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Chapter 5: The Inner Sky

Ashtavakra said: O son, long have you been caught in the bondage of perceiving yourself as the body. Cut this bondage with the sword of knowing “I am awareness” and be happy.
You are alone, void of action, self-illuminated and innocent. Your bondage is this: that you practice samadhi.
You are permeating this universe, you are the thread within it. You are pure consciousness by nature, do not become small-minded. You are without expectations, unchanging, self-sufficient, the abode of serenity, of boundless intelligence, and unperturbed. Hence have faith only in consciousness.
Know that which has form is false, and know the formless as unchangeable and everlasting. From this true understanding one is not born in the world again. Just as a mirror exists in the image reflected in it, and also exists apart from the reflection, God is within and outside this body. Just as the one all-pervading sky is the same within and outside a pot, the eternal everlasting brahman is the same in all.

The first sutra:

Ashtavakra said: O son, long have you been caught in the bondage of perceiving yourself as the body. Cut this bondage with the sword of knowing “I am awareness” and be happy.

In Ashtavakra’s vision - and this is the purest vision, the ultimate vision - bondage is only a belief, bondage is not real.

There is an episode in Ramakrishna’s life.. For his whole life he had been worshipping Mother Kali, but at the very end he began to feel, “It is duality; the experience of oneness has still not happened. It is lovely, delightful, but the two still remains two.” Someone loves a woman, someone loves money, someone politics; he loved Kali - but love still was divided in two. Still the ultimate nonduality hadn’t happened and he was in anguish. He began looking out for a non-dualist, a Vedantist - for some person to come who could show him the path.

A paramahansa named Totapuri was passing by. Ramakrishna invited him to stop with him and asked, “Help me to attain oneness with the divine.”

Totapuri said, “What’s difficult in that? You believe there are two, so there are two. Drop the belief!”

Ramakrishna replied, “But dropping this belief is very difficult - I have lived with it my whole life. When I close my eyes the image of Kali is standing there. I drown in that nectar. I forget that I am to become one; as soon as I close my eyes there are two. When I try to meditate, it becomes dual. Help me out of this!”

So Totapuri said, “Try this: when the image of Kali is before you, pick up a sword and cut her in two.”

Ramakrishna said, “Where will I find a sword?”

What Totapuri said is the same as what is said in Ashtavakra’s sutra. Totapuri said, “From where did you bring this image of Kali? - so bring a sword from the same place! She too is imaginary. She too is an embellishment of your imagination. Through nurturing it your whole life, through continuously projecting it your whole life, it has become crystallized. It is just imagination.” Not everyone sees Kali when they close their eyes..

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