Ashtavakra Gita

Translated by John Henry Richards

Chapter 18

Ashtavakra said:

Praise be to That by the awareness of which delusion itself becomes dream-like, to that which is pure happiness, peace, and light. 18.1

One may get all sorts of pleasure by the acquisition of various objects of enjoyment, but one cannot be happy except by the renunciation of everything. 18.2

How can there be happiness, for one who has been burnt inside by the blistering sun of the pain of thinking that there are things that still need doing, without the rain of the nectar of peace? 18.3

This existence is just imagination. It is nothing in reality, but there is no non-being for natures that know how to distinguish being from non-being. 18.4

The realm of one’s self is not far away, nor can it be achieved by the addition of limitations to its nature. It is unimaginable, effortless, unchanging, and spotless. 18.5

By the simple elimination of delusion and the recognition of one’s true nature, those whose vision is unclouded live free from sorrow. 18.6

Knowing everything as just imagination, and himself as eternally free, how should the wise man behave like a fool? 18.7 

Knowing himself to be God, and being and non-being just imagination, what should the man free from desire learn, say, or do? 18.8 

Considerations like “I am this” or “I am not this” are finished for the yogi who has gone silent realising “Everything is myself.” 18.9 

For the yogi who has found peace, there is no distraction or one-pointedness, no higher knowledge or ignorance, no pleasure and no pain. 18.10 

The dominion of heaven or beggary, gain or loss, life among men or in the forest, these make no difference to a yogi whose nature it is to be free from distinctions. 18.11

There are no religious obligations, wealth, sensuality, or discrimination for a yogi free from such opposites as “I have done this,” and “I have not done that.” 18.12 

There is nothing needing to be done or any attachment in his heart for the yogi liberated while still alive. Things will last just to the end of life. 18.13 

There is no delusion, world, meditation on That, or liberation for the pacified great soul. All these things are just the realm of imagination. 18.14 

He by whom all this is seen may well make out it doesn’t exist, but what is the desireless one to do? Even in seeing it he does not see it. 18.15 

He by whom the Supreme Brahma is seen may think “I am Brahma,” but what is he to think who is without thought, and who sees no duality? 18.16 

He by whom inner distraction is seen may put an end to it, but the noble one is not distracted. When there is nothing to achieve what is he to do? 18.17 

The wise man, unlike the worldly man, does not see inner stillness, distraction, or fault in himself, even when living like a worldly man. 18.18 

Nothing is done by him who is free from being and non-being, who is contented, desireless, and wise, even if in the world’s eyes he does act. 18.19 

The wise man who just goes on doing what presents itself for him to do, encounters no difficulty in either activity or inactivity. 18.20 

He who is desireless, self-reliant, independent, and free of bonds functions like a dead leaf blown about by the wind of causality. 18.21 

There is neither joy nor sorrow for one who has transcended samsara. With a peaceful mind he lives as if without a body. 18.22

He whose joy is in himself, and who is peaceful and pure within has no desire for renunciation or sense of loss in anything. 18.23 

For the man with a naturally empty mind, doing just as he pleases, there is no such thing as pride or false humility, as there is for the natural man. 18.24 

“This action was done by the body but not by me.” The pure-natured person thinking like this is not acting even when acting. 18.25 

He who acts without being able to say why, but is not thereby a fool, he is one liberated while still alive, happy and blessed. He is happy even in samsara. 18.26 

He who has had enough of endless considerations and has attained peace, does not think, know, hear, or see. 18.27 

He who is beyond mental stillness and distraction does not desire either liberation or its opposite. Recognising that things are just constructions of the imagination, that great soul lives as God here and now. 18.28 

He who feels responsibility within, acts even when doing nothing, but there is no sense of done or undone for the wise man who is free from the sense of responsibility. 18.29 

The mind of the liberated man is not upset or pleased. It shines unmoving, desireless, and free from doubt. 18.30 

He whose mind does not set out to meditate or act, still meditates and acts but without an object. 18.31 

A stupid man is bewildered when he hears the ultimate truth, while even a clever man is humbled by it just like the fool. 18.32

The ignorant make a great effort to practise one-pointedness and the stopping of thought, while the wise see nothing to be done and remain in themselves like those asleep. 18.33 

The stupid man does not attain cessation whether he acts or abandons action, while the wise man finds peace within simply by knowing the truth. 18.34 

People cannot come to know themselves by practices — pure awareness, clear, complete, beyond multiplicity, and faultless though they are. 18.35 

The stupid man does not achieve liberation even through regular practice, but the fortunate remains free and actionless simply by understanding. 18.36 

The stupid does not attain Godhead because he wants it, while the wise man enjoys the Supreme Godhead without even wanting it. 18.37 

Even when living without any support and eager for achievement, the stupid are still nourishing samsara, while the wise have cut at the very root of its unhappiness. 18.38 

The stupid man does not find peace because he desires it, while the wise man discriminating the truth is always peaceful minded. 18.39 

How can there be self-knowledge for him whose knowledge depends on what he sees? The wise do not see this and that, but see themselves as infinite. 18.40 

How can there be cessation of thought for the misguided who is striving for it? Yet it is there always naturally for the wise man delighting in himself. 18.41 

Some think that something exists, and others that nothing does. Rare is the man who does not think either, and is thereby free from distraction. 18.42 

Those of weak intelligence think of themselves as pure nonduality, but because of their delusion do not really know this, and so remain unfulfilled all their lives. 18.43

The mind of the man seeking liberation can find no resting place within, but the mind of the liberated man is always free from desire by the very fact of being without a resting place. 18.44 

Seeing the tigers of the senses, the frightened refuge-seekers at once enter the cave in search of cessation of thought and one-pointedness. 18.45 

Seeing the desireless lion, the elephants of the senses silently run away, or, if that is impossible, serve him like courtiers. 18.46 

The man who is free from doubts and whose mind is free does not bother about means of liberation. Whether seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling, or tasting, he lives at ease. 18.47 

He whose mind is pure and undistracted from just hearing of the Truth does not see anything to do or anything to avoid or even a cause for indifference. 18.48 

The upright person does whatever presents itself to be done, good or bad, for his actions are like those of a child. 18.49 

By inner freedom one attains happiness, by inner freedom one reaches the Supreme, by inner freedom one comes to absence of thought, by inner freedom to the Ultimate State. 18.50

When one sees oneself as neither the doer nor the reaper of the consequences, then all mind waves come to an end. 18.51 

The spontaneous unassuming behaviour of the wise is noteworthy, but not the deliberate purposeful stillness of the fool. 18.52 

The wise who are rid of imagination, unbound and with unfettered awareness, may enjoy themselves in the midst of many goods, or alternatively go off to mountain caves. 18.53

There is no attachment in the heart of a wise man whether he sees or pays homage to a learned brahmin, a celestial being, a holy place, a woman, a king or a friend. 18.54 

A yogi is not in the least put out even when humiliated by the ridicule of servants, sons, wives, grandchildren, or other relatives. 18.55 

Even when pleased he is not pleased, not suffering even when in pain. Only those like him can know the wonderful state of such a man. 18.56 

It is the feeling that there is something that needs to be achieved which is samsara. The wise who are of the form of emptiness, formless, unchanging, and spotless see nothing of the sort. 18.57 

Even when doing nothing the fool is agitated by restlessness, while a skillful man remains undisturbed even when doing what there is to do. 18.58 

Happy he stands, happy he sits, happy sleeps, and happy he comes and goes. Happy he speaks and happy he eats. This is the life of a man at peace. 18.59 

He who of his very nature feels no unhappiness in his daily life like worldly people, remains undisturbed like a great lake, cleared of defilement. 18.60 

Even abstention from action has the effect of action in a fool, while even the action of the wise man brings the fruits of inaction. 18.61 

A fool often shows aversion towards his belongings, but for him whose attachment to the body has dropped away, there is neither attachment nor aversion. 18.62 

The mind of the fool is always caught in thinking or not thinking, but the wise man’s is of the nature of no thought because he thinks what is appropriate. 18.63 

For the seer who behaves like a child, without desire in all actions, there is no attachment for such a pure one even in the work he does. 18.64

Blessed is he who knows himself and is the same in all states, with a mind free from craving whether he is seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling, or tasting. 18.65 

There is no one subject to samsara, no sense of individuality, no goal or means to the goal in the eyes of the wise man who is always free from imagination and unchanging like space. 18.66 

Glorious is he who has abandoned all goals and is the incarnation of the satisfaction, which is his very nature, and whose inner focus on the Unconditioned is quite spontaneous. 18.67 

In brief, the great-souled man who has come to know the Truth is without desire for either pleasure or liberation, and is always and everywhere free from attachment. 18.68 

What remains to be done by the man who is pure awareness and has abandoned everything that can be expressed in words from the highest heaven to the earth itself? 18.69 

The pure man who has experienced the Indescribable attains peace by virtue of his very nature, realising that all this is nothing but illusion, and that nothing is. 18.70 

There are no rules, dispassion, renunciation, or meditation for one who is pure receptivity by nature, and admits no knowable form of being. 18.71 

For him who shines with the radiance of Infinity and is not subject to natural causality there is neither bondage, liberation, pleasure, nor pain. 18.72 

Pure illusion reigns in samsara which will continue until self-realisation, but the enlightened man lives in the beauty of freedom from me and mine, from the sense of responsibility and from any attachment. 18.73 

For the seer who knows himself as imperishable and beyond pain there is neither knowledge, a world, nor the sense that I am the body or the body mine. 18.74

No sooner does a man of low intelligence give up activities like the elimination of thought than he falls into mind racing and chatter. 18.75 

A fool does not get rid of his stupidity even on hearing the truth. He may appear outwardly free from imaginations, but inside he is still hankering after the senses. 18.76 

Though in the eyes of the world he is active, the man who has shed action through knowledge finds no means of doing or speaking anything. 18.77 

For the wise man who is always unchanging and fearless there is neither darkness nor light nor destruction nor anything. 18.78 

There is neither fortitude, prudence, nor courage for the yogi whose nature is beyond description and free of individuality. 18.79 

There is neither heaven nor hell nor even liberation during life. In a nutshell, in the sight of the seer nothing exists at all. 18.80 

He neither longs for possessions nor grieves at their absence. The calm mind of the sage is full of the nectar of immortality. 18.81 

The dispassionate man does not praise the good or blame the wicked. Content and equal in pain and pleasure, he sees nothing that needs doing. 18.82 

The wise man is not averse to samsara, nor does he seek to know himself. Free from pleasure and impatience, he is not dead and he is not alive. 18.83 

The wise man excels by being free from anticipation, without attachment to such things as children or wives, free from desire for the senses, and not even concerned about his own body. 18.84 

The wise man, who lives on whatever happens to come to him, roams wherever he pleases, and sleeps wherever the sun happens to set, is at peace everywhere. 18.85

Whether his body rises or falls, the great-souled one gives it no thought, having forgotten all about samsara in coming to rest on the ground of his true nature. 18.86 

The wise man has the joy of being complete in himself and without possessions, acting as he pleases, free from duality and rid of doubts, and without attachment to any creature. 18.87 

The wise man excels in being without the sense of “me”. Earth, a stone, or gold are the same to him. The knots of his heart have been rent asunder, and he is freed from greed and blindness. 18.88 

Who can compare with that contented, liberated soul who pays no regard to anything and has no desire left in his heart? 18.89 

Who but the upright man without desire knows without knowing, sees without seeing, and speaks without speaking? 18.90 

Beggar or king, he excels who is without desire, and whose opinion of things is rid of “good” and “bad.” 18.91 

There is neither dissolute behaviour nor virtue, nor even discrimination of the truth for the sage who has reached the goal and is the very embodiment of guileless sincerity. 18.92 

That which is experienced within by one who is desireless and free from pain, and content to rest in himself — how could it be described, and of whom? 18.93 

The wise man who is contented in all circumstances is not asleep even in deep sleep, nor sleeping in a dream, nor waking when he is awake. 18.94 

The seer is without thoughts even when thinking, without senses among the senses, without understanding even in understanding, and without a sense of responsibility even in the ego. 18.95

Neither happy nor unhappy, neither detached nor attached, neither seeking liberation nor liberated, he is neither something nor nothing. 18.96 

Not distracted in distraction, in mental stillness not poised, in stupidity not stupid, that blessed one is not even wise in his wisdom. 18.97 

The liberated man is self-possessed in all circumstances and free from the idea of “done” and “still to do.” He is the same wherever he is and without greed. He does not dwell on what he has done or not done. 18.98 

He is not pleased when praised nor upset when blamed. He is not afraid of death nor attached to life. 18.99 

A man at peace does not run off to popular resorts or to the forest. Whatever and wherever, he remains the same. 18.100