Mulder: I hear a voice in my head telling me everything will be all
Doctor: Do you believe what the voice is saying?
Mulder: I want to believe.
X-Files, Fallen Angel
Remember the 90’s? Pluto was still a planet. That flannel I had been wearing since birth was suddenly cool. And the X-Files taught us that we should all be a whole lot more paranoid than we are. This dream is still alive somewhere, I am told. But I digress.
Our yogic practice, like The X-Files, is a quest to find truth.
First we must have the desire to look: I want to believe that there is something behind the veil, a singularity from whence the compounds come, knowledge which remains unchangeable regardless of point of view. Then we search, because, we reason, “The Truth is out there.”
We question and probe. We look for teachers who have more knowledge than we do. We discover sparks of truth and we discover that that those who we thought knew much are charlatans.
Unlike the X-Files, our yogic practice eventually leads us to one universal understanding:
The Truth is most definitely NOT out there.
It is in here.
Krishna tells us “[Self-realization] is the kingly science, the kingly secret…realizable by direct intuitional knowledge [italics mine]…” (Bhagavad Gita IX.2 Sivananda tr.)
We carry the ultimate goal and understanding within ourselves. Our practice is to learn to discriminate between what is truth and what is not truth.
Real Truth must be indivisible, unchanging. If a thing changes, it cannot be true. This is illustrated in The Ramayana over and over again: the word of the Lord, the Leader, the Parent all must be true, as they are direct extensions of Truth. A promise made must be kept, and action promised must come to pass, etc.
We parents see this all the time. Our kids learn by challenging us. When we keep our word (finish ALL your dinner then you can have candy), the child will learn. Over time. Much time. But show ONE discrepancy, the whole line of reasoning had been proven false.
So it must be with our yogic practice. We students are children. It is our duty to question the teacher, the teachings over and over again. By our own experience, we learn to discriminate between Truth and not Truth, what is Real and what is Unreal. If something is off ONCE, it cannot be truth.
We do need some help along the way to develop this level of discrimination, but remember, NO ONE can do it for you. All gurus are mirrors. They don’t give you new information. They can’t grant enlightenment with a wave of the hand. They only reflect what is already there. David Life writes “The guru is no one person, the guru is a force. A force which is operating all around us and in us. It is up to us whether we are open to what it is trying to teach us.”
We don’t need external sources, to wait for the right teacher to come along, nor to travel far and wide spending gobs and gobs of money to sit at the foot of a sage. The best teacher is with us right here, right now.
There is a verse from one of the oldest works known to mankind that students have been chanting for 6000 years (or millions depending on whose calendar you use) which sums up our quest:
Asato ma sat gamaya
Tamaso ma jyotir gamaya
Mrityor-ma amritham gamaya
Lead me from the unreal to the real,
Lead me from darkness into light,
Lead me from death to immortality
~Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 1.3.28
We know right where Truth is. That is easy. Developing the discrimination to distinguish Truth from Untruth, actually accepting Truth for Truth, and seeing Truth in all, well that’s a bit harder.
We’ll get there.
I want to believe.