Blaise Pascal must be accounted for. " If there is a God He is infinitely beyond our comprehension."  How then do the Vedic sages arrive at a Rational Theology which has important observations to make? Analogy:    When discussing God-talk or Self-talk analogy inevitably is introduced to try to cast a thin beam towards that area of mystery.  Though the concept of analogy is not discussed as such in Vedanta yet their is an awareness of the radically analogical nature of the language used concerning the noumenal.  However, the Self is experienced now `in a secondary sense' being really there but not encompassable by language.  As the mahavaka states `that thou art' but `that' cannot be known.  "Failing to reach which (Brahman) words along with the mind turn back" (Tai.II.vii.I)  Earlier in Shankara's Commentary on verse II.i.1 of the Taittiriya Upanisad the radically analogical yet curiously mathematical nature of God talk is clarified.

     "The knower of Brahman attains the highest.  Here is a verse uttering this very fact:  "Brahman is truth, knowledge, and infinite.  He who knows that Brahman as existing in the intellect, lodged in the supreme space  in the heart, enjoys, as identified with the all-knowing Brahman, all desirable things simultaneously. 

     From that Brahman, which is the Self, was produced space .  From space emerged air.  From air was born fire.  From fire was created water.  From water sprang up earth.  From earth was born the herbs.  From the herbs was produced food.  From food was born man.  That man such, as he is, is a product of the essence of food:  Of him this, indeed, is the head; this is the southern side; this the northern side; this is the Self; this is the stabilising tail."    

     The contravedantin objection is immediately made.  How can the unlimited and identical with all be attained?  We ordinarily see the attainment of one limited thing by another.   The answer is that the attainment in question is of the nature of a realisation that we are wrongly identifying ourselves with our psychophysical nature and thus come to miss our true identity.  As in the story of the Tenth Man we do not count correctly and miss what is under our noses.  Swami Gambhirananda in a footnote relates the fable.  Ten men, after crossing a river, were faced with the question, "Have we lost one of us in the stream?"  So they went on counting themselves.  But each one missed taking himself into account and concluded that there were only nine, one having actually been drowned.  Thus they began wailing, when a passer-by found out their foolishness, counted them one by one, and then turning to the last counter said, "You are the tenth."  That reassured them.

     In the same way we seek the self in memory, in forensic evidence, in labours, in national identity and find it not.  Brahman, the Self becomes a non-self through ignorance until a wise bystander touches us and says emphatically "That thou art".

     Satyam, jnanam, anantam Brahma - Brahman is truth, knowledge,  infinite is a definition of Brahman: as it were `here is a substantive and there are its attributes'.

     An empiricist objection to this is that the adjectives of an unknowable entity qualify nothing.  Brahman is not distinguished from other Brahmans.

     Shankara answers that here the attributes have a defining sense marking it out from all other things whatever and serve to isolate it.

     `Satya' true, for instance is applied to a thing when it does not change its nature.  It remains true to itself.  It is real.  Of a thing which changes we must say `it is and it isn't'.  Thus it is deficient in being and unreal.  Something of the flavour of Plato and the Pre-Socratics can be found in this intuition.  The reality of a mutable thing is in name only.  So Satyam Brahma (Brahman is truth) distinguishes Brahman from unreal things.

     The mathematical nature of the definition arises when on analysis the implication of `satya' throws light on a facet which was not at first apparent.  To say that Brahman is unchanging and thus the material cause of all subsequent changes and since a material cause is a substance and thus might be insentient we must qualify the Satyam by Jnanam meaning knowledge or consciousness.  This knowledge does not indicate an agent of knowledge in that knowledge implies a change and the real does not change.  In that case it must be infinite also for it is not bounded by anything it could know.   "That is the infinite in which one does not know anything else.  And that in which one knows anything else is limited". (Chandogya Upanisad VII.xxiv.1)

     Is there a covert implication that by not knowing anything else one knows the self?  No for the Self is not knowable in an objective sense and moreover it is without parts so the notion of one part of it knowing another is eliminated.  The extraction of the attribute infinite (anantam) from knowledge (jnanam) has some of the surprise that we get when unobjectionable axioms lead to new and useful knowledge which is far from obvious.

     An important point for the Advaitin is that" Brahman has only the cognate sense (knowledge) of the verb `to know', and not the objective sense of knowing.  For the Self the objective active taint of the verb `to know' comes from the fact that it pervades with its pure consciousness, the intellect.  Therefore the agency which is the property of the intellect  can come to be applied to the Self.

     Knowledge which is the true nature of the Self, is inseparable from the Self, and so is everlasting.  Still the intellect, which is the limiting adjunct of the Self, becomes transformed in the shape of the objects while issuing out through the eyes etc., for cognising thing).  These configurations of the intellect in the shape of sound etc., remain objectively illumined by the Consciousness that is the Self, even when they are in a state of incubation; and when they emerge as cognitions, they are still enlightened by that Consciousness.  {In the incipient stage, they have the fitness to be illumined; and after emergence, they remain soaked in consciousness: Gambhirananda's note}    Hence these semblances of consciousness - a consciousness that is really the Self -that are referable by the word knowledge and bear the root meaning ( of the verb `to know'), are imagined by the non-discriminating people to be attributes of the Soul Itself and to be subject to Mutation." page296 Tai.Up.

In relation to the Self what seemingly particularises it and gives it shape is the intellect the source of commitment, agency and decision.  Two analogies are offered to give a feeling of this one that of an iron ball that is heated red hot - it is as though fire had taken that shape.  The other is that of vessels and cups that are at bottom fundamentally clay.

     An objection is made on the basis of the iron ball simile.  Does not the pervasion of the intellect by the Self represent an action as in the case of the iron ball?  The heat of the fire is forcing itself into the iron ball.

     #86 "That black iron appears to be red is only an example (to illustrate the fact that the non-conscious intellect appears to be conscious).  An illustration and its subject can nowhere be absolutely similar in all respects." (From Upadesa Sahasri pg.229) 

     We come to the notion of knowledge or consciousness in the first instance because of the reflection in the intellect of knowledge or consciousness.  So extending it back to the Self, as it were, must be radically analogical though this is not how Shankara puts it.  He too has to come to bite the apophatic bullet.  The nowness or immediacy of consciousness refers directly to the Self.

     #75.  The teacher said to him, "your doubt is not justifiable, for you, the Self, are proved to be free from change, and therefore perpetually the same on the ground that all the modifications of the mind are (simultaneously) known by you.  You regard this knowledge of all the modifications which is the reason for the above inference as that for your doubt.  If you were changeful like the mind or the senses (which pervade their objects one after another), you would not simultaneously know all the mental modifications, the objects of your knowledge.  Nor are you aware of a portion only of the objects of your knowledge (at a time).  You are, therefore, absolutely changeless."

     However our consciousness or knowledge which is the step off point by viveka (discrimination) to the Self is connected by its root `to know' to an activity.  Sankara admits that Brahman is indicated but not denoted by the word knowledge, "for Brahman is free from such things as class etc., which make the use of the word (knowledge) possible.  He writes - "Thus the words truth etc., occurring in mutual proximity, and restricting and being restricted in turns by each other, distinguish Brahman from other objects denoted by the words, truth etc., and thus become fit for defining It as well".  This seems to be contradictory to his final assessment the "Brahman is not to be construed as the import of any sentence." 

     So what is the use of all this verbiage?  Brahman is not of the same timber as ourselves but out of our timber is the ark constructed.  Which brings us to the metaphor of the Heart or the core of manifest life.  The intelligence is central to that being in the world and via the immediate self-awareness which is its mark we find a way, jnana marga, the wisdom path to a realisation of That thou art (Tat tvam asi).

     Enjoying all things simultaneously comes on the realisation of identity with Brahman the omniscient, all-pervasive and eternal.

     January 30, 2000  However prior to that apotheosis the average human being must be given a way out of the maze of beguilment with the ever changing panoply of life.  Thus to make one's way from the gross to the subtle what is far away, incomprehensibly so, must be made familiar and homely like the moon on the bough.  The latter part of this verse adopts the fiction of the identity of the Self and the physical body.  Subsequent to that in later verses we retrace our footsteps by discrimination from the gross to the subtle: from food to breath to mind to the knowing Self.

     If anyone knows Brahman as non-existent, he himself becomes non-existent.  If anyone knows that Brahman does exist, then they consider him as existing by virtue of that (knowledge).Tai.Up.

          Thus we come back to the locus classicus of Shankara's  "Brahman is perceived clearly through the function of that intellect; for apart from this perception, Brahman can have no connection, with any particular time or space,......"

     Here is the heart of Dhyana in the Vedic tradition and its vestiges are to be found in the practice of all systems which spring from that fertile matrix.