With constant practice of many methods of meditation recommended by a realised master who has also a strong grasp on what the books of knowledge have got to say, the self begins to manifest on its own. The self or the atman is like the butter in buttermilk. When the liquid is shaken or churned for a period of time, the butter that was so far unmanifest, begins to manifest as a round ball. The Atma Bodha of Sri Adi Sankaracharya says that in the same way, the self which is hidden in the complex of our body, mind and intellect begins to show up on its own.
The various spiritual practices that we may do under the guidance of a guru is all good. The appearance of the self is not a result of the practice directly. The techniques and methods applied can serve to purify the mind which has been snatched many hundreds of lifetimes ago by complete darkness of ignorance called tamas. This makes us strongly believe that, “I am the body”. If not for the scriptures and texts which are called the Shabda Pramana, a direct way of knowing what is hidden within and the means to express that self, there is no way we will ever even get a clue that there is something called the self or I which is consciousness that is hidden within the body, which we are always thinking of as “I”. The Upanishads say that though the self is an open secret, available everywhere, it does not reveal itself to all. It is the one who chooses the self who becomes the chosen one for the self to reveal itself. It is a very intimate tale of love between the self and the one who chooses to know it.
The simile given here to show how the self manifests is the example of the sun. From the dark recesses of the night sky emerges the bluish orange tinge indicting dawn. When the right time comes, the sun appears as an orange globe on the horizon. He is called Aruna at this stage. In the Mahabharata, Aruna is described as the charioteer of the Sun.
The charioteer appears first and then comes the master seated behind. When Aruna appears, we can experience the darkness and the light. The result of the rising of this knowledge is that the ignorance that I am this limited body has vanished completely without a trace like the night sky which has disappeared. In any camp which takes up the teaching of any spiritual science, this phenomenon is directly evident for both the participants and onlookers. Their faces may be dull and lifeless, but as the sadhanas continue and the days go by, the rising glow is evident.