Search & Read
Sowing the Seeds of Self-Knowledge
Arlindo: Vedanta is like a mirror in which the non-dual nature of reality is reflected. This mirror is composed of brilliant concepts carried by words to produce a contemplative and self-reflective intellect. No individual can claim to be its founder or creator, therefore it is not a philosophy, nor is it a religion, a spiritual path or a school of thought. It is Isvara’s revealed knowledge to all intelligent conscious beings.
Vedanta is made up of pure logic, and it is totally practical because it is based on the analysis of jiva’s commonplace day-to-day experience of life. But before it may reflect a crystal-clear vision of the non-dual nature of the self as oneself, to some extent some accumulated dust (mental impurities) needs to be removed.
The most efficient way to remove one’s ignorance is by constant application of Vedanta’s logic on a moment-to-moment basis. But in order to do so, one needs to be equipped with a contemplative mind. All mental impurities are but thought energies composed of rajas and tamas. Therefore the first step is to develop sattvaguna by living a dharmic lifestyle and by cultivating a karma yoga attitude towards Isvara.
In order for the pursuit of self-knowledge to fructify, what is required is great love, discipline, determination and hard work on the part of the enquirer – it needs to be acknowledged as the most valuable thing in life, to become a burning desire, otherwise it will be just like any other pursuit or a mere curiosity. Most people introduced to Vedanta will appreciate and enjoy its perfect logic for some time – but only to quit it after a while. I often refer to these introductions as “sowing seeds of Vedanta” – at the appropriate time, they will sprout and grow.
Questioner: Vedanta may be right for some types of people, but it is too mental for me. I need to feel and experience in order to believe in anything.
Arlindo: You will never be able to believe your experiences, because they are not reliable; they are fickle, therefore untrustworthy. And, moreover, your experience is only as good as your understanding or interpretation of it. In order to understand it correctly you need knowledge; not to say that experiences are projected by the mind – they are thought-induced.
Vedanta is not for or against feelings, visions, samadhis, mystical experiences, epiphanies and so on. We know it all to be mithya, objects of experience in a constant flux of modification. The reason we do not recommend you to pursue subtle objects/experiences is because we know that regardless of how wonderful an experience may be, it eventually ends, leaving you again lacking something else in order to be content and satisfied.
Vedanta operates on knowledge alone because self-ignorance is the root cause of human suffering. All other apparent sufferings are ramifications of the ignorance of the non-dual nature of the self. Once we know the root cause of a disease, why to try curing, or better said, suppressing, its symptoms? Self-knowledge is the only remedy for self-ignorance!
Once you come to Vedanta we immediately tell you the truth: you are none of these impermanent things which change with time. You are the only constant factor, the ever-present consciousness operating your own body-mind mechanism. All impermanent gross or subtle things are like holographic images projected on maya’s space-time screen. You are the consciousness by which maya operates.
But the roots of self-ignorance are deeply hidden in the subconscious mind as causal vasanas. Self-knowledge must grow roots into the causal body in order to become “causal” self-knowledge to produce moksa. Once this knowledge spreads its roots into the subconscious mind it rapidly develops the power to dissolve jiva’s ignorance in its causal formations. Self-knowledge is the greatest neutralizer of those subconscious energies born out of self-ignorance.