Steady Wisdom: Day 82

Steady Wisdom: 108 Verses On Changing My Thinking

DAY 82

The body comes and goes. Since I am the self that neither comes nor goes, there is no reason to mourn. 
-Ashtavakra Samhita 15:9

The fact that I can say, “The body comes, goes and changes” proves that I, the witness of the body, do not come, go or change.  I must exist prior to the thought, “Here is the body” because if I came into existence along with the thought of the body I would be unaware of the thought’s previous non-existence owing to the fact that I too would have been previously non-existent (and therefore not present to recognize the arising of the thought of the body).  By the same logic, I must exist after any particular thought of the body otherwise I would disappear along with the thought (and therefore not be present to recognize the disappearance of that particular thought of the body). 

Nor do I change when the body changes, such as when the body changes from childhood to adulthood.  Because if I were identical with the changing body, then when the childhood body changed into the adult body (and thus no longer existed) I too would no longer exist.  And a non-existence entity would not be present and able to say, “Now here is my adult body.”

So unlike the body, I do not come, go or change.  I am ever-present and immutable.  OM. 

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Steady Wisdom: Day 79

Steady Wisdom: 108 Verses On Changing My Thinking

DAY 79

For me who am ever liberated, pure, changeless, immortal and indestructible there is no hunger, thirst, grief, delusion, old age or death.  For I am bodiless and all pervasive like the either.
-Upadesha Sahasri 13:3-4 (Metrical)

The body appears in me, all-pervasive consciousness-existence, like an object appearing in space.  Just as space is untouched by the inherent defects of objects, I am untainted by the inherent defects of the body such as hunger, thirst, etc.  I do not need to be liberated from the body because I was never bound by it—for how could I be bound by an unreal appearance?  The unreal appearance called “body” is mortal and subject to destruction.  This much is obvious.  What is also obvious is that because I am unaffected by the appearance of the body, I immortal and indestructible.  OM. 

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Self-inquiry for busy people

Ava: If I don’t know the self, how can I become established in its point of view?  

Vishnu: By being taught scripture. It tells you about the nature of self (which is just your true nature), it tells you the self’s ‘point of view’ (which is really just your true point of view) and then shows you how to think from that point of view until you directly realize that it’s already your own point of view (and always has been).  

The scripture tells you that you, the self, are the limitless, non-dual, ever-present, eternal, unchanging ‘witness’ of everything. You lack nothing and aren’t affected by anything. In other words, you are completely okay at all times and in all circumstances.

Taking into account what the scripture says about your true nature, examine your fears and desires. If you lacking nothing, are your unnecessary desires warranted? If you are unchanging is there any reason to hang on to unreasonable fears? This is one way to take the ‘point of view’ of the self.

Another way is to remember the scripture’s assertion that you are the unchanging, ever-present reality in which all objects appear, objects being any aspect of external experience (people, places, things) or internal experience (thoughts, emotions, memories). Since you are that in which the objects appear, like a movie screen in which images appear, you cannot be the objects that appear in you, the same way that a movie screen is never the images projected onto it. 

Since you are unchanging, you cannot be an ever-changing object. Since you are ever-present, you cannot be a transient object. Applying this logic to your everyday experience on a moment-to-moment basis is another way of taking the ‘point of view’ of the self. It is called the discrimination (viveka) between the self (atma) and the ‘not-self’ (anatma), or atma anatma viveka. It is continuously distinguishing oneself—unchanging ‘witnessing’ consciousness—from objects. 

Ava: How can I be in the self when I’m surrounded by friends, family, work etc. and not just when I’m by myself?  

Vishnu: It just takes practice. It’s like learning to ride a bike. First you have to have a strong desire.  Otherwise you won’t have the will to get back on the bike when you fall off. Then you simply get on the bike, fall off, get back on and fall off again and again until you develop the ability remain perfectly balanced and ride. After a while, it becomes so second nature to ride the bike that it doesn’t require as much effort. You may even be able to take your hands off of the handlebars!

With Vedanta, you also need a strong desire, specifically the unyielding desire (mumukshutva) for liberation (moksha). Without this, it’s difficult to muster up the effort required to bring the mind back to the point of view of the self when it gets distracted. You simply have to try, get distracted, try and get distracted again and again until the mind remains firmly established in the point of view of the self.

Although thinking from this point of view starts to become second nature, unlike the bike example, don’t be tempted to take your hands off the handlebars of inquiry, so to speak. Self-ignorance is persistent and tricky so if you stop paying attention to it before it’s fully rooted out, it will come right back.

Finally, looking at your initial question from the point of view of the self, ask yourself this: If I am already the self, how you can I ever not be in the self?

Ava: This isn’t coming naturally for me.  It takes effort and concentration which hard to do when I’m busy non-stop and don’t have time to reflect on it.

V: Again, it takes no effort to be in the self because you are the self. It is the most natural thing there is. The hard part is to see that this is true.  When it’s not clear that you already are the self, a lot of effort is required to conduct dedicated self-inquiry, and no, this does not come naturally. It just takes hard work, plain and simple.

Still, it helps to take an objective look at your life and find out if there are people or activities that are needlessly taking up your time (and thus distracting you from inquiry). You might be surprised. Keep only what is essential, get rid of the rest. Whatever is essential, do with a positive attitude.  And do it for it’s own sake, not getting overly concerned with the result.  

Ava: Can people really get self-knowledge when they don’t have a peaceful environment to do self-inquiry?  

V: Absolutely, assuming you are properly qualified—meaning mentally prepared—because self-inquiry is meant to go on at all times and in all situations. It is equally important in times of quiet contemplation as it is in times of stress. In the scriptures there are many examples of enlightened people who had families and busy lives.

So, in no uncertain terms, let me repeat that moksha is possible for any qualified person irrespective of their life circumstances.

And not to put too fine a point on it, saying “I’m too busy for self-inquiry” only means, “I’m not serious about self-inquiry.”  Why?  Because people always make time for what is most important to them.  


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Steady Wisdom: Day 76

Steady Wisdom: 108 Verses On Changing My Thinking

DAY 76

I am the limitless ocean of consciousness.  Although the appearance of the world arises in me, I remain formless and fully at peace.
– Ashtavakra Samhita 7:3

Like water remaining inherently formless despite assuming various forms like waves, clouds or mist, I, consciousness, remain inherently formless despite assuming various forms such as the body, mind and world.  Untouched by these forms, I remain fully at peace.  OM. 

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Steady Wisdom: Day 75

Steady Wisdom: 108 Verses On Changing My Thinking

DAY 75

I am infinite like space and the universe is like a jar, appearing in me but not limiting or dividing me in any way.  Knowing this, there is nothing to be renounced, accepted or destroyed. 
-Ashtavakra Samhita 6:1

The universe is a collection of mutually limiting objects that are subject to division and change.  But because the universe appears in me, consciousness-existence, like a jar appearing in space, I am not subject to the limitations or divisions of the ever-changing objects in any way.  I am ever-free and ever the same, in the presence or absence of objects.  What then needs to be renounced, accepted or destroyed?  All is well, just as it is.  OM. 

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