One Summer Evening in India
I vividly recollect one summer evening in India. The breeze was gently blowing on my face. It was laden with the aroma of the bela flowers—Arabian jasmine and the night-blooming jasmine—that my mother grew in earthen pots all over the terrace. The whiteness of the blossoms was highlighted in the moonlight. The Indian laburnum that grew in the garden below spread its mass of grape-like bunches of yellow-gold fragrant flowers all over the terrace, and the “queen of the night” tree that blossoms at night and sheds in the early morning made a flowery carpet of its sweetly scented white flowers with a delicate saffron-orange stem—which were in full bloom that summer.
I lay on the thick carpet of the fallen, ethereal-looking blossoms, and looked up at the few that chose to drop on my face.
I remember an inner knowingness that I am a part of an interconnected fabric that is One. That is blissful. That is auspicious. I felt safe. Held and protected. On my terrace that summer night, my Inner Being was in communion with its own creation. I experienced unconditional love.
An entire universe was teasing me and at play with me…come find yourself in me, just like I have found an entire existence inside you.
Yes, the quest for a great Truth is universal. My Guru had shown me the vision of a grand, all-inclusive, all pervading truth that remains the same for all beings, things, and in-betweens. The sages knew and predicted that the search for Truth is none other but the search of the Self, which is none other than God.
When a craving develops that will be satisfied with none else but Brahman—you develop a craving for your own Truth; you now demand answers that your own Existence has posed upon you; know it, that your life will change now.
Filled with unconditional acceptance of my jasmine fragrance-filled infinite Outer Being, all blossoming forth from my Inner Being, I remember I started chanting the ancient hymn of gratitude for my Guru, My Baba that night…and the jasmines, the stars, and the sky joined me in a soul-stirring chorus.
The Guru Stotram—A Hymn of Gratitude to the Guru
The Guru Stotram is a traditional hymn chanted in the Vedic tradition by every sincere disciple who has received life-changing knowledge of Brahman from his or her Guru. Hence, this hymn is, in effect, thanking the Guru for changing the student’s perception from one that could perceive only separation and separation-born mental suffering to one who can now perceive oneness and unity-born mental freedom.
akhaṇḍamaṇḍalākāraṃ vyāptaṃ yena carācaram
tatpadaṃ darśitaṃ yena tasmai śrī gurave namaḥ
My reverential salutations to that Guru, who has revealed to me the Truth of Brahman, which is non-fragmented, all-pervasive, ever-full, and pervades the entire universe—movable and unmovable.
cakṣurunmīlitaṃyena tasmai śrī gurave namaḥ
My reverential salutations to that Guru, who restored my vision by applying the divine medicine of Self-knowledge in my eyes, which were blinded by the cataract of ignorance.
gururbrahmā gururviṣṇuḥ gururdevo maheśvaraḥ
guruḥ sākṣāt parambrahma tasmai śrī gurave namaḥ
My reverential salutations to that Guru, who is verily Brahman, the transcendental divinity itself; the timeless divine principle functions as Brahma, the creator, Vishnu, the sustainer, and Shiva, the destroyer.
Baba told me a great truth. Until we keep believing that the ego self, that is the “little person” who is born inside, and lives and operates from our ego, “exists”, it will continue to exist, and it will exist, always with an accompanying sense of lack.
The little person is little – it is unaware that it is a mere reflection of the ultimate bigness of Brahman, the true you. Though the persona is merely a construct of thoughts, an illusory creation of bits and bytes from reflected consciousness, until we keep believing in this false self and its existence, we will also keep believing in the “inadequacies” and the ‘vasanas’ (unconscious, ego-driven desires) it experiences, non-stop.
It is like when, in the bright sunshine of Self, the shadow on the wall, noticing its monochromatic single color exclaims, “Oh no, I am so dark, mono-chromatic, disgusting! I am not good enough!” And then the shadow spent all its life desperately finding shadow colors to make itself colorful, vivid, and likeable. Which color can amend this situation? How much color and what kind of color, material or spiritual, can address this fundamental lack? Can anything worldly – wealth, fame, sex, a loving partner, beautiful home, plush sofa, loving pets, health and stamina, or otherworldly – visions, angels, meditative trance, mantras, rituals, or pilgrimage color the shadow? The sense of inadequacy at the core of it all remains a shadow. And shadows can only be overcome with light, which is a bouquet of colors unto itself.
Thus, until the fundamental illusion of the false self is not seen through, the sense of lack continues.
Once knowledge of true Self arises in the mind, one realizes that one is a divine color palette, the painter and the portrait all along. I myself painted the sunset sky vivid red. Look how I colored each blade of grass an exotic green. See how I splash colors on the cherry blossoms this spring!
We were never the shadow, all along. Negotiations for the ‘persona’ were pointless. Blaming another ‘person’, too, is ignorant behavior in maya (the self-ignorance created world of illusions). Ignorance of our identity was at the root of this suffering. The rise of Self-knowledge ends this pointless lamentation. Brahman is concealed by the phenomenal world. The Self is concealed by the ego’s woven personas. Our treasures of enlightened bliss consciousness lie concealed by maya in my own mind.
“The Self is beyond all falsehoods.”
Chandogya Upanishad, VIII, 3,3
Acharya Shunya is a Vedic lineage holder and teacher of nondual wisdom from the Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita, along with the Vedic sciences of Ayurveda and Yoga. She is the spiritual preceptor of a global community of truth seekers. She teaches out of her wisdom school, Vedika Global, based in Emeryville, California, USA and lectures worldwide. She is the award-winning author of Ayurveda Lifestyle Wisdom (Sounds True, 2017), voted among the Top 10 Books in Alternative Medicine by Health Line (2017). To find out more and to explore studying the ancient wisdom from Vedic seers with Acharya Shunya, visit her official website maintained by her students: https://www.acharyashunya.com/.