One of the pre-requisites for realisation of the Self is purity of mind. Sri Adi Sankaracharya in the Vivekachoodamani gives the means to achieve that. Tamas, or ignorance, indolence, procrastination, postponement, lack of interest, heaviness of body and mind, can be overcome by Rajas, or dynamic activity of the body and mind, and Sattva, or pure and one-pointed concentration.
Rajas, or restlessness and over-activity, can be overcome by Sattva—being in a calm state of mind through divine pursuits called sadhana. Even that calm state of mind is not something we can carry all our life easily as at any point of time it will give way to agitated and gross thoughts, and the mind will again be pulled to the lower realms of thinking. So Sattva Guna too should be transcended by effort and the means here is purification of the mind. So, remove the superimpositions on the self, says the Acharya.
In a very popular and daring statement, the Acharya gives us the guidelines for living if we have to do the sadhana. We are constantly bogged down by the demands of the body for food, clothing and shelter. The Master says Prarabdha, or actions well begun in the past, will yield their results that provide us with these three basic necessities.
Prarabdha pushes the body to get what it needs. So there is no need to worry about earning a livelihood as whatever we receive today has already been paid for by our good actions done in the past. Whether it is a richest millionaire or the poorest man on the platform, the food in the plate comes not because we worked hard and earned for it, but because it has been gifted by the grace and the blessing of the universe.
Knowing this for sure, focus on the spiritual practices to realise the truth, says the Acharya. The practice mentioned here is to constantly work on removing the superimpositions on the Self. How do we remove superimposition? It is not as easy as rubbing off a coat of paint on the wall or removing a stain from the dress. Suppose the feeling arises, “I am hungry and I want to eat.” Just stop there and ask, “Who is hungry and who wants to eat?” The answer that pops in the mind is, “I.” The next question for meditation will be, “Who is this I, that I am mentioning all the time?” Holding on to this question and meditate on the answer for it will lead us to the understanding of “Who am I?”