I am of the nature of Absolute Existence, Absolute Consciousness, and Absolute Bliss.
Shri Shankaracharya, Nirvana Shatakam
Adi Shankara, the teacher who reinvigorated the study of the Veda in India in the early 9th Century, did something that had never been done before. He brought the teachings of the Veda to the common people, sharing with them the Upanishads.
The Upanishads are recognized as the culmination of the knowledge of the Veda. The main point of the Upanishads is summed up in this sloka (or verse):
I Am That, Thou Art That, All This is Nothing but That.
There is only one thing. And everything is of that one thing.
This had always been secret knowledge. Why? Because if “I Am” is the Truth, what use will I have for priests or temples or rulers? If all of us are That, why should I be your servant? Why should I allow you to remain in power?
The ruling classes had wanted to keep their power, so they kept the truth from the workers. Shankara changed all that. He brought the common people the truth of their souls, and in so doing began a revolution in consciousness that utterly transformed the land of India.
Adi Shankara says “I am this ultimate reality. Existence, consciousness, bliss.” He doesn’t say “we” are this thing, because he is speaking from his identity with the Oneness. He is speaking out for us as the Oneness. He is shining a light until we, too, are ready to have our own realization of this Truth.
If there is only one thing, then there is nothing to harm me. If there is only one thing, I must be that one thing. If I am that one thing, I have nothing to fear, for fear requires a sense of other.
And if there is only one thing, even God need not be called upon, but simply opened up to; for again, if there is only one thing, then even God Itself must be closer to me than my own breath. And if this is so, then there is nothing, absolutely nothing, that is outside my capacity to have, to realize, to access, to embody.
Even the gods, powerful as they may be, cannot prevail against him, the man who has known Brahman (Oneness).
Shankaracharya, commentary on
Shri Shankaracharya was offering to the people of the world the weapon that would make war obsolete, the gift that could bring the disparity of all peoples together.
He lived for only 32 years some 1200 years ago, and yet still today his words have the power to redirect, to transform, to heal. For they are the Truth.
It is a truth and not an opinion, and we all can try to realize it.
The Message of the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad
Today I will hold in my heart gratitude for all those men and women who, through the ages, have offered themselves as beacons, guiding us toward the Truth of our Being. And I will remind myself that everyone I know is seeking a beacon of their own, a way out of fear; and perhaps as I live today in gratitude and loving-kindness, I may be that beacon for someone else.