Monday, June 3, 2019

Adi Shankara

The Desire to Know Brahman
Knowing Brahman
. . . In order to know Brahman, we must meet the following conditions: (1) We must recognize the distinction
between what is eternal and what is non-eternal; (2) we must renounce all desire to enjoy the fruits of our actions, both here
and hereafter; and (3) we must acquire tranquility, self-restraint, freedom from religious ceremonies, patience in suffering,
attention and concentration of the mind, faith, and the desire for final release (moksha). If these conditions are met, we may
engage in the inquiry into Brahman and come to know it, but not otherwise . . . .
The complete comprehension of Brahman is the highest good since it destroys ignorance, the root of all evil and
the seed of Samsara [the beginningless and unending cosmic cycle of becoming, being, and dissolving]. But before we begin
an inquiry into the nature of Brahman, we should ask, is Brahman already known or not known? If it is already known, then it
seems that there is no need for inquiry about it; and if it is not already known, then how can we enter into such an inquiry at
all? We reply that Brahman is known in the sense that it is known to exist. The word "Brahman" is derived from the [Sanskrit]
root brih, which means "to be great" [or "the greatest"]. Thus, Brahman ["the greatest"] must exist and must be all-knowing,
all-powerful, eternally pure, intelligent, and free.2 Moreover, the existence of Brahman is known on the ground of its being the
Self of everyone. Everyone is conscious of the existence of his own Self, and no one ever thinks "I am not." If the existence
of the Self were not known, everyone would think "I am not."3 This Self, of whose existence we are all conscious, is
Adi Shankara

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