What is the essence of Advaita Vedanta?
To no longer identify with what you think and experience. What you are is undefined and unconditional. Your body, senses or thinking can never affect the very essence of your existence, an untouchable perfect truth, belonging to nobody. This is what you need to realise.
It seems there are many paths.
There are as many paths as people walking them. The very best path is the one that serves your awakening best. Some people are naturally devotional, some flourish in serving, some have a great capacity to discriminate and others simply surrender. Nowadays many are also exploring their journey aided by medicinal plants such as ayahuasca.
But any path can serve you. When you mature, you see that your very life is the ultimate path, whatever is arising in you is your path. The more honest you dare to be, the more clearly you will hear the wake up call in moments of friction. You will hear the wake up call sounding in moments of control and manipulation, and in feelings of pride or attachment.
this is the moment to let go
and bow to the will of existence
this moment you can choose
to be grateful
to honour your empty hands
or your tight fists
to serve truth
In increasing trust you move along your path. You come to acknowledge that whatever you perceive is illusionary. You see that all that exists is inherently empty, it is void of substance. You simply let go of your ideas and surrender to what your heart has always known: knowingless truth.
Void of substance?
Everything, everything that happens is appearing and disappearing and empty in its infinite essence. Emptiness is rootless, impermanent, non-dwelling, non-abiding. Allow this vacancy, do not fill it up, nor define it. Give yourself to emptiness and dissolve in its expanse.
Here, more subtle than space… your true identity, formless, nameless Parabrahman*. Verily, this intimate surrender is the only true offering of oneself.
Is it not old fashioned to be with a guru?
These days many people claim that the guidance of a guru is no longer necessary. But why would you resist the loving and at the same time confronting guidance of a master? Why wouldn’t you want to look in this empty mirror? When you receive and trust the guru, you will be guided and, with a soft yet firm hand, led along the cliffs of fear, confusion and conceptualised teachings.
Many do not realise that when you are your own teacher, you will be taught by your ego. Can you see – for yourself – your manoeuvres away from being profoundly touched? Do you allow yourself to be disturbed in your comfortable habits? Can you see your blind spots? It is certainly true that one can see into the nature of existence quite deeply by reading books, self-enquiry and meditation, but awakening is so subtle and so total. Is there enough urgency in you to bring the journey to resolution without needing to protect anything?
The whole journey is just building momentum for the very last step. It is only this last step that brings you home. And this very last step is seldom made.
in this last step
in stilled alone-ness
all knowledge, all insight
and all sense of I
will be erased
in this timeless moment
peace will overwhelm you
How do I know if I am ready for the last step?
There are no steps, there is no next step, there is no last step, there is only what is. And you, you are prior to what ever seems to be.
So this is the absolute self that I am?
Where does this I-sense come from? From where does it emanate?
Be very still and see with a deeply introverted mind into its source.
Is being with a master a silent path?
In the deepest sense, yes. However, it takes a very refined and mature soul that has the capacity to receive the all-pervading silent teaching. The blessing of the silent teaching lies hidden, as in lucid dreams that initiate you into more subtle realms. It is also hidden in the gestures, the touch, in the very presence of the master.
The path that one goes is the path of refining the capacity to receive. You open beyond any limit to receive the totality of life. Wherein you experience everything, wherein you no more place anything in between, wherein you resist nothing.
Do we need places of stillness like ashrams for self-realisation?
Self-realisation knows no conditions. How I have craved for silence, how I have longed for living in an ashram or monastery. How much I thought this would be necessary for my awakening. I wanted nothing but silence, nothing but sitting in silence with my master forever. I never got it. Whenever we were together – even at the ashram – there was always noise, construction being done, machines, music and chatter. This intense desire for silence has never been fulfilled, but eventually it simply dissolved. What came was a replete peace, in the realising of always-present perfection. How exquisite – it is not the fulfilment of desires that sets free, it is the realisation that freedom is free of desire.
I live in the city where it is never silent.
Real silence pervades all sound. Real silence is nowhere not and can even be found in the midst of battle. And yet… places of silence can nourish you so deeply, like nature, a church, or a temple. Charge yourself in places of stillness, rest and drink from stillness. In this way you recall yourself time and again to your true nature, the ultimate place of silence – the undividable self that you are.
Often I experience a deep silence.
You are hearing the voice of truth. Allow this to be a pointer and an encouragement. But realise that all what you experience is a movement, a process. You are not what you experience. You are the unexperiencable silent constant.