The Bhikshu-Gita is contained in chapter 5 of Skandha XII of Srimad Bhagavata.
Sri Suka said:
1. In this Bhagavata is described again and again the worshipful Sri Hari, the soul and substance of all that exists – Sri Hari from whose creative will Brahma originated and form whose destructive urge Rudra arose.
The Brahman is ontologically prior to everything. IT is, therefore, to be regarded as the origin of everything. The Vedanta Aphorisms define the Brahman as that to which the birth, maintenance and destruction of the world have to be attributed. The Brahman is, therefore, considered the creator, the sustainer and the destroyer of the world.
The Brahman, being the Supreme Being, permeating and pervading everything in the world is the Supreme Consciousness. It is also considered the Supreme Spirit or the Atman. By its very nature of all-encompassing and all-pervading phenomenon, the Supreme Spirit or Atman is considered the innermost attribute or constituent of the individual spirits or atmans. The Supreme Being becomes the Atman of all the atmans – the Universal Spirit residing in all individual spirits. The Supreme Spirit inwardizes into the individual spirits.
2. Oh King! Abandon the feeling that you are going to die – a feeling that befits only animals. For, the real ‘you’ are not, like the body, a previously non-existent thing now come into being.
A homo-sapien is a three-in-one being. He is physical, non-physical and metaphysical. What he truly is, is not physical or non-physical, but is metaphysical. That is why one is said not one’s body or one’s mind or senses. One is the atman, the spirit.
The subtle body (lingasarira) of an individual consists of the inner instrument, the senses and the subtle elements. It is considered the same as the Jiva (soul) except the atman. It is the subtle body without the gross body that is given by the parents. What transmigrates on the death of an individual is the same subtle body.
The reflection of consciousness within itself is known as puryastaka. It is also known as the subtle body – lingasarira. As long as the puryastaka functions, the body lives. When it ceases to function, the gross-body dies. When the body dies, the subtle body chooses another, suited to fulfill the hidden vasanas.
It is generally believed that on death, the soul transmigrates to the spirit world, and the body and the mind are dropped in the physical world. In fact, even the body and the mind are not dropped. The body changes form. The dense part of the body is dropped and perishes. The subtle form of the body forming part of the soul transmigrates along with the subtle mind. This mind is not to be confused with the brain. What transmigrates is the one-energy mass – the subtle body with the subtle mind. Death does not attach to the real self of an individual.
3. The real ‘you’ did not descend like a son from a father, or like a tree from a seed, generated by a being that is itself originated. You are, on the other hand, like the fire, which, though seen in association with wood, is not its product and is entirely different from it.
For a seeker, the ‘I’ consciousness is atman. The atman is self-conscious. The self-conscious atman is the spirit within, ontologically. It seeks realization of itself, meaning to be real with it. It is self-realization. It is an experience for the spirit or the self. It is Being-ness what it seeks.
The ‘I’ consciousness is the pure being, eternal existence, free from ignorance and thought illusion. The physical body is only an instrument associated with it. If the seeker stays as the ‘I’, his being alone, without thought, the ‘I’ thought for him will disappear. The illusion will vanish for him forever.
The real Self is the infinite ‘I’. The infinite ‘I’ is eternal. It is perfection. It is without a beginning or an end.
When the ‘I’ (ego) merges into the ‘I’ (Existence-Consciousness – sat-cit), what arises is the infinite ‘I’. This is the true ‘I’ Consciousness – the Atman.
4. In the dream, one can experience one’s own decapitation. Physical death in the waking state is on par with it. The Atman, which is not one with the body, but only its witness, is not affected by death. It is un-originated and deathless.
All cognition involves some kind of memory or recollection. All cognitions are acts of consciousness directed towards particular sets of objects. There is what the psychologists call logical memory. There is intuition. The forms of memory and intuition become possible only when the atman is latently self-conscious. To cognize an object, the atman is to direct the mind towards it through the relevant sense. The intent to direct the mind presupposes consciousness. It is a result of the atman voluntarily directing its consciousness through an idea generated in contact with the mind.
Potential self-consciousness, when interpreted as latent self-consciousness, is comparable to the state of deep sleep. When one gets up from deep sleep into a waking or dreaming state, the atman regains consciousness of the waking or the dream world, as the case may be. It may, therefore, be said that mind and consciousness naturally belong to the atman.
In addition to consciousness directed towards mind, senses and objects, and towards one’s own past experiences in the re-cognition of cognitions, there is also self-consciousness, consciousness of one’s existence in all acts of self-affirmation. The peculiar nature of self-consciousness is without dimensions, fathomless.
The atman is in the nature of the witness consciousness (saksi-caitanya) which witnesses that it is knowing, cognizing, experiencing urges, emotions, etc.
Within the individual’s mind, there is the distinction between the witness and the witnessed consciousness. This is similar to one’s experience of trying to shake off the identity of the waking I with the dream I and absolve oneself from, and be unaffected by the actions of the dream I, when one comes out of the dream.
The atman is eternal, and unaffected by the gross-body. It does not, therefore, die nor is it born.