Paramarthasara: The Ultimate Advaita text
Possibly the earliest text on Advaita Vedanta, Paramarthasara of Adi Sesa is a unique text. Adi Sesa literally means primevil serpent, and many attribute the original writing to Pantanjali. In a mere 85 verses, this text reflects some of the highest teachings of Advaita, including the Mandukya Upanishad with Guadapada's karikas. Guadapada was the Grand Guru of Adi Shankara and wrote the stellar Doctrine of Non Creation, also known as Ajativada. Paramarthasara was perceieved important enough that Abhinavagupta, considered by many to be the father of Kashmiri Shaivism, translated and commented on the text as well.
Now consider this interpretation of a verse of Paramarthasara by Atmananda Krishna Menon, who we consider one of the titans of 20th century, along with Ramana Maharshi and Nisargadatta non dualism, when he was commenting on the nature of the world from Atma Nirvriti:
"An examination of the world is also helpful to get established In the Real Self." He then unfolds the Paramarthasara:
"This literally means that what is perceived is not different from perception and perception is not different from the Perceiver and that therefore the world is the Perceiver himself. This needs elaboration to make the sense clear. The world is nothing but sense-objects and they are sound, form, touch, taste, and smell. It is not possible to separate these from sense-perceptions. One cannot even think of a form without allowing the idea of seeing to get into the act of thinking. The same is the case with the objects of the other senses also. It can be seen from this that even in idea, the sense-objects do not admit of separation from the respective sense-perceptions. Therefore objects are not different from, but one with perceptions. These perceptions not being outside, what is called the world cannot also exist outside. Sense-perceptions themselves may be examined now. They never stand separate from consciousness. With eyes open one does not see anything unless consciousness is there. Therefore sense-perceptions are nothing but consciousness. So also are all the activities of the mind. This shows that the entire gross world and the subtle are consciousness itself. In my previous article on the "I," I showed that the "I-Principle" is consciousness. It. follows then that all that is known and the knower "I" are only pure consciousness. Liberation from bondage consists in establishing oneself there.
Now we may examine the world in a different way. The world is nothing but objects of perception. They are not experienced by anyone. It is experience that must prove anything. Since objects are not experienced they are not existent as such. Sound and form do not come within one's experience. Only their knowledge may be said to form the content of experience. Therefore, relying on experience, one can only say that there IS knowledge of a world, not that a world exists. Can there be knowledge of a world when there is no world? No. Therefore it is not even the knowledge of a world that is experienced, but only mere knowledge. It is clear from this that what is called world is only knowledge itself (consciousness).
In the first paragraph it was shown that the world is but a perception and perception is consciousness itself. This may be made briefer still. The gross and subtle worlds (physical and mental) cannot be separated from knowledge (consciousness) at any point of time. Therefore they are nothing but Consciousness."
This specific self inquiry, where we investigate the true nature of our experience of the world, is a very deep and involved process. If it seems unclear, we reccomend that you start with the StillnessSpeaks DVD, The Transparency of Things, with Rupert Spira and Chris hebard explore some of the techniques explained above. Click here to see the DVD, The Transparency of Things.
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