Bede Clifford

Bede Clifford

This is the first of an ongoing series written by Bede Clifford. Bede is a student of Swamini Atmaprakasananda. He comes to Vedanta from a background of Theology, Philosophy, Sociology & Psychology.

Click here to view Bede Clifford’s YouTube channel

This is a series. To start at the beginning, click here.

Being a Student of Vedanta Part 5

One of the most interesting things that Swamini has made clear to me is the growth of clarity and what it involves. What we become clear about is ever present and therefore beyond time. It is rather our clarity concerning what is ever present that undergoes a change and this change happens over time. Clarity of vision does not just happen. Swamini talks about how as we listen to the teaching layers of vagueness is removed bit by bit. The range and the depth of our SEEING is what is transformed not ourselves. What we are in reality does not undergo any change it does not need to. Sunlight in the morning does not produce what is seen it just reveals what is already there. The light becomes slowly evident until it takes up all the room. This transformation of our vision or our way of seeing is what Vedanta is all about. As Swamini pointed out to me from the start. Vedanta is a vision not a philosophy. Swami Dayanada uses the analogy of a developing photo to describe the growing of clarity from small beginnings to the total vision.

When I first met her I was confused and unhappy. I did not know my problem was lack of clarity. I thought the self that I took myself to be was the problem and I knew all my efforts to fix it had failed and I had no hope of any resolution. I did not just have despair as something that existed by itself. I was suffering from self despair. My life appeared to me as a very convincing “ tale told by an idiot” and as Swami Dayanada says we can’t stand being unacceptable to ourselves. I couldn’t stand it but there was nothing I could DO about it. And you know what I was about to find out that there was nothing I could do about it. My problem was not that I was DOING wrongly it was I was SEEING wrongly. This teacher had no interest in fixing me she just proceeded to correct how I saw myself, other people, the world and God. She really did not see me as the problem.

The shift from struggling with myself and trying to improve myself and my life to correcting how I was seeing myself and my life was the real beginning of my vedantic studies. Seeing the value of knowledge shifts our lives into an entirely different context. It is our real starting point as students of vedanta.

Part 6 will be posted in the next day or two – please check back.