Every Experience Points to The Experiencer

October 7, 2020 | Global Gita | Blog

In this segment, Swami Bhoomananda Tirtha discusses a life-transforming proposition from Bhagavad Gita verse 2.16:

नासतो विद्यते भावो नाभावो विद्यते सत: |
उभयोरपि दृष्टोऽन्तस्त्वनयोस्तत्त्वदर्शिभि: || 16||

nāsato vidyate bhāvo nābhāvo vidyate sataḥ
ubhayorapi dṛiṣhṭo’nta stvanayos tattva-darśhibhiḥ

The unreal (asat) cannot manifest, and the Real (sat) cannot cease to be present. This has verily been realised by the seers of Truth, after studying the nature of both.

Swamiji goes deep into the term tattva-darshibhih – those who are given to constant introspection on the subtle Truths of life. These Truths cannot be submitted to any objective analysis, and can only be penetrated by our intelligence, says Swamiji. 

Right from ancient times Rishis have been given to this introspection. As a result, Upanishadic thought revolved around the impersonal, imperishable Self, which is everyone’s unchanging identity, “I”. People were able to evolve to that level only because they were given to tattva-darshana.

Tattva in English is sometimes translated as “principle”, but it is not quite that, Swamiji explains. It is neither substance, nor matter nor energy. It is a mento-intellectual concept of Truth, presented for us to think and deliberate on.

In this verse, 2 propositions – asat, and Sat – are beautifully presented by Shri Krishna, and beautifully explained by Swamiji.

Asat never comes into expression, can never come to be, can never be present. Sat on the other hand,  never goes out of expression, can never cease to be, can never be absent.

The conclusion to be drawn is this – If anything exists it has to be Sat. To be accepted as Sat, it can never change or transform.  If we apply this logic to the world, the ever-changing world is not Sat. But, it appears to exist. So, it is neither asat. The Self, our real identity, is the only Sat, because we say “I am”, and never has there been a time when “I” disappeared. All other things revealed by the “I” are transient.

After guiding us to the first step of this stunning revelation – that only the “I” is Truth, and the rest of the transitory world is not – Swamiji then systematically peels away the binding layers of the world that we wrap ourselves in.

Swamiji has explained many times before, that our life is an interaction between objects and our senses, that the effect of these interactions are mental imprints in our mind, and these multifarious imprints ultimately get narrowed down to just sukha (likes) and duhkha (dislikes). 

Sukha-duhkhas cannot be called Sat because they are obviously ever-changing. At the same time, we would not call them asat either, because we are experiencing them. So what are they then?

The Truth is neither sukha nor duhkha has got any prevalence. What is real is the experiencing factor that allows us to experience both these sukha-duhkhas, and that factor is the “I”, our real identity.

Swamiji explains with full patience, like one teaching the alphabet to a small child: “In happiness, I am. In unhappiness also I am. In both I am equally present.” Therefore happiness and unhappiness are nothing but our own transitory display and expression. Where does this display take place? In our Self, “I”. This “I” is the unchanging factor, the Sat, the real.

Swamiji reminds us that, we see the brilliance of an external light (like the sun), but the brilliance of the Inner Revealer is so much more, without which the external brilliance will never be revealed and appreciated.

All experiences are interactional. If sukha and dukha were not there, we would not know this presence which feels the sukha and duhkha. Therefore, sukha-duhkhas are necessary to reveal the common factor called “I”, for us to know that there is a presence which manifests sukha and duhkha. It is to get to that presence that these alternates are there. 

So do not get lost in sukha-duhkhas, Swamiji implores, but try to unearth “I” that manifest and dissolves them. We look at objects and get lost in them. Swamiji wants us to look at the objects and understand what is looking at the object, the Subject “I”. Every experience is a pointer to the one Experiencer. 

These loftiest Truths that Swamiji expounds make the impact of the entire world thinner, more vapid. Ultimately our tears and smiles also become subtle, the entire mind becomes lighter and intelligence completely clear.