Monday, April 11, 2005

"Thou art That"

The translation of an old sanskrit, Vedic teaching about the essence of Self and how it relates to the Divine. It seems almost blasphemous but demands true understanding. The aphorism attempts to convey that the human self is of divine nature and that the search for the Divine can be turned inwards just as outward (the two are actually the same, for later discussion). That is something that can only be vouched for by experiencing it. The essense of God is the godliness in all. "The kingdom of God is within not without." It is knowledge that is even present in Christian scripture. The problem lay in the incomplete way in which it was understood and preached. The introspection required of this teaching is only possible with the demise of the ego and that is why in many traditions it is said that you have to die in this world before you understand the next. Physical death is not what is being talked about here but only (only!) a egotistic one. The silence or stillness required to experience the "Kingdom of God" only comes when that "death" has happened. The mystics in all traditions talk about this extensively. In St Francis of Assisi's beloved prayer too, this idea is mentioned, "It is in dying that we are born to eternal life." So the more we develop the ego and its varied wants with our materialistic view, the more difficult it is to experience the Presence within ourselves. This confusion is also what drives even more fundamentalistic interpretations of various dogmas in an attempt to connect with something of the Divine or on the flipside with a cavalier, embittered, here and now defensive agnosticism about the meaning of life. The latter is the version more seen in the West. Both are similar in that they strengthen the ego even more and make it almost impossible for there to be silence within to foster a spiritual experience. The dissolution of the ego is a vital yet extremely difficult task that is required of individuals today. This shall have consequences for society and the world we live in.


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