(This is an imaginative recreation of vedantic stories, which describe the path of self-knowledge discovered by ancient Indian seers.)
Aruni is a great sage of upanishadic age in India. He had four sons. One day his eldest son, Anna came to Aruni and asked, “Father, teach me the Truth.” Aruni said, “Look within.” Anna tried to do what his father said. But he saw nothing but darkness within him and the presence of his body. So he came to the conclusion that body is the Truth. Anna went to his Father and said, “Father, I found body is the truth.” But Aruni kept silent.
The next day Aruni’s second son, came to his father and asked him, “Father teach me the Truth.” Aruni gave the same instruction: “Look within.” Prana sat in meditation and tried to look within. First he felt the same thing which his brother felt, an inner darkness and the presence of his body. But after a few minutes he felt something else other than his body, a breath, a life-force animating the body. So he concluded life-force is the truth. He went to his father and said, “Father, I found Life-force is the truth.” Again Aruni did not reply and remained silent.
The third day, Aruni’s third son, Mana, came to his father and asked:
“Father, teach me the Truth.” Aruni again said, “Look within.” Mana sat in meditation and looked within. First he felt the body, and then his life force like his elder brothers. But he also felt something else other than his body and life. He saw and felt his mind full of thoughts, feelings, sensations. So he concluded mind is the truth. He came to his Father and said, “Father, Mind is the Truth.” Aruni made no reply.
The fourth day, Aruni’s youngest son, Atma, came to his father and asked: “Father, teach me the Truth.” Aruni said, “Look within.” Atma sat in meditation and looked within. He saw his body, life force and his mind successively like his elder brothers. But he also felt something deeper, more luminous, a light within which makes him aware of his body, life and mind. He asked himself, “What is that by which I am aware of my body and life and my thoughts, feelings and sensation” and came to the conclusion, “this light, this consciousness within me, must be the truth.” He went to his father and said, “Father, the consciousness by which I am aware of my body, life and mind is the Truth.” Aruni smiled happily and said,
“My dear son, you are wise and found the path your ignorant brothers missed. Now meditate again and plunge deeper. Try to find the very source of the light, which you have felt and tell me what you have found.
Atma again entered into deep meditation. He found that the consciousness he has felt is not only the light which illumines his body, life and mind but that by which he is aware of his own existence and the source of that which says “I AM” in him Atma came back to his father and said “Father, I found that which makes me feel “I AM” “ is the truth.”
“Great, my dear son” said Aruni “you have touched the essence of Truth but not the entire Truth. Meditate again with an expansive mind.”
Atma again went into meditation and found the Truth he has discovered is not something personal to him but the universal consciousness which is the self of all and the light of the world. Atma told what he found to his Father. Aruni said “Wonderful my dear son, you have now found the entire truth. Next time when you meditate enter and merge into the Truth you have discovered and become one with it.”
Atma faithfully followed the instructions of his father. He entered into the very depth of his being, saw the Light which illumined the world and merged into it. He became a great sage like his Father.