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Chapter 7: I Have Been Fooled!

Janak said: Amazing! I am pure, flawless, I am peace, I am awareness, I am beyond nature. Alas, I have been fooled by illusion all this time!
Just as I alone illumine this body, do I illumine the universe too. Either this whole universe is mine or nothing at all.
Amazing, having renounced the body and the world, now through the skill of your teaching I see only the divine.
Just as waves, foam and bubbles are not other than water, so this individual soul is not other than the universal soul.
Just as cloth when analyzed is nothing but thread, this universe when analyzed is nothing but the soul.
Just as sugar produced from sugarcane juice is wholly pervaded by it, the universe produced from me is permeated by me through and through.
From the ignorance of the soul this world then appears, from knowing the soul it does not appear. From the ignorance of the rope a snake appears, from knowing the rope it does not appear.

Like a sudden flash of light in darkness, or like a blind man suddenly seeing - this is what happened to Janak. He saw what he had never seen before. He heard what he had never heard before. His heart was filled with a new rhythm, a new zest. His spirit had a new vision. Certainly Janak was ready and available.

When it rains on the mountains, the mountains remain empty, as they are already full. When it rains on lakes, the empty lakes fill up.

One who is empty is available - the filled are unavailable.

Ego makes one stonelike. Egolessness gives one spaciousness, emptiness.

Janak must have been an empty vessel. Wonder, awe, immediately arose. He heard it and was awakened. The call was hardly given when he heard. The shadow of the whip was enough; there was no need to crack it, and no question at all of whipping.

Ashtavakra is very fortunate in having such a worthy listener as Janak. There is no master in all of human history who has been as fortunate as Ashtavakra. It is very rare to find a disciple like Janak - who awakens with just the slightest hint as if he was just waiting, as if a small puff of wind was enough to break his sleep. The sleep was not deep; not loaded with many dreams, just about to break. The pre-dawn had arrived, dawn was fast approaching.

There is a story in the Buddhist Jataka Tales that when Buddha was enlightened he remained silent for seven days. Buddha thought, “Those who can understand me, will understand me even without my speaking, and those who cannot understand me will not understand, no matter how much I explain. So what’s the use? - why should I speak? Why uselessly exert myself? Anything can awaken those who are ready to awaken. For them there is no need to call and shout. A bird will sing his song, a breeze will pass through the trees - it will be enough.”

And it has happened.. Lao Tzu was sitting under a tree: a dry leaf fell from the tree and he attained enlightenment watching the dry leaf falling from the tree. The dry leaf became his master. He just watched everything - in that dry leaf he saw his birth, he saw his death. In the death of that dry leaf everything died. One day he too would fall like a dry leaf. Everything was finished.

It was the same for Buddha. He was shocked when he saw a sick old man on the road. And when he saw a corpse he asked, “What has happened to this man?”

His chariot driver said, “The same will happen to you, and to everyone else. One day death will come.”

Buddha said, “Then turn the chariot around and take me home. Now there is nowhere to go. If death is approaching, life has no meaning.”

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