kosha within Brahman. “Atman is Brahman” is a recognition by the Self of its origins. It is not a statement of equivalency.

      From the perspective here, wholeness arises from consciousness aware of itself. Totality arises in Brahman.

      “State of consciousness” is misleading. It’s not a state (that comes and goes) which is why I now call them stages. And Brahman is beyond consciousness so it’s not a state or stage of that, except in relation to transcending that. The language gets messy. It’s a stage of human development.

      But yeah, it is just a stage. 🙂

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