Of all the obstacles to knowing the Self, Avidyaa is the one at the center. Avidyaa, or forgetfulness of the Self, is the root cause of a human being’s inability to recognize his True Nature.

The mechanism of Avidyaa is activated at birth. We could say that it is the human predicament to forget who we truly are as soon as we develop the ability to distinguish I from you. When a child begins to see itself as an individual with a name and a body, its primary perception of reality happens through the eyes and senses, which can only see separation.

We experience this human state of consciousness - the waking state - as a subject relating to the separate objects around us. Thus we develop an identity as a person, believing in our body and thoughts as our identity and as the source of our knowledge. Avidyaa, or the forgetfulness of our Source, the Self, is so complete that most people never question the veracity of their senses’/mind’s perception and remain locked into the belief of their individual existence.

Meditation is the antidote to Avidyaa. Only in the state of Meditation do we have a chance to experience the absorption of the body/mind/senses in the Self. We get to know that the infinite space of the I that remains when all else falls away is who we truly are. We know that we could never be separate from the Source that is the Self, just like sunray is never separate from its source, the sun.

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  • Sampriya

As soon as we wake up in the morning the voice of the mind starts commenting and interpreting every situation that arises. Listening to that voice is not a conscious choice, but a habitual reflex that starts the moment we open our eyes. 

We know that the mind is filled with information from outside that we have internalised. These messages don't describe who we are, they depict what others have projected onto us. For as long as there is no other information available to us, we accept these projections as true descriptions of who we are. 

Once we have the good fortune of learning about the existence of the Self, we become aware that the mind's vision is limited and bound by duality. It is always telling us what we are not. The mind says: believe in me, I am real - when in fact it is a mere shadow of our True Nature, the unchanging Self. 

The Knowledge of the Self is unfolded in Meditation when we experience it directly. This experience becomes the guidepost or reference point we can remember during the day, moment to moment.

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  • Sampriya

When the world is upside down, the knowledge of our True Nature as the Self becomes a precious sanctuary. Since the dualistic nature of the mind is trapped by the limited options of right or wrong or good or bad, how is it possible to actually know ourselves as the Self?

We are aware that the human mind is not equipped to fully grasp the vastness of the Self. It can form concepts and ideas about it, but the direct knowing of the Self will always elude the human understanding. It doesn't mean however that we can't use the power of our minds to stretch and expand our understanding towards knowing the fullness of the Self.

Analogies and metaphors can be helpful tools to expand the grasp of the mind. One of the most potent ones in regards to understanding the difference between the Self and the individual mind came to me when I was reading an article about virtual reality games. The player sits in a chair wearing goggles through which s/he is entering a whole new universe. In this virtual reality the person plays a specific role, acts, makes decisions and lives an entire storyline, including all the details of the chosen situation. Virtual reality games create situations that appear so real, that it is easy to get deeply absorbed in them. So much so that the participant may forget that s/he is actually sitting in a chair, being completely free from any involvement in the situation unfolding in the virtual reality. Even though the player can become utterly identified with the role s/he is playing, it is obvious that none of the virtual reality exists without the watcher sitting in the chair....

Just like the watcher of a VR game, the Self is always free and uninvolved. If the player of the "game of life" knows the Freedom and Oneness of the Watcher and is aligned with it, any action s/he takes will be imbued with the all-inclusive vision of that Oneness. It will be action inspired by the knowledge of the Self as opposed to action coming from duality, fear or anger. This is definitely a time to choose the source of our action wisely....

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