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The Right Time To Talk About Vedanta

Once a great teacher of Vedanta was invited by a group of people to give a talk. When he arrived at the lecture hall, he asked the audience, ‘Do you know what I am going to tell you?’ The people said, ‘No’. ‘Then I shall not say anything to you, because you have no background.’ He left the hall.

The group invited him again on the following week – but this time the leaders planned in advance. They told the audience to say ‘yes’ if the teacher asked them the same question. The teacher was escorted to the hall, and sure enough, he asked the same question. This time the audience replied, ‘Yes’. Immediately the teacher said, ‘You know everything, so I have nothing to say’, and he left.

Again the group leaders invited the teacher to speak, and again they made a plan for the teacher’s visit: half of the audience was to say ‘yes’ and the other half to say ‘no’. When the teacher came for the third time and he asked, ‘Do you know what I am going to tell you?’, the audience responded as they had been instructed. The teacher said, ‘Those who have said ‘no’, please learn from those who have said ‘yes’. He left without another word.

The people were puzzled and did not know what to do. They finally decided that the next time the teacher came, they would simply remain silent. After repeated requests, the teacher came once more. He again asked the same question. This time he did not get any answer: the entire audience was absorbed in deep silence. He felt that this was the right time to talk to them about Vedanta.

So What Is Advaita?

Advaita is not merging into something. It is the understanding that there is nothing or no one to be merged into just like that there is nothing or no one different from you. Advaita is not merely denying the experiences that you have but it is asserting that these experiences are not real, but are merely factual statements. Advaita is not denying the existence of this universe but it is asserting that this universe is not really what it looks like. Just like when you see water on a tarred road in an afternoon, you go near it and find that there is no water, Advaita is going near the true nature of this universe and finding that everything in it is only a permutation and combination of that one, true, Reality, which is beyond any name and form.

The mind and the body are not obstacles to practising Advaita. The mind will have its ups and downs. That is its nature. The body will have its strengths and weaknesses, its health and illnesses. That is its nature. You definitely do not blame a pen for not working. Writing is not there in your pen. It is in you. If the pen does not work, you change the pen till you can write what you want to write. Your true nature, the Reality, is in you, the real, not in the body or the mind. You will keep on changing the body and the mind, till you get that real you.

Source - Notes taken from Prabuddha Bharata January 2020 issue.