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8.  Astavakra points out the pitfalls on the path


To firmly stabilize Janaka in his realization of the self, Astavakra summarizes the steps and pitfalls on the path to liberation and inner peace:

It is bondage when the mind desires or grieves for anything, rejects or accepts anything, or feels happy or angry with anything. Liberation is attained when the mind is free of desire or grief or rejection or acceptance or judgment or anger or happiness.

It is bondage when the mind is attached to anything perceivable by the senses. It is liberation when the mind is detached from all sensory experiences. Knowing this, refrain from accepting or rejecting anything.

When there is no self-identification with the personal 'I', there is liberation; when there is the false identification with the ego-self, there is bondage. Knowing this, give up all sense of yourself as a limited individual, and your truth will reveal itself.

Realize the world to be unreal and renounce your identification with it. Know that all pairs of opposites like joy and sorrow, success and failure, good and evil, worldly and spiritual duties done and not done, are all of this illusory world, and will cease after awakening.

Rare indeed, my child, is that blessed person whose desire for life, enjoyment and learning have been extinguished by observing the misery of others caught in duality and lost in the maze of worldly existence. Realizing the futility of worldly life, be desireless and intent on renunciation, through complete indifference to the world.

The wise man becomes calm by realizing that all worldly accomplishments and aspirations are wiped away by the threefold misery: the suffering caused by physical and mental disease, the suffering caused by inanimate or animate beings and objects, and the suffering caused by natural calamities and upheavals.

Realizing that all craving for worldly results is futile and worthless, reject all such paltry undertakings; they are but transient and insubstantial. Has there ever been a time or an age in which the pairs of opposites, and the resulting bondage due to desires and repulsions, have not existed in men? Quit all these foolish pursuits and be content with what comes of itself. That way you will surely attain perfection.

Having observed the diversity of opinions between the different religious schools of philosophy and among the great seers, saints and yogis, become completely indifferent to the pursuit of scholarly knowledge and spiritual practices and immerse yourself in quietude.

He who gains knowledge of the true nature of pure consciousness by cultivating an equanimous mind and becoming completely indifferent to the world, saves himself from the round of births and rebirths. Is such a blessed one not the real spiritual guide?

Know that all the objects of the world which you have been craving for, are but combinations and modifications of the five elements. Whether you consider them beautiful or ugly, whether you desire them or dislike them, all phenomenal things are made up of the same stuff, the impermanent five elements. The moment you realize all things to be the same, that they are all evanescent and worthless, unrelated to you the eternal, you will renounce your desires for them and become free from bondage, henceforth abiding only in your true self.

Desires alone make up the world. Therefore, renounce them all. Renunciation of desire and renunciation of the world are exactly the same. Once you are steeped in renunciation you can live anywhere, unaffected by circumstances.

Look upon friends, lands, wealth, houses, wives, presents, and other such marks of good fortune as a dream or a juggler's show, lasting only a few moments. Cultivate indifference to everything worldly. Know that the three goals of life that preoccupy the ordinary man, must be completely expunged in you before you can realize the supreme goal of life: self-knowledge and liberation. Those three goals of ordinary life, namely desire for kith and kin and sensual enjoyments, the achievement of worldly rewards and prosperity, and attainment of a reputation for performing good works, are your enemies; they are attended by mischief and misery.

Know that wherever there is desire there is the world. Desire is bondage and destruction of desire is liberation. Only by non-attachment to the world will you attain the constant joy of the realization of the self. Cloaking yourself in firm dispassion, go beyond desire and be happy.

You are the one pure intelligence. The universe is devoid of intelligence and is unreal. It is the child of ignorance. Pursuing the knowledge of things of the world is only a way of further delving into ignorance. What is the use of knowing that which is unreal? What can you yet desire to know except the eternal self? When that is known everything is known, and when that is not known, nothing is known.

Kingdoms, sons, wives, bodies, and pleasures have all been lost to you birth after birth, even though you were attached to them. Enough of prosperity, desires, and pious deeds! The mind did not find repose in these in the dreary forest of the world.

For how many births have you not done hard and painful work with body, mind, and speech? Have they given you any lasting happiness? Why continue in worldly actions which spring from ignorance and only cause bondage and misery? Cease all these foolish pursuits, at least from today.

He who has realized that change and destruction is in the very nature of things, finds repose in spirit, remaining ever unperturbed and free from pain. He who has known for certain that the universe has arisen from the self, exists in the self and dissolves in the self, and that there is no existence other than the self, becomes peaceful with all his desires set at rest. He will not be attached to anything whatsoever.

He who knows for certain that happiness and misery, birth and death are due to the effects of past actions, does not find anything to accomplish. Thus, he becomes free from care and remains unattached even though engaged in action, for he knows he is not the doer. He who has known for certain that his present life with all its vicissitudes is the result of his past actions, and that adversity and prosperity come in their own time through the effects of karma, is ever contented and unaffected by changes in fortune.

He who has realized that it is the identification of the mind with worldly objects that breeds attachment and gives rise to misery in this world, becomes free from it. He is forever happy, peaceful, and rid of desires that are due to caring for things of the world. Being unattracted to worldly things, the high-souled one has all his senses under control. He neither desires for what has not been attained nor grieves for what has been lost.

He who has attained the state of absoluteness, who has realized the supreme self, does not identify himself with body or mind and has no relationship to the work performed by them. He knows for certain, 'I am not the body nor is the body mine. I am consciousness itself'. He does not remember what he has done or not done, for he knows that work pertains to the body and mind and not to the self.

The wise one knows for certain: 'I indeed am in everything, from the highest celestial being down to the lowest clump of grass'. Being ever calm of mind, pure and peaceful, he is free from thoughts and conflicts, and he is free from caring for what is attained and not attained. He does not see anything outside of himself.

The wise one knows for certain that this manifold and wonderful universe is in truth nothing; it is unreal. Thus, he becomes desireless and identified with pure consciousness. Though living in a body and perceiving the apparent existence of the universe, he finds ultimate peace knowing that nothing but the self exists.

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