It’s hard to describe Brahman as words use comparison and qualities to give meaning. Brahman itself is well beyond that. While we might have some idea about it, even based on inner experiences of emptiness or similar, Brahman can only be known by itself. It isn’t known through our usual way of experiencing, consciousness.
(We do come to know Brahman in the world but as with Self Realization, we usually unfold it “within” first.)
Brahman is also radically inclusive in ways experiencing doesn’t give us. For example, Brahman is nothing and yet inclusive of everything. Brahman is both being and non-being, conscious and not conscious.
From a Brahman perspective, the world was never created. And yet the world is here. Everything happened at the same time, never happened, and is unfolding through time. All become simultaneously true in Brahman.
Prior to Brahman stage, there’s becoming Self Realized, then God Consciousness (potentially), and then Unity. Each stage is exclusive of the others and it’s hard to remember what the prior was like as it’s no longer our reality. Post-Brahman, we become inclusive of all stages.
Consciousness wakes up to itself. Brahman is ever awake and ever asleep.
Because of this inclusiveness, Brahman can’t be groked by the mind. The mind doesn’t work this way. But we can know it when we know ourselves to be it.
With Refined Brahman, intensely bright light arises and very subtle qualities of Divinity begin to be noticed. This sets the stage for Pure Divinity.
There are three pithy thoughts – all probably a bit silly – that have popped into mind (whatever that is these days) over the last few weeks:
1. Nothing(ness) is real.
2. Unity unfolds. Brahman enfolds.
3. The phrase, “The lights are on but nobody’s home,” can have a very positive meaning sometimes!
Dear John, Lord of Pith
Wonderful. Nothingness is all there is.
Everything is nothing and nothing is everything. (layers and layers of meaning)
All so well put. The sutras already flow.
Thank you for posting David. The marriage of opposites really takes time to get used to.
As you know, time has been weird for me during this part of the unfoldment. It’s difficult to tell the difference between what happened a year ago vs. what happened a few hours ago. My mind has slowly adjusted to this new way of perceiving, but it’s still very weird. The past, present and future all seem to be happening at once. The strangest is seeing cause and effect arising simultaneously.
Distance is also weird. The concept of distance doesn’t exist anymore. Everything is just here no matter how far.
Yes, I can relate. It’s not “seem to be” but are. When you become familiar with what i call the devata body, you see that the devata that are creating all bodies and experiences are doing it all at once.
You do adapt though and time becomes very pliable. You come to be able to shift perspectives, like between all now, linear time, and timeless.
And yes, you contain the container of everything so nothing is somewhere else. “You come to know even the farthest reaches of the universe beyond perception”, to paraphrase the verse.
Be sure you remain active and doing as that’s how it grounds and integrates.
Thank you David.
Hi, David. This is a wonderful post. Thank you.
Here’s something I wrote awhile back that reflects on some of the same material.
A personal message about Brahman, the universe and you …
It matters how you approach Brahman, how you understand what Brahman is. In traditional, orthodox teaching, you will encounter two main ways.
“Brahman is that from which the origin, sustenance and dissolution of this world proceed.”
~ Brahma Sutra I.1.2
The other says:
“Prajnanam brahma” Knowledge is Brahman
~ Aitareya Upanishad 3.3
“Brahmavit brahmaiva bhavati” The knower of Brahman becomes Brahman.
~ Mundaka Upanishad 3.2.9
For awakening human beings like you and me, the second way is the all-important one: Brahman is the knower. Brahman is a person who has awakened to Brahman consciousness.
Why is it important? Because if you conceive of a Brahman “out there,” you will never find Brahman, you will never realize Brahman, you will never BE Brahman. If you conceive of a Brahman that is distant in time and space (e.g., at the beginning of creation or beyond the subtlest strata of existence), you will not become Brahman.
“Brahman includes everything and excludes nothing.”
It is impossible to approach Brahman from outside Brahman, from a vantage point that places yourself over here and Brahman over there. It is only possible to approach Brahman by finding Brahman as your own Self, discovering that the entire universe of Brahman, the Totality of everything that is and ever has been, is within yourself, IS yourself.
“Ayam atma brahma” “Atman and Brahman are the same.” “The Self is Brahman.”
“Aham brahmasmi” “I am Brahman.”
If you approach Brahman as other than or outside yourself, then you have made a Brahman that excludes you. To be Brahman, it must include everything. That is the fundamental fact about Brahman. If you are not included, it is not Brahman.
As Maharishi Mahesh Yogi says below, “there is no existence of Brahman other than the knower. … Brahman is not valid without the knower.” In a very real way, there is no Brahman until you yourself become Brahman by knowing yourself as Brahman.
That teaching has profound transformative power, as I have discovered in over fifty years of practice in my own life. When I was with Maharishi in 1972, I was struck by the one-pointedness of his emphasis on the knower as Brahman. He said:
“Brahman does not exist as God exists, the Creator. Brahman is the knower of Brahman. Aham Brahmasmi.
I am Brahman, and That thou art. You are also Brahman, and That all this is. First person is Brahman, second person Brahman, third person Brahman, the entire whole thing is Brahman. This is the knower, who knows it. He is Brahman. The knower. It’s the knower. It’s the knower.”
Q: “And what would be the difference between Brahman and the absolute?”
“There is a difference in Brahman and the absolute. See, the absolute IS, like the sap is.
The sap is. It’s attributeless, there are no differences in the sap. Pink [as in the pink flowers] also comes from there, green [as in the green leaves] also comes from there. Round comes from there, flat comes from there. All these different attributes come from the attributeless sap. So sap is the absolute of all these expressions. Sap is the absolute life of all the relative lives.
So, absolute IS. [However,] there is NO existence of Brahman other than the knower.
Absolute is, whether one knows it or not. It is there. Its validity is not dependent on the knower. If someone recognizes or doesn’t recognize, doesn’t matter. Absolute has its validity whether someone knows it or not. But Brahman has no validity without the knower. It’s a very great difference.
When the knower knows everything in terms of himself, then he is getting to be Brahman. And when he has actually known everything in terms of himself, then he is Brahman.
So Brahman is always in terms of, Brahman is there in terms of the knower. Absolute is there in terms of Being.”
Q: “Is God then the supreme personality of Brahman?”
“No. We were distinguishing Brahman in terms of the knower. Knower is Brahman. If we take off the knower, there is no Brahman. The knower is Brahman.”
So we have these two versions:
Brahman is that from which the origin, sustenance and dissolution of this world proceed.
Brahman is the knower. There is no Brahman without a knower of Brahman. Brahman is a person who has awakened to Brahman consciousness.
Both versions are authoritative, so I cannot reject one and choose the other. I must assume both are true simultaneously, without contradiction. That can only mean, the emergence of the universe must be linked to the fact that ultimately, we will know Brahman.
The fact that souls appear, evolve and awaken to Brahman consciousness must be the fundamental reason for the universe to emerge. Thus, there can be no Brahman without a knower of Brahman, and simultaneously, Brahman is that from which the origin, sustenance and dissolution of this world proceed.
It may seem unimaginable because, as human beings, we experience time sequentially. We experience past, present and future. Time streams along in such a way, we are always confined to this present moment. Past and future are beyond our reach, experienced only as abstractions with no real existence other than memory and imagination.
But all time, past, present and future, together with eternal timelessness, co-exists simultaneously in Brahman. “God sees all things at a time, whereas man sees things one moment at a time.”
There can be no Brahman without a knower of Brahman and simultaneously, Brahman is that from which the origin, sustenance and dissolution of this world proceed.
In our deepest heart, we feel this is so. It is the instinctive knowing behind the intuition that in some mysterious way, we are “the crown of creation,” that each of us, somehow, is the center of the universe.
At first perhaps, it is only a narcissistic fantasy. Or it may be an abiding sense that the universe, the entire universe, “cares about me.” But then finally, it is a deep knowing, a direct seeing. Eventually, inevitably, you awaken to the reality that “I am everything. The entire universe is within me.”
And you know, you feel and you sense, you intuit, you see, this is why the universe arose. This is the reason, this is the culmination, this is the source, course and goal of everything. The Totality’s knowing Itself through my awakening, through the awakening of ALL created beings is the fulfillment of creation.
Not so that I could live this unboundedness, but so ALL souls could eventually live it.
“For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God.”
~ Romans 8:19
It’s an impossible fortune. No one can deserve it. You know this when it arises within you. How could anyone deserve this? How can anyone deserve transcendental bliss? How can anyone deserve eternal, infinite freedom? How can anyone deserve the entire universe made of nectar?
There can be only one conclusion: “If I can have it, then it can only be that ALL beings will have it. That is the only way it makes sense.”
“Brahma satyam jagat mithya, jivo brahmaiva naparah”
Brahman is the only truth, the world is simultaneously both real and unreal, and ultimately all souls are Brahman.
FOOTNOTE: In physics, John Wheeler’s “delayed-choice gedanken experiment” has recently received widespread publicity since Andrew Truscott and colleagues at Australian National University successfully performed the experiment for the first time using massive particles (helium atoms).
The experiment shows that a later event appears to determine the past history of a photon or atom. The delayed-choice experiment sends the photon or atom through a beam splitter that functions similarly to a double slit interferometer. Then, AFTER the photon or atom has exited the splitter, a random chance generator decides whether or not to apply a second splitter.
If the second splitter is not applied, the photon or atom exits the first beam splitter as a particle. However, if the second splitter is applied, the photon or atom exits the sequence of splitters as a wave. That indicates that the photon or atom “decided” to behave as a wave as it transited the first beam splitter because the second splitter was GOING TO be applied in the future, even though the decision to apply the second splitter had not been made yet.
“By simultaneously ensuring that only a single photon [or helium atom] is present in the interferometer at once, and that the decision of interferometer is relativistically separated from the photon’s entry to the interferometer, it was unambiguously shown that Wheeler’s supposition that such a choice affects the ‘past history’ of the photon was correct. … In this picture, the choice of detection (delayed until after the photon has passed the first beamsplitter) is correlated with observing interference [wave behavior] or no interference [particle behavior] – and thus it seems that a future event (method of detection) causes the photon to decide its past.” ~ Andrew Truscott
Although this may seem impossible, it nonetheless does suggest that attention (e.g., experimental observation) in the present can determine the past history of the physical world. It gives a “real-world” demonstration that how one sees the world in the present may determine how the universe manifests, even perhaps all the way back to the beginning.
~Essay by Jerry Freeman
Excellent essay, Jerry. Thank you for sharing.
And yes, the way we approach something has a huge effect on what we’re open to. If the door isn’t open, how can we walk through? Or if we approach the door from the wrong angle…
Similarly, if there is a strong expectation of experiencing Brahman or thinking it’s going to be like a previous experience, that can get in the way of what’s actually here. It is the knower of Brahman that knows Brahman.
Here, it was like consciousness had been eternally looking in on itself, but finally turned and looked past itself. There was an experience like transcending consciousness, which can give that first impression you describe and can show up in descriptions of it.
But the fuller message is that Brahman is inclusive. While it is nothing, it is also everything.
With regards to the last bit about the present affecting the past—After awakening I saw my father quite differently. All of a sudden my childhood thrillingly improved. This new seeing is the current memory.. Although the old one is still there it is no longer perceived as real.
This felt like a real game changer.
And thank you Jerry for all the rest of your writing.
Yes, I’ve had similar. A reseeing of ones life from a new perspective.
Or more, where I resolved a trauma in the deep past and the whole history of that life changed. For example, there was someone I didn’t kill who then went on to have children. Not minor changes.
I suspect there will be wholesale changes to collective history as our pasts are resolved.
Seeing time as flowing in the present, this no longer sounds crazy to me. Time travel is real but not in the way it’s portrayed in movies!
Right – at first it can seem weird but then it becomes the new normal.
Hi D, long ago a friend of mine was in a small group meeting with Maharishi. At one point he looked right at her and said, paraphrasing here, you can’t even begin to imagine all that Brahman includes. I must admit, this has been one of my guiding mahavakyas through the ensuing decades, immensely useful and illuminating. And also fun!
Thanks for sharing, Sharon
Often, the initial experience of this shift is absence as it’s come right after the fullness of Unity. But as the knower gets used to it, it starts to see what’s there and it’s extent. (Of course language gets awkward on this topic as it’s knowing rather than perceiving.) At some point, it becomes clear that there is only Brahman and that it resolves all paradoxes and dualities due to its inclusiveness.
Later thoughts: Brahman as the ultimate inclusivity must necessarily include exclusion.
How important language is because we humans use language to interact with reality. In fact this morning I sensed how language is a bridge between thought and behavior. So it’s quite useful to choose a very good bridge. Maybe this is why I love Sanskrit so much.
Sharon – you’re right. It is so radically inclusive that it includes exclusion. This is why it can appear as a world.
Language is a real dance as there is so much subtle variation in meaning. Buckminster Fuller sought more precision by only using words for which there was one meaning. And he invented other words like Dymaxion.
Sanskrit is a beautiful language, founded in the celestial, whereas English is founded in the ego.
What an inclusive chicken! Fantastic illustration.
Thanks. The type is actually called a Brahma chicken, but the photographer called it Brahman.
The combo of the name and the look made it a perfect photo for this article. 🙂
Hello David, thank you for another fascinating post. Do you have any experience about rapid progress from the earlier stages and straight into Brahman, re. your examples of somebody moving rapidly through CC, GC and to Unity? And is there any experience in regard to possible oozing into the stages after CC, or is the contrast always so big that oozing is out of the question?
My 2nd and third shifts were each 2 mo. apart, then about 3 years in Unity, happily. I’ve seen several people wake up, Unity, then Brahman in under 6 months. They needed lots of integration time afterward though. Speed isn’t really the point and timing is driven by the collective need. Many take much longer between stages.
Oozing means a very gradual shift thats recognized in retrospect rather than at the time. Those with a very soft shift often spend longer in that initial stage and may have less confidence in it.
Further stages get progressively more subtle so it’s more common for them to be distinctive. But anything is possible subjectively.
But don’t try to figure out what your shifts may be like. Expectations get in the way of their actuality. They’ll show up as they do, when & how you least expect it.
Supremely wonderful post Davidya. Some of the replies are excellent as well.