The Mahavakyas are the Great Sentences of Advaita Vedanta and Jnana Yoga, and are contained in the Upanishads. Maha is Great, and Vakyas are sentences, or utterances for contemplation. The contemplations on the Mahavakyas also blend well with the practices of yoga meditation, prayer, and mantra… To truly understand the meaning of the mahavakyas it is necessary to practice contemplation and meditation in your own inner laboratory of stillness and silence.
The young Rama has questions about the ego and the Atma. The sage explains there are three types of ego, the first is the most deleterious to the spiritual seeker. The common belief of individuals is that as soon as they are born they are led to believe that the world around them is ‘real’. The influence of habits and desires is strong and is overcome with devotion.
The young Rama has heard the story of Dam, Vyal and Kat. They are taken by Lord Yama, the god of death. He asks the sage, “How is it that they will hear the narratives of their past lives?” The sage replies and reiterates the necessity of pursuing the purushartha.
The young Rama tells the sage, you have advised me to be like Bhim, Bhas and Dridh and not like Dam, Vyal and Kat. Sage Vasishtha tells the story of Dam, Vyal and Kat, and so doing, exposes sankalpa (will), ego, and awareness of the body and the desires that arise from that. It is an interesting – and thoughtful – narrative.
The young Rama asks about the wise one and his body. What is the nature of such a person, what is the composition of the body and its purpose?
The Young Rama asks the sage about impure vision – how can this come about when the Atma is purity itself? Recognition of objects as real or unreal depends on the determination and discrimination – and the attitude – of the seer. The famous saying, “the seen reflects the seer” tells that story … just as there is the fact that the mind takes the form of whatever it is pointed at. We need to recognise the world is out there, yes, it is unreal, and yes, we can be established in our true self within.
The pandemic has brought challenges in its wake, unexpected demands and unforseen results. Many – including parents – have been challenged to rise to new situations that have not been envisaged. The cost of not being prepared is mental illness. This mental illness has afflicted those working from home, parents helping with home schooling, children and students separated from their friends and peers. We have an innate strength, the strength that comes from the Atma within.
What is the relevance of the four states of consciousness? It is said that this world is a waking dream. What is the meaning of “waking dream”? What is does it mean when someone says Prajnanam Brahman, consciousness is the Self? These and other questions arise as the young Rama questions Sage Vasishtha.
The young Rama asks about the worlds of different people. Do they mix with one another or not? Sage Vasishtha tells that everything arises from Atma, and those with different worlds (think, world-views is all a function of chitta which arises from Atma. Another issue is considered: how do we recognise or come to know our true nature? Do we cognise when we are awake? Or asleep? What about the fourth state of consciousness, the turiya state? When do we know and how do we know we are the Atma? That we are one with Brahman?