Faith

Who is the ‘seer’?

The atma is an amazing subtlety and its uniqueness continues to inspire wonder and astonishment. The atma’s existence cannot be proved in tangible terms. It is held to be the essence of consciousness and bliss and is eternally existent. Whatever methods are used to prove coherent truths in life based on reason cannot be applied in establishing the truth of the atma, though it is a self-evident truth, said Swami Gautamananda in a lecture.

Rationally speaking, what is seen is to be believed, goes the saying. But the atma cannot be seen by the senses. It is beyond the grasp of all the senses. Yet all know it in their inner depths, though one can never categorically prove that it exists or, conversely, establish that it does not.

Scriptures quote the analogy of the dream to explain the subtle nature of the atma. The dream, though seen during one’s sleep, has an existence only in one’s thought. Its validity is purely through one’s inference of the dream. What is more important is the fact that the one who sees the dream exists before, during and after the dream. Likewise, seeing, hearing, inhaling, tasting and the ability to touch and feel objects are possible because of the senses. But the senses are ineffective to operate on their own and it is the atma that enables then to function. The mind is operated by the atma. It takes the form of the object and reveals its nature. So the eye sees many objects. But it cannot see its own self. The atma cannot objectify itself. It is the subject. So who is the seer? He is the Kshetrajna who can never be the object that is seen and understood. He can only be recognised as the eternal consciousness, the subject and the knower of the created universe.

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Printable version | May 14, 2021 5:17:10 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/religion/faith-who-is-the-seer/article8224144.ece

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