How can I find truth and realization in the scriptures?

—R.A.S.

The followers of every religious belief claim their scriptures to be of divine origin, but how are you going to find out which scriptures actually represent truth? The number of followers is not proof. Nor can belief in the Christian Bible or the Hindu Vedas establish the immutable, universal nature of the principles they espouse.

You can, of course, find in the Bible and the Vedas moral advice and suggestions of right conduct of benefit to all people for all times, but that does not prove the deeper truths presented therein. All followers interpret the Bible, for example, according to the degree of their spiritual development and power of reasoning. That is why one finds so many different beliefs which are said to be based on the universal teachings of Jesus Christ.

The true inner teachings of the Christian Bible and Hindu Vedas cannot be understood by reading alone or by listening to the testimony of others. Followers of the Hindu and Christian teachings should build their faith on the unshakeable rock of inner realization. Sacred books are helpful in stimulating the desire for realization only if one assimilates a little at a time. Otherwise, the over study of books produces vanity and false satisfaction.

Patanjali, the great sage and expounder of yoga in India, who lived several centuries before Christ, said that the so-called authority of the scriptures is not proof of their truth. To discover the truth of the universal teachings of the scriptures, undiluted by the limitations of our opinions, one must live their teachings. Each phase of intellectual study of the scriptures must be substantiated by corresponding inner realization, a little at a time.

Realization comes from constant, deep meditation, and the unceasing effort to convert theory into true understanding through practice. God-realization comes first. Books and everything else are of secondary importance. Find God and everything else will be added unto you – all wisdom, all prosperity, all beauty. Find the Tree of All Life and you will have all its fruits.

From Inner Culture, July 1940.