A Message from the Warden

Midwinter, 2020-1

We are going through times of intense uncertainty and sudden changes. And many of us are being denied the comfort and happiness of joining our families and friends. I do miss being close to them in person.

At this moment let us remind ourselves together that the heart of the non-dual wisdom is a message of inextinguishable light and hope. For uncertainty, as we know, is an aspect of human freedom and the possibility of growth.

Friends, we will pass through this crisis and continue our lives of creative activity, of caring for each other, and of growing in the wisdom that ultimately leads to inner illumination in the timeless region. We will.

In the Bhagavad Gita there is a well-known verse in which an embodiment of the supreme Being says that four kinds of people are lovers of truth.

One of those four types is people in crisis, and this has an obvious bearing on our present situation. But in fact, all four of them are relevant to us.

Another of the four kinds is, the wise, the knowers of truth. This might seem obvious, but it means that for those who know the deeper reality, it is not like just a set of facts or equations. Knowers of truth find themselves to be like lovers united in perfect oneness with Reality, happy beyond description. This is the end and aim of all human striving.

Another of the four types of lovers of truth is those who are seeking knowledge. This includes all of us whenever we look on life as an opportunity to learn in any way. At those times we are lovers of truth, because then we try not to let our preconceptions and preferences obstruct our view; we open our eyes and minds to what is real, whatever it may be, and however it may affect us. This is to be a lover of truth, one who reveres reality.

The next of the four types described as truth-lovers may be surprising in the context of spiritual teachings. It is said that lovers of truth include those who are ambitious; who are looking for gain or profit. This might seem so unexpected that some commentators have tried to explain it away. But when we are ambitious and seeking enrichment, we make efforts, we devote time and energy; we readily accept what works, and let go what does not. This is to respect truth, to love truth, in a vital sense.

And then we return to those in affliction or distress, who are passing through a crisis. To be in distress means to feel that we are in a situation which is beyond our control and may have overwhelming consequences for our lives. Let us remember that from a wider perspective, that really is always the condition of our human life-span in the tides of time. From this perspective even the most prominent and affluent of lives look like ripples briefly rising and falling on the surface of a great river.

Friends, the four kinds of lovers of truth are all to be found in our own heart. And when the uncertainty and change that are always with us, are particularly apparent, then our reverence for truth, on all levels, may also be heightened.

Recently, we have been made acutely aware that the power of nature overwhelmingly exceeds not only our individual strength but even the collective powers of humanity as a whole, despite all our technological prowess.This has motivated us to protect our material situation, to invest time and resources, to prioritise what is important and effective, to let go of what is less so.

We have all been incentivized to become active seekers of knowledge: knowledge of what helps our physical well-being, and knowledge of the sources of inner strength and light that will sustain and fulfill us.

And we have been reminded of the presence and influence of those who have realised the timeless truth as the ground of their own being.

We feel how relevant and applicable are the non dual teachings to us now. Our meditations and inner search are guided by the principle that the reality in us is at one with the Supreme Reality in all, and any separation from that is not in time or space or substance but in appearance.

At times of crisis we may be moved to appeal to a Supreme Being for help with our difficulties. When we are sincere and free of assumptions about what form that support will take, then help can arise. And the greatest help is that which reminds and assures us that our ultimate Self, beyond all appearances, is none other than that Supreme Being. At any time, we can recover inner light and strength by turning to those reminders and affirming their truth for ourselves.

Even when surveying the events of the world, we remember that however extraordinary they may seem, nothing can happen beyond the ambit of what religions call God and philosophers call the Absolute, and the enlightened call Self. Just as a bird can never fly beyond the sky, all ultimately rests in that.

Friends, we will come through this crisis. We will continue with our lives, our creative, caring, illuminating human lives. We will.

This article is from the Winter 2021 issue of Self-Knowledge Journal.