Pure Existence-Pure Awareness-Pure Bliss
Sat-Chit-Ananda—The Essence of Brahman
Sat-chit-ananda (also known as saccidananda and satchidananda) constitutes the very svarupa (essence) of Brahman (the Supreme Reality), not just Its attributes. This phrase suggests the unity of these three intrinsic expressions of the Absolute—they are not qualities, for Brahman is ultimately nirguna (unqualified) and akala (without parts), they are the very nature of the Supreme. In nirvikalpa samadhi, the Self is revealed as a unified mass of Bliss and Consciousness, whose very nature is that of Existence.
Sat is the very nature of the Absolute; the essence that exists in all forms and substances but that describes even what is beyond the manifest domain, as it is also a “dimension” of the transcendental reality. Sat is pure existence, devoid of any identification with social status, the body, the emotions, the thoughts, or the mind. Thus, the masks of individuality fall away in sat. Pure Existence is not individual. Because of this, the pure “I am”-feeling is not an accurate expression of sat. The pure feeling “I am” can lead us to a complete purification of the subconscious, of all false identifications—avidya (ignorance). When even the pure “I am”-feeling fades, sat (universal Pure Existence) is revealed. Sat is the Source and Nature of all beings, for everything that exists is in its essence.
The word chit (Pure Awareness or Pure Consciousness) is used in yoga and Vedanta to denote the pure, transcendental, and universal Consciousness. Through chit, sat (Pure Existence) becomes aware of itself. Pure Existence cannot really be present unless it is aware of its Existence. Being and Awareness are united in mutual interdependence. In order for Consciousness to be present, it must Be. In other words, there must be sat (Being-ness). To experience the very fact of our own Being, Consciousness must be present to experience this Being.
Acknowledging the direct experience of our own presence, recognizing the “I am,” is actually a way to acknowledge that Pure Awareness and Being are one. This Oneness is what we essentially experience when we say “I.” But, this is not a dual experience. The Existence-“I” and the Awareness-“I” cannot be separated. It is one and the same experience. This Existence-Awareness-“I” is the fundamental basis of all of our experiences. It is non-objective.
In its purity, it is independent of the body, senses, feelings, thoughts, mind, and even the world. Thus, this Existence-Awareness-“I” is the essential nature of our Self. It can never cease to Exist and the Awareness of the Existence can never cease. This essential Awareness of our essential Being is ananda (Pure Bliss).
The nature of the Absolute is revealed as the awareness of Awareness itself. It is an awareness that does not have any limited content. Metaphorically, it is like light illuminating Light (and not just specific limited objects). Consciousness is said to be self-luminous because it is the light by which it knows itself (and everything else that is known). Just as light is ignored in a room when we observe the objects of that room, we take Pure Consciousness for granted in any experience. Thus, in every experience we consider that Consciousness is the unknown element and that the specific object we acknowledge is the known element. In fact, it is vice versa. In every experience, Consciousness is the known element and the object is just the superimposition, the imagined element.
Chit cannot be fully revealed unless nirvikalpa samadhi is attained. In such an experience, there is no knowledge (gnosis) of a specific aspect, only knowledge (awareness) of Wholeness.
Some people tend to identify chit with the primordial intelligence that inherently exists in the harmony of the Cosmos (the wisdom of God). This intelligence is actually an expression of chit—not Awareness itself—because it refers to specific forms and aspects and not to Pure Awareness. Chit is not referring to “something” (an object), but to Brahman.
Ananda, spiritual beatitude, is absolute happiness without object and without end. It expresses the nature of Brahman (the Supreme Reality). This bliss comes from the same source as sat and chit. Supreme Bliss, unending joy, and delight are the very radiance of the Spiritual Heart.
Ananda is not just the emotion of being happy, which usually leads to unhappiness when it goes away. It is not happiness as opposed to unhappiness. We tend to cling to things that make us happy, trying to control them, and somehow we just chase them away. Being inseparable from and of the same nature as sat and chit, ananda arises spontaneously, not on demand. It is revealed only in total surrender to the Spiritual Heart.
Our deepest, most refined energy body is called anandamaya kosha. Here, bliss bubbles up from our natural state, the Spiritual Heart. This place is unaffected by our gross senses, emotions, and tribulations. Nevertheless, anandamaya kosha is still a sheath covering atman (the Supreme Self), not the intrinsic reality of atman, which is sat-chit-ananda. The bliss perceived by anandamaya kosha is still related to the specific object of meditation, not to the Pure Radiance of atman. Thus, bliss is not a state of mind but the condition that remains when all psycho-mental phenomena—including the experience of joy—have been transcended.
In sat-chit-ananda, we do not perceive Supreme Bliss, we are Supreme Bliss. There is no perception of it simply because there is not an organ of knowledge, an instrument, or a kosha, with which to perceive the Absolute. The Spiritual Heart, the very essence of our being, is Pure Existence, Pure Awareness, Pure Bliss.
Learn more about the Supreme Self in the 10-Day Hridaya Silent Meditation Retreat.