The antahkarana or mind, is a modification of avidya (nescience), and the Consciousness reflected in it and conditioned by it is called jiva (the embodied soul). The mind, under the power of the jiva manifests itself as vrittis, or rays, whose main function is to reveal objects to the jiva. Their revealing factor is indicated by the vritti: “I know this”, “I see that”, “I hear that”, and so forth.
As a volume of water conditioned by a fountain and having its reservoir on a level higher than the fountain, breaks into spray, so does the mind, having its roots in the Self, break into vrittis.
In a certain sense, avidya is the material of which sansara (the phenomenal world), is the product, and it makes this sansara its object; just as the rays of the sun create the illusion of a rainbow, and reveal it as well.
The fundamental vrittis of the antahkarana are the intellect, emotion, will and the principle of individuality, called ahankara, or egoity.
Sansara, or the world of time, space and causation, which is the object or the jiva, is illusory. It is the root of suffering, just as the mirage river can be the cause of great suffering if taken as real and pursued as such. Its beauty, apparent existence and the peace which it seems to impart, are not of it. They are glimpses of Truth (the Self), which break through the illusory appearance.
The jiva forgetting its real nature, identifies itself with the mind, and holds erroneous notions, such as: “I am the doer and the enjoyer of the fruit of action ”, and this causes it to suffer. The essence of the jiva—the Self— is Bliss Absolute, and it is not fitting that it should run towards love, hate and worldly objects. This is avidya, and no wonder the result is discontent and agony.
Man is not perpetually condemned by any God. By right effort and sattwic* living, by detachment, benevolence, compassion and service of the Teacher, he regains his lost consciousness of Truth. Man’s life is a struggle towards the control and conquest of his mind. When you are in a dark forest, it is your first duty to collect bits of fuel, and to ignite them into a watch-fire, and so create light. Then you are safe, no dangerous beasts will attack you, for they are afraid of light.
There are two lights in the life of man; the reflected and the real light. The reflected light is revealed through the cultivation of sattwa-guna. Self-control, practice of virtue, reduction of individuality and service of the scriptures and the Teacher are the means by which the reflected light is kindled. As long as the mind is moved by love for worldly objects, as long as it is assaulted by passions, the sense of mastery over others, accumulation of wealth, and efforts to create sense pleasures, sattwa must be cultivated.
When it finds pleasure within itself, in renunciation, self-sacrifice, and service of the Teacher, it may be said to be set in sattwa. Devotion, kirtana, meditation and study are great aids in reducing the activity of the mind, and making it pure and tranquil.
“ He is not joyful over the acquisition of what is dear to him, nor despondent over the unpleasant ” says the Lord in the Bhagavad Gita, of the possessor of such a mind.
Then, by devotion to shravana and manana (hearing the Truth, and cogitating upon it), and the practice of nididhyasana (unbroken meditation on the Truth), a new and real vritti is created.
It is: “ I am the associationless Brahman ”.
This is a vritti of the mind, and man must do all that is prescribed in the Yoga to give rise to this real light of the mind.
We waste our life and go from darkness to darkness if we fail to awaken the great vritti :
“ Chidananda rupah shivo ham, shivo ham ” (I am of the nature of Consciousness and Bliss. I am That).
This vritti consists of two elements: avidya, and the Consciousness on which the avidya element of the vritti rests.
When this great vritti—“ I am the associationless Brahman ” arises, the avidya element is negated, and Consciousness, call it Self-consciousness in the ontological sense, abides as the true Light.
It is not achieved or created, but discovered as the ever-abiding principle of Reality.
This state is called Self-realisation, attainment of God, direct perception of Self. This light neither dims, fluctuates, nor disappears. It is the only abiding principle in the empirical world, and once realised there is nothing further to be achieved or attempted. There is no further need for discipline, and no duty to perform.
There are no degrees or stages in the Absolute, which is, was, and ever will be the Self of the jiva. Self-realisation is not progressive, it is absolute.
“ I am the associationless Consciousness, what have I to do with the world and its duties ? ” says Shri Vidyaranya.
“He who thinks himself to be free is free; he who thinks himself to be bound, is bound ” says the Ashtavakra Gita.
This is the final truth. Neither science, religion, nor philosophy have any other message to give. It is immortality, it is the discovery of the ever-achieved.
sattwa : the mental mode of peacefulness, light, harmony.
kirtana :group repetition of a name of God.