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Chapter 11: What Is Eternal?

The soul, the ultimate reality,
is called twam, thou, when free of all descriptions
- truth, wisdom, the infinite, the abode of bliss -
just as gold when it is free of all form of bangle or crown.
The soul is then revealed in its own self-nature,
perception and consciousness.
Brahman, the ultimate reality, is truth.
It is infinite and the abode of knowing.
Truth is indestructible.
What is not destroyed, even as the mediums of space,
time and objects are destroyed,
is avinashi, the indestructible.

Innumerable ornaments can be made out of gold and many forms are possible - beautiful or ugly - but the form is not the gold. Nevertheless the form cannot appear without the gold, it cannot exist alone. A form has no independent existence, it appears only when it envelops something.

So gold can take many forms, but no form is the gold. Gold is free of all forms, that is why one form can change into another. If gold had a fixed form, then it could not take on another. However we have never seen gold without a form - whenever we see it, it has a form. But gold can also change its form - today it is a bangle, tomorrow it can be molded into some other form, and the day after tomorrow something else again. The form changes, but the intrinsic nature of gold is constant. So we may not have seen formless gold, and yet the gold is not the form.

The sage starts the talk with this example. He says: “Whatever we see in the world is all form. The base on which the form appears is without form, and the search for this formless is the search for truth. But in order to search for it, the form must be dropped. All form and all attributes need to be discarded, all limitations transcended, only then can one reach to the infinite, the boundless, the eternal.”

The mind is surrounded by form. One’s first acquaintance is only with form; the form is the first thing seen. The formless is not seen on the outside; whatsoever is seen on the outside is all form. That is why we become obsessed with form and forget that that which is must be formless, otherwise how can it take on so many forms?

What is a seed today will become a tree tomorrow. The seed which can become a tree must contain something formless within, which is able to take the form of a seed as well as the form of a tree. That formlessness must be hiding in the seed because that one seed can produce enough trees to cover the whole earth. One seed produces one tree, and one tree bears millions of seeds. If we sow these millions of seeds, each and every seed in turn will bear millions of seeds again; one seed can cover the whole earth with trees. Only the earth may run out of space, deny it and say, “Enough! No more.”

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