The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda/Volume 7/Inspired Talks/Wednesday, July 17
WEDNESDAY, July 17, 1895.
Râmânuja divides the universe into Chit, Achit, and Ishvara — man, nature, and God; conscious, subconscious, and superconscious. Shankara, on the contrary, says that Chit, the soul, is the same as God. God is truth, is knowledge, is infinity; these are not qualities. Any thought of God is a qualification, and all that can be said of Him is "Om tat sat".
Shankara further asks, can you see existence separate from everything else?
Where is the differentiation between two objects? Not in sense-perception,
else all would be one in it. We have to perceive in sequence. In getting
knowledge of what a thing is, we get also something which it is not. The
differentiae are in the memory and are got by comparison with what is stored
there. Difference is not in the nature of a thing, it is in the brain.
Homogeneous one is outside, differentiae are inside (in the mind); so the
idea of "many" is the creation of the mind.
Differentiae become qualities when they are separate but joined in one
object. We cannot say positively what differentiation is. All that we see
and feel about things is pure and simple existence, "isness". All else is in
us. Being is the only positive proof we have of anything. All
differentiation is really "secondary reality", as the snake in the rope,
because the serpent, too, had a certain reality, in that something was seen
although misapprehended. When the knowledge of the rope becomes negative,
the knowledge of the snake becomes positive, and vice versa; but the fact
that you see only one does not prove that the other is non-existent. The
idea of the world is an obstruction covering the idea of God and is to be
removed, but it does have an existence.
Shankara says again, perception is the last proof of existence. It is
self-effulgent and self-conscious, because to go beyond the senses we should
still need perception. Perception is independent of the senses, of all
instruments, unconditioned. There can be no perception without
consciousness; perception has self-luminosity, which in a lesser degree is
called consciousness. Not one act of perception can be unconscious; in fact,
consciousness is the nature of perception. Existence and perception are one
thing, not two things joined together. That which is infinite; so, as
perception is the last it is eternal. It is always subjective; is its own
perceiver. Perception is not: perception brings mind. It is absolute, the
only knower, so perception is really the Atman. Perception itself perceives,
but the Atman cannot be a knower, because a "knower" becomes such by the
action of knowledge; but, Shankara says, "This Atman is not I", because the
consciousness "I am" (Aham) is not in the Atman. We are but the reflections
of that Atman; and Atman and Brahman are one.
When you talk and think of the Absolute, you have to do it in the relative;
so all these logical arguments apply. In Yoga, perception and realisation
are one. Vishishtâdvaita, of which Ramanuja is the exponent, is seeing
partial unity and is a step toward Advaita. Vishishta means differentiation.
Prakriti is the nature of the world, and change comes upon it. Changeful
thoughts expressed in changeful words can never prove the Absolute. You
reach only something that is minus certain qualities, not Brahman Itself;
only a verbal unification, the highest abstraction, but not the nonexistence
of the relative.