Instruction on Self-realization — Ashtavakra Gita —
Introduction

The Ashtavakra Gita is an instruction for achieving
the self-realization.

Know you are one,
Pure awareness. (1.9)

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Introduction

Vedic Sage Ashtavakra
Vedic Sage Ashtavakra
(19th-century painting)

The text is an instruction for achieving the self-realization and Oneness.

The Ashtavakra Gita is a short treatise ascribed to the great sage Ashtavakra.

It was composed before the common era, most likely between 500-400BC. Though some claim it was written later, either in the eighth century by a follower of Shankara, or as late as the fourteenth century during a resurgence of Shankara's teaching.

It is written as a dialogue between King Janaka, the father of Sita, and his guru, Ashtavakra.

The Ashtavakra Gita elucidates the meaning of the Supreme Reality, Brahman, the self and Atman (Self, soul) and Maya ("an illusion where things appear to be present but are not what they seem").

Very little is definitely known about Ashtavakra. His name literally means "eight bends", indicating the eight physical handicaps he was born with.

The moral here is that even the ugliest form is filled with God's radiance. The body is nothing, the Self is everything.

The Ashtavakra Gita is an ancient spiritual document of great purity and power.

The goal of every word in the Ashtavakra Gita is to trigger Self-realization.

What is Self-realization?

"Self-realization is the knowing – in body, mind, and soul –
that we are one with the omnipresence of God;
that we do not have to pray that it come to us,
that we are not merely near it at all times,
but that God's omnipresence is our omnipresence;
that we are just as much a part of Him now as we ever will be.
All we have to do is improve our knowing."

Paramahansa Yogananda

 

Self-realization is yoga or "oneness" with truth — the direct perception or experience of truth
by the all-knowing intuitive faculty of the soul.

Paramahansa Yogananda

 

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The Ashtavakra Gita talks to us directly, to our hearts. One thing it tells you:

You are the Pure Existence (~ Tat Tvam Asi ~ ).

You’re God.

It’s as good as meditation, ... read it.

You see a face of God in this text.

My nature is light,
Nothing but light.
When the world arises
I alone am shining. (2.8)

It speaks to reality inside you.
It’s not for thinking about because it’s beyond mind.

Be a Witness (Atman):
We always try to improve ourselves by adding or subtracting something from ourselves. "I need to be more spiritual through prayer, meditation, good deeds, being selfless, and kind." Or "I'll get rid of things that I think are bad for me: restlessness..."

Ashtavakra tells you that you are already pure and perfect.
You don’t need to add anything to that.
And you don’t need to give up anything.
Don’t misunderstand that... you still need to improve your life through meditation etc.

The universe is you.
The universe arises from you.

Detachment but the entire universe is arising in you, you’re not apart of that. You can’t experience anything outside your own consciousness. What you experience (see) is you yourself.

How do I abide in Pure Consciousness?

— You already abide in Pure Consciousness – the problem is that you get mix up with the mind that thinks 'I have to abide as Pure Consciousness'.

Abiding in Pure Consciousness is... noting... that in every experience of life... bad or good, it is the same Pure Consciousness that shines through all of them. All experiences are experienced in that One light.

We think we need time because masters meditated years to achieve Samadhi.

How long it takes a wave to 'realize' it is water?

It happens instantly!

How long it would take you to realize you're God?

It happens instantly!

Himalayan master:"You, the Pure Consciousness, know yourself to be Pure Consciousness. Don’t think yourself to be the Pure Consciousness. It’s the mind thinking "I want to be the Pure Consciousness" but the mind never could be the Pure Consciousness.

The Pure Consciousness is you, all the time and you cannot be anything else." (SS)

Set your body aside.
Sit in your own awareness.
You will at once be happy,
Forever still,
Forever free. (1.4)

This is a text which cannot be understood through intellectual brilliance or by mere scholarship. It can only be understood through the heart, by an intuitive spiritual experience. Out of the total 298 stanzas almost each one of them is an independent Bliss-capsule, self-sufficient and capable of taking one to the ultimate destination by itself.


"...All we have to do is improve our knowing." ~ PY

 

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We are all one Self.
The Self is pure awareness.
This Self, this flawless awareness is God.
There is only God.

Everything else is an illusion: the little self, the world, the universe. All these things arise with the thought 'I', that is, with the idea of separate identity. The little 'I' invents the material world, which in our ignorance we strive hard to sustain. Forgetting our original oneness, bound tightly in our imaginary separateness, we spend our lives mastered by a specious sense of purpose and value. Endlessly constrained by our habit of individuation, the creature of preference and desire, we continually set one thing against another, until the mischief and misery of choice consume us. ...

Be happy. Love yourself. Don't judge others. Forgive. Always be simple. Don't make distinctions. Give up the habit of choice. Let the mind dissolve. Give up preferring and desiring. Desire only your own awareness. Give up identifying with the body and the senses. Give up your attachment to meditation and service. Give up your attachment to detachment.

Give up giving up! Reject nothing, accept nothing.

Be still.

But above all, be happy. In the end, you will find yourself just by knowing how things are. ...

The heart of Ashtavakra's advice is not to give up our practice, but to abandon our strenuous indolence.

Striving is the root of sorrow, he says. But who understands this?

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Ashtavakra Gita is a unique treatise on the Non-dualistic (Advaita) philosophy which guarantees to transport a seeker instantaneously by a direct path from time to eternity, from the relative to the Absolute and from bondage to liberation (Mukti / Moksha). There is no pre-requisite, no rituals, no control of breath (Pranayama) or thoughts, no Japa or chanting of sacred syllables and not even any meditation or contemplation. It is all an effortless quantum flight to the ultimate goal (Moksha).

One second, you are here on what you consider as the terra firma of the phenomenal world and the next you find yourself in a summit of timelessness and bliss, where both the world and yourself are dissolved into nothingness. “When ‘I’ ceased to exist, there was liberation and so long as ‘I’ existed, there was only bondage.” Ashtavakra does not lay down any pre-condition or prior qualification. There is neither any cultivation of particular qualities nor any renunciation of existing conditioning.

It is just Being and no becoming.

My child,
You may read or discuss scripture
As much as you like.
But until you forget everything,
You will never live in your heart. (16.1)

According to Ashtavakra, one could get instant liberation and bliss if only one were to separate oneself from the body and remain effortlessly resting in pure Consciousness.


"...All we have to do is improve our knowing." ~ PY

 

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The aim is realization of the Truth and not a rational defence of the same. The Self alone is real and all not-Self is appearance. The false identification of the Self with the not-Self is the cause of bondage. Bondage is thus due to ignorance of the real nature of the Self and freedom is attained as soon as the ignorance disappears on the dawn of self-realization. The disappearance of ignorance automatically entails the disappearance of the not-self, which is its product. The existence of an other is the cause of all our worry and unhappiness.

When the Self is realized as the only reality, difference and distinction vanish like the mist before the sun and freedom is attained. In point of fact freedom is the very essence of the Self and loss of freedom is only a case of forgetting.

To the question of Janaka as to how can freedom be achieved, the answer given by Ashtavakra is simple.

If you wish to be free,
Know you are the Self,
The witness of all these,
The heart of awareness. (1.3)

Alternative translation:

“Know the Self as Pure consciousness,
the unaffected witness of the phenomenal world,
and you will be free” (1.3).

In reality the Self is always free and freedom is not attained, but simply realized and discovered. The impediment to self-realization and freedom is our pre-occupation with the objective world, which inevitably leads to conflict of interests and consequently to feud, jealousy, revenge and moral depravity. ...

The inward diversion of the mind will enable the aspirant to realize his independence and detachment from the network of relations, which constitute the phenomenal world. So long as the mind sees another self, there is bondage. Freedom consists in seeing nothing but the Self in everything. The Self is the Brahman, the undivided and undifferentiated Consciousness-Existence-Bliss [Sat-Chit-Ananda] and is not to be confounded with the ego. The ego is consciousness limited and distorted by the mind as light is distorted by the prism. As soon as a person effects his liberation from the snares of the ego, he becomes Supreme Bliss, to which there is no limit.


"...All we have to do is improve our knowing." ~ PY

 

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[* Quotes above are from Thomas Byrom, Paramahansa Yogananda, Swami Sarvapriyananda, and Swami Shantananda Puri.]

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