Ashtavakra Samhita, Chapter 4, Verse 03

Dheera, the Stable Minded Seer

Dheera, the Stable Minded Seer

Translation and Commentary by Jayaram V

Chapter-Index | Verse Index

Verse 03

tajjnasya punyapaapaabhyaam sparsho hyantarna jaayate
na hyaakaashasya dhumena drishyamaanaapi sajngatih


He who has known That (self) is untouched inside by good and evil, just as the sky is untouched by the smoke (or clouds) although it may appear so.


The purity and inculpability of a self-realized yogi

The Self is pure consciousness. If you silence every movement in your mind and body and still manage to retain your awareness without any trace of desire, expectation and ego, you will get a glimpse of that pure state. In that state, nothing remains, just pure self-awareness of being alone, of being here and now and of being universally extended through space and time and material bodies, with no sense of me and mine. One attains that state only after a long and arduous spiritual practice.

The Self is independent. It depends neither upon the mind and senses nor upon the intelligence of the being nor upon the body nor upon food nor upon others for its knowing, continuation and existence. It is independent, eternal, indestructible, infinite, formless and subtler than the subtlest, with no limitations of space, time, strength, knowledge and passion.

Since it has no materiality of corporeality, it is untouched by the impurities of the mortal world or the mortal body. The tattvas of Nature or the impurities of the mortal world may envelop the soul and temporarily hide its existence, but they do not enter it or exist in it. As Lord Krishna declares in the Bhagavadgita, the Self is in all and pervades all, but they are not in the Self.

The Self is also passive. It does not engage in any action, nor does it prompt any organ in the body to engage in any action. It remains in the background as the witness Self, observing and enjoying the play of creation and the movements of the not-self. Hence, actions do not bind it nor taint it. However, in the embodied state it remains bound to the mortal world, until the beings overcome their delusion and engage in selfless actions. The Self also suffers from no physical injury. It cannot be cleaved or slain. Neither it kills nor it is killed.

You will not understand the concept of Self or its essential state, unless you have practiced meditation for long, silenced your mind and habitual thinking and experienced altered states of consciousness, in which you become a witness to the drama of your own mind and its modifications. In that state, you remain unaffected by what happens to you. You just become a passive observer, taking in everything, absorbing everything and enduring everything. As your perspective changes, you will realize that you are the Self, who vacillates between the states of being something or having something and being nothing or being everything.

From the mental perspective, the Self is an idea, of being present and self-aware. At the same time, in the experiential state it is also a reality. It is you with no name, definition, boundaries, qualities, judgment or ideation as if you dissolved into an indistinguishable state of universality or of being one with everything and in everything.

The Self and the not-self represent the ultimate duality of creation. That division extends all the way from the tiniest organism to the highest Brahman. They are like the two sides of the Supreme Being. It is a temporary union, which exists for the duration of creation and at the end of which the not-self with withdrawn or dissolved in the Self.

According to the Vedas, the not-self is a temporary formation or projection or superimposition, which creates in the beings the illusion of being real and permanent due to their deluded state. Since the two are distinct and parallel realities, whatever that happens in the realm of the not-self remains in it and does not crossover to the Self.

Good and evil (papam and punyam) are the dualities of not-self. They arise from our judgment, our relative values and our perception of right and wrong, and do not exist in the absolute realty of the Self. The Self is everything and pervades all. Hence, it is beyond all the dualities and divisions. You cannot say that Self is good or bad, or moral or immoral. It is neither of them. It may exist in both of them but is touched by neither of them. Further, it may be temporarily covered by the impurities, just as the sky is covered by dark clouds and temporarily obscured, but in reality it is just an optical illusion.

This knowledge is useful. If you are centered in the body and accept it as your identity, you will remain bound by both good and bad actions and keep reincarnating. You will also experience restlessness due to the modifications of the mind and body in each birth. However, if you identify with your spiritual Self and remain centered in it by surrendering to it and contemplating upon, keeping your desires, mind and ego under control, you will gradually enter the pure state of the Self, in which your thoughts and actions will not affect you anymore.

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