Supreme knowledge leads to Bliss and perpetual experience of Bliss leads to realisation. Yoga Vāsiṣṭha in simple terms explains the stage of Jīvanmukta and how he lives in the material world. Self-realization is like fire burning up grass, which destroys every part of grass right from its root. Similarly, when the Self is realized, all the material desires and attachments are destroyed. What happens if this stage is attained? He considers the entire universe as Consciousness. An earthen pot, an earthen lamp, an earthen jug and any other object of clay are not different from each other, as the origin of these shapes is only clay. Similarly, due to māyā, the Self is made to appear in different shapes and forms. If we compare clay and Brahman, clay and Brahman are the same and similarly the objects created out of clay can be compared to the manifested universe. Like pot, lamp, jug, etc., due to delusion (māyā), he, she, it, you and I are projected as different objects. Like clay is the cause for pot, lamp, jug, etc. the Self is the cause for different beings man, animals, birds, etc. This is known as cognitive world.

The one who understands and experiences this reality is known as a Jīvanmukta. Yoga Vāsiṣṭha calls him as a Yogi (yogi is derived from the word yoke, which means union; union of jīvātman with Paramātman). He is like pūrṇa indu (full moon) and dwells only in the Self and hence is known as “saḥ yogī eva parama īśvaraḥ” which means he is the supreme God (Īśvara). Jīvanmukta is considered as God and not just another human being.

But what makes a Jīvanmukta unique? He meditates on Brahman, as revealed by Upanishads. How the Brahman revealed by Upanishads is different from Brahman revealed by Scriptures? Upanishads do not attribute any forms. For example, Kaṭha Upanishad (I.ii.21) says, “Brahman is present in all forms, yet itself is formless; the only permanent entity amidst impermanent things; great and pervasive is this Self.” This is the most important revelation by Upanishads. Since a Jīvanmukta is not attracted to worship a particular form, his mind is free from attractions and distractions. (When a form is worshiped, attention is diverted to appurtenance and in the process, the original purpose of becoming one with the worshiped is lost). However, even a Jīvanmukta undergoes sufferings and experiences happiness. Duality is part and parcel of our existence. But, neither his pain nor his happiness influences his mind. He is not addicted to these dualities. He does not long for pleasures and happiness. He does not feel the pains of his sufferings. He lives with what he has, without any wants. But, as he exists in this world, he needs to earn and live. He does everything, but without any attachment. Though the karmas of this birth are nullified, he has to undergo karmas of previous births. Liberation is possible only if all karmic imprints are exhausted.

A Jīvanmukta will also experience the sensitivity of anger and lust. They do not go away suddenly. They take their own time to go away completely. A comparison is drawn to a man who wrongly identifies a rope for snake. The fear of snake does not go immediately on realising that it is only a rope and not a snake. It takes some time. Similarly, a Jīvanmukta takes his own time to be freed from these worldly activities. Further, whatever actions he does, they do not affect him as he is not concerned about the results of his actions. Hence these actions do not cause any karmic imprints in him. Further, he does not have ego. He is free from doubts, as he will not go after Scriptures after Scriptures. Quest for learning should come to an end at some point. Unlearning should happen at some point of time durin higher spiritual experiences. Going after books confuse a person and his mind begins to vacillate. This is particularly important when one is spiritually evolving. Further, the company one keeps also matters. Excellent qualities like truthfulness, purity, compassion, maintaining silence, forgiveness, restraint, reputation, egolessness are destroyed in the company of bad people.

Liberation is not a difficult thing at all. It is not in the sky, nor in the earth. Liberation is automatic, when the mind is dissolved. Mind can be dissolved by eradication of worldly desires and attachments. Kaṭha Upanishad (II.iii.15) says, “When in this very world, the mind gets rid of all its vagaries, the mortal man begins to feel he is immortal.” Sage Mahīdhara says, “Liberation is the name of Conscious Self alone. It is not in a different world, nor above. The dissolution of the mind, which is attained when desires for all objects are destroyed is known as Liberation. O! Rāma! As soon as disturbances arise in the mind in association with sense objects, the mind enters into the state of bondage” The one who has reached this stage is known as Jīvanmukta.

Further Readings:

Yoga Vasishtha Explains Dissolution of the Mind

Yoga Vasishtha Concludes with Liberation

Twin Mental States - Yoga Vasishta