The refrain in the Vedantic works of Adi Sankaracharya is knowledge of the self. What is that self? The Atma Bodha says the self is that which alone expresses the light of consciousness through the intellect, illumining our feelings, through the mind revealing the thoughts we are having, through the sense organs, throwing light and enabling us to see, hear, taste, smell and feel and through the body, providing it movement, activity and even existence.
When such a statement presents itself before us, it becomes worthy of worship. The uniqueness of this thought is that try as you may reading through all the written literature of the world, fiction, poetry, drama, prose, novels and newspapers, nothing will ever come forward to tell us to stop our search and look within. This is the special voice of Upanishadic thought that constantly reiterates to penetrate our understanding and make us realise that the supreme truth that we seek and the little individual that seeks is not two, but just one.
What is the relevance of this statement? All of us go through our daily routine working towards something that can bring some cheer, comfort and happiness. Understanding that I am that supreme self in my core and all happiness springs from me alone, puts an end to all stress and strain to achieve happiness. If I think I am going to be happy because of that promotion, maybe it can happen for a few hours or days, but it is not forever. Your happiness and joy is not dependent on a promotion or pay hike. It is there already. It is you.
So next time you get that desire to eat a cake immediately, don’t go for the mobile phone, swipe at an app to order it in. Just sit back and relax. Remember you are that consciousness illumining the desire for the cake in your heart, shining on the thought of cake in your mind and directing your fingers to spring into action to order the cake. You are already the happy person that you think the cake will make you.
How does the self-illuminate? The Acharya gives an example. There is an exquisite mud pot with holes in it. There is a lamp burning within it and the light shines through. In the same way, it is not the mind, body, senses and intellect that generates consciousness. It shines through these inert equipment illumining our thoughts, feelings and actions.