I was compelled to seek Self knowledge when I was very young.
My parents sent me to a Catholic boarding school. I longed for their Sunday visits and was very happy when they came. However, once in my teens when I was unhappy, I asked them what was the point of happiness because we all have to die. They laughed and told me they loved me. But their answer didn’t satisfy me at all; I couldn’t understand how they could live carefree lives without knowing the answer.
Later, in another school, I had an epiphany whilst gazing out of the window during Latin lessons. When I came out of the experience I realized that I was the consciousness aspect of the world about me. I was hugely relieved and overjoyed but when I told the monks and friends, nobody knew what I was talking about. I soon learned to keep these matters to myself.
In my thirties, I fell in with the hippie culture and took copious amounts of LSD and loved it. I developed a method of samadhi meditation by keeping very still with my eyes fixed upon a point in front of me until the senses were left behind. One day I took this as far as I could and with a leap of faith went “beyond” the mind. I landed in an all-encompassing radiance, which I took to be God, and where no things existed but in which nothing was missing either. This immanent endlessly changing radiance constantly surpassed itself in beauty. I was awestruck and thought, “So this is God; I’ve been to the ends of the universe in my search just to discover that I never left home at all. Then suddenly a thought came, “What is this “home?” As I reflected, I had the mother of all double takes when the universe collapsed in on itself leaving only me! There were no questions left.
When I came back to “normal” my elation was balanced by embarrassment when I realized that I had been seeking this wonderful thing that was always with me. Furthermore, I couldn’t understand how this new vision of life could co-exist with all the world’s ups and downs.
Over the next few years I exhausted myself physically and emotionally working 18 hours a day to save our family business. To get relief from the work I would go out late to party but lost track of my spiritual values and hit bottom. I began to experience what nowadays is called an awakened or rising Kundalini. I didn’t sleep for three months and experienced a terribly incessant desire for release. I had been stripped bare, but it wasn’t enough. I feared the loss of my sanity and there was no one to help me through this process.
When I eventually regained stability, I was ordained as a Buddhist zen monk and enjoyed the rigorous monastic life until I knew for sure that I would not find final liberation there. The teaching was ostensibly about non-duality but in practise it was all just duality. I left disillusioned and decided to put the seeking scenario on the back burner. My peace was only temporary because I knew that I had unfinished business; sooner or later my relentless pursuer would come again.
Eventually, I married my dear wife and long story short, we ended up in business for many years with about 50 employees. It was a stress trap but a lucrative one, so after an unusually good year we sold everything and went abroad to live in the most beautiful mountain surroundings without a care.
Overcome with gratitude I impossibly begged God, who surely lacks for nothing, to give me something to do to show my gratitude! However, long standing doubts and fears began to arise again to their full power. I was tested to the limit and came to the point where I could no longer “DO” anything to relieve my suffering, not even surrender.
But, in spite of myself, surrender happened because I realized that the Awareness which always intimately observed me but which I could never locate was non-different from me! This understanding flickered back and forth for a few minutes until I knew for certain that I wasn’t insane. There are not two of me but one alone. I have always been the knower of the apparent personal me. I am completely free of “him” because he is in a different order of reality, an empty husk, a mistaken notion of who I am in reality. However, the still small voice said, “This is not the end.”
Two years later, I “accidentally” came across an interview with James Swartz, a teacher of traditional Vedanta, on the internet. I was flabbergasted! For the first time I realized that there is a full roadmap to the complete panoramic view of who I am that explains clearly how to relate to the world. I quickly bought his book, “How to Attain Enlightenment” and contemplated every word! In spite of the fact that my single-pointed attention to the meaning of the words generated spontaneous samadhis, I didn’t pass from one sentence to the next before verifying that I was on track with the strictly ordered logic of the teaching.
For me, absolute immersion in the book was enough to end my seeking. Watching the videos and reading the satsangs burnished the knowledge of who I am to a hugely blissful degree. Constant repetition and application of Self knowledge relieved me of the burden of knowledge and ignorance. I am free of both. I owe a debt of gratitude that never stops giving to the teacher and teaching that can never be fully repaid!
The best thing I have ever done in this life was to let go of limited peace and subject myself to the rigorous method of Self inquiry that is Vedanta. Only this has finally led to complete peace of mind.
Vedanta teaches that there is only one true Self and that the self that we think we are is non-different from the one true Self. This doesn’t mean that there are two selves that are the same but that the self we believed we are is just an idea, a mistaken notion of who we truly are. The person we are accustomed to thinking we are is only a state of mind that sees things upside down and back to front like a trick pair of glasses. Vedanta removes those glasses leaving us as pristine, whole limitless being and you realize “I am pure love.” There is no other means of Self knowledge remotely like Vedanta. It is complete and completely effective. You can gain this freedom...this unconditional love...if you are qualified.
I have been wonderfully in touch with James and Sundari for years now but hardly a moment has passed. My small ShiningWorld duties have born fruit many times over. Six years ago I told James that I have no desire to teach Vedanta except by living the truth of who I am in everything I do and he said, “If Ishwara (God) wants you to teach, you will teach!" He must have a direct line to Ishwara!
Has everything been pre-ordained all along ? No, because my primary identity never was the small “me” I thought I was. It has nothing to do with who I really am. It would only make sense if the Self was actually pretending to be a limited being in a dream world and apparently woke itself up! What a drama! The Self...I...never slept in the first place.
I am happy to communicate with sincere inquirers who have properly read James’ book, “Essence of Enlightenment” or "How to Attain Enlightenment", studied some of the satsangs, watched some videos and/or listened to some audios on the ShiningWorld website.
You can contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org