davidji's Blog

davidji's Blog

What Are You Mistaking?

Hello Spiritual Warrior!! And welcome to another edition of The Source! This week we are diving into conditioned responses and how they hold us back, constrict us, keep us in fear mode, and prevent us from accessing our best version.

The ancient sage Adi Shankara was one of the greatest teachers of timeless wisdom. I’ve spoken about him a lot over the past decade and shared his insights. His teachings on adhyāsa – the Sanskrit term for the superimposition or false attribution of properties of one thing on another thing are simple yet powerful. According to his translations of the ancient Vedic texts, the Upanishads, error arises on account of the superimposition of one reality on another. He defines adhyasa as “the apparent presentation, to consciousness, by way of memory of something previously observed in some other thing.”

Adhyasa is essentially the illusory appearance, in another place, of an object seen earlier elsewhere. It is similar in nature to recollection. For instance, on seeing a rope in dim light and not recognizing it as a rope, a person mistakes it for a rattlesnake, which he has seen elsewhere. The rattlesnake is not absolutely unreal, because it has been experienced in some other form in our life, but it has nothing to do with what’s happening right now. Yet, seeing a rope and thinking it’s a rattlesnake produces the same fearful effect as encountering a real rattlesnake in the wild.

At the same time, it is not real, because once the rope is recognized as a rope … we no longer have the fearful sensation of seeing a rattlesnake!

Adi Shankara points out in his Adhyāsabhāṣya on the Brahma Sutras that, when there is superimposition of one thing on another, the latter is not affected in the least by the good or bad qualities of the former; (e.g., tin foil does not become more valuable because it is mistaken for silver, nor does a rope get the qualities of the snake, which it is mistaken for).

Why all this talk of snakes and ropes??? It’s the ideal analogy for looking in the mirror and seeing your true, pure, perfect, soul and mistaking it for your body, which you have seen in the mirror a million times.

The self, which is identical with the divine, does not undergo any of the changes, nor does it experience any of the joys and sorrows, of the body, mind and organs, which are superimposed on it. The self, by itself, is neither a doer of actions, nor an enjoyer of the results. It becomes a doer and an enjoyer only because of this superimposition, as a result of which, as Adi Shankara said, the real and the unreal, namely, the self and the non-self, are blended into one.

Because of the superimposition of the non-self on the self, the existence of the self is not recognized at all, and the non-self, (that is, the body, mind and organs), is alone recognized as existing.

In other words, the result of this confusion is that every one identifies themselves with their body. This is the root cause of all suffering.

[Tweet “we identify ourselves with our bodies – this is the root cause of all suffering davidji.com”]

Through meditation, we can let go of this wrong identification with the body-mind complex and realize that YOU ARE the SELF, which is beyond all suffering.

Seeing a rope as a snake is simply unnecessary drama. And the more we connect to the stillness and silence that rests within, the less drama we will have in our lives!!! Enjoy the video for the true story of the snake and the rope as Adi taught it 1,400 years ago.

In the meantime, I’ll see you in the gap! Aham brahmasmi, baby! Peace. -davidji

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