Letter to John Doe

Apr 9, 2020 | Articles, Issue 76, Letter | 0 comments

by Br. Shankara

Dear John Doe,

Namaste! A friend told me that you want to hear only the highest truth. Well and good, from here it is this: 

TAT TVAM ASI! (That Thou Art) You would say it to yourself as AHAM BRAHMASMI! (I am Brahman). Anything, ANY THING else that splatters itself across the windscreen of your awareness is a distraction from that truth, nothing more. Furthermore, each of your distractions is intentional as it arises; you project it/allow it so you won’t be aware of the truth at that moment. 

You do this because you like it; you are in the habit of liking to be distracted. Each of us has our favorite distractions: anger, judgment, lust, acquisitiveness, vanity, and their numberless compounds of suffering and enjoyment — whatever works in any given instant to keep The Reality at arm’s length. 

Is this inherently a Bad Thing? No. All but the illumined teachers are co-conspirators in the creation of this shared universe. Why? As Marcus Aurelius put it, “It loves to happen!” THAT is not two, yet THOU lovest to play at being many.  

The moment Thou Art truly, profoundly aware that this is what Thou Art up to, the game is over. John Doe, as a personality in an action-and-experience-suit (jiva), will be out of the game (jivanmukta). Your body may live a little longer, it is said, but not as a player.

We are told by the illumined that, at some point, each of us will awaken from this dream of finitude, limitation, and rejoice — both in our limitless freedom and in the adventure that brought us to it. Until then, what to do — how to live this adventure? Here is a remarkable answer from Rainier Maria Rilke:

Morning Meditation

Photo by USGS on Unsplash

Have patience with everything
unresolved in your heart,
and try to love the questions
as if they were locked rooms
or books written in a very foreign language.

Do not search for the answers, which
could not be given to you now,
because you would not be able to live
And the point is to live everything.
Live the questions now.
Perhaps then, someday far in the
you will gradually,
without even noticing it, live your way
into the answer.

~ from his Book of Hours

Br. Shankara has served as Resident Minister of the Vedanta Center of Atlanta (GA) since August of 2010. Previously, he was an active member of the Vedanta Society of Southern California for 37 years. He can be reached at shankara@vedantaatlanta.org


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