Monday, August 26, 2013: “And for what he has become, There is no name…”

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I’ve been in end of summer vacation mode which has been lovely for the soul but threw a wrench into my blogging schedule. Rather than stay in chronological order however, I’m posting last week’s class. Which focused on the topic of “Desire.” Desire gets everyone into all sorts of trouble. For those who walk a wisdom path, it’s very good to make friends with this powerful force. We want to get it working for rather than against us.

Here’s my dharma talk which opens with a short breath meditation and ends with a reading from Thomas Byrom’s wonderful translation of Ashtavakra Gita. I’ve titled this post with the final lines from this glorious text…

Here’s the Byrom text:
From The Heart of Awareness: A Translation of Ashtavakra Gita, Thomas Byrom, Shambhala Dragon Editions.

17. Beyond All
The man who is happy and pure
And likes his own company
Gathers the fruit of his practice
And the fruit of wisdom.
The man who knows the truth
is never unhappy in the world.
For he alone fills the universe.
Just as the elephant loves
The leaves of the sallaki tree,
But not the neem tree,
So the man who loves himself
Always spurns the senses.
It is hard to find
A man who has no desire
For what he has not tasted,
Or who tastes the world
And is untouched.
Here in the world
Some crave pleasure,
Some seek freedom.
But it is hard to find
A man who wants neither.
He is a great soul.
It is hard to find
A man who has an open mind,
Who neither seeks nor shuns
Wealth or pleasure,
Duty or liberation,
Life or death. . .
He does not want the world to end.
He does not mind if it lasts.
Whatever befalls him,
He lives in happiness.
For he is truly blessed.
Now that he understands,
He is fulfilled.
His mind is drawn within,
And he is fulfilled.
He sees and he hears,
He touches and smells and tastes,
And he is happy.
What he does is without purpose.
His senses have been stilled.
His eyes are empty.
He is without desire or aversion.
For him the waters of the world
Have all dried up!
He is not asleep.
He is not awake.
He  never closes his eyes.
Or opens them.
Wherever he is,
He is beyond everything.
He is free.
And the man who is free
Always lives in his heart.
His heart is always pure.
Whatever happens,
He is free of all desires.
Whatever he sees or hears or touches,
Whatever he smells or tastes,
Whatever he acquires,
He is free.
Free from striving,
And from stillness.
For he is indeed a great soul.
Without blame or praise,
Anger or rejoicing.
He gives nothing.
He takes nothing.
He wants nothing,
Nothing at all.
And whoever draws near him,
A woman full of passion
Or Death Himself,
He is not shaken.
He stays in his heart.
He is free indeed!
It is all the same to him.
Man or woman,
Good fortune or bad,
Happiness or sorrow.
It makes no difference.
He is serene.
The world no longer holds him.
He has gone beyond
The bounds of human nature.
Without compassion
Or the wish to harm,
Without pride or humility.
Nothing disturbs him.
Nothing surprises him.
17. Because he is free,
He neither craves nor disdains
The things of the world.
He takes them as they come.
His mind is always detached.
His mind is empty.
He is not concerned with meditation,
Or the absence of it,
Or the struggle between good and evil.
He is beyond all,
No “I,”
No “mine.”
He knows there is nothing.
All his inner desires have melted away.
Whatever he does,
He does nothing.
His mind has stopped working!
It has simply melted away . . .
And with it,
Dreams and delusions and dullness.
And for what he has become,
There is no name.


I tried a new microphone placement this week which alas did not work so well. I’m therefore not including opening chanting from this class. Here however is our final recitation of the Maha Mrtunjaya Mantra resolving into Om Namah Shivaya and a closing dharana. Enjoy…

2 thoughts on “Monday, August 26, 2013: “And for what he has become, There is no name…”

  1. Would one really wish to know or be this man described in the Ashtavakra Gita? I’m just uneasy about the point of such balance and letting go of desires if one has lost the ability to care or find value. Where is room left for a heart overflowing with compassion? I’m not sure the greatest souls that have lived on this earth were characterized by such perfect ease, but allowed themselves to be disturbed into moral action. Perhaps I am missing the aim of this passage.

  2. An excellent question —
    and one we’ll take up at class over the next weeks. For now, enough perhaps to say this text is referring to the fluidity of movement that happens as we drop the ego-driven attachment to whatever is arising, inner or outer, in our lives.

    “The man who knows the truth
    is never unhappy in the world.

    For he alone fills the universe.”

    In order to fully love, to fully suffer, to fully embrace whatever is arising, that egoic attachment articulated in the yogic system has got to dissolve. That’s what this text is referring to. The metaphor here, of filling the universe, refers to this. This is the ultimate act of embrace. Think of John of the Cross and all he suffered during his captivity. It was only in the complete merge with the agony that he broke through. We could say in that moment he filled the universe…

    “And whoever draws near him,
    A woman full of passion
    Or Death Himself,
    He is not shaken.

    He stays in his heart.

    He is free indeed!”

    While I’m not in love with the choice of metaphors here :), still, this verse is referring to living in what we often refer to as the Heart. Which is free to fully feel without getting caught in the snares that circumvent our ability to fully feel. It’s only by letting go of the narratives that drive us that we can stay in the heart, free to fully participate in the act of living as communion. So that whatever is arising, great joy, great suffering, and everything in between, we are free to actually experience it without the distorting filters of the mind…

    The languaging of the Ashtavakra Gita may simply not speak to you. Which as my dad used to say is a case of “different strokes for different folks!” This morning I was reading Meister Eckhart. I’ll bring these readings into class over the next few weeks and we’ll put them side by side with this gita…

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