You go and look at the shravakas and shravikas in the temples. Often you will find them asleep – listening is far away. Tired and tattered from the day’s work, they rest and sleep there. Even if they do not sleep they for sure do not listen. They are busy in their own mental uproar and thoughts.
Your mind should completely stop, its movement should stop; only then does listening happen. Listening is the first step. And the more significant the things discussed, the deeper the listening has to be, only then can it be understood. So the sutra says:
Thus, through statements like Tattvamasi, That art thou, to pursue the meanings such as oneness of jiva, the embodied soul, and Brahman, the absolute reality, is shravana, listening.
Tattvamasi is a supreme statement. There are only three or four supreme statements of the truth in the world but none is loftier than this. Tattvamasi means, That art thou, you are that. ‘That’, tat, we were discussing yesterday as being the description of God. This is the meaning of Tattvamasi, that ‘that’ is not anything out and away from you, you are that. What we have called tat, ‘that’, gives the impression of distance – ‘that’ is the indication of distance. Tattvamasi means, ‘that’ is you, ‘that’ is not far but very near, nearer than near. Your very existence is ‘that’. This is a supreme statement. A supreme statement means that if one explores it fully it will lead one to the ultimate state. This is why they are called supreme statements. Then no other scriptures are needed – no Vedas, no Koran and no Bible are needed – Tattvamasi is enough.
If one does the right listening, contemplation, assimilation and experiencing of this one statement, no other scriptures are required. A supreme statement means a condensed statement which covers all – just like formulas in chemistry, or just like Einstein’s formula of relativity, where the whole thing is covered in two or three words.
This supreme statement is a formula of spiritual chemistry. Three things are in it: Tat – that, tvam – thou, asi – you. They are the same: “that” and “thou” are one – this is the whole of this sutra. But the whole of Vedanta – the philosophy of the Vedas – the entire experience of the seers, is covered by those three words. It is like a mathematical formula: “that” –existence, God, and “thou” – the hidden consciousness within you, are not two things, they are one. And this is the essence of all the Vedas, everything else is just an expansion of this.
So in the Upanishads such statements are described as supreme statements. From this one statement, the philosophy, spiritual discipline and experience of the whole of life can be derived.