by Dhyana Stanley
Consciousness and being (sad-chit) meet in bliss (ananda). For bliss to arise there must be meeting, contact, the assertion of unity in duality…One and all are the same to me. The same consciousness (chit) appears as being (sat) and as bliss (ananda); Chit in movement is Ananda: Chit motionless is being.
I Am That Talks with Sri Nisargardatta Maharaj
The Sanskrit term ‘Sat Chit Ananda’ is such a clear, concise way of pointing to the three aspects of Truth – formless, form and the fragrance – as well as the trustworthiness of the fragrance of bliss or peace. Within this human experience, the fragrance or sense of our true nature cannot be separated from the knowing of it.
Sometimes, however, the non-dual teaching doesn’t mention or even points away from or diminishes the importance of peace in the recognition of our true nature as well as in the stabilization process of that recognition. This is understandable because we are who we are even when we forget who we are and experience negativity and fear. Who we truly are is not in any way affected by what we sense. Therefore, some teachings point away from the recognition of who we are through the sensing of who we are to a recognition of who we are regardless of what we sense. This teaching is helpful for those who can hear it, but for those who can’t there is another pointing.
Although who we are is not in any way affected by what we sense, the sensing of our true nature helps us to more fully remember who we are as well as to stabilize in that experiential understanding. The understanding that who we are is unaffected even by a false sense of self often takes hold after we stabilize in the sensing of our true sense of self.
When we trust the fragrance of peace or well-being we begin to see in our own experience that if we did not have this sense of our true nature we would have no compass. We would have no avenue to distinguish between what is true and what is false. And when we begin to clearly sense the distinction between our true nature and our false sense of self we also begin to see that we have a choice, in each moment, to either confirm what we know to be true or to go with the false. For those who choose what they know to be true stability will take hold.
If an eagle was conditioned to believe and feel that he is a goose the fact that he believed he is a goose doesn’t change the fact that he isn’t. Regardless of what the eagle feels he is he is an eagle but for him to realize what he is is not a matter of belief. Believing others when they tell him he is an eagle will not impact who he takes himself to be. For him to experientially realize what he is he must get a sense of what he is. He must get a feel for his boundless peace, his innate power and freedom.
After this eagle glimpses his true nature he still sometimes feels very gooselike and then becomes a bit confused because he does not yet fully trust what he has discovered. For quite a while he was convinced that he was a goose and there are so many creatures around him that look just like him and they also believe and feel they are geese and therefore act like geese – so for some time he goes back and forth between feeling like a cackling goose and sensing his true freedom.
But because he stays interested in honoring or confirming his true sense of self he stabilizes in the knowing of it. And he then comes to see within his own experience that he is what he is regardless of whether he feels like an eagle or a goose. But he also realizes that he is not here to simply know who he is but to actually be or live it. And it becomes very clear to him that to more fully live what he is – there must be harmony between what he understands himself to be with what he senses and with how he expresses himself. It is only as he gets the feel of the sun on the full spread of his wings that he can begin to relax enough to allow the air current to take him to heights that he could only previously dream of.
Trusting what is sensed brings the discovery of truth and the stabilization of the realization of truth out of belief into direct experience. It brings it out of trying to intellectually understand concepts into the direct sensing of the harmony of life now. It brings it out of blindly believing our teacher’s words into the sensing of the very truth they are pointing to.
The sage, Sri Ramana Maharshi, when asked by a woman to show her the way to have ‘the happiness of Self- realization’, pointed to Truth in the following story: “A lady is wearing a necklace around her neck. She forgets it, imagines it to be lost, and impulsively looks for it here, there and everywhere. Not finding it, she asks her friends if they have found it anywhere, until one kind friend points to her neck and tells her to feel the necklace around the neck.”
He did not say the kind friend points to her neck and tells her the necklace is there. He said the kind friend points to her neck and tells her to feel the necklace around the neck. To only tell her friend the necklace is already there her friend would then have to believe what she is told but to tell her friend to feel the necklace around her own neck it is pointed out that she now has the opportunity to discover directly what is in her own immediate experience.
Because we are not some separate object we can never discover what we are objectively but, as Sri Ramana is pointing to, there is a very distinct sense to our true essence that when consciously opened to can spark recognition. Universally, every one of us, religious and atheist alike, knows the feel or sense of truth. Some may call it peace, joy, stillness, wholeness, bliss, love, freedom, happiness, or well-being – but regardless of what words we use every one of us, at some level, knows this sense as Home.
Dhyana Stanley, a former Christian missionary, is interested in sharing how the inner affects the outer. She found that attempts to work for outer peace while feeling conflicted inside did not work. When she discovered inner peace, however, she found that that peace could not help but integrate not only into all aspects of the inner but more fully into the outer.