Asti, Bhāti, Priyaṁ: All that is, is luminous and cherished.

Cedar Waxwing. wikipedia.org

asti bhāti priyaṁ rūpaṁ nāma cetyamśapañcakam
ādyatrayam brahmarupam jagadrūpam tato dvayam.
~ DrgDṛśya Viveka v. 20
the Seer-Seen Discernment,
attributed to Śankaracarya, foremost teacher of self-knowledge

“All that is, is luminous and cherished…”

You’re a shining star, no matter who you are, shining bright to see, what you can truly be…”
~ Earth Wind & Fire.

from Citta Chat-Live SF, 2.13.13: the meditation preceding our discussion, where I use the “asti bhāti priyaṁ” in nididhyasana meditation.

“All that is shines and is dear…” one of my long term favorite inspiring verses from the DrgDṛśya Viveka, the Seer-Seen Discernment, of Śankaracarya. We are studying these verses JULY – AUGUST 2013.

In the DrgDṛśya Viveka, a few of the verses hold the entire teaching, namely the first verse and this one, verse 20. What is the teaching then? The DrgDṛśya Viveka contains a key teaching methodology, or prakriya, needed to develop and practice the viveka, the discernment to distinguish that which is truly my being, from those super-impositions that shroud my understanding and seize what defines my sense of being, sense of self; this error being the source of our discontent and at the heart of understanding our own psychology.

This distinction between the knower and the known shows up in many śastra or source texts including the Bhagavad Gita, Yoga Sutras and the Upaniśads, and is often the first teaching taught. For these reasons Śankara has singled out this prakriya, teaching methodology,  to explore in depth; the DrgDrśya Viveka itself is not a source text, śastra, like the Upaniśads, which have no attributed human authorship; rather it is  an secondary text expounding on the teachings of the sources texts.

As in all the texts exploring the topics of being and creation, the teaching seeks to resolve the perceived split between myself and creation; and more immediately, to resolve the error in that very sense of self, an error stemming from the mutual super-imposition of the self and the world. All this is unpacked and defined and questioned in discussing the progressive teachings in the verse, combined with practices to help assimilate the understanding. The teachings touch how we see ourselves in the world now, today; not a hypothetical or theoretical exploration that is cultural or timebound.

In addition, this DrgDṛśya Viveka contains the details about meditation practices to be used in context with the knowledge from discussion. These practices, called samadhi practices or contemplation practices, can help integrate and assimilate the teachings. What is understood conceptually has to be applied experientially, the experience, the practice is not an end itself, but serves the end of self-knowledge, mokśa. For these reasons, we will start the Nourish your Being practice series with this text and the practices within.

This approach is different than having a study session alongside an asana session, and different than studying texts or schools of thought as objects of study, or comparative study, in that here the method is a pramana, a means of knowledge to reveal something to you about your own nature not available in objects of study, nor through the senses; and in that the asana practice is actually done in such a way to realize both the practices and the cognitive shifts discussed in the teaching.

Separating the practices from the knowledge, the viveka, leaves just another pleasurable experience with a beginning and an end, arising into existence and expiring out of existence like everything else; and it may become a coveted experience and thus another super imposition I take to be necessary for my happiness or fullness, or for my essential nature.  This distinction and interplay between knowledge and experience is important and will be explored.

The practices in the DrgDrśya Viveka also naturally work well with what we call the unconscious in the psychological sense, and any percolating, ruminating, unresolved stories in the unconscious landscape are to be addressed if self-knowledge is to take hold, and not be overwhelmed by the unconscious or drives. I encourage those trained or curious about psychology, especially Jungian principles, to join the course, I’d welcome your participation and contributions to discussion.

What is a samadhi practice and what does it have to do with self-knowledge? This exploration informs and infuses the asana practice with the knowledge of being sought as it uncovers that mokśa, or liberation from trials that confound us, abiding then in the whole complete conscious being that you are, that ananda or fullness, fulfilled. This is not an experience, but an understanding.

Asti bhāti priyaṁ, What is asti, shines, bhāti and is dear, priyaṁ. That I am is sat, existent, that I am conscious is cit,. That I love to be is self-illuminating, that my being is dear to my conscious presence is known to me, my being illumined, bhāti. And upon exploration, the nature of that consciousness, that conscious presence, is intrinsically unconstrained, ananda, and wholeness it is, purnam, as it is the only independent constant, satyam; thus fullness filled, fulfilled I am. Sat Cit Ananda. Asti bhāti priyaṁ. Now. Always.

This understanding is available to you as direct knowledge based upon your every experience, once the erroneous superimpositions fall way and that unshrouded essential nature of your being is seen as it is; otherwise the direct knowledge that we exist is clouded with misunderstanding. As direct knowledge, it is not theology, belief, philosophy nor a study of only the empirical world, nor is it cultural, or subject to time, nor is it at odds with science, nor can it be disproven by science. We will explore all this.

That “I am” you can say in any situation, sad or joyful. That “I am conscious” you can say in any situation, sad or joyful. Neither the am-ness, existent, nor the consciousness is changed by the arising and expiring experience occurring in that consciousness. So why does our emotional landscape feel like a roller-coaster? We’re not negating the roller coaster, nor the smooth sailings, nor the joys or richness of experience, I mean, how could that happen? How can you separate your consciousness from any experience?

So… so what? Here is where we see the difference between reading and receiving the teachings in a way that they land on your very self-image, which may or may not happen until we find the right teacher.

In the Nourish your Being practice these verses and concepts will be explored at length, questioned, and then applied in asana and meditation, over four weeks, so as to perhaps start a cognitive shift of how you see yourself, the world and you in the world. Not tomorrow, or sometime, but now, it is about relevance to daily life ultimately, or why bother?

asti bhāti priyaṁ rūpaṁ nāma cetyamśapañcakam

“All that is, shines and is cherished, has name and form…
All things have these five aspects.”

It is.
It shines.
It is dear.
It has name.
It has form.

The very is-ness implies “is known” and thus shines… is illumined by perception. And all things are dear, to someone, to itself, to the one who made it. And all things have name and form.

ādyatrayam brahmarupam jagadrūpam tato dvayam.

The first three are brahmarupam, of the nature of brahman, which is the essence of all, and is satyam, independent existence; the first three are of that which is real, the only aspects constant through all changing states. The latter two, are of the nature of the jagat, the world, or manifest creation, that which has a beginning and an end.

Upon exploration names and forms fall away and we are left with asti bhāti priyaṁ… It is, it shines (in consciousness) and is dear. Exactly why names and forms fall away, and the implications, is explored at length. The distinction between brahmarupam and jagadrūpam opens up the link between the understanding of Seer and Seen, Knower and Known, and the key teachings of Satyam and Mithya, of essential reality and dependent or apparent reality. The clarity to discern Satyam and Mithya, that viveka, gets at the heart of our misconception of self and all our sorrows and ever seeking to become.

Asti bhāti priyaṁ… [Whatever it] is, it shines and is cherished. All things are… bright and beautiful.

In whose presence does the world shine? In my conscious presence. Into present consciousness, into which all resolves. Behind the words “All that is shines and is dear” are teachings on terms and context to be unfolded; here in writing I can only point to where the teachings land, but this writing cannot teach. What are the implications in daily life, in facing our choices and circumstances, realizing our goals and so on? We will also start with the first verse of the DrgDṛśya Viveka, and a few others on  savikalpaḥ and nirvikalpaḥ samadhi.

You will have practices informed by understanding after the first class to practice the first week in your home meditation or asana practice, so that by the end of the four weeks you will have a rhythm and toolkit to sustain the study and the practices together on your own.

Our explorations will not be only on the practices, in fact the practices are to support the inquiry. How the above teachings and practices inform our dharma, our actions in regards to wants and duty, our innermost values and drives, psyche, our dispositions is at the heart of the delving.

It’s like writing about swimming, or standing at the side of the pool even, talking about swimming, and nodding uh huh. I get it. yep. No words can convoke the feeling of wet, nor of sinking, or water up your nose and chlorine in your eyes, of the carefree buoyancy…

Come and jump in and get wet.

I draw primarily on several talks and meditations, attended and recorded, of Swami Dayananda Saraswati as well as my own dialogs and meditations. Swami Dayananda Saraswati has emphasized this verse over the years and this phrase in particular “asti bhāti priyaṁ“ is also used in meditation by him and others at the Arsha Vidya Gurukulam. And thanks to Carol Radha Whitfield for further illuminations, and the writings of Swami Tejomayananda’s of Chinmaya Mission.

PDF    Send article as PDF to

Leave a Reply