Two Koshas and the Third Aspect of Consciousness

Hi Ted,


I hope everything is good with you. I had a question regarding the “bliss/fullness and completeness” as explained in Vedanta.


I am aware of the translation mistake of ananTa as ananDa, but I am confused if anan(DT)a in the causal body is the same as the 3rd aspect of consciousness, namely sat-chit-ANANDA.


Ted: To begin, let’s clarify that the words ananta and ananda do not mean exactly the same thing.


Ananta means “without end,” which indicates not that which is of long duration, but rather that which is wholly beyond the limiting parameter of time.


As it is employed within the context of Vedanta, ananda means “fullness.” In general usage, however, ananda denotes experiential bliss, or emotional happiness, which is the primary reason that ananda is translated as “bliss” by scholars who are not self-realized shrotriyas (i.e., qualified teachers). Another reason that ananda gets equated with ananta is that in the absence of all limiting parameters, the mind experiences no obstacles or sense of lack. Consequently, it abides in its inherent fullness, the reflection of which is the sense of satisfaction, security, peace, and completeness that are the hallmarks of experiential happiness.


Within the context of Vedantic self-inquiry, the two terms are equated because both are employed as technical terms that indicate limitlessness. Ananta, or that which is without end, must be limitless and as such must contain all that is limited and thus must be ananda, or “full,” in the sense that it lacks nothing.


Now, as far as whether the ananda associated with the causal body is the same as the ananda in the compound sat-chit-ananda, which indicates the svarupa, or essential nature, of consciousness, there is essentially no difference and yet the two have different ontological status. That is to say that on the one hand ananda is ananda no matter how you slice it, for ananda is the essential nature of limitless all-pervasive awareness, and there is nothing outside of or other than that which is limitless and all-pervasive. On the other hand, however, the causal body is an object existing within the scope of limitless all-pervasive awareness, and as such its unmodified character is only a reflection of pure awareness, or what we could also call a projection effected by Maya. Therefore, while the unmodified nature of the causal body is the truest reflection of sat-chit-ananda, or limitless conscious existence, it does not define or comprehensively represent limitless all-pervasive awareness. In practical terms, you are just as much limitless conscious existence when you are in associated with the experience of the gross body during the waking state and associated with the experience of the subtle body during the dream state as you are when you are associated with the experience of the causal body during dreamless sleep.


Because there are no objects or limitations of any kind in the causal realm, no one has a bad experience of deep sleep. That is to say that everyone enjoys deep sleep, which is why the causal body is referred to as anandamaya-kosha, or the bliss sheath. We experience both limitlessness and bliss, but because the state of deep sleep is characterized by total ignorance, we don’t assimilate the fact that limitless joy is our true nature. Thought the mind/intellect is not active during deep sleep, it is not entirely absent. There is a single unmodified thought that registers the experience of total ignorance and bliss. Were this not so, the mind would be unable to recall upon awakening that it slept soundly and experienced “nothing.”


Nicholas: Also happiness can be experienced in manomaya kosha. But it is a state, which can change. How does this relate to the other 2?


Hope you can shed some light on this?





Ted: As explained, the reflection of limitlessness registers experientially as a sense of security, peace, and fulfillment that is characterized by the feeling we call happiness.


The happiness experienced in the manomaya-kosha is the feeling that is known to mind when it is active. The bliss experienced in the anandamaya-kosha is the peace that prevails when the mind is resolved into a state of dormancy within the causal body. Sat-chit-ananda is the svarupa, or essential nature, of reality, within the scope of which both of the prior two “forms” of experiential happiness arise.


All the best,