dwai

How to let go - The five principles of Ashtāvakra

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Posted (edited)

When I was 3-4 years into my Tai chi journey, my first teacher's recommendation of "letting go" became very real for me. I realized that I had to "let go", in order to become empty (which is a big deal for tai chi/dao people) :) 

 

The baffling thing for me was, "How do I let go?" 

I'd ask my teacher and he would say "just let go", but I didn't understand what he meant exactly then. My present teacher too says, "letting go is easy, but is also kind of hard at the same time". I think the following section does a good job of explaining to me how to let go. 

 

The Sage Ashtāvakra, whose compendium (samhita), also known as Ashtāvakra Gita, is known for his simple and direct teachings of Nonduality.

 

Now, Ashtāvakra is considered to be for those who have already spent significant time following the tripartite course of listening (to advaita teachings), contemplating (upon those teachings and understanding them intellectually) and meditation (making the teachings a living reality).

 

The great Swami Chinmayānanda (founder of the Chinmāya Mission), wrote a beautiful commentary on the Ashtāvakra Gita, which is the reference material for this post.

 

Ashtāvakra outlines 5 principles or guidelines by which one can let go of all phenomenal attachments. Ashtāvakra says, if your senses and mind are attached to any object, those objects are essentially poison (they bind you). So, they have to be let go. Here are his five principles (my own understanding of them) --

 

  1. kshamā or forgiveness -- when something wrong happens through you, and you are aware of it, it is the hardest thing to forgive yourself for it. Forgive yourself. Not being able to forgive yourself, you bind yourself to the past. 
  2. Arjava or sincerity -- Perform every action with full awareness. That itself is sincerity. Since you already know your true nature as being the ever-free awareness, when you operate from that point of presence, all action becomes totally sincere and pure (and nothing bad will come from it). 
  3. Dayā or Compassion -- Don't be hard on yourself or others. Be compassionate towards all, including yourself. This rises from the understanding that there IS no one or nothing apart from you.  So how can we be anything but compassionate? 
  4. Thosha or Contentment -- Maintain the sense of fulfillment and contentment in your life, whatever the circumstances. If life's ups and downs frustrate you, then how can you remain compassionate? The example given is, consider that you are going to die in 10 days. What would your priorities be? Would you worry about property and money or what you eat etc? Be happy and live each day as it is, with full acceptance and joy. 
  5. Truth -- What is truth? Whatever is, right now, in the present moment. Everything else is ephemeral. Change is inevitable. Death is inevitable. The body changes? The people change. Everything changes. Only what is now is real. Hold on to that.

 

 

Edited by dwai
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In the Ashtavakra Gita itself, I looked up the word forgive and found only one entry as follows:

Ashtavakra said: 
1.2 
To be free, 
shun the experiences of the senses 
like poison. 
Turn your attention to 
forgiveness, sincerity, kindness, simplicity, truth. 

 

 

Here you can see a list of 5 qualities, but there are many many other paragraphs in this gita, there is no way to say this is the core of this gita, which I have studied and listened to dozens of times.

It does not say forgive yourself.  It says forgiveness.  Often this means forgiving others.

It also does not say compassion, it says kindness.

Nor does it say contentment, it says simplicity.

 

This text is very direct and advanced.   

It is geared towards a student achieving direct realisation. 

It is not concerned with flowery things like helping others or saving the world, which other texts promote.

It is direct realisation of truth.

It is always better to simply read the original text yourself and that was the intention of the author.

The author did not want you to read somebody's commentaries.

The author wanted you to read the author's words.

And you can listen here :
 

 

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Posted (edited)

 

Quote

 

Here you can see a list of 5 qualities, but there are many many other paragraphs in this gita, there is no way to say this is the core of this gita, which I have studied and listened to dozens of times.

It does not say forgive yourself.  It says forgiveness.  Often this means forgiving others.

It also does not say compassion, it says kindness.

Nor does it say contentment, it says simplicity.

 

The actual sanskrit clearly says the following --

 

muktiṃ icchasi cettāta viṣayān viṣavattyaja ।
kṣamārjavadayātoṣasatyaṃ pīyūṣavad bhaja ॥ 1-2॥

It clearly outlines the words, Kshamā, arjava, dayā, tosha, and satyam (as provided in the OP). Sanskrit words are not ambiguous like english words. You should read a better commentary translation.

Edited by dwai
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Chinmaya's explanations are not Ashtavakras.

 

Chinmaya says you should forgive yourself !!!  

Ashtavakra says 

 

18.18 
The man of Knowledge 
may live as an ordinary man, 
but he is not. 
He sees he is neither 
focused nor distracted, 
and finds no fault with himself. 

 

 

Chinmaya set up missions to help people, schools and hospitals.

Ashtavakra says : 

 

18.82 
Detached from desire, 
the sage neither praises peace 
nor blames the wicked. 
Equally content  
in happiness and misery, 
he would not change a thing. 
 
18.83 
The sage neither rejects the world 
nor desires Self. 
He is free of joy and sorrow. 
He does not live 
and cannot die. 

 

18.84 
The wise one lives without hope. 
He has no attachment to his children, wife or anyone. 
Pleasure means nothing to him. 
His life is glorious.  

 

 

Ashtavakra is vast, he is not of this world.

Chinmaya is a good natured do gooder making lots of hospitals.

 

There is place in the world for both, but they are not the same.

 

Few will understand Ashtavakra.

As Ashtavakra says :

 

13.1 
The tranquil state 
of knowing Self alone is rare— 
even among those who own but a loincloth. 
I therefore neither renounce nor accept 
and am happy. 

 

 

 

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Ok @rideforever, you obviously have some serious issues with swami chinmayananda :) 

 

in order to forgive others, you must learn to first forgive yourself. True forgiveness cannot arise from someone who judges and/or  punishes him/herself and treats themselves unkindly. 

 

You know that old saying...”charity begins at home”? 

 

 

 

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Yes, and there is room in the world for charity and helping others.

 

 

But Ashtavakra is an advanced text for people who no longer exist on this world.

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3 minutes ago, rideforever said:

Yes, and there is room in the world for charity and helping others.

 

 

But Ashtavakra is an advanced text for people who no longer exist on this world.

Ok 👍🏾 

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Posted (edited)

It's actually all quite natural and simple to be oneself. Self can spontaneously reveal its nature through sages like Ashtavakra, and Self can spontaneously reveal its nature through do-gooders like the great Swami.

 

None are attached or in bondage, and there are none more advanced than another. There is only Self in all its wondrous manifestations.

 

False conclusions by intellect arise due to limited bodily identification. It easily leads to making judgements upon mere appearances, projections upon other bodies also imagined to only be individuals.That which speaks contrary to Reality is just the imagined self's confused musing from a romanticized perspective that Self has ever somehow been beyond Itself.

 

Edited by neti neti
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2.19

Recognising that all this and my body too are nothing, while my true Self is nothing but pure consciousness, what is there left for the imagination to work on now?

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Posted (edited)

@neti neti   @dwai

 

Hey, does anyone know of a book with collected extracts from Indian sages and saints ?   I have been looking for something but couldn't find anything good.   Something with some juicy passages from a sprinkling of different teachers, and without interpretation or commentary.  ???  Thanks

 

In fact I have a bunch of Advaita texts, they are the onces that Siddhameshwar Maharaj recommended, and have thought of assembling them and selfpublishing but the formatting is quite a lot of work.

 

 

Edited by rideforever
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I'm a bit surprised to say the least. For someone who once basically dismissed my Guru's teachings as pointless, it seems odd you've considered his recommended reading list... not to mention now having the motivation to assemble a compilation of direct pointers. :blink:

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, rideforever said:

@neti neti   @dwai

 

Hey, does anyone know of a book with collected extracts from Indian sages and saints ?   I have been looking for something but couldn't find anything good.   Something with some juicy passages from a sprinkling of different teachers, and without interpretation or commentary.  ???  Thanks

Learn Sanskrit and read the original Upanishads if you want to read  “authentic” stuff. Since I’m not very smart, I rely on masters such as Swami chinmayananda, Swami vivekananda et al to elucidate the teachings. :) 

 

Quote

In fact I have a bunch of Advaita texts, they are the onces that Siddhameshwar Maharaj recommended, and have thought of assembling them and selfpublishing but the formatting is quite a lot of work.

 

 

👍🏾

Edited by dwai
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54 minutes ago, rideforever said:

Perhaps this channel will be of interest to you, if you don't know of it already.

 


 

Thanks. I didn’t know of this one. I’ll check it out :) 

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