Chapter 3: The Whole Universe Is a Temple
So, as soon as we enter the I, it ceases to exist. The first thing that disappears when we enter within is the sense of being a separate entity. And when that I-ness disappears, you-ness and the other-ness both disappear. Then what remains is all.
It’s not even right to call it “all,” because “all” also has the connotation of the same old I. Hence those who know would not even call it “all”; they would ask, “The sum of what? What are we adding?” Furthermore, they would declare that only one remains. Although they would perhaps even hesitate to say that, because the assertion of one gives the impression that there are two - it gives the idea that alone one has no meaning without the corresponding notion of two. One exists only in the context of two. Therefore, those who have a deeper understanding do not even say that one remains; they say advaita, nonduality, remains.
Now this is very interesting. These people say, “Two are not left.” They are not saying, “One remains,” they are saying “Two are not left.” Advaita means there are not two.
One might ask, “Why do you talk in such roundabout ways? Simply say there is only one!” The danger in saying “one” is that it gives rise to the idea of two. And when we say there are not two, it follows that there are not three either; it implies that there is neither one, nor many, nor all. Actually, this division resulted from the perception based on the existence of “I.” So with the cessation of I, that which is whole, the indivisible, remains.
But to realize this, can we do what our friend is suggesting - can we not visualize godliness in everyone? To do so would be nothing more than fantasizing, and fantasizing is not the same as realizing the truth.
Long ago some people brought a holy man to me. They told me this man saw godliness everywhere, that for the last thirty years he had been seeing godliness in everything - in flowers, plants, rocks, in everything. I asked the man if he had been seeing godliness in everything through practice because if that were so then his visions were false. He couldn’t follow me. I asked him again, “Did you ever fantasize about or desire to see godliness in everything?” He replied, “Yes indeed. Thirty years ago I started this spiritual discipline in which I would attempt to see godliness in rocks, plants, mountains, in everything. And I began to see godliness everywhere.” I asked him to stay with me for three days and, during that period, try not to see godliness everywhere.
He agreed. But the very next day he told me, “You have done me great harm. Only twelve hours have passed since I gave up my usual practice and I have already begun to see a rock as a rock and a mountain as a mountain. You have snatched my godliness away from me! What sort of a person are you?”