Can the Truth ever be experienced?

Acharya Prashant
14 min readJun 27, 2021

The following is an excerpt from a samvaad (dialogue) session with Acharya Prashant.

यत: सर्वाणि भूतानि प्रतिभान्ति स्थितानि च|
यत्रैवोपशमं यान्ति तस्मै सत्यात्मने नम:||
~ योगवाशिष्ठ: (वैराग्यप्रकरण श्लोक 1)

Translation: Salutations to that calm effulgence which is endless and unlimited by space, time, etc., the pure consciousness which can be known by experience only.
~ Yogvashishtha Vairagya Prakaran Verse 1

Acharya Prashant: The first part of the verse and the second obviously, must be read together. That calm radiant brightness, radiant and bright only in a sense of not being dark, dark symbolically, bright symbolically. Darkness is a symbol of ignorance. It does not represent anything particular in space-time. Rather it represents the illusion that space-time itself is. So, when darkness is symbolic, the use of the word effulgence or radiance or brightness or tej too is necessarily symbolic. It must not lead the reader to believe that light, physical light as such, or brightness of color as such, or anything that is perceptible through the eyes or not perceptible through the eyes has anything to do with the Truth itself, the Ātman.

It is made very clear that the subject matter being addressed does not belong to space-time and hence cannot be contained in any activity of thought. Now, that makes things very interesting for us because towards the end the verse says, ‘The pure consciousness which can be known only by experience.’ If not understood properly, it will be a very misleading verse, misleading not because there is any imperfection contained in the verse but because the human mind is used to reading everything as per its own limitations. So, when it is said that the Self, the Truth, the Ātman is the pure consciousness that can be known only by experience, it must not lead the listener to believe that any kind of experience is an experience of pure consciousness. Seekers through centuries have been wandering in search of spiritual and mystical experiences and that trend, that desire has gained even more momentum today. Not only are there people who really believe…