In discussions, we are often asked the question about the “Ultimate Truth”. It comes in different variations.
1. What is the ultimate Truth of Life
2. What is the ultimate Truth of Love?
3. What is the ultimate Truth of God?
4. What is the ultimate Truth of Bliss?
5. What is the ultimate Truth of Existence?
6. What is the ultimate Truth of the Universe?
I am sure there are other ways of framing similar questions.
Albert Einstein once suggested that sometimes a difficult problem or a question cannot be answered at the level that it is postulated. Indeed, there is a lot of support for that thought in mathematics and physics.
For example, to solve Fermat’s last theorem in geometry (for which Fermat in 1637 claimed to have a simple proof) took over 350 years. Many prominent mathematicians worked on it in their life times over several hundred years with no success.
My own father worked on the Fermat’s theorem (off and on) most of his life and sent in his proof to various Math Journals. The referees found subtle flaws of logic in his papers.
In 1995, Andrew Wiles (Sir Andrew John Wiles), a British Mathematician and a Professor at Princeton released a lengthy and complex proof of Fermat’s theorem which withstood the analysis of the world’s best mathematicians.
My father was very happy when finally the Fermat’s theorem was laid to rest. He told me that he could not have solved it as the proof involved fields of mathematics with which he was not even familiar.
Andrew Wiles solution used very complex branches of mathematics that did not even exist when Fermat was alive and were developed hundreds of years after Fermat had passed away. In a very real sense, the answer to Fermat’s theorem was discovered at a different level than it was proposed.
So can we answer the question about Truth at the level that it is raised? Indeed, if we investigate carefully, we are forced to instead examine assumptions implicit behind such a question. In order to answer the question of “What is Truth?”, one has to inquire about the reality of the level at which the question is raised.
We ask questions about the Ultimate Truth because our present condition is that of suffering. At some level, in every life, suffering is going on. There is suffering of the body, the suffering of the mind, suffering in emotions. Then there is the ultimate suffering of our not knowing where we come from, who we are, and where we are going. We are left only with the reality of our present moment to come to terms with. Running from this present moment is a futile attempt. The present moment follows us like our shadow because it is essentially our very existence.
My friends, Albert Einstein pointed out that sometimes the solution to a problem must take place at a different level than where the problem originated. Similarly, the problem of our suffering must be resolved at a different level than where the suffering originates.
We can all identify with the grief people feel and describe at the loss of their loved ones. Joy, grief, pleasure, pain, etc., are of the nature of the body and hence unavoidable. If we meditate deeply on the nature of the Self, we can easily see that the conventional idea of Vairagya (detachment or dispassion) has limitations.
Indeed, attempting to practice detachment from the world in a contrived way is highly problematic. Such efforts to be detached from everyday life can serve as resistance to that what is natural, and thus take our attention away from this, the present moment. Self is only found where you already are, in this very moment.
Suffering, if we can meet it without resistance, in a natural way, will have its effect but lose its power. One should be perfectly natural in self-awareness. That is the true meaning of Vairagya. Self as described in Advaita is by its very nature whole and complete and thus has nothing to attach to or detach from.
The body, on the other hand, has to go through its sorrows and joys and various experiences of pain and pleasure. One need not judge oneself because of it. Too much judgment and self-criticism only adds another layer of suffering on top of everything else.
The state of the Self is referred to as Sahaj or natural. Easy and natural. So if we are searching for the truth, we are searching for that which is easy and natural.
Sri Ramana said to Paul Brunton that Sahaj Samadhi should be practiced from the very beginning by the aspirant. It means one should act and remain natural in self-awareness. All the virtues are hidden in self-awareness. The more we remain in the present moment with awareness, the separation between the perceiver and the perceived becomes thin. When Ahimsa (nonviolence) starts to dominate one’s being, the meaning of surrender to the Lord of the Heart becomes clear.
The fruit of Ahimsa with awareness is Self-Realization. It is actually only Self-Recognition. There is no new state to be realized or achieved. If Self is clearly recognized in the Heart as our own Being, we see that it is ever-new, ever full, perfect and clear stillness whose very nature is awareness that has nothing as its object.
In our natural state of wholeness, no questions or answers can arise. Hence the question of “What is Ultimate Truth?” becomes moot.