Translated by John Henry Richards
Blindness, short-sightedness and sharp eyesight are simply due to the healthiness or defectiveness of the eye, just as such states as deafness and dumbness are conditions of the ear etc., not of the self, the knower.
Breathing in and out, yawning, sneezing and bodily secretions are described by experts as functions depending on the Inner Energy, while hunger and thirst for truth are functions of the Inner Energy direct.
The mind, as a reflection of Light, resides in the body with its senses, the eyes etc., through identifying itself with them.
The sense of responsibility is what feels itself as the doer and bearer of the consequences, and together with the three Attributes, purity etc., undergoes the three states (of sleeping, dreaming and waking).
When the senses are favourable it is happy, and when they are not it is unhappy. So happiness and suffering are its attributes, and not those of the ever blissful self.
The senses are enjoyable only for the sake of oneself, not for themselves. The self is the most dear of everything, and consequently the self is ever blissful, and never experiences suffering.
That we experience the bliss of the self free from the senses in deep sleep is verified by the scriptures, by direct experience, by tradition and by deduction.
The so-called Inexpressible, the Lord’s power, is the ultimate, beginningless ignorance made up of the three qualities (gunas), the pure Maya knowable through its effects, out of which this whole world is produced.
It cannot be said to either exist or not exist, to be divisible or indivisible, composite or unitary or both. It is amazing and indescribable.
It can be overcome by the realisation of the pure non-dual God, like the false idea of a snake through the recognition of the rope. It is composed of the three qualities (gunas) of passion, dullness and purity, recognised by their effects.
The distracting power of passion is by nature active, and from it the primeval emanation of activity has taken place. The mental states like desire and pain continually arise from it as well.
Lust, anger, greed, pride, envy, self-importance and jealousy — these are the awful effects produced by passion. Consequently this passion quality is the cause of bondage.
The veiling effect of the dullness quality is the power that distorts the appearance of things. It is the cause of samsara in man, and what leads to the activation of the distracting power (of passion).
Even a wise and learned man and an adept in the knowledge of the extremely subtle self can be overcome by dullness, and fail to realise it, even when demonstrated it in many different ways. What is presented by delusion he looks on as good, and grasps at its qualities. Such, alas, is the strength of the great veiling power of this awful dullness quality!
Lack of sense or distorted understanding, lack of judgement, and bewilderment — these never leave him who is caught in this delusion, and the distracting power torments him continually.
Ignorance, laziness, drowsiness, sleep, carelessness, stupidity and so on are the effects of the dullness quality. One stuck in these does not understand anything, but remains as if asleep, like a wooden post.
Clear purity is like water, but combined with these other qualities it leads to samsara, though in this purity the nature of the self is reflected, like the disk of the sun illuminating the whole world.
In purity mixed with the other qualities virtues such as humility, restraint, truthfulness, faith, devotion, desire for liberation, spiritual tendencies and freedom from entanglement occur.
In real purity however the qualities which occur are contentment, self-understanding, supreme peace, fulfilment, joy and abiding in one’s supreme self, through which one experiences real bliss.
This Inexpressible, described as made up of the three qualities (gunas), is the active body of the self. Deep sleep is a special condition of it, in which the activity of all functions of awareness cease.
Deep sleep is the cessation of all forms of awareness, and the reversion of consciousness to a latent form of the self. “I knew nothing” is the universal experience.
The body, its functions, vital energies, the thinking mind, etc., and all forms, objects, enjoyment, etc. the physical elements such as the ether, in fact everything up to this Inexpressible are not one’s true nature.
Everything is the creation of Maya from space itself down to the individual body. Look on it all as a desert mirage, unreal and not yourself.
Now I will instruct you in the true nature of your supreme self, by understanding which a man is freed from his bonds and achieves final fulfilment.
There IS something your own, unchanging, the “I”, the substratum, the basis, which is the triple observer, distinct from the five sheaths.
The awareness that knows everything whether waking, dreaming or in deed sleep, and whether or not there is movement in the mind, that is the “I”.
It is that which experiences everything, but which nothing else can experience, which thinks through the intelligence etc., but which nothing else can think. -
It is that by which all this is filled, but which nothing else can fill, and which, in shining, makes all this shines as well.
It is that whose mere presence makes the body, bodily senses, and mind etc. keep to their appropriate functions like servants.
It is that by which everything from the ego function down to the body is known like an earthen vessel, for its very nature is everlasting consciousness.
This is one’s inmost nature, the eternal Person, whose very essence is unbroken awareness of happiness, who is ever unchanging and pure consciousness, and in obedience to whom the various bodily function continue.
In one of pure nature, the morning light of the Unmanifest shines even here in the cave of the mind, illuminating all this with its glory, like the sun up there in space.
That which knows the thinking mind and ego functions takes its form from the body with its senses and other functions, like fire does in a ball of iron, but it neither acts nor changes in any way.
It is never born, never dies, grows, decays, or changes. Even when the body is destroyed it does not cease to be, like the space in an earthen vessel.
The true self, of the nature of pure consciousness, and separate from the productions of nature, illuminates all this, real and unreal, without itself changing. It plays in the states of waking and so on, as the foundation sense of ‘I exist’, as the awareness, witness of all experience.
By means of a trained mind, and thanks to your faculty of understanding, experience in practice the true self of this ‘I exist’ in yourself, cross the ocean of Samsara’s waves of birth and death, and established in the nature of God, and achieve the goal (of life).
Seeing ‘This is me’ in what is not really oneself, this is man’s bondage, the result of ignorance and the cause of the descent into the pain of birth and death. It is because of this that one sees this unreal body as real, and identifying oneself with it, feeds it and cares for it with the senses, like a grub in its cocoon.
One who is confused by lack of clarity sees something which is not there, like a man mistaking a rope for a snake through lack of understanding, and experiencing great pain etc. from mistakenly taking hold of it. So, my friend, hear this — Bondage is thinking that something non-existent exists.
This obscuring power conceals the infinite glory of one’s true self which radiates with its indivisible, eternal and unified power of understanding, like an eclipse obscures the sun’s disk, and creates darkness.
When he has lost sight of his true self, immaculate and resplendent, a man identifies himself with his body out of ignorance. Then the great so-called dispersive power torments him with its fetters of continuous desire, hatred etc.
When a man has fallen to the state of being swallowed up by the great shark of ignorance, he assumes to himself the various states superimposed upon him, and in a pitiful state wanders rising and sinking in the great ocean of Samsara.
Just as cloud formations, arising from the suns rays, obscure the sun and fill the sky, so the sense of self-identity, arising from one’s true nature, obscures the existence of the true self and itself fills experience.
Just as the thick clouds covering the sun on a bad day are buffeted by cold, howling blasts of wind, so, when one’s true nature is obscured by deep ignorance, the strong dispersive power torments the confused understanding with many afflictions.
It is from these powers that man’s bondage has arisen. Confused by them, he mistakes the body for himself and wanders in error.
The seed of the Samsara tree is ignorance, identification with the body is its shoot, desire is its first leaves, activity its water, the bodily frame its trunk, the vital forces its branches, the faculties its twigs, the senses its flowers, the manifold pains arising from various actions its fruit, and the bird on it is the individual experiencing them.
Ignorance is the root of this bondage to what is not one’s true nature, a bondage which is called beginningless and endless. It gives rise to the long course of suffering — birth, death, sickness, old age, etc.
It cannot be destroyed by weapons, wind or fire, nor even by countless actions — by nothing, in fact, except by the wonderful sword of wisdom, sharpened by God’s grace.
He who is devoted to the authority of the scriptures achieves steadiness in his religious life, and that brings inner purity. The man of pure understanding comes to the experience of his true nature, and by this Samsara is destroyed, root and all.
One’s true nature does not shine out when covered by the five sheaths, material and otherwise, although they are the product of its own power, like the water in a pool, covered with algae.
On removing the algae, the clean, thirst-quenching and joy-inducing water is revealed to a man.
John Henry Richards was an Anglican clergyman who worked at several churches on the Castlemartin Peninsula in Wales. He died in 2017. For more information, see our main page about him.
This page was published on May 16, 2000 and last revised on May 27, 2017.