There is a short classic of Shri Shankaracharya called “Aparokshanubhuti”:
“The Direct Experience”. Of what? Of nothing – just direct experience. If it is experience of anything it is not experience of God, because He is not anything; he is something, He is everything, but ultimately He is nothing you can conceive of adequately. Therefore, just experience.
The verse of adoration:
“To Shri Hari, Who is supreme bliss.” Nothing in the world is supreme bliss except God, Shri Hari”.
This is a unique word in the terminology of Vedanta -“paramananda”. And nothing is so descriptive of Atman as this word.
“Who for my deliverance has appeared in the form God, pervader of all the universes as their life and very existence.”
Not in the sense in which light pervades the world, but as the substratum, as the very existence.
“And the cause of all the worlds, I offer salutations to Him.”
This is a model adoration offered by Shri Shankaracharya himself. And therefore the pseudo-dialectics of Deussen and Thibaut are not for us. They may sell their commodity where there are buyers, we will not go to the market where that pseudo-commodity, those false gems, are sold. We will buy for the necklace of our love, real diamonds, not the false diamonds in such markets.
“To effect release of ourselves from the tyranny of limitations, we give this little classic called ‘Aparokshanu-bhuti’.
By the good, with active strivance, it is to be contemplated again and again, again and again.” (Verse 2).
Not just once read it and put it aside. Again and again, till your intellect is soaked in it and radiates it in daily life in the form of detachment from the world and extreme love to the Lord of Nazareth.
Note well: What does Shri Shankaracharya mean by the word “vichara”? First of all says: “What is meant by jnana?” It has been said already that jnana means
“Brahman sattyam jagan mithya jivo Brahmaiva na parah.”
Jnana is what is called rahuli shabda in grammar; it has a special meaning. And whenever we love jnana or study it, it means “Brahman sattyam jagan mithya jivo Brahmaiva na parah.” This is the dearest and highest object.
I am Brahman, ever peaceful, ever tranquil and the same: I am Existence, Saccidananda, Consciousness and Blissfulness.” (This is the positive side).
“I am not the body which is asat by nature.” (Body is asat, ever-perishing, undependable; it did not exist formerly, and the time will come when it will cease to exist. The deha, body, is asatrupa by nature) . “This is the meaning of jnana.” (Verse 24).
“Unmodifiable (not at all affected by time and space and causation) formless (St. Paul has said that things visible are false and things invisible are real; the same thing is said here) , it is eternal and unchangeable. The wise call this conviction jnana.” (Verse 25).
“Attributeless, action less, eternal, ever-free (not that Brahman has ever become bound; it is never bound. Through illusion, the eternally free is conceived as bound) indestructible. That I am. I am not this body which is illusory.
This by the wise is called jnana.” (Verse 27). The interests of the body ought to be looked after, because the body is the boat by means of which the sea of sansara can be crossed. That is all. To cross the sea. The body is not to be fattened, oiled, to be decorated. It is for the practice of dharma. It is a boat. You do not always go on painting the boat, but you use it.
What is vichara? How is this jnana produced in our intellect?
The reply is (Verse 11) “by means of vichara.”
Vichara means reflection, dialectics, reasoning, applying logic. Is there any other means of producing the conviction called jnana? None, only vichara.
When you have done shravana, there follows manana, which is vichara. Shravana is matured under manana. Just as the objects are revealed only by light and by no other means, so jnana is obtained only by vichara and by no other means.
“What am I?” Am I the body, am I the mind? Am I born as a chemical product, a secretion of certain glands, am I all matter?
What is this world? How is it produced? Has it a producer (Krta) or not? What is the material of which it is made?” Upadana is the material cause, as the jar’s material cause is the clay; and the instrumental cause is the potter. “This kind of thinking is called vichara.” (Verse 12).
” I am not the agglomeration of the atoms of chemicals or physical elements.” The body is like that, but not I. “I am something different from these” because I am chetana, I am subject. I see the rise and fall of the elements and so forth, therefore I am vilakshana, different from them. “This is vichara.” (Verse 13).
“From ajnana is born all. In jnana it all ends. Sankalpa, my thought, is the creator. This kind of reasoning is called vichara.” (Verse 14).
“I am subtle, I am the knower , I am the witness, there is no doubt about it that I am sakshi, because it is a self-evident truth. This kind of reasoning is called vichara.” (Verse 16).
“Atman is not subject to growth and decay, Atman is one and it enlightens many bodies. Those people who see that the Atmans in the bodies are not one, they must know that there is no greater ajnana than this.” (Verse 17). OM
“The other schools of philosophy mew and chatter in the forest like jackals only so long as the mighty lion of Vedanta does not roar.” And it is true, it is true.
All the other schools of philosophy, Eastern or Western, hide their tails and slink away when they hear the roar of the lion of Advaita, Vedanta Kesari.
One day, you will bless you stars that you have the truth which is universal, which is incontestable, which has the approval and seal of the very highest intellects and the best of men, like our Rama Tirtha in the present day.
Send your blessings to those who are wrapped up in the tattered garments picked up on the roadside, being cast away by lepers, and they call it the marvellous philosophy! We sympathize with them and pray that they too may one day have a little ray of the light which is Advaita.