“A Vedantic teacher was once approached by a Mahatma,” said Gurudev, “asking him with all reverence, ‘Explain to me, Sir, the nature of the Self.”
“The great master looked at the young monk, winked at him and said, ‘I will tell you all about it when there is no one here.’
“After a time, the anxious and sincere mahatma reached the teacher and reminded him, ‘Now there is nobody here, sir. Please instruct me.’ The Vedantic teacher did not open his eyes, nor did he reply. The Mahatma waited for some time and thinking that perhaps the teacher had not heard, repeated the request.
“The Vedantic saint smiled and said, ‘Not now. Let everyone go away.’
’Sir, everyone has gone; there is nobody here. I am alone here,’ asserted the student.
‘So long as you are here,’ snap came the answer, ‘how can I tell the Truth?’
“Where the ego has ended, and the clamor of all thoughts has been entirely hushed up, in that ‘living-silence’ is the self-realized,” concluded Gurudev. I was immature then. From immaturity springs all the audacity of fools. So I asked, “Sir, who is it in the Mahatma that knows that there is nobody there?”
Like lightning came the reply: “That, even the wisest do not know.” The vigour and suddenness of the reply then satisfied me. Only now I realize the wisdom of the ready reply. The Self is never an object for anyone’s intellectual appreciation as knowledge.
“That from which speech and mind return, unable to reach or apprehend — that is the supreme state of the Self.