Shanti Sadan and Self-Knowledge name
Vol.62 No.3 Summer 2011

One Self in All

It (the supreme Reality) is to be known through the mind. There is no duality whatsoever. He who sees as though there were difference, goes from death to death. Katha Upanishad

Where there is duality there is fear. Taittiriya Upanishad

In the beginning all this was being alone, one only without a second. Some say it was all non-being. But how can being arise out of non-being? Chandogya Upanishad

Know Atman (the Self) to be one, ever the same, changeless. How canst thou say: 'I am the meditator and this is the object of meditation'? How can perfection be divided? Avadhut Gita

There is but one reality.

The idea that there is one self in all seems a strange and even an impractical one. Consider the readers of this journal. Are we one self, or many? Surely we are different individuals, living different lives and with very different matters preoccupying our minds. Whether we lean on the evidence of our senses, or try to reason it out, the idea of one self hardly makes sense.

Before we dismiss this doctrine as unreasonable, there are certain lines of enquiry that might help to lessen our resistance to it. One is to examine what is meant by self. This calls for reflection on the nature of our personal experience. Alongside the stream of thoughts, there is a level of awareness that stays constant, to which the many kinds of mental activity and movement appear objectively. This changeless principle is not composite, like the mind. It cannot be grasped by thought, any more than the eye can see itself. But experience cannot do without it. The Scriptures supplement this 'clue' to self-knowledge by declaring its infinitude and absolute nature, and the fact that it can be realized as our true being through following a path of self-training and transformation.

Another way of approach, which works in partnership with the first, is to investigate the nature of the mind and the way it handles experience. This involves the recognition that there is a well-established course of inner development towards what might be called a more advanced state of mind, which allows us to see more deeply than the level that is apparent to our common sense, and leads to spiritual enlightenment.

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