IN THE SECOND VERSE of the Mandukya Upanishad we find one of the four great utterances (mahavakyas) of the Upanishads. This self is Brahman (ayam atma brahma). The realization of this statement is not an experience, but a metaphysical insight, falling outside the realm of duality. With this realization disappears our ignorance as to the nondual nature of the reality and, along with it, all the rapport which had been established between the I and the non-I
As long as there is a seeking, there is the sense of separation. As long as there is a seeker, there is the faith in the words of the holy scriptures and in the example of those who have realized their true nature. Faith is a form of knowledge by anticipation. Without faith one cannot progress, whereas a belief or credo may be refuted at any level.
In the investigation it is not a question of personal development. Realization is not the result of a certain discipline or planned action, but a metaphysical insight into the true nature of the reality. We cannot practice the metaphysical intuition as one would practice yoga. When all our personal efforts have collapsed through the bankruptcy of all our seeking, only then, on that basis, the reality can come and seek us with its grace. Realization is a gift of the Omnipresent to remain in the intemporal, where past and future dissolve in the moment of the eternal now. Realization is the precipitation of the reality, a unique happening, indivisible and, therefore, ungraspable by the mind and its various categories. The metaphysical intuition is not a form of mental cognition (vritti); it does not remain stuck in an intellectual conviction, but implicates the person and life as a whole.
The Mandukya Upanishad teaches us to see Brahman with open eyes. It is a great outburst against the fixed idea that realization is an exclusive state of security, created by certain religious practices and by certain forms of yoga. Nor is it a matter of transcending the world. The world stays as it is. In the philosophy of the Vedanta it is not a question of mystique or transcendentalism. The whole of reality may be seen in a single grain of sand. Why seek transcendence? There is only the overcoming of the ignorance (avidya) regarding the fact of the one, undivided reality.
There is but one reality and three ways of seeing it. The three states of consciousness are three different visions of one and the same reality. They are like the zones of attention through which the awareness of the real always persists. Let us take a stone, for example. In its outer aspect we see it as a form of gross matter; under a microscope we perceive it as a specific molecular structure in movement; and, with an even subtler perception, the stone appears as a speck of light. Yet they are but three different presentations of one and the same substance. What one sees in realization is the reality and always only the reality. Mind and matter are equally Brahman. According to Shankara, on the one side of all of our experiences, it is atman (the self) who has the experience. On the other side, the experience of the world is one unbroken perception of Brahman. “This atman, this self, is Brahman the Mandukya Upanishad declares. “ All is Brahman,” all is reality as stated by the Chandogya Upanishad. The notion of unreality, of illusion or of ignorance, is felt only in relation to a foregoing experience, therefore in relation to the past. With the realization of the metaphysical intuition all rapport collapse into the nondual One. Duality is but an artifice of the memory.
Swami Siddheswarananda (1897-1957) was born into a princely family from the Indian state of Kerala. The Swami was a highly respected monk of the Ramakrishna Order. Siddheswarananda had great regard for Sri Ramana Maharshi, whom he met during the 1030s. Later, he founded the Ramakrishna Ashrama at Gretz (Centre Vedantique Ramakrichna), outside of Paris, France, in 1947. Some of Swami Siddheswarananda’s writings include: Hindu Thought and Carmelite Mysticism, Meditation According to Yoga-Vedanta, Rambles in Religion, and God-Realization through Reason.
From The Metaphysical Intuition: Seeing God with Open Eyes. By Swami Siddheswarananda. Translated from the French by André van den Brink. Copyright © 2005 by André van den Brink. Published by Editions India.