Tag Archives: Negation

False Identification, Negation & Enlightenment

When you watch a gripping movie, you forget about your body & mind. You are unable to watch the movie in a detached manner. You become part of the movie or you become some character of the movie or you become the movie. This is the meaning of false identification.

There are several such situations in daily life in which there is false identification. Husband is actually a role played by a man but most of the times he gets attached to the role and identifies with it. Sometimes, we identify with body, sometimes with emotions of pleasure, sadness etc., sometimes with something else. When we identify or get attached with something we become that thing and we are unable to see it as something appearing within us but is not us. When we are attached to thoughts, there is a sense of movement along with the thoughts.

Neti-neti (negation) is a procedure of Self Inquiry using which we find out about the wrong identifications that we are having. Finally, there is nothing left but the unchanging Awareness and that is what we really are. It is Awareness itself that becomes husband, wife, father, pleasure, anger etc. Self Inquiry does not mean that you ask, “Who Am I” and then wait for the Awareness to give a shout. Self Inquiry is a highly engaging process. There were some days during my seeking days in which my mind would do Self Inquiry for almost all the time and would raise doubts and would itself find the answers. Self Inquiry is also a great way of doing bhakti/smaran/surti of the Self and can eventually convert intellectual understanding (atmagyan/parokshanubhooti) to direct-knowledge/enlightenment (atmabodh/aparokshanubhooti). Ramana Maharshi says in, “Who Am I”:

The gross body which is composed of the seven humours (dhatus), I am not; the five cognitive sense organs, viz. the senses of hearing, touch, sight, taste, and smell, which apprehend their respective objects, viz. sound, touch, colour, taste, and odour, I am not; the five cognitive senseorgans, viz. the organs of speech, locomotion, grasping, excretion, and procreation, which have as their respective functions speaking, moving, grasping, excreting, and enjoying, I am not; the five vital airs, prana, etc., which perform respectively the five functions of in-breathing, etc., I am not; even the mind which thinks, I am not; the nescience too, which is endowed only with the residual impressions of objects, and in which there are no objects and no functioning’s, I am not. After negating all of the above-mentioned as ‘not this’, ‘not this’, that Awareness which alone remains – that I am.

Self Inquiry for Self Realisation

The following procedure can be used for Self inquiry:

As explained earlier there are 5 shells and Atman is beyond these shells. The innermost shell is Annamayakosha (body), then there is Pranamayakosha (breath/energy), the next one is Manomayakosha (mind), the penultimate one is Vijnanmayakosha (intellect) and the outermost one is Anandamayakosha (bliss). Atman (Self) is beyond Anandamayakosha. Let us now negate each one of these by Self inquiry.

Negation of Annamayakosha (body),  Manomayakosha (mind) and Vijnanmayakosha (intellect) can be done by following the logic mentioned here which is based on the principle that if you are the witness to something then you cannot be that thing.

Negation of Pranamayakosha (breath/energy): Air is inhaled from the atmosphere and exhaled back into the atmosphere. Something that is borrowed from somewhere and given back to it after its use cannot be me. Morever, there is no intellect associated with breath/energy which I have and hence I cannot be Pranamayakosha.

Negation of Anandamayakosha (bliss): Sometimes I feel bliss after getting up in the morning after deep sleep. This also happens after listening to soul stirring music. Anandamayakosha is said to contain the reflection of the Self. This means that I reach the reflected Self when I experience bliss. Since I am the experiencer/knower of the bliss and every other kosha, I am beyond all of them and hence I am Atman/Self.