Advaita Vision

Advaita for the 21st Century

The End of Becoming

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In the teachings of Vedanta we sometimes speak of 'the end of becoming.' What does the phrase, 'the end of becoming' mean?

The thing is, one cannot become what one already is. And what one already is, is what one wants to become. (So that's the good news.)

But one does not know that as yet. (The not so good news.)

However, that ‘not knowing’ can end. (The very good news!)

Let's say right now I don't know what I am. I know that I am. I know that I exist. I know that I am a conscious being. So, I know that I am a conscious/existent being.

But I don't know what that existence/consciousness, truly is. So, I take myself as limited. The mind, being the great labeler (as that is its job) takes whatever is handy (in this case the body/mind) to be me.

The mind takes my existent conscious self to be limited, and a product of, the body/mind and sense organs. What are the implications of taking my self to be the limited mind and body? (Not so good.)

I 'as though' (and it really is only 'as though') become subject to birth/death, disease, pain, old age, unhappiness, you name it! Not a pretty picture.

Even though it is only 'as though', that doesn't matter in terms of the effect this has on the mind. It's the scariest thing there is. Like even if I'm walking along a path on a dark night, and I take a crack in the road to be a deadly cobra, it doesn't matter to my mind what the reality is of what I'm seeing, if I don't know what the reality of it is. If my mind projects 'deadly cobra' onto the crack in the earth, and has no doubt about it, trauma will ensue.

And then, even when some kind friend, noticing my distress, shows me what is really there, and I see, "Oh, it is only a crack in the road," my heart may still be beating fast from the residual effects of the mental trauma caused by my totally incorrect conclusion.

Taking my existence/conscious self to be the body/mind is the most traumatic experience there is. There is nothing worse, and it is completely untrue.

But if someone walks up to you and says those words, I'm not sure that they would help. You would have to feel the person knew what they were talking about, and that they were not crazy or deluded, and be open to hearing and wanting to know what they had to say.

If all of the above criteria were met you might ask that person: "If you know that I am not the body/mind, and if you know that you are not the body/mind; if that is your direct experiential knowledge, is it possible that I can know the same thing? And, if so, how I can I know it? Can you actually prove to me and show me that what you are saying is true?"

Although there is nothing you can do to become who you are (because you are already that), there is something you can do to know who you really are.

Although you don't know it now, you can know it, because you are here to be known. The truth is here to be known. It is only a matter of having someone, whom you trust and who is skillful, logically point out to you certain incontrovertible facts about yourself and the nature of your experience, and then giving your mind time to assimilate those facts. Then you yourself will recognize the truth.

The end of becoming is knowing that you never could, and never have, become anything in the first place other than what you already are. And what you already are has never been subject to becoming ever.

When the Gordian knot of ignorance (taking my self to be the body/mind) slips apart, then I see, Wow! This existence consciousness which I am, never becomes, never changes, is ever the same, and it is the most wonderful constant 'me' that I have always loved in every changing moment.

It is what I always wanted to be! And what I always wanted to be, I am! Amazing!

There is nothing that I can do to become my self, because I am already my self, and the recognition of that is called freedom!

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Page last updated: 10-Jul-2012