A Question that is often raised in Non-dual discussions is:
“Do you need to “become” brahman or are you brahman already?
“The implication in raising such a question is that there is nothing more to do than just hearing the teaching, “you are already brahman,” and lo, behold, you are brahman!
But such a statement, IMHO, is misleading and even mischievous.
I suggest, therefore, reformulating that question in order to arrive at what actually Advaita points to. The reformulated version would be something like this:
“Are you right now Pure Awareness, unborn and immutable, undivided, immortal and untainted by anything else?
Are you right now Awareness + a load of various other things which are mortal, constantly changing, inert and limited?”
If one can correctly identify oneself between the above two alternatives, one will immediately come to know of the answer by oneself. It’s not a question of becoming. If one happens to identify oneself with a “form,” that form obviously delimits one in his/her all-pervasion. Only being “formless” can allow all-pervasion. Therefore, it goes without saying that for one to identify oneself with the formless brahman or Awareness, one has to transcend being in a form. The seeker has to shed what s/he is not; Then s/he will shine as brahman.
kaTha Upanishad tells us:
विमुक्तश्च विमुच्यते । — 2.5.1, Katha.
Having become free, he becomes emancipated.
Shankara adds a helpful explanation. He says:
इहैवाविद्याकृतकामकर्मबन्धनैर्विमुक्तो भवति । विमुक्तश्च सन्विमुच्यते ;
पुनः शरीरं न गृह्णातीत्यर्थः ॥
Meaning: Even here (while still living), he becomes free; free from the desire of bondage and duty, created by ignorance. He becomes emancipated, i.e., he does not take up a body again. (Translation: Swami Gambhirananda).
Advaita holds Self-knowledge as “प्राप्तस्य प्राप्ति:, निवृत्तस्य निवृत्तिः” which means rediscovering what we already possess. Knowledge of the Self is a siddha vastu (accomplished thing) and not a sAdhya (to be achieved). One has to be reminded only – like in the Story of The Misplaced Necklace.
But it does not mean there is nothing to do!