How to truly listen – Evelyn Glennie

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Definition of One’s Own Self – Sri Sankaracharya      

  1. I salute the two feet of the holy Master, which destroy (this) unendurable duality, and whose dust, like the sacred ashes, quell the demon of illusion.
  2. I salute the merciful and most excellent Master who destroys all doubts and whose two feet reveal the enjoyment of Oneness as the meaning of the word “that”.
  3. Scorched by the forest-fire of phenomenal existence, the pupil, possessed of all necessary qualifications, is thus enlightened by the Master with words capable of revealing the true self.
  4. Whoever doubts the fact that himself exists? If even this is doubted, he who doubts is only thyself.
  5. When one knows “I am not”, it is verily Brahman itself that knows “it is not.” When one knows “I am”, then (too) it is that Brahman itself that knows thus.
  6. Thyself, therefore, art Brahman. “I am not Brahman” is a mere illusion. From illusion springs separation  wherein all sorrows have root.
  7. He who gains a clear knowledge of the five sheaths (of the self) does not experience the five sufferings. The wise, therefore, always investigate the five sheaths.
  8. By a clear knowledge of the five sheaths, anna-maya, prâna-maya, mano-maya, vijnâna-maya and ânanda-maya, each within the one before it, the self becomes capable of being revealed.
  9. This (gross) body which is called the anna-maya sheath, is not the self, for it is non-sentient, almost like an earthen vessel, and is non-existent before birth and after death.
  10. So much of the atmosphere as is contained by the body is the prâna-maya sheath. How can this be the self, being afflicted with hunger and thirst?
  11. Nor can the mano-maya sheath be the self, which thinks of the body as ‘I’ and of home, etc., as ‘mine’, and which is the slave of likes and dislikes.
  12. Nor can the individual consciousness known by the name of vijnâna-maya (sheath), be the self, for it is only a reflection of the pure consciousness, disappearing in deep sleep and permeating the whole body in conscious moments.
  13. How can I-ness (or egoism), which is called the ânanda-maya sheath, be the self, fondly imagining     “I am happy” by reason of the small fractions of bliss found in deep sleep?
  14. That which shines as the reality is bliss itself, is the self of all, for it exists before and after, is changeless and uncontradictable.
  15. If nothing different from the anna-maya and other sheaths is perceived, it cannot nevertheless he denied that there is one that Perceives the anna-maya, etc., sheaths.
  16. Although the self, being of the very nature of consciousness, cannot therefore be the object of consciousness, nevertheless there can never be a doubt regarding the absolute existence of consciousness itself.
  17. The self experiences all things, but cannot be experienced by anything. The sun, that illumines the whole world, is not, in its turn, illumined.
  18. What is neither that nor this, so or thus, that much or this much,—that should be understood to be Brahman. Otherwise, it will be a mere object, and not directly knowable.
  19. While everything that is perceived as ‘this, this’ is contradictable, the reality that is ‘not this’ is not contradictable. It is, moreover, not unrealizable, because it exists.
  20. Brahman, although not knowable (by the intellect), is yet not unrealizable, because it is self-resplendent. The passage, “Brahman is reality, knowledge, infinity”, expresses the definition thereof.
  21. As long as there is limitation by the powers of the sheaths, the conditions of individual soul and Supreme Self affect it. Otherwise, these two conditions disappear, and its real nature without any distinction shines forth.
  22. If it is determined by ordinary reasoning that, when everything visible is known to be unreal, there is naught at all, it is further determined by the Vedas that what is established as naught at all, is Brahman itself.
  23. Although this is so, to those that are devoid of even a thought of passages like “that thou art”, the self, though (ever) resplendent within, becomes, as it were, invisible.
  24. Therefore, by a contemplation of the meaning of such passages through an examination of their word-meanings, and by the glory of the grace of the Master, one directly sees the self in an instant.
  25. The expressed meaning of the word ‘thou’ is the (individual) consciousness that prides in being doer, (enjoyer,) etc., superimposing the functions of the body, the senses, etc., on the self as if they were identical.
  26. The derived meaning of the word ‘thou’ is the consciousness that manifests itself as the witness of the body, the ego, and the senses, distinct from them.
  27. The expressed meaning of the word “that” is the supreme self which is knowable from Vedantic texts, which is the efficient cause of the whole universe, and which is endowed with omniscience, etc.
  28. The derived meaning of the word “that” is the supreme self, free of all condition whatsoever, beyond all phenomena, absolute, second-less, eternal, and realizable by (direct) experience.
  29. The relation between the two word-meanings is either sameness of object, or the relation of attribute and subject, or that of indicated and indicator.
  30. Those versed in interpretation explain “sameness of object” as the application of words, individually denoting different objects, to denote together the same object.
  31. Visibility and invisibility, fullness and the having a second, are mutually contradictory. Therefore, in the case on hand, the derived meaning alone is possible.
  32. Derivation of meaning is the denotation of an object not unconnected with the primary meaning, in a case where the primary meaning cannot be adopted owing to its contradiction by other reasons.
  33. Exclusive derivation of meaning  is the denotation of a different object connected with the expressed meaning, but completely exclusive of the latter; for instance, the hamlet on the Ganges. Such derivation of meaning is not applicable to the present case.
  34. Inclusive derivation of meaning is the denotation of another object without abandoning the expressed meaning; for instance, the red (one) is running. Such derivation, too, should not be adopted in the present case.
  35. The partly exclusive and partly inclusive derivation is that which excludes a portion of the expressed object and denotes another portion thereof; for instance, “this is that Brahmin”. This mode of derivation should be adopted in the present case.
  36. The sentence, “this is that Brâhmin”, indicates the Brâhmin alone by excluding the remoteness and the nearness of place, (time), etc., and thus denotes identity between the meanings of the two words (‘this’ and ‘that’).
  37. In the same way, the sentence, “that thou art”, indicates the Supreme Self that is the reality, by excluding directness and remoteness, etc., and thus clearly denotes identity by the word “art.” (37).
  38. In regard to those that realize as “I” the reality thus indicated by the principal text declaring identity, the Vedas declare that they shall be free from all sorrow.
  39. It is generally observed, both in secular and Vedic matter, that words of injunction (alone) are capable of inciting one to action. How can the same hold good in the case of passages like “that thou art” which (merely) reveal a thing already established?
  40. It is not injunction alone that can incite one to action, but also an assertion regarding a desired object. A person will begin to act by virtue of the knowledge. “Here is the king” or “a son has been born.”
  41. Although, according to the Vedic passages declaring identity, the self is incessantly revealed, yet it is not possible to realize it for those that are devoid of the grace of the Master.
  42. Do not think, ‘what is the need for a Master, since one, by himself, can attain a knowledge of the self by avoiding optional and prohibited rites and by purifying the mind through the performance of prescribed rites?
  43. Knowledge (of self) cannot result from rites alone, without the Master that is the ocean of mercy; for it is established by the Vedas that only he who has a Master can know.
  44. The Vedas are the highest authority, either because they are beginningless or because they are the utterances of the Supreme Lord. Knowledge, (therefore) cannot result either by itself or from any other authority.
  45. The Vedic sentence, which does not depend on any other proof, but on which depend all proofs, is the only source of the knowledge of Brahman and other things that are beyond the senses.
  46. Those that attempt, by means of proof, to realize a knowledge which reveals the proof itself, are such wonderful beings that they will burn fire itself by means of fuel.
  47. The Veda is beginningless, and the self-resplendent Lord himself manifests it. In view of its manifestation thus, the great ones have declared that it is the (highest) authority.
  48. As no authority is equal to the eye in the perception of forms, so is there no authority for knowledge, equal to the Veda, in the realization of that which is beyond perception.
  49. If any treatise elucidates a truth established by the Vedas, it is merely a repetition and is not indicative of any authority whatsoever.
  50. Of the Vedas consisting of two parts, one part enunciates duality and the other plainly expounds the one (secondless) reality.
  51. The secondless alone is real. Duality. being only superimposed thereon, is not real, like (the illusion of) silver in the mother-o’-pearl, or the appearance of water in a mirage.
  52. It is not proper to say that the secondless reality may be superimposed on the unreal and dual; for superimposition is (always) that of the unreal on the real.
  53. Both cannot be superimposed, for there is naught different from them and superimposition cannot be on nothing. Hence, the reality of the secondless (self) must be accepted.
  54. What is expounded by the Vedas is the secondless (Brahman) that cannot be known by direct perception and other proofs, and not duality, for the latter is already established by ordinary reasoning.
  55. The secondless (Brahman) is of the nature of happiness, while duality is always unendurable misery. The Vedas, therefore, expound only that which is aspired for.
  56. In respect of the secondless reality which is expounded by the Vedas and which is of the nature of bliss, some say that the condition of individual self is its ordinary nature.
  57. If the condition of individual self be the very nature of (Brahman that is) absolute consciousness, then, like the heat and light of fire, it can never disappear.
  58. Some are of opinion that the individual soul becomes the supreme soul by virtue of spiritual effort in the same way as iron becomes gold by the action of some chemical.
  59. This is not right; for when the power of the chemical disappears by lapse of time, the golden color that was imparted to the iron also disappears.
  60. In the same way, the condition of individual soul, with its characteristics of pleasure and pain, will only seem to disappear (according to the above reasoning), but will not be utterly destroyed.
  61. Therefore, if, by its very nature, it is the individual self, it will for ever remain the individual self. ‘In the same way, if (by its very nature) it is the supreme self, it stands to reason that it is always the supreme self.
  62. Even if the individual soul were to attain (only a) similarity with the supreme self by virtue of spiritual efforts, it has been decided by all authorities that even that similarity must necessarily perish after some time.
  63. Having therefore destroyed, by the knowledge of the self, the insuperable ignorance regarding one’s self and phenomenal limitation (samsâra) which is of the nature of (that) ignorance, one becomes oneself the Infinite, and naught else remains.
  64. All the Vedas and all religious treatises (smriti) expound the supreme secondless Self whose nature is reality, knowledge and bliss as the thing to be realized.
  65. In respect of all the numerous Vedic passages declaring oneness, all other passages are said to be subordinate thereto.
  66. From passages like “that thou art,” how does the knowledge of non-duality spring up, at whose very origin the conditions of doer, etc., disappear, like darkness at the rise of the sun?
  67. Those versed in ritual argue that knowledge occurs in the ritual portion (of the Veda) and is therefore an auxiliary to ritual. But how can knowledge be an auxiliary to ritual, since it occurs in a quite different context?
  68. The two portions (of the Veda) relating to ritual and knowledge, are entirely different, both in respect of the aspirant’s qualifications and the subject dealt with. This being so, how can they be principal and auxiliary in relation to each other?
  69. Knowledge cannot exist in ritual. So, too, ritual cannot exist in knowledge. How is any correlation possible between the two, which are like sun and darkness?
  70. Therefore, for the removal^ of illusion, knowledge does not need the assistance of anything else, in the same way as the sun for the dispulsion of the densest darkness.
  71. The supreme self that is the witness of all. is itself that unsullied knowledge. The witness, therefore, is not affected by those limitations (of ignorance) but is (even) reality, knowledge and bliss.
  72. Its relation to them as (subject and) object is (illusory) like the relation of rope, etc., to serpent, etc. The Vedas, too, establish the same truth by declaring “this (self) is ever unattached”.
  73. That which cognizes both subject and object is the supreme self itself. Neither of them can know it. That which is neither subject nor object can alone know (itself) clearly.
  74. Some say that the nature of doer, (enjoyer,) etc. and all else is manifested (in the self) by its power of mâyâ. This is (however) a delusion, because there is naught other than Brahman.
  75. That Brahman being known, all this universe will become known, in the same way as all earthen jars, pots, etc., become known by the clay, which is their cause, being known.
  76. This (Brahman), then, is the one cause, devoid of all distinction, of the nature of purest consciousness. From that which is the sole reality, conditioned by mâyâ, sprang forth all this universe.
  77. Some say that the cause is non-entity. (But) the non-existent cannot be a cause. The power to generate a sprout is visible to all, only if the seed exists.
  78. He who declares the cause to be non-entity, can manage affairs with the son of a barren woman and quench intense thirst by drinking the water of a mirage.
  79. As this doctrine of a non-existent cause is untenable both according to scripture and reason, it follows that real entity is alone the cause of all the worlds.
  80. This reality, higher than the highest, manifests itself as the worlds, also as teacher and pupil, also as (the four-faced) Brahman and other gods.
  81. For those whose minds are not ripe, the impression that the world is real will tend to bondage (of births and deaths). Hence, the Vedantas declare all this universe to be unreal.
  82. On the other hand, to those great persons whose minds have become ripe by virtue of their past merits, the Vedas declare that all this universe is Brahman alone.
  83. Those that do not realize the gold understand a golden ornament only as an ornament. So, too, those that are devoid of realization do not perceive the world to be Brahman.
  84. How can Brahman be unknown to anyone, which is realizable by means of I-ness?  And yet, it is impossible of realization by the un-enquiring ignorant.
  85. All persons carry on their activities at all times by means of the ideas “I” and “this”. Of these, the former relates to the inner self, and the latter to external objects like the body, the senses, etc.
  86. If the idea of “I” springs up in respect of the body, senses, etc., it is then a huge delusion; for, delusion is defined as the perception of anything in what is not that thing.
  87. It therefore stands to reason that the supreme self that is the witness of all is alone denoted by the idea “I”. This I-ness, although devoid of consciousness, becomes conscious, as it were, by its contact with the self.
  88. The direct meaning of the clear and unmixed conception, “I”, “I”, in all bodies is therefore Brahman alone.
  89. By the word “cow”, the genus ‘cow’ is primarily meant; but, from the context, a particular cow is also indicated. In the same way, the primary meaning of “I” is the supreme self, but, by virtue of delusion, becomes the ego.
  90. Just as the power to burn, etc., is manifest in iron by reason of its contact with fire, so do the conditions of doer, (enjoyer) etc., manifest themselves in the “I” by reason of its connection with the self.
  91. Having understood the meaning of “I” to be the pure, transcendental, secondless (self) that is different from the body, senses and other objects, one should not attribute any other meaning thereto.
  92. Just as, in the same body, the pleasures and pains are numerous in respect of the various limbs, so, too, there are differences of experiences in respect of these individual souls, although there is really no differentiation at all.
  93. A wise person should never enquire of the universe, ‘what is this’, ‘what is its nature’, ‘how was it born’ ‘and ‘what is its cause’. He should merely think of it as delusion.
  94. The wood is forgotten in the elephant made of wood, and the elephant in the wood. So is the supreme self forgotten in the universe and the universe in the self.
  95. On the vast canvas of the self, the self itself paints the picture of the various worlds and the supreme-self itself derives extreme bliss from seeing that picture.
  96. The wise have the firm conviction that there is nothing else than the supreme self alone, consisting of pure consciousness, attributeless, imperishable, secondless, of the nature of bliss, and attainable only by direct realization.
  97. The talk in the Vedas about knowledge and ne-science relates to the stage of argumentation. From the true standpoint there is no such distinction, because Brahman is the only reality and there is naught else than this.
  98. If one asserts that there is anything other than the self, even that is the self in its aspect of existence. Anything which is different from being existent, is non-existent and therefore a mere void.
  99. For the wise, although delusion has been conquered by the steady power of their knowledge of the self, yet it seems to remain until the death of their bodies. But the self shines for them in its real nature.
  100. This is the peculiarity of the wise, that, although they are looking at all the variety of phenomenal existence, they could see naught other than the self understood from all the Vedas.
  101. For the wise that realize everything to be Brahman, what is there to meditate or not meditate, what to speak or not speak, what to do or not do?
  102. For the wise that see all objects as the self (drik), there is neither bondage nor liberation, neither the condition of supreme self nor that of individual soul.
  103. This is the sole ultimate teaching of all the Vedas if they are repeatedly enquired into,—the Vedas which uncontradictably reveal the self and which are the highest authority possible.
  104. Thus taught by his master, the disciple saluted his feet with joy and meditated within himself on the truth established by his own direct realization.
  105. I am undecaying, I am imperishable, I am the Lord (prâjna), I am the consciousness that is the inner self, I am full of supreme bliss, I am the supreme self (parama-siva), I am the infinite.
  106. I am the greatest of those that have realized the self. I am the enjoyer of the realization of my own bliss. I am he whose glory is realized as “I” by all beings down to children and the illiterate.
  107. I am averse to sensual pleasures. I am full of the bliss, knowledge and realization of the self. I am far aloof from any thought of the objective. I am delighted at heart by that which is not objective. (107).
  108. I am the Lord of lords. I am devoid of even a touch of jealousy and hatred. I am he that fulfils the desired object for those who are bent on realizing the goal.
  109. I alone am the origin of the worlds. I am he that sports in the garden of the upanishads. I am the flame of the sub-marine fire that will dry up the overflowing ocean of sorrow.
  110. I pervade up and down and around with my own extraordinary glories. I am he who appears to be determined by means of argument, counter argument and enquiry.
  111. I am the seer. I am the host of seers. I am the act of creation and I myself am the created. I am prosperity, I am progress, I am satisfaction, I am the glow of the lamp .of satisfaction.
  112. I am one. I am devoid of all distinctions, such as “this,” “like this” or “thus”. I am he that should be worshipped by the non-desirous. I am devoid of the inner feeling of merit or demerit.
  113. I am the revealer of oneness. I alone am the supreme reality for minds purified by a thorough understanding of the (Vedantic) formula. I am the sun that dispels ignorance like the darkness of the night.
  114. I am the efficacy of herbs. I am the warp and woof of the worlds. I am the bee intoxicated with the fragrance of the bliss of self emanating from the lotus of the sacred syllable om.
  115. I am the healing balm for evils. I am devoid of all conditional properties. I am the acne of liberality. I am he that rescues all by (granting) the fourfold desires  in various ways.
  116. I am the goad of all powerfullest  elephants, being greater than them. I am as spotless as space. I am devoid of emotions generated by the god of love.
  117. Amidst doubts and doctrines regarding the self, I am he that is realized by unerring instruction. I am averse to transient pleasures. I am fittest for the plenitude of eternal bliss and knowledge.
  118. I am filled with the nectar of mercy. I am he that devours all the worlds including that of the lotus-seated.  I am devoid of the sinful “I”. I am free from the contagion of sin and virtue.
  119. I am beyond the scope of the senses. I transcend the ether (âkâsa). I pervade phenomenal existence which is (unreal) like a sky-flower. I am unattainable by the wicked. I am bent on dispelling imperfect knowledge.
  120. The very mention of duality will slip away from me. I am he whose dwelling is the innermost heart of all. I am attainable by the contented. I am the perfect consciousness that knows no going or coming.
  121. I am a host of suns for destroying the accumulated darkness of densest delusion. I am the various divisions of time, hour, day, night, year, yuga and kalpa.
  122. The sentient and the non-sentient are my forms. My actions are extolled by the wisest. I am inaccessible to the unsteady. My abode is the other shore of the boisterous ocean of phenomenal existence.
  123. I am elated with the joy of conscious bliss that is hidden down the ocean of the Vedas. I am concealed to those whose minds are fond of deceptive verbiage. I am attainable by the way of peace.
  124. I am the root of all objects from the lotus-seated (Brahman) downwards and of the five great elements. I impart bliss to the worlds. I am free from birth, age, disease and death.
  125. I am the several varieties of noise like the buzz, the grunt, the tinkling and the roar. I am he that illuminates the mansion of the heart by the lamp of self-realization promptly lit.
  126. I am knowledge. I am the known. I am the knower. I am all the aids to knowledge. I am that pure sole existence bereft of knower, knowledge and known.
  127. My nature is beyond all principles. I am devoid of the thought that I am among them. I am difficult of attainment for the ignorant. My secret is realizable by a knowledge of the words “that” and “thou”.
  128. I am the foremost of all deities, demons, fiends, men, animals and mountains. I am without body and senses. I am the various directions like south, east, etc.
  129. I am of the nature of right and wrong. I am free from the bondage of right and wrong etc. I am easily attainable by those that follow the right. I am the happiest. I am the origin of the Creator himself.
  130. I am devoid of names (and forms) etc. I am free from hell, heaven and liberation. I am he that is realized by the ultimate inner sound. I am the essence of all the Vedas and of the whole universe.
  131. I am he whose mind is purified by the knowledge of the reality which dispels the distinction between the supreme self and the individual soul. I am the original. I am the change. I am the fruition of all fortunes.
  132. In the shape of the serpent, the mountain and the elephant, I bear the whole weight of the world.      I (am Siva who) destroyed the five-arrowed (Cupid) by the fire emanating from the eye in the forehead.
  133. I never become bound. So, too, I am never liberated from bondage. I am never such as to be taught.  I am not the teaching. I am not the teacher.
  134. I am devotion. I am worship. I am liberation. I alone am the means to liberation. I am the ruler of all beings. I am the root-cause of all that is past, present and future.
  135. I am respected by the great. I am disrespected by the ignorant. I am difficult to attain, owing to the evil tendencies of the mind deluded by pride, desire and vanity.
  136. I am the sacrificial rite, the sacrificer, the priest and the sacrifice. I am free from control of mind etc.   I am Yama, Varuna, Kubera, Indra, Nirriti, Váyu, Ísvara and Agni.
  137. I am the glory of that playful glance that affords protection and witnesses the control (of the universe.) I am established by the authority of that realization which springs up amidst conditions wherein there is neither night nor day.
  138. I am the definition and the defined. I am the implied meaning. I am devoid of dissolution etc. I am the gain and the loss. I am the unattained amidst the attainable.
  139. I have no castes or rules of life. I am the sacred syllables. I am the respected among the most respectable. I am beyond the scope of speech. I am within the words and the meaning of every sentence.
  140. I am unattainable even by hundreds of philosophies for minds that are devoid of peace and self-control. I am the sole refuge of the wise. I break to pieces countless doubts of various sorts.
  141. I am free from the six states and the six tastes. I have no enemy. I am free from the six bodily sheaths. I am beyond the thirty-six principles.
  142. I am the bliss of realization. I am the celestial tree that grants the desire for absorbed contemplation. I am free from phenomenal condition. I am the direct realization of the Vedánta (átma vidyá).
  143. I am the oblation to the gods and the oblation to the manes. I am devoid of all ideas of rejection and acceptance. I am Vishnu, I am Siva, I am Brahman (the creator), and I alone am their cause.
  144. All my sins have been washed away. The sorrows of phenomenal existence have been dispelled from my heart. I am the root of all the various activities expressed by the letters ending with ksha and beginning with a.
  145. Why say so much! All this universe, sentient and non-sentient, is myself. Spray and foam and wave are not, in reality, substances-different from the ocean.
  146. My refuge is neither my mother, nor father, nor sons, nor brothers, nor others. My supreme refuge shall be the foot placed by my master on my head.
  147. There is the foot of the master. There is unbounded mercy in his look. There is whatever he has taught. Is there any higher fulfillment of life?
  148. The looks of the venerable master are as full as the flood of rays of the (full) moon, they are a variety of the celestial tree in granting whatever boon is desired, and they smoothen and quell the sorrow of the mind.
  149. In the cave of the heart there lies for ever by herself, the serpent-maid of pure consciousness, made happy by swallowing the huge frog of a fickle mind.
  150. In the vast ocean of bliss and realization, which is myself, characterized by máyá, a thousand universe bubbles spring up and disappear again and again.
  151. Solely by the good ship of the master’s grace, wafted by the wind of good luck acquired in former lives, I have crossed the vast ocean of phenomenal existence, whose waves of sorrow are unendurable.
  152. While there was the darkness of ignorance, I saw the whole universe as a reality before my eyes. But when the sun of knowledge has risen, I see nothing at all. This is wonderful!
  153. I prostrate not to the gods. One who is beyond all gods does not salute a god. After that stage, one does no prescribed act. I prostrate again and again to my own self, which is the root of all endeavor.
  154. Thus, rejoicing again and again at the thought of his having gained the knowledge of the self, he reaches the supreme state of absoluteness (kaivalya), when the fruits of actions ripe for present enjoyment are exhausted.
  155. The Lord facing the south , himself, has composed this work entitled “The definition of one’s own self”, which will dispel the darkness of ignorance and will carry one across the shoreless ocean of phenomenal existence.
  156. The sky of my mind is illumined by the sun of the master who is the Lord Vishnu that destroys the darkness of ignorance and causes the lotus of realization to blossom.

Here Ends


Excerpt from

The Universe Is a Dream – Alexander Marchand – preview page 6

(Portuguese, Spanish, Finnish and Korean translated editions)

Alexander Marchand “…Have you ever contemplated the cause of the universe beyond simply attributing it to God or The Big Bang? If so, have you ever entertained the idea that the universe is but a dream? Which is to say, have you ever considered that the cause of the universe is that you dreamt it up? At first glance, the idea that you dreamt up the universe perhaps seems implausible. However, what if you really took that idea seriously and followed it to its logical conclusion? What would you discover?…”