Warning – Disclaimer: Anyone wanting ‘enlightenment’ should close this page on their electronic device immediately.
Everyone is enlightened already (being able to read this page you would have to be!) – we just don’t know it.
ATMA VIDYA आत्मा विद्या
Self-Knowledge is a teaching like no other. Revealing and revelling in the truth about man’s eternal destination and nature it has stood the test of time. Handed down orally – from ear to ear, generation to generation from teacher to teacher, Self-knowledge reveals how long before we as mankind can even look for the truth we already are the truth. The teacher and teaching of ATMA VIDYA आत्मा विद्या just confirms it by answering all of our questions.
While most religious and traditional teachings offer an absolute solution, an ultimate destination and goal that has yet to be reached. Saying that change, death and impermanence are the only constant in an ever fluctuating universe and that consciousness being radiant nothingness is empty and void, Vedanta/upanishads slams this idea and tears it apart.
Declaring that simply by being born human our eternal destination is already won and goal already ever accomplished. That there is no other destination but the truth. That no such thing as death exists. And that amongst all that appears constantly dying and impermanent something far greater exists that is forever permanent and changeless. That the apparent imperfection and impermanence is only an appearance happening in Its presence. That all that appears at first to be dying and incomplete, on closer examination, proves to be nothing but the fullness and completeness of all beauty and life Itself. That regardless of how conscious or unconscious we are, our eternal destination and outcome is already assured, should we believe it?
If something tells me that I am limited and dying and, that change is the only constant in an ever fluctuating universe and that death alone is permanent, is it showing me anything different? Is it showing me anything that I don’t know already by myself? Showing me everything busy being born is busy dying and, that change is the only constant in an ever changing universe, is not teaching me anything. Therefore this is not a teaching.
A teaching shows me something different. It shows me something I could not see by myself and did not know before. A teaching reveals something that, unless pointed out, remains absolutely hidden.
So well hidden in fact, despite experiencing it 24 hours a day in every waking, sleeping, dreaming moment, it remains absolutely invisible. No matter what, try as hard as I may, because nature intended it that way, it remains secret.
That man’s secret still remains a mystery and continues to be creations best kept secret is how it is meant to be.
But that does not mean it should stay secret.
Showing me that in amongst all that is apparent there is something else. Something constant, absolute, all powerful and undying. Showing me what is permanently still regardless of the constantly changing universe. That unless someone points it out, remains absolutely hidden. Pointing out that there is a ever changeless undying principle that is always whole and complete. Not only this, it shows me beyond all shadow of a doubt that this changeless, undying principle is nothing but myself without me having to do a thing – without me having to even lift a finger.
This is a teaching. And why Atma Gnanam Self-knowledge as a teaching has always been is considered a sacred teaching.
If Self-knowledge is able to show me this, shouldn’t I no be a little bit interested? Should I not do whatever it takes to investigate further wanting to at least know a little more?
It is perhaps only because creation has not yet yielded a crisis big enough for us to want to know and find out its secret and question its true meaning, that its secret has remained intact. But that is all changing with COvid and the Climate Crisis. The pandemic is forcing us to question everything that is happening to society at present.
Challenging all our ideas, Self-knowledge solves the eternal riddle and mystery that is mankind. Because the truth is never farther than ourselves, uncovering our timeless secret, leaves us all in no doubt. Using words and rationale of pure logic, ATMA VIDYA आत्मा विद्या uses our very experience as human beings to reveal the absolute truth that is always shining as ourselves. Changing all our perceptions, using logic that includes rather than excludes us, no longer left out in the cold feeling inadequate, Self-knowledge proves that, even for nothingness to exist there has to be something else; something bigger; something Absolute. That the Absolute it reveals has never been anything but ourselves means, not even death can ever touch us. Changing our human perspective forever, advaita points out the truth which is never truer nor closer than one Self.
Self, being self-evident and limitless turns out to be the very freedom itself. Discovering that you are the eternal essence of all sweetness, beauty, joy, fulfilment and the freedom of pure accomplishment that you have always been searching for, is nothing but miraculous. That this has always been none other than the nature of ourselves, means – we don’t have to look no further. Freeing what is forever free, what has always been the very nature of pure enjoyment and accomplishment and what we have been enjoying in and through every single life experience, is Self-knowledge. Until we can recognise ourselves, we just don’t know it.
Wanting permanent freedom from unhappiness, until our true nature is pointed out, the nature of happiness not being known, true happiness is not possible.
That the Self remains hidden from us and yet nothing can be more permanent or more present, more important or meaningful is the great irony and paradox that is eventually solved by the teaching of Self-knowledge of the veda/upanishads.
Asking us to own up to our previously unknown hidden nature, the teachings of advaita vedanta present us with an ultimatum: either to know yourself as the truth and know your invisible hidden nature, or to continue being miserable.
Making the invisible real Self-knowledge reveals that Presence in which everything is visible. This has always been the job of the teacher and teaching. Suddenly hearing the truth, the intangible and invisible becomes instantly real and recognisable.
Being the only reality, the truth of who we are is not something void and intangible, but the very nature of tangibility Itself.
Because the Truth is where it has always been, it is the purpose and job of all scriptural teachings and job of the teacher to finally reveal this truth and point it out to us.
Of all our studies, whether it is the study of ourselves, study of the universe through physical science, astronomy or astrology or philosophy, one thing that is all important in all our studies, is the one studying. Subtler than subtlest is without the one listening the one studying; without you, all studies are meaningless. Starting with the Self, regardless of identity, once we get to the truth of our universal existence and that nature of what is being experienced, regardless of what experience is taking place, the search for true meaning is over. Knowledge of Self has to take place first. We’ve no choice and no other option.
Discovering that we are the very truth of our own existence, nothing can stand apart and nothing stand in our way. Other than our ignorance nothing needs to disappear. Once the truth is known, everything else that needs to be known is as well known and thenceforth, no longer looking for its meaning; knowing oneself as the meaning, the whole existence can be enjoyed for its own sake. Enjoying the whole universal field of existence one becomes filled with the absolute wonder of enjoyment. Eternally enjoyable, enjoying all for its own sake.
Having the truth pointed out by the teacher (who had it pointed out to them by their teacher, who had it pointed out by their teacher!) because truth is always simple, being closer than the closest, it seems so easy. And we wonder how we could ever have missed having seen it before.
Having always been absolute, remaining absolutely invisible and silent, until Self is pointed out as the supreme wonder of the universe Self remains creation’s best kept secret.
Until we get knocked off our perch
Getting the knock of our lives, ending up shaken and in crisis, if we get hit hard enough, hit so hard we start questioning the truth, where all we want is answers. Once we get such a wake up call, by awakening to ourselves in Self-knowledge, we can never fall asleep to ourselves again.
No longer taking existence for granted, in crisis we discover, it is the very nature of existence to force us to seek answers and to question.
Wanting to know the truth where do we go?
Until a crisis stops us dead in our tracks, our ignorance is complete. Ignorance being our bliss and innocence still being a virtue, like a child we keep playing in the universe. Neither do we know that we don’t know – nor do we want to know. Wanting to keep on enjoying our journey, playing and enjoying the never ending cosmic spectacle of creation, thinking there is no end, seeing happiness and completeness in every destination, all we want is to keep on enjoying and god help anything that gets in the way.
However There Comes A Time
When ignorance no longer blissful becomes a huge burden and, innocence no longer a virtue becomes a massive liability, our human ignorance being the size of the universe means, only when our existence and enjoyment gets threatened, and man gets conflicted, getting forced to seek answers, do we discover we are defenceless and drop all our ideas. As the sense of darkness and foreboding the size of the universe takes over and fills our lives, with darkness the size of the universe pressing down on us, desperate, wanting our conflict and crisis to end, all we want is to hear the truth.
Man’s existence in the universe is real. It’s no use saying it is not real. But more subtle and meaningful; more real than the gross physical universe of appearances and what is being experienced, is the one who is experiencing everything. Who is that?
Without you existing in it, the gross physical universe existing or not means nothing. It does not matter. While we may think, because everything else matters and is still real to us, everything is more important, we ignore ourselves. And taking everything else to be important we take our existence for granted. Until it is threatened and we get into conflict and crisis. Then we discover our existence alone is important and all that matters is Self. While Self is still unreal and unknown, held hostage and a prisoner by our own ignorance, the universe can and does hold us to ransom. Until the universal truth of who we are is known. Until then, ignorant of the meaning of our existence, seeing bliss as every destination, our ignorance is a liability. But this is our only liability.
Once you know yourself, the ignorance wears off and the bliss never stops. There being nothing more real or important than yourself in this universe – nothing the universe can do or throw at you can ever mess with you again.
As the perennial presence in whom all is present in whom all existence is taking place – as large and as real as the creation is and our existence in it, no matter how small or simple we may feel, that big is the universal truth of mankind.
There is nothing else like the human being. The truth, being one and same for all of us, other than the truth of our existence, no other truth is important.
‘One without a second’, whenever mankind has wanted to know about himself and nature of reality, he has only had to look at himself.
Until recently locked in sanskrit Self-knowledge was kept ‘in house’. Kept locked in an exclusive bubble where only the few who could understand and read sanskrit could benefit. Self-knowledge and it’s methodology has now been taken out of exclusivity and been translated into English, so everyone, even children in primary school are benefitting.
Clearly humanity is in a crisis. Even the mosquitoes are laughing at us.
Having arrived at a crossroad, we have reached a precipice; a tipping point. It’s like the universe has pulled the brake on humanity and has put all our lives on hold. Putting us all on notice, creation has taken the wind out of all our sails and given us this time of Covid to pull together and get our act together as human beings. Or face the consequence of our possible extinction.
The time bomb is ticking. This is our wake up call! Challenging our ideas, creation is challenging us to wake up to the reality of ourselves as human beings and the reality of our own existence. Or face the consequences.
We either face up to the challenge and change our human behaviour, or it pulls the plug.
It’s our choice.
The scary thing is, other than the human being, nothing else is in crisis.
Looking at the creation you would never say there is even a crisis. Creation is not in crisis. Climate is not in crisis.
Nor is covid.
Only humanity is in a crisis.
Not only is humanity in crisis, being its cause and only thing in crisis, we are the crisis itself.
So we must also be the only solution.
The time for rebirth and renewal.
In India the crisis of the human being has always been seen as holy. To honour this most sacred time in every person’s life when life throws you a curved ball, India’s oldest and holiest cities are built. Located where the massive river Ganges, after plummeting headlong down through the endless valleys and crevices up high in Himalayas, cascading through waterfalls, on finally reaching the flat plains of India below, it takes a huge u-turn. As though the river itself is getting in crisis and has reached a crossroad, a turning point and is desperate to get back to its source. Signifying a time in everyone’s life, when life reaches a crossroad and everything; our very life is at stake. Being threatened, when our life gets thrown in a balance, crisis is the only time when our mind opens up and we are ready to ask questions and risk everything and anything to get the answers. Wanting answers to life’s deepest questions, to honour this time of crisis in mankind, India’s holiest city Varanasi, the oldest city in the world, is built. Known as ‘The city of light’, where the huge river Ganges, after plunging onto the plains of India turns back on itself, Varanasi originally called ‘Kasi’, meaning ‘giving up that which you love the most’, honors the crisis and plight of the human being. When man is at his weakest and most vulnerable. Honored as being the most sacred point in every human journey, a point in the journey is reached, where we are forced through circumstance to face up to the darkness. Facing our darkest fears, facing the unknown, we are ready to face our fear of death. It is then that we are ready to give up everything and anything, including ourselves as and our beliefs and ideas as individuals, just to hear the truth.
Forced to backup our lives take a U-turn. And turning within, traditionally it is the time when the person seeking answers seeks out the teacher and teaching.
Immersed in fear and doubt, immersing themselves in the quest for knowledge; wanting to know the knowledge of truth and the truth about knowledge, if the person is lucky, the crisis points them in the right direction and leads to the teacher of Atma Vidya or Atma Gnanam, (knowledge of the Self). The teacher revealing that the Self being nothing but the truth and, ignorance of ourselves being the only cause of conflict; ‘I’ being all that is ever getting conflicted and in crisis, points out the truth that has always been. Pointing out that man’s destination has always been eternal, the teaching resolves all our fears and difficulties once and for all.
Drawing all our life’s questions to their rightful conclusion, the teacher and teaching by pointing out the truth, draws our crisis to a close.
Like the river Ganges already being the water itself, has no farther to turn and look for its source than itself, so too, in searching for the truth of being human, we have only ever had to look as far as ourselves.
Thirsty for knowledge, desperate for our life crisis to be over, looking for an oasis, hoping for a little water to quench our thirst, in Self-knowledge we reach the perpetual oasis of the teacher and teaching and discover that we are the water itself.