We all talk about realizing “the Truth.” If you want to realize the Truth, you should know what the Truth is. Otherwise, you might have it right here and not even recognize it. Whatever it is that you want to experience, you should have an idea in your mind what to look for. So then, what is the Truth? What is God? What do you want to realize? And where should you look for it? Can someone tell you what the Truth is? Unfortunately, it is not possible. No one can tell you what the Truth is, and if somebody does tell, you won’t be able to understand it anyway. The Truth is something that neither can be told, nor understood. The scriptures clearly say that. The translation from Sanskrit is: Those who have seen it, have never said, because they cannot. Those who have said, have never seen it.

There seems to be a puzzle here. The seen is different from the said. “The seen” refers to your experience within yourself. You have experienced it. But then who spoke of it? Not the real You. You are experiencing it, and your mind seems to have known that you have had that experience, and then the mind tries to tell others. So the experiencer is different from the expounder. It is the mind that expounds. It is the mind that talks. It is the Self that experiences. And the Self can never come out and say it has had the experience because it is not possible without using the mind.

For the moment, forget about God and the Truth. There is something very simple that we seem to be experiencing every day: a good night’s sleep. Don’t we all experience that? But can you tell me how you slept? You did sleep, but can you tell me how you slept? The most that you can say is “I knew nothing; I slept very well. I didn’t even dream. I knew nothing. I slept well.” Isn’t this a kind of contradiction? You know nothing, and yet you say that you slept well. How do you know that then? It looks like there are two entities: the one who slept, and the Self—the one experiencing that sleep, that joy, that peace and happiness that is beyond expression. The Self experiences its own true nature. And it will always do that, not only when you sleep. But then the one who comes out and tells everything is the mind. The mind seems to have felt a little of that experience and comes out and says, “I slept very well.”

Changes are always happening in the mind: waking, dreaming, and sleeping. It is not even the mind that sleeps. Or in other words, when the mind becomes totally free from any thought, when it doesn’t think of anything, it seems to be sleeping because it’s not doing anything. But still, it is experiencing something. What? It is experiencing the Self. When the mind quiets itself completely and becomes thoughtless, only then can it reflect the true nature of your Self. But when the mind begins to function—whether it dreams or is in the wakeful conscious level of thinking and talking, worrying and jumping for joy, or depressed, or excited—it causes all the changes in the mind. When the mind jumps like that it creates a lot of waves. At that moment it doesn’t experience the permanent peace and joy of the Self.

A good analogy is a body of water such as a lake. When the water is completely waveless, it becomes like a mirror and you see the reflection of the sun or moon, or your face. You see it crystal clear in its original condition. But, the moment there is a little ripple or wave in the water the face, or moon, or sun appears distorted. Likewise, when the mind is completely free of ripples or thoughts, it immediately experiences the pure reflection of the Self. But the moment it wants to tell you that, many ripples are created. Just to tell you about the experience, it has to create ripples and  that means it loses its experience. The mind always wants to find the peace that cannot even be spoken of. But to do that it has to go back to that state of doing and thinking nothing. It must be completely quiet, tranquil. Then, it can experience the pure reflection again.

Remember, the reflection is always there; the sun is always there. But you don’t see it clearly when there are ripples in the water so you say, Oh, the sun is shaky. The sun does not shake. It is only the reflection that shakes. Imagine, if the water had its own awareness it would say, “Oh I seem to be very shaky.” And when it wants to see the unshaken sun it has to become completely calm again.

That is the Truth. The Truth is you. You don’t have to go in search of it. You are that Divine Spirit. You are that pure Self that does nothing. So even the term “Self-realization” can seem a bit confusing. Does the Self ever forget itself? Self is God in you or God as You. So, as pure  Self can you ever forget yourself? No. Then why do you want to realize your Self? It’s as if you had forgotten it. Who realizes the Self? Not the Self. The Self has no need to realize. It is the mind that wants to realize the Self. The mind wants to experience that pristine glory of the pure Self being reflected. And the only way it can experience the reflected Self is to make itself a clean reflector that is totally calm.

You can use all your practices such as faith, surrender, and the attitude that everything is happening for the good of all. Use any trick you want. There is no fixed practice. Allow your mind to do anything it wants in order to make itself quiet. The problem is, How can you allow the mind to do anything it wants and still have it make itself quiet? The mind should learn to do nothing. Only then can it realize God within. Call it God-realization, Self-realization, or realization of the Truth. It’s all just different terminologies. The secret here, and the one and only way to experience the Truth, is to make the mind completely quiet, unshakable, and steady. And that is Yoga. What is Yoga? If there was only one definition of Yoga, it would be: Keep quiet.

By Sri Swami Satchidananda