I have often wondered why people run after a kind of knowledge which is never attainable. It’s a waste of time. We ask so many questions about world and ourselves and falsely believe that their answers would make us aware about what we are. But such analysis is never going to get us anywhere.
Just think for a moment, do we know what happens inside our own body which is more near to us than anything else? We don’t. Even if you are the most brilliant of all medical experts you would not be able to know it at any given point of time. May be there could come a time when we can do so with the help of the tools we might develop as we progress.
But that time is not yet here. At present we are left with what we have and that is not enough to tell us about ourselves in any clear manner. So struggling against the impossible is not an option for us.
The only thing that we can rely on at this moment is the knowledge of our ‘existence’. No one that we know of would deny that they exist. It’s the only thing that they are ever certain of, this constant in all the changing phenomena that they observe.
We all know that we are not physically the same person that we were once, several things have altered, but the only thing which remains invariable in all these changes is this certainty that we exist. You are pretty sure of that. When you say “I” you mean something of which you are sure of. This ‘I’ don’t change at any time, it is to this “I” that things are added and from which things are removed either knowingly or unknowingly.
It is the only factor that is steady and reliable. So it follows that we need to follow this stable part to know ourselves, all else is unimportant because everything that we learn about them would open up other areas for investigation. That is, knowing about what happens within the body at any given moment may in turn necessitate the knowledge of the forces influencing them and in its turn the forces influencing those forces and so on. It’s a never ending process.
That’s why Ramana Maharshi advised, question yourself( “Who am I?”) at all times. That is the only way you would reach truth. In fact this “I” is the truth.
But this is not going to happen with an intellectual realization of it. Unless it becomes an experiential reality it’s not worth having.
That is why even the Vedantins advice the process of Sravana, manana and Nidhidyaasana and in that order.
Sravana or listening or hearing about the truth is the first step. This is necessary because we are normally very confused about what truth is. We may know that we are this “I”, but we are not sure whether all else is part of this “I” and without this knowledge you would never achieve peace.
Peace is the only quality worth trying for. If you don’t know it to be so yet you would very soon.
There is no point in going after something which is not sure to bring this state in you. So you need to be sure you would achieve peace by following a particular path before venturing to follow it. Unless someone tells us so we are never really sure about it.
That is the whole point of Sravana or hearing of the truth from one who have achieved it.
Next you think about what you have heard (Manana). This is not the ‘thinking’ that you do normally. That is called analysis, and that would not be of help here. You have passed that stage before approaching one who has experienced it. Once you have heard him/her your doubts have been dispelled.
So Manana or thought in this sense is constantly repeating the truth to yourself. If the knower has told you that you are the truth itself then you repeat it to yourself with firm belief. Unfortunately this is also not enough to get you where you want to get.
That is why Nidhidyaasana (Or meditation) is prescribed. In nidhidyaasana you sit somewhere and meditate on the truth you have listened to.
But most of those who follow Vedanta, mistakenly meditate on the words that they have listened to. Closing your eye and repeating “I am Truth “is not going to make you that. Words are only pointers; they are not the truth itself. Truth is the “I” that you know yourself to be. While meditating, in any practice, you look for this “I” and realize it for what it is.
It is the only trick that there is.
You achieve this by stilling the mind, which is ever active otherwise. When the mind is stilled the life force which runs everywhere from you would also become controlled, if you can control both you will see truth.
There is place where the mind sits quietly within you. It’s the place between the eye brows. When the mind merges at that place prana or life force also does likewise, then there are no obstacles to see truth in its entire splendor.
Try it sometime!