A Conversation with Ashtavakra Pt.44

Read Part 43 / Ask a Question / Support End of Knowledge
Ashtavakra said:
18:87 – Blessed is the wise one who stands alone, who is attached to nothing, who is without any possession, who moves freely and at pleasure, who is free from the pairs of opposites, and whose doubts have been rent asunder.

Once you get enlightened, you should give away all your possession, leave your home and wander about aimlessly.    

Actually, I’m just kidding.  If your doubts have “been rent asunder (removed),” meaning you’ve realized that you’re the self that “stands alone” (exists independently) and is attached to nothing (not affected by the body-mind or external circumstances), it doesn’t matter how your body-mind lives. 

This verse highlights the monastic bias of the author.  Being a monk is suitable for some, while living like a normal person is suitable for others.  Either way is fine depending on the temperament of the person.  This verse should be understood in that context. 

18:88 – Glorious is the wise one who is devoid of the feelings of “mine,” to whom earth, a stone and gold are all the same, the knots of whose heart have been rent asunder, and who has been purged of rajas and tamas.

As in verse 67 above, such a person would indeed be glorious.  But to the one with non-dual vision to whom “earth, a stone and gold are all the same,” wouldn’t the presence of rajas*, tamas* or the feeling of “mine” in the mind be the same as their absence? Yes. This understanding is key because as I’ve pointed out, the mind will always retain some sense of “mine” because it’s essential to functioning in everyday life (despite being ultimately unreal).  And as the Bhagavad Gita (a key Vedanta text) points out in verse 14:23 , rajas and tamas will always be present in the mind to some degree.  But they are never present in you, the self.      

*See Bhagavad Gita Chapter 14 for a more detailed description of rajas and tamas.  For now, in this context, rajas is desire, agitation and activity.  And tamas is dullness, inertia and ignorance. 

18:89 – Who is there to stand in comparison with the liberated soul who has no desire whatsoever at heart, who is contented and indifferent to everything?

Possibly no one because it’s unlikely that such person exists, unless by “liberated soul” the author is referring directly to the self, which is always free from desire, malcontent and care. 

If he’s referring directly to the self, there’s nothing for it to stand in comparison to because the self is non-dual and comparison is only possible between two different things.  If the author is referring to an enlightened person, I’d argue that comparison between the enlightened and the unenlightened isn’t productive because the point of enlightenment is to see that you’re not a person.  And by extension, to be free from the pain of comparing yourself to other people and trying to be different, rather than just accepting yourself as the perfect, limitless reality that you are.   

18:90 – Who but the desireless one knows not though knowing, sees not though seeing, and speaks not though speaking?

In other words, who but the self knows not though knowing etc.?  No one, because there’s nothing but the self. 

18:91 – Whether they be a mendicant or a king, the one who is unattached and whose view of things has been freed from the sense of good and evil excels.

Your body-mind can be a beggar with nothing or a king with everything.  But this doesn’t matter when your vision (understanding) has been freed from the sense of good and evil (duality). 

Read Part 43 / Ask a Question / Support End of Knowledge