There are many born Hindus who know much more about Vedic wisdom than I do, but sometimes it is easier for an outsider to see the most important aspects of an incredibly rich, an incredibly vast tradition, like the Indian tradition.

By Maria Wirth

I was fortunate that soon after coming to Bharat, at the Kumbh Mela in Haridwar in 1980, and in the surroundings of Sri Anandamayi Ma and other great spiritual personalities, I became familiar with this most important aspect:

You are not what you think you are

Sri Anandamayi Ma claimed: your senses deceive you. You are not a small person in a big world, but in truth, you are one with all. In truth, there is nothing but Brahman. There are no separately existing entities.

It means, the consciousness in us (Atma) is one with the Universal Consciousness (Brahman). Everyone feels he is “I”. This pure I, without any attributes, is the same in everyone and it alone is really true. All else is appearance, Maya. Brahma Satya, Jagat mithya.

The four Mahavakyas are in my view the most important aspect of Vedic wisdom. It is worthwhile to remember them often:

Aham Brahmasmi (I am Brahman),

Tat Tvam Asi (That you are),

Pragyanam Brahma (Brahman is knowledge),

Ayam Atma Brahma (This Atma is Brahman)

They are the clearest and shortest expression of the absolute Truth.

The eternal, infinite Brahman with his innate Shakti is the cause for this Maya or the illusion of many separate things.

And how is Brahman described?

Satyam Jnanam Anantam Brahma or Sat-chit-ananda – pure blissful, eternal Consciousness.

‘Brahman is not what the eyes see, but whereby the eyes see, not what the mind thinks, but whereby…’ (Kena Upanishad)

Brahman, also called Paramatma, is compared with an infinite ocean and all the multiplicity with waves on it. Of course, the waves are in essence nothing but the ocean.

Somehow, this made immediately sense to me.

But how do we know that this is really the truth??

The Tripura Rahasya mentions two conditions for the absolute Truth:

it must be always and must be self-evident.

The first condition excludes already the whole universe.

The second condition means, it must not need anything else to be perceived.

What fulfils this condition?

Try to find out …. Nothing that can be thought of or can be perceived is the absolute Truth. The Truth is hidden in our own awareness. And there it needs to be realised. 

Now, what is the point of this truth? How does it affect us?

Let’s think for a moment: what is most important in life? Without which, life has no value or there is no point in living or existing at all.

What is the ONE thing that is absolutely essential?

Usually, we consider it so ordinary that we don’t even take notice of it.

It is consciousness.

Let me give an example. Suppose Bhagawan appears to you and grants you whatever you wish. He doesn’t put a limit to your wishes, only one condition: you won’t be conscious.

Can you see, how important consciousness is? What is the point of all those wishes fulfilled if one is not aware? Nobody will exchange billions of dollars for this ordinary thing of being conscious, isn’t it

Now, our ordinary awareness means mainly thinking. Thoughts or the mind is a reflection of the ‘pure’ consciousness. Pure consciousness means thought-free consciousness.

Imagine that you shine a torch into a dark room. You see different things – chairs, tables etc. but you don’t notice the light. Or you don’t notice the space in the room that holds all those things… the light or the space is comparable with pure consciousness.

How to discover or touch pure consciousness?

Yoga is the means to join us with THAT. It’s the means to dissolve our ignorance. It helps us realise who we really are.

And no, yoga is not mainly asanas.

The first shloka in Patanjali Yoga Sutras says: Yoga is Chitta Vritti Nirodh – means, restraining thought waves.

Why is restraining thoughts so important? Because then the original, pure, not the reflected consciousness, shines through.

Brahman is always present, right beneath and between our thoughts, like the deep ocean is always present beneath the waves.

Yogasara Upanishad says, “then there is communion with Paramatma”. That’s from where intuition comes, from where bliss comes, from where love comes.

It is ALWAYS present. Right now, within us. It’s “I AM”.

Now we also have the goal of human life: If we live in a make-believe world, in MAYA, (even Elon Musk says that this world is a simulation) and if it is possible to realise the Truth (the Rishis claim from experience that it is possible), then to realise the Truth is naturally the goal of life, its meaning and fulfilment.

Yet one needs to do sadhana. Only intellectual knowledge of what we are in truth is not enough. This Vedic knowledge needs to be lived. How? By controlling the mind and connecting with our divine inner essence in meditation. Many of you may do sadhana. If you don’t, please start. It’s worth it.

And also – whenever you remember, stop for a moment your thoughts and be aware of what is right now – sounds outside, or sensations inside the body. The NOW holds the key to the inner realm.

This article first appeared in and it belongs to them.