Just More Story?

Sometimes I get an email from someone asking me if Vedanta isn't "just more story." The question, fleshed out, is: Aren't all words, teachings, and concepts just reinforcing the false idea that I am a separate person who needs something in order to be what I already am? Isn't that counterproductive?

There is a "story" in our minds of a separate person, and the more it is investigated, the more we can see that the notion of a separate person apart from the one consciousness is mere folly. So there seems to be logic to the idea that if you get rid of the story, you get rid of the separation. And if one is following this logic, he would want to throw out Vedanta because it appears in the story of "me." After all, I am already just the one pure consciousness, I am already what I am looking for, the logic says. And since I am already this, but can't see it, it must be the ongoing story of "me" that is to blame. But is this true?

No, actually, it's not true. The ongoing story of a separate me is not a problem at all. In fact, it will never go away. Duality is here to stay. So what's the answer, then?

Within the story, this teaching of Vedanta appears. Vedanta is information. While most information — the sciences, psychology, history, etc. — tells me about the world, Vedanta tells me about myself, the very knower of the world. Vedanta gives me information of a different sort — it gives me information which allows me to discriminate what is real from what is unreal. This is liberation. Knowing that I alone am real, and all that appears is unreal, I am free of all that appears.

Once this information is heard, understood, and assimilated by the apparent mind, its job is done. Now, there is no more confusing myself with the apparent mind, the apparent person. I know I am this unbroken consciousness alone, unaffected by duality which appears within me. The apparent person continues to appear and to have a story, and there is no problem with that. Vedanta continues to appear but it is not needed anymore. I do not need to keep learning that I am pure consciousness. Once it is known, apparent bondage no longer binds.

So no, Vedanta is not "just more story." It is not in the same category as other information because it teaches this all-important discrimination between what is real and what is not. Is it conceptual? Yes, everything in duality is conceptual, and duality is not a problem. The only problem is that I take myself to be something (this person) which is experienced, but nonetheless is not really existent.

Vedanta shows us how to stop making the mistake of believing that I am this person which is being experienced right now. And when that job is done, it's pretty obvious that the "person" doesn't need it anymore. The person still appears, but there is no mixing up my identity with that appearance anymore.