|The first step
in the teaching of Vedanta is to develop the firm conviction that "I" am
entirely distinct from the body through which I function. If real and deep conviction is
attained on this point, the other steps are relatively easy thereafter. If, on the
contrary, this remains in doubt, further steps are of no use.
Is there any distinct thing that may be called "soul" within this
obvious and all-dominating body? Is there something apart from the physical shell or
casing, or is it merely a functioning of the body which we wrongly regard as a separate
entity? When the body dies, does the soul also die with it? Or being a distinct reality,
does it continue to have an existence? This is the basic doubt, which persists in spite of
The essential in enlightenment or jnana is a firm and
effective conviction on this matter. The ultimate causes of all the sins and consequently
of the ills in the world is the lack of this conviction. Even if the doubt is somehow
dispelled at one point of time to ones satisfaction, it returns again and overwhelms
one. A man can be said to be enlightened only when he reaches a conviction on this point
that is not stirred into doubt again.