Caitanyamātmā चैतन्यमात्मा (I.1)

Caitanya means consciousness and ātmā refers to the Self. Caitanyam is derived from the wordcetana (चेतन). Both caitanya and cetana mean only consciousness (Cetana is the conscious being and caitanya is his state, i.e. Consciousness. Caitanya = Śiva + Śakti, while mere Cít or consciousness is only Shivá as Prakāśa or Light. As Ātmā has Power apart from mere Light, the word used was Caitanya (Śiva and Śakti) and not Cít (Śiva), in order to denote Śiva and Śakti and not Śiva alone, who is like the Brahman in Advaitavedānta, viz. devoid of Śakti. Svātantrya isAnandaśakti, i.e. Śakti Herself always). But cetana also means visible or conspicuous. The entire universe emerges from caitanya, which has two sides, one is gross and the other is subtle. Gross is made up of names and forms and the subtle is made up of antaḥkaraṇa, which comprises of mind, intellect, consciousness and ego. Gross forms give direct experience and the subtle forms give internal experience. This is how the universe appears. How is caitanya related to Ātmā? The purest form of caitanya is Ātmā, the Self.

It can also be explained that cetana (a conscious being) is a person with caitanya (consciousness).  Conscious being or cetana is an embodiment of absolute freedom which is also known assvātantrya.  But this absolute freedom in an individual is restricted to his knowledge and activity.  But Śiva, the Supreme Lord alone has got the unrestricted absolute freedom which is known as Hissvātantrya śakti or Absolute Freedom. This kind of Absolute Freedom is not found in individual beings, also known as sakala-s. Sakala means the one with power, which operates only in a limited way. It is limited because it operates only in dream and active states. During deep sleep state he is devoid of power as he does not move and this state is known as pralayākala as opposed to sakala. who is afflicted with three types of mala-s discussed later in this aphorism and has not advanced spiritually This is the state where Śakti begins to extract the universe from Him by casting Her spell by veiling the Self, thereby causing differentiation between the Self and self. This differentiation is caused by akhyāti, meaning ignorance or non-realisation

Consciousness can be realized only if one is conscious i.e. if one is conscious of Consciousness. The purest form of consciousness is Śiva, the Supreme.  Thus consciousness becomes bothanupāya and svaprakāśa. Anupāya is one of the four factors that lead to final liberation. Anupāyameans instantaneous realisation of Śiva without exceptional effort by the practitioner. Svaprakāśameans Self illuminating, an exclusive quality of Śiva. None other than Śiva is Self-illuminating. This is beautifully explained in Kaṭha Upaniṣad (II.ii.15) which says,

na tatra sūryo bhāti na candratārakaṁ
nemā vidyuto bhānti kuto'yamagniḥ |
tameve bhātamanubhāti sarvaṁ
tasya bhāsā sarvamidaṁ vibhāti ||

न तत्र सूर्यो भाति न चन्द्रतारकं
नेमा विद्युतो भान्ति कुतोऽयमग्निः।
तमेवे भातमनुभाति सर्वं
तस्य भासा सर्वमिदं विभाति॥

The verse says that in the presence of Śiva (Brahman according to advaita), the sun does not shine, nor do the moon and stars, nor does lightning, let alone this fire.  When Brahman shines, everything else follows.  By His light, all these are lighted.

Therefore, svaprakāśa is one of the many exclusive qualities of Śiva and Śiva alone. In the same way, purest form of caitanya is Śiva and Śakti. All things irrespective of whether they are sentient or insentient is consciousness only, as without consciousness they cannot even appear with shapes and forms. If the omnipresent nature of Śiva is accepted then the pervasion of caitanya in the universe is also to be accepted. It is only the shapes and forms of both sentient and insentient beings differ and the pervasion of consciousness in all of them. It is only caitanya that causes mala or impurity of the beings. It is called adjunct because it is subordinate to knowledge.  Mala-s are of three types and they are āṇavamala, kārmamala and māyīyamala and these will be discussed as we progress. It is only the āṇavamala that causes limitation of universal consciousness into an empirical self. A Self realised person is not afflicted with mala, as he is liberated from the limiting factor to realize the unlimited factor viz. Śiva. Since consciousness pervades the entire universe and the pure form of consciousness is Śiva, a liberated person moves from the limiting factor to un-limiting factor and in both the cases, consciousness is present. It is only the āṇavamala that causes ego in a person making him appear with lack of fullness.  He thinks that he is not perfectly complete..  As far as caitanya is concerned, it is present in both macrocosm and microcosm; otherwise, the omnipresent nature of Śiva becomes questionable.

Vijñānabhairava (verse 100) says, “The Brahman who is characterised as Consciousness is present in all beings.  It does not vary from person to person. The one who realises that the Brahman prevails everywhere conquers the world.” For understanding and realising the Truth one has to go through certain mental process.  Mental process consists of three components.  The first one is learning and the second one is analysing and the third one is experiencing. Śiva is omnipresent and He prevails both internally and externally being the crux of learning.  Study of Upaniṣad-s and other scriptures that make elaborate discussions on the Brahman, by means of negations and affirmations is analysing.  Experiencing means developing higher level of consciousness and the experience culminates in Śiva realisation.  Meditation is a source of help only in the last stage.  Without understanding the subject, meditation is a process of wasting one’s time.  It is like writing an examination without the basic knowledge of the concerned subject. 

Spandakārikā (I.2) says, “As nothing can conceal His nature, obviously there can be no obstruction anywhere and in whom, the whole world originated and rests.”

First sūtra says that caitanya does not merely mean consciousness.  It refers to the one who perceives both knowledge and action.  He has the unhindered freedom to cognize and act. By referring to Ātmā, it means the nature of Reality, where ego is absent.

{Further study on Consciousness:  Consciousness is one of the four inner psychic organs and the most important as well.  Literally consciousness is explained as an alert state of knowledge in which you are aware of yourself and your situation.  Simply, it is a reference to your state of awareness.  The purest form of Consciousness is God.  When you transform your inherent and individual consciousness as the purest form of consciousness, it means that you are a Self realised person. In spirituality, the other components of inner psychic organs work in coordination with consciousness. According to Trika, antaḥkaraṇa is only mind intellelct and ego. There is no consciousness being studied in Trika with reference to antaḥkaraṇa. In Advaitavedānta, Cít (consciousness) is added to the group of three organs, but this doesn't happen in Trika because Caitanya, that is CítŚiva orPrakāśa, endowed with power or Śakti, is already permeating all from the very beginning.

The difference between conscience and consciousness is to be understood.  Conscience is the motivating factor that is capable of correct and valid reasoning.  It forms a moral principle that governs your thoughts and is always preceded by a thought process.  Thought process is nothing but usage of your mind to consider something carefully.  Any thought process in association with conscience causes an action.  Therefore, your actions depend upon the type of conscience and thoughts you have or you acquire over a period of time.  If you develop positive attitude, you perform only good actions.  If you develop negative attitude, you end up becoming a negative personality.  Though one might have both positive and negative attitudes, what is predominant, only matters. A holy person has become holy, mainly because of his holy thoughts. But according to Trika, no limited individual can attain real holiness on his own.  Your conscience is decided by the imprints in your mind.  There is a war between good and bad, always going on in your mind.  Whichever wins, decides your conscience.  Conscience is the factor that ultimately decides your character, whereas your consciousness is the connecting factor between your inner self and your thoughts. It is the binding factor of all your sensory inputs for the mind to consider.

The level of consciousness is not the same in everyone.  There are several factors that affect your level of consciousness.  The mental state in which you grow up is the primary factor that decides your level of consciousness and your mental state depends upon your environment. If you live among holy men, you become a holy man; if you live among criminals, you turn out to be an evil doer. However, His freedom is never obstructed or regulated by anything. He can do whatever He wishes, even to be a holy man among criminals.  If your environment is conducive to your mind, your level consciousness is at its best.  It is reflected by your mental state of happiness.  If you have feeling of guilt and shame, your level of consciousness rapidly declines and reaches its lowest level. Therefore, the level of consciousness purely depends upon your mental state. If you nurture too many thoughts in your mind, you become a confused person and you will not be able to take right decisions at the right time.  In this stage, your level of consciousness is too low.

Let us take an example of an apple.  There are two persons who see this apple.  One is a spiritual person and another is a mundane person.  The spiritual person on seeing this apple goes ahead with his work and does not think about this apple after seeing it.  His connection with the apple begins and ends in a moment.  The mundane person, who sees the apple desires to acquire that apple and makes enquiries about its availability, price, etc.  He develops attachment to the apple and also develops desire to acquire it.  All his thoughts are focused only on the apple, till he gets it. In other words, he will not be able to concentrate on anything else, till his desire for apple is satiated. Though there may be other thoughts in his mind, nothing is as strong as the thought of the apple. 

When you firmly decide to advance spiritually, you have to purify your consciousness.  There is no need of purification in Trika, because everything is already totally pure. Consciousness can be purified only by the mind only according to Advaita and not according to Trika, because consciousness is always pure according to Trika. When the mind is full of attachments and desires, you cannot purify your consciousness. You have to get rid of the impressions in your mind. Again according to Trika, this is not possible because, consciousness is the Purest Reality. All your ungratified desires form impressions in the mind.  Purifying your consciousness is entirely within your control and no extraneous elements can purify it.  Let us take the case of apple again.  The spiritual person though has seen the apple is no more associated with the apple. Merely observing of the apple will not cause any impressions in his mind.  In the case of mundane person, his mind is fully occupied with apple till he gets it.  The mind of the spiritual person is pure whereas the mind of the mundane person is afflicted with the thought of apple.  Apple is merely an example.  The materialistic person will have too many thoughts in his mind.  These thoughts not only fight against each other making his mind a battle field.  This is how consciousness begins to play its role. Lesser is the intensity of your thoughts, higher will be the level of your consciousness. But again in Trikaphilosophy, consciousness is always pure and hence there is no question of different level of consciousness.  Hence Trika uses upper case while referring to Consciousness.

When your mind is not crowded with thoughts, it has more time and space to work on your spiritual aspirations.  Your spiritual journey commences only if you are able to transcend the limiting aspects. Limitation is caused by measurement.  Any object is limited due to its three dimensional measurement.  The apple has dimensional limitation.  When you fix your consciousness on the apple, your consciousness at that time remains limited.  When you look beyond that apple, though the apple will continue to remain in the same place, you are able to transcend the limitations of the apple.  When you look beyond the apple, you are looking into space. When you are looking beyond the object, the difference between the subject and object disappears.  Here, apple is the object and act of seeing is the subject.  When there is no object, there is no subject as well.  This is an instance of knower and the known merging together.  Where there is no subject - object relationship or knower - known relationship, normal physiological functions are suspended.   You will only now focus into infinity or universality.  This is the state of bliss, where only inner silence prevails.  Inner silence is a precondition for the state of bliss. According to Trika, bliss is the state of silence, as in the state of bliss you are fully pervaded by Śakti, His very own power. When you are able to sustain Her pervasion, She liberates you, paving way for realising Śiva.

Often consciousness is treated on par with the mind, which is not fully factual.  When consciousness and mind are the same, then there is no necessity to include both of them separately as the components of inner psychic organs.  One is tend to treat both mind and consciousness as the same because of different states of mental conditions such as super conscious mind, conscious mind, subconscious mind and unconscious mind.  Though consciousness and mind are not the same, yet consciousness is related to the mind. Consciousness is the foundational aspect of your physical body.  Your physical body is superimposed on your consciousness.  Therefore, consciousness is spread throughout your body and not just restricted to your mind.  As mind controls other aspects of your system, it also prevails over your consciousness.  At the end of your spiritual journey, you tend to say that you are not the body, but you are pure consciousness.  Pure Consciousness is self illuminating.  Only pure consciousness is self illuminating. If your mind is afflicted due to stress, your consciousness becomes depleted and weak.  This establishes the relationship between the mind and consciousness as per Advaitavedānta.  

The difference between a yogi and a materialist is the way they look at.  A man becomes a scientist, doctor or engineer by connecting his consciousness with external objects.  A yogi is the only person who has developed the ability to look within. A yogi keeps his mind under his control and an ordinary man is under the control of his mind. The evil impressions of the mind manifest as negative thoughts and surface in consciousness. Now the war between conscious mind and unconscious mind begins. If you keep your mind under your control, you can ensure that evil thoughts embedded in the subconscious mind do not get manifested. Even if they manifest, you can annihilate them by the power of your consciousness.  But your inherent bondage makes you not to realise this and you continue to appear perplexed and confused.  Mind and consciousness are always interconnected and consciousness passes through the mind. When it passes through the mind it acquires strong impressions of the mind.  That is why, to purify the consciousness, one’s mind needs to be purified first. The purification of consciousness is possible only if sensory perceptions and mind are purified.  All the three are interrelated. Though consciousness by nature is always pure, the impressions of the mind keep it as strained. Consciousness always stay behind the mind in its original illuminated form and when this pure form light transcends an afflicted mind, the pure light gets diffused as impure light making everything appear as deceptive and illusionary. In the process you lose out the reality.  You are confounded with illusions.  This happens because you have not purified your mind.  In reality, the purest form of consciousness is God.  All the beings are reflections of His Self illuminating light.  If you keep different types of vessels filled with water under the sun, the same sun shines in different vessels that are in different shapes and forms.  If God is the sun, we are the vessels.  If God is macrocosmic, we are microcosmic, forming a part of His grand macrocosm. But again, according toTrika there is no purification of mind.

By nature, human consciousness is attached to the world of senses.  When we want to progress spiritually, we have to fight against our inherent nature.  That is why spiritual path has so many obstacles. Human consciousness is different from cosmic consciousness.  Divine consciousness or cosmic consciousness is free from sensory influences.  A closest comparison is our free will.  Free will is the sense of being that is empowered to consciously choose between alternative courses of action with full knowledge that you have chosen otherwise. Free Will is a mass of Consciousness landing on you, right now. You just experience It, when you have no mind to think about it.

Consciousness cannot be in different pieces.  Fragmentation happens because of separate individuality, which in turn gives rise to independent status to the mind.  To realize God, you have to bring your attention to a point where duality begins.  At this point, your consciousness is in its purest form.  It is comparatively easier to pull back an afflicted mind from this stage.  If you focus your concentration on this conceived point, fragmentation of consciousness ceases and you are ready to enter into the state of unified consciousness and ultimate bliss.  Pure Consciousness, Self, God and Brahman are all the same.  The dualistic appearance of the world is due the existence ofāṇavamala.  In reality, there is nothing existing except the Self, the Pure Consciousness.  Consciousness does not change, but your mind changes frequently.  It is the inherent nature of mind.  When a person dies, only his physical body dies.  His consciousness does not die nor his subconscious mind and karmas.  It is like electricity.  Electricity does not change and always remain the same.  If a bulb is fused, we change the bulb or we even change the design of the bulb.  But the electric energy that burns the bulb does not change.  Always remember that energies do not change.  Heat energy, wind energy, etc are typical examples.  They do not change at all.  They always remain the same. But they manifest in different shapes and forms.  In the same way, the Cosmic Consciousness does not change.  It remains the same, as God alone is eternal and does not change.  It is only the body that changes during transmigrations.  You attain liberation when your individual consciousness dissolves into the undifferentiated consciousness.  You can feel this, as this means that you have transcended your sensory influences.  You are ready to be liberated when you individual consciousness is preparing itself to merge with the Cosmic Consciousness.  Cosmic Consciousness and Self consciousness are the same. Individual consciousness and self consciousness are the same.

There are degrees to the level of consciousness.  If you have a measuring scale of 12 inches, 1 – 4 is the mundane level of consciousness.  At this level, you will have more of negative energies than the positive energies.  5 – 8 is the medium level of consciousness.  Here, you develop spiritual aspirations and you begin your spiritual practices.  You give serious thought to transforming spiritually, leaving aside your religious compulsions.  9 – 12 is the highest level of consciousness and 12 is the Self or Prakāśa beyond which nothing exists.  In the lower level of consciousness you are bound by inherent human feelings like desire, attachment, guilt, hatred, anger, fear, etc predominate. At 9 – 12 level you have love, gratitude, compassion, etc prevail.  The transition between the lower level and the higher level takes place in the middle level of consciousness.  This is the stage where your negative energies are getting ready to get subdued to pave for positive energies.  Your spiritual journey commences at 1 and culminates at 12.  At the level of 12, your soul no more exists as a separate entity and it will get merged with the Brahman, once all your karmas are spent.  At the levels 10 and 11, you are a completely transformed person, radiating love and compassion.  Men around you begin to adore you. 

The purification of individual consciousness happens only in those persons who have higher spiritual intellect and high standards of moral living.  Spiritual emancipation happens at an average age of thirty to forty five years of age. This is not the case in spirituality alone; it is the case with every individual success.  A person’s growth is decided only during this fifteen year period. At around thirty years, the seed is sown and at around forty five, results are reaped.  Therefore, the age at which one begins his spiritual pursuit also counts for complete fulfillment of spiritual aspirations which can be decided only by Him.