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Athmopadesha Shathakam Verse-30

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Athmopadesha Shathakam (One Hundred verses of Self-Instruction)

Translation & explanation of Verse-30

Inert matter does not know; knowledge has no thought
And does not articulate; knowing knowledge to be all,
Letting go, one’s inner state becomes boundless;
Indeed, thereafter he never suffers confined within a body.

(“Jadamariveela arivinnu chinthayilla-
Othidukayumillarivennarinju sarvam
Vitukilavan visadaantharanganaay
Mael utalil amarnnuzhalunnathilla noonam”)

Key message:-
Our mind performs with several limitations, which are mainly related to the inert body. But our existence entity (‘unma’) is not of inert body. It is ever-living entity, which has consciousness. It has thinking power and makes decisions and actively involves in the day-to-day activities. Therefore, ‘chithu’ (knowledge) is not to be separated from our existence entity. But at the same time, mere knowledge cannot perform in its own. It can perform its duties only by sitting in the inert body.

It is a wrong approach differentiating our sole existence entity as inert matter and soul. This error is also termed as ‘Maya’ or illusion. Guru has already shown us the path to get rid of this illusion in verse-29. Besides, he also explained in verse-29 that when we are free from this illusion, we attain the state of ‘Thuriyam’. This is the same as ‘Athma Swaroopam’ mentioned in verse-24. This is also called as the Absolute status of knowledge. Its magical symbols are appearing as illusions of inert matter and consciousness. Therefore, it is advisable to ignore such magic of untruth. Then the ‘I’ consciousness of the individual, inert matter, knowledge aspect and its peculiarities merge into its pure status of knowledge. Once we attain this status, there would not be any confusion on inabilities on the bodily and psycho material aspect. Everything will be realized as mere play of the sole Absolute status of knowledge.

Inert matter does not know; knowledge has no thought
And does not articulate; knowing knowledge to be all;
(“Jadamariveela arivinnu chinthayilla-
Othidukayumillarivennarinju sarvam”):

We have two polar aspects in us. One is the inertness of the physical body, the body we can see and which can be laid in a coffin and taken to the burial ground. The other aspect is the pure soul or the Self. We are not troubled by either of these. When a dead body is put into a crematorium and burned, it does not undergo any pain. The body as such is painless. The pure soul as such is also painless. In between these is a region that is full of pain and pleasure.

For instance, when a person has to undergo major surgery, and the surgeon plans to cut deep into the body, an anesthetic is administered so that the patient does not know what is going on. He does not feel anything. It is, as if that part of the body has no pain of its own. When the dentist pulls out a tooth or drills into one, after the Novocaine has been administered, we only know something is happening because of the sound. The effect of anesthesia is that all awareness is taken away from the inert matter. As long as it remains as pure matter, it experiences no pain or pleasure. Regarding the painful aspect: there are certain sensory areas which become agitated, and there is a consciousness which accompanies these agitations. All our bondage to life and release from it are confined within this one region.

We live in the body and the social ego. If we are not suffering from pains like a headache or stomach-ache, we are suffering from the pains of what others think of us, or what happened to our trust in another person, or their trust in us, or to our love. This can become more gruesome and cause more suffering than physical pain. People have a remarkable resilience to the physical pains, but when the social ego is tortured, we may succumb rapidly to the pressure. This type of apperception is the knowledge in between, as described in verse-28. In between the bodily aspect and the soul aspect is an intermediary knowledge which includes the conditional states of consciousness. It is a mental process by which a person makes sense of an idea by assimilating it to the body of ideas he or she already possesses. This alone is where we experience the awareness of pain and the awareness of pleasure.

We need to cultivate an attitude in which we can clearly understand certain basic concepts. To begin with, we have a body. An aspect of Self or consciousness is illuminating this body. It is inevitable for the body to have the qualities of ‘sattva’, ‘rajas’ and ‘thamas’. The body is constituted of five elements, which display their characteristics in experiencing sound, form, touch, taste and smell. The three qualities and the five elements interact. What you hear will be elevating and musical when ‘sattva’ functions, agitating when ‘rajas’ functions, and depressing and deadening when ‘thamas’ functions. What you see may be luminous, inspiring forms when ‘sattva’ operates, exciting forms which can put you through all kinds of agitations with ‘rajas’, or a kind of blackout where you cannot see anything clearly when ‘thamas’ operates. In this way, the three ‘gunas’ operate in all five elements.

Our manifested form consists of the five senses and the mind, intellect, memory and the ego. Any of these may have errors and defects. Thus you can have problems at any level: at the level of ‘manas’, the interrogating mind; ‘chitham’, the recalling mind; and ‘buddhi’, the deciding mind. Finally you can have trouble with the ‘ahamkara’, the ego. This might make you personally self-conscious, wanting to be accepted by everyone. It is a wretched life. Somehow you have to transcend all these maladies, because without doing so, life becomes a horror.

Narayana Guru’s suggestion is that we turn our affiliation from the physical body and the social ego to a third possibility, our own pure Self. He begins this verse by reminding us that the pure Self does not speak or even think: “Jadamariveela arivinnu chinthayilla”, know that the discursive thought going on in your mind is not your Self.

Letting go, one’s inner state becomes boundless;
Indeed, thereafter he never suffers confined within a body.
(“Vitukilavan visadaantharanganaay
Maelutalil amarnnuzhalunnathilla noonam”):

You must learn to free yourself from your absorption with your bodily and egoistic states. If you are a fully released person, you can still attend to your bodily states and social functioning, but with a certain amount of detachment. You attend to them just as you attend to your car or your computer or TV. Whatever is inevitable is inevitable, but if something can be corrected, it should be. The most essential thing here is to know that there is a third possible affiliation, one with your pure Self.

After affiliating with the Self, you can treat your relationship with the ego and the body with a normal attitude, rather than the exaggerated attitude of most people. The Guru says if you do this, you become ‘visadaantharangan’ a person with an expansive consciousness, whose mind is no longer confined to one little thing in life, such as your headache or your toothache. You are still aware that there is headache or a toothache, but you don’t allow them to occupy your whole beingness to the point where you are nothing more than just an ache of a pain. You maintain your inner clarity in and through your pains and pleasures.

Concluding message:
All the contemplation, meditation and discipline we do are only for this one purpose of disaffiliating ourselves from body identity and ego identity, and establishing an identity with our pure spirit. It is a pilgrimage. We are walking away from us to arrive at us; from the periphery of our skin and this feeling of ego, we arrive deep down within us. The distance from our periphery to our center, seemingly so close, is in reality very very far. That is why the Isaavasya Upanishad say it is far and near, inside as well as outside, it is the farthest from all and the nearest of all. Nothing is nearer that your center and yet nothing is a longer journey. It is very difficult to arrive at it, but once you do it, everything is expansive.

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