Discourse on Non-Duality


Sri Atmananda



Jīvas, like waves in the sea, come into being, rise and fall, fight each other and die.

Striking against the shore waves recede, tired and worn out, seeking rest and peace. Likewise, jīvas seek the Supreme in various ways.

Waves have their birth, life and death in the sea itself; jīvas in the Lord.

Waves are nothing but water. So is the sea. Likewise, the jīva and the Lord are nothing other than Satchitānanda.

When waves realize that the sea is their common support all fight ceases.

Much is not gained thereby. This is not the final word. Work lies ahead to remove all sense of separateness.

When water is realized wave and sea vanish. What appeared as two is thus realized as one.

Water can be reached straightaway from wave by taking the direct path. If the way through the sea is taken much more time is needed.


There can be no question regarding the time, place and cause of the world, for these themselves are part of the world.

The question seeks an explanation of the whole in terms of its part. This can never be a logical question.

The question as to who superimposes doership on oneself is also not a proper question.

The very act of superimposition presupposes a doer. Therefore, this question is illogical.


Consciousness toward objects is mind. Consciousness toward Self is sattva.

It is the opinion of the wise that the product of mind is avidyā and of sattva, vidyā. Vidyā alone is the means of liberation.

The path of avidyā leads to bondage. So the aspirant must take the path of vidyā for liberation.

For eternal peace, persistent striving is necessary until liberation.


One who is captivated by the beauty of a sculpture forgets the fact of the substratum rock.

When he rises above this captivation he sees the substratum rock which supports the figure.

When the rock thus receives attention rock is also seen in the figure and later, the figure is seen as nothing other than rock.

Enlightenment happens in this manner. Consciousness is dimmed chiefly through one’s captivation and abiding interest in gross objects.

When one outgrows this interest and looks at the objects they are found to arise and abide in Consciousness alone.

When Consciousness thus begins to receive due attention it becomes revealed in objects as well and in due course, they are realized as Consciousness.

It is the realization of oneself and the entire world as one Consciousness that is known as realization of Truth.


It is in Consciousness that objects arise. Therefore, when they disappear what remains is this Consciousness and not nothingness.

If this truth takes deep root in thought deep sleep loses its character of veiling Reality and is transformed into nirvikalpa samādhi.

When objects are also realized as nothing other than Consciousness one comes back to one’s true nature which is changeless and above all states; including samādhi.


Only what has been perceived before can come up in memory. The embodied “I” who perceives also comes up in memory at times. From this it follows that the embodied “I” was witnessed by another “I” principle at the time of this perception.

It is this witnessing “I” that is the real “I.” Fixing attention there, and establishing oneself in it, one becomes freed from bondage.


The light in the perception of sense objects is the changeless Ātman, the one without a second which abides, infilling all.

To see it as it is the objects must be separated from it, or else they must be made to point towards it.

The “I-sense” must be transferred from body to Ātman. Freedom from bondage, peace and happiness will flow therefrom.

Ātman is that changeless, unbroken peace into which thoughts and feelings merge. To see it and thus to enter it and establish it as the “I” removes all delusions and brings lasting peace.


One does not need to be told (for one knows it clearly) that the “I” does not change.

The “I” persists in all states. It is present when there is thought. It is present when there is no thought.

What other evidence is needed to show that it cannot be the doer or the enjoyer which means change?

At the time an action is being done there is no thought or feeling that one is doing it. This is further proof that one is not the doer.

Claiming to have done an action after doing it cannot make one the doer.

The intense feeling that one is neither the doer nor the enjoyer removes all bondage and allows one’s true nature to come to light.


Jīva is the appearance of body and Ātman as one. When the two are separated the jīva as such can no longer appear to exist and thus disappears.

Are not body, prāna and mind modifications percepts? Consciousness, the Self, is the perceiver.

Those who, forgetting this, identify Self with body, mind, etc., live in bondage.

Those who, by wise discrimination, rise above this wrong identification are liberated and rest in the peace of their true nature.

The thought that one is the body, whether gross or subtle, is the cause of all bondage. If the thought that one is Consciousness is deep and strong one becomes freed from all bondage at once.

The seer as such can never be the seen and the seen as such can never be the seer. If this truth goes deep into one’s heart the mistaken identification with the body ceases.

It can be seen in the activity of life that the characteristics of one thing are often superimposed upon another. Special care must be taken to avoid this.

Whenever you attribute Reality to objects you are then an embodied being. In other words, there is then identification of the Self with the body.

Always bear in mind that such changes as birth, growth, decay and destruction are characteristic of matter, the object of Consciousness.

It must be clearly understood that Consciousness is different from its object and that while objects vary, Consciousness remains constant.

Consciousness is the light of Ātman, while objects are directly linked with the body. When the connection with the body is severed the connection with objects is also severed.

Strictly viewed, there can be no connection between Ātman and the body. How can there be any connection between things wholly different in nature?

Ātman is the only Reality. The body is quite unreal. From this fact too it follows that there cannot be a real connection between them.

It is clear that their connection is but a notion. It drops away when Truth is known and kept alive.

If desire becomes bound up with the objective it is the superimposition of the characteristic of Ātman on non-Ātman. How can objects that are, by definition, time-bound be made to transcend time?

Ātman is happiness itself. It is on account of this that the desire for happiness is in everyone. When happiness is imagined to be linked to an object it is the superimposition of the characteristics of the one upon the other.

The desire for freedom too has its root in Ātman, which is the only unconditioned existence.

Attraction, repulsion, fear, sorrow, restlessness, dependency, untruthfulness, laziness, passivity and the like arise from the body.

Steadiness, love, happiness, peace, courage, freedom, truthfulness, existence, alertness, knowledge—these belong to the realm of Ātman.

Everything that points toward personality must be understood to have its origin in the body.

That which points beyond the body’s limits must be seen to arise from the influence of Ātman. Characteristics must be distinguished in this manner and seen in their respective domains.

If discrimination is used then and there the superimposition of the characteristics of the one upon the other is blocked.

If all possibility of such superimposition is thus removed one comes to one’s natural state in which the entire objective world is realized as nothing other than Consciousness.

This latter truth can be realized too by a strict analysis of the world.

Objects of Consciousness can never be separated from consciousness itself. They have no independent existence and are therefore nothing other than Consciousness.

Approaching the Truth in this manner will also remove the imaginary identification of Consciousness with the body as well as all delusion. One will then find oneself established as Ātman, the one and only Reality.


Words such as immutable, formless, unbounded, etc., cannot, even by their negative import, show Reality as it is.

The statement that man is not a beast is true but does not show any of his true characteristics.

It is impossible to show Reality as it is. Words are at best mere pointers.

If, without knowing this, one contemplates what is literally signified by words, one’s experience of Reality will be tainted to that extent.

If words are taken merely as a means to rise above all thoughts their use is perfectly in order.

If Reality is conceived as beyond all thoughts, and contemplation is directed accordingly, words may help to lead one to a stage where all conception ceases and Reality is experienced.

Doubt may arise whether it is possible to contemplate what is beyond thought. It is possible! The difficulty is only apparent.

It is true that only an object of perception can be directly contemplated. The “I” is always the perceiver and never an object of perception. Thus, direct contemplation of the “I” is out of the question.

But because the “I” is experienced as one’s Being it is possible to contemplate it indirectly.

Can it not be contemplated as what remains after removing everything objective from the apparent “I”?

This contemplative thought itself will automatically come to a standstill in the end and in the stillness will be seen shining one’s true nature.

What is beyond thought may be indirectly contemplated in other ways as well and thus reveal one’s true nature.

Always remember that words such as Consciousness, Knowledge, Being, Happiness, all point to the “I.”

Hold on to one thought to dispel other thoughts. Let that thought be such as points to one’s Being.

Just as we apply the word knowledge to denote also the function of knowing we use the word happiness to denote the function of enjoying as well.

Yet, it is within the experience of everyone that knowledge and happiness dawn only when the respective functions of knowing and enjoying cease.

Thus, knowledge and happiness are one’s own Being. With this conviction, if thought is directed to either of these that thought surrenders its form and merges into Being.

Merger will never be into deep sleep but into one’s own Being. All knots of the heart will be cut asunder by this means.


In one’s experience, strictly so called, there is neither thought nor external object present. It is a state in which all alone one abides in one’s Self.

Objects of perception, believed to be the cause of experience, tempt the ignorant.

If strictly viewed, it can be seen that there is no cause and effect as independent agents. Effect never appears independently of cause and cause is always seen in the effect.

But no such cause appears in one’s experience. It follows then that experience has no cause.

If it has no cause, why this hunt for objects? All that is needed is the merger of thoughts into one’s very Being.

Always contemplating the nature of experience itself will bring about this merger.

The intense conviction that one is neither doer nor enjoyer will also bring about the same result.

Or, one can see that thought, as such, is really non-existent or that it is nothing other than Consciousness. This is the best means.


Right analysis will show that it is the mind assuming the form of an object that is commonly spoken of as perception or knowledge of an object.

Ātman is the immutable Consciousness that, without effort or any change in itself, perceives such modification of the mind.

Consideration will reveal that this is the principle signified by the word “I.”

Abiding there, one sees nothing else. There is no body, mind, world or sense organs.

Nothing has come into existence nor is there the notion that anything having existed before or is existing now. The non-doer, Consciousness, is ever thus enjoying itself.


Water, coming into contact with time and space (which are entirely distinct and different from it), can produce a wave. There is no possibility of a world being produced in this way.

Nothing exists independently of Consciousness. How then is it possible for something different and independent to come into contact with Consciousness and thus produce a world?

Water by itself can never produce a wave. Likewise, Consciousness by itself can never produce a world.

Therefore, the world is not, has never been and will never be.

What really exists is Consciousness alone. Consciousness is happiness itself. The Ātman, signified by the word “I,” is also That.


One thing can never change into another without losing its swarūpa.

If its swarūpa is lost, the thing itself does not remain. If it no longer remains how can it be said to have changed into something else, since there can be nothing to connect it with the new thing?

Thus a thing can never undergo change, birth or death.

He who, through inquiry into the nature of things, discovers this truth and abides in it is the Mahātmā who has gained his objective. He knows the one thing that has to be known and thus remains ever contented.


Attributing Reality to objects which arise in thought is the cause of all bondage.

Form can exist only as the object of seeing and never independently from it. Likewise with all sense objects.

Objects have no connection to each other. Their connection is always and only with thought.

An object cannot exist even for an instant unless cognized in thought. When thought changes, the object changes also.

Thought and objects are inseparable and therefore, one. The truth is that there is one thing, kept divided by mere words.

Therefore, even to hold that things arise in thought is delusion. There is Consciousness only and the content of thought is Consciousness.

If this truth is always kept alive, thought will soon vanish and Consciousness will reign. Then comes liberation from all bondage.


Consciousness has two aspects: conditioned and unconditioned. It is the former that illumines objects of Consciousness. The latter is Pure Consciousness.

Sense objects are mere thought-forms. Therefore, strictly speaking, thoughts alone are the object of Consciousness.

He, who by discrimination and inquiry, is not able to realize Pure Consciousness may well abide in the conditioned aspect. He will reach the unconditioned in due course if he does not remain contented in the conditioned.

Observing carefully, one can see every thought arise and set in Pure Consciousness alone.

What is not Pure Consciousness is thought-form. Pure Consciousness can never bear witness to it.

It is no argument to say that memory stands changeless, watching all thoughts in succession.

It is a common experience that when there are other thoughts memory is not there with them. How then can memory call up past thoughts?

If memory cannot call up past thoughts it is no memory at all. Memory is therefore a meaningless word.

Yet, we must admit that it is always memory that calls up past thoughts.

If what we call memory is non-existent it follows that thoughts are also non-existent. There is no witness to prove their existence.

Following this line of reasoning, it is understood that what appears to be conditioned is actually unconditioned, Pure Consciousness.


If one looks through the gross eye organ gross objects appear. The same relation exists between other gross sense organs and their objects.

Leaving the physical organs, if one looks through the subtle sense organ (mind), subtle objects appear.

Looking from unconditioned Pure Consciousness, only Pure Consciousness is seen.

This experience proves that the objective world will always appear as a perfect reflection of the position assumed by the subject perceiver.

Therefore, it is not the objective world which presents an obstacle to spiritual progress but the position one has assumed.

If the false position is surrendered realization of the Truth follows. To surrender the false position courage, one-pointed attention and the full devotion of the heart are absolutely necessary.

A critical examination of the objective world will bring about the same result.

However, to arrive at the conclusion that this solid-seeming world is merely thought does not solve the problem. It cannot give entire satisfaction; for the thought-world remains.

The conclusion does not give complete satisfaction because it is conducted from the level of the intellect which is left unexplained.

Intellect is also something perceived. Is not oneself, Consciousness, the real perceiver? To examine thought, one has to take one’s stand in perceiving Consciousness.

When it is seen that the content of thought is nothing but Consciousness thought vanishes and Consciousness remains.

Consciousness, when mistakenly supposed to be conditioned by time, appears as a thought. Really, it is not so conditioned.

Is not time itself a thought? How then can the rise of a thought be attributed to the conditioning of Consciousness by time?

Therefore, strictly speaking, there is no thought. There is only Consciousness. The idea of time is a mere superimposition by delusion.


In the waking state one is aware that dream objects are unreal.

If a man seen in a dream is unreal his mind must be equally unreal.

His thoughts, seeing, hearing, etc., are likewise unreal.

In the same manner, the subject in the dream state, who is also a product of the dream, must be unreal.

The body in the dream state is different from the body in the waking state. While the former is active the latter is lying in a passive state.

The thoughts and perceptions of the subject in the dream are, likewise, not the thoughts and perceptions of the waking state.

The thoughts and perceptions of the former are unreal, being the product of the dream.

The question then arises: Who is having the dream? The correct answer is that no one is having it and there has never been a dream.

If examined in like manner the world of the waking state will be found to be non-existent. Then one discovers one’s true identity and becomes re-established as Pure Consciousness.


I am that Consciousness that remains after the removal of everything that is objective from Me.

I have no body, prāna, perceptions, thoughts or desires. I am beyond attraction and repulsion, pleasure and pain, fear and delusion.

I am pure Consciousness. Realizing that every object, wherever placed, is asserting Me, I enjoy myself everywhere and in everything.

In the deep sleep state, and whenever any desire is fulfilled, I alone shine as undisturbed peace and happiness. I am the inmost principle, which is Satchitānanda itself. I am that which transcends all.

Just before and just after every thought and feeling, I alone shine in my own glory. It is in Me that thoughts and feelings arise and set and I am their changeless witness.

I am the light of Consciousness in all thoughts and perceptions and the light of love in all feelings. I have no birth, death, grief or delusion. I transcend bondage and liberation.

The world which is born and nurtured in thought is itself nothing but thought. Thought is nothing but Consciousness and Consciousness is my Being. Therefore, the whole world is Consciousness, which is myself. I am perfect and indivisible.

I have no desire, attachment or egoity. I am eternal, the non-doer, unblemished, self-dependent and self-luminous. Without attributes, changeless and unconditioned, I am the abode of love, one without a second and ever peaceful.

Trivandrum, India, c. 1945

*** *** ***



Ātman: Self; the true Self; pure Consciousness.

Avidyā: ignorance; delusion.

Jīva: soul; ego; sense of personal existence; apparent “I.”

Mahātmā: Great Soul; sage.

Nirvikalpa Samādhi: Pure Consciousness; awareness without conditioning.

Prāna: breath; life energy.

Sattva: purity; aspect or quality characterized by light, truth, reality.

Satchitānanda: Being, Consciousness, Bliss: the three aspects of Pure Consciousness.

Swarūpa: true or essential nature; the true identity of a thing.

Vidyā: knowledge; wisdom.

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