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It Is Experience Alone That Matters In Spiritual Life

It is experience alone that matters in spiritual life. Adi Shankaracharya has this to say in this context the knowledge of Brahman culminates in experience, and it relates to an existing entity.’ His observation on a mantra of the Mundaka Upanishad is also worth mentioning. The text of the Upanishad reads: for knowing that (Brahman), he (the aspirant) must approach a guru.’ Acharya Shankara comments: though well-versed in the scriptures, one should not seek the knowledge of Brahman (undertake spiritual practices) on one’s own.’

The path of vichara, enquiry, which complements study of the scriptures, especially the Upanishads, is greatly emphasized in Advaita Vedanta. Experiential knowledge of the non-dual Reality can dawn from a discriminative analysis of such Upanishadic dicta as ‘Tat-tvam-asi; you are That’. Vicchra is recommended for one who has the fourfold spiritual treasure of discernment, renunciation, control of the mind and senses, and the desire for liberation. Sri Ramakrishna encouraged reasoning. He advised his devotees time and again to practice discernment, though generally he recommended the path of devotion.

The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad says: the Self is to be heard of, reasoned about, and meditated upon.’ The Chandogya Upanishad states: just as the well-informed and intelligent person reaches the country of the Gandharas, similarly, in this world, a person who has a teacher attains knowledge.’