Ashtavakra Samhita, Chapter 3, Verse 09

Mental Stability

The Stable Minded Seer

Translation and Commentary by Jayaram V

Chapter-Index | Verse Index

Verse 9

dheerastu bhojyamaano.api pidyamaano.api sarvadaa 
aatmaanam kevalam pashyan na tushyati na kupyati


Whether he is in a state of enjoyment or suffering, the stable minded person always sees the Self only and is neither pleased nor angry.


The Stable Minded Seer

Dheera means a yogi who is steadfast and is not disturbed or distracted by the conditions of life or the activity of the senses. His mind is like a stone, firm and fixed. This is not usually the case with the human mind. It is more like water or fire and always in a state of flux, disturbed by something or the other, and subject to numerous emotions.

People are easily disturbed by even small things. Both pleasure and pain disturb their minds. They are disturbed by having things and not having them. They suffer when they are in the company of people as well as when they are alone and no one is paying them attention. When you do not have things, you seek them, and when you have them, you become bored or lose interest. We want to have peace and happiness, along with innumerable other things, which will not let us have any peace or happiness, except for brief moments.

This attitude is not confined to worldly people only. Even spiritual people become distracted by innumerable desires and distractions. They are happy when they receive attention from their gurus, and unhappy when they are ignored. They seek more knowledge and more discourses, while the knowledge which they already have has not yet been fully put to practice.

Indeed, if you are a spiritual person, whatever knowledge you already have will be more than sufficient to stabilize your mind and experience peace and equanimity. Many people do not believe so, and they keep on gathering information, mistaking activity to spirituality. Whether you desire worldly things or spiritual solace, and whether you want to meet an influential person to secure a favor or meet a spiritual master to gain his blessing, you are still engaging in desire-ridden actions only. As long as the mind is ridden with desires, there can be no stability, but an illusion of progress, activity, purpose and control. They all lead to afflictions and disturbances.

There are only three ways to keep the mind stable and happy. You either have everything or be satisfied with whatever you have or become same to everything. The first one is the approach of the materialist, the second is that of a discerning devotee or a spiritual practitioner and the third is that of a stable minded seer who has realized that he is pure consciousness (shuddha chaitanyam), who abides in the supreme nonduality (parama advaitam), who realized the Self in all and all in the Self and overcame the sense of ownership (mamatvam).

When a yogi becomes unattached to the objects of this world and the next, discerns the eternal from the transient and becomes stabilized in the self, he is not distracted or disturbed by the presence or absence of anything of this world or the next. He seeks nothing, desires nothing and expects nothing, but remains stabilized and satisfied with himself and within himself. From a perceiver who depends upon his senses, he becomes a seer who sees himself in all and all in himself, erasing the boundaries of his individuality, which is created by the ego, in the infinite Self.

An adept yogi spends years to reach that stage and become a seer. In that state, nothing matters to him anymore, not even the prospect of liberation or the grace of God or the personal attention of his guru. Giving up everything and cultivating detachment and dispassion, he becomes free from everything and indifferent to everything. Whether he is in the Himalayas or in the middle of a busy street, whether people put garlands around his neck and respect him or throw stones at him and disrespect him, he remains the same and equal to all.

His indifference is not a cultivated trait, but inherent to the state which he reaches. It arises just as the fragrance from a fully blossomed flower. He will not offer any explanations, if he is criticized or ridiculed or falsely accused of some scandal or scam. Since his ego is subdued, he does not act defensively about anything concerning his life, actions, appearance, name or fame. He does not wear fancy clothes to attract and enthrall followers or appear like a sage to the public. He may just wear a rag and remain indifferent.

His silence is the silence of the universe. His presence is the presence of the invisible, unassuming, humble space. His attitude is like that of a flowing river, unimpeded by place or time. He is not bound to any country, culture, caste or community. His stability (dheeratvam) is an offshoot of his inner freedom, desirelessness, detachment and independence. These qualities are not cultivated. They are the qualities of the Self, which manifest in any person when he or she becomes pure and resplendent, just as the Self. When you are one with the Self, you become like the Self in your outward behavior as well as in your inward attitude and thinking. In that state, you become stable like the Self.

In worldly life, you will not be able to cultivate mental stability to the extent an adept can, because even if you want to be at peace, the world will not let you. Just as it is not possible to escape from the waves of the ocean when you are in it, you cannot escape from the vibrations of the world when you live in it. It is why people who renounce worldly life are advised to live in seclusion, away from the noise of the world. They achieve mental stability by restraining their senses, cultivating detachment, and overcoming attraction and aversion to the dualities of life. The world is a major source of stress, restlessness and mental instability. We have to find our own ways to shield our minds and bodies from its negative impact. Some do it by practicing Yoga and some by finding their own private space.

Although as a worldly person, you cannot cultivate mental stability to the extent an adept can, you can still bring some of its light into your consciousness and benefit from it. Try to limit your desires and expectations, cultivate patience and endurance, let go of things that you cannot change or control, accept your limitations, strengthen your will power, and practice meditation and concentration. Your soul shines in your intelligence. Therefore, purify it and stabilize it in reason and truth, and learn to see things as they are, rather than through the cloud of emotions, attachments, likes and dislikes. Even with all these practices, you may still suffer at times from feelings of hurt or anger or disappointment, but you will learn to absorb them and move on.

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