Every religion speaks of religious tolerance, yet there are extracts in the holy scriptures of most of the religions expressing fanatical and bigoted views. Mostly they declare “ our religion is the only path to Salvation or heaven. Our saint is the only worthy, reliable guide on spirituality. The faithful followers of our religion are sure to be rewarded with paradise while the transgressors and heretics are sure to suffer the tortures of hell”. Thus goes the assurances and promises. Every religion claims that it alone is right and the only way. All others are doomed.
The few who are sceptical doubt and question the very intentions of such religions and its preachers. They find it very difficult to ‘believe blindly’, to digest all that the scriptures promise. They inwardly seek true solace and peace. They thirst for such a philosophy based only on true experience that can be verified. For such thoughtful sincere seekers Advaita is the right choice. For it makes no hollow claims that it will save you provided you believe in it. Infact for sure it is not a belief or faith but a philosophy based on experience. That experience is universal and sublime, not the prerogative of a few believers. It has its basis on the experience of realized souls, of whichever caste, creed, culture or religion they may belong. You may believe in it or disbelieve, but it neither cajoles you nor threatens you. One may doubt as to why Advaita is regarded as the truth. All our perceptions are through the body, senses, and mind –ego complex. Whatever mundane or spiritual experiences or visions we have they all are through these instruments. They are subjective and relative. They can never be absolute. Through them we can only perceive partial, relative truth. They are mind- born beliefs and perceptions. They can never be universal and appealing to all. Such visions occur mostly when one is treading the path of spirituality, but yet has not reached the goal. Therefore they can afford you only flashes of happiness. Then what is the absolute truth that can bring complete fulfilment and peace? Let us solve this question. In every experience we have the three components – the experience, the experiencer and the experienced (the enjoyer, the enjoyment and the enjoyed). This is known as ‘Triputi’ in Sanskrit terminology. Advaita enunciates that the absolute truth can be experienced only when there is no difference between the experience of truth and the experiencer. That is the experiencer of the truth is not retained. As long as the experiencer is retained the experience cannot be absolute, it will only be relative and subjective. So to lose the experiencer and remain as the sole experience of ‘being’ or ‘awareness’ is the absolute experience. In other words to dissolve the triputi is the means to gain the absolute experience. In this non dual experience there is no experiencer of the truth. As such there is neither the experienced, only the experience remains. The bifurcation of subject and object disappears in this non dual experience. Only pure unalloyed consciousness with its inherent absolute bliss remains. This is known as Nirvikalpa Samadhi or Sahaja Avastha in Sanskrit Vedantic terminology. As long as one continues to seek the truth through the mind (instruments) one cannot arrive at the absolute truth as the mind necessarily colours the experience of the truth making it subjective or relative. The truth is absolute and one, for all. Only its perception gets coloured by the mind or the instruments of perception. Thus the truth is confounded with appearances and as they say ‘appearances are deceptive’.
Religious bigotry begins when you believe only in visions and the truth as it appears to you. It is the like the famous parable -how some blind men went to see an elephant. Each is adamant with his own view and criticises others’ opinions. That is why the great Advaita guru Narayana Samyameendra of Kerala remarked that the substratum of the world is surprisingly, an immutable Nirvikara Consciousness, but only a very few realize this. Only this Advaitic Consciousness can give you effortless supreme peace and bliss. So it is wise to choose the truth as it is and not as it appears or appeals to your mind. And the truth as it is, is verily universal in its appeal. Everyone feels the innate urge to sleep. Deep sleep is the only experience that can be compared to the experience of the absolute truth as it is absolute in nature- no ego remains.