• Ozlem Tokmen

Grasping the Higher Truth Through Literature


My propensity in life has always been towards arts, literature and aesthetics. Discovering beauty and meaning through literature and attaining a stronger intellect have been my pride in life. Studying Vedic Wisdom, it is reassuring to confirm what I had thought all along. When I feel this pride, I know that it is not tainted by my ego's power but instead enhanced by my soul power. In this state I feel vulnerable but never weak. It is like finding the true source (Satyam), clicking with it and flowing at ease.

Since age fourteen I have been reading Russian classics and other quality literature. Back then I didn’t know why reading certain lines in those novels brought tears to my eyes. Now with the help of my teacher Acharya Shunya and the Vedic Spiritual Studies program, I know exactly why. Literature is meditation, a deep inner listening of the written words and contemplation. Most writers without knowing the spiritual path, intuitively show us the way to greater truth. That’s exactly what brings tears to our eyes when we read a great poet, a novelist or see a beautiful painting. In a way writing is a dharmic act, a dharmic way of life with pure and full meaning.

My favorite American writer of the 20th century, Ursula Le Guin explains beauty in one of her essays in such a fashion that you almost think she is a spiritual student. But she is not. However, she writes from an amazingly spiritual standpoint that renders you speechless. Her mind evidently functions at a higher level, the level of Satyam.

In her essay she says;

“Beauty always has rules. It is a game. I resent the beauty game when I see it controlled by people who grab fortunes from it and don’t care who they hurt. I hate it when I see it making people so dissatisfied that they starve, deform and poison themselves. Most of the time I just play the game myself in a very small way, buying a new lipstick, feeling happy about a pretty silk shirt. It is not going to make me beautiful but it is beautiful itself and I like wearing it.”

In another line she says;

“That must be why the tired, aged faces in Rembrandt’s portraits give us such delight; they show us beauty not skin-deep but life-deep. In Brian Lanker’s album of photographs, I Dream a World, face after wrinkled face tells us that getting old can be worth the trouble if it gives you time to do some soul making.”

The last one goes like this;

“Not all the dancing we do is danced with the body. The great dancers know that and when they leap, our souls leap with them, we fly, we are free. And poets know that kind of dancing.”

Yeats says;

O chestnut tree, great-rooted blossomer

Are you leaf, the blossom or the bole?

O body swayed to music

O brightening glance

How can we know the dancer from the dance?

When Le Guin passed away beginning of this year I didn’t shed a tear, because deep down I knew it was the smooth passage of a woman who had done the soul making through her great novels and lived a dharmic life.

As my teacher, Acharya Shunya once said during a Bhagavad Gita scripture study class, Dharma or higher consciousness is living inside us not in a book; it is intuitive, and once it reveals itself, we talk dharma and act from dharma whether we are a spiritual student or a writer. Because dharma is the lifestyle of Atma in which is our True Self. Le Guin’s life exemplified the expression of this teaching on the inner blossoming of dharma.

​The author Ozlem Tokmen is a student of Acharya Shunya in the Vedic Spiritual Studies Program.

Learn more about how you can study Vedanta, Yoga and Ayurveda with Acharya Shunya in her

Vedic Spiritual Studies Program.

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