Following is an excerpt from a samvaad (dialogue) session with Acharya Prashant.
Questioner: I still can’t grasp how you can visualize Brahman, God, whatever you may call it, inside of you, being part of you and not being somewhere outside. I won’t say I am a strong Christian, but whenever there are bad times I would pray, but I would pray somewhere outside, I would pray somewhere ‘out there’. Whereas, in some of the Vedanta books they mention that once one realises that the Atman is also the Brahman. So how does one realize God this way?”
Acharya Prashant: The question is — ‘how is it possible to visualise God or Truth or the Ultimate within oneself’? The questioner says that she has been brought up in the tradition of visualising God; if at all visualization has to happen; outside of herself — the Christian way. But then she says that she has read in some of the Vedanta books that, because there is identity between Atman and Brahman so, God is within you because Atma is within you. Atma is within you, Brahma is God and Atman is the same as Brahman, so by implication, God too is within you. So, the questioner says that she’s not finding it easy to reconcile this.
At no point does Vedanta say that the Atma is within you. It is a gross misinterpretation, misunderstanding. There are the two principal paths. Looking within is primarily a feature of the path of knowledge “Gyan marga”.
When you look within, it is not the Truth that you look at.When you look within, it is always your falseness and ignorance that you encounter. That’s why the path of knowledge is the path of negation ‘neti, neti’.
You look at everything that you can find within yourself. You look at it, scrutinize it closely, and you ask — is this the ultimate? Is this final? Timeless? Ever reliable? Never changing? And the inevitable and obvious answer every time is — ‘no, this is not that’.
You look at your thoughts, emotions, deeply held beliefs, ideologies, identities, relationships, possessions, your entire knowledge, past, future and the hopes from future and you question ruthlessly. You do not just accept anything because it happens to be present in your own mind.
The path of knowledge is a path that requires tremendous honesty, and the result of…