Thursday, 23 January 2020

Brhadaranyaka Upanisad - Upadhi, Adhyasa and the Sage Ashtavakra

I’m going to rest on this landing to take a breath before Sankara begins to desconstruct the position he has just sketched about upadhis. Not that they are wrong but merely a closer approximation to an ungraspable truth which eludes the rational mind. The Sage Ashthavakra threw away all epideictic props and resided in natural unwrought enlightenment.
Does that mean there are no rules, no method?


An interesting thing about the Asthavakra Gita also known as the Ashtavakra Samhita is that there is no quoting of the scriptures in it. This suggests that it was composed by a realised sage and that it represents his own particular slant on the traditional teachings. One senses in it many of the characteristics of that modern day school which has come to be known as Neo-Advaita. Neo as a suffix nearly always has a pejorative implication. Neo as in new improved formula with special bacteria and added irony. We distrust the magic short cuts to realisation and an earnest satsanghi telling us that 'like man you are already there' seems like ascended Dudespeak.

Still this is ancient:

Chapter XII Abiding in the Self
Janaka said:
I became intolerant first of physical action, then of extensive speech, and then of thought. Thus therefore do I firmly abide.

Having no attachment for sound and other sense objects, and the Self not being an object of perception, my mind is freed from distraction and is one-pointed. Thus therefore do I firmly abide.

An effort has to be made for concentration when there is distraction of mind owing to superimposition etc. Seeing this to be the rule, thus do I firmly abide.

Having nothing to accept and nothing to reject, and having neither joy nor sorrow, thus, sir, do I now firmly abide.

A stage of life or no stage of life, meditation, control of mental functions - finding that these cause distraction to me, thus verily do I firmly abide.

Abstention from action is as much the outcome of ignorance as the performance of action. Knowing this truth fully well, thus do I firmly abide.

Thinking on the Unthinkable One, one only has recourse to a form of thought. Therefore giving up that thought, thus do I firmly abide.

Blessed is the man who has accomplished this. Blessed is he who is such by nature.

The Dude: Yeah, well. The Dude abides.
The Stranger: The Dude abides. I don't know about you but I take comfort in that. It's good knowin' he's out there. The Dude. Takin' 'er easy for all us sinners. Shoosh. I sure hope he makes the finals.
(repost from 2012)

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