Translated by John Henry Richards
Even if beginningless, something originally non-existent is seen to come to an end. In the same way the living organism which is thought to belong to oneself through its identification with the intellect, does not really exist. On the other hand, the true self is quite distinct from it, and the identification of oneself with the intellect is due to misunderstanding.
The cessation of that wrong identification is achieved by right understanding, and by no other means. Right understanding is held by scripture to be the recognition of the oneness of God and oneself.
This recognition is achieved by right discrimination between what is truly oneself and what is not, so one must develop this discrimination between the conventional self and one’s true self.
Like very muddy water, which is clearly water again when the mud is removed, one’s true self shines forth again when the contamination is removed.
When the non-existent is removed the individual is disclosed as the supreme self, so one must see to the removal of thoughts about “me” and suchlike from oneself.
The level of sense awareness cannot be one’s true self since it is changeable, physical, restricted, a sense-object and intermittent. What is transient should not be mistaken what is eternal.
The level of pleasure is the aspect of ignorance which is a sort of reflection the blissfulness of the true self. Its attributes are the qualities of enjoyment and so on, which are experienced when an enjoyable object is present. It presents itself spontaneously to those fortunate enough to experience the fruits of good deeds, something from which everyone experiences great pleasure without trying to.
The pleasure level is manifest at its fullest extent in deep sleep, whereas in dreams and the waking state it is only partially manifest, stimulated by such things as the sight of enjoyable objects.
The pleasure level cannot be the true self either, since it is changeable, a conditioned phenomenon, the result of good deeds, and involved in the other levels of consciousness as well.
When all these five levels have been disposed of by meditating on scripture, when everything as been eliminated there remains the witness, pure consciousness itself.
This self, the light itself, beyond the five levels, the witness of the three states, changeless, unsullied, eternal joy — this should be recognised by the wise as one’s real self.
After transcending these five levels as unreal, master, I find nothing but a nothingness, the absence of everything. What object remains for a wise person to identify with?
You have spoken the truth, learned one. You are skilled in discrimination. That by which all other phenomena, starting with the thought of “me”, are experienced, but which is itself experienced by none, know that, by the subtlest of understanding, as your true self.
Whatever is experienced by something else has that as its witness. When there is nothing else to experience something, one cannot talk of it being witnessed.
This has the nature of self-awareness, since it is conscious of itself. Thus the individual self is by its self-awareness none other than the Supreme itself.
That which is fully manifest in the waking state, dream and deep sleep, which is perceived within in the form of the various experiences and impressions like self-consciousness, and which is experienced as the eternal Bliss, and Consciousness of one’s true self, see this within your own heart.
The ignorant see the reflection of the sun in the water of a jar and think it is the sun itself. In the same way the fool sees the reflection of consciousness in its associated qualities and mistakenly identifies himself with it.
The wise man ignores jar, water and the sun’s reflection in it, and sees the self-illuminating sun itself which gives light to all three but is independent of them.
220, 221, 222
When a man abandons the body and the intellect which is just a derivative of consciousness, and recognising one’s true self, the experiencer, pure awareness, the source of everything existent and non-existent, itself devoid of attributes, eternal, all-pervading, omnipresent, subtle, empty of inside and outside, and itself none other than one’s true self (for this is truly inborn), he becomes free from evil, sinless and immortal, free from pain, and the incarnation of joy. Master of himself he is afraid of no-one. There is no other way to the breaking of the bonds of temporal existence for the seeker after liberation than the realisation of his own true nature.
The recognition of one’s inseparable oneness with God is the means of liberation from temporal existence, by which the wise person achieves the non-dual, blissful nature of God.
Having attained the nature of God, the knower returns no more to the temporal state, so it is essential to recognise one’s own true inseparable oneness with God.
God is the truth, knowledge and eternal. He is pure, transcendent and self-sufficient — the everlasting, undiluted bliss which is enthroned undivided and inseparable within.
This supreme Reality is non-dual in the absence of any other reality beside itself. In the state of knowledge of ultimate truth there is nothing else.
This great variety of things which we experience through our failure to understand is all really God himself, once the distortion of thought is removed.
A pot made of clay is nothing other than clay, and its true reality is always simply clay. The pot is no more than the shape of a pot, and is just a mistake of imagination based on the name.
No one can show that the reality of the pot is different from the clay, so the pot is just an imagination based on misunderstanding, and the clay is the only final reality.
Similarly everything which is made of God is just God and has no separate existence. Whoever says it exists is not yet free from delusion and is like someone talking in his sleep.
The supreme scripture of the Arthava Veda declares that “All this is God”, so all this is simply God, and anything in addition to that has no reality.
If it has any reality, that is the end of any eternal reality for oneself, the scriptures are false, and the Lord himself a liar, three things which are quite unacceptable to great souls.
The Lord, who knows the reality of things, has stated “I do not depend on them” (Bhagavad Gita 9.4) and “Things do not exist in me” (Bhagavad Gita 9.5).
If everything really existed, it ought to exist in deep sleep too. Since nothing does, then it follows that it is unreal and an illusion like a dream.
So the world is not distinct from the Supreme Self, and its perception is an illusion like all attributes. What we add to That has no reality, but merely appears to exist in addition to That through misunderstanding.
Whatever a deluded person experiences in his delusion is still always God. The silver is only mother-of-pearl. It is always God that is mistaken for something else, and whatever is added to God is just a name.
So there exists only the supreme God, the One Reality without a second, consisting of pure consciousness, without any blemish, peace itself and without beginning or end, actionless and having the nature of pure bliss.
Beyond all delusion-created distinctions, this Whatever shines by its own light, eternal, fulfilled, indivisible, infinite, formless, inexpressible, nameless and indestructible.
Seers know this supreme Reality, free from the distinctions of knower, known and knowledge, infinite, complete in itself and consisting of pure Awareness.
What cannot be got rid of or taken hold of, beyond the sphere of mind and speech, measureless and beginning-and-endless is God, one’s true self and supreme glory.
The words “God” and “yourself”, referred to by the terms “That” and “Thou” are conscientiously purified by repetition of the scriptural phrase “Thou art That”, and are clearly seen to be identical.
Their identity can be indicated but not described, since they have mutually exclusive meanings like a firefly and the sun, a king and a slave, a well and the ocean, or an atom and mount Meru.
The distinction between them is due to the imagined additional associations, but in reality there are no such additions. The primary mental activity is due to the Lord’s Maya, and in the case of the individual it is the result of the five sheaths.
These are additions to the Lord and the individual, and when they are removed, there is neither Supreme nor individual. A ruler is known by his kingdom, and a warrior by his arms. Take these away, and there is neither warrior nor king.
Scripture itself, with the words “Here is the teaching” (Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 2.3.6), denies the imagined duality in God. One must get rid of these additions by means of understanding backed up by the authority of the scriptures.
“Not this, not this” (Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 2.3.6) means that nothing one can think of is real, like a rope mistaken for a snake, or like a dream. Carefully getting rid of the apparent in this way, one should then come to understand the oneness of the Lord and the individual.
So the meaning of these two expressions, Lord and individual, must be carefully considered until their essential oneness is understood. It is not enough just to reject or accept either of them. One must come to the recognition of the identity of the meaning of them both.
In the phrase “this person is Devadatta” the identity is indicated by removing the distinction, and in the same way, in the expression “Thou art That” the wise must get rid of the apparent contradiction and recognise the complete identity of God and self by carefully identifying the shared attribute of pure consciousness. Hundreds of scriptural sayings declare the identity of oneself and God in this way.
In accordance with “It is nothing material” (Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 3.8.8) eliminate the unreal and find that which like the sky is pure and solitary, and is beyond thought. Eliminate too this purely illusory body which you have hitherto identified with yourself. Then recognising, “I am God” with purified understanding, see your true self as undifferentiated consciousness.
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.