Practicing a Creative Response
The message Acharya Shunya teaches from the Vedic texts again and again, using different words and examples, is: “You are Brahman.” Brahman, the One universal consciousness that is both experiencing and manifesting all of creation, can be described in so many ways. In the Vedic Studies Program we have learned systematically from source texts the various definitions of aspects of Brahman the rishis have given to lead us toward experiencing Brahman. The tradition of Vedanta and the teachings of Acharya Shunya tell us that we definitely can experience Brahman both within ourselves and as a pervasive consciousness throughout the universe. But until that ultimate moment of direct experience of our Soul nature, it is helpful to contemplate on aspects of Brahman to begin to give us an idea of where the path is headed.
While this may sound like a dry intellectual exercise, or a long arduous path to some sparkling spiritual end-goal (which as beginners we may not even be convinced exists yet!), I can personally say that when I bring the contemplation of Brahman as my true nature and identity into my daily life through the instructions of my teacher, so much sweetness and joy emerges. The path of Self realization is littered with basic-life improvements every step of the way and each piece of teachings I implement brings about a whole new level of clarity.
The most revolutionary teaching on Brahman I received from Acharya Shunya during the Vedic Studies Program was a simple question she encouraged us to ask ourselves in the midst of daily life: “What would Brahman do?” I remember so clearly when she taught with a little bit of humor, but meaning every word… “Ask yourself, How would Brahman drive a car? How would Brahman go grocery shopping?... Then act like that.” The way she brought the incomprehensible bigness of Brahman into the itty bitty parts of life we make into major obstacles to our happiness totally shifted my thought paradigm.
There are times when I observe a swell of stress or frustration arising within my body and mind… then I remember my teacher’s words and immediately come back to the inexhaustible potential existing within me to respond with creativity, and a solution emerges. The tired frustration of slippery children refusing to get out of the bath can bring threatening words to the tip of my tongue, but when I breathe and remember the inexhaustible creativity of Brahman, I can choose to turn the moment into an imaginative play where they are fish and I am the fisherman catching them and they are happily carried in a towel basket toward their pajamas. At work, there are times when I look at the tangled mess of record keeping, reporting, and projects underway, and wonder how it will all get sorted out and efficiently streamlined. Then I remind myself of the unlimited creative potential of Brahman, and within a few deep breaths, a new attitude emerges that does not focus on limitations, rather it sees so many opportunities for creative response. With this simple instruction from my teacher to simply act like Brahman, all the same personal, social, and worldly situations come up, and somehow I feel a deep calm throughout them all. An old pattern would be to let life constrict what I see as my options in any given situation, my new awakened pattern is to open to the unlimited potential of universal consciousness, and enjoy how the spiritual concepts of Vedanta are transforming even the most mundane moments of my practical life.
The author Ishani Naidu is a long-term student of Acharya Shunya, and serves as Editor of the Hamsa magazine, which is an offering of Vedika’s Spiritual Studies program.
Learn more about how you can study Vedanta with Acharya Shunya in her Vedic Spiritual Studies Program.