Learning About The Self

By Rudra Shivananda

Once upon a time, there were two students who approached the Master for instruction into the nature of the True Self. They had been told that knowledge of the Self gives one knowledge of all things and were eager to master the universe.

The Master accepted these two students and they served him and were disciplined by him for twelve years. At the end of this period, the students approached their Guru and asked for the initiation into the nature of the Self.

water purple pond flower

The Master replied, “Go and look into a pan of water and what you see is the Self.” When they looked, they saw their own face and body. The first student jumped up with joy and proclaimed that the body is the Self. He thanked the Master and took his leave and returned to his homeland to teach his revelation – that the only reality is the material world and therefore, one should seek all types of enjoyment of the flesh. He became famous and many came to him from all over the world to learn this truth.

The second student pondered on the revelation and had a doubt because he had been taught that the Self was immortal but the body ages, sickens and dies. He again approached the Master and asked for further instruction. After another six years, he approached the Master for the answer.

The Sage said, “What you see in dream – that is the Self.” The disciple sat and pondered for a while and rejected this also as dreams were only reflections of the waking state and their appearances were transitory and not permanent. He asked to stay for another three
years, after which he again approached the Master for the truth. The Master then said, “What you see in the state of deep sleep, that is the Self.” The disciple reflected deeply for some time and once more rejected this as deep sleep was experienced as darkness and nothingness and brought no revelation.

The Master asked his disciple to yet stay another three years at the end of which, he would impart the wisdom sought. With folded hands and empty mind, the disciple once more approached the ancient One and asked for initiation.

The Master smiled and placed his hands on the disciple’s head in blessing and an immediate realization of the truth blossomed. The disciple realized his Self was not the body that decays and dies, nor yet the mind that sleeps and gives rise to transitory dreams. Yet after the darkness of deep sleep, there is still a continuous identity on waking – an unchanging Existence, a Being that is beyond body and mind – unaffected by the experience of pain, aging, sickness, sorrow and death.

At that moment, he became aware and realized all transitory experiences and changing states as ripples of mind matter dependent on the ground of Consciousness. It was utterly beyond words or thoughts – indescribable, only realizable. He understood why the truth of the Self could not be imparted by the mind to another mind. Finally, he was aware of deep Bliss as the wisdom of the universe was revealed to him. He who was the disciple realized that the Self is Existence, Consciousness and Bliss – Sat Chid Ananda.

He touched the feet of his Master and both embraced. No word was spoken as the awakened One departed to spread the truth of the Self to those ready to experience it.

 

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