Four Songs of Non Duality: The Ashtavakra, Avadhut, Ribhu and Bhagavad Gitas by Roy Melvyn - Read Online
Four Songs of Non Duality
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Summary

Nonduality is a hard concept to grasp at first.
The most fundamental proposition is that ”I" exist, and all else in the universe is”not I". Our conditioned awareness also expresses itself as a judgmental spectrum with negative at one pole and positive at the other. In other words, our dualistic viewpoint -- which we take for granted -- is at the root of our divisiveness, dissatisfaction, and conflicting values; in short, of our unhappiness.
For millennia, teachers of nonduality have assured us that it is possible to transcend this limitation and thereby live in an awareness of dualities absence, which turns out to be: harmony, contentment and equanimity.
These four texts from the Hindu tradition clearly delineate the One Reality, That-Which-Is.
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Four Songs of Non Duality: The Ashtavakra, Avadhut, Ribhu and Bhagavad Gitas

Four Songs of Non Duality: The Ashtavakra, Avadhut, Ribhu and Bhagavad Gitas

By Roy Melvyn

Copyright 1998 Roy Melvyn

Introduction

Manifestation is duality; the world is duality. Consciousness and the objects of consciousness constitute duality.

However, there is something that serves to support all this. Whether it is called God, Awareness, the Absolute or any other name, it is the inherent Oneness from which every thing emerges and returns. it is Non-Dual.

Nonduality is a hard concept to grasp at first because the mind is trained to make distinctions in the world and nonduality is the rejection of distinction. Not to say that all differences are eliminated, merely transformed into relationships. Exploration is like a journey toward the understanding of truth and the desire for nonduality. Conclusions and explanations are drawn from every walk of life. There is something for everyone in the journey including beliefs from Judaism, Christianity, Islam, the Native American tradition, Hinduism and Buddhism.

The most fundamental proposition is that I exist, and all else in the universe is not I. While making practical distinctions, such as day and night, hot and cold, north and south, etc., our conditioned awareness also expresses itself as a judgmental spectrum with negative at one pole and positive at the other. And it ingrains a habitual mindset, a thought pattern, based inevitably on this kind of division, and the desire, fear, and actions that arise from it. In other words, our dualistic viewpoint -- which we take for granted -- is at the root of our divisiveness, dissatisfaction, and conflicting values; in short, of our unhappiness.

For millennia, teachers of nonduality, in traditions such as Buddhism, Taoism, Gnostic Christianity, and Advaita Vedanta, have assured us that it is possible to transcend the limitation of dualistic awareness, and thereby live in an awareness of dualities absence, which turns out to be: harmony, contentment and equanimity. Non-dual, of course, means not two; so, nonduality is the condition of Oneness as a living experience; the transcendence of our dualistically perceived unhappiness.

Non Dual awareness represents a shift in perspective. It is what results by the dissolution of the separative image of a self, an I, the concepts used to describe who we think we are.

At this juncture, I believe it is more appropriate to allow others to define the non-dual tan for me to continue the endeavor myself:

When the Ten Thousand things are viewed in their oneness, we return to Origin and remain where we have always been. [Sen T’sen]

As long as this ordinary I was present . . . everything I perceived was confused and hidden by that personality. Now that the everyday I had been put to one side I could see the world as it really was. And there was nothing trivial about its appearance: instead it was full of beauty and joy. [Rabindranath Tagore]

All is everywhere. Each is there All, and All is each. Man as he now is has ceased to be the All. But when he ceases to be an individual he raises himself again and penetrates the whole world. [Plotinus]

The more God is in all things, the more He is outside them. The more He is within, the more without. [Meister Eckhart]

The Atman is that by which the universe is pervaded, but which nothing pervades. [Shankara]

[The Principle] is in all things, but is not identical with beings, for it is neither differentiated nor limited. [Chuang Tzu]

The Beloved is all in all; the lover merely veils Him. [Jalal-uddin Rumi] 

Strictly speaking, there is no path to unity consciousness. Unity consciousness is not a particular experience among other experiences, not a big experience opposed to small experiences. . . . Rather, it is every wave of present experience just as it is. And how can you contact present experience? There is nothing but present experience, and there is definitely no path to that which already is. . . . It is for all these reasons that the true sages proclaim there is no path to the Absolute, no way to gain unity consciousness. . . . We won’t hold still long enough to understand our present condition. And in always looking elsewhere, we are actually moving away from the answer, in the sense that if we are always looking beyond, the essential understanding of the present condition will not unfold. . . .We are not really searching for the answer—we are fleeing it. ........................ You don’t look at the sky, you are the sky. Awareness is no longer split into a seeing subject in here and a seen object out there. There is just pure seeing. Consciousness and its display are not-two…The pure Emptiness of the Witness turns out to be one with every form that is witnessed, and that is one of the basic meanings of "nonduality. [Ken Wilber]

Your very existence has been delivered from all limitations; you have become open, light, and transparent. You gain an illuminating insight into the very nature of things which now appear to you as so many fairy-like flowers having no graspable realities. Here is manifested the unsophisticated self which is the original face of your being; here is shown all bare the most beautiful landscape of your birthplace. There is but one straight passage open and unobstructed through and through. This is so when you surrender all—your body, your life, and all that belongs to your inmost self. This is where you gain peace, ease, non-doing, and inexpressible delight. All the sutras and sastras are no more than communications of this fact; all the sages, ancient as well as modern, have exhausted their ingenuity and imagination to no other purpose than to point the way to this. [D.T. Suzuki]

To sum up, in nondual consciousness, consciousness has experientially accessed itsground nature, and is aware of itself as pure sentience, transcendent of subject-object distinctions, and present in all apparent subjects and objects.

As a consequence of stably experiencing its ground nature, consciousness has shed the sheath of egoic identity, becoming free of motivations, fears, and anxieties related to the body-based, conceptual construct of a separate and bounded self. Knowing itself as the unchanging substratum of the phenomenal world, consciousness imbues living with a profound equanimity amidst diverse events.

Free of the perplexing influence of dualistic mentality, the consciousness of the mystic engages the flow of life with intuitive spontaneity and cognitive clarity. In the absence of emotional negativity, the intrinsically loving and joyful qualities of consciousness form an affective base that informs life with an abiding sense of blessedness and identity with all that exists.

The Ashtavakra Gita

Introduction

Thousands of years ago, there was a king called Janaka, who believed that he had attained the highest knowledge. However, he was curious and wanted to know more despite being fully engaged in the regular duties of a king.

One evening he was holding court where his subjects were talking about their problems. Reports were being read from different parts of his kingdom (so it must have been a little boring). While listening to the reports, Janaka dozed off. In his sleep he saw a dream. He dreamt that his whole kingdom was flooded. There was a famine and loss of grains, fields and cattle. Everything was lost! He became a pauper and found himself roaming from street to street as hungry as ever! He wanted a piece of bread to eat. He asked everybody but nobody had it. Finally, somebody gave him a piece of dry bread.

There was a law or rule [dharma] for householders in those days. If someone else was present, they could not have food by themselves. First, they had to feed the person and then eat themselves. Since he had only one piece of bread, he was worried that he would have to share it if he met someone.

So he hid it under his robe. He found a place where there was nobody and, as he was about to eat it, an eagle flew down and snatched it out of his hand. At that moment he could not tolerate it and shouted, Haaaah! When he shouted, he woke up and realized that he was In the court which was full of people! He could still feel the hunger. Maybe it was dinner time. But then he got confused. Which was real? He wondered if he was dreaming. Was the dream real or was the court real?’ He became concerned about this. What is reality?

He was one who could never let go of questions very easily. So) he assembled all the scholars of the kingdom and asked them for a solution to his problem. Their solution did not satisfy him, and he was troubled by it for several days. Then someone told him that there was a man called Ashtavakra who could be approached for a resolution of his problem.

Ashtavakra’s body was bent in eight places, i.e. he had eight deformities. His legs were uneven - one was long and the other was short. There were eight knots in his body. That was why he was named Ashtavakra. It meant, ‘a man with eight knots or eight bends in his body’. Ashtavakra was a brhama jnani knower of the Brhama. He was invited to the court of King Janaka.

A conversation took place between Janaka and Ashtavakra. This is the most unique conversation that has ever taken place on this planet. This discussion between then) is a unique phenomenon! On one side was King Janaka, enjoying the peak of life, wanting to know about the self and reality, and on the other side was Ashtavakra who had risen to the pinnacle of existence, telling what reality is. This is called the Ashtavakra Gita. Gita means a song and Ashtavakra Gita is the song of Ashtavakra. Krishna gave the Gita to Arjuna in the battlefield amidst all the chaos. King Janaka was given the knowledge in his royal residence in a very peaceful environment.

Ashtavakra was brought to the palace with all honours. Many people were skeptical about him and his appearance. They wondered how he was going to reveal the highest knowledge to the king. But Janaka was a perceptive person. He could recognize the glow in Ashtavakra; the light. It is very difficult for people to recognize truth and reality.

They recognize pomp and splendor because they can just see the outer shine. They are unable to see the light or life which is beyond; which is beneath; which is deep inside.

The Ashtavakra Gita examines the mind, ego, and the self with the unparalleled insight and depth. It asks and answers the questions:

·         How can I gain knowledge?

·         How can I attain freedom?

·         How can I cultivate dispassion?

It states that there is no such thing as existence or non existence, right or wrong, or moral or immoral. One's true identity can be found by simply recognizing oneself as Pure Existence and that as individuals we are the Awareness of all things.

This Gita advocates non-action, as in the Daoist concept of wu wei, the loss of desire and severing of worldly attachments. It paints a picture of one who has attained as someone who continues to keep up their responsibilities in the world, not because they believe they have to or due to any worldly attachments, but simply that it is in their nature to do so.

Text

Janaka said:

How is one to acquire knowledge? How is one to attain liberation? And how is one to reach dispassion? Tell me this, sir. 1.1

Ashtavakra said:

If you are seeking liberation, my son, avoid the objects of the senses like poison and cultivate tolerance, sincerity, compassion, contentment, and truthfulness as the antidote. 1.2

You do not consist of any of the elements -- earth, water, fire, air, or even ether. To be liberated, know yourself as consisting of consciousness, the witness of these. 1.3

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. 1.4

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.