Thursday, May 31, 2007

my belief in the truth does not seem to make it my experience

Q: I know that listening to the Guru and believing his words is important. When he says, 'You are the Self. The world is not real," and so on, I can accept that what he says is true, but my belief in the truth of those words does not seem to make it my experience.

Annamalai Swami: You must believe the Guru and you must also believe your own experience because the Guru is not telling you to add another belief to your mind. He is instead telling you to look at your own experience of yourself, and in doing so, disregard everything else.

There is a story that Ram Tirtha used to tell. A man who was a little mad lived in a small village with his wife. His friends liked to tease him and make fun of him because they all thought he was stupid.

One day, one of them said, 'We have some bad news for you. Your wife has become a widow.'

He believed them and started crying out in grief, 'My wife has become a widow! My wife has become a widow!'

Some of the people he passed on the street laughed at him and said, 'Why are you mourning? You are very much alive. How can your wife be a widow if you yourself are alive to complain about it?'

'My closest friends have told me this,' he replied, 'and I trust them. They are very reliable people. If they are saying that my wife has become a widow, it must be true.'

We would think that a man who behaved like this was utterly stupid because he chose to believe the words of others instead of his own experience. But are we any better? We believe, on the basis of indirect information provided by the senses, that we are the body. The experience of 'I am', of the Self, is present in all of us, but when the mischievous senses gang up on us and try to make us believe something that is patently untrue, we believe them and ignore our direct experience.

Then we grieve about our state, lamenting, 'I am bound; I am unenlightened; I am not free'.

And even when the Guru comes along and says, 'You are the Self. You are free. Why do you insist on believing this misinformation that the mischievous senses are giving you?' still you do not believe the truth.

You tell him, "The senses have always given me reliable information in the past. I have learned to trust them. What they tell me must be true.'

And so you go on grieving and complaining, even when your direct experience and the words of the Guru agree with each other and reveal the truth.

~ Annamalai Swami, Final Talks, edited by David Godman

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