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Chapter 3: The Lifting of the Veil

Ashtavakra said: You are the one observer of all, and in reality always free. Your bondage is this: you see the other - not yourself - as the observer.
“I am the doer,” thus has the black serpent of ego bitten you. “I am not the doer,” drink this divine nectar of trust and be happy.
“I am the one pure awareness,” thus having burned the forest of your ignorance with this fire of certainty and being beyond sorrow, be happy.
You are that bliss, that ultimate bliss, within which this imaginary world is projected like a snake on a rope. Knowing this, thus wander happily. He who considers himself free is free, and he who considers himself bound is bound; because in this world the proverb is true: “As you think so you are.”
The soul is the witness, all-pervading, perfect, one, free, conscious, free from doing, absolutely alone, nonattached, desireless, peaceful. Because of illusion, it looks like the world.
“I am an individually projected life,” drop this illusion and also the feeling of inner and outer, and awaken in the thought that you are the unchanging, conscious, nondual soul.

The first sutra:

Ashtavakra said: You are the one observer of all, and in reality always free. Your bondage is this: you see the other - not yourself - as the observer.

This sutra is extremely important. Understand each and every word correctly. You are the one observer of all, and in reality always free. Ordinarily we perceive our lives through the eyes of others. We use the eyes of others like a mirror. We forget the observer and become the observed.

And it is natural. A child is born: he does not know anything of himself. Only by looking into the eyes of others will he know who he is. You cannot see your own face, you will have to look in a mirror. When you look at yourself in the mirror you become the observed, you are no longer the observer. How much do you know of yourself? As much as the mirror reveals.

The mother says, “My child is beautiful”; so the child thinks he is beautiful. The teacher in school says, “You are intelligent,” and you begin to believe yourself intelligent. If someone insults you, if someone condemns you, the condemnation penetrates you deeply. That is why our knowledge of ourselves seems to be so confused- because it is made of many voices, of many conflicting voices. Someone says, “You are beautiful,” and someone else says, “You? Beautiful? Look at your face in a mirror!” Both voices are taken in - a duality is created. Someone says, “You are very intelligent, and someone else says, “I have never seen such an idiot!” Both voices are taken in, both are collected. A great uneasiness arises, a deep split is created.

This is why you are not certain about who you are. You have collected such a crowd of opinions. You have looked in so many mirrors, and each one has given you a different message. Mirrors have no message about you, their message is about themselves.

You must have seen mirrors in which you become tall, mirrors in which you become fat, mirrors in which you become extremely beautiful, mirrors in which you become extremely ugly - you be-come an Ashtavakra. The reflection in the mirror is not of you. The reflection is the mirror’s nature.

Conflicting opinions go on accumulating. You begin to believe that you are this accumulation of conflicting opinions. That is why you are always shaking, always afraid. How deep, this fear of public opinion! “What if people think bad of me? What if they should think me a fool? What if they think I am immoral?” We become worried because we have shaped our being according to others.

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