I S H T A V i d y a
K n o w l e d g e f o r l i f e
(आत्मा विद्या Atma Vidya)
Self Knowledge- What has it got to do with modern lifestyle?
Self Knowledge – the revolution in modern thinking
Lost to the world of media and the internet we think our thoughts and computers are quick. But we don’t realise we are always quicker than our thoughts.
The thinker having the thoughts is always quicker than their thoughts.
Thinking my thoughts and identifications are who I am is so 20th century
Adepts at knowing what thoughts we are having and what identity and what our qualifications are, but when it comes to the one having the thoughts; whose thoughts and identifications they are; who they belong to, we haven’t a clue!
Experiencing peace and oneness in a forest or in meditation or on a beach, what happens to that peace and oneness once you step off the beach or yoga mat back into the world? Experiencing only separation we wonder where all the peace and stillness went.
When do you want stillness or peace of mind? Sitting under a tree in the middle of a forest, or in the middle of the traffic, when someone just hacked into your bank account and the traffic backing up on you is nothing but your own thoughts? Say you discover your partner in business or life partner ran off with your best friend or took all your money? Isn’t this when you want peace of mind?
What kind of peace allows a tiny little thing like a thought (with no dimension or existence of its own), to bug and get the better of you? Dragging you into conflict, under its spell if a tiny thought can make you miserable and wreak havoc what kind of peace is that?
If someone told you peace, stillness and happiness were already yours – that happiness is your true nature and never dies or disappears; not only that, they tell you that this is who you are. That this is who you are without having to ever do a thing? Would you believe them? Would you be interested? Surely this is something you’d want to know and find out more about? If happiness and peace are already mine, and I don’t have to go look anywhere for it, then it solves the problem of happiness. Knowing the nature of happiness surely this more than anything should interest me?
Self – ‘I’ – the root of all Happiness
Through the teachings of इष्ट विद्या ISHTA Vidya – Self Knowledge – we are shown that without a shadow of a doubt the absolute peace and happiness is already ours, our true nature. Once you see clearly that happiness is the true nature of everything including every human being, that happiness never existed in the world. That permanent happiness is already permanent without you lifting a finger, the completeness and happiness you feel never stops. It just keeps on going. Being yours already means all conflict, misery and pain to do with the world disappears!
Want a fresh start?
Whether your search for happiness is outside or inside or in meditation and contemplation, not only are you searching in the wrong place, you are searching for what already belongs to you. Looking for something that belongs to you that was never lost in the first place how successful will you be?
Experience is dumb
Experiencing nothing but completeness, nothing but happiness all day 24/7 because our experience is blind, our experience ever tells us anything about the nature of what we are experiencing. Experiencing nothing but ourselves we don’t know! Until we are able to recognise what happiness is and what completeness looks like we remain in the dark, don’t know it and cant recognise it.
At this very moment you are experiencing nothing but the totality of existence. Does your experience tell you anything about the creation or your self? The one experiencing? No! Because our experience is blind we have no idea, not even the slightest inkling what we are experiencing as creation.
That we exist is obvious, but who or what is existing is not.
Just as a person can be tasting sweetness 24/7 all day in everything, enjoying cake, coffee and Coca Cola all day long, if no one has ever bothered to introduce them to sugar, how do they know it? Until I am introduced to sweetness, how do I know that the sweetness I enjoy is sugar? Someone has to introduce me first. Until someone introduces me to sugar I have no way of knowing it. Have you ever tried to describe the taste of sugar or sweetness to somebody. Its not possible. Only if a person has been introduced to sugar and knows sweetness sweetness do they understand. Or else they don’t know it and no explanation is possible.
Likewise unless I am introduced to the nature of myself, even though I experience my presence in everything, not knowing myself or what that presence is I remain in the dark. Like trying to describe sugar, trying to describe the true nature of the human being, we can try till we blue in the face it wont work. Someone who knows themselves has to point it out. Introducing me to my true nature I know that all the happiness I enjoy in everything already belongs to me, not the world.
Is the sweetness in the sugar or are you the sweetness?
Just as it takes someone to introduce me to sugar and show me the source of sweetness, so it takes someone who knows themselves to point out that I am the source of happiness. Showing me my true nature my search for happiness is over.
प्रमाण Pramana is ‘a means of knowledge’.
In all forms of enquiry, whether it is looking for the source of the sweetness or happiness or an address in a city to get answers to our questions a suitable means of knowledge is needed. Called प्रमाण Pramana, when it comes to knowing anything the means of knowledge has always been a teacher.
Looking for an address in the city our GPS or Smart phone cannot provide us with all the information or get us to the address. We have to programme the information into the device. What happens if the information we give it is wrong? Having never been to the location or neighbourhood before once we get there, unable to recognise the building our GPS is useless and cannot help us. Knowledge is required. This always comes from someone who knows. Wondering around getting confused and conflicted running late for our meeting, getting in a crisis what do we do? Eventually having tried everything option, totally lost we decide to ask someone. Approaching someone local who knows the neighbourhood we ask them and they show us that where we are is exactly where we want to be. Pointing out our mistake, though we were there all along experiencing nothing but our destination, nothing in our experience could help save us form our crisis. Only once we ask someone do we get there. Because of our ignorance forced to ask, our pramana is someone local who knows the neighbourhood. This person because they are capable of removing the darkness and lifting the crisis is our teacher.
In the case of wanting to know the truth of ourselves, getting in crisis and in conflict, lost in creation our pramana too is the teacher. Someone local who knows the neighbourhood.
Lost wandering around the creation, our existence may be obvious to us. Like a GPS we have all the information, but what is existing is not obvious to us. And as long as I keep on looking for the truth going off in search of myself I am denying my existence! If I am always available and ever present, how long should it take for me to know the truth about myself? How long does it take to know the truth about anything?
Once the truth about anything gets pointed out, knowledge is instantaneous. In the case of knowing ourselves, Self knowledge, it is no different. It all depends on the depth of the crisis I am as to how desperate I am and how willing I am to accept the truth.
In questioning ourselves, we are the destination. So how long should it take to reach the truth?
If I am prepared to listen and accept the truth I’m hearing its simple. Lost in our own ideas though, lost in my conditioning I may never know the truth. Seeing everything in the world through our likes, dislikes, what is acceptable or not acceptable – our conditioning – trying to rationalise everything according to our conditioning our goal eludes us. Eventually we even try to rationalise the truth according to our comnditioning.
Therefore it is not advisable to carry out this enquiry on your own. Not only is it difficult. It is nearly impossible. If looking for a simple thing like an address we get lost, if we can get lost in a box of chocolates, just imagine how lost we can get in the creation.
Without a person to guide me showing me who points out the way, whether its a path in the mountains or an address in the city without guidance I end up getting nowhere.
Faith is needed. Faith in the person guiding you and faith in the destination. This doesn’t mean blind faith. It just means faith pending discovery.
How many answers can there be to any one question?
When it comes to ourselves, fortunately the answer is already implicit in the one questioning! Because there is only one questioner there can only be true answer. There being only one true answer to every question getting to know the truth about anything is easy. We need someone who knows.
Imagine if every question had a variety of different answer. Infinite possibilities. We’d get nowhere. Lost in the city if everyone gave a different answer to the same question, where would we end up? Never getting anywhere we’d never reach any destination.
Fortunately in the case of Self Knowledge there is only one destination – ourselves.
Truth is always simple. Never ever complicated. Always rational. If y=though you end up trying to rationalise the truth you only end up getting problems. Truth is always the simplest of the simplest. Everything other than truth is complicated. To know if its the truth or not it must be uncomplicated – if not know its not the truth. What’s your name? Complicated or not? Where do you live? How much do you weigh? How old are you? Where were you born? All these answers are easy and uncomplicated. There is only one true answer to every one of these questions. If you start to lie about and hide the truth, then it gets complicated and no amount of explaining can reveal the truth.
Once the truth of anything is available, accepting that we are hearing the truth, the knowledge is instantaneous. Immediately our crisis causing all our suffering disappears – like magic .
If on the other hand we can’t accept that what we’re being told is the truth all we can expect more suffering.
Sri Adi Shankara the worlds greatest teacher and revivalist revived the teachings of Self Knowledge – Advaita Vedanta – 3000 years ago.
The word guru is a beautiful word. Like all words though it is only useful when we know its meaning. The word guru itself is innocent. Its how we use the words that creates the problems.
The word Guru just means one who removes the darkness. Right now the darkness I see in the world is being caused by my ignorance. So the guru, is the teacher who removes the ignorance thereby getting rid of all our suffering. All that we ever suffer from is ignorance. Nothing else. And only knowledge is capable of removing it. Whoever or whatever can give me the knowledge I require because that dispels the darkness of my despair showing me the truth, is called guru.
Like a windscreen wiper washes the rain and mud off a windscreen helping me to see clearly guru is the प्रमाण pramana (the means of knowledge) that washes away my ignorance.
Without a suitable means of knowledge I can never get to know the truth so I keep getting lost.
Whatever form our ignorance takes, it could be the spectacles on top of your head, your car keys, not knowing where you put them, whoever removes your ignorance, because they get rid of all my pain and suffering is guru. Of course then feeling grateful how do I respond? This doesn’t mean I have to then spend the rest of my life worshipping that person, giving them everything I earn! Rather, my life until that moment having been owned by my spectacles or car keys, once they give my life life back, getting rid o my ignorance, I am grateful that I can just get on with my life again. No longer burdened, bound by ignorance, everything returns to me and life is normal. Once our ignorance of ourselves is removed, everything goes back to being normal and you and everyone close to you can go back to living normally.
Happy to go to a teacher to learn mathematics or driving, why when it comes to ourselves do we find this difficult? Thinking we can learn driving on our own for instance we’re looking for trouble. Going round the creation too not knowing anything about the creation we are bound to get in trouble. A mind filled with all our own ideas and concepts will never pass the driving test. Likewise a mind filled with all our own ideas about ourselves and the creation, how long before the whole of creation starts backing up on us?
Just like google is to the outside world with information, the Upanishadic wisdom has always been to the inner workings and mind of the human being. Throughout every generation, the Upanishads and teachings of Self Knowledge have shone a huge light on the inner workings and mind of the human being.
The definition of truth is: Truth is that which is never subject to cancellation upon verification. Once verified, the truth stays true forever.