The Awakening to the Self
Oriental Department, July, 1894
SHANKARACHARYA’S ATMA BODHA.
This awakening to the Self is recorded for those whose inner darkness has been worn away by strong effort, who have reached restfulness, from whom passion has departed, who seek perfect Freedom.
Among all causes, wisdom is the only case of perfect Freedom; as cookery without fire, so perfect Freedom cannot be accomplished without wisdom.
Works cannot destroy unwisdom, as these two are not contraries; but wisdom destroys unwisdom, as light the host of darkness.
At first wrapped in unwisdom, when unwisdom is destroyed the, pure Self shines forth of itself, like the radiant sun when the clouds have passed.
When life that was darkened by unwisdom is made clear by the coming of wisdom, unwisdom sinks away of itself, as when water is cleared by astringent juice.
This world is like a dream, crowded with loves and hates; in its own time it shines like a reality; but on awakening it becomes unreal.
This passing world shines as real, like the silver imagined in a pearl-shell, as long as the Eternal is not known, the secondless substance of all.
In the real conscious Self, the all-penetrating everlasting pervader, all manifested things exist, as all bracelets exist in gold.
Just like the ether, the Lord of the senses, the Radiant, clothed in many vestures, seems divided because these are divided, but is beheld as one when the vestures are destroyed.
Through this difference of vesture, race, name, and home are attributed to the Self, as difference of taste and color to pure water.
Built up of fivefold-mingled elements through accumulated works is the physical vesture, the place where pleasure and pain are tasted.
Holding the five life-breaths, mind, reason, and the ten perceiving and acting powers, formed of unmingled elements, is the subtle vesture, the instrument of enjoyment.
Formed through the beginningless, ineffable error of separateness, is the causal vesture. One should hold the Self to be different from these three vestures.
In the presence of the five veils, the pure Self seems to share their nature; like a crystal in the presence of blue tissues.
The pure Self within should be wisely discerned from the veils that surround it, as rice by winnowing, from husk and chaff.
Though ever all-present, the Self is not everywhere clearly beheld; let it shine forth in pure reason like a reflection in a pure mirror.
The thought of difference arises through the vestures, the powers, mind, reason, and nature; but one must find the Self, the Witness of all this being, the perpetual king.
Through the busy activity of the powers, the Self seems busy; as the moon seems to course through the coursing clouds.
The vestures, powers, mind, and reason move in their paths under the pure consciousness of the Self, as people move in the sunshine.
The qualities of vestures, powers, and works are attributed to the spotless Self through undiscernment, as blue to the pure sky.
Through unwisdom, the mental vesture’s actorship is attributed to the Self, as the ripple of the waves to the moon reflected in a lake.
Passion, desire, pleasure, pain move the mind; but when the mind rests in deep sleep they cease; they belong to the mind, not to the Self.
Shining is the sun’s nature; coldness, the water’s; heat, the fire’s; so the Self’s nature is Being, Consciousness, Bliss, perpetual spotlessness.
The Self lends Being and Consciousness, and mind lends activity. When these two factors are joined together by undiscernment, there arises the feeling that ‘I perceive’.
The Self never changes; and mind of itself cannot perceive but the Self through error believes itself to be the habitual doer and perceiver.
The Self is believed to be the habitual life, as a rope is believed to be a snake; and thus fear arises. But when it is known that ‘I am not the habitual life but the Self’ then there can be no more fear.
The Self alone lights up the mind and powers, as a flame lights up a jar. The Self can never be lit by these dull powers.
In the knowledge of the Self, there is no need that it should be known by anything else. A light does not need another light; it shines of itself.
Putting all veils aside, saying ‘it is not this! it is not this!’ one must find the real unity of the habitual Self and the Supreme Self, according to the words of wisdom.
All outward things, the vestures and the rest, spring from unwisdom; they are fugitive as bubbles. One must find the changeless, spotless ‘I am the Eternal’.
As I am other than these vestures, not mine are their birth, weariness, suffering, dissolution. I am not bound by sensuous objects, for Self is separate from the powers of sense.
As I am other than mind, not mine are pain, rage, hate, and fear. The Self is above the outward life and mind, according to the words of wisdom.
From this Self come forth the outward life and mind, and all the powers; from the Self come ether, air, fire, the waters, and earth upholder of all.
Without quality or activity, everlasting, free from doubt, stainless, changeless, formless, ever free am I the spotless Self.
Like ether, outside and inside all, I am unmoved; always all-equal, pure, unstained, spotless, unchanged.
The ever-pure lonely one, the part-less bliss, the second-less, truth, wisdom, endless, the Supreme Eternal; this am I.
Thus the steadily-held remembrance that ‘I am the Eternal’ takes away all unwisdom, as the healing essence stills all pain.
In solitude, passionless, with powers well-ruled, let him be intent on the one, the Self, with no thought but that endless one.
The wise through meditation immersing all outward things in the Self, should be intent on that only Self, spotless as shining ether.
Setting aside name, color, form, the insubstantial causes of separateness, the knower of the supreme rests in perfect Consciousness and Bliss.
The difference between knower, knowing, and known exists not in the Self; for through its own Consciousness and Bliss it shines self-luminous.
Thus setting the fire stick of thought in the socket of the Self, let the kindled flame of knowledge burn away the fuel of unwisdom.
By knowledge, as by dawn, the former darkness is driven away; then is manifest the Self, self-shining like the radiant sun.
Yet the Self, though eternally possessed, is as though not possessed, through unwisdom. When unwisdom disappears, the Self shines forth like a jewel on one’s own throat.
Separate life is conceived in the Eternal by error, as a man is imagined in a post. But the pain of separation ceases when the truth about it is perceived.
By entering into real nature, wisdom swiftly arises. Then the unwisdom of ‘I’ and ‘mine’ disappears, as when a mistake about the position of north and south is set right.
The seeker after union, possessed of all knowledge, sees with the eye of wisdom that all things rest in the Self; and this Self is. the One, the All.
Self is all this moving world; other than Self is naught. As all jars are earth, so he beholds all as the Self.
Perfect Freedom even in life is this, that a man should shake himself free from all the limits of his disguises, through the essence of Reality, Consciousness, Bliss, just as the grub becomes the bee.
Crossing the ocean of glamor, and slaying the monsters, passion and hate, the seeker for union, perfect in peace, grows luminous in the garden of the Self.
Free from bondage to outward, unlasting pleasures, and returning to the joy of the Self, he shines pure within like the flame in a lamp.
Even when hidden under disguises, let the Sage stand free from them, like pure ether. Though knowing all, let him be as though he knew nothing; moving untrammelled like the air.
Let the Sage, shaking off his disguises, merge himself utterly in the all-pervading One; as water in water, ether in ether, flame in flame.
The gain above all gains, the joy above all joys, the wisdom above all wisdoms; let him affirm that it is the Eternal.
When this is seen, there is no more to see; when this is attained, there is no more to attain; when this is known, there is no more to know;—let him affirm that this is the Eternal.
Upward, downward, on all sides perfect; Being, Consciousness, Bliss; the second-less, endless, everlasting One;—let him affirm that this is the Eternal.
Through the knowledge that nothing is but the Eternal, the unchanging One is beheld by the wise; the aboriginal, part-less joy; let him affirm that this is the Eternal.
As partakers in the bliss of that part-less, blissful One, the Evolver and all the powers enjoy their bliss as dependants.
Every being is bound to the Eternal; every movement follows the Eternal; the all-embracing Eternal is in all, as curd is in all milk.
Nor small nor great nor short nor long, nor born nor departing, without form, attribute, color, name;—let him affirm that this is the Eternal.
Through whose shining shine the sun and all lights; but who shines not by any’s light; through whom all this shines;—let him affirm that this is the Eternal.
All present within and without, making luminous all this moving, the Eternal shines forth glowing of red-hot iron.
The Eternal is different from the moving world,—yet other than the Eternal is naught! What is other than the Eternal shines insubstantial, like the mirage in the desert.
Things seen and heard are not other than the Eternal. Knowledge of reality teaches that all this is the Eternal, the Being, Consciousness, Bliss, the secondless.
The eye of wisdom beholds the ever-present Consciousness, Bliss, the Self, the eye of unwisdom beholds not, as the blind beholds not the shining sun.
The personal life, refined through and through by the fire of wisdom, which right learning and knowledge kindle, shines pure as gold, freed from every stain.
The Self, rising in the firmament of the heart,—sun of wisdom, darkness-dispersing, all-present, all-supporting,—shines forth and illumines all.
He who, drawing away from space and time, faithfully worships in the holy place of the divine Self,— the ever-present, the destroyer of heat and cold and every limit, the stainless, eternally happy,—he all-knowing, entering the All, becomes immortal.
(Thus the Awakening to the Self is completed.)