Allah is "closer to him (the human) than [his] jugular vein."(Quran 50.16)
> Aug 29, 2007
> Dear devotees of the Adi Shakti,
> Namaste - i bow to the Self that resides in you!
> So what can we make out of Jesus' claim that "Ye are gods"? What
> has it got to do with second birth (Kundalini awakening)? What is
> their relationship with Shri Mataji's Self-realization? What is the Self
> actually, and how is it realized? To answer these questions i have
> quoted Brian Hodgkinson:
> The Self as Spirit
> Vedanta accepts this logical introduction to the enquiry into the
> self. Self as subject should never be confused with any object.
> Anything that the self observes cannot be self. Can anything
> positive then be said of it? The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad has a
> great deal to say about the self. For example:
> `This Self is nearer than all else, dearer than son, dearer than
> wealth, dearer than anything. If a man call anything dearer than
> Self, say that he will lose what is dear, of certainty he will lose
> it; for Self is God. Therefore one should worship Self as Love. Who
> worships Self his love shall never perish … This Self is the Lord of
> all beings; as spokes are knit together in the hub, all things, all
> gods, all men, all lives, are bodies, are knit together in that
> (pp. 121, 135)
> `He wanted every form, for He wanted to show Himself; as a
> magician He appears in many forms, He masters hundreds of
> thousands of powers. He is those powers; those millions of powers.
> He is Spirit; without antecedent, without precedent, without inside,
> without outside; omnipresent, omniscient. Self is Spirit. That is
> (p. 136)
> The connection between these two passages lies in the assertion
> that self is spirit. Self is dear, self is to be worshipped, self is
> love, because it is spirit. What can be observed is material.
> Things in space, including human bodies, are material, made of
> gross elements; things in the mind are subtle, made of finer
> material and observable as imagined objects or thoughts, feelings
> and emotions; but the witness of them all, of all materiality, is
> of a different order. It is spirit. To know that spirit is
> revelation. To know that spirit is not to know an object; it is to
> realize that one is spirit.
> Brian Hodgkinson, The Essence of Vedanta,
> Arcturus Publishing Ltd., Canada, pg. 42-3
> All the Holy Scriptures - Torah, Bible, Qur'an, Upanishads, Vedas,
> Puranas, Granth Sahib - uphold the Self as Spirit, the essence and
> presence of the Divine in humans. That is why Jesus answered them
> in the temple, "Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?".
> Self-realization is a slow process of confirming the same divinity
> i.e., realizing the Divine within humans. No external images,
> rituals or human contacts whatsoever are needed for this inner
> journey to realize and meditate in the Kingdom of God within. The
> Self also overcomes the deep divisions and sheer ignorance that ail
> all religious and spiritual organizations, including Sahaja Yoga,
> for Self is God. And when you maintain Silence on your Self you are
> always in meditation, prayer and contact with God Almighty!
> regards to all,
Believing it to be an error i double-checked "nearer than all else":
> `This Self is nearer than all else, dearer than son, dearer than
> wealth, dearer than anything. If a man call anything dearer than
> Self, say that he will lose what is dear, of certainty he will lose
> it; for Self is God.
because it could also have meant "dearer than all else, dearer than son, dearer than wealth, dearer than anything". But it is indeed "nearer than all else".
In the Quran it is said that Allâh is "closer to him (the human) than [his] jugular vein."(Qur'ân 50:16). That is only possible if Allah is within them i.e., as their very Self. Thus the worship or meditating on the Self fits perfectly with the strict interpretation of Islamic monotheism.
Muslims do not have a separate god of their own whom they call "Allâh." The name "Allâh" has no connotation at all of a tribal, Arabian or even a Muslim god. "Allâh" simply means the one and only true, universal God of all. "Allâh " is a proper name belonging only to the one almighty God, Creator and Sustainer of the heavens and the earth and all that is within them, the Eternal and Absolute, to whom alone all worship is due. God states in the Qur'ân that His name is Allâh. Hence, Muslims refer to and call on Him by His proper name, Allâh.
What are the basic attributes of Allâh? The Qur'ân mentions the "best names" (or attributes) of Allâh. Instead of enumerating them all, we will examine a few. Some attributes emphasize the transcendence of Allâh. The Qur'ân repeatedly makes it clear that Allâh is beyond our limited perception: "There is nothing like unto Him ."(Qur'ân 42:11) "Vision perceives Him not , but He perceives [all] vision."(Qur'ân 6:103) "Nor is there to Him any equivalent."(Qur'ân 112:4) A Muslim never thinks of Allâh as having any particular image, whether physical, human, material or otherwise. Such attributes as "the all-Knowing," "the Eternal," "the Omnipotent," "the all- Encompassing," "the Just," and "the Sovereign" also emphasize transcendence. But this does not mean that Allâh is a mere philosophical concept or a deity far removed. Indeed, alongside this emphasis on the transcendence of Allâh, the Qur'ân also speaks of Allâh as a God who is close, easily approachable, kind, affectionate, loving, forgiving and merciful. The very first passage in the Qur'ân, repeated at the start of every chapter is "In the name of Allâh, the Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful…" The Qur'ân tells us that when Allâh created the first human He "breathed into him from His [created] soul ."(Qur'ân 32:9) and that Allâh is "closer to him (the human) than [his] jugular vein."(Qur'ân 50:16) In another beautiful and moving passage we are told, "And when My servants ask you, [O Muhammad], concerning Me – indeed I am near. I respond to the invocation of the supplicant when he calls upon Me. So let them respond to Me [by obedience] and believe in Me that they may be [rightly] guided."(Qur'ân 2:186)" 
All the Holy Scriptures - Torah, Bible, Qur'an, Upanishads, Vedas, Puranas, Granth Sahib - uphold the Self as Spirit, the essence and presence of the Divine in humans. Prophet Muhammad foretold an era will come when humanity will re-commit itself to God and there will be peace and prosperity in the whole world.'
"By the token of time (through the Ages), man is in a state of loss, except those who truly believe, act correctly and act together in mutual counsel of Truth and patience' (Al - Asr 103).
The Islamic calendar does not start with the birth or the death of a person, but with an event, the migration of believers from oppression to freedom, freedom to practice 'submission to the will of God' in order to attain peace within and around. The advent of Prophet Jesus (Alaih Salaam-peace be upon him) was similarly an epochal event in the history of humankind. The Qur'an calls him a 'sign', a 'mercy', a 'witness' and an 'example'. He is Messiah, Messenger, Prophet, Servant, Word and Spirit of God. The calendar may not be exactly precise but the millennium can serve as an important point of reference in the Divine scheme of message and revelation. And take us into the future.
The future is very dear to us. Even if it has not arrived yet, the future is already in our thoughts. On the other hand, the past is a collection of good and bad experience, its use is in shaping the present and shaping the future. . . .
Muhammad, (SAWS - Allah's Mercy & Peace be upon him), task, defined in the Qur'an, is to be 'a giver of the glad tidings as well as a warner'. The Our'an reminds us of nations who were destroyed - because they had rebelled and disobeyed - and gives us a glimpse of the life in hereafter of people who do good and who love and obey God. In the scheme of divine revelation, the past, present and the future are one continuum. . . .
In Islam service to humanity is a function of their duty towards God. The Qur'an says: 'And from among you there must be a society, community or party that should invite people to all that is good and enjoin the doing of all that is right and forbid the doing of all that is wrong.' (Ali-'Imran, 3:104)
In inviting people to goodness and forbidding from the wrong, Muslims will need to join hands with other believers who share a great deal of these values about good and bad and about right and wrong. The conflicts that we witness today are not conflicts between religions, they are conflicts of irreligion. Therefore, those who believe in God and know the right from the wrong - Jews, Christians and Muslims, especially - can join together to build a not a perfect, but an incomparably better world than we live in today: a society of neighbors who are just and fair to each other.
The second half of the millennium has seen two world and several local wars. It saw nuclear incineration of entire populations. It invented a savage new crime against humanity: ethnic cleansing. The new millennium ought to be different. Let the people of faith and goodwill work together to turn it into a thousand years of peace and prosperity, love and mutuality.
Prophet Muhammad, (SAWS - Allah's Mercy & Peace be upon him), has foretold that 'after many years of bad times, an era will come when humanity will re-commit itself to God and there will be peace and prosperity in the whole world.'
On the threshold of the next millennium, Muslims have a duty towards the world and towards the fellow humans. It is their unilateral obligation to invite others, and to work together in building a better and a peaceful world: a world which is free from oppression and exploitation, where rights are a reality and where justice prevails over hypocrisy." 
"Verse 3:81, among many other verses, provides the definitions of "Nabi" (Prophet) and "Rasoul" (Messenger). Thus, "Nabi" is a messenger of God who delivers a new scripture, while "Rasoul" is a messenger commissioned by God to confirm existing scripture; he does not bring a new scripture. According to the Quran, every "Nabi" is a "Rasoul," but not every "Rasoul" is a "Nabi." Not every messenger was given a new scripture. It is not logical that God will give a scripture to a prophet, then ask him to keep it exclusively for himself, as stated by some Muslim "scholars" (2:42, 146, 159). Those who are not sufficiently familiar with the Quran tend to think that Aaron was a "Nabi," as stated in 19:53, who did not receive a scripture. However, the Quran clearly states that the Torah was given specifically "to both Moses and Aaron" (21:48, 37:117). We learn from the Quran, 33:40, that Muhammad was the last prophet (Nabi), but not the last messenger (Rasoul):
"Muhammad was not the father of any of your men; he was a messenger (Rasoul) of God and the last prophet (Nabi)." [ 33:40 ] . . .
The mission of God's Messenger of the Covenant is to confirm existing scriptures, purify them, and consolidate them into one divine message. The Quran states that such a messenger is charged with restoring God's message to its pristine purity, to lead the righteous believers - Jews, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Sikhs, Hindus, and others - out of darkness into the light (5:19 & 65:11)." 
The Adi Shakti's advent and declaration that the Last Judgment and Resurrection has begun will one day compel people of different faiths to put aside their ignorance and learn to worship, pray and meditate on their own Self, the God Almighty (Brahman) within all. This will be the promised era when humanity will re-commit itself to God and there will be peace and prosperity in the whole world. That will come about as Shri Mataji's Divine Message to humanity confirms their own existing scriptures, purifies them of misinterpretation and false dogma, and consolidates them into one divine message - Silence on Self! She is without doubt the Rasoul (Messenger) charged with restoring God's message to its pristine purity, and lead the righteous believers - Jews, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Sikhs, Hindus, and others - out of darkness into the light (5:19 & 65:11).
regards to all,
2. Dr. Shahid Athar , Millennium - An Islamic Perspective (Millennium & Religions Conference. Chicago, Nov 20, 1995)
3. Mahmoud M. Ayoub, World Religions: The Islamic Tradition
Prophet Muhammad: "God is closer to man than his own veins."
"If we consider the most ancient evidence left by homo sapiens, we can see that man has always been aware of the existence of a Supreme Being, who is Lord of all things and of all living creatures.
Using every conceivable means, human beings of every era have always tried to show their feelings of deep respect (and reverence) towards God and to perform what is due to their Creator.
This is why Islam has always stressed the possibility of direct communication with God. Even those who have fallen into idolatry have never denied the existence of the Creator, but have simply put their idols and images in His place. And this is still happening today. This being the case, how can we recognise a true prophet and what is his or her mission?
The mission of the prophets is to reveal the will of God, that is, to provide a logical and tangible explanation of religion as it is experienced in our daily lives.
Genuine monotheism - the belief in a Supreme Being - means (or implies) the unshakeable oneness of the whole creation between man and God. Monotheism proves then, the pointlessness of idols and of images that come between man and God. The mission of the prophets is thus to set human beings on the right track, and in order to do this, the prophets have used two parallel and complementary paths:
- the way of learning, based on theology and philosophy
- and the way of Self-Knowledge or Self-Realisation
This is why we find in our Holy Book, the Koran, both scholastic discourse and phrases which hint at the "way in" to knowledge of the Highest Self. The concrete means of putting this message into practise is what is offered to us in this age by Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi.
To back up this Truth, if you will allow me. I will quote these words of the Prophet Muhammad, who tells us: "God is closer to man than his own veins." And the Prophet says: "With the knowledge of the Spirit, man will begin to know himself, so as to finally achieve knowledge of God." "With the purification of his inner being, man becomes conscious that he is the Spirit."
It is thus the experience of spontaneous Self Realisation - which is revealed by Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi - and Sahaja Yoga - which is the practise which she teaches - both spontaneous Self Realisation and Sahaja Yoga are in perfect harmony with the teachings of Islam. It is because of this revelation by Shri Mataji that I have wanted to speak to you tonight.”
Ayatollah Dr. Mehdi Rouhani
Royal Albert Hall, UK — July 3, 1997
"That you have to be born again, that you have to be baptized, that you have to become a Pir, that you have to become a Brahmin — all these descriptions have come to us from all the great scriptures. It is very easy to say that we don't believe in God, we don't believe in any Incarnation, we don't believe in Jesus, we don't believe in any religion, we don't believe into anything; is very easy to say. Even it is easy to say that we believe in them, we believe in God, we believe in Christ, we believe in Krishna, Rama, all that. Both things are equally the same.
When you believe in God you believe in the darkness and ignorance, and when you do not believe in Him also you are in ignorance. By believing into you close your eyes, accept the faith and go along with it. Of course it shows that you are conscious of some Power which is beyond. Such people have a great chance. But in the case if you go to these extremes in this kind of faith then you start only believing in Christ, only believing in Muhammad, only believing in Krishna — I mean depending on where you are born. How human beings are so narrow-minded?
If you are born in England either you will be a Catholic, or a Protestant, or maybe one of these witchcraft people. You believe into anything because you are localized in a place; there has been some identifications because your mother believed into something, because your father believed into something, or you paid for it. And this faith can become such a blinding effect on people that you develop absurd types of groups which call themselves as Christians, Hindus, Muslims — whatever you may say — and are extremely, extremely exclusive, blind, and fanatic.
Today one of the problems of the times of the modern times is fanaticism. Now this fanaticism has been growing. The more people try to get out of this fanaticism, it grows more. For example those people who have given up religion, who gave up God in the sense that they never gave up — you cannot give Him up, He has to give you up — those who felt that they have been able to give up God have done nothing good. They are equally useless. I mean they had by giving up God they have given up all ideas of any control by any divinity on anything. But what have they achieved — suicides, bad society, sick people. They have achieved nothing."
Shri Mataji Shri Nirmala Devi, Being Born Again
Caxton Hall, London, U.K. — May 12, 1980
"But I move in a society of another kind as you know and in that I meet many ambassadors and great intellectuals, and they all say that these disciples of Christ were all stupid fools because they have not been to universities. What university did Christ go to? This is how it is a big chasm now, between the people who feel Christ is the embodiment of Divinity and those who are intellectuals of this kind who are challenging Christ. But Sahaja Yoga can prove that Christ resides on this centre of Agnya there at the cross; because when the Kundalini stops at that point, at the Agnya point, you have to take the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Then the Kundalini rises in its dignity. That is the Gate He said.
So now as far as the tradition is concerned, I'm rather doubtful how the tradition took over every religion. Even Hinduism is like that. Islam is the same. Any religion you take [to], the tradition is nothing but the tradition of going down, down, down, down. If it was a right tradition, there would have been no problem. Todsy we have so many churches, so many fightings. You see the Vatican [involved] in the Mafia and the Mafia [involved] in the banks. I can't understand!
But Christ, you gave Him the thorn to be adorned on his crown. What kind of crown these people wearing? In India also, we have now started another kind of competition with your crowns. So somebody is making a big umbrella of gold. I must say crown is alright - they are wise, but an umbrella is dangerous. They are playing with Divinity. They have no sense that God Almighty has a tremendous wrath for such people. The religion of Christianity or any religion is the religion of the living God. At different times, there were great flowers on the Tree of Life, but we plucked them and said, "This is mine; this is mine" and we are fighting the dead. But in Sahaja Yoga, you will know the beauty of all these great prophets and you will be amazed how they have enriched us; all of them."
Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi, Christian tradition and Christ
Vienna, Austria - 8 September, 1984
THE NOUMENAL STATE OF MAN
In the last chapter, we looked into the phenomenal state of man, as considered by Shankara. This chapter attempts to study the noumenal state of man. According to Shankara, man's ultimate destiny does not consist in being caught up in the phenomenal existence; rather, man is called to live at a depth at which he must experience the source of the universe within himself. The task of man is not to search for his ultimate destiny outside, but to move into himself and discovering the ultimate in the cave of his heart. It is not a new knowledge, but a realization of what one really is. Paraa vidhyaa, therefore, is nothing else but a self-realization in which one experiences Brahman (Brahmaanubhava) as one's own indwelling spirit (Aatman). This chapter deals with the goal, nature and characteristics of para vidhya.
2.1.1. THE GOAL OF PARAA VIDHYAA
The goal of para vidhya is Brahman, the ultimate universal spirit behind the universe and Aatman, the ultimate principle in the individual. Only when one has true knowledge about both Brahman and Aatman, can one begin to experience the oneness between these two. In this section, we will clarify these two notions, in preparation for the analysis of the nature of para vidhya.
The word `Brahman' is derived from the Sanskrit root `brih' which literally means `to gush forth', `to grow', `to be great', and `to increase'. The suffix `man' added to the root `brih' signifies the absence of limitation. Thus, the term `Brahman' etymologically means that which is absolutely the greatest. So `Brahman' denotes "that first … reality from which the entire universe of our experience has sprung up." In the words of the Vedaanta-Suutras, "Brahman is that omniscient, omnipotent cause from which proceeds the origin of the world." Thus, the term `Brahman' signifies the absolute and ultimate reality which is the substratum and the foundation of the world we know, and on which everything depends for its existence. Brahman is self-sufficient and does not depend on anything else for its existence. Hence it must be spiritual entity, since matter is not self-sufficient, limited and subject to change. George Thibault, in his introduction to the Vedaanta-Suutraas, says that whatever exists is in reality one, and this one universal being is called Brahman. This being is absolutely homogeneous in nature; it is pure Being, Intelligence and Thought. Intelligence or thought is not predicated of Brahman as its attribute, but constitutes its substance. Brahman is not a thinking being, but thought itself. It is absolutely destitute of qualities and whatever qualities or attributes are conceivable can only be denied of it. Thus, Brahman is without qualities (nirguna), beyond the order of our empirical and worldly experience. We cannot grasp Brahman with our empirical experiences, since the being of Brahman is necessary for anything to exist, and even for the possibility of empirical experience. In other words, Brahman is a priori and cannot be grasped by a posteriori or limited experience.
Because of our inability to grasp the true nature of Brahman, whatever positive description is developed about Brahman will remain in the level of phenomenal experience, and Brahman is beyond all phenomena. That is why we find contrary characteristics attributed to Brahman. In Brhadaaranyaka Upanishad, we read that Brahman is "light and not light, desire and absence of desire, anger and absence of anger, righteousness and absence of righteousness." Kaatha Upanishad speaks of Brahman as "smaller than the small, greater than the great, sitting yet moving, lying and yet going everywhere." Brahman is light and not light, in the sense that it is only because there is Brahman that there is light and darkness. Again there exist small and the greater only because Brahman exists.
At the same time the word `existence' cannot be attributed to Brahman and to the empirical world in the same way, for Brahman's existence is different in nature. The existence of Brahman is opposed to all empirical existence, so that in comparison with this it can just as well be considered as non-existence. Brahman is the being of all beings. The nature of Brahman is so transcendent, that it cannot be compared with anything in the world we know. At the same time, Brahman is present in all its manifestations, for without the Being of Brahman nothing can exist. Yet the empirical experience of Brahman is not possible. Thus, Brahman is that unalterable and absolute Being which remains identical with itself in all its manifestations. It is the basis and ground of all experience, and is different from the space-time-cause world. Brahman has nothing similar to it, nothing different from it, and no internal differentiation, for all these are empirical distinctions. It is non-empirical, non-objective, wholly other, but it is not non-being.
Shankara repeatedly speaks of, and strongly defends, the absolute, unchangeable, attributeless nature of Brahman, alluding to many texts in the scripture which points to the nirgunaa Brahman. Commenting on the Upanishadic text, "as a lump of salt is without interior or exterior, entire and purely saline taste, even so is the self (Brahman) without exterior or interior, entire and pure intelligence only, Shankara points to the oneness of Brahman. In the lump of salt there is nothing other than salt, so too Brahman is nothing other than itself. It is the absolute being without a second. Shankara also uses the example of the sun reflecting in water and appearing as many, in order to bring home the same truth. He says that just as the reflection of the sun in water increases with the increase of water, and decreases with its reduction, it moves when the water moves, and it differs as the water differs, so is the self. The sun seem to conform to the characteristics of water, but in reality the sun never has these increasing or decreasing qualities. So also Brahman, which from the highest point of view always retains its sameness, seems to conform to such characteristics as increase and decrease of the limiting adjunct owing to its entry into such an adjunct as a body.
For Shankara, therefore, Brahman is a principle of utter simplicity. There is no duality in Brahman, for no qualities are found in his concept of Brahman. It is also simple in the sense that it is not subject to inner contradictions, which would make it changeable and transitory. Though Shankara uses logic and arguments to understand the nature of Brahman and to speak of Brahman, still for him in its reality Brahman is not a metaphysical postulate that can be proved logically, but must be experienced in silence. Thus, Brahman is one: It is not a `He', a personal being; nor is it an `It', an impersonal concept. It is that state which comes about when all subject-object distinctions are obliterated. Ultimately, Brahman is a name for the experience of the timeless plenitude of Being.
The term `Aatman' comes from the Sanskrit root `an' which etymologically means `to breathe'. It is often rendered as `soul' or `self', and signifies the most fundamental being of the individual. There is no one who can deny the existence of the self for it is the basis of all individual actions. Everyone is conscious of the existence of his self and never thinks that he is not. To doubt the existence of the self would be a contradiction in terms because then one would doubt the existence of the very doubter who engages in the doubt. The doubter of the self is often compared by Advaitins to a person who searches for the necklace while wearing it; or to a person who wears the spectacles on his face and at the same time looks for them elsewhere. Without the existence of the self, it is impossible for us to entertain the idea even of its being capable of refutation. For the knowledge of the self is not established through the so-called means of right knowledge, but it is self-established. Thus, the very existence of understanding and its functions presuppose an intelligence known as the self which is different from them, which is self-established and which they subserve.  The very possibility of knowledge and the means of knowledge (pramaanas) have relevance if there exists the self which is the source of all knowledge. Therefore, Aatman is beyond all doubt, "for it is the essential nature of him who denies it."  Therefore, Shankara believed that it was the nature of the self and not its reality, which is to be proved. "The self must seek itself in order to find what it is, not that it is." 
Having established the existence of the self, we can turn now to the discussion of the nature of the Aatman. Aatman is the deathless, birthless, eternal and real substance in every individual soul. It is the unchanging reality behind the changing body, sense organs, mind and ego. It is the spirit, which is pure consciousness and in unaffected by time, space and causality. It is limitless and without a second.  Vedantins speak of three states of consciousness, namely the waking state (vishwa), the dream state (taijasa), and the state of dreamless sleep (pragna). The basic underlying principle which witnesses all these three states of one's existence is the pure consciousness (chaitanyam), the self. It is because of the presence of this ultimate substratum, that the body, the senses, the mind and the intellect function properly. At the same time it is not identified with these, nor affected by the changes that take place in the body, in the other sense or intellectual functions. Thus, Aatman.is the "unrelated witness of the experiences of the three stages, which include a man's diverse activities." 
Shankara gives a number of illustrations to clarify the nature of the self, especially in its role of being a witness (saakshin) to all activities of body, mind, senses, and intellect. Firstly, Shankara gives the analogy of a king's court. In the court, the king sits in his high throne as the observer of the activities of his ministers, councilors and all the others present. But because of his majesty as the king, he is unique and different from all. So too the self which is pure consciousness dwells in the body as a witness to the functions of the body, mind and other faculties, while at the same time it is different from them by its natural light. Thus, the witness is the absolute consciousness, the unchanging intelligence that underlies the finer and grosser bodies. It is neither Iishvara nor jiva, but it is Aatman which is untouched by the distinction of Iishvara and jiva. 
To those who come with the objection that the self is not only a mere observer or witness, but also participates in the activities of the body, Shankara replies using the analogy of the moon and the clouds. The movement of the clouds on a moonlight night suggests that the moon is moving, whereas in fact it is the clouds that move. Likewise, the activities of the mind and senses create the illusion that the self is active.  To the one who would say that activity belongs to the senses or other faculties and considers them the self, Shankara gives the following illustrations. Just as the iron filings become active at the presence of the magnet, so also it is the presence of the self that makes the body, the senses and all the other faculties active. It is fire which makes the iron ball red-hot. So also neither can the mind, the intellect or the body combined make the self. It is the self which is the source of all their activities. Just as a man who works with the help of the light that in inherent in the sun does so without ever affecting the sun, so too the mind, the body, the intellect, and the senses, engage in their respective activities with the help of the self, but without exerting any influence on the self.  All these illustrations point to the basic and absolute nature of the Aatman. The following Upanishadic statement bear witness to this reality. "That the imperishable is the unseen seer, the unheard hearer, the unthought thinker, the ununderstood understander. Other than It, there is naught that hears, other than It, there is naught that thinks; other than It, there is naught that understands. 
The terms `Brahman' and `Aatman', both basically denote one and the same underlying principle: the former stands for the underlying and unchanging principle of the universe; while the latter refers to the unchanging reality in the individuals. Both of these terms are used in the Upanishads and by the interpreters as synonyms they do interchange these two terms in the same sentence. Commenting on the Upanishadic statement: "Who is an Aatman? What is Brahman?",  Shankara remarks: "By Brahman, the limitations implied in the Aatman are removed, and by the Aatman the conception of Brahman as a divinity to be worshipped is condemned." These two terms fundamentally refer to one and the same reality, which is the ground of everything. In other words, these two terms stand for two different descriptions of the same ultimate reality, from the point of view of the universe and the individual. The ultimate reality represented by these two terms is the goal of paraa vidhya or Brahmaanubhava.
2.2. NATURE OF PARAA VIDHYAA
We have analyzed the goal of paraa vidhya, in the preceding section. Here, we must attempt to clarify the nature of paraa vidhya, in which the Brahman-realization is attained by the seeker. We elaborate the nature of paraa vidhya, by looking into its meaning and clarifying the identity between Brahman and Aatman.
Paraa Vidhya or Brahmaanubhava is the ultimate and monumental state of man. The term `Bramaanubhava' is a compound word, which consists of two Sanskrit words, viz. `Brahman' (absolute reality) and `anubhava' (intuitive experience or knowledge). The term `anubhava' means not a mere theoretical or intellectual knowledge, but the knowledge obtained through an integral experience. Anubhava is not the immediacy of an uninterrupted sensation, where the existence and the content of what is apprehended are separated. It is related to artistic insight rather than to animal instinct; it is an immediate knowledge. Thus, literally the term `Brahmaanubhava' means the integral and intuitive experience of the absolute reality. When we speak of the intuitive experience of Brahman, from the Advaitic point of view there arise many basic questions as to the nature of Brahmaanubhava. How is it possible to have an experience if there is no subject to experience and no object to be experienced? Besides, if there is no duality in an experience, can it be described? If Brahmaanubhava is an experience, and if it has no duality in itself as an experience, then what is the nature of the experience involved in Brahmaanubhava? These questions stem from the fact that the Advaita philosophy of Shankara does not permit the possibility of duality in this fundamental experience.
Possession of intellectual knowledge about the nature of Brahman and that of Brahmaanubhava is the first step towards the attainment of Brahmaanubhava. Obtaining intellectual knowledge by the study of the Scriptures, especially by understanding the meaning and the import of the Vedantic statements like `That art Thou', is necessary for Brahmaanubhava. In knowing the nature of Brahman intellectually, one can work towards the attainment of Brahmaanubhava. When we speak of the attainment of Brahmaanubhava, we use the term attainment' (labdha) in a figurative sense (upacara).  In an empirical experience we attain some new knowledge, i.e., knowledge which had not been previously existed as far as we were concerned. In Brahmaanubhava, however, we do not attain anything new, but only realize what we are, i.e., our true nature, the identity with Brahman. According to Shankara, we are Brahman, and Brahmaanubhava is that experience by which we recognize our own real nature.
Many texts in Shankara's works point to the fact that the attainment of Brahmaanubhava consists in the recognition and the realization that one's real and true nature is Brahman. "The state of being Brahman is the same as the realization of the self."  "Perfect knowledge … is the realization of the Aatman as one with Brahman." "When a man knows the Aatman, and sees it inwardly and outwardly as the ground of all things animate and inanimate he has indeed reached liberation."  "No man who knows Brahman to be different from himself is a knower of truth."  "My self is pure consciousness, free from all distinctions and sufferings."  Thus, Brahmaanubhava which is the experience of identity with Brahman, is an attainment only from the point of view of the aspirant or the seeker of truth. From the absolute of paramaartha point of view there is no attainment of Brahman.
2.2.2. IDENTITY OF BRAHMAN AND AATMAN
From what has been said about the nature of Brahmaanubhava, so far, there arises the question, how, at all, can we know or have any kind of knowledge about this experience called Brahmaanubhava? No empirical means of knowledge (pramaana) can help us in this regard, except scriptural knowledge. Though scriptural knowledge is limited to the level of duality, still it provides knowledge about the reality of Brahman and enables us to have an intellectual understanding of Brahman.
Shankara holds the authority of the scriptural testimony in our intellectual understanding of Brahman. Nothing else on earth, except the scriptures, can reveal to us the nature of Brahman and of Brahmaanubhava. In this regard Shankara is very clear; he does not substitute any pramaana than the scriptural testimony, for the attainment of the intellectual knowledge about Brahman. He does make use of other pramaanas, but only to elucidate, clarify and demonstrate what he accepts on the basis of scriptural authority about Brahman and Brahmaanubhava. He says, "The fact of everything having its self in Brahman cannot be grasped [intellectually], without the aid of scriptural passage "That art Thou'.
The word `upanishad' (scripture) derives its meaning from its capacity to lead to the truth those who, having been thoroughly dissatisfied with the things seen and unseen, seek liberation from ignorance, which is the source of bondage and suffering. The Upanishads are capable of accomplishing all these, for in them the highest end of life is embodied.
Authentic human destiny: the paths of Shankara and Heidegger
Vensus A. George, Council for Research in Values & (August 1998), pp. 47-54
NOTES  The word `Brahman' appears for the first time in the Rig Veda as related various sacred utterances, which were believed to have magical powers. So, initially it meant `spell' or `prayer', which can be used for the attainment of one's wishes and desires. In the Brahmanas, it began to signify that which stands behind God as their ground and basis. Finally, in the Upanishads, this terms came to stand for the unitary principle of all beings, the knowledge of which frees one from finitude. Cf. Eliot Deutsch, p. 9.
 Cf. BSB, I, i, 1, pp. 11-12.
 Ramkant A Sinari, p. 67.
 Swami Virswarananda (trans.), Brahma-Suutra (Mayavata, Almor, Himalayas: Advaita Ashrama, (1948), I, i, 2, p. 26 (hereafter: BSB, Virsawarananda).
 George Thibaut (trans.), Brahma-Sutras, vol. XXIV, Introduction, pp. xxiv-xxv (hereafter: BSB, Thibaut).
 S. Radhakrishnan (ed.), The Principal Upanishads (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1953), p. 272.
 Ibid., p. 617.
 Cf. Paul Deussen, The System of Vedanta, trans. Charles Johnson (Chicago: Open Court Publishing Co., 1912), pp. 211-212. Cf. also BUB, II, i, 20.
 S. Radhakrishnan and C. A. Moore (eds.), A Source Book in Indian Philosophy, 5th printing (New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1973), p. 507.  In interpreting the Upanishadic text, Shankara is of the opinion that one must accept only those texts which speak of Brahman without qualities and forms. "But other texts speaking of Brahman with form", he says, "have the injunctions about meditation as their main objectives. So long as they do not lead to some contradictions, their apparent meaning should be accepted. But, when they involve contradictions, the principle to be followed for deciding one or the other is that those that have the formless Brahman as their main purport are more authoritative than the others which have not that as their main purpose. It is according to this that one is driven to the conclusion that Brahman is formless and not its opposite". Cf. BSB, III, ii, 14, p. 612.
 "Brihadaaranayaka Upanishad", IV, v, 13, R. E. Hume, The Thirteen Principal Upanishads, 2nd revised ed. (New York: Princeton University Press, 1973), p. 147 (hereafter: BU., Hume).
 Cf. BSB, III, ii, 16, pp. 615-617.
 CF. ibid., III, ii, 18-20, pp. 615-617.
 Baskali asked Bhava three times about the nature of Brahman. The latter remained silent all three times, but finally he replied, "I have already spoken, but you cannot comprehend that the self is silence". ibid., III, ii, 17, p. 614.
 Cf. Eliot Detsch, p. 9.
 Cf. BSB, I, i, 1, p. 12.
 Cf. ibid., II, iii, 7, p. 455.
 Cf. ibid., p. 456.
 Ibid., p. 457.
 Organ Troy Wilson, The Self in Indian Philosophy (London: Mounton & Co., 1964), p. 104.
 Cf. AB, p. 118.
 Ibid., p. 133.
 Cf. ibid., p. 136, Cf. Mahendranath Sircar, The System of Vedaantic Thought and Culture, pp. 156-157.
 Cf. ibid., pp. 136-137.
 Cf. ibid., pp. 137-138.
 BU., III, viii, 1, Hume, p. 118.
 "Chaanduukhya Upanishad", V, ix, 1, Hume, p. 234 (hereafter: Ch. U., Hume).
 Paul Deussen, The Philosophy of the Upanishads (New York: Dover Publications Inc., 1996), pp. 86-87.
 Radhakrishnan S., Indian Philosophy, vol. II, p. 513.
 BUB, VI, v, 6, pp. 500-501.
 Shankara, Gaudapaadakaarika Bhaasya and Maanduukya Upanishad Bhaasya, trans. Swami Nihilananda (Mysore: Sri Ramakrishna Ashrama, 1955), IV, 85 (hereafter: GKB).
 VC, p. 65.
 Ibid., p. 89.
 Shankara, Upadeshasaahasrii, trans. Swami Jagadaananda, 6th ed. (Madras: Sri Ramakrishna Math, 1979), II, xvi, 70, p. 189 (hereafter: UI).
 BSB, IV, i, 2, p. 815.
 Ibid., I, i, 2, p. 815.
 Cf. A. Ramamuarthi, p. 116.
"Self-realization involves an identity-experience, wherein one realizes his oneness with the ultimate Brahman"
"4.1.2. Incommunicability of Self-realization
The self-realization involves an identity-experience, wherein one realizes his oneness with the ultimate Brahman. Therefore, self- realization is of the nature of Brahman, i.e., without subject-object duality, eternal and uncaused, immediate and direct, besides being incomprehensible, indescribable and trans-empirical. Brahmaanubhava is not available to the empirical experience, as the scope of the former goes far beyond that of the latter. The words and languages we use refer to the phenomenal world and relative realities. As Brahman is beyond the phenomenal, Brhamaamubhava cannot be described in ordinary language. Therefore, one can speak of self-realization only by way of negation, by denying the qualities of the empirical experience superimposed on it. For instance, the qualities that are attributed to Brahman, such as reality (satyam), knowledge (jnaanam) and infinitude (aanandam) are not positive descriptions of Brahman, but are mere negations of qualities superimposed on Brahman, such as unreality, ignorance and finitude. Thus, all statements we make about Brahman, Brahmaamubhava and Brahmajnaani are mere approximations in the light of the phenomenal knowledge. Such a philosophical position makes self-realization, for all practical purposes, incommunicable. Since, Brahmaanbhava is unknowable and indescribable, it cannot be communicated by the Brahmajnaani to any one in the realm of phenomenal existence. Since Brahman-experience cannot be passed on to the other in any form of communication, it would always remain the subjective experience of the Brahmajnaani. Any attempt to communicate it, using phenomenal language, would be nothing else but a mere phenomenal approximation of the transcendental experience. Such approximations would never take one to the core of self-realization, as it is incommunicable.
4.1.3. Insignificance of the Other's Role in Brahmaajijnaasa
Shankarite path to self-realization, viz., the movement from ignorance to knowledge, is a way that is basically walked by the aspirant alone. The only involvement of the other, on the aspirant's effort to attain the goal of Brahmaanubhava, is the Guru. He is a detached guide, who helps the student to understand the true import of the Vedaantic statements, especially at the hearing (sravana) state of Brahmaajijnaasa. The relationship that exists between the aspirant and the Guru is that of a teacher and a student. In this relationship, the aspirant is totally obedient to the Guru, does personal service to him, looks after the daily chores in the ashram and listens to the teachings of the Guru by sitting at his feet. It is not a one to one, I ƒ² Thou relationship, in which one enters into the life of the other as an equal partner. Other than the teacher, the aspirant does not have any significant relationship with any other person. This is clear from what the aspirant does in the three stages of Brahmaajijnaasa, viz., sravana, manaana and nididhyaasana. In these three stages of Brahmaajijnaasa the aspirant firstly, hears the instructions of the teacher personally. Secondly he reflects on the content of the Guru's teachings in solitude, so as to remove the apparent contradictions and to be intellectually convinced of the true import of the scriptural aphorisms. Thirdly, he meditates in silence on the truths he achieved through hearing and reflection. The various stages of Brahmaajijnaasa in the jnaana path are so centered on the individual seeker and his personal effort the presence of the other in the process is seen as an interference that would distract him from the goal of self-realization. So the seeker is basically all alone through out the process of Brahmaajijnaasa. Even after the seeker has attained self-realization, he does not need to have any relationship with the other or to a community of others, because all such relationships would be irrelevant and unreal to the Brahmajnaani. Thus, Shankara's path to self-realization does not give any significance to the I-Thou relationship that is genuine and inter- subjective communion of hearts between human persons...
From what has been said, it is clear that Shankara by his doctrine of Brahmaanubhava and the self's absolute oneness with Brahman, does not speak of a dissolution of the world. At the attainment of Brahmaanubhava, the external world is not destroyed or annihilated. But, the Brahmajnaani views the world no longer from the phenomenal point of view. He sees everything in terms of oneness, which is characteristic of Brahmaanubhava. Thus, from the point of view of the liberated man the phenomenal world is real in the relative sense, because the state he is in, i.e., his absolute identity with Brahman is that which is really real. As long as one tries to understand Shankara's Advaita philosophy purely from the phenomenal point of view, he will always meet with contradictions, for what is absolutely true is the transcendental and trans-empirical.
4.2.2. Advaita Vedaanta as Pantheism
Many consider Advaita Vedaanta to be pantheistic, because self- realization consists in the identity of the self and Brahman. Those who hold this view cite the mahaavaakya `That art Thou' in their support.9 In interpreting the above mentioned Vedaantic aphorism, we say that it cannot be interpreted in the direct meaning of `That' and `Thou', viz., Iishvara and jiiva, since such a union between the supreme Lord and the limited soul is not possible. It its implied meaning `That' refers to Brahman and `Thou' refers to Aatman. Brahman is the absolute and eternal reality in the universe and Aatman is the pure consciousness, the eternal reality behind the individual self. Brahman and Aatman are eternally identical. In Brahmaanubhava, as we know, there is not experiencer and the experienced. What really happens in Brahmaanubhava is that the self, removed of all ignorance and its effects, realizes its eternal identity with Brahman. Thus, Brahmaanubhava cannot be considered as involving an identity between supreme Lord and the soul. Besides, the terms, `union' and `identity', are used figuratively because there is not new identity reached in Brahmaanubhava, but only the existing eternal identity between Brahman and Aatman is realized. Again there is no notion of God (as a theist would understand) in Shankara's thought. He does not consider Brahman as a deity to be worshipped or to be devoted to, but as the absolute ontological reality behind all the phenomena, which is identical with the self, the pure consciousness. So, for Shankara Brahman is not to be worshipped, but to be realized. If Brahman is viewed as a deity to be worshipped, and such a deity is seen as being identical with everything in the universe, then we have a pantheistic world-view. Since Shankara does not consider Brahman as deity who is identical with the universe, it seems clear that in Shankara's Advaita there is no trace of pantheism. Advaita goes beyond the distinction of theism, atheism and pantheism, as the question of God is not at all an issue in Advaita Vedaanta. Therefore, Shankarite thought does not involve any form of `isms' that views the absolute reality in terms of Godhead. But rather it is a mystical philosophy that aims at making everyone aware of his true ontological nature, i.e., Brahman and move towards attaining it."
Vensus A. George, Self-realization (Brahmaanubhava)
Council for Research in Values & (January 2001), pp. 23-31
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"Now, the principle of Mother is in every, every scripture - has to be there." Shri Mataji, Radio Interview 1983 Oct 01, Santa Cruz, USA
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