Reading Spiritual Texts


Can spiritual energy be transmitted through reading?  This has been debated for as long as scriptures have found the script.  Many proclaim this is only possible through a living master, while others cite their own experience of peak experiences coming from reading a passage from the great books.  Ultimately, it’s a question of being open to grace.  And of course, grace may come in any form.  Let’s try a short reading of our own.

Before we begin, we need to set the foundation.  This means taking deep breaths and clearing the mind, sitting down in a comfortable upright posture, and setting a subtle intention to receive a teaching that is most appropriate for us at this time in our journey.  Really, it’s no different that when preparing to sit for prayer, meditation or any spiritual practice.  A sacred space must be created, and that time should be honored.

Now with a spacious mind and open heart, let’s take a reading from Shankara’s Crest Jewel of Discrimination (first century India):

It knows everything that transpires within waking, dreaming, and deep sleep, regardless of whether there are fluctuations of mind. This is the “I.” …

It pervades the entire universe but nothing pervades it. It is effulgent by nature, and its splendor illumines everything ….

This is the inner Self, the silent witness, the ancient, the experience of eternal, infinite bliss, ever a state of unity, pure knowledge, on whose command speech and the pranast fulfill their functions.

Here in the purity within oneself, in the secret place of the intellect – in the unmanifest pure consciousness – the Self, of beauteous splendor, shines like the sun on high, illumining the entire universe through its own effulgence.

It is the knower of the fluctuations of the mind and ego, and of the activities of the body, senses, and pranas – it does not act nor modify itself in any way, permeating them as fire permeates a heated iron.

Eternal, it is neither born nor does it die, nor does it grow nor diminish nor modify itself. It is self-sufficient and does not dissolve when the body dies, just like the space within a pot (when it is broken).

The supreme Self – whose nature is pure knowingness, separate from Nature and its expressions – indiscriminately illumines every aspect of the universe, whether positive or negative. It is the witness of the intellect and expresses itself as the “I” within waking, dreaming, and sleep.

With the mind established in that state of total orderliness, know directly, from the purified intellect, that this Self within you is “I.” Established in the Self, with Brahm as your own nature, cross the boundless ocean of mundane, unenlightened existence, whose waves are birth and death, and fulfill the goal of life.

That which is far beyond family, morality, race, and lineage; devoid of name, form, quality, or fault; transcendental to place, time, and objects of the senses -you are that Brahm. Awaken it within yourself.

That transcendental reality beyond the range of all speech, whose realm is open to the vision of pure knowingness, the element that is nothing but pure consciousness existing from eternity – you are that Brahm. Awaken it within yourself.

That which is untouched by the six afflictions of human life (hunger and thirst, decay and death, grief and illusion); which dwells within the heart of the Yogis; which cannot be appreciated through the sense organs; which is faultless and unknowable through the intellect -you are that Brahm. Awaken it within yourself.

That which is the self-sufficient foundation of the entire illusory world; which is beyond truth and falsehood, without parts, without form, incomparable -you are that Brahm. Awaken it within yourself.

That which is imperishable; which is free from birth, growth, transformation, decay, sickness, and destruction; which is the cause of the creation and destruction of the universe -you are that Brahm. Awaken it within yourself.

That which is without differences, unchanging, silent like an ocean without waves, eternally free, a state of Unity – you are that Brahm. Awaken it within yourself.

Though a state of Unity, it is the cause of diversity, the cause that sets aside all other causes. It is self-sufficient, beyond cause and effect. You are that Brahm. Awaken it within yourself.

That which is unchanging, infinite, imperishable, and yet beyond the distinction between what is perishable and imperishable; which is eternal, unchanging bliss, pure -you are that Brahm. Awaken it within yourself.

Appearing diversely due to delusion, taking on names and forms, qualities and transformations, it is self-sufficient, ever-unchanging like gold. You are that Brahm. Awaken it within yourself.

That which shines alone, greater than the greatest, whose joy is only within, the Self. It is existence, consciousness, bliss – eternal and imperishable. You are that Brahm. Awaken it within yourself.

Take another deep breath.  Did you feel anything?  Perhaps yes, perhaps no.  Either way is fine.  Maybe it was just an intellectual reading for you, or maybe you felt some tingling or energy sensations.  Maybe you feel like shrugging your shoulders and saying, so?  Or maybe you have tears in your eyes.  Holy writings can have a wide spectrum of impact on us, all depending on our state of mind, body, and spirit, and level of openness.

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