I finally read a book which has been on my bookshelf for more than two decades. I’ve dipped into it every so often over the years, but on each occasion a feeling would surface that the material was out of reach of my understanding. Sufficiently out of reach, in fact, that perseverance never seemed a worthwhile option.
The book is a German copy of Vedanta – Voice of Freedom, by Swami Vivekananda. It examines the ideas behind non-duality, shedding further light on the experiences I had during the magical five days at the silent retreat in August. Whilst reading it, my mind sometimes wandered towards thoughts of what might have been, had I only been able to read it earlier. But that’s the issue here. And that’s the subject of this post. We are always where we need to be.
Over two decades the book travelled with me as I repeatedly settled in various countries: Germany, England, Germany again, and finally The Netherlands. I built a golden-ratio bookcase in 2005, where the book sat patiently for thirteen years, waiting to be discovered; a metaphor for its core message of realising the self: always available, but mostly untouched.
There are other books from the same period in my life when, inspired by an Indian colleague and spiritual teacher, I bought books by Vivekananda and others. I never got far with them because the material always and inevitably ventured into the esoteric. Also, and more relevantly, I was too distracted by all the things this very book points to as reasons why we find it so hard to let go.
We are are deeply distracted by our attachment to everything external. The world of things and the phenomenon of identity have such a hold over us that it can take lifetimes for us to realise. We are so invested in everything we perceive, that only a fundamental shift in perspective can help us to see through the illusion. And even though that shift may be sitting on our own bookshelf, other events may have to happen before we are able to see its truth clearly enough.
That’s how it has been in my case. Years have gone by since I bought the book. But when I picked it up this time, I found it easy to immerse myself in every line. Indeed, since the Mooji retreat, I have revisited a number of texts and commentaries, and where incomprehension once thrived, there is now familiarity. I feel the same sense of fluency I have felt in the past; first when learning German, and later as I began to understand Karaj’s teachings. (See the post, ‘The Lifecycle Of Development’.)
So you see, a couple of decades is nothing. And even though we may retrospectively wish we’d listened or persisted when we had the chance, if we relax, we are able to reassure ourselves that we are always where we need to be. Whatever may seem to stand in our way, is not an obstacle at all. It is part of the unveiling, leading us always and inevitably back to the source of wisdom, truth and freedom.