Nathan Tennyson (Siddhartha)
Truth must be revealed and experienced. It cannot be confined in words.
Unfortunately, we delegate more responsibility to words than they deserve, and they more often hinder than aid. So, the use and interpretation of words requires tremendous care. If this care is not taken, the meaning is lost. Ignorance follows.
Should I use the word ‘Yoga,’ I expect most of the West would think of Bikram, hotpants, and floor mats. What of words like ‘Karma,’ ‘Bhakti’, ‘Sadhana’, ‘Vedanta?’ I know not, for they are technical words and are perhaps foreign to you. They have their value, but I care for them not here.
If I see yellow, I am told that it is ‘yellow,’ and my mind attaches the word ‘yellow’ to the color of yellow, I believe ‘yellow’ is yellow. Yet what if I had a defect where I saw yellow as grey and thought all grey was ‘yellow’ Or what if I was incapable of speech, yet I still have experienced yellow but have no word associated with it? Or what if I am blind from birth and have never seen yellow but know the scientific and mathematical basis for the refraction of all light and color, including yellow? What if I saw the color yellow before I went blind? In this way, individual understanding of words can be variable and unique. My mental image of a dog differs from yours. And some of us even have mental images of a dog that include things others of us do not consider covered by the word ‘dog.’
So, Truth is not found in words, but by them. So, Buddha cautioned to not mistake the finger pointing at the moon for the moon. So, Ramakrishna said that the thorn of knowledge is used to remove the thorn of ignorance and then both are discarded.
This holds true for perspectives also. A perspective is a belief or understanding distilled from an experience. The quality of the perspective depends on the quality of the experience, the quality of the experiencer, and the quality of the distillation process. You are the experience, the experiencer, and the still.
During the pandemic, there was a popular story about an attorney who appeared remotely before a judge. The attorney forgot he had a filter that made him look like a cat. The Judge was very composed in response, and the attorney very apologetic. A nice story and everyone was a good sport (we hope).
This thought is ludicrous, of a cat-man attorney. The Judge saw through, it is true. No reasonable, sober person would think this was the case.
But what if the Judge had thought the attorney was a cat-man? Would we be capable of having a comprehensible conversation with the Judge about this part cat-man attorney if we were unaware he had this misperception? What if you were under the misperception that the attorney was a cat-man? Would this impact your thoughts and actions?
Obviously. The misperception results in confusion and an inability to perceive Truth. As a result, your actions and perceptions which rely on the misperception are also confused and faulty.
To continue the cat theme, I have a cat that, as all cats do, loves to roll and wrap in clothes. Particularly clean ones. One day, she was vigorously death-rolling a long-sleeve shirt. Until she perceived the long-sleeve shirt was playing a game of python with her. From enjoyment to terror in an instant. Nothing changed but her perception of the situation.
In the same way we become entangled in the cats and other material products (which include products of the mind!) of the world. Due to our false belief that they have inherent worth, existence, and qualities. As a result, we interact improperly with our material surroundings (which includes the mind!). This causes confusion and disrupts the individual and society. You need look no further than the current state of society to see the confusion and disruption that arises due to proliferation of misunderstandings, ignorance, and falsehoods.
If you seek the Truth, you must break out of the wrong views that prevent you from seeing the Truth. Words do not contain the Truth. Nor Intellect. Nor the External World. Nor the Mind. Nor the Body. Nor your Friends. Nor your Kin. Nor your Name. Nor your Fame. Nor your God. Yet all these things are within Truth and the Truth may be discerned through them. All are manifestations of the Truth; by the hand of the Master.
The greatest thing you can do is to free yourself from your misunderstandings. To this end, Vedanta offers a comprehensive and time-tested system that is internally cohesive, compatible with modern sensibilities, and suitable for practitioners of most paths and beliefs.
The Master is always with you, regardless of what you call yourself, or the Master. You are inseparable. Search and be brave in this eternal game of hide-and-seek we play. If you cry out, the Truth will come. You must be persistent. Like a petulant child.
Read well, and with discrimination. You must distill the meaning of words through right action and activity in this world. Principles must be applied and practiced. Academic and rhetorical speculation alone are perilous and will avail you not. This means you must face and grapple with your existence right here and now. And experience is messy. And it is inside of you. Seek not to escape. We are compelled to look away, but look nowhere else for Truth except within.
We must eternally make internal renovations. Develop correct mind, correct perspective, and correct understanding. Like an athlete must undertake physical conditioning (no, we can’t use steroids), we too must undergo conditioning in the Truth. Words must be put to work as tools. Not merely worn and bandied as baubles, or wielded as tactical weapons for material gains.
As said Swami Vivekananda, “… what I have learned is this: Religion is not in books, not in forms, not in sects, not in nations; religion is in the human heart. It is engraved there. The proof of it is in ourselves.”
For this purpose, look at those who have walked the path (and examine the path they truly walk) to see the nature of the fruits, good or bad, they have attained. For each person will have aggregated the habits and changes resulting from the paths they walk. Observe, watch, and discern the true fruits of the path for yourself. Then take the path, if proper, so you may cultivate the fruits for yourself. For they are attainable in no other way