Is anyone interested in Advaita Vedanta?
Jeopardize the self?
My students keep asking me why so few people care who or what they really are. For them it is hard to understand because it is the most important matter in the world for them. The short answer: it cannot be otherwise, it is in the nature of things.
Whoever seriously embarks on the search for his true nature, the true self, will very soon find out that the price for achieving this goal is one's own "I". That sounds harmless at first and you quickly read over it. But this is exactly the reason why most people prefer to ignore who or what they really are. It seems safer to stay with the self that you have known for so long.
What is that me Everything, but also everything that one experiences in life depends on this self. The personal I is that which suffers everything. But it's also what everyone enjoys. The personal ego fails and does not achieve some goals. But the personal I is also what is successful and achieves other goals. That means, whoever lets go of the personal self, in a certain way also lets go of hope for happiness and success.
Even those who want to find out who or what they really are have a goal. Only this goal is different. Why? On the one hand, it is a goal of knowledge. You don't want to go anywhere else, you want to recognize that you are already where you want to be. Second, those with this goal gradually realize that if they want to take their personal selves with them, they will never achieve their goal.
That is, the personal ego that sets itself this goal because it thinks that it will then finally be free and in peace, precisely this ego will not reach its goal. Because the sought-after peace and moksha, the highest freedom, is not a state that the personal ego experiences - in the way that the fulfillment of a wish temporarily puts the personal ego into a state of peace.
The seeker of truth who wants to fully recognize who he really is is not interested in temporary conditions. He / she is therefore in a dilemma that he / she is not always fully aware of: he / she wants something that he / she will never experience and enjoy. Never.
Only those who are perfectly clear that the usual goals (more security, better quality of life, more commitment to the common good) will not give them everlasting peace and complete freedom, only they will get involved in this strange trade. They are ready to look for the only thing that promises eternal peace and absolute freedom - even at the price of their self-identification.
What does it mean to leave the personal self behind?
The widespread fear of death shows that the idea of letting go of the self is extremely threatening. Many say that they are not afraid of death itself, but of illness and infirmity: the physical pain or dependence on other people before they die. But is that really the only fear?
A little exercise: Exactly at this moment death knocks - NOW. His whole charisma, his being, make it unmistakably clear that it is death that stands before you. And he says he'll probably come over for one in the next week. Without illness, without infirmity, just like that. Then he's gone.
How would your own reaction be? Probably no "Okay, I'm fine, I'm not sick. Then I can leave in peace. "(It is more like" Why now? I'm not that bad after all! ")
Most will respond with some form of defense: how can it be prevented? Shock, fear, hope? After all, he said “probably” when making the announcement. And maybe it was just a pipe dream after all. But what if not ?!
If at some point you come to terms with the fact that you can't prevent death, then you suddenly realize that you can't take anything, anything with you. And immediately the question arises whether there isn't something that you can take with you? You want to take your personal self with you, at least a small part of it. You don't want to leave it behind under any circumstances.
Some imagine subtle worlds in which they will continue to live with their ego in their luggage. Others console themselves with the idea of better future incarnations of their selves. I don't want to criticize any of this, because they are natural ideas. My point here is not to discuss how to deal with death and dying. What matters to me is that it is almost not a pleasant idea for almost anyone to let go of oneself.
So much has been invested in this self: experienced so much, developed it so well, learned so much, recognized so much. And now? Everything for the cat! You also have ties to people, to animals, to situations. None of that persists now. Just as little as the money saved in the account, the nice clothes in the closet, the great car in front of the door, the brand new furniture. Everything will disappear irretrievably. The entire past and all future projects are null and void at one stroke.
Perhaps this example makes it clear how infinitely important one's self is to one. To put it a little more soberly: how do you identify with this me?
In fact, I-identification is the one identification that underlies all other identifications. It cannot be otherwise, because no matter what you identify with, your personal self is involved, because it is the point of reference for all identification.
Okay, and now there are some people who want to know their true selves. That means nothing else than that you voluntarily get involved in a process, the end of which you are guaranteed not to experience. Why do they do that? You have a compelling reason for this: you are convinced that there is something better.
The personal ego that has been discussed so far has serious disadvantages, all of which are based on the fact that it lives in duality. In duality there is separation and therefore a nagging feeling of lack and the possible threat of what is different. Since the personal self is not everything, something is always missing or it could be taken from you. Since there are “others”, you can fall in love, which is nice, but you should keep a watchful eye on most of the “others” because they are by no means always well disposed towards you. On top of that, there is finitude in duality. Nothing remains, because only the timeless is eternal. Finiteness may be pleasant when it comes to problems, but all pleasant, beautiful situations are just as finite. Again and again they will get lost in the personal ego. And the most threatening aspect of finitude is of course death.
The reason why we are so attached to the personal self in spite of all this is solely due to the fact that we are used to it and cannot imagine anything else. By now, the readers of these essays have already heard of the possibility of leaving behind identification with the personal self - something that happens automatically and without further action once the knowledge of the true self is complete. The readers of these essays thus have a unique opportunity to move beyond habitual identification.
True self - personal self
The real self is what we really are. In contrast, the personal ego is only what we think we are. So we don't have to do anything to become the true self. We just have to recognize what belongs to the personal self and understand why we cannot be this personal self. Fortunately, it is possible.
As soon as the understanding of what we are not is complete and someone points us to what is still there (after all that we are not), the change takes place immediately: the idea of a personal self dissolves and the true self "takes its place". In fact, it was there all of the time, but as long as we were identified with a personal self, we couldn't see it.
How do you get the full understanding of what you are not? These essays are based on the Advaita Vedanta. The Advaita Vedanta is a sophisticated methodology. It is based on what was expressed in the Indian Upanishads thousands of years ago (called Vedanta) and what is verified by logic in Advaita Vedanta. That is, the seeker's mind is trained to know the truth. The Advaita Vedanta assumes that this can only work together with a teacher, since the seeker only searches because his identifications hinder the ability to cognize. He needs someone to question his assumptions and expand his imagination. This has to be someone who has left identification with the personal self and is completely at rest in the true self. He / she should also be a good teacher and be familiar with the basics of Advaita Vedanta and the teaching method.
Finding someone like that is possible. If the desire for it burns deep in your heart, then the teacher who suits you will show himself outside.
last edited on October 20, 2018
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