Here is a collection of verses I have taken from Shankara’s Masterpiece Vivekachudamani focusing on the last step in the path to liberation, namely meditation or Nididhyasana, which as we shall see culminates in Samadhi.
In Vivekachudamani, the entire path to Moksha (Liberation), in which suffering is totally removed, is set out for us. Not only is the entire path explained in detail, but repetition of almost every point is made again and again to ensure that the meaning is clearly imparted and cannot be misunderstood. This text has been approved and recommended by all the great Advaita sages over the centuries, including Bhagavn Sri Ramana Maharshi who translated the entire work into Tamil for those around him who could not read the original Sanskrit.
The path starts with the seeker of liberation burdened with suffering approaching a self-realised teacher. The teacher then gives the verbal/conceptual teaching (sravana) and then contemplating upon these teaching (manana) the seeker is led to a direct realisation of truth. At this point we are only half way through the text – why is that? Because, as the traditional scriptures tell us, once the truth has been explained and realised, we then need to meditate.
So Shankara proceeds to explain that meditation upon this truth is required even after it is realised. Why? Because the habitual tendency (vasana) to identify as an individual doer and experiencer keeps on arising, and this seems to make the realisation waver and come and go, which only leads to more suffering. These habitual tendencies needs to be rooted out in order to prevent the realisation from (appearing to) come and go.
I have added headings to break up the text by theme and topic. As usual, my comments are interspersed in italiscised red, and I have added bold type where I thought a particular phrase was of particular interest – I hope you find these additions to be of assistance.
The guru has already given the main conceptual teaching in the first half of the text, introducing the main concepts and giving the seeker a basic realisation of what is being pointed at. Now the guru proceeds with further instruction, as follows:
267. Even after the Truth has been realised, there remains that strong, beginningless, obstinate impression that one is the agent [or doer] and experiencer, which is the cause of one’s transmigration. It has to be carefully removed by living in a state of constant identification with the Supreme Self. Sages call that Liberation which is the attenuation [or annihilation] of Vasanas (impressions) here and now.
The term ‘vasanatanavam’ can also be be translated as annihilation of vasanas and is consistent with Shankara’s declaration that Moksha is the cessation of vasanas.
How to meditate
Here, in a series of earlier verses, the basic technique of meditation is given. We can see we are to meditate upon ourselves as being Brahman, which is eternal, ever-present, timeless, beyond all names and forms, and which is the Source of all. It, being formless, cannot be known by the intellect or sense organs. It is unmoving, unchanging, causeless, non-dual, needs no other support and has no parts or components.
254. That which is beyond caste and creed, family and lineage; devoid of name and form, merit and demerit; transcending space, time and sense-object – that Brahman art thou, meditate on this in thy mind.
255. That Supreme Brahman which is beyond the range of all speech, but accessible to the eye of pure illumination; which is pure, the Embodiment of Knowledge, the beginningless entity – that Brahman art thou, meditate on this in thy mind.
256. That which is untouched by the sixfold wave; meditated upon by the Yogi’s heart, but not grasped by the sense-organs; which the Buddhi [intellect] cannot know; and which is unimpeachable – that Brahman art thou, meditate on this in thy mind.
257. That which is the substratum of the universe with its various subdivisions, which are all creations of delusion; which Itself has no other support; which is distinct from the gross and subtle; which has no parts, and has verily no exemplar – that Brahman art thou, meditate on this in thy mind.
258. That which is free from birth, growth, development, waste, disease and death; which is indestructible; which is the cause of the projection, maintenance and dissolution of the universe – that Brahman art thou, meditate on this in thy mind.
259. That which is free from differentiation; whose essence is never non-existent; which is unmoved like the ocean without waves; the ever-free; of indivisible Form – that Brahman art thou, meditate on this in thy mind.
260. That which, though One only, is the cause of the many; which refutes all other causes, but is Itself without cause; distinct from Maya and its effect, the universe; and independent – that Brahman art thou, meditate on this in thy mind.
261. That which is free from duality; which is infinite and indestructible; distinct from the universe and Maya, supreme, eternal; which is undying Bliss; taintless – that Brahman art thou, meditate on this in thy mind.
262. That Reality which (though One) appears variously owing to delusion, taking on names and forms, attributes and changes, Itself always unchanged, like gold in its modifications – that Brahman art thou, meditate on this in thy mind.
263. That beyond which there is nothing; which shines even above Maya, which again is superior to its effect, the universe; the inmost Self of all, free from differentiation; the Real Self, the Existence-Knowledge-Bliss Absolute; infinite and immutable – that Brahman art thou, meditate on this in thy mind.
What obstructs self-realisation?
The basic theory which will be later expanded upon is given here:
275. The desire for Self-realisation is obscured by innumerable desires for things other than the Self. When they have been destroyed by the constant attachment to the Self, the Atman clearly manifests Itself of Its own accord.
276. As the mind becomes gradually established in the Inmost Self, it proportionately gives up the desires for external objects. And when all such desires have been eliminated, there takes place the unobstructed realisation of the Atman.
277. The Yogi’s mind dies, being constantly fixed on his own Self. Thence follows the cessation of desires. Therefore do away with thy superimposition.
The death of the mind is known as ‘manonasa’ in Sanskrit and is tantamount to Self-Realisation.
We can see that here the obstacles pointed out are relating to:
(1) the body
(2) the mind (reading scriptures) and
(3) the world (social status and the like):
270. Relinquishing the observance of social formalities, giving up all ideas of trimming up the body, and avoiding too mush engrossment with the Scriptures, do away with the superimposition that has come upon thyself.
271. Owing to the desire to run after society, the passion for too much study of the Scriptures and the desire to keep the body in good trim, people cannot attain to proper Realisation.
The Three Gunas
Here, in one single verse, is a wonderful and powerful teaching. For more on this teaching and how it can help your spiritual practice see here. In essence, this teaching shows us how we can develop a sattvic or peaceful and intelligent mind, which in turns helps us on our (apparent) path to Moksha.
278. Tamas is destroyed by both Sattva and Rajas, Rajas by Sattva, and Sattva dies when purified. Therefore do way with thy superimposition through the help of Sattva.
Faith in Destiny
Here is an important teaching that tells us not to worry about the body as it will be maintained by Prarabdha Karma (or destiny). ‘Know for certain’, this verse proclaims, that the body will be maintained and do not be afraid to be quiet and patiently engage with your meditation:
279. Knowing for certain that the Prarabdha work will maintain this body, remain quiet and do away with thy superimposition carefully and with patience.
In simple terms the macrocosm refers to the universe-world and the microcosm refers to the body-mind. Both should be renounced:
289. Becoming thyself the self-effulgent Brahman, the substratum of all phenomena – as that Reality give up both the macrocosm and the microcosm, like two filthy receptacles.
Identify as Atman (The Self)
The subtle body refers to all subtle phenomena collectively such as thoughts, feelings and other inward phenomena, what we would often call the mind. The gross body refers to the physical body.
290. Transferring the identification now rooted in the body to the Atman, the Existence-Knowledge-Bliss Absolute, and discarding the subtle body, be thou ever alone, independent.
291. That in which there is this reflection of the universe, as of a city in a mirror – that Brahman art thou; knowing this thou wilt attain the consummation of thy life.
When the body, mind and world are no longer present, as in deep dreamless sleep, You, as Brahman, still are. Therefore the essence of you is said below to be different from the gross and subtle bodies (ie. body and mind).
294. But the real ‘I” is that which witnesses the ego and the rest. It exists always, even in the state of profound sleep. The Shruti itself says, “It is birthless, eternal”, etc. Therefore the Paramatman is different from the gross and subtle bodies.
Renouce the body & ego-mind
Here it is stated that the body (gross body) and ego-mind (subtle body) are both creations of the intellect (Buddhi):
296. Therefore give up the identification with this lump of flesh, the gross body, as well as with the ego or the subtle body, which are both imagined by the Buddhi. Realising thy own Self, which is Knowledge Absolute and not to be denied in the past, present or future, attain to Peace.
The previous verse instructs us to give up (1) the body and (2) the ego-mind
Now characteristics of the body are given in the first half of verse 297 and characteristic of the mind are given in the 2nd half of the same verse:
297. Cease to identify thyself with the family, lineage, name, form and the order of life, which pertain to the body that is like a rotten corpse (to a man of realisation). Similarly, giving up ideas of agency and so forth, which are attributes of the subtle body, be the Essence of Bliss Absolute.
Egotism is the primal ignorance and cause of suffering
298. Other obstacles are also observed to exist for men, which lead to transmigration. The root of them, for the above reasons, is the first modification of Nescience [or ignorance] called egoism.
299. So long as one has any relation to this wicked ego, there should not be the least talk about Liberation, which is unique.
3 steps are given to liberation in the next verse:
(1) the cessation of egotism, which is the notion ‘I am a body-mind’ (2) the cessation of the mental waves or egoic vasanas that result from egotism – I often think of this as the movement of the ego or the ego in motion, and (3) discerning Brahman and knowing ‘I am That’:
304. Through the complete cessation of egoism, through the stoppage of the diverse mental waves due to it, and through the discrimination of the inner Reality, one realises that Reality as “I am This”.
305. Give up immediately thy identification with egoism, the agent, which is by its nature a modification, is endued with a reflection of the Self, and diverts one from being established in the Self – identifying thyself with which thou hast come by this relative existence, full of the miseries of birth, decay and death, though thou art the Witness, the Essence of Knowledge and Bliss Absolute.
306. But for thy identification with that egoism there can never be any transmigration for thee who art immutable and eternally the same, the Knowledge Absolute, omnipresent, the Bliss Absolute, and of untarnished glory.
308. Checking the activities of egoism etc., and giving up all attachment through the realisation of the Supreme Reality, be free from all duality through the enjoyment of the Bliss of Self, and remain quiet in Brahman, for thou hast attained thy infinite nature.
Do not even think of sense-objects
The cause of downfall on the spiritual path is thinking of sense objects:
310. Overpowering this enemy, egoism, not a moment’s respite should be given to it by thinking on the sense-objects. That is verily the cause of its coming back to life, like water to a citron tree that has almost dried up.
311. He alone who has identified himself with the body is greedy after sense-pleasures. How can one, devoid of the body-idea, be greedy (like him) ? Hence the tendency to think on the sense-objects is verily the cause of the bondage of transmigration, giving rise to an idea of distinction or duality.
Both egoic desire & egoic action should be destroyed
Counter-intuitively, the teaching here is that by reducing the effects, the cause is also removed. ie. by reducing egoic actions, egoic desire is reduced. Conversely this teaching states if we engage in egoic actions, egoic desire increases. Therefore cease self-centred actions:
312. When the effects are developed, the seed also is observed to be such, and when the effects are destroyed, the seed also is seen to be destroyed. Therefore one must subdue the effects.
313. Through the increase of desires selfish work increases, and when there is an increase of selfish work, there is an increase of desire also. And man’s transmigration is never at an end.
314. For the sake of breaking the chain of transmigration, the Sannyasin should burn to ashes those two; for thinking of the sense-objects and doing selfish acts lead to an increase of desires.
317. With the cessation of selfish action the brooding on the sense-objects is stopped, which is followed by the destruction of desires. The destruction of desires is Liberation, and this is considered as Liberation-in-life.
Desire realisation of Brahman
Usually the desire for sense objects is greater than the desire for Brahman or Realisation. When this state of affairs reverses, then Brahman-Realisation is easy:
318. When the desire for realising Brahman has a marked manifestation, the egoistic desires readily vanish, as the most intense darkness effectively vanishes before the glow of the rising sun.
Misery ends upon Realisation
319. Darkness and the numerous evils that attend on it are not noticed when the sun rises. Similarly, on the realisation of the Bliss Absolute, there is neither bondage nor the least trace of misery.
A warning repeated again and again to drive the point home:
320. Causing the external and internal universe, which are now perceived, to vanish, and meditating on the Reality, the Bliss Embodied, one should pass one’s time watchfully, if there be any residue of Prarabdha work left.
321. One should never be careless in one’s steadfastness to Brahman. Bhagavan Sanatkumara, who is Brahma’s son, has called inadvertence to be death itself.
322. There is no greater danger for the Jnani than carelessness about his own real nature. From this comes delusion, thence egoism, this is followed by bondage, and then comes misery.
323. Finding even a wise man hankering after the sense-objects, oblivion torments him through the evil propensities of the Buddhi, as a woman does her doting paramour.
324. As sedge, even if removed, does not stay away for a moment, but covers the water again, so Maya or Nescience also covers even a wise man, if he is averse to meditation on the Self.
Another beautiful metaphor here or a ball falling down a staircase to further illustrate the warning of swerving away from Self Abidance:
325. If the mind ever so slightly strays from the Ideal and becomes outgoing, then it goes down and down, just as a play-ball inadvertently dropped on the staircase bounds down from one step to another.
326. The mind that is attached to the sense-objects reflects on their qualities; from mature reflection arises desire, and after desiring a man sets about having that thing.
327. Hence to the discriminating knower of Brahman there is no worse death than inadvertence with regard to concentration. But the man who is concentrated attains complete success. (Therefore) carefully concentrate thy mind (on Brahman).
Distinction or duality gives rise to fear & terror
Like in verses 310 & 311, thinking of sense-objects is said to be the root of downfall on the spiritual path:
329. Therefore one should give up reflecting on the sense-objects, which is the root of all mischief. He who is completely aloof even while living, is alone aloof after the dissolution of the body. The Yajur-Veda declares that there is fear for one who sees the least bit of distinction.
330. Whenever the wise man sees the least difference in the infinite Brahman, at once that which he sees as different through mistake, becomes a source of terror to him.
Do not identify with the unreal
The universe is initially stated to be unreal. We are advised not to identify with that which is unreal – ie. do not identify with objects in the universe, ie. do not identify as the body-mind:
331. He who identifies himself with the objective universe which has been denied by hundreds of Shrutis, Smritis and reasonings, experiences misery after misery, like a thief, for he does something forbidden.
332. He who has devoted himself to meditation on the Reality (Brahman) and is free from Nescience, attains to the eternal glory of the Atman. But he who dwells on the unreal (the universe) is destroyed. That this is so is evidenced in the case of one who is not a thief and one who is a thief.
333. The Sannyasin should give up dwelling on the unreal, which causes bondage, and should always fix his thoughts on the Atman as “I myself am This”. For the steadfastness in Brahman through the realisation of one’s identity with It gives rise to bliss and thoroughly removes the misery born of nescience, which one experiences (in the ignorant state).
Here it is stated dwelling on objects increases egoic desire and actions. Instead discern what you are and meditate upon that ceaselessly:
334. The dwelling on external objects will only intensify its fruits, viz. furthering evil propensities, which grow worse and worse. Knowing this through discrimination, one should avoid external objects and constantly apply oneself to meditation on the Atman.
335. When the external world is shut out, the mind is cheerful, and cheerfulness of the mind brings on the vision of the Paramatman. When It is perfectly realised, the chain of birth and death is broken. Hence the shutting out of the external world is the steppingstone to Liberation.
336. Where is the man who being learned, able to discriminate the real from the unreal, believing the Vedas as authority, fixing his gaze on the Atman, the Supreme Reality, and being a seeker after Liberation, will, like a child, consciously have recourse to the unreal (the universe) which will cause his fall ?
Just as you cannot be asleep and awake at the same time, because these are mutually exclusive states of being, similarly one cannot be liberated and also have attachment to or identification with the body:
337. There is no Liberation for one who has attachment to the body etc., and the liberated man has no identification with the body etc. The sleeping man is not awake, nor is the waking man asleep, for these two states are contradictory in nature.
The universe is the Self
A new theme is introduced here, namely that the universe is Self. How does one realise this? Through Samadhi. First the Self is said to be known in both moving and unmoving things, and then, in verse 339, that the whole universe is the Self:
338. He is free who, knowing through his mind the Self in moving and unmoving objects and observing It as their substratum, gives up all superimpositions and remains as the Absolute and the infinite Self.
339. To realise the whole universe as the Self is the means of getting rid of bondage. There is nothing higher than identifying the universe with the Self. One realises this state by excluding the objective world through steadfastness in the eternal Atman.
340. How is the exclusion of the objective world possible for one who lives identified with the body, whose mind is attached to the perception of external objects, and who performs various acts for that end ? This exclusion should be carefully practised by sages who have renounced all kinds of duties and actions and objects, who are passionately devoted to the eternal Atman, and who wish to possess an undying bliss.
How to realise the Universe is Self?
The previous verses boldly state that the entire Universe is nothing but the Self and that this can be realised by ‘exclusion of the objective world’. Here this is equated with Samadhi:
341. To the Sannyasin who has gone through the act of hearing, the Shruti passage, “Calm, self-controlled.” Etc., prescribes Samadhi for realising the identity of the universe with the Self.
Samadhi is the means to realisation
The previous verse introduces the notion of Samadhi, which is expanded upon and emphasised below repeatedly in different ways:
342. Even wise men cannot suddenly destroy egoism after it has once become strong, barring those who are perfectly calm through the Nirvikalpa Samadhi. Desires are verily the effect of innumerable births.
353. When the Atman, the One without a second, is realised by means of the Nirvikalpa Samadhi, then the heart’s knot of ignorance is totally destroyed.
354. Such imaginations as “thou”, “I” or “this” take place through the defects of the Buddhi. But when the Paramatman, the Absolute, the One without a second, manifests Itself in Samadhi, all such imaginations are dissolved for the aspirant, through the realisation of the truth of Brahman.
355. The Sannyasin, calm, self-controlled, perfectly retiring from the sense-world, forbearing, and devoting himself to the practice of Samadhi, always reflects on his own self being the Self of the whole universe. Destroying completely by this means the imaginations which are due to the gloom of ignorance, he lives blissfully as Brahman, free from action and the oscillations of the mind.
356. Those alone are free from the bondage of transmigration who, attaining Samadhi, have merged the objective world, the sense-organs, the mind, nay, the very ego, in the Atman, the Knowledge Absolute – and none else, who but dabble in second-hand talks.
357. Through the diversity of the supervening conditions (Upadhis), a man is apt to think of himself as also full of diversity; but with the removal of these he is again his own Self, the immutable. Therefore the wise man should ever devote himself to the practice of Nirvikalpa Samadhi, for the dissolution of the Upadhis.
360. The truth of the Paramatman is extremely subtle, and cannot be reached by the gross outgoing tendency of the mind. It is only accessible to noble souls with perfectly pure minds, by means of Samadhi brought on by an extraordinary fineness of the mental state.
Here mind is purified of all three gunas, even Sattva, and thereby ‘transformed’ into Brahman:
361. As gold purified by thorough heating on the fire gives up its impurities and attains to its own lustre, so the mind, through meditation, gives up its impurities of Sattva, Rajas and Tamas, and attains to the reality of Brahman.
362. When the mind, thus purified by constant practice, is merged in Brahman, then Samadhi passes on from the Savikalpa to the Nirvikalpa stage, and leads directly to the realisation of the Bliss of Brahman, the One without a second.
363. By this Samadhi are destroyed all desires which are like knots, all work is at an end, and inside and out there takes place everywhere and always the spontaneous manifestation of one’s real nature.
Here the four stages of Vedanta are set out in ascending order, namely
(1) Sravana (hearing the teaching)
(2) Manana (reflecting on the teachings)
(3) Nididhyasana (meditation)
364. Reflection should be considered a hundred times superior to hearing, and meditation a hundred thousand times superior even to reflection, but the Nirvikalpa Samadhi is infinite in its results.
365. By the Nirvikalpa Samadhi the truth of Brahman is clearly and definitely realised, but not otherwise, for then the mind, being unstable by nature, is apt to be mixed up with other perceptions.
366. Hence with the mind calm and the senses controlled always drown the mind in the Supreme Self that is within, and through the realisation of thy identity with that Reality destroy the darkness created by Nescience, which is without beginning.
367. The first steps to Yoga are control of speech, non-receiving of gifts, entertaining of no expectations, freedom from activity, and always living in a retired place.
368. Living in a retired place serves to control the sense-organs, control of the senses helps to control the mind, through control of the mind egoism is destroyed; and this again gives the Yogi an unbroken realisation of the Bliss of Brahman. Therefore the man of reflection should always strive only to control the mind.
Two wings of the teaching
374. Know, O wise man, dispassion and discrimination to be like the two wings of a bird in the case of an aspirant. Unless both are there, none can, with the help of either one, reach the creeper of Liberation that grows, as it were, on the top of an edifice.
375. The extremely dispassionate man alone has Samadhi, and the man of Samadhi alone gets steady realisation; the man who has realised the Truth is alone free from bondage, and the free soul only experiences eternal Bliss.
Fix thy mind on the Eternal Self
376. For the man of self-control I do not find any better instrument of happiness than dispassion, and if that is coupled with a highly pure realisation of the Self, it conduces to the suzerainty of absolute Independence; and since this is the gateway to the damsel of everlasting liberation, therefore for thy welfare, be dispassionate both internally and externally, and always fix thy mind on the eternal Self.
377. Sever thy craving for the sense-objects, which are like poison, for it is the very image of death, and giving up thy pride of caste, family and order of life, fling actions to a distance. Give up thy identification with such unreal things as the body, and fix thy mind on the Atman. For thou art really the Witness, Brahman, unshackled by the mind, the One without a second, and Supreme.
378. Fixing the mind firmly on the Ideal, Brahman, and restraining the external organs in their respective centres; with the body held steady and taking no thought for its maintenance; attaining identity with Brahman and being one with It – always drink joyfully of the Bliss of Brahman in thy own Self, without a break. What is the use of other things which are entirely hollow ?
379. Giving up the thought of the non-Self which is evil and productive of misery, think of the Self, the Bliss Absolute, which conduces to Liberation.
380. Here shines eternally the Atman, the Self-effulgent Witness of everything, which has the Buddhi for Its seat. Making this Atman which is distinct from the unreal, the goal, meditate on It as thy own Self, excluding all other thought.
381. Reflecting on this Atman continuously and without any foreign thought intervening, one must distinctly realise It to be one’s real Self.
382. Strengthening one’s identification with This, and giving up that with egoism and the rest, one must live without any concern for them, as if they were trifling things, like a cracked jar or the like.
383. Fixing the purified mind in the Self, the Witness, the Knowledge Absolute, and slowly making it still, one must then realise one’s own infinite Self.
Brahman is One
384. One should behold the Atman, the Indivisible and Infinite, free from all limiting adjuncts such as the body, organs, Pranas, Manas and egoism, which are creations of one’s own ignorance – like the infinite sky.
385. The sky, divested of the hundreds of limiting adjuncts such as a jar, a pitcher, a receptacle for grains or a needle, is one, and not diverse; exactly in a similar way the pure Brahman, when divested of egoism etc., is verily One.
386. The limiting adjuncts from Brahma down to a clump of grass are all wholly unreal. Therefore one should realise one’s own Infinite Self as the only Principle.
387. That in which something is imagined to exist through error, is, when rightly discriminated, that thing itself, and not distinct from it. When the error is gone, the reality about the snake falsely perceived becomes the rope. Similarly the universe is in reality the Atman.
All is Self
388. The Self is Brahma, the Self is Vishnu, the Self is Indra, the Self is Shiva; the Self is all this universe. Nothing exists except the Self.
389. The Self is within, and the Self is without; the Self is before and the Self is behind; the Self is in the south, and the Self is in the north; the Self likewise is above as also below.
390. As the wave, the foam, the whirlpool, the bubble, etc., are all in essence but water, similarly the Chit (Knowledge Absolute) is all this, from the body up to egoism. Everything is verily the Chit, homogeneous and pure.
391. All this universe known through speech and mind is nothing but Brahman; there is nothing besides Brahman, which exists beyond the utmost range of the Prakriti. Are the pitcher, jug, jar, etc., known to be distinct from the clay of which they are composed ? It is the deluded man who talks of “thou” and “I”, as an effect of the wine of Maya.
Eliminate & remove the body mind & world
397. By the elimination of all apparent existences superimposed on the soul, the supreme Brahman, Infinite, the One without a second and beyond action, remains as Itself.
398. When the mind-functions are merged in the Paramatman, the Brahman, the Absolute, none of this phenomenal world is seen, whence it is reduced to mere talk.
400. In the One Entity devoid of the concepts of seer, seeing and seen – which is changeless, formless and Absolute – whence can there be any diversity ?
401. In the One Entity which is changeless, formless and Absolute, and which is perfectly all-pervading and motionless like the ocean after the dissolution of the universe, whence can there be any diversity ?
402. Where the root of delusion is dissolved like darkness in light – in the supreme Reality, the One without a second, the Absolute – whence can there be any diversity?
The state of Brahman-realisation in which there is no body mind or world is likened to that of deep dreamless sleep:
403. How can the talk of diversity apply to the Supreme Reality which is one and homogeneous? Who has ever observed diversity in the unmixed bliss of the state of profound sleep?
404. Even before the realisation of the highest Truth, the universe does not exist in the Absolute Brahman, the Essence of Existence. In none of the three states of time is the snake ever observed in the rope, nor a drop of water in the mirage.
405. The Shrutis themselves declare that this dualistic universe is but a delusion from the standpoint of Absolute Truth. This is also experienced in the state of dreamless sleep.
406. That which is superimposed upon something else is observed by the wise to be identical with the substratum, as in the case of the rope appearing as the snake. The apparent difference depends solely on error.
407. This apparent universe has its root in the mind, and never persists after the mind is annihilated. Therefore dissolve the mind by concentrating it on the Supreme Self, which is thy inmost Essence.
Samadhi again stressed as the path
As before, the teachings are repeated again and again to impress their meaning to the seeker and to ensure there is no room for doubt or misunderstanding the teaching:
408. The wise man realises in his heart, through Samadhi, the Infinite Brahman, which is something of the nature of eternal Knowledge and absolute Bliss, which has no exemplar, which transcends all limitations, is ever free and without activity, and which is like the limitless sky, indivisible and absolute.
409. The wise man realises in his heart, through Samadhi, the Infinite Brahman, which is devoid of the ideas of cause and effect, which is the Reality beyond all imaginations, homogeneous, matchless, beyond the range of proofs, established by the pronouncements of the Vedas, and ever familiar to us as the sense of the ego.
410. The wise man realises in his heart, through Samadhi, the Infinite Brahman, which is undecaying and immortal, the positive Entity which precludes all negations, which resembles the placid ocean and is without a name, in which there are neither merits nor demerits, and which is eternal, pacified and One.
411. With the mind restrained in Samadhi, behold in thy self the Atman, of infinite glory, cut off thy bondage strengthened by the impressions of previous births, and carefully attain the consummation of thy birth as a human being.
412. Meditate on the Atman, which resides in thee, which is devoid of all limiting adjuncts, the Existence-Knowledge-Bliss Absolute, the One without a second, and thou shalt no more come under the round of births and deaths.
Never again concern yourself about the body
This is a warning against false teachings that state that after realisation we now have to come back and inhabit the body in some way or integrate our self back into the world – these false teachings are one of the many ways the ego tries to perpetuate itself. As always in this text, the same point is repeated in different ways to drive the point home. Let us see:
413. After the body has once been cast off to a distance like a corpse, the sage never more attaches himself to it, though it is visible as an appearance, like the shadow of a man, owing to the experience of the effects of past deeds.
414. Realising the Atman, the eternal, pure Knowledge and Bliss, throw far away this limitation of a body, which is inert and filthy by nature. Then remember it no more, for something that has been vomited excites but disgust when called in memory.
415. Burning all this, with its very root, in the fire of Brahman, the Eternal and Absolute Self, the truly wise man thereafter remains alone, as the Atman, the eternal, pure Knowledge and Bliss.
416. The knower of Truth does no more care whether this body, spun out by the threads of Prarabdha work, falls or remains – like the garland on a cow – for his mind-functions are at rest in the Brahman, the Essence of Bliss.
417. Realising the Atman, the Infinite Bliss, as his very Self, with what object, or for whom, should the knower of Truth cherish the body.
The fruit: Bliss of the Self
418. The Yogi who has attained perfection and is liberated-in-life gets this as result – he enjoys eternal Bliss in his mind, internally as well as externally.
419. The result of dispassion is knowledge, that of Knowledge is withdrawal from sense-pleasures, which leads to the experience of the Bliss of the Self, whence follows Peace.
420. If there is an absence of the succeeding stages, the preceding ones are futile. (When the series is perfect) the cessation of the objective world, extreme satisfaction, and matchless bliss follow as a matter of course.
A final teaching
In the next few verses of the text, which I have not included here in this post, Shankara again goes on to stress dispassion, cessation of desire for sensual pleasure in sense-objects as well as talk about several other topics including the characteristic of one who is liberated in this life, whether or not the liberated one is subject to karma (they are not), whether or not the liberated one is the body-mind (they are not), the ultimate non-existence of ignorance or liberation (both are mental concepts for the intellect), and the nature of Brahman and Non-duality, etc.
This culminates in a declaration of liberation from the once-seeker who has listened to the teachings from the mouth of his/her guru and a sense of overwhelming gratitude to the guru and teachings.
Since this post is geared towards meditation, I will include a few further verses from Shankara, just to remind us again of the method above and to leave us in no doubt:
473. Through the Samadhi in which the mind has been perfectly stilled, visualise the Truth of the Self with the eye of clear realisation. If the meaning of the (Scriptural) words heard from the Guru is perfectly and indubitably discerned, then it can lead to no more doubt.
Remain Quiet (Be Still)
524. Dualistic conceptions in the Atman, the Infinite Knowledge, the Absolute, are like imagining castles in the air. Therefore, always identifying thyself with the Bliss Absolute, the One without a second, and thereby attaining Supreme Peace, remain quiet.
525. To the sage who has realised Brahman, the mind, which is the cause of unreal fancies, becomes perfectly tranquil. This verily is his state of quietude, in which, identified with Brahman, he has constant enjoyment of the Bliss Absolute, the One without a second.
526. To the man who has realised his own nature, and drinks the undiluted Bliss of the Self, there is nothing more exhilarating than the quietude that comes of a state of desirelessness.