Ahamkar

November 20, 2014 § Leave a comment

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Realizing that objects have no self-existence or do not exist on their own, is important for effective meditation. Also important is non-identification, here defined as “not identifying consciousness with, or as, the objects of awareness”. Non-identification can be contrasted with non-attachment or “self-mastery in the sense of freedom from desire or aversion to the objects of consciousness”.

Regarding non-identification, a little bit of self-observation shows that when thoughts and feelings arise, there also arises an almost instantaneous identification that those objects of the mind are either “me” or “not-me,” with the co-existing appraisal that they are either “for me” or “against me”.

In the yoga aphorisms of Patanjali, we are told that the mind is made up of three parts, manas, buddhi and ahamkar. Manas is related to the senses, while buddhi is the mind’s discriminative faculty that sorts the sensory impressions, names them and then reacts to them. Ahamkar is the ego-sense that performs the above-cited function of identifying objects as “me” or “not-me” and “for me” or “against me”.

When a threat arises, it is ahamkar that says the threat is “against me”. We see this used very specifically when leaders of armies or states want to go to war. When a country is identified as a threat, leaders need only invoke the reasoning of the ahamkar ego-sense to have us believing the country and it’s people are threats to “me”.

When feelings arise, it is ahamkar that identifies them as part of the ego. If the feeling is a happy one, then the ego says it is happy. If the feeling is a sad one, then the ego says it is depressed. And so on with all the emotions.

Ahamkar does not only operate with emotions and thoughts but with sense objects, as well. Road rage is an excellent example of ahamkar identifying a car as part of our ego, such that a violation of our car’s space invokes the same rage as might a violation of our personal body space.

Ahamkar brings an endless source of misery. Even when something is considered pleasant, ahamkar will attach to it and then fear its loss, thus creating an underlying feeling of unhappiness even when all appears well.

In contrast to ahamkar is your true nature that can be defined as consciousness that is not identified or attached to any object like a thought or a body. Or, put simply, as “consciousness without an object”.

In meditation we seek first to calm the mind in order to set up a mental state wherein we can observe our thoughts and feelings. As this observation continues it slowly dawns that there is a difference between the thoughts that we observe and the awareness of these thoughts. As we begin to disentangle from these thoughts, we come to see that even our thoughts about our self is not the self. It is only a short step from there to see that the self is merely a non-self-existent thought in an awareness that can never be thought or seen, that our true nature is consciousness without an object.

It isn’t necessary to immediately realize your true nature to benefit from meditation. Simply being mindful that thoughts and the objects of thought are not you will start you on the path to happiness and peace of mind. Enlightenment will follow but, until then, why not enjoy the journey?

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