Ramana Maharshi stated that Shankara’s text Vivekachudamani contains in detail all the points required for a seeker of liberation ‘thereby directing them to the true and direct path‘.
Vivekachudamani contains 580 verses. Ramana Maharshi evidently placed this text in high regard, so much so that he translated the entire text into Tamil for those who could not read or understand the original Sanskrit. He also selected what he felt were the ten most important verses, which are as follows:
The ten most Significant Verses From Sri Sankara’s Vivekachudamani
As selected by Sri Ramana Maharshi
1. Among things conducive to Liberation, devotion (Bhakti) holds the supreme place. The seeking after one’s real nature is designated as devotion. (Verse 31)
2. The Supreme Self, the eternal, indivisible, non-dual Consciousness, the Witness of buddhi and the rest, is other than the real (Sat) and the unreal (asat), and is the ultimate significance of the notion conveyed by the term ‘I’. It is the immediate Reality, the embodiment of Bliss. (Verse 351)
3. Different from matter (prakriti) and its modifications is the Supreme Self, of the nature of pure Knowledge. It is Absolute and directly manifests the entire gross and subtle universe, in waking and other states, as the substratum of the steady sense of egotism. It manifests Itself as the Witness of the intellect (buddhi). (Verse 135)
4. That which clearly manifests itself in the waking, dream and deep sleep states; that which shines inside uniformly and continuously as I-I; witnesses the ego, the intellect etc, which are of different forms and modifications; which shines as Eternal bliss (nitya ananda) and consciousness (chit), know this, within your heart, as your own Self. (Verse 217)
5. With a regulated mind and a purified intellect, directly know yourself as the essential Self, in the form ‘This I Am’. Cross the shoreless ocean of worldy existence (samsara) with its waves of births and deaths. Firmly established as Brahman, which is your own true essence, be blessed (Verse 136)
6. The self-shining witness (sakshi) of everything, this Atman shines eternally, in the sheath of the intellect (vijnanakosha). Making this Atman, which is distinct from the unreal, the aim of contemplation, meditate upon It as your own Self, eliminating all other thoughts (Verse 380)
7. Extremely subtle is the Truth of the Self Supreme, and it is not discernible to the gross vision (of the mind). It is knowable to the noble-minded of very pure intellect, through samadhi, brought about by an extraordinarily subtle mind. (Verse 360)
8. Thus purified by constant practice when the mind merges with Brahman, then Samadhi passes from the Savikalpa stage [where subject-object distinction exist] to the Nirvikalpa stage [where no subject-object duality exists], leading directly to the experience of the Bliss of Brahman, the Non-dual. (Verse 362)
9. By this [Nirvikalpa] Samadhi are destroyed all the knots of vasanas and all karma is destroyed. One‘s Real Nature (swarupa) manifests spontaneously and effortlessly, forever, everywhere and always, within and without. (Verse 363)
10. In the cave of the intellect, there is the Brahman, the Supreme non-dual Reality, distinct from [relative] truth (sat) and untruth (asat). One who dwells in this cave as Brahman has no rebirth*. (Verse 266)
*Tom: The literal rendering of this last line of verse 266 is a play on the word ‘cave’ and states ‘One who dwells in this cave as Brahman does not enter into the cave of the body’. The ‘word ‘cave’ is used in the Upanishads to describe the location of Brahman, whilst ‘cave of the body’ refers to the mother’s womb, which in turn refers to rebirth in samsara and continued suffering.
Sri Ramana Maharshi also said that the entirety of Advaita Vedanta can be found in in verse 170 of Vivekacudamani:
170. In dreams, when there is no actual contact with the external world, the mind alone creates the whole universe consisting of the experiencer, etc. Similarly in the waking state also, there is no difference. Therefore all this [phenomenal universe] is the projection of the mind.
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In talk number 428 from the book Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, Ramana Maharshi selects 10 verses from Sivananda Lahari, a devotional work of 100 verses written by Sri Sankara. In it, Bhakti is described, and Ramana has provided his own free translations of the meaning of the verses. So, here in the following text we have in effect a combined statement on Bhakti from both Shakara and Ramana!
!Praise and blessings to Sri Ramana and Sri Shankara!
(1) What is bhakti?
Just as the ankola fruit falling from the tree rejoins it or a piece of iron is drawn to magnet, so also thoughts, after rising up, lose themselves in their original source. This is bhakti. The original source of thoughts is the feet of the Lord, Isvara. Love of His Feet forms bhakti. (Verse 61)
(2) Fruit of bhakti:
The thick cloud of bhakti, formed in the transcendental sky of the Lord’s Feet, pours down a rain of Bliss (ananda) and fills the lake of mind to overflowing. Only then the jiva, always transmigrating to no useful end, has his real purpose fulfilled. (Verse 76)
(3) Where to place bhakti?
Devotion to gods, who have themselves their origin and end, can result in fruits similarly with origin and end. In order to be in Bliss everlasting our devotion must be directed to its source, namely the Feet of the ever blissful Lord. (Verse 83)
(4) Bhakti is a matter only for experience and not for words:
How can Logic or other polemics be of real use? Can the ghatapatas (favourite examples of the logicians, meaning the pot and the cloth) save you in a crisis? Why then waste yourself thinking of them and on discussion? Stop exercising the vocal organs and giving them pain. Think of the Feet of the Lord and drink the nectar! (Verse 6)
(5) Immortality is the fruit of Devotion:
At the sight of him who in his heart has fixed the Lord’s Feet, Death is reminded of his bygone disastrous encounter with Markandeya and flees away. All other gods worship only Siva, placing their crowned heads at His feet. Such involuntary worship is only natural to Siva. Goddess Liberation, His consort, always remains part of Him. (Verse 65)
(6) If only Devotion be there – the conditions of the jiva cannot affect him.
However different the bodies, the mind alone is lost in the Lord’s Feet. Bliss overflows! (Verse 10)
(7) Devotion always unimpaired:
Wherever or however it be, only let the mind lose itself in the Supreme. It is Yoga! It is Bliss! Or the Yogi or the Bliss incarnate! (Verse 12)
(8) Karma Yoga also is Bhakti:
To worship God with flowers and other external objects is troublesome. Only lay the single flower, the heart, at the feet of Siva and remain at Peace. Not to know this simple thing and to wander about! How foolish! What misery! (Verse 9)
(9) This Karma Yoga puts an end to one’s samsara:
Whatever the order of life (asrama) of the devotee, only once thought of, Siva relieves the devotee of his load of samsara and takes it on Himself. (Verse 11)
(10) Devotion is Jnana:
The mind losing itself in Siva’s Feet is Devotion. Ignorance lost! Knowledge! Liberation! (Verse 91)
Tony Parsons has a relatively unique expression of non-duality. His uncompromising message (which I’m sure he would point out is not his), has influenced many and now there are numerous other people who speak in a way very similar to him – apparently (the word ‘apparently’ is one of Tony’s hallmarks).
However his expression has changed significantly over the years, and for me this is quite interesting, and I hope my comments will be of benefit to the seeker who is trying to plough through all the teachers and teachings now on offer. He has now revised his oldest writings, so the extent of the change may not be apparent to those reading his older works now, but I found both an older and newer version of his first book, The Open Secret, and present some of the differences below. For those of you more familiar with Tony’s current expression, you may be surprised to read the following, which I presume he no longer agrees with:
‘If, however inadequately, enlightenment could be described in terms of qualities, I see them as unconditional love, compassion, stillness, and joy without cause.’
Tony Parsons, from an earlier edition of The Open Secret (this text has now removed from newer editions)
There are many more quotes like this later on in the post. Please note that my intention here is not to criticise or condemn, but to discuss how Tony’s expression has changed and offer my view on this, whilst also acknowledging that this is speculation on my part. My hope is that this may be interesting to seekers who are trying to find their way through all the various teachings and communications on offer.
Radical Non-Duality/ Neo-Advaita
Tony shares what his proponents refer to as Radical Non-Duality: in short, there is no acceptance of the reality of a separate individual seeker, a teaching, a path or an enlightened person, all of which are dualistic concepts that keep the apparent ‘me’ ensnared – apparently. There is no need to cultivate anything such as awareness or presence, there is no need to discover who you really are or be kinder, more compassionate, more loving, etc, etc, these all being dualistic illusions in the egoic game of becoming. In Tony’s own words from his website:
‘This is a communication which illuminates the paradoxical nature of non-duality and exposes the deluded idea that it is something that can be acquired and experienced….Life is not a task. There is absolutely nothing to attain except the realisation that there is absolutely nothing to attain.’
This same communication is also referred to as Neo-Advaita, a derogatory term used by his detractors. Tony says he is not a teacher, for that implies duality and separation – the teacher and the taught – and there is no duality or separation. For the same reason there is no teaching – but Tony suggests this could be spoken of as a ‘communication’ for want of a better word.
The evolution of Tony Parsons’ mode of expression
I understand from people that have met him and know him that he is open about the fact that his expression and language has changed over the years. I understand he now openly admits that when he first started to share this non-dual communication there was actually a bit of ‘me’ (ego/separation) left, and that has now since completely dissolved away, apparently.
A couple of years ago I bought Tony’s first book, The Open Secret, after having some conversations with some people who had met him. On the front cover I noted that it was first published in 1995, but that it had been revised multiple times in 1998, 1999, 2000, 2005 and 2011. At the time I thought it would be interesting to see how the teaching expression had changed over the years, but at that time I couldn’t really be bothered and this was just an interesting thought that did not spur on any action.
For some reason today, I find myself writing this post. I found an earlier version of The Open Secret and compared it to my newer version and noticed that many of the older teachings have now been removed, and also in both versions there are many aspects of the teachings that are somewhat different from how he expresses himself now.
I have also looked at another book of Tony’s called ‘All There Is’ published in 2003. So, as The Open Secret was first published in 1995, the quotes below span at least the first 8 years of ‘him communicating’ this message, if not more.
Summary of my analysis
I have decided to place my summary at the start but I recommend you read the quotes below and come to your own conclusions. Is what I am surmising correct? There are also many quotes of Tony’s that I have not included as this post is already quite long, but if you are not familiar with him, just by listening to 10-20 minutes of one of his YouTube videos you will get a flavour of what he is stating.
For me, when I read how Tony’s expression has changed over the years, it seems to fit in very nicely – almost too nicely – with the classical progression of teachings in Advaita (non-dual) Vedanta. In fact, the gradual change in Tony’s expression that occurs over many years can be even found within single texts, such as Shankara’s Vivekachudamani. This is some ways is quite shocking, but in other ways is a testament to a teaching tradition which has centuries of experience underlying its teachings.
In Vedanta the teachings start off coarse and dualistic and then become increasingly more subtle and less dualistic, the idea being this will gradually but surely and effectively lead one to liberation with the least amount of suffering along the way. (This can sometimes be in direct contrast to the neo-advaita teachings which can often trigger anxiety and confusion and even worse – I have met many people like this who have come to my meetings over the years who are often very confused and anxious as their sense of self is falling away, like the rug being pulled out from under their feet. Of course, there are many advantages of the more radical expression too – see the next section in the post for links where I write about these.)
We see a similar progression with Tony’s mode of expression, with his earlier teachings being much more dualistic and a gradual progression to being less dualistic over many years. This is so strongly the case that we can see how it mirrors teachings found in single Advaita Vedanta texts. It is as if he is updating his teaching expression as his own ‘understanding’ progresses, and it is interesting how closely this mirrors the traditional progression of the teachings. I present some evidence below. Here is the basic step-wise progression that I infer from Tony’s writings.
(Of course, this is just my own theory, my speculation. I understand that Tony maintains that none of the spiritual-type activities he underwent himself had anything to do with an apparent liberation).
Step (1) Traditional spirituality, emotional healing and good works based on the notion ‘I am the body-mind’:
At the start of the Vedanta teachings, the teaching is highly dualistic – there is talk about the need for more traditional forms of Religion/Spirituality such as devotion and surrender to God and performing good works in society to purify coarser emotional and behavioural disturbances and this allows the mind to become open and receptive to higher less dualistic teachings, and also means when the rug of egotism is pull out from under you, there is much less anxiety and confusion. Tony writes in The Open secret about how he himself went through all of this, although he later says that this had nothing to do with liberation which happened later (apparently – as liberation itself is not real – we will see that the Vedanta teachings also state this, eg. at the end of Shankara’s Vivekachudamani).
Tony’s earlier writings also occasionally describe the use of ‘letting go’, something that was removed from later edits.
This stage is characterised by identification with the body-mind and practice done for the apparent body-mind.
Step (2): You are the Absolute
Now we come to what Vedanta calls Jnana Yoga or the teachings on Self-Knowledge. They state that your true nature is not that of the body-mind, but that you are sat-chit-ananda (see my section below on this) which is unchanging, eternal, ever-present, the nature of awareness and bliss. The emphasis now is on your identity – this is not something you need to acquire or attain – it is ever-attained and is already your true nature – you just have to realise this.
We can see this teaching very clearly in Tony’s earlier writings. This sat-chit-ananda is not an object – it is no-particular-thing – or ‘no thing’ as Tony refers to it – and it is also one with everything and the source of everything – again all ideas that Tony used to ‘teach’. Tony also emphases that this awareness is who we really are, that it is the only constant and that it never changes. He goes on to say this awareness is the source of all manifestation.
It should be noted that this is still a dualistic teaching, although this duality is more subtle than in the previous step. Even though relative and absolute are One, they are also expressed as being two, with the emphasis on the absolute in this part of the teaching. Also there is still a ‘me’ entity, albeit one that is now primarily identified with the absolute.
This step is characterised by identification with the absolute as opposed to the body-mind-world.
Step (3): The relative is the absolute
In this step there is no duality whatsoever – you could say there is no relative or absolute. Again we see this progression in both Tony’s verbal expression and also in texts such as Vivekachudamani and other ‘more advanced’ Advaita texts such as the Ribhu Gita and Ashtavakra Gita. Now there is no emphasis on the absolute as there was in Step 2, the relative is the absolute, beyond ideas of oneness or two-ness or any other conceptual formulation.
eg. Vivekachudamani verse 467:
Verse 467: There is only Brahman, the One without a second, which is neither to be shunned nor taken up nor accepted, and which is without any support, there is no duality whatsoever in It.
Verse 469: There is only Brahman, the One without a second, whose real nature is incomprehensible…
Before the emphasis was on knowledge – knowing your true nature – now it is stated that this is beyond all comprehension, from Vivekachudamani:
481. My mind has vanished…I do not know either this or not-this; nor what or how much the boundless Bliss (of Samadhi) is
484 …what is to be shunned and what accepted, what is other (than oneself) and what different?
485. I neither see nor hear nor know anything in this…
Traditionally texts such as the Ashtavakra Gita, Ribhu Gita and Avadhuta Gita are to be read at this point in the teaching, and you will see the same trend in these scriptures, with the latter verses removing concepts that were used in earlier verses. Even strongly help Vedantic concepts such as Brahman are also negated in the ‘final analysis’.
This stage is characterised by lack of identification. We can see that step (2) – identification with a (dualistic) concept of the absolute – is there to remove the idenfitication with the body-mind found in step (1). Both are for the ‘me’
This is now Tony’s predominant mode of expression, but he has retrospectively gone back and removed some of the modes of expression from step (1) and (2) from his earliest work, as we shall see.
Step (4): There is no liberation, no teaching, no seeker
Again, we see the same progression in Tony’s expression and in Vivekachudamani. Previously Vivekachudamani spoke of liberation and how to attain it, now it speaks of these as being illusions (Maya), fantasies for the mind:
eg. in the later verses of Vivekachudamani:
Verse 569: Bondage and Liberation, which are conjured up by Maya, do not really exist in the Atman, one’s Reality…
Verse 573: Hence this bondage and Liberation are created by Maya, and are not in the Atman [ie. reality]. How can there be any idea of limitation with regard to the Supreme Truth…?
Verse 574: There is neither death nor birth, neither a bound nor a struggling soul, neither a seeker after Liberation nor a liberated one [ie. no seeker or guru]…
This step (4) goes hand in hand with step (3) and is not really a separate step, but I have just separated it out to make the above point.
The pros and cons of radical Non-duality/Neo-Advaita
I will not go into this too much here, but as with all modes of expression, there are both advantages and disadvantages. I have nothing against these types of more radical expression, and yes, they certainly do have advantages, but I offer my view on them in these articles (links below):
The only one thing I will quickly add here is that there is a notable absence of any meditation or stillness type teachings in Tony Parsons’ expression, which of course is one of the hallmarks of ‘neo-advaita’.
Traditionally, without this deep stillness happening, either through deliberate practice or through spontaneous occurrence, eg. after insights or ‘awakening’, then the ananda (blissful) aspect of liberation-reality (sat-chit-ananda) and the morality aspect of the teaching (which happens when addiction/attachment to sense objects goes) will not manifest fully, and suffering will continue accordingly.
Similarly, for most, without prolonged deep stillness (abidance as the Self), whilst one may have frequent (apparent) awakenings and glimpses into non-duality, the sense of separation returns, and with it the suffering also returns. This is why these radical non-dual teachings can initially at least feel so liberating, especially when one is at the meetings, but then leave one in confusion, apparent separation and suffering.
Quotes from Tony Parsons’ Older Works
Love, Compassion, Stillness, Joy and Presence
In the earlier version of The Open Secret, there is an entire chapter called ‘Presence’, which was completely removed from the later versions of the book. Interestingly it is one of the longer chapters of this relatively short book. For that reason I thought it would be interesting to quote extensively from it. As I said, these quote are no longer present in the newer revised version of The Open Secret:
‘If, however inadequately, enlightenment could be described in terms of qualities, I see them as unconditional love, compassion, stillness, and joy without cause.’
This kind of expression is quite interesting and is notably absent from Tony’s current (apparent) expression. In fact he is openly dismissive now of these kinds of sentiments, eg. Tony states in All There Is page 175 he states ‘The idea that an enlightened person walks around in something which is totally blissful is complete bullshit. It comes from either a deep ignorance or a wish to manipulate.’ and on page 21 of the same he states ‘In the old conditioned idea of enlightenment we all wanted to believe, enlightenment happens and there is no character there at all – there’s just total bliss and utter goodness. It is nonsense born out of the ignorance of the mind. Awakening has nothing to do with goodness or bliss…‘
Here are some more quotes (bold type added by myself). We will see how the concept of there being a true self which has to be known, which here is called presence, is still there, in the expression at least, and there is also a subtle teaching of letting go, another subtlely dualistic practice for a separate ‘me’. There is also the notion that presence is the source of the manifestation. This, again, is typical of aspects of more traditional teachings.
‘Whilst I do not know who I am, I am bereft.’
‘Enlightenment, however, has another quality, which is the bridge between the timeless and my illusory sense of separation. That quality is presence. Presence is our constant nature but most of the time we are interrupting it by living in a state of expectation, motivation or interpretation. We are hardly ever at home. In order to rediscover our freedom we need to let go of these projections and allow the possibility of presence.’
Here above we have the notion of an ever-existing presence which we seem to interrupt, so the solution naturally is to let go or stop this interruption. Ramana Maharshi says something quite similar: ‘Peace is our true nature. We spoil it. What is required is we cease to spoil it’. Again, this is something that Tony would later criticise as a subtle form of duality. Here are some more quotes from the same chapter ‘Presence’:
‘To live passionately is to let go of everything for the wonder of timeless presence. When we are courageous enough to allow this we suddenly rediscover that we are the sole source of all and everything.’
‘At first it is enough to allow dedicated awareness to what is. Letting go of the one who is aware can easily follow, but it can never be a task.’
‘I cannot ‘do’ presence, simply because I am presence. So there is no process to learn because I cannot learn or achieve something that I already am.’
‘Presence is totally effortless and is nearer to me than breathing. Presence can only be allowed and recognised. What I tend to do most of the time is sidestep it or interrupt it.’
‘Existence would not be if it were not for presence. I am presence and you are presence. If we were not present, existence would not be.’
‘Presence emanates from the source of all and everything known or unknown. And that is what we are. We are the sole source of our own unique creation.’
‘One moment of presence brings more light to the world than a thousand years of “good works”. In presence all action is uncluttered and unsullied. It is spontaneity born from stillness.’
‘When there is presence there is awareness and this is the light that enters the darkness. The light enters the darkness and dissipates those illusions that appear to interrupt oneness. Awareness does not divide or suppress and thereby give energy to the unreal. It simply sees what is and brings the light which allows that which is illusory to evaporate.’
‘When there is presence there is total intimacy and the senses are heightened to a degree previously unrecognised … I see and touch in innocence, I taste and smell for the first time, and hear a new sound that is vital, fresh and unknown.’
You are That!
Here we have Tony proclaiming ‘You are That!’, one of the great sayings of traditional Advaita Vedanta, and clearly from Step (2) in my proposed schema above. This is from page 90 of ‘All There Is’. You can see that he is quite confident and sure in the way that he expresses himself, abruptly cutting off the questioner mid-sentence:
Tony: Awareness simply is, and you are that. It has nothing to do with great depth or great sacrifice or great intelligence. You are already that.
Questioner: Theoretically, yes, but.. .
Tony: No, you are already that. You know that you are the one that sees, that you are joy without cause.
Tony even stated above that ‘you are the one that sees’, ie. the seer or the Self, and ‘you are joy without a cause’, ie. ananda in Sanskrit.
From ‘All There Is’ page 45:
‘And there is nothing out there that says, ‘You will be enlightened’, because there is no one who will ever be enlightened. You are enlightenment – you are that.’
From ‘All There Is’ page 67:
‘So how can anyone tell you to meditate or sing mantras or be serious or be honest or any of those things? How can anyone tell you that, when already you are that? All that’s going on here is that I’m telling you it’s already like that; you already are oneness; you are already that. That’s the difference. And there are a handful of people in the world who are talking like that’
From page 97:
Q. Could you say we’re the screen on which the film is projected?
Tony: You are the light that allows the film to be. And if you see it all from another point of view, you begin to open up to the possibility of dropping the idea of a journey towards somewhere that you’ll never get to. You’ll never get there – you already are there. And so in a way, the film is sacred. It’s telling you that you are that. I want to get you out of the idea – or rather I don’t, but something wants to get you out of the idea that you’re on a journey. When there is simply presence, all meaning ends. Meaning is always attached to a story – ‘We are going somewhere’.
In the earlier version of The Open Secret we find the following from the Chapter called ‘The Park’. This was subsequently removed from the later editions:
‘It is my birthright. It is my home. It is already that which I am.’
Here is this excerpt from All There Is, page 87, we can see that Tony is essentially talking about Sat (Tony calls this ‘presence’) Chit (Tony calls this ‘awareness’) Ananda (Tony calls this ‘joy without a cause’), Sat-Chit-Ananda being a traditional way of speaking of liberation and the absolute. This Sat-Chit-Ananda is our true nature (‘what you already are’ according to Tony) and is not a thing or a person or an object (‘no thing…) but is the Source of all manifestation (…out of which everything arises’). It is not something to attain, for it already is, as per the traditional teachings. This is very much a step (2) teaching in my stages above. See if you agree with my analysis:
Q. Tony, when you talk about the presence, is that an illusion too? There isn’t a presence?
Tony: Well, there is only no thing, out of which everything arises. When there is no one and there is only presence, then you can come and tell me that it certainly wasn’t illusory, it isn’t illusory.
The joy without cause is the only thing that isn’t illusory. It’s the only constant. Awareness is the only constant, presence is the only constant. Everything else arises out of that. Without presence, there can be nothing.
Q. What about recognition? The word ‘recognition’ came to my mind you recognise the presence.
Tony: Yes, you remember, there is a recognition of what you already are. That’s it. It’s directly behind you now – it’s just back there, watching you watching me. You are the one that sees that looking at this.
You can see in the above the questioner is asking if the notion of Presence is actually itself an illusion. Tony states that this is not the case, that presence and awareness are the only constants.
One feature of how the teaching expression has changed is that in the earlier days there was a teaching reminiscent of Vedanta-style self-knowledge teachings, things such as ‘knowing who you really are’ or ‘what you really are’. These notions are now often criticised by Tony, and he openly dismisses many traditional Advaita and Buddhist teachings. This is from an earlier version of The Open Secret, from the chapter ‘Context’:
‘Part of that realisation was that enlightenment is absolutely beyond my effort to change the way I live, or even of changing life at all. It has to do with a total shift in the realisation of who it is that lives. For I am already that which I seek.‘
We can see here that Tony is using the language of identity, knowing who you are or being that which is sought. In a later version of The Open Secret the same passage reads:
‘…It has to do with a total shift in the realisation of what it is that lives.’
You can see this is a subtle change, implying that our true nature is not personal but impersonal. Of course later Tony would go on to say that there is no true nature at all, but back in the 1990s and early 2000s he spoke differently. Here is another example from the same Chapter called Context:
‘For the sake of clarity, the terms enlightenment, liberation, fulfilment, freedom, oneness, and so on, are all seen here as being the same as the absolute realisation by anyone of what they really are.‘
Again, the language of self-identity and self-knowledge is being used, ie. the notion of knowing what you really are. In the later version of The Open Secret this passage now reads:
‘For the sake of clarity, the terms enlightenment, liberation, fulfilment, freedom, oneness, and so on, are all seen here as being the same as what I call liberation.‘
We can see that the emphasis on self-knowledge has been removed entirely in the later edit. Here is a quote from the chapter called ‘The Park’, which was later removed from later versions:
‘It is my birthright. It is my home. It is already that which I am.’
From the Chapter called ‘Fear’:
‘Until I recognise who I really am, my life can be largely driven by that which I fear.’
From the Chapter called ‘Relationships’:
‘When I have rediscovered who I am, however, there is no longer any question of relationships. In this open and welcoming presence there is no need for memory or repetition, comparison or expectation. No place for one part meeting another. There is no distance between the two and therefore nothing needs to relate.’
Letting go could be thought of being a Step (1) type teaching according to my schema above, in that it is dualistic and equates the person to be the body-mind rather than presence-awareness (which is step (2)). The last chapter in both the earlier and later versions of The Open Secret is called ‘Seen and Unseen’. Here is an excerpt from the earlier version:
This is a book declaring that enlightenment is a sudden, direct and energetic illumination that is continuously available to anyone who is ready to let go and allow it. It is the open secret which reveals itself in every part of our lives. No effort, path of purification, process or teaching of any kind can take us there. For the open secret is not about our effort to change the way we live. It is about the rediscovery of who it is that lives.
In the later version of The Open Secret the notion of needing ‘to let go and allow’ has been removed and the in last line the word ‘who’ has been changed to ‘what’.
In the Chapter entitled ‘I Am Not…’, Tony write the following:
I am not …
. . . my life story, the mind, the body, feelings, experiences of pain or pleasure, struggle, success or failure. I am not loneliness, stillness, frustration or compassion. I am not even what I think is my purpose, the seeking, the finding, or anything which is called a spiritual experience.
When I don’t know what I am I sanctify these experiences, take ownership of them and give them great significance. I believe they mean something which, once understood, will give me answers and provide formulas. But these experiences are only consciousness concealing and revealing itself in order to be recognised. When I know what I am I discover that I am not existence, I am the presence which allows existence to be. Existence either blossoms in that presence or reflects back my sense of separation.
We can see here a typical traditional ‘neti neti’ style in which various phenomena are pointed out as being ‘not me’. Interestingly at the end we can see that Tony has used several concepts, one of presence which seems to allows another concept, existence, to be. I’m not sure exactly what he is referring to but now this kind of expression is no longer used by Tony.
You are Divine
Tony: You are that, you are divine, and so what is there to find?
Q. Fine. I know that. We are all divine.
Tony: But knowing this intellectually is nothing. You believe you are Bill who is trying to find something. Be ready to be adventurous. Be ready to chop off all the heads that you have looking at you over the fence telling you how you should be. Be ready to drop all of it.
You know traditions talk about freedom, but this is the freedom – not something written on paper. Forget Buddha – chop Buddha’s head off.
Q.They say, if you find Buddha on the road, kill him.
Tony: Absolutely. And Buddha – or Buddhism – is apparently on the road telling you that you need to meditate, you need to have right mindfulness, wise action. Chop off its head and rest in the arms of the beloved.
In The Open Secret, Tony also speaks of a realisation of some kind at times. This is from the Chapter called ‘No Achievement’, which has not been changed in subsequent edits:
‘There is absolutely nothing to attain except the realisation that there is absolutely nothing to attain.’
This sounds remarkably similar to many Zen Buddhist texts and also to Sri Ramana Maharshi who said ‘Realisation is nothing to be gained afresh; it is already there.’ (Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, Talk number 245).
From the same Chapter ‘No Achievement’ in The Open Secret:
‘All that is needed is a leap in perception, a different seeing, already inherent but unrecognised.‘
This last quote, which was completely removed from the later edits, admits there is some kind of recognition, some kind of different seeing – you can see this is Step (2) in my analysis above. This will become clearer in later quotes below. In the next quote we also see that Tony is almost giving credence to conceptual understanding and also uses a concept of Stillness which is implied as being our true nature, rather like the vedanta concept of being-consciousness (sat-chit):
‘No amount of thinking will tell me who I am, but understanding can take me to the river’s edge. Stillness is not brought about by not thinking. Stillness is absolutely beyond the presence or absence of thought. I cannot make myself still, but when that which appears not to be still is seen, then that seeing emanates from stillness.’
From Tony’s book ‘All there is’, published in 2003 we can read the following on page 49:
‘What we’re talking about here is something that actually already is the case. What we’re talking about here is something that has never come and never goes away It is presence, it is stillness . . . The words don’t express it, but it’s not a state and it’s not something that is here and then isn’t here. It is actually all there is.‘
Again, Tony is expressing something very similar to traditional Advaita teachings, pointing out the unchanging eternal presence in which all occurs and which is all there is. We see the same kinds of teachings from page 10 of the same book. Tony even uses the phrase ‘I-thought’, which is often used in traditional Advaita:
‘When separation takes place, the ‘I’ thought comes along and, like a cuckoo bird, lands in the nest and sits on present awareness. From then on, ‘me’ thinks that it is the entirety of the universe, and everything that arises is apparently seen from ‘me’.
So when we see a tree, we think ‘me’ is seeing a tree over there, whereas the tree is arising in present awareness. That which you have always thought of as ‘me’ is, in reality, present awareness. It never went away but was only misidentified. This is the one and only constant, and everything else is transient – including the cuckoo bird.’
We can see this is a typical Advaita style teaching, in which the ever-present presence-awareness (sat-chit), our ‘true self’ is being mis-identified as a small separate ‘me’ (jiva). We see the same idea on page 1 of ‘All There Is’:
‘And in some way or other, the mind – the ‘I’ thought, the identity, the idea that ‘I am a person’ – takes over the energy of being and identifies it as Bill or Mary or whatever. It takes over being and gives it a name. Words begin, labels begin, and the whole idea of ‘me’ becomes the main investment of living.’
From page 4 of ‘All There Is’, Tony is subtly stating that our true nature is Being-Stillness which is the source (‘from which that comes’) of the appearance of duality:
‘Awakening has absolutely nothing to do with you. You are just a character in a play. Tony Parsons is simply a set of characteristics – that’s what is sitting here, a set of characteristics and a body/mind. But what you are is the being, the stillness, from which that comes. All that’s actually sitting there is stillness, being, present awareness – call it what you like.’
On Page 6 Tony responds to a question, firstly stating that ‘no one sees’ but then states that this ‘no-one’ is in fact ‘present awareness:
Q. So is it the mind that wakes up to see that you are that? Is it the mind that sees it? Tony: No, it is no one who sees it; it is present awareness that sees it.
On page 16 of All There Is Tony talks about being ‘established in presence’, again, very Advaita style language:
Q. OK, there was a recognition that at that moment there was no one but after that the ‘me’ comes back?
Tony: Not necessarily – there can be an immediate establishment in presence. But for most people it’s a flip-flop in and out at first.
Here is more of an awareness-style teaching in which Tony appears to be describing innate consciousness or awareness. Specifically Tony states it is always present, always seeing whatever is happening, it is what we are, it is all that is, and it is what he means by the word ‘being’, taken from ‘All There Is’ p.93:
All it is is a seeing. It’s a seeing that’s beyond you looking at me. All it is is sensing that which watches you looking at me . . . in this. In this there is that which knows what is happening. All your lifetime there has always been that which knows what is happening, which sees what’s happening. And always that is there. You know that’s there; you know that there is something watching you sitting there watching me. It is what you are – it is what is – it is all that is – it is being.
The Law of Attraction
From the Chapter called ‘My World’, we have notions of attraction and things being perfectly right in terms of a spiritual journey, together with the notion of self-knowledge or knowing who/what I really am. This is all part of Step (1) in my proposed schema above:
‘When I look back at my life as openly as possible, I see how I have attracted to me the people, the events and the patterns that have been perfectly appropriate to the kinds of influences and images that my particular belief systems have been broadcasting.
Many people have become very excited about this concept and have suggested and taught that if we can change our thought patterns and our belief systems, then we can change the way we experience life. It seems this could be so, but they also entirely miss the point. For who we really are is beyond the limitation of experience and belief.
Until I have rediscovered who I am, what kind of existence am I trying to create?’
A new chapter – ‘Nothing being everything’
In the later version of The Open Secret, a new chapter called ‘Nothing Being Everything’ has been inserted which was not present before. It, being a later addition, contains many inherent criticisms and clarifications of the mode of expression found throughout the earlier version of The Open Secret. This is now step (3) in my proposed schema. In it Tony writes:
‘That which the seeker longs for cannot be known as a something and so cannot be described. Putting a word to it turns it into an object and the seeking energy will then inevitably try to find, grasp, attain or become worthy of what it believes is a something that it can possess.’
This indeed is a very useful clarification, and help the reader understand why Tony moved away from using words such as presence and awareness. Throughout the earlier version of The Open Secret, Tony has referred to the importance of knowing who you truly are, that you are really presence and awareness, but here in the newer version he writes that this has no connection to discovering my true nature:
‘However, what is referred to here has no connection to the current popular ideas of ‘being here now or ‘living in the moment’ or ‘everything being consciousness’ or ‘discovering my true nature’ and so on.
Tony’s Spiritual Journey has all the classic hallmarks of a Modern Spiritual Journey
In The Open Secret Tony write about his seeking journey. It appears he passed through all the classic stages of formal religion, meditation, self-help, psychological development, etc, ie. Step (1):
I decided to try to become a Christian. Considering the information I had at the time, it seemed that this approach was appropriate….I felt I was doing my best with what at the time I understood and sanctified, and what I anticipated and expected would give meaning to my spiritual life…
…I involved myself in the deepest and most illuminating meditations, consumed the most recent and significant books, and of course threw myself with much enthusiasm into the latest therapies. They burst out of the ground like new fruits, to be sucked and digested, or tasted and thrown away…this breathing method, that affirmation, this integration, that special and significant energy…all had a fascination for me in those early days.
I spent a year doing an intensive residential course experiencing many key contemporary therapies mixed with eastern meditations.
After a while I settled on those therapies or methods I felt suited me and brought me most benefit.
I experienced considerable movement of previously held inhibitions, and came to recognise belief systems and patterns that had strongly influenced much of my early behaviour.
Jiddu Krishnamurti Influence
As I read through the above material, another thing I noticed, more in the earlier writings of Tony’s, was a similarity of expression in some ways at some times to that of J. Krishnamurti. For anyone who has read J Krishnamurti (JK) extensively, as I have, it is very easy to see when people have been influenced by him. J Krishnamurti had a very unusual and distinct style that many others have copied and adopted, knowingly or unknowingly.
Because J Krishnamurti’s use of words is so distinctive, those familiar with it can often see when others are using similar language. Phrases in a spiritual context such as ‘what is’, ‘becoming’, and ‘choiceless awareness’ are a few key Krishnamurti phrases. I am not sure if Tony read J Krishnamurti or not, but I do know Tony was into Osho for a while, and Osho’s used to attend J Krishnamurti’s talks and the influence of J Krishnamurti can be strongly seen in the way Osho writes, with Osho often using the same phrases as J Krishnamurti.
In The Open Secret Tony narrates a story that was told frequently by J Krishnamurti, and as far as I know J Krishnamurti was the first person to tell this story. Here is Tony’s version. Click here to read J Krishnamurti’s version, as he said it way back in 1911:
I like the story of God and the Devil watching man as he discovered something beautiful in a desert. “Aha” said God to the Devil, “now that man has found truth you will have nothing to do”. “On the contrary” replied the Devil, “I am going to help him organise it”.
Here Tony uses the phrase ‘The first and last step’. This was a very famous phrase that J Krishnamurti used to use. Here is Tony in The Open Secret:
‘There is a subtle feeling of risk and serenity in presence. It is the first and last step. It moves beyond time and self-identity and provides the ground in which the discovery of what I am is made immediately and directly available.’
We have other phrasings which are also similar to JK’s: eg. what Tony writes here from The Open Secret could easily be a JK statement:
‘For life is its own purpose and doesn’t need a reason to be. That is its beauty.’
Even Tony’s use of the phrase ‘what is‘ is a phrase that, as far as I am aware, was coined by J Krishnamurti in the spiritual context. Same with the use of the word ‘becoming’ in a spiritual context. Here is a typical quote from JK demonstrating both of the above, taken from ‘The First and Last Freedom’:
‘But the real is near, you do not have to seek it; and a man who seeks truth will never find it. Truth is in what is – and that is the beauty of it. But the moment you conceive it, the moment you seek it, you begin to struggle; and a man who struggles cannot understand.’
Other Krishnamurti style language used includes the phrase ‘beyond measure’. From Tony’s Website (theopensecret.com) you can find the following:
‘Never found, never lost, never knowable, being is the consummate absence that is beyond measure.’
Here is a passage from J Krishnamurti, again from ‘The First and Last Freedom’:
‘Surely knowledge is always of the known; and with the known we are trying to understand the unknown, something which is beyond measure‘
In some ways there are other similarities between these two (there are many differences too!). One similarity is that earlier on in their ‘teaching careers’ both used much more traditional language in expressing themselves. Both had encountered various traditional teachings and expressed themselves in this traditional language. Later on, they both have developed very distinct styles, which has been imitated widely by others around them.
Anyway, this is what I have written so far. There is more I could write, as it seems there have been more changes in his expression in the last 10 years or so that may also be interesting to explore, but I would have to do more digging around for that, and they are pretty much among the same themes we have already mentioned of the teachings becoming progressively less dualistic in their expression.
Please note that none of this is meant to be a criticism of Tony Parsons or anyone else, just some commentary and observations, which I hope are of help to the seeker trying to find their way through all of this. Perhaps you found the above interesting, perhaps not! To read what Tony Parsons currently states please see his website and read his essays there. You will also find many clips of him on YouTube – I recommend you have a listen. And feel free to let me know your thoughts…
In the text Guru Vachaka Kovai are recorded some of the most important teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi. Here are verses 148 and 149 which come under the heading ‘The Truth of Vedanta’ in the text. I have also included commentary from Sri Sadhu Om, a direct disciple of Sri Ramana Maharshi’s:
The Truth of Vedanta
148. Those who know nothing but sense-pleasure,
To ruin and destruction doomed,
Resent transcendence of the senses
And call this fresh and fruitful wisdom
Tom’s comments: many seekers often resent the idea of turning away from sense pleasures, saying this is a dry or repressive path that is ‘anti-life’. Here Ramana calls this path ‘fresh and fruitful’ instead!
149. The experience of Vedanta comes
Only to those who are utterly
Without desire. Far, far it is
From those who still retain desires.
For such the penance is prescribed
Of longing for the Lord who knows
No desire, so as to end
Forever all desire.
Commentary from Sri Sadhu Om:
The term Vedanta is commonly understood to mean a particular system of philosophy, but its true meaning is the experience of Jnana which is gained as the conclusion [anta] of the Vedas.
The desire for sense objects, which are all 2nd or 3rd persons, is directly opposed to the desire for God, and so it is quite clear that God is not merely one among the many 2nd and 3rd personal objects, but that He must be the Reality of the 1st person. Therefore, we should understand that discarding all desires for 2nd and 3rd personal objects and having love for Self alone is the true devotion towards God.
Verse B 13 [which comes after verse 731] also asserts this same point.
731. The way of knowledge and the way of love
Are interwoven close. Don’t tear
Asunder these inseparables.
But practise both together holding
In the heart the two as one.
SRI BHAGAVAN 13: Meditation on the Self
Is devotion to the Lord
Supreme, since He abides as this,
Our very Self.
WHAT IS THE BEST & MOST DIRECT PATH?
When we find a way/teacher/path/’non-path’/’no-path’ that is right for us, it is natural to want to share that with others…but what is right for us is not necessarily right for others…ultimately we each find our own unique way…
Let us remain humble, acknowledge what works for us but not assume we know what is best for someone else or what will work for someone else…
By listening to others we allow them to teach us too, we allow the Divine to teach us through everyday interactions…
We learn from others, we allow others to become our teacher…
For everything and all are expressions of the Divine…
Each and everyone we meet is our True Guru…
All is Guru!
This is my experience at least
What do you think?
We have been given such a gift to have dreams. In the dream entire reality is created and projected by our minds, by our consciousness, and everything we see in the dream is our mind.
In this video Tom explains how taking on this conceptual view regarding waking life can help you to see your body mind as a projection and not what we truly are. The Guru is a projection, the teaching is a projection, the seeker is a projection – they are all ‘part of the dream’.
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Some say this is the most important original text that Sri Ramana Maharshi wrote, so I wanted to present you a standalone version of the text here without commentary. Below are links to a PDF version and also a PDF version with commentary. For me, this text, together with Who Am I? and Upadesa Saram (both of which were also directly written by Sri Ramana Maharshi), contain all you need to know in order to attain liberation. Ramana has, in concise form, laid it all out for us.
So read and study these works to find the true teaching, the true practice and the genuine result!
All praise to Ramana!
Once Bhagavan composed twenty Tamil stanzas containing his important teachings. They were not written in any particular order to form a poem. Sri Muruganar therefore suggested that Bhagavan should write twenty stanzas more to make it the conventional forty. Accordingly, Bhagavan composed twenty more stanzas. Out of these forty, Kavyakanta Ganapati Muni selected two as the invocatory stanzas. Then Bhagavan wrote two more to complete the forty. Some of the stanzas were translations from Sanskrit, but as devotees wanted all the forty verses to be original they were eliminated and new stanzas composed in their place. The verses were all arranged in a continuous order to form a poem. Later, a supplement consisting of a second forty verses was added. So indifferent to authorship was Bhagavan that he did not write all those supplementary verses himself. When he came upon a suitable one he used it – mostly translations from Sanskrit – and when not, he made one. The verses eliminated from the original forty verses were included in the supplement.
These eighty verses are the most comprehensive exposition of the Maharshi’s teaching. A number of translations have been made and commentaries written on them. They have been published as separate books by the ashram under the titles Ulladu Narpadu, Sad Vidya and Truth Revealed. Bhagavan translated these verses into Telugu prose under the name of Unnadi Nalubadi and into Malayalam verse under the name of Saddarsanam.
1. Unless Reality exists, can thought of it arise? Since, devoid of thought, Reality exists within as Heart, how to know the Reality we term the Heart? To know That is merely to be That in the Heart.
2. When those who are in dread of death seek refuge at the feet of the deathless, birthless Lord Supreme, their ego and attachments die; and they, now deathless, think no more of death.
1. Since we know the world, we must concede for both a common Source, single but with the power of seeming many. The picture of names and forms, the onlooker, the screen, the light that illumines – all these are verily He.
2. On three entities – the individual, God and the world – every creed is based. That ‘the One becomes the three’ and that ‘always the three are three’, are said only while the ego lasts. To lose the ‘I’ and in the Self to stay is the State Supreme.
3. ‘The World is true’; ‘No, it is a false appearance’; ‘The World is Mind’; ‘No, it is not’; ‘The World is pleasant’; ‘No, it is not’ – What avails such talk? To leave the world alone and know the Self, to go beyond all thought of ‘One’ and ‘Two’, this egoless condition is the common goal of all.
4. If Self has form, the world and God likewise have form. If Self is without form, by whom and how can form (of world and God) be seen? Without the eye, can there be sight or spectacle? The Self, the real Eye, is infinite.
5. The body is made up of the five sheaths; in the term body all the five are included. Without the body the world is not. Has one without the body ever seen the world?
6. The world is made up of the five kinds of sense perceptions and nothing else. And those perceptions are felt as objects by the five senses. Since through the senses the mind alone perceives the world, is the world other than the mind?
7. Though the world and mind rise and fade together, the world shines by the light of the mind. The ground whence the world and mind arise, and wherein they set, that Perfection rises not nor sets but ever shines. That is Reality.
8. Under whatever name or form we worship It, It leads us on to knowledge of the nameless, formless Absolute. Yet, to see one’s true Self in the Absolute, to subside into It and be one with It, this is the true Knowledge of the Truth.
9. ‘Twos’ and ‘threes’ depend upon one thing, the ego. If one asks in one’s Heart, ‘What is this ego?’ and finds it, they slip away. Only those who have found this know the Truth, and they will never be perplexed.
10. There is no knowledge without ignorance; and without knowledge ignorance cannot be. To ask, ‘Whose is this knowledge? Whose this ignorance?’ and thus to know the primal Self, this alone is Knowledge.
11. Without knowing the Self that knows, to know all objects is not knowledge; it is only ignorance. Self, the ground of knowledge and the non-Self, being known, both knowledge and ignorance fall away.
12. True Knowledge is being devoid of knowledge as well as ignorance of objects. Knowledge of objects is not true knowledge. Since the Self shines self-luminous, with nothing else for It to know, with nothing else to know It, the Self is Knowledge. Nescience It is not.
13. The Self that is Awareness, that alone is true. The knowledge which is various is ignorance. And even ignorance, which is false, cannot exist apart from the Self. False are the many jewels, for apart from gold, which alone is true, they cannot exist.
14. ‘You’ and ‘he’ – these appear only when ‘I’ does. But when the nature of the ‘I’ is sought and the ego is destroyed, ‘you’ and ‘he’ are at an end. What shines then as the One alone is the true Self.
15. Past and future are dependent on the present. The past was present in its time and the future will be present too. Ever-present is the present. To seek to know the future and the past, without knowing the truth of time today, is to try to count without the number ‘One’.
16. Without us there is no time nor space. If we are only bodies, we are caught up in time and space. But are we bodies? Now, then and always – here, now and everywhere – we are the same. We exist, timeless and spaceless we.
17. To those who do not know the Self and to those who do, the body is the ‘I’. But to those who do not know the Self the ‘I’ is bounded by the body; while to those who within the body know the Self the ‘I’ shines boundless. Such is the difference between them.
18. To those who do not know and to those who do, the world is real. But to those who do not know, Reality is bounded by the world; while to those who know, Reality shines formless as the ground of the world. Such is the difference between them.
19. The debate, ‘Does free will prevail or fate?’ is only for those who do not know the root of both. Those who have known the Self, the common source of freewill and of fate, have passed beyond them both and will not return to them.
20. To see God and not the Self that sees is only to see a projection of the mind. It is said that God is seen by him alone who sees the Self; but one who has lost the ego and seen the Self is none other than God.
21. When scriptures speak of ‘seeing the Self’ and ‘seeing God’, what is the truth they mean? How to see the Self? As the Self is one without a second, it is impossible to see it. How to see God? To see Him is to be consumed by Him.
22. Without turning inwards and merging in the Lord – it is His light that shines within the mind and lends it all its light – how can we know the Light of lights with the borrowed light of the mind?
23. The body says not it is ‘I’. And no one says, “In sleep there is no ‘I’.” When ‘I’ arises all (other) things arise. Whence this ‘I’ arises, search with a keen mind.
24. The body which is matter says not ‘I’. Eternal Awareness rises not nor sets. Betwixt the two, bound by the body, rises the thought of ‘I’. This is the knot of matter and Awareness. This is bondage, jiva, subtle body, ego. This is samsara, this is the mind.
25. Holding a form it rises; holding a form it stays; holding and feeding on a form it thrives. Leaving one form, it takes hold of another. When sought, it takes to flight. Such is the ego-ghost with no form of its own.
26. When the ego rises all things rise with it. When the ego is not, there is nothing else. Since the ego thus is everything, to question ‘What is this thing?’ is the extinction of all things.
27. ‘That’ we are, when ‘I’ has not arisen. Without searching whence the ‘I’ arises, how to attain the self-extinction where no ‘I’ arises? Without attaining self-extinction, how to stay in one’s true state where the Self is ‘That’?
28. Controlling speech and breath, and diving deep within oneself – like one who, to find a thing that has fallen into water, dives deep down – one must seek out the source whence the aspiring ego springs.
29. Cease all talk of ‘I’ and search with inward diving mind whence the thought of ‘I’ springs up. This is the way of wisdom. To think, instead, ‘I am not this, but That I am,’ is helpful in the search, but it is not the search itself.
30. When the mind turns inward seeking ‘Who am I?’ and merges in the Heart, then the ‘I’ hangs down his head in shame and the One ‘I’ appears as Itself. Though it appears as ‘I-I’, it is not the ego. It is Reality, Perfection, the Substance of the Self.
31. For him who is the Bliss of Self arising from extinction of the ego, what is there to do? He knows nothing other than this Self. How to conceive the nature of his state?
32. When the Vedas have declared, ‘Thou art That’ – not to seek and find the nature of the Self and abide in It, but to think ‘I am That, not This’ is want of strength. Because, That abides forever as the Self.
33. To say ‘I do not know myself’ or ‘I have known myself’ is cause for laughter. What? Are there two selves, one to be known by the other? There is but One, the Truth of the experience of all.
34. The natural and true Reality forever resides in the Heart of all. Not to realise It there and stay in It but to quarrel ‘It is’, ‘It is not’, ‘It has form’, ‘It has not form’, ‘It is one’, ‘It is two’, ‘It is neither’, this is the mischief of maya.
35. To discern and abide in the ever-present Reality is true attainment. All other attainments are like powers enjoyed in a dream. When the sleeper wakes, are they real? Those who stay in the state of Truth, having cast off the unreal – will they ever be deluded?
36. If we think we are the body, then to tell ourselves, ‘No, I am That’, is helpful to abide as That. Yet – since ever we abide as That – why should we always think, ‘I am That?’ Does one ever think, ‘I am a man’?
37. ‘During the search, duality; on attainment, unity’ – This doctrine too is false. When eagerly he sought himself and later when he found himself, the tenth man in the story was the tenth man and none else (ten men crossed a stream and wanted to make sure they were all safe. In counting, each one left himself out and found only nine. A passer-by gave each a blow and made them count the ten blows).
38. If we are the doers of deeds, we should reap the fruits they yield. But when we question, ‘Who am I, the doer of this deed?’ and realise the Self, the sense of agency is lost and the three karmas slip away. Eternal is this Liberation.
39. Thoughts of bondage and of freedom last only as long as one feels, ‘I am bound’. When one inquires of oneself, ‘Who am I, the bound one?’ the Self, Eternal, ever free, remains. The thought of bondage goes; and with it goes the thought of freedom too.
40. If asked, ‘Which of these three is final liberation: With form, without form, or with-and-without-form?’ I say, Liberation is the extinction of the ego which enquires ‘With form, without form, or with-and-without-form?’
Translated by Professor K. Swaminathan