Taking Satcitananda As A Pointer, Not As The Ultimate Itself

Summarizing a key metaphysical point at the end of The Essential Vedanta: A New Source Book of Advaita Vedanta, Eliot Deutsch writes,

Brahman may, for purposes of orienting the mind towards it and for pointing out the basic features of one’s experience of it, be represented or designated as saccidananda–as the fullness of being (sat), awareness (cit), and joy of being (ananda). In its status of pure being, though, no attribution can be made with respect to Brahman. It is neti neti, not this, not that; it is the negation of everything that is thinkable.

The Essential Vedanta, p. 393.

I like Deutsch: not just what he offers here but also what he argues in Advaita Vedanta: A Philosophical Reconstruction. But for today, let’s stick with this passage since it’s clear.

Spiritual seeker, hearing of satcitananda, may, Deutsch implies, get the wrong idea. Even though the teaching as well as guided meditations may point to the direct experience of cit, sat, or ananda, it’s crucial to continue self-inquiry until there is no inquirer and until there is no object, however subtle the latter may be.

If this fine point is missed, then there can be an unfortunate fixation–a fixation, most especially, on the experience of ananda (i.e., anandamaya kosha). Moreover, it can happen that one mistakes the symbol for the essence. For these reasons, Shri Atmananda often stressed our going ‘back’ as Consciousness: for if you are essentially Consciousness, then there’s no-thing–no experience or state or something–to fetishize, to get fixed on, to mis-take. And no one to mis-take either.

We’re not here to bliss out. We’re here to use these pointers, and others too, to realize the Truth (more specifically, to unrealize the false), which is the heart of Being. The Truth, faceless and nameless, is like the original face we had before our parents were born.