Know that you are That. Be silent and find such inner knowledge for yourself…
In that silence, realize your true nature. There are no words to describe it.
The wealth of hearing is above all wealth. Always listen. You were made to listen. You were given two ears, but only one mouth. That’s the proof. Talk less, hear more. If you were meant to hear a word and simply accept it, one ear would be enough, right in front. But the ears were put at the sides of your head, so that when the message comes, it should split into two halves and go in each side. That means you analyze it, understand it, and only then accept it. Don’t take just any word that comes as the truth.
Nor is there a door to close the ears. Those funnels that catch all the vibrations are always open. But, in order to talk you must pass two fences; before a word can come out, it has to pass a row of teeth and the lips. Keep words very sacred. Don’t let them out easily. If you still want to talk, think twice.
Our understanding is not just through the senses, it’s through the mind. Hearing is not enough, you have to listen. Listen with the ears and with the heart too. There’s a great difference between listening and hearing. If you listen, you need not take notes. there’s a big recorder inside, multitrack, an unending tape. If you listen carefully, you are taping without any distortion. These ideas may appear very simple. But they are the basic bricks with which to build an entire life. Without these bricks, nothing can be achieved in the spiritual area.
Once Avvaiyar, a great woman saint of South India, cried to God: “I don’t know what I’m doing. I seem to have grabbed all the things from many books and learned them by heart. I seem to be talking and talking as if there were mouths all over my body. When can I get out of this and find the silence?”
Through silence you can realize the quiet witness within you. That silence is the spirit or awareness. Your awareness is silent. It never tells you anything. It is just there simply watching you. Whether you do good or bad, right or wrong, it just witnesses. A witness never gets involved in the case and never joins one of the sides. God is like that, and God’s creation is also like that in a way. The Sun is just a witness, the wind is a witness, the sky is a witness, the water is a witness. The witness is there, that’s all. And in its presence, you act.
To know that silent witness which is always aware—to know the Knower—you should stop trying to know other things first. Know other things afterward. The rest will come automatically. This may remind you of a beautiful saying in the Bible, “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and all else shall be added unto you.” If you don’t know the Knower, even if you have the whole earth, the universe is useless to you. All the wealth you possess is just a big zero. By itself it has no value.
Take a check, write a few zeroes on it, and give it to somebody. That person won’t be able to get even a penny for it. Add two more zeroes—still nothing. But if you just put a one in the front and then start adding zeroes, every zero will increase the value tenfold.
Some are very proud of their zeroes. “I’m a doctor.” “I’m a professor.” “I’m a president.” “I’m this.” “I’m that.” Without that One, the “this” and “that” are zeroes. “I’m a big zero.” “I’m a small zero.” What good can come of all worldly knowing without inner knowledge? Sometimes, it’s even dangerous. First, know who you are, then all the other knowledge will have a magnified effect. Don’t forget to have that One before all your zeroes.
Know that you are That. Be silent and find such inner knowledge for yourself. Young people say, “To have faith, I should at least have a glimpse of something.” Listen to the silence. To realize, go into deep, deep, silence. The only limit to wisdom is silence. In that silence, realize your true nature. There are no words to describe it. As the Upanishads say, it’s not consciousness, it’s not unconsciousness. It’s not the sum total of all consciousness. You can’t talk of it. There’s no mark, no symbols, It’s not located in one place. That’s the essence.
Excerpted from chapter eight of To Know Yourself: The Essential Teachings of Swami Satchidananda.