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Lesson 328 - On Becoming "Ripe"  (Audio)

From: Yogani
Date: May 6, 2009

New Visitors: It is recommended you read from the beginning of the web archive, as previous lessons are prerequisite to this one. The first lesson is, "Why This Discussion?"

Q: With Advaita teachers and the like, I have heard that you must be ready or "ripe" before you can become enlightened by the means they teach. What does this mean, and what must I do to become ripe?

A: In the terminology we have been using in AYP, "ripe" means "relational," which is the increasing presence of abiding inner silence (the witness), blending in relationship with all aspects of our daily life, including our self-inquiry into who we are. Before this, our thinking, feeling and action will be something like unripe fruit, missing that liberated fullness and radiant inner sweetness that is known when we experience ourselves to be the doer who is beyond all manifestations in the realm of time and space. 

We know when a piece of fruit is ripe often just by looking at it, and surely when we bite into it. Likewise, the sages of advaita (non-duality and self-inquiry) can tell whether we are ripe or not, and will interact with us accordingly. If we are ripe, they will be able to help us a lot. And if we are not ripe, they may tolerate our lack of ripeness, or they may send us away for our own good. More importantly, we will either tolerate them or not according to our inner condition. There is only so much an advaita sage can do until the time of ripeness has arrived. We could say they are the harvesters of enlightenment, the fruit pickers. They will keep telling us the same thing "You are That which is beyond all this." However, beyond their inner nudging, few advaita teachers are able to give practical means enabling us to become ripe for enlightenment. It is only then that we can fully hear what they are saying and experience it directly in our own life. Becoming ripe is up to us, and we may have to go elsewhere for assistance in that. That is just how it is.

On one hand, becoming ripe is something that will happen in its own course, depending on the conditions of cultivation, or the lack of it. An orchard that is left on its own may become irregular and full of weeds. It may still produce some ripe fruit, but it will be an affair left much to chance. There are many more random events that can happen to disrupt an orchard that is left untended than will help it thrive.

On the other hand, the orchard that is well tended, cultivated and fertilized will yield ripe fruit with predictability sweet luscious fruit that the advaita teacher will love to pick. It is very easy for them then, because the cultivating is already done, and the fruit is ready to fall off the tree. Even without a picker, the ripe fruit will fall off the tree, won't it? Advaita teachers who are genuine will be the first to tell a ripe aspirant, "You don't need me. Just abide in who you are through thick and thin, knowing yourself to be the One behind all this, and you will see first hand the truth of life."

In the last half-century a lot has changed. Many aspirants are becoming ripe, and the advaita fruit pickers have become very busy. But let us not mistake the fruit picking with the process of good cultivation to ripeness. The fruit that is falling off the trees today has not been caused by the fruit pickers. It has been caused by the millions around the world who have been cultivating within themselves with meditation over the past half-century. The many who have taken responsibility for their spiritual cultivation are the ones who are bringing ripe fruit into the world. And this is how it will continue, with those who engage in effective daily spiritual practice continuing to lay the groundwork for the spiritual transformation of all humanity. 

We need our advaita/non-duality teachers. They bring us inspiration at the beginning of our path, and finally the nudging we need when we are ripe and ready to move into the advanced stages of our spiritual journey. In-between, most of us have much cultivating to do (see Lesson 324). Let's give credit where credit is due. But let's not forget that becoming ripe is our responsibility, and will occur according to our earnest desire (bhakti) and our willingness to keep up our daily practice for as long as it takes. Then ripeness will surely come, and we will fall off the tree of illusion into eternal omnipresent Oneness. 

The guru is in you.

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Note: For detailed discussion on the practical utilization of self-inquiry, and how to avoid ineffective uses of self-inquiry, see the Self-Inquiry book and the Liberation book, and AYP Plus.

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