Q: But we keep hearing that there are teachers who, through touch, can cause all things to fall into place so that you realize the Truth. Could it be that through experiences you can get enough glimpses of the vision of Truth so that you then won’t have to go through the heavy intellectual resistance to accepting that vision? Does it boil down to clearing the intellect?
Swamiji: No. The Truth of oneself is not an intellectual conclusion, nor is it something to be ‘reached’ by experiences. The Guru is not an elevator who touches you and you go ‘up to Brahman.’ Brahman is you -- not a place to be reached. It is not through an experience that you become Truth. There is nothing to become. There is nothing to transform. You are the Truth that you are seeking. The teaching of Vedanta is simply a means of knowledge (pramana), and an instrument that shows you what you are.
What you are is not an intellectual conclusion. An intellectual conclusion is an inferential conclusion about something that is not available for immediate perception but about which there are data available from which logical conclusions can be reached. You need not be inferred because you are right here with yourself; you are immediately present. You are available to be known, not to be inferred. You fail to know yourself only due to ignorance, not due to lack of availability. Knowledge, not inference, and not experience, destroys that ignorance.
Vedanta directly teaches what you are. The use of logic is for the removal of doubts to give clarity to your vision. We use certain reasoning methods (yukti) to remove the blocks you may have that interfere with your clear vision. These blocks are always rational and can be removed by reason. We use your experiences also. We help you assimilate your experiences in terms of knowledge. In fact, we help you see that you have always had the experience of yourself. You don’t require a new experience to see yourself. There is no source of the vision of fullness (ananda) that you call happiness, except yourself.
Whenever, at any time, you pick up a resolving moment of happiness, you experience your essential self. Vishayananda means happiness gained through a desirable object—something in which there is a ‘kick’ for you and for a moment that ‘kick’ swallows up all the other wants of the wanting mind. That fullness (ananda) that, happiness (sukha) is but yourself, really. Through some gain, through some sensation, through a profound appreciation of beauty, a certain mental condition occurs in which, for the moment, you are just with yourself—you do not want a change in anything whatsoever. In the quiet clarity of a mind that wants no change, you pick up yourself as a moment of happiness. You do not recognize that happiness as yourself and instead attribute it to an object or a situation experienced.
Desiring happiness all the time, you continually seek it through all your actions. You know that you want happiness again. The very fact that you want happiness shows that you know it. Nobody desires something that is unknown. What you do not know is that you are happiness; you cannot help but seek it because it is your very nature and you cannot settle for anything else or anything less. You do know that there are moments of fullness which are moments of happiness. You do not require some strange, new experience to know that.
Even if you gain some new experience that reveals happiness to you, it makes no difference. Whether the experiences you have are usual or unusual, they still have to be assimilated in terms of knowledge. Experience itself does not give knowledge. It is only experience. It come and goes. Shruti, the scriptures, particularly the Upanishads, provide the basis for the knowledge that the moments of happiness I experience reflect my real nature, which is limitless fullness. (Shruti, is the means of knowledge, for what one cannot account for through perception-based data.)
Not only that experience does not give me the knowledge of the nature of fullness, but also experience does not give me the vision of the whole. Slipping into myself does not give me knowledge of the whole—knowledge of the Truth of me, of the world and of the creator. It is the knowledge of the whole that frees me just as I am. For that knowledge I need to know, very well, what is apparently real (mithyË), and what is limitless reality (satyam). It is not enough just to be myself—I have to account for this world or things will not fall into place. If I do not discover the nature of the world as well as the nature of myself, the world will overwhelm me and I will have to escape the world.
Vedanta has been presented as an experience. This has been a wrong presentation. Vedanta is knowledge, not a happening. A teacher unfolds the knowledge of oneself until it is clear. Doubts and vagueness are eliminated by logic bringing clarity of vision.
Vedanta is immediacy of knowledge. When that immediacy of knowledge is presented as experience, confusion follows. This confusion has arisen, at least in part, because of a word in Sanskrit, ‘anubhava’, which has been translated in English simply as ‘experience’. Such a translation causes the expectation of a ‘happening,’ not a ‘seeing.’ I would rather translate ‘anubhava’ as ‘immediate knowledge’. For the qualified student that which comes after teaching is knowledge in keeping with the teaching, and that is anubhava.
excerpts from Talks and Essay Volume 1
excerpts from Talks and Essay Volume 1