Having mentioned about the continuous practice of the thought of “I am the Self,” in the previous verse of the Atma Bodha—or knowledge of the self—the preparations necessary for the flight of contemplation are given by Acharya Sankara in the subsequent verses.
The first requirement is to seat oneself in a quiet place, away from the noisy crowd, so that the mind ceases to be distracted by numerous thoughts. While this is the outer preparation, the inner preparation of the mind is to be free of any attachment to the objects of the senses—hearing, touching, seeing, tasting and smelling. Such a person would have mastered all his sense organs of perception and action.
This Vivikta Desha Seva or being in a specially earmarked spaces is an injunction in many texts, including the Bhagavad Gita and Vivekachoodamani. Whether a scientist, a sportsman, an artist, musician or writer—to achieve something great, a person has to withdraw himself from the normal pastures of life to observe quietude. So much more for meditation to realise the Self.
With these adjustments without and within, the sadhaka should contemplate with no distracting thought the nature of the Self. To achieve this, he must allow the objects of the world to fold themselves like a cataract waterfall into one’s understanding. This is a task that demands an acutely intelligent intellect.
This Self or I that needs to be contemplated is the one and only truth mentioned in the Upanishads. The Upanishads show a mirror to reflect the true nature of our own Self.
This Self is called consciousness, which is to be contemplated. It is not some tiny object that is available for the perception of the senses. Its nature is infinite.
This atman cannot be compared with anything even for the sake of understanding. Yet the mind can easily comprehend similes and metaphors. The comparison of the atman here is made to the sky, which has no end to it and nothing else in it like the clouds, birds, sun, moon, smoke, dirt or anything else except the sky. Whatever the mind thinks about, that it becomes is a proverb in many languages. The mind that contemplates on the atman, becomes it—pure and untarnished—not just during the time of contemplation, but for ever, says the Atma Bodha.
The Master says that having settled in a quiet space, free of all passions to achieve something, know something or experience objects by conquering the senses, it has to be given some productive work and that is to contemplate the one Self.