The Song of Ashtavakra

Photo by Nick Kenrick.. on Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

I’m sharing here the Ashtavakra Gita, in the translation of John Richards. This is a famous song and landmark of non-duality in India. It has been composed in Sanskrit as a dialogue between the eminent sage Ashtavakra and his brilliant disciple Janaka, also king of Mithila. It was allegedly written around the third Century BC although some scholars dated it in the eighth Century AD, at the period of Shankara. The author is unknown and the characters are borrowed from the ancient epics of India. ‘Ashtavakra’ means ‘eight bends’, for he has a deformed body. This is a short work of 300 verses, and was one of the favourites of Ramakrishna and Ramana Maharshi. In this dialogue, the process of enlightenment is easily dealt with, for Janaka is, in Ramesh Balsekar’s words, “a superbly ‘ripe’ disciple, one who is just waiting for that one quick spark of initiation into Truth that brings about sudden enlightenment.” The dialogue quickly moves to be an exposition of truth by two equally enlightened beings. Yet, a process is here at work, between the guru and his disciple, between truth and the slow movement towards full understanding, between the one reality and the many roads and aspects that lead to a total and definitive grasp of it…

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अष्टावक्रगीता

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Chapter I

Instruction on Self-Realisation

King Janaka asks the question that provoked Ashtavakra’s plain and direct exposition of truth…

Your real nature is as the one perfect, free, 
and actionless consciousness, the all-pervading witness 
– unattached to anything, desireless and at peace. 
It is from illusion that you seem to be involved in samsara
.”

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Janaka asked:

How is knowledge to be acquired? How is liberation to be attained? And how is dispassion to be reached? Tell me this, sir.

Ashtavakra replied:

If you are seeking liberation, my son, shun the objects of the senses like poison. Practise tolerance, sincerity, compassion, contentment and truthfulness like nectar.

You are neither earth, water, fire, air or even ether. For liberation know yourself as consisting of consciousness, the witness of these.

If only you will remain resting in consciousness, seeing yourself as distinct from the body, then even now you will become happy, peaceful and free from bonds.

You do not belong to the brahmin or any other caste, you are not at any stage, nor are you anything that the eye can see. You are unattached and formless, the witness of everything – so be happy.

Righteousness and unrighteousness, pleasure and pain are purely of the mind and are no concern of yours. You are neither the doer nor the reaper of the consequences, so you are always free.

You are the one witness of everything, and are always totally free. The cause of your bondage is that you see the witness as something other than this.

[…]

Continue reading the beautiful teaching of Ashtavakra… (READ MORE…)

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The Poor Man

Reading again this sermon 87 by Meister Eckhart, entitled ‘The Poor Man’, I felt that I had to give it a place in this blog. I was stunned by its qualities, the modernity, profundity, clarity, precision, subtlety that breathes in and out of this piece, and its impeccable construction. We owe this translation to the teacher of nonduality Francis Lucille and I borrow it from the website ‘Stillness Speaks’ that offers wonderful resource for self exploration.

Meister Eckhart was a Christian theologian and mystic born in 13th century Germany. He became famous as a talented preacher and his sermons, unusual and disruptive to the church dogma and ritual, caused him troubles. Largely forgotten until the 19th century, he is now appreciated as one of the foremost exponent of the spiritual endeavour. The universal qualities of his message extend far beyond the usual Christian jargon and make it accessible for all who have a deep interest in these matters.

Starting with the famous biblical expression ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit’, he endeavours to describe the qualities that are to be found in a truly poor man, and that are a prerequisite to any real understanding of truth. In his own words, and in just a few passing sentences, he exposes nothing less than the nature of our true being, of free will, the pervading presence of consciousness in all beings, the blissful nature of God’s presence, the non-objective and empty substance of God, Its timeless and immortal nature, and the oneness that pervades all and everything. Be this piece a prayer illuminating these few Latin words contained in the picture above: ‘Trahe nos post te’, ‘Draw us to you’

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Whoever is to be poor in spirit 
must be poor in all his own knowing 
so that he knows nothing of God, 
nothing of any created object, 
and nothing of himself
.”
~ Meister Eckhart

~

 

Beati pauperes spiritu, quia ipsorum est regnum coelorum.

Ultimate bliss speaking in its wisdom, said: ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven’ (Mathew 5,3). All angels, all saints, and all creatures that have been born, must be silent when this eternal wisdom of the Father speaks, because all the wisdom of the angels and all creatures is as pure nothing when compared to the limitless wisdom of God. This wisdom has said that the poor are blessed.

Now, there are two kinds of poverty. The first is an external poverty and it is good and very much to be praised in one who accepts such poverty willingly, out of love for our Lord Jesus Christ, because He, likewise, was poor on earth. I will not speak of this poverty any further. Then, there is yet another poverty, an internal poverty, which underlies each word of our Lord when He says ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit’.

Now I beg you to be likewise so that you can understand his words; for I tell you by the eternal truth: if you are not identical with this truth about which we will now speak you cannot possibly understand me.

Some people have asked me what poverty is in itself, and what a poor man would be. We will now answer them. […]

Continue reading this sermon by Meister Eckhart… (READ MORE…)

 

Verses on the Perfect Mind

‘Huike thinking’ – Shi Ke, 10th Century – Wikimedia Commons

信心銘
鑑智僧璨

 

It is only recently that I have heard the first two lines of this Zen poem called ‘Hsin-hsin Ming’, which can be translated as ‘Verses on the Perfect Mind’. It is an ancient poem, one of the earliest and most influential Zen writings. It was allegedly composed by Chien-chih Seng-ts’an, who is referred as the Third Zen Patriarch. Very little is known about him, except that he was initiated into the Dharma by Dazu Huike (487–593) and died in 606. It has been multi-translated, and given various names. The title literally means ‘Inscription (or record) on the Believing Heart (or the Faith Mind)’. Verses on the Perfect Mind seems to be a good translation, considering the deeper meaning of the word ‘perfect’ which is ‘completed, accomplished’. The perfect Mind here is an ‘is-ness’, the natural mind, the Buddha mind. As the Nirvana Sutra says, “Great faith is no other than Buddha nature.”

What makes the translation of the poem difficult is the tension between conveying the right meaning and rendering the brevity of the poem. There is a passage in the present translation that goes: “When things can no longer be faulty, it is as if there are no things. When the mind can no longer be disturbed, it is as if there is no mind.” This was translated by Prof. Dusan Pajin: “No blame, no things; no arising, no mind.” The poem consists of 146 unrhymed four-character verses, which is shorter than the usual lines in Chinese poetry which have five or seven characters. So the form is concise, scarce, and that is in line with the Zen meditative form. 

It should not be read as a succession of individual quatrain, but more as a vision, something whole, indivisible. I think it was written in this spirit, for the original work is really just a succession of undivided characters. Maybe it was recited fast, concentrating on the meaning behind the words, the felt-understanding. It starts with these famous lines, so often quoted: “The Great Way is not difficult, for those who have no preferences.” It develops as variations on these lines before ending and finding completion — we could say vanishing — with this strong reminder: “Words! Words! The Way is beyond language, Words never could, can not now, and never will describe the Way.” The present interpretation is by Eric Putkonen. Eric is a Modern-day house-holder yogi and lover of what-is who lives in St. Petersburg, Florida where he hosts nonduality satsangs. I hope you will enjoy…

 

至道無難 
唯嫌揀擇 
但莫憎愛 
洞然明白 

 

The Great Way is not difficult, 
for those who have no preferences. 
Let go of longing and aversion, 
and it reveals itself.

Make the smallest distinction, however, 
and you are as far from it as heaven is from earth. 
If you want to realize the truth, 
then hold no opinions for or against anything.

Like and dislike 
is the disease of the mind.
When the deep meaning (of the Way) is not understood, 
the intrinsic peace of mind is disturbed.

As vast as infinite space, 
it is perfect and lacks nothing.
Indeed, it is due to your grasping and repelling 
that you do not see things as they are.

[…]

Continue reading this old poem by the Third Zen Patriarch… (READ MORE…)

 

The Search

Come, 
Come away, 
O love, 
Sit beside me; 
I will teach thee 
The way to 
Happiness
.”

 

I have collected here some excerpts of a poetical work by J. Krishnamurti, published first in 1927 under the title ‘The Search’, and later in the book ‘From Darkness to Light’ (1980), along with other poems from this period. Krishnamurti considered these writings as not being part of his official teachings, for they were written when he was still involved with the Theosophical Society, the organisation that raised him to become the new World Teacher and that he left in 1929. They are nevertheless a beautiful read, imbued with the wonder of nature, and the search for happiness. In the Publishers Note, we read: ‘These poetic writings represent a facet of Krishnamurti that is characterized by the intensity of his feelings and by his passionate appeal to the individual for self-realization of truth.’ I hope you enjoy them…

 

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Balanced between the past and the future, 
the “I” is poised as a tiger ready to spring, 
as an eagle ready to fly, 
as the bow at the moment of releasing the arrow. 

This moment of equilibrium, of high tension, 
is “creation.” It is the fullness of all life, 
it is immortality. 

The wind of the desert sweeps away 
all trace of the traveller. 

The sole imprint is the footstep of the present. 
The past, the future… sands blown by the wind
.“

~ J. krishnamurti (From Darkness to Light)

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I have been a wanderer long 
In this world of transient things. 
I have known the passing pleasures thereof. 
As the rainbow is beautiful, 
But soon vanishes into nothingness, 
So have I known, 
From the very foundation of the world, 
The passing away of all things 
Beautiful, joyous and pleasurable. 

 

If thou wouldst concern thyself with the lasting, 
With the eternal, with the indestructible, 
With divinity, with immortality, 
With wisdom which is the pool of Heaven, 
If thou wouldst know of that everlasting Kingdom of Happiness, 
If thou wouldst know of that Beauty that never fades or decays, 
If thou wouldst know of that Truth that is imperishable and alone— 
Then, O world, 
Look deep within thyself

[…]

Continue reading excerpts from this poem by Krishnamurti… (READ MORE…)

 

Love Says…

The mind is busy, talkative, restless. Love is vast, silent, unconcerned. I share here an imagined dialogue between love and the mind, written by Tiger Singleton…

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Love seems to hurt, because love is incredibly honest.

The mind screams… “I want your love.”

Love says… “I’m sorry, but you can’t, because in order to want me, you think I’m not already here. So you deny yourself, by looking for me where I am not. Demanding, I show up in ways that say you are more important than everything else I touch.

The mind cries, and says… “But don’t you love me?”

Love whispers back… “No, It’s not like that, my love isn’t personal, my Love IS. You want to be special, rather than being what is, which is where I Am.”

The mind… “I don’t understand.”

Love… “You never will. To think you understand me, is to define me, which is to restrict my flow, saying some are worthy and some are not and you desperately want to be the worthy one. You want me to come to you, rather than you, falling into what I already am”

The mind… “How can I surrender into you?”

Love… “You can’t, because I’ve already surrendered, everything, including you. You are free, it’s already done.”

The mind… “What should I do?”

Love… “It doesn’t matter, I love you regardless, I support you regardless, I am always with the present moment, so rest here. Feel me. And then see what happens. In this space, you simply cannot go wrong.”

The mind… 🙏🏽

 

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Text by Tigmonk

Photo by Alain Joly

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Tiger Singleton (Tigmonk), founder of InLight Connect, is an inspirational public speaker, satsang facilitator, and author who shares wisdom and insight from the heart. With an open heart, Tiger holds space for a profound exploration into the art of being (you). 

Bibliography:
– ‘An Explosion of Love: The Color of All Things Beautiful’ – by Tigmonk – (The Blooming Heart Center)
– ‘Intimacy, with the Silent Nothing that is Everything’ – by Tigmonk – (The Blooming Heart Center)

Websites:
Inlight Connect (the art of being)
Tigmonk (All… is Incredibly Well)
Already Done (The Poetic Life of Being)

 

At the Feet of the Rishis

The true prevails, not the untrue.”
~ Mundaka Upanishad, Hymn III.1.6

सत्यमेव जयते नानृतं

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In January 1950, in the wake of her freshly acquired independence, India adopted the motto that was to adorn the base of the Lion Capital of Ashoka, one simple phrase: “The true prevails, not the untrue.” How revealing that this country has put on her national emblem a mantra excerpted from the Mundaka Upanishad (Hymn III.1.6). This mantra is a profoundly significant spiritual message, and it will be inscribed on all Indian currency and official documents. The author is unknown, as is the case with all authors of the Upanishads, these ancient texts which Eknath Easwaran described as “towering peaks of consciousness”. The time has come here to pay tribute to these anonymous sages or rishis who produced these famous hallmarks of spirituality.

The Upanishads are a collection of hymns that have been, according to tradition, ‘seen’ or ‘heard’ (Shruti in Sanskrit, ‘that which is heard’), and transmitted orally. They ring in many a spiritual seekers’ memory with names like Isha, Kena, Katha, or Chandogya, and as a source of sacred knowledge. They were embedded in the Vedas – meaning ‘knowledge’ – which are old bodies of text formulated in Sanskrit between the 17th and 8th century BC in northwestern India. These Vedas are made of four collections of hymns – usually in verse – that form the basis of the Vedic religion, namely the Rg-Veda, the Yajurveda, the Samaveda, and the Atharvaveda. The community and domestic religious life in these ancient times revolved around complex ceremonies, which could easily last a day, a week, or sometimes even weeks or months. This vast literature is filled with cultic formulas, liturgical chants, mythological stories, praises to a God, magic hymns, commentaries, the purpose of which was most often to obtain favors from the Gods. The most important hymns were the ones to Agni, the fire in all its forms, to Soma, the drink of immortality and a special offering in any ritual act, to the Gods (Indra, Mitra, Varuna, and many others) or to nature (the Sun, the Earth, Heaven, Night, Dawn). They may also contain some early philosophical speculations.

What thing I am I do not know. 
I wander secluded, burdened by my mind. 
When the first-born of Truth has come to me 
I receive a share in that self-same Word
.”
~ Rig Veda, I.164.37

Discover and read the gems contained in the Upanishads… (READ MORE…)

 

Photo by Cornelia Kopp on Foter.com / CC BY-ND

Precious Little Remains

I have chosen to share with you here a few of the haiku-poems written by Ray Andrews, a friend from Wales. They are lovely little poems, making our heart soft, provoking here a smile, there some tenderness, taking you gently to a place in yourself where silence abides. They are, as one of Ray’s little haikus read, like “Precious little remains On the pathway To the sun”. I have married them with the evanescent photographs of Nicki Gwynn-Jones. Let them both be like little bubbles of meditation in ourself…

 

I gave my beloved
A wild rose
But did not realise
My heart would be the vase

 

A teardrop
Fell slowly
In an ocean
Of joy

 

786A6562-DF9F-4744-AE40-5CA95F1B8251Sometimes our hearts
Grow so much
They cease caring 
Who the owner is

 

 

 

 

 

When the lakes
Mirror surface is broken
No one in their right mind
Would try to repair it

 

Waves break
On the shoreline of ourselves
Sighing with relief
Into the sand

[…]

Enjoy many more of these poems and photographs… (READ MORE…)

 

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Bibliography:
– ‘Just Being One’ – by Ray Andrews (illustration by Anna Fraser) – (The Swirling Leaf Press)

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– “In the Dreamtime: A Meditation on the Flowers of Orkney” – by Nicki Gwynn-Jones – (Orcadian Ltd)

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