Q: 2 or 3 years ago I had a profound realization of the truth of advaita which stayed with me for many months. I fear that I have lost it forever. Do you think that it can come back?
A (Shuka): If you think you lost it, please understand you never had it in the first place, even for the 2-3 months that you think you had it. For, Advaita is not an experience, it is an understanding. The classical example used to illustrate this is a story about ten boys who cross a river. When the ten arrive on the further shore, one of them counts but nine in the group, obviously neglecting to include himself. A passer-by, noticing the consternation of the boys, counts them and finds all ten present; verbal testimony immediately dispels the previous ignorance. Once the boy has realized he is the ‘missing’ tenth person, he can never lose himself thereafter, for the truth is ‘he was never lost’. So also, it was always Advaita, however, due to ignorance which results in wrong identification with one’s body-mind-sense-complex, a person is lost. On being pointed out by the śāstra (scriptures) through a guru (teacher) that his real nature is indeed different from what he has been thinking, he gets the knowledge of his original nature, that he was ever free. All this problem is caused because of the usage of the phrase self-realization instead of self-knowledge. If you are serious about your pursuit, study from a sampradāyavit, a traditionalist, who knows how to handle the words of the śāstra, and employs the prakriyā (methodology) as a teaching tool rather than as a system; all and sundries will only compound the confusion. My best wishes to you. Continue reading