Questioner: Is it necessary to acquire certain spiritual knowledge in order to undertake the search for our true nature?
Bernard: Of course not! What is necessary is only to hear the good news that you are the Self. You are, here and at this very moment, the Self. What you seek, you already are! One needs to have heard this at least once, because it is the Truth about our true nature! And now, what are you going to do with that extraordinary piece of information?
Questioner: So, is there no need for knowledge of any kind?
Bernard: How is one to put it? Socrates already said it 2,500 years ago, “Know yourself.” If we succeed in knowing our true nature, all will be known. Nothing else is needed. All other knowledge is of the mind and exists only in its presence. My true nature, the Self, exists permanently and of itself, and it is Existence in its totality.
Questioner: When I hear your answers, it all seems simple to me and sometimes even obvious. Why do doubts return a little later?
Bernard: That is the nature of the mind and all that it contains. And, in a sense, it is just as well. Indeed, you can doubt everything except your existence! Doubts exist only because you have certainties. Certainties and doubts are impressions in the mind, mere sensations. So, examine your certainties and your doubts seriously. Take the time to analyse them, and in the end you will be left with only one certainty, that of existing and thus being the Self—because the doubter cannot withstand the one who sees that. You are not your sensations; you note that these sensations exist. Likewise, when your certainties and your doubts cease, you continue to exist! Then, who is concerned by these doubts and certainties? Once and for all stop identifying with your sensations and with events that take place.
Questioner: I understand better, but are doubts still a handicap in the spiritual search?
Bernard: There is no handicap in the search for the Self. One simply needs some time to get rid of mental habits, which are very tenacious because they are very ancient. And besides, it is better to have doubts than certainties. Look at the history of nations since the earliest times. Consider how many human beings (and, what’s more, other species) have died because men had “certainties”; whether religious or political, it is always the same catastrophe, the same idiocy, the same error! When a man is “certain” he is right and the others are wrong (that is the case with political parties and the various religions), the result is inevitably lamentable. And yet, it is obvious, is it not? Despite everything, at the dawn of this millennium, which they forever went on about, the certainties of more or less fanatical individuals are still claiming victims, and so it always will be. What idiocy! This shows you that certainties and doubts must one day be left behind.
Questioner: I can understand all that perfectly well. But tomorrow, as always, doubts will return and disturb my convictions about my spiritual search, the idea I have about my true nature and even what you are saying to me at this moment. Will I, one day, manage to believe once and for all in what seems evident to me at the moment of hearing it?
Bernard: Here, indeed, lies the eternal problem: you speak of belief and I advise you to abandon all beliefs. Do you need to believe that you exist in order to exist? It is religions that impose creeds and ask or even require belief in what they proclaim. To believe means “to hold to be true,” so to believe is an a priori and represents a mere possibility. To believe is to accept ideas, principles, and theories, which others have propagated, without having first experienced their authenticity. Religion imposes a belief and he who practices “his religion” must abide by it, or else he is a heretic. All in all, belief represents a theory, and practice is what is undertaken in order to realise, to know our true nature.
There is nothing new in what I tell you, and no one is asking you to believe it. Stop, if only for an instant, identifying yourself with others’ ideas, with a culture, with creeds, because they are not the result of your own experience! You hear my answers to your questions, but you attribute them to an individual and to sensations that arise therefrom, and that is a pity. Put aside appearances and you will hear it differently. I am not setting forth great theories to be followed. I am simply giving you my experience as it arises, and that does not call for any particular belief in anyone or thing, or subscribing to any creed. My advice to you would be to believe only in yourself as the one principle from which all else springs, but that must be experienced and not be the object of a belief.
Yes, it can all work out, if the doubts and convictions which you are forever feeding disappear, and that is in fact what happens every night when you sleep.
The greatest difficulty in what is called the “spiritual search” resides in the fact that the seeker has no experience of the Absolute state. How can one understand what one does not experience oneself? It is impossible! Do not base your search only on comprehension.
Now, all has been said and it is no longer necessary to ask anymore questions. Never forget that the seeker who really desires to reach the goal cannot fail if he is driven by a passion, a limitless fervour. There will be ups and downs, but hold true until the final victory, and you will, at length, know Happiness, our true nature.
Tirelessly observe the play of Consciousness and recognise, once and for all, that you cannot be what you observe—events, sensations, etc. You are the One who witnesses that. Stop confusing events, impressions, or sensations with the One who witnesses their existence. Is it not obvious? You are not, at any time, the spectacle, but you are permanently the One spectator. Your true nature is infinite Being, but it is not enough to hear or to know that; be the Being that you already are!
Realise this evidence, the evidence of beingness, which is permanent, stable, and the sole source of Happiness.
From The Search for Happiness by Bernard Harmand. Copyright 2008 Bernard Harmand. All rights reserved. An Inner Directions book.