Daily Readings from the Works of Swami Venkatesananda

Insights and Inspirations (Venkatesa Daily Readings Vol 2) — The Fundamental Question

July 11, 2019

The Fundamental Question

   Only one who has discrimination, dispassion, humility and sincerity is able to grasp the true meaning of a master's teachings. When the qualified student approaches the enlightened master, he may ask a question; but if he is virtuous and wise, he will not ask out of curiosity. He has worked on the problem with the powers of his own mind and found no answer, and so he asks the Guru. For the problem to be real for him, the student must come face to face with it in his own life, and use his own resources in the search for the answer. Then, realizing them to be inadequate he comes to the Guru in the right spirit as a seeker.

    In the Kena Upanishad there is a beautiful illustration of this. The student goes to the teacher and asks: " O Master, who ordains that the eyes should see and that the ears should hear? Who is the one, that guides all these? Who enables life to live and the mind to think?" The master merely gives one little hint - that the controller of all these functions is one. (Note that the student comes and asks a particular question. In the Upanishads the master always takes him from there, from the point where he already is. He does not go off at a tangent and start talking about God.)

    The sage leads the student one step further, saying: "Look within yourself, and you will find something there which enables you to see - that is the power of seeing. This power of seeing is the essence of sight itself. It is the same essence that enables the ear to hear. It is your life, it is your mind - it is the mind of your mind, the breath of your breath, the eye of your eye. The eyes cannot see it, but because of it, the eyes see." It is, and therefore, everything functions. It is - and therefore the mind thinks. It is - and therefore life lives.

    The master continues: "You cannot know that with your mind, so do not even try to use your mind to find out what it is. It is and therefore the mind functions - and therefore the mind cannot comprehend it!" This story teaches us two lessons. Firstly, that divine grace is necessary in order to see the Truth, and secondly, that our whole being functions only because of a certain intelligence. It is and therefore you think. It is and therefore you ask the question: "What is it?" When the question collapses there is Enlightenment. Enlightenment is not something new - it is not something created by your inquiry, but something that happens when confusion comes to an end. When confusion comes to an end, then the infinite alone exists and this is called Brahman (God).

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