ALWAYS, ALREADY SO!
Real spiritual teachings do not give us anything anew. They only make us aware of a fact that we are not currently aware of—a fact of always, already so. Yathārtha avabhōdhane̒—to cognize as such, as is, in our own experience the essential reality, the truth of our being, our true nature. And this being-presence-experience is within the reach of every human being. That ‘I exist’ and that ‘I am aware that I exist’ is a universal experience that can never be negated or denied. This self, the perceiver/experiencer of everything is the Brahman, the Ultimate Reality: Ayam ātmā brahma sarvānubhuhuḥ: Brihadaranyaka Upaniṣad 2.5.19.
What needs to be cognized in our own experience, anubhava?
- The Reality is One, without a second.
- Since Reality is One, without a second, I am That Reality: Tat Tvam Asi
This is the teaching.
This fact has to be realized in one’s own experience. This alone is the sādhanā, spiritual practice. It is not an intellectual or academic exercise.
However, this understanding cannot be gotten by reading a book—howsoever hard and long one may try! It has to be pointed out by a teacher, face-to-face, who has cognized this fact in his/her own experience and lives this truth. It is with the utmost Divine Grace that one comes across such a teacher.
Rumi has put it succinctly:
Whoever enters the way without a guide…
Will take a hundred years to travel a two-day journey.
This is true even of learning of practical matters in our day-to-day life. Would you go to a surgeon who learned surgery on its own by reading a book? How much more so when we are dealing with subject-matter that is subtlest of the subtlest: Self-knowledge.
When through the operation of Divine Grace one comes face to face with such a teacher, one needs genuine humility to surrender the false so that one learns the Truth at the feet of the master. There is no other way!
And when such a realized teacher points out the fact that we are already what we are seeking, we come to realize, for the first time, the wisdom behind Sri Ramana Maharshi’s words:
There is no greater mystery than the following: Ourselves being the Reality, we seek to gain Reality. We think there is something hiding our Reality, and that it must be destroyed before the Reality is gained. That is ridiculous. A day will dawn when you will yourself laugh at your past efforts. That which will be on the day you laugh is also HERE and NOW.
May the Divinity reveal itself within our own hearts!