Advaita Vision

Advaita for the 21st Century

Drop it All, Even "What is Truth?"
Annette Nibley

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What is the truth, and what does it do for you? Is knowing the truth good for you? Isn’t this what we call “enlightenment” – knowing what the truth is? So it must be better to know it than not to know it, or so many people wouldn’t be seeking enlightenment, right? I mean, it only makes sense that a person who knows the truth would carry a much brighter light in the world than one who does not know the truth, and be kinder and more loving. It seems that becoming enlightened could almost be considered a service to the world, or an obligation to our fellow man.

Do you spot the error in the logic here? What is it? It is the presumption that “I” am a limited, small, separate being who is incomplete, flawed, and needs information, of all things, to make me “better,” relative to other separate, incomplete beings. And that somehow this will make me happier or nicer, and it will make my image of the world at large a more pleasant fantasy than the fantasy I currently entertain. Is this really who you are? A vulnerable, incomplete being, cut off from the truth, separate from all of creation, and having to claw your way back to it, through sheer will power?

Perhaps this is not what you think. Perhaps you are already really clear on the fact that you are “no person” – that there is no individual, controlling entity here to be found. Still, it is very easy to cling to the belief that what happens to “me” – that I awaken, that I understand, that I “keep” my knowing, that I experience my knowing constantly, that I deepen or embody my knowing – is important. It’s not. None of that is important. Why not? Because the “I” who you believe those things happen to is not who you are.

Who are you? You are all there is! You are truth. You are the source of all of this.
None of this can be without its own source, which is evidenced right now by your very awareness that you exist. Mistaken for your small self, the hugeness of your awareness escapes you. But this awareness is not limited. It is evidence of all that exists. This is the source of everything, this, which you know right now as your own be-ing. You are the awareness that is reading these words, and you are the awareness that is typing these words. You are the awareness that was Jesus Christ and Gautama Buddha. This awareness you know right now arises from the one source which is the inventor of life and its complex machinery. It is you! You are the means by which the stars and galaxies are created and move in their heavenly ballet. You are nothing less than this, nothing cut off from this, nothing separate from this. This is all there is, and it is who you are.

We go around all day thinking we are so small, so needy. How can we think such a thing? Look at what we really are! We are the source! Even if we have done our work, done our inquiry, recognized our “non-being,” there is some part of us that remains to nag us, saying there is more to do, another task, another hoop to jump through: I must embody, I must always be blissful, I must be loving and kind, I must live the truth, and this will serve me and others.

Perhaps we have abandoned our old ways of petty, self-centered thinking and worry and fear, but we still imagine that there is a job for this tiny being, and that job is to know and deeply understand the truth of “who I am.” But this idea is the kiss of death. This “I must know who I am” – this one small need alone – places you at odds with everything you claim to value and cherish, and throws you headlong into the terrifying, claustrophobic loneliness of being on your own. It says, “I can do it myself.” There is no terror like this in all the universe, and yet we go along living with it, voluntarily. Can you really stand another minute of it? Can you bear to be all alone, naked and fending for yourself in the wilderness, any longer?

So this is when the search ends: when the idea that you must know who you are is dropped, because you simply can’t stand the pain anymore, the pain of believing your “self” to have some power to know, to understand, to correct, to soothe, to lift yourself out of all this and into Heaven. You drop that load, because it has simply become too heavy, and it's too painful to carry it another step. And you stop doing anything, you stop looking for anything, even for the truth of “who you are.” And in that stopping, there is an admitting that it can’t be done by you – you can’t control this. You give up.

So stop. Rather than looking for the truth, even the truth of “who you are,” just stop, for one moment, and don’t look for anything. Just stop trying, stop moving. Stay put, for once in your life. Admit that this is all there is. It doesn’t get better. There is no other truth but this. Existence just is, and there is no purpose to any of it.

And then, by grace, in your stopping your needing it to be something else, it is revealed that YOU are ALL of it, you are THIS, you are complete, and you are already home.

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Page last updated: 10-Jul-2012