What is it that the seeker needs to realize truth? The seeker needs a solid foundation of different qualities – like calmness or discernment. Above all, however, he needs a desire. This may surprise many, a desire?!
In the spiritual search desires are usually considered to be obstacles. But just as for Advaita Vedanta the mind is an indispensable instrument if used in the right manner, Advaita Vedanta also cherishes desiring if it points in the right direction.
According to Advaita Vedanta the meaning of life is in discovering our real nature, become enlightened. Whoever wants to go on a search for truth whoever wants to discover his real nature, in short, whoever wants to walk this spiritual path, also needs to have the desire arrive.
This desire is our best asset! The longing for truth has to burn – only then we have the chance that Truth reveals itself to us. Only then we keep on walking, even if the path is stony sometimes. The fire of longing must burn and has to be fanned over and over again, so that it consumes all obstacles along the way.
So Advaita Vedanta requests the seeker to give space to this longing and to do his utmost to feed it. Many people feel this longing – yet, they do not know what to do with it. Some try in different ways to quench the thirst –by relations, by esoteric rituals, by food etc. Others place themselves above their longing, calling it childish or insatiable. Both face it helplessly because in the West there is little that reaches out to the seeker and systematically helps him along.
One of the most important concerns of Advaita Vedanta consists in creating clarity. This means providing unequivocal definitions, for everything that the seeker may encounter on the path. Thus it also defines this longing:
The longing for liberation is the will to be free from the identification with ignorance, starting with the the ego-sense down to the physical body itself – through the discovery of ones own true nature.
A quote from the second part of the November essay:
The discovery of what I actually am brings about permanent peace. I am already that which I seek, there is no need to produce it. The problem is: I do not know it – not really, not always, or not at all.
So what I lack is the deep inner certainty of who I am, which cannot be driven away by anything or any one – as deep in me as the certainty that I am. The goal of spiritual seeking is to acquire this inner certainty. All other goals may be good and right, but they always take me back onto the path, keeping me stuck in the state of seeking.
So the first step is to welcome ones own longing and to do everything necessary to satisfy it. The second step is in recognizing that what I lack is an understanding, and that not even the most pleasant experience will provide this understanding.
How do I attain it then?
Among all means of liberation, devotion is supreme. To seak earnestly to know ones real nature – this is called devotion.
What does this mean? First of all it means: If so far I have not gone about recognising my real nature, then I must rethink now. Since as long as I chase experiences, highs or dramas, I will not get anywhere. Even if this is frustrating because I do not have anything yet that supersedes it: If I want the knowledge of the highest truth, I have to stop the experience-hunt. I need to bear the frustration that my endeavours have failed to help me attain my objective – even if I have spent years with them, even if I have invested all my energy, my money and my ambition in my hunt for experiences. Certainly, I am abounding in intense experiences, I have tasted fantastic feelings and suffered through dramatic lows. But thus it can go on forever, life after life.
If I want to complete the path, I must reorient myself. The beginning of this reorientation may be frustrating, however, by the end there is freedom. In realizing that our ignorance is transient we can start to remove it in order to discover freedom.