"The abode of all proof-entities is only the proof of direct perception in this world, as the ocean is the abode of the waters. Therefore, hear that.
It is indeed direct perception; not another. Without direct experience, the nature of the Self is not apprehended.
The Self does not exist by inference nor by the words of a trustworthy person and the like. At all times and in every way, it is present or perceptible and is everything, from direct experience.
That Absolute Reality is directly experienced by the liberated one, who knows it by intuition and is abiding in that position. It is merely described by others only through scriptures handed down traditionally." .............. Yoga Vasishtha (Chapter II: 220 - 224)
These words are taken from the text of "Vasishthadarshanam" that recounts a discourse of sage Vasishtha to Prince Rama. In a nutshell the sage Vasishtha brings out the mode of identifying one's true Self. This has to be a purely subjective experience and cannot be comprehended through instruction even from the highest authority. Spiritual masters and sages have tried to express their experience of intuitive perception through their writings or in the form of scriptures. These are tools which may be useful to the individual to seek the path of inner perception but cannot in anyway be the very source of revelation.
In this short article, I am taking the example of the inner experience of two great spiritual masters and see how they expressed their inner experience.
The first is Sri Bhagavan Ramana maharishi.
Bhagavan Ramana's practice of asking all seekers to inquire as to “Who am I?” and to direct their full attention onto the Self. When the conscious awareness is poised in Self-Attention or Self-Abidance, the not-self (ego) naturally dissolves through lack of use, much like a plant that is not watered or a flame that is not given fuel.
“EVERY living being longs to be happy; untainted by sorrow; and everyone has the greatest of love for himself; which is solely due to the fact that happiness is his real nature. Hence in order to realize that inherent and untainted happiness, which indeed he daily experiences when the mind is subdued in deep sleep, it is essential that he should know himself. For obtaining such knowledge the enquiry; "Who am I?” in the quest for the Self is the best means." ...........Sri Bhagavan
Other thoughts might come and go but this constant inward focus through meditation and mind disciplining prayer or mantra peels of the shrouding layers of the objective ego and all its associated attachment.
Bhagavan on leaving home, he left behind a note saying, “I have gone to meet my Father.” His reference to God as “Father” was evidently from his study of the Bible in the Methodist school where he studied and his love or admiration of Jesus, where Jesus Himself also referred to God as “Father.”
Sri Bhagavan’s earthly father had died a few years earlier. He also avidly sought the true 'I' when his fear of death led him to the enquiry as to whether the physical self is the real 'I'. The words of Jesus "The kingdom of God is within you" was also a very powerful thought in his mind. In all his dialogue and writing the central theme centred around "Who am I"
Another great Christian mystic who had experienced the realization of the Self and who communicated extensively with the ordinary people of Germany was Meister Eckhart, the Dominican monk of the 13th century Germany.
Eckhart's position was very clearly expressed by him:
"When I preach, I usually speak of detachment and say that a man should be empty of self (ego self) and all things; and secondly, that he should be reconstructed in the simple good that God is; and thirdly, that he should consider the great aristocracy which God has set up in the soul (the authentic Self), such that by means of it man may wonderfully attain to God (Self); and fourthly, of the purity of the divine nature."
"If we turn from conceptual forms, produced by external circumstances, and go to the root of things, we shall find that Sakyamuni (Buddha) and Meister Eckhart teach the same thing; only that the former dared to express his ideas plainly and positively, whereas Eckhart is obliged to clothe them in the garment of the Christian myth, and to adapt his expressions thereto."
........... 19th-century philosopher Schopenhauer.
Another famous quote from Meister Eckhart's sermon is:
“The eye through which I see God is the same eye through which God sees me; my eye and God's eye are one eye, one seeing, one knowing, one love.”
In the 20th century, Eckhart's thoughts were also compared to Shankara's Advaita Vedanta by Rudolf Otto in his "Mysticism: East and West".
All the personalities referred to in this article such as Buddha, Jesus, Adi Shankara, Meister Eckhart and Sri. Bhagavan, have had their subjective experience of the Divine or Self within and through their own language and message which needed to be contextual to the culture in which they communicated and expressed the single truth that the Perception of the Self was their purely subjective experience.
This spiritual exercise is an arduous task and requires constant and ever present awareness.
Love to you all.