That All-Seeing Heart

Vedanta Basics


An Introduction to the Metaphysics of Vedanta

Our very nature is Freedom. Only our minds tell us otherwise. Therefore there's nothing positive for us to achieve, but only something negative to eliminate. And this is done by applying various techniques such as viveka, which is discriminating between the real and the unreal--that is, finding out what things in life carry permanent versus temporary fulfilment. This, as well as certain other methods are applied in due course, each of which contributes to our ability to one day successfully employ our divine weapon, being the atma vichara (path of Self-enquiry), which is a devastating process for the ego-Mind, causing it to relinquish its stronghold on the individual. Liberation results.


Over the course of a few centuries, the idea of metaphysics and what its practical study has come to imply, especially within the New Age community, is actually the polar opposite of what it was really intended to represent. Exactly how this occurred is not important beyond the fact that the accumulation of "average" people who chanced upon it misconstrued its deeper meaning, hence its popularized mutated [superficial] version.

This article is therefore an attempt to not only correctly define metaphysics, but in so doing, to hopefully succeed in transmitting its essence to whoever may pursue reading it.

Before we commence, we have to eliminate some obstacles to our understanding by way of re-evaluating and re-defining certain relevant concepts and perceptions, which strategy represents a necessary elimination of false ideas accumulated.

First, let's define metaphysics. What is commonly referred to as metaphysics would more appropriately be generally termed 'non-ordinary physics,' since only insignificant portions thereof deal with what is genuinely metaphysical. Such capabilities of the mind as telepathy, clairvoyance, prophesy, or divination (via Tarot, astrology, palmistry, etc.) as well as 'psychic' and 'thaumaturgic powers' such as psychokinesis, levitation, astral projection, etc, actually fall within the domain of physics, since they are all qualified or modified forms of energetic phenomena, and therefore have a materially quantifiable counterpart--albeit possessing the nature of unfamiliar forms--hence the term 'non-ordinary physics.'

On the other hand, metaphysics is beyond physics (as the word implies, although not actually defined as such in the dictionary-- since, as mentioned, its usage has been misconstrued over time). Now, what does this signify? The answer to this is profoundly simple yet equally profoundly elusive, as we shall see.

What follows represents the culmination of three decades of comparative religious, philosophical and scientific study. During the course of this study there emerged for me [what was later realized to be] a metaphysical insight which, in turn, eventually achieved a marked level of certainty and reliability. Whereupon, the latter decade was devoted to seeking out and simultaneously discovering certain historic [scriptural] documents that again and again corroborated this insight--thereby not only further reinforcing it but, more importantly, furnishing the understanding that virtually every culture in every time arrived at the same realization. Some of these documents include: the Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita, Dhammapada, Bardo Thodol, Tao Te King, Kabala, Zend Avesta, and the Gospels of John and Thomas.

Also, the so-called New Physics (Quantum Physics) is tending toward a parallel collaboration with metaphysics (Vide: Michael Talbot's The Holographic Universe; Fritjof Capra's The Tao of Physics; Gary Zukov's The Dancing Wu Li Masters; as well as physicists Einstein, Planck, and Bohr, among numerous others, who paved the way in this direction).

Please understand that this is an abridged essay and therefore some observations made are not expounded upon insofar as addressing some pertinent and quite valid objections that may arise.

Before we begin, it's important to understand that there is nothing to achieve which you have not already in your possession. You are already fully enlightened. You already [naturally] own the very thing you're attempting to possess. The illusion that you are mortal, finite, suffering, and in bondage, is itself an illusion! That you think there are obstacles to overcome, mysteries to solve or powers to attain, are themselves the very obstacles blocking your way to the reality of what you ALREADY are. That you doubt this and believe you are yet in need of something, is, in fact, a mind-trick (fabrication), and will be attempted to be disproved by the observations that follow.


1. Ordinary awareness accepts at face value the idea of the condition of the self confronting the world. This is the Naive Life-Code of Reference. From it is born the entire realm of maya--from which follows ignorance, fear, desire, bondage, and suffering. From which, in turn, follows samsara (the Wheel of Rebirth).

2. This world-appearance is immense, complex, mysterious, of unknown origin and endowed with indelible laws of physics, gross and subtle, all within the framework of space-time/Relativity.

3. What is not ordinarily attended upon is the fact that whatever is witnessed in this world is done exclusively through the only conceivable instrument capable of assessing it: the mind.

4. When this mind is studied, some hitherto unrecognized characteristics begin to surface. First and foremost, it is observed to go through phases of waking, dreaming, and deep sleeping. And, since such phases exist, we must conclude that the mind lacks continuity, especially since it is observed to be utterly non-existent in the deep sleep state. This is our first clue.

5. We are inherently compelled to seek out the truth of what, a priori, is. To accomplish this we must set up a standard for Reality. Consider: there are many characteristics that could feasibly be deemed to be integral to what the scope of Reality may actually encompass. Whatever such characteristics we may settle upon, there is one that must be indispensable and foundational to each of them, and cannot be violated under any circumstances: Existence itself. And, as we just established, Existence, by its very implication, cannot be here today and gone tomorrow; it must be permanent and omnipresent (i.e. not subject to birth and death; not found in one place over another; nor present in one creature over another). Therefore, our standard of Reality must rigidly adhere to that which is in an unchanging state of universal permanence.

6. Going back to our clue (viz. that the mind cannot be considered a permanent principle), and applying it to our standard of Reality (viz. that which is not permanent cannot be considered real), we must hence conclude the mind is not real.

7. If the mind is not real, are we to further conclude that we are not real? Yes, if we consider that we are the mind. However, we are not the mind! (For, when the mind shuts off in deep sleep, we do not lose our continuity of Self--a Johnson, going to sleep, doesn't wake up a Benson.) This is our second clue--and an important one.

8. Since the Self continues to thrive through the phases of the mind, it qualifies as a candidate for Reality, providing that it does not suffer an interruption with the advent of the death of the body and the mind. Let's investigate further.

9. To prove that there is no real death for the Self (as opposed to the ego self which is intimately bound to the mind), we must consult a law of physics, namely that "energy can neither be created nor destroyed." Now, the forms or modifications of energy do appear to change, but not their source (such as fire absorbed into an object and changing its form to heat, while the source of fire and heat is always energy). So is the mind a modification of its source, the Self. Therefore the Self, being likened to energy, was never created nor will it ever be destroyed.

(Note: At this point it is necessary to reiterate the fact that the Self is really not the true source of the mind. For that would imply that It created the mind; and that would be, by definition, impossible. As pointed out earlier, its source is really shakti. Now, what is the origin of shakti? What created it? To help answer this, let's consult the axioms set down by Sri Shankaracharya:

               1. Brahman is the only Reality.

               2. The world is an illusion.

               3. Brahman is the world.

What this apparent contradiction of ideas is saying is that the world is an illusion *on its own terms*, but is Reality as Brahman Itself! Moreover, it's important to understand that the world, or anything in it, is not an aspect of Brahman, but Brahman Itself. That is, every concept, object, event and perception in and of the world is AT ONCE the Entirety. An intuitive grasp is needed to comprehend this. It obviously defies logic.

10. Based on the clues provided, the first key for the journey to freedom can now be given: since the body is not real, pay no mind to it. And the second key: since the mind is not real, detach yourself from its thoughts.

There are a number of ways that this can be practically approached. The easiest is to accept that the mind is on its own journey and will generate thoughts as it pleases. In this sense you can watch them like a motion picture in a theater. They are not you yourself, nor do they represent you. For, really, who are you? If you're an ego, then they can be equally thought of as being you. But this is actually absurd to even imagine. Why? Because self-enquiry exposes that the ego is itself merely fiction. So then, who are you? We'll explore this in item number 10.

Another approach--more difficult or less, depending on one's temperament--is to seek out the root-thought--which is the "I"- thought--and chop it down like the trunk of a tree, and all the branches of ideas and leaves of thoughts will simultaneously topple.

11. The most powerful method known as atma vichara (Self-enquiry) is applied by asking oneself "Who am I?" (i.e. What is my true nature? What is the source of the phenomenon experienced as "I"?) This can be practiced in or out of the steady state of meditation. In fact, it becomes more effective when performed during the course of normal activities, since then it has a better chance of allowing the practitioner to disengage his identification with not only the ego but the world, as well as his activities in the world.

12. As with most yogic methods, there are a number of approaches within the atma vichara. The most popular one involves a vigil kept on the mind [by asking "Who am I?"] where, as each answer comes, it is categorically denied as having anything to do with the Self. In this way each thought is indiscriminately rejected as not-Self by inwardly addressing them as "neti, neti, etc" (not this, not this, etc). And since virtually every idea or description is negated along the way, what is left over cannot therefore be in the nature of a relativistic value or property but rather is at once transcendental as well as all-pervading, and in fact is the core Self Itself! In this way the mind--which is the thought process--is gradually weakened, undermined and eventually finally destroyed.

The only thing the mind is capable of realizing is that it hasn't the ability to realize [Reality]. Enquiry is the means for the Mind to discover this. Once it's discovered, the Mind can no longer hold its jiva captive and victimized/manipulated [as a leaf at the mercy of the wind]. And since the Mind is no longer the commander-in-chief attempting to dictate Reality, the Self (Paramatman) automatically surfaces. In the strictest sense, there is nothing (no entity) that realizes anything else (another entity). Rather the Self shines unimpeded. The fogbank of avarana (veil of ignorant distortion) is isolated in the beam of atmavichara and eventually burned away by the sun of the Self. The Self was always there, only the mysterious fog seems to block it. Yet such fog isn't in the least substantial. Here lies the paradox that would be better left forgotton, for indeed *there is no paradox* upon honest enquiry! It simply all crumbles itself into a dream of perfect void.

Yes, Brahman is all that is. Doubts are so many fictions...

13. If Self-realization is genuinely accomplished, our jouney has reached its zenith...there is no further distance to trek in the evolution of is the end of the road...the end of all.