Meditations On Ashtavakra Gita - PART 1
When Janaka sought liberation from "Bondage", Ashtavakra dismissed the very "I" which feels bound. In the first few verses, Ashtavakra clearly proves that there is no "I" who feels hurt, worried, sorry etc. All this is already discussed in the PART 1. Having understood this much, one has to live it in the day to day life. This living out this truth requires certain clarity of this vision which is what Ashtavakra is building through the next few verses.
Suppose I am playing the role of Ravana in a drama and while playing this role, I forget my true nature and take myself to be Ravana. Now I suffer all the emotions of Ravana, I feel guilty for what I have done and also sad for all the war thats taking place, say. Now, at this juncture, if I learn that I am not Ravana... should I now stop playing the role of Ravana ? Please see this. The role of Ravana can continue and yet I am liberated. I know there is no Ravana here and that this Ravana and all his emotions are "unreal" and yet I play the role with great confidence, donning the emotions and feelings. I intentionally bring out the emotions of Ravana because I know those emotions and having brought them out, I enact them ... but no where am I really troubled.
The same thing within. The understanding that there is really no "I" , is very significant. Its like the understanding that I am not Ravana. And yet, there is an appearance. From my memories this appearance takes shape. To my mother I am a son and when I interact with her, there is a mental appearance ... an "I" thats formed out of my memories, which is only an appearance and yet knowing fully well that its not me, I enact the role.
One may ask "Who is the one who keeps changing roles ?" , My answer is simple : "Another Role". So these are all mental and "out there"! I know I am not any of these and yet I play all these roles with great comfort. When Ashtavakra says "You are not a householder etc", its not that I can no more play the role of a householder. I play the role very well, knowing completely that I am not it. The role of householder is in memory and when situation arises, it pops out of the memory in the form of a series of thoughts creating a fictitious "I" who is a householder. If this "I" is not formed, I cannot function as a householder. Formation of this "I" is not the problem. Identification with this "I" is definitely a problem. The "I" is formed , yet I know that this "I" is only a shadow and not real ! I clearly see that the TRUE I is not this "I" , but it lends existence to this "I". This is understanding. Its purely intellectual ... understanding is always intellectual. There is nothing like non-intellectual understanding. Understanding means intellectual.
Now someone may ask : is not Self beyond intellect ? Yes , ofcourse it is. But I do not need to Know the Self through intellect. Self is self effulgent! So all that I need is to dismiss the wrong ideas about "I" or rather negate all the ideas about "I". These ideas are all certain limitations applied on the "I" - certain qualifiers applied to the "I" and when these limitations are negated [they need not be removed, they are present and yet seen as unreal], then I is self evident. Nothing needs to be done to "Know Self". Self is self effulgent.
धर्माधर्मौ सुखं दुखं मानसानि न ते विभो ।
न कर्तासि न भोक्तासि मुक्त एवासि सर्वदा ॥१-६॥
Dharma, Adharma , Comfort and discomfort belong to the Mind and not to you, oh King! You are neither the doer nor the experienc-er, you are Ever Free , Always.
This is the understanding and its so beautiful. Even when a person has completely understood his true nature, he cannot avoid comforts and discomforts. Whether its janaka or ashtavakra ... on a hot day, having a glass of water gives comfort and standing in sun gives discomfort. Once a friend told me "The day I eat neem leaves and ice cream with the same feeling, thats when I consider myself liberated". If one has such an idea, one can never live a liberated life. Setting up an unreachable and unnatural expectation is one way of distancing ourselves from liberated living. Right now, we are all liberated and we need to own it up. This owning up means living a desireless and free life here and now. This is possible only when we do not set such unnatural goals born out of exotic ideas.
Someone once said "Ramana did not feel pain when suffering from cancer" ! These kind of ideas are all wrong. Discomfort cannot be avoided. Otherwise, take any saint and do not allow him to sleep for 5 or 6 days and he will accept that discomfort cannot be avoided. This is not the idea of liberated living. This is really not possible and natural to live such a life.
There are comfortable situations and uncomfortable situations in life. One cannot help but face all these situations. But when one faces these situations, if one does not allow these situations to distort one's Self Image, thats liberated living. Lets take a simple example. Suppose I failed in an examination. And lets observe a particular kind of self talk:
"I Failed ".
"I can no more reap the benefits of success"
"I am incomplete without reaping the benefits of success"
"I feel really unfulfilled because of this"
The first two statements are merely statements of fact. The next statement is where we are "Projecting" this situation onto ourselves and doing a "Self Evaluation" based on them. The moment I do this, I feel "incomplete" and "unfulfilled" and as a result ? I suffer. The external situation cannot be avoided. The external situation has comfort and discomfort clearly defined ! The "I Sense" has its likes and dislikes.
But even when seeing all this, I should make sure I do not drag these situations of mind onto myself and see myself as "unfulfilled and incomplete within".
We have already seen that there is really no "I" ... there is only this body which is jada and lifeless and the Awareness within which is totally Still Presence. Where is the "I" ? Only a series of thoughts coming from memory create a sense of I , a sense of doer or experiencer. This is not real, its like a mirage. Unreal and purely imaginary. And yet, it "Seems" to exist. So that "Seeming" existence can be used for purely functional purpose and yet I understand that I am not that. So thus, I do not drag that situation onto myself and feel suffocated and incomplete within. This is liberated living.
[To be Continued ...]