The following is an excerpt from a samvaad (dialogue) session with Acharya Prashant.
nāyam ātmā pravacanena labhyo na medhayā, na bahunā śrutena:yamevaiṣa vṛṇute, tena labhyas tasyaiṣa ātmā vivṛṇute tanῡṁ svām.
-(Katha Upanishad, 1.2, 23)
Translation: This Self cannot be attained by study of the Scriptures, nor by intellectual perception, nor by frequent hearing (of It). He whom the Self chooses, by him alone is It attained. To him the Self reveals Its true nature.
Acharya Prashant (AP): The aatman cannot be attained by studies of Vedas, nor by intelligence, nor by much hearing. It is gained by him who chooses It alone. To him, this aatman reveals his true nature. So the question is, ‘Isn’t studying the scriptures also choosing it? What does it imply?’ When we say that it is gained by him who chooses it alone, what does it imply?
Whenever we choose, we choose in hope of something else, we never choose the thing itself. The thing is just a promissory note. When you say that you are choosing something, you are not choosing the thing, you are choosing a promise, a hope, you are choosing the thing as a medium to reach something else, so you never choose anything alone by itself. You choose an entire story, you choose a process, you choose a chain, a series that will probably, eventually lead you somewhere, or so you hope.
To choose It alone is to come to the end of choosing.
To come to the end of choosing is to come to the end of time, is to come to the end of the ego itself. Have you ever chosen anything after which there would be no need to choose? Have you ever chosen anything that would be final? Ever? You choose in the hope of reaching ‘the final’. You never choose ‘the final’ itself, because ‘the final’ itself is probably not a ‘thing’ to be chosen. Are you getting it?
To choose it alone is to come to the end of choosing, and that ego cannot do, because the ego itself will not agree to its own annihilation. So who…