Q: In ‘The Book of One’, you say: “If our true nature were allowed the freedom to experience to the full, what then? The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad tells us that “All the joys of the entire cosmos put together would be only a small drop of the bliss of this Supreme Being. Whatever little satisfaction we have, whatever pleasures we have, whatever joys we are experiencing, whatever be the happiness of life – all this is but a reflection, a fractional distorted form, a drop, as it were, from this ocean of the Absolute.” (Ref. 7)
Is there a way to get a taste such an ocean of joy while not ‘realized’?
A: This is a good question and highlights the dangers of attempting to relate the more ‘rapturous’ statements of the scriptures to the mundane experiences of life! When the Upanishad talks about the ‘bliss of this Supreme Being’, it cannot mean this literally. Brahman is non-dual, part-less, changeless, does not ‘experience’ or ‘know’ etc. In fact, whenever the word ‘bliss’ (Ananda) is encountered, it is a good idea to substitute ‘eternal’ (ananta) so as not to risk such a thought process. (See discussions at the AV site on ‘satyaM j~nAnamanantaM brahma’.)
It is, in a sense, meaningless to make comparisons between Brahman and an empirical jIva. Just think: there are estimated to be about one hundred thousand million stars in the Milky Way and about 125 billion galaxies in the universe observable via Hubble. Yet the universe is only an empirical manifestation of Brahman. And Brahman is infinite!
Anything that we experience is via the medium of the mind and sense organs. Another way of thinking about this is that these limit our ability to experience. We cannot perceive anything outside of the limited extents of those instruments. Yet who-we-really-are is without limit of any kind. The value of all these ideas is in the ability of the intellect to appreciate them. It was already said earlier in the book that we cannot be anything that we can experience (neti, neti). So why would you want to search for an experience, blissful or otherwise? You, the jIva, cannot experience the infinite bliss, whether you are ‘realized’ or not. Who-you-really-are is already That which the Upanishad is speaking about. You simply (!) have to remove the ignorance that is preventing the realization.
If I were writing another edition of ‘Book of One’, I think I would omit that quotation., It really isn’t very helpful!
Q: That makes total sense. I’ll readjust my wrong expectations and cogitate on what you’ve said. What expectations to have if any? What will motivate my removal of ignorance forward?
A: In my experience, the ‘motivation’ is usually a dissatisfaction with life and those things that are typically accepted as being the desired ends – money, material possessions, spouse, family, job. It is an overriding wish to discover the truth about life, the universe and everything’. This is what I understand as mumukShutva. If you have that, then you should initially pursue practices which strengthen discernment, focus the mind, breed detachment and so on. Read the sections on sādhana catuṣṭaya sampatti in the book. In parallel, pursue shravaNa-manana. Ideally with a qualified teacher. Otherwise by judicious reading and listening to talks. The best of these are undoubtedly something like the Gita Home Study Course of Swami Dayananda and the talks of Swami Paramarthananda from Arsha Avinash website. (Ramesam will not agree with this but, unfortunately, he has some wrong ideas that are very ingrained. 😉)
If you do the above, then you are certain eventually to become ‘enlightened’, which is simply the intellectual realization that you are already ‘free’; that you are already not other than Brahman. (And forget about looking for blissful experiences and the like!)