Things They Would Not Teach Me Of In College

Advanced Level Self Realization
15 min readMay 11, 2021


The Bhagavata Purana, one of the most important sources of ancient knowledge, states in the last chapter its purpose — to teach you how to experience the hidden truth of existence:


sarva-vedānta-sāraṁ yad
vastv advitīyaṁ tan-niṣṭhaṁ
The Bhagavata Purana, which is the core essence of all Vedanta (Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita, Brahma-sutra), is concerned with the oneness of the individual with Brahman; and with the nature of reality being an expression of and dependent on a single cause. Its sole purpose is Kaivalya.

Kaivalya is an interesting word because it merges contradictory concepts. It can be translated as ‘unity’ or as ‘isolation.’ If you are isolated then you are separated from something, whereas unity is the opposite of isolated.

Kaivalya is also commonly understood as a synonym for moksha or mukti. Moksha or mukti means liberation from all ‘delusional views of your self and reality’ or maya, and liberation from samsara or being ‘reborn in ignorance.’ Kaivalya is also commonly interpreted as referring to the concept of complete non-difference (Sanskrit abheda) between the individual and Brahman (cosmic consciousness). Though the word literally implies difference (isolation) and non-difference (unity). In Sanskrit difference + non-difference is called bheda-abheda, or bhedabheda

Kaivalya in the context of moksha therefore literally means: liberation by understanding the unity/oneness + isolation/separateness of the individual in relation to Brahman. In other words realizing the individual as both one with and different from Brahman.

The above verse tells us the purpose of the Bhagavata Purana as the quintessence of all Vedanta (sarva-vedānta-sāraṁ), is to teach us these three things:

1. The individual conscious person (atma) and Brahman are one, brahma ātma-ekatva.2. The nature of reality is that there is only the will of one being reflected in all experiences in the universe, vastu advitīyam. 3. The purpose of life is to attain kaivalya — the state where you understand and experience the above two purposes — which qualifies you for moksha. Which is described as liberation from all defects and illusions; the attainment of the perfection of your existence; and unity with Brahman here and now and beyond for eternity.

The meaning of kaivalya outlined above as difference + nondifference to describe the relationship of the individual with Brahman, is not always properly understood by many who teach Vedanta. Kaivalya is often taught to only mean isolation. Not in the sense of being alone, but in the sense of realizing the self as existentially different from matter, or isolating the self from the body in your outlook on yourself. Which is fine as far as that goes, but in Vedanta kaivalya is often stated as the goal of life — which is much more than realizing the self is different from the body. Other times kaivalya is taught as meaning the realization of total nonduality, or complete unity and non-difference (abheda) as the ultimate relationship between the individual and Brahman. That understanding is a common one and needs to be evaluated for the mistaken view of kaivalya that it promotes.

For an example we can use this excerpt from the Kaivalya Upanishad.pdf

Mantra 16yat param brahma sarvatma 
visvasyayatanam mahat
suksmat suksmataram nityam
tattvam eva tvam eva tat
That Atma is supreme brahman, the self of all, substratum of the universe, subtler than subtle, eternal. That indeed you are. You are that indeed.Mantra 17jagrat-svapna-susuptyadi
prapancam yat prakasate
tad brahmaham iti jnatva
sarva-bandhaih pramucyate
One is liberated from all bondage by knowing - “I am that Brahman which becomes manifest in the waking, dream and sleep states.”

The idea of the jivatma (individual conscious being) and Brahman as strictly non-different is wrong for a number of reasons. It is a common view to interpret kaivalya as meaning absolute oneness, that the goal of yoga and Vedanta is to realize your complete oneness with Brahman. As you can see in the above from the Kaivalya Upanishad it seems like that is what is taught in Vedanta. In truth Vedanta makes it clear that it is absolutely necessary to understand both non-difference + difference in your relationship with Brahman, otherwise you cannot escape maya (delusional view of yourself and reality) and attain moksha.

If you think oneness without difference from Brahman is the absolute truth, then see if you can actualize the powers of Brahman, for example experiencing omnipresence or all-pervasiveness. You can’t. If you do not recognize the separateness then you cannot distinguish yourself as an individual different from Brahman. Therefore you should have all the power and ability of Brahman if you are non-different. But you do not have that power.

Some people believe and teach that your current lack of those powers is temporary and that you will attain complete non-duality (a-dvaita) and non-difference (a-bheda) when you “completely realize” you are in fact the same as Brahman. That is a common view among a certain strain of teachers of Vedanta. For example from a commentary on the Mandukya Upanishad:

The word “Self” with the S capitalized is commonly used to indicate Brahman as the Self or soul of the universe. That quote promotes the idea that once you attain enlightenment you literally become identical to Brahman and therefore experience omnipresence or all-pervasiveness.

Such an idea is complicated by the fact of your present situation of not being able to manifest omnipresence. Logically there must be an inherent difference between you and Brahman which makes the actual reality of your current circumstance possible. If you are in fact unqualifiedly the same as Brahman and only need to realize that for you to experience that truth, as some claim, then it must be different from you in some way if Brahman is always all-pervading while you are not.

The idea of being completely non-different from Brahman is also complicated by the fact of Brahman being described as changeless and supreme over all and everything in existence. If Brahman is changeless, then how did Brahman change into you as ‘not-Brahman’ even if only temporarily? The Bhagavad Gita speaks to this at 7.24–25:

avyaktam vyaktim apannam
manyante mam abuddhayah
param bhavam ajananto
mamavyayam anuttamam
The unwise think the unmanifest (Brahman) entered this manifest form of mine, not understanding my changeless supreme divine nature.naham prakasah sarvasya
mudho ‘yam nabhijanati
loko mam ajam avyayam
I am not visible to all, my illusory power envelops the ignorant people who know not of my eternal changelessness.

These verses refute the idea that Brahman takes birth as an ignorant person who needs to become enlightened in order to realize they are actually Brahman but have forgotten. Krishna, speaking as an avatar of Brahman states that he, or Brahman even as a human, is changeless; that Brahman even in human form is always in control of the illusory power which controls everyone (maya). According to some people maya “covers over Brahman when Brahman incarnates as all the ignorant individual souls who then need to overcome maya.” Krishna repeats in both verses the word ‘avyayam,’ which means changeless, to make the strong point that Brahman is always Brahman and never comes under maya or the illusory power of maya — because maya is the power of Brahman. It is not an independent power. Bhagavad Gita makes that point again at 7.14:

daivi hy esa guna-mayi
mama maya duratyaya
mam eva ye prapadyante
mayam etam taranti te
This divine potency of mine (maya) consisting of the three conditioning attributes of nature (gunas) is insurmountable. Even so, for those who take refuge of me this maya is easily crossed over.

Here Krishna uses nautical terms to compare the illusory nature of the world and the conditioning one experiences with the word ‘duratyaya,’ which means ‘unsurmountable and unfathomable,’ like a great ocean. The word ‘taranti’ means to ‘cross over’ and also ‘boat.’ He says ‘taking refuge of me’ is like using a boat which makes crossing the ocean of illusion or maya, easy. ‘Taking refuge of me’ means:

Surrendering your time and energy to learning and following the instructions of Vedanta:To focus on seeing yourself as part of Brahman. To focus on seeing everything in the world as part of Brahman. To focus on seeing Brahman as the cause and controller within everyone and controlling everyone's abilities (controlling memory, thinking, acting, etc).By that meditation on Brahman you become qualifed to have Brahman show you that control over yourself and everyone else.

Still, Vedanta does in fact tell us we are non-different from Brahman — and that is what the people teaching the wrong doctrine rely on. Their problem is in not recognizing that Vedanta also says we are not the same as Brahman, and that we are dependent on Brahman. Vedanta teaches that the individual is both different and non-different from Brahman at the same time. Non-difference qualified by specific differences. Unqualified oneness is not the full message of Vedanta. For example the famous commentary on the Mandukya Upanishad by Gaudapada says:

He states that the manifold plurality, or many people and things of the world, are not non-different or “identified” with Atman, which in this context means Brahman. Then he says they are also not independent from Brahman. He says the people are neither seperate or non-seperate. This is because people are both at the same time.

The ontological relationship between the single individuated consciousness (jivatma) and Brahman (cosmic consciousness) is taught as the jivatma being an integral part of, yet different from the omnipresent collective consciousness — which is also individuated in its own right, i.e., Brahman is not a collective consciousness which you can realize your absolute nondifference from and become omnipresent and so on. Rather it is taught that Brahman is a unique individual consciousness who is qualitatively and quantitatively different from all of its dependent parts of the natural world (matter and energy) and other individual conscious beings. Both of which are said to exist as parts of Brahman but not to comprise the nature and extent of Brahman. The 9th chapter of the Bhagavad Gita addresses this point in verses 4 and 5:

maya tatam idam sarvam
jagad avyakta-murtina
mat-sthani sarva-bhutani
na caham tesv avasthitah
This whole world is pervaded by Me in My invisible unmanifest form. All beings exist in Me, but I am not contained in them.

‘Avasthitah’ means ‘contained’ in the sense of having a set place or abode. Meaning Brahman is within and all around, not simply contained within you.

na ca mat-sthani bhutani
pasya me yogam aisvaram
bhuta-bhrn na ca bhuta-stho
mamatma bhuta-bhavanah

Nor are all things of this world inherently part of me. Behold my uniting power: I am the sustainer of all, yet my essential nature does not reside in all, as I am their creator and maintainer.

That is making a similar point: Brahman is only partially manifest as ourselves and the universe. The universe and all things are made from Brahman and are part of Brahman, but do not manifest the totality of Brahman. This refutes monist ideas whereby the jivatma upon moksha realizes it is inherently identical to Brahman and becomes all-pervading and so on. The Gita teaches that Brahman is the source of and beyond all beings and things of the world. Brahman isn’t contained in you in the sense of you being identical to Brahman. The point is that Brahman is not limited to you. If you believe you are completely nondifferent from Brahman and you just need to realize that truth in order to attain moksha, these verses are meant as a refutation of that idea. Brahman is beyond you. You are one with but different from Brahman because Brahman is your source and sustainer.

An analogy: A child in the womb is one with yet depends on the mother, they are one yet distinct. The Upanishads make it clear that Brahman has a nature and possesses many abilities which the individual souls do not possess. For example the famous story about ‘The Two Birds In A Tree,’ which appears in a few Upanishads and Puranas. They speak of the body as a tree with two birds living on its branches. The birds represent the individual soul and Brahman who are both living in the same tree or physical body. They discuss the differences between them, that one of those birds becomes relieved from its anxiety of being trapped in a mortal body when it realizes it is literally always with the supreme being who controls the universe, that the “two birds” are united together in the same body. Both the weak anxiety ridden dependent soul along with the creator and controller of the universe are united in one way, but different in another. One is weak while the other is the ultimate power. The story teaches that the weak one becomes free from all anxieties and fear by understanding its true nature as an eternal part of an eternal being who has no weaknesses whatsoever and will take care of you forever. The Svetasvatara Upanishad explains:

V-1: Ignorance leads to the perishable. Wisdom leads to immortality. Entirely different from these is he, the imperishable, infinite, secret, Supreme Brahman, in whom exists wisdom as well as ignorance, and who governs them both.

V-2: He alone presides over Nature in all aspect, and controls every form and every cause of production. He witnesses the birth of the first born seer of golden colour and nourishes him with wisdom.

V-3: Differentiating each genus into its species, and each species into its members, the Supreme Being withdraws them once more into their own ground. Again, bringing forth the agents of creation, the Great Self holds sway over them all.

V-4: Just as the sun shines lighting up all space above, below and across, even so does that one adorable God, the repository of all goodness and greatness, preside over everything that has the nature of a cause.

V-5: He who is the one source of the world brings out everything out of His own Nature, and leads creatures to perfection according to their deserts, and endows each being with its distinguishing characteristic. Thus he presides over the whole universe.

VI-8: His has nothing to achieve for Himself, nor has He any organ of action. No one is seen equal or superior to Him. His great power alone is described in the Vedas to be of various kinds, and His knowledge, strength and action are described as inherent in Him.

VI-9: No one in the world is His master, nor has anybody any control over Him. There is no sign by which He can be inferred. He is the cause of all, and the ruler of individual souls. He has no parent, nor is there any one who is His lord.

VI-10: May the Supreme Being, who spontaneously covers Himself with the products of Nature, just as a spider does with the threads drawn from its own navel, grant us absorption in Brahman!

VI-11: God, who is one only, is hidden in all beings. He is all-pervading, and is the inner self of all creatures. He presides over all actions, and all beings reside in Him. He is the witness, and He is the Pure Consciousness free from the three Gunas of Nature.

VI-12: Those wise men, who ever feel in their own hearts the presence of Him who is the one ruler of the inactive many, and who makes the one seed manifold — to them belongs eternal happiness, and to none else.

The meaning of kaivalya or moksha therefore is that you must understand both the unity or oneness you have with Brahman, and the difference — in order to attain liberation from maya.

The original verse at top from the Bhagavata Purana also tells us the second thing to learn from it is — vastu advitiyam — that our reality is based on a single power controlling all and everything, that there is “no second” (a-dvitiya) power or control over reality (vastu).

The oneness being described is like the oneness of the puppet and puppetmaster. The puppet is part of the puppetmaster, they are one, but not the same, they have unity but separation. That is taught over and over in the Vedic shastras — the jiva is dependent while Brahman is independent. They explain that the apparent power of the jivatma is due to its inherent nature as a partial manifestation (amsha) or limb (anga) of Brahman. It is like the relationship between light and the flame causing the light. The light is dependent on the flame, they are one but not the same. One is the cause, the other is the manifest expression of the cause. The light is caused and directed by the flame.

This is easy to experience by everyone — try to explain how to create a thought. The problem you will run into is that you do not know what to do. Thoughts appear in the mind as if by their own power. The same for memory. We have no knowledge on how to create or control either thoughts or memories. They occur outside of our control because we do not know how because we do not have access to those abilities which exist in other dimensions and are controlled by Brahman.

By knowing we are one with Brahman, like a puppet inhabited by the puppetmaster; by knowing that there is only one being controlling everything and everyone, we can reach the purpose of all Vedanta — experiencing ourselves and Brahman as one, yet different.

Vedanta tells us in fact we are always united with, while different from, Brahman. And we can experience that fact by realizing that there is only one being with any power who is the cause behind all things we experience; and because we are united with that being by it being within us controlling all we experience — therefore we can experience Brahman directly all the time by realizing that oneness and difference. Whatever we experience, Brahman is causing that experience, constantly we experience Brahman but you do not realize that because you see the effect and not the cause. Vedanta teaches you how to see and then relate with the cause.

For example, whatever you see, or hear, or whatever actions your body or mind makes, because you are united with Brahman and it is the only power, therefore Brahman is actually the one doing those things. And because you understand that you are also separate from Brahman, you understand that you are not the one doing those things. In that way you can meditate on being conscious of Brahman in all you experience. By that meditation Brahman will reveal the truth of its presence and control within and without you.

That is kaivalya moksha. Liberated from the delusion of seeing anything or anyone but Brahman. Whatever you experience through the senses or mind — that is not you, you are the thing who experiences thoughts, sensations, sounds, vision, all manifestations of the same thing (Brahman), and nothing else. That is the purpose of the Bhagavata, of Vedanta, to show you the truth of reality — so you can see and be with Brahman all the time.

In the Uddhava Gita section of the Bhagavata Purana we see Krishna speak to Uddhava his final teachings (11.29.12–19):

mām eva sarva-bhūteṣu
bahir antar apāvṛtam
īkṣetātmani cātmānaṁ
yathā kham amalāśayaḥ
I am truly, internally and externally, revealed as all beings — with a clear mind like the sky, one should observe the supreme being within yourself as well.iti sarvāṇi bhūtāni
mad-bhāvena mahā-dyute
sabhājayan manyamāno
jñānaṁ kevalam āśritaḥ
Take sole refuge in this knowledge — consider and respect all beings — as being manifestations of Me.brāhmaṇe pukkase stene
brahmaṇye ’rke sphuliṅgake
akrūre krūrake caiva
sama-dṛk paṇḍito mataḥ
The educated intellectuals and the ignorant tribesmen; a thief and those devoted to Godliness; the sun and a spark of fire; the kind and the cruel — according to the wise and learned they are the same.nareṣv abhīkṣṇaṁ mad-bhāvaṁ
puṁso bhāvayato ’cirāt
sāhaṅkārā viyanti hi
Due to recognizing that it is Me manifest as all people — the feelings of rivalry; faultfinding; indignation; disdain; and pride — all will surely vanish.visṛjya smayamānān svān
dṛśaṁ vrīḍāṁ ca daihikīm
praṇamed daṇḍa-vad bhūmāv
Disregarding people’s smiles and shyness of body, one should bow down in the dirt and offer respect even to a dog, a pariah, a cow, or a donkey.yāvat sarveṣu bhūteṣu
mad-bhāvo nopajāyate
tāvad evam upāsīta
Indeed, in that way honor by the functions of speech, mind, and body — until all beings become seen as the appearance of Me.sarvaṁ brahmātmakaṁ tasya
paripaśyann uparamet
sarvato mukta-saṁśayaḥ
To him who sees everything consisting of Brahman — by that knowledge Brahman is comprehended and appreciated everywhere as everything. Freed from uncertainty they completely renounce all activity (they see Brahman as the actual doer or cause of whatever they or anyone does).ayaṁ hi sarva-kalpānāṁ
sadhrīcīno mato mama
mad-bhāvaḥ sarva-bhūteṣu
Therefore of all spiritual practices — this is promoted as the correct way by Me: seeing Me manifest in the words, the minds, and the bodies of all beings everywhere.



Advanced Level Self Realization

Studied Vedanta in ashrams full-time for 4years, graduate level for 2 more. Teaching for 17 years ~ ~