The Crest-Jewel of Wisdom — Sankaracharya, trans. Charles Johnston

Other Writings


The Heritage of the Brahmans

By Charles Johnston

It is said that long ago, in the childhood of the world, the senses were so fine that we could hear the growing of the grass, the rustling of the opening buds of spring. By a memory of these early senses, by the faint remnant of them that the long ages in their passage have left us, we can hear now the faint stirring of the opening buds of a new spring of intellectual life, a new period in the spiritual thought of the world; and the key-note of this new period is the East, the wisdom of the East, the thought and ideals of the East.

Not merely or necessarily the East in latitude, but rather the Eastern side of man — that East in the soul of every man where the sun rises, where the light of intuition opens its first dawning rays, and, "rising, guides the lesser lives among its rays." And yet the East in latitude gives the key-note to the new dawn of thought in a special sense too. For it was in the East, and, more than all, in India, "mother of nations," that the eastern part of man where the sun rises found its best development; that the interior light of the soul found its fullest recognition.

And it is only natural that the minds of men, feeling the first gleam of dawning day, should turn towards the East; that they should grow enthusiastic for the Lands of the East, and, more than all, for India: that India should occupy an ever-widening space on the horizon of their thoughts; that their hearts should more and more turn towards India.

This growing interest and enthusiasm for India — an enthusiasm at first almost instinctive, but gradually quickened by advancing knowledge — is especially felt today in the two most idealistic nations in the West, the Americans and the Germans. For with all their sense of practical life and practical development, the Americans and Germans are at heart idealists; ready to sacrifice all their practical aims and practical accomplishment to a vision; ready, as Emerson said, to leave Cleopatra and the army, to seek the sources of the Nile.

The deepest curiosity of the Americans and Germans, turning towards India, unquestionably centers on the Brahmans; one hears again and again the words — the wisdom of the Brahmans, the ideal of the Brahmans, the life of the Brahmans; and the first question one is always asked refers to the Brahman order. To answer this question, it would be necessary to write many volumes; to trace the rise of the Brahman order in the dim twilight of Vedic days; to show the growth and consolidation of their power in the days of Rama, and through the struggles of the great war of the PANDU and KURU princes; to point to certain dark sides of their development that had become visible in Buddha's days; and at last to fill in the splendid picture of Brahmanic advance and Brahmanic development in Sankaracharya's days.

When the records of the monasteries of Southern India are more fully known and understood, when the Smarta Brahmans who have preserved most clearly the splendid tradition of Sankara relax a little their reserve, we shall — it can hardly be doubted — have a picture of that great man and his times as perfect and full of color as the picture we have of Plato's times, and the thought of Plato who, more than any other philosopher, resembles Sankara.

What we know of Sankara already, though only a tithe of what we may know when old records are opened, is enough to give him a place amongst the choicest spiritual aristocracy of the world, as a seer and thinker who towered above his race as Plato towered above the Greeks; as a Great Man, an elder brother of the race, whose thought and insight mark a high tide of human life.

There is a dim tradition, in the oldest Indian books, in the great Upanishads, and the earlier Vedic hymns, that the Brahmans were not in the beginning the spiritual teachers of India; that they received their earliest wisdom from the Royal Sages of the Rajanya or Kshattriya race. But the Brahmans have so long held these treasures of wisdom as their own — guarding them as a mother her child, as a man his first-born — that they have come to consider them as their very own; their heritage rather by birth than by adoption. The fact that, in spite of this jealous love of their darling treasures, they have preserved the tradition of their earliest Royal Teachers, points to the most valued feature in the Brahmans' character; — the unflinching, unalterable fidelity with which they have preserved, unaltered and inviolate, the spiritual treasures committed to their care; and the safe-guarding of which through the ages forms their truest and greatest title of fame; the best justification for that instinctive turning towards the Brahmans as the center and representative of Indian genius, which we have noted as so marked a feature of the Indian Renaissance today.

But once the Brahmans had received the wisdom-doctrines from their Royal Teachers, their distinctive genius, their most valued quality, began to assert itself. With their unparalleled genius for order, their instinctive feeling for preservation, they recorded, classified and developed the intuitive wisdom of the Royal Sages — Buddha, a Royal Sage of far later days, has put on record this unparalleled fidelity: "those ancient Rishis of the Brahmans, versed in the Three Wisdoms, the authors of the verses, the utterers of the verses, whose ancient form of words so chanted, uttered, or composed, the Brahmans of today chant over again and repeat; intoning or reciting, exactly as has been intoned or recited." — (Tevigga Sutta).

That Krishna, the spiritual hero of the Mahabharata war, whose mission it was to usher in the Iron Age of Kali Yuga, was no Brahman but a Kshattriya, who traced his doctrines from Manu the Kshattriya through the Royal Sages, is enough to show that in the days of the great war, the Brahmans had not yet claimed as quite their own the teachings of wisdom which it was their mission to hand down through the ages. (Bhagavad-Gita, iv).

The great war, according to Indian tradition, was fought out five thousand years ago. And, after the great war, in which so many Kshattriya princes fell, the keeping of the Sacred records began to pass completely into the hands of the Brahmans. The Brahmans, sensible of their great mission, prepared themselves to carry it out by forming a high ideal of life; by strict rules of conduct and discipline which only the highest characters could support; and the very strictness of which seems to have produced a reaction which we see traces of in Buddha's days.

The life of the Brahman was conceived and moulded in accordance with his high ideal; in accordance with his high destiny as transmitter of the wisdom of the Golden Age across the centuries to our dark iron days. Purity, unworldliness, and discipline were the key-notes of his life; and the Brahman's unparalleled genius for order gradually moulded this ideal into a set of definite rules, a series of religious ceremonies, which laid hold on his life before he saw the light of day, and did not loose that hold when his body vanished among the red embers of the funeral pyre — but rather kept in touch with him, through the Sraddha offering to the shades for nine generations after his death.

This life of ceremonies and rites, the key-note of which was the acquiring and transmission of the Three Wisdoms spoken of by Buddha, gradually made of the Brahman order a treasure-box or casket for the safer keeping of the holy records handed down. Whether the Brahmans were originally of the fair, almost white race which forms their nucleus today, and whose distinctive physical character and color make a Brahman of pure type at once recognizable in an assemblage of Hindus, is a question difficult to solve. We find in the oldest Indian books that: "The color of the Brahman is white," and this, in later days became a sentence symbolical of their ideal of purity; but in the beginning it may have been a description of their color, an index of their race.

It is very probable that this fair, almost white race, which now forms the nucleus of the Brahman order, gradually became, through selective genius, through their unequalled instinct of order, the recognized repository and transmitter of the sacred records of the past. But the ideal life of the Brahman was, perhaps, too arduous for the common lot of man; at any rate we see a gradually increasing tendency to degeneration in one side of the Brahman's life; for in India as in other lands, even silver clouds have their dark linings.

Their instinct for order, among the Brahmans of lesser moral structure than the high ideal of their race, became an instinct for ceremonial; their ideal of purity became a habit of outward purification; and they tended to harden into an exclusive priestly caste, withdrawn from, and above the common life of man. The priestcraft, by a second step, began to weave ambitions, to seek a share of political power, and at last, a practical predominance in the state, which threatened to become a spiritual tyranny.

But these developments, inseparable from the weakness of human life, were but the rusting of the outer layer of the casket in which the wisdom of the Golden Age was handed down. There were also within the Brahman order — as there are today — men who held to the high ideal of their past; who were fitting repositories of the high tradition they were destined to carry down. The casket in which were held the records of the past had always its lining of precious metal, though the outside might rust and tarnish with the passing ages.

The greatest of these followers of that high idea, in later days, within the Brahman caste, was Sankaracharya, the Brahman Sage of Southern India. It is hard to say, with certainty, when Sankara lived; but the records of Sringiri, where his successors have held rule over the nucleus of the Brahman order, point to a period about two millenniums ago; a period, that is, just outside the threshold of our era.

Sankaracharya began the work of reforming the Brahman caste from within. A few centuries before him, Buddha had scattered broadcast through India, and Buddha's followers had scattered broadcast through the world, the teachings of India's Golden Days, in a form readily intelligible for all, and to be assimilated by the simplest mind of man.

It remained to do for India, what, perhaps, others were doing, across the Himalayas, for the whole world; to preserve inviolate, and transmit in its purity that other side of wisdom which the simplest heart of man can intuitively feel; but which only the most perfectly developed powers, the most fully expanded intellect and spiritual insight can fully and consciously grasp; it remained to secure the preservation of those profounder truths and that deeper knowledge which only the finest powers of the soul can adequately comprehend.

To secure their preservation in India was the duty and mission of Sankaracharya. Believing that this preservation should be helped and seconded by whatever aids selective race genius and hereditary capacity could give, he confined the transmission of this wisdom, and of the records which contained it, entirely within the Brahman order, as far as our knowledge goes. There is evidence that, among the Brahmans of Southern India in early days, were a certain number of families not belonging to that white race which forms the nucleus of the Brahman caste; but belonging to the dark, almost black Dravidian peoples of Southern India, who are the survivors, perhaps, of a land that once lay to the south of India, but has now vanished beneath the waves. This dark Dravidian race has produced many men of remarkable genius and power, whose insight and force quite fitted them for inclusion in the Brahman order.

But as the centuries moved on, such admission became more difficult; till, in the days of Sankara, it is probable that the door was completely closed. What changes Sankara made in the Brahman order which followed him, in the division of the Brahmans which recognized his transcendent force, can only be known with surety to the Brahmans of that order themselves. But this much we know, that Sankara did all his overpowering genius could accomplish to turn the Brahmans from too exclusive following after ceremonial; to lead them back to the spiritual wisdom, the recognition of the inner light of the soul, which was India's greatest heritage; and that, taking India's most precious records, the Great Upanishads, he rendered them into the thought and language of his own day, and did all that a marvelous insight and a literary style of wonderful lucidity could do to make the spirit and the genius of the Upanishads live once more in the hearts of the Brahmans of his time.

He set himself, above all, to cleanse the inner lining of the casket where India's treasures lay concealed; to remove every speck from the precious metal whose perfect purity alone could guarantee the costly contents against rust and moth. The reforms inaugurated by Sankaracharya continue to bear fruit today; the new light he shed on the old records, the new insight he gave to the old symbols, are the treasured inheritance of the Smarta Brahmans, whose spiritual heads, in unbroken succession, have ruled at Sringiri Math, in the mountains of Northern India.

Centuries passed, and the sunlit plains of India were filled with Moslem invaders, falling like swarms of locusts on the rich gardens of that distant wonderland; full of the fierce hostility of fanaticism against the symbols of a religion they did not understand; and against the Brahmans, as ministers of this religion. It would not be wonderful, it would rather be perfectly natural, if this hostility and predominance of a foreign fanatical power had sealed the lips of the Brahmans once for all as to the mysteries of their religion; had locked and double-locked the casket in which the heritage of India lay concealed.

But in spite of tyranny and fanaticism that would have justified the most perfect reticence, the most absolute silence, the Brahmans retained an ideal of their universal mission, above and beyond their mission to their own land and their own religion. No sooner did brighter days dawn for them under the Emperor Akbar, the great Indian monarch of the sixteenth century who conceived and framed a high ideal of religious tolerance and mutual understanding which was the nearest approach to State Theosophy; no sooner did the brighter day dawn than the Brahmans were ready to forget old griefs and to teach their Moslem rulers the broad principles of their religion.

Two generations after Akbar, Akbar's noblest and most ill-fated descendant, Prince Dara Shukoh, received from the Brahmans the permission to translate into Persian a series of the Upanishads, including the Great Upanishads of which something has been already said. This Persian translation, besides following the words of the old records, put into visible form much that had been hidden between the lines, and followed, in some degree, the new light that had been shed on the Upanishads by the genius of Sankaracharya.

This Persian translation of the Upanishads, which embodies a very valuable tradition of their hidden meaning, made about the year 1640, was found by Anquetil Duperron in 1775, and by him translated into Latin. From Anquetil Duperron this "Key to the Indian Sanctuary" passed to Schopenhauer, and becoming "the comfort of his life, the comfort of his death" led him to prophesy that Indian Renaissance which is glowing with the fair colors of dawn today.

But under Dara Shukoh's brother, the fanatical Aurungzeb, darker days fell upon the Brahmans; and they suffered much from European nations more presumptuous and not less fanatical than Aurungzeb; of these the darkest record clings to the Portuguese, who tried to wring from the Brahmans the heart of their mystery by Inquisition and auto-da-fe.

Yet, once more, just a hundred years ago when a group of Europeans full of love for the East, sought from the Brahmans some knowledge of their learning, the Brahmans, with singular generosity, made these Europeans in some degree sharers in their heritage. From the knowledge thus freely given to these Europeans, whose chiefs were William Jones and Thomas Colebrooke, the first foundations of Orientalism were laid; and a field of matchless fertility was opened to a growing band of workers who enrolled themselves under the banner of the East.

But the last and finest insight, the master-key to the records was still treasured in the East itself; somewhat of that insight has since been freely offered to us; on our ability to use it most probably depends the further insight that the future holds in promise.

The Awakening to the Self

Atma Bodha

This awakening to the Self is recorded for those whose inner darkness has been worn away by strong effort, who has reached restfulness, from whom passion has departed, who seek perfect Freedom.

Among all causes, wisdom is the only cause of perfect Freedom; as cookery without fire, so perfect Freedom cannot be accomplished without wisdom.

Works cannot destroy unwisdom, as these two are not contraries; but wisdom destroys unwisdom, as light the host of darkness.

At first wrapped in unwisdom, when unwisdom is destroyed the pure Self shines forth of itself, like the radiant sun when the clouds have passed.

When life that was darkened by unwisdom is made clear by the coming of wisdom, unwisdom sinks away of itself, as when water is cleared by astringent juice.

This world is like a dream, crowded with loves and hates; in its own time it shines like a reality; but on awakening it becomes unreal.

This passing world shines as real, like the silver imagined in a pearl-shell, as long as the Eternal is not known, the secondless substance of all.

In the real conscious Self, the all-penetrating everlasting pervader, all manifested things exist, as all bracelets exist in gold.

Just like the ether, the Lord of the senses, the Radiant, clothed in many vestures, seems divided because these are divided, but is beheld as one when the vestures are destroyed.

Through this difference of vesture, race, name, and home are attributed to the Self, as difference of taste and color to pure water.

Built up of fivefold-mingled elements through accumulated works is the physical vesture, the place where pleasure and pain are tasted.

Holding the five life-breaths, mind, reason, and the ten perceiving and acting powers, formed of unmingled elements, is the subtle vesture, the instrument of enjoyment.

Formed through the beginningless, ineffable error of separateness, is the causal vesture. One should hold the Self to be different from these three vestures.

In the presence of the five veils, the pure Self seems to share their nature; like a crystal in the presence of blue tissues.

The pure Self within should be wisely discerned from the veils that surround it, as rice by winnowing, from husk and chaff.

Though ever all-present, the Self is not everywhere clearly beheld; let it shine forth in pure reason like a reflection in a pure mirror.

The thought of difference arises through the vestures, the powers, mind, reason, and nature; but one must find the Self, the witness of all this being, the perpetual king.

Through the busy activity of the powers, the Self seems busy; as the moon seems to course through the coursing clouds.

The vestures, powers, mind, and reason move in their paths under the pure consciousness of the Self, as people move in the sunshine.

The qualities of vestures, powers, and works are attributed to the spotless Self through undiscernment, as blue to the pure sky.

Through unwisdom, the mental vesture's actorship is attributed to the Self, as the ripple of the waves to the moon reflected in a lake.

Passion, desire, pleasure, pain move the mind; but when the mind rests in deep sleep they cease; they belong to the mind, not to the Self.

Shining is the sun's nature; coldness, the water's; heat, the fire's; so the Self's nature is Being, Consciousness, Bliss, perpetual spotlessness.

The Self lends Being and Consciousness, and mind lends activity. When these two factors are joined together by undiscernment, there arises the feeling that 'I perceive.'

The Self never changes; and mind of itself cannot perceive; but the Self through error believes itself to be the habitual doer and perceiver.

The Self is believed to be the habitual life, as a rope is believed to be a snake; and thus fear arises. But when it is known that 'I am not the habitual life but the Self' then there can be no more fear.

The Self alone lights up the mind and powers, as a flame lights up a jar. The Self can never be lit by these dull powers.

In the knowledge of the Self, there is no need that it should be known by anything else. A light does not need another light; it shines of itself.

Putting all veils aside, saying 'it is not this! it is not this!' one must find the real unity of the habitual Self and the Supreme Self, according to the words of wisdom.

All outward things, the vestures and the rest, spring from unwisdom; they are fugitive as bubbles. One must find the changeless, spotless 'I am the Eternal.' As I am other than these vestures, not mine are their birth, weariness, suffering, dissolution. I am not bound by sensuous objects, for Self is separate from the powers of sense.

As I am other than mind, not mine are pain, rage, hate, and fear. The Self is above the outward life and mind, according to the words of wisdom.

From this Self come forth the outward life and mind, and all the powers; from the Self come ether, air, fire, the waters, and earth upholder of all.

Without quality or activity, everlasting, free from doubt, stainless, changeless, formless, ever free am I the spotless Self.

Like ether, outside and inside all, I am unmoved; always all-equal, pure, unstained, spotless, unchanged.

The ever-pure lonely one, the partless bliss, the secondless, truth, wisdom, endless, the Supreme Eternal; this am I.

Thus the steadily-held remembrance that 'I am the Eternal' takes away all unwisdom, as the healing essence stills all pain.

In solitude, passionless, with powers well-ruled, let him be intent on the one, the Self, with no thought but that endless one.

The wise through meditation immersing all outward things in the Self, should be intent on that only Self, spotless as shining ether.

Setting aside name, color, form, the insubstantial causes of separateness, the knower of the supreme rests in perfect Consciousness and Bliss.

The difference between knower, knowing, and known exists not in the Self; for through its own Consciousness and Bliss it shines self-luminous.

Thus setting the fire-stick of thought in the socket of the Self, let the kindled flame of knowledge burn away the fuel of unwisdom.

By knowledge, as by dawn, the former darkness is driven away; then is manifest the Self, self-shining like the radiant sun.

Yet the Self, though eternally possessed, is as though not possessed, through unwisdom. When unwisdom disappears, the Self shines forth like a jewel on one's own throat.

Separate life is conceived in the Eternal by error, as a man is imagined in a post. But the pain of separation ceases when the truth about it is perceived.

By entering into real nature, wisdom swiftly arises. Then the unwisdom of 'I' and 'mine' disappears, as when a mistake about the position of north and south is set right.

The seeker after union, possessed of all knowledge, sees with the eye of wisdom that all things rest in the Self; and this Self is the One, the All.

Self is all this moving world; other than Self is naught. As all jars are earth, so he beholds all as the Self.

Perfect Freedom even in life is this, that a man should shake himself free from all the limits of his disguises, through the essence of Reality, Consciousness, Bliss, just as the grub becomes the bee.

Crossing the ocean of glamor, and slaying the monsters, passion and hate, the seeker for union, perfect in peace, grows luminous in the garden of the Self.

Free from bondage to outward, unlasting pleasures, and returning to the joy of the Self, he shines pure within like the flame in a lamp.

Even when hidden under disguises, let the Sage stand free from them, like pure ether. Though knowing all, let him be as though he knew nothing; moving untrammelled like the air.

Let the Sage, shaking off his disguises, merge himself utterly in the all-pervading One; as water in water, ether in ether, flame in flame.

The gain above all gains, the joy above all joys, the wisdom above all wisdoms; let him affirm that it is the Eternal.

When this is seen, there is no more to see; when this is attained, there is no more to attain; when this is known, there is no more to know; — let him affirm that this is the Eternal.

Upward, downward, on all sides perfect; Being, Consciousness, Bliss; the secondless, endless, everlasting One; — let him affirm that this is the Eternal.

Through the knowledge that nothing is but the Eternal, the unchanging One is beheld by the wise; the aboriginal, partless joy; let him affirm that this is the Eternal.

As partakers in the bliss of that partless, blissful One, the Evolver and all the powers enjoy their bliss as dependents.

Every being is bound to the Eternal; every movement follows the Eternal; the all-embracing Eternal is in all, as curd is in all milk.

Nor small nor great nor short nor long, nor born nor departing, without form, attribute, color, name; — let him affirm that this is the Eternal.

Through whose shining shine the sun and all lights; but who shines not by any's light; through whom all this shines; — let him affirm that this is the Eternal.

All present within and without, making luminous all this moving, the Eternal shines forth glowing of red-hot iron.

The Eternal is different from the moving world — yet other than the Eternal is naught! What is other than the Eternal shines insubstantial, like the mirage in the desert.

Things seen and heard are not other than the Eternal. Knowledge of reality teaches that all this is the Eternal, the Being, Consciousness, Bliss, the secondless.

The eye of wisdom beholds the ever-present Consciousness, Bliss, the Self, the eye of unwisdom beholds not, as the blind beholds not the shining sun.

The personal life, refined through and through by the fire of wisdom, which right learning and knowledge kindle, shines pure as gold, freed from every stain.

The Self, rising in the firmament of the heart — sun of wisdom, darkness-dispersing, all-present, all-supporting — shines forth and illumines all.

He who, drawing away from space and time, faithfully worships in the holy place of the divine Self — the ever-present, the destroyer of heat and cold and every limit, the stainless, eternally happy — he all-knowing, entering the All, becomes immortal.

(Thus the Awakening to the Self is completed.)

The Awakening to Reality

Tattva Bodha

Sankara's Catechism

INTRODUCTORY by Charles Johnston

In the "Awakening to the Self," and, still more, in the "Crest Jewel of Wisdom," Sankara the Teacher uses many words in a clear, precise, and consciously exact sense, which is not always to be gathered from the context of these two works. In the "Awakening to the Self," this is hardly an impediment, as the expression of this excellent poem is so perfect and universal; nor is there any great impediment in the first part of the "Crest Jewel of Wisdom," which has been translated under the title "First Steps on the Path." But further on in the "Crest Jewel," this is not the case. It becomes more strict and technical in meaning; and without precise definitions, much is hardly intelligible. But in the "Crest Jewel" itself these definitions are not always to be found. What is to be done then, if we really want to understand the Teacher precisely?

Happily Sankara has left us a Key in his own work, the "Awakening to Reality," where nearly every special word of his philosophy is exactly defined. We have only to try to find the best English translation of his definitions, and we shall have a clear clue and outline to the larger work, the "Crest Jewel," and, indeed, to the whole of Sankara's philosophy.

One thing must be remembered. This "Awakening to Reality" is what we have called it — a catechism. And in a catechism we can hardly expect the perfect poetical form and splendid imagery of works like the "Awakening to the Self." What we shall find, is lucidity, accuracy, grasp, coherence; but not poetical beauty. Thus is begun:



To the Master, the World-Soul, the Master of seekers for union, obeisance; to the teacher, the giver of wisdom. To fulfill love for those who would be free, this Awakening to Reality is addressed to them.


We shall tell of the way of discerning reality, the perfection of freedom, for those who are fitted by possessing the Four Perfections.

What are the Four Perfections?

— The Discerning between lasting and unlasting things; No Rage for enjoying the fruit of works, either here or there; the Six Graces that follow Peace; and then the Longing to be free.

What is the Discerning between lasting and unlasting things?

— The one lasting thing is the Eternal; all, apart from it, is unlasting.

What is No Rage?

— A lack of longing for enjoyments here and in the heaven-world.

What is possession of the Perfections that follow Peace?

— Peace; Self-Control; Steadiness; Sturdiness; Confidence; Intentness.

What is Peace?

— A firm hold on emotion.

What is Self-Control?

— A firm hold on the lust of the eyes and the outward powers.

What is Steadiness?

— A following out of one's own genius.

What is Sturdiness?

— A readiness to bear opposing forces, like cold and heat, pleasure and pain.

What is Confidence?

— Confidence is a reliance on the Voice of the Teacher and Final Wisdom.

What is Intentness?

— One-pointedness of the imagination.

What is the Longing to be free?

— It is the longing: "That Freedom may be mine."


These are the Four Perfections. Through these, men are fitted to discern Reality.

What is the Discerning of Reality?

— It is this: the Self is real; other than it, all is fancy.


What is the Self?

— He who stands apart from the Physical, the Emotional, and the Causal Vestures; who is beyond the five Veils; who is witness of the three Modes; whose own nature is Being, Consciousness, Bliss — this is the Self.


What is the Physical Vesture?

— Being formed of the five creatures fivefolded, born through works, it is the house where opposing forces like pleasure and pain are enjoyed; having these six accidents: it is, is born, grows, turns the corner, declines, perishes; such is the Physical Vesture.

What is the Emotional Vesture?

— Being formed of the five creatures not fivefolded, born through works, the perfection of the enjoyment of opposing forces like pleasure and pain, existing with its seventeen phases: the five powers of knowing; the five powers of doing; the five lives; emotion, one; the soul, one; this is the Emotional Vesture.

The five powers of knowing are: Hearing, Touch, Sight, Taste, Smell. Hearing's radiation is Space; Touch's, Air; Sight's, the Sun; Smell's, the Twin Physicians; these are the powers of knowing.

Hearing's business is the seizing of sounds; Touch's business, the seizing of contacts; Sight's business, the seizing of forms; Taste's business, the seizing of tastes; Smell's business, the seizing of odors.

The five powers of doing are: Voice, Hands, Feet, Putting-forth, Generating. Voice's radiation is the Tongue of Flame; Hands', the Master; Feet's, the Pervader; Putting-forth's, Death; Generating's, the Lord of Beings; thus the radiations of the powers of doing.

Voice's business is speaking; Hands' business is grasping things; Feet's business is going; Putting-forth's business is removing waste; Generating's business is physical enjoying.

What is the Causal Vesture?

— Being formed through ineffable, beginningless unwisdom, it is the Substance and Cause of the two Vestures; though unknowing as to its own nature, it is yet in nature unerring; this is the Causal Vesture.


What are the Three Modes?

— The Modes of Waking, Dreaming, Dreamlessness.

What is the Mode, Waking?

— It is where knowledge comes through Hearing and the other knowing powers, whose business is sound and the other perceptions; this is the Waking Mode.

When attributing itself to the Physical Vesture, the Self is called the Pervading.

Then what is the Mode, Dreaming?

— The world that presents itself in rest, generated by impressions of what has been seen and heard in the Mode, Waking, is the Mode, Dreaming.

When attributing itself to the Emotional Vesture, the Self is called the Radiant.

What then is the Mode, Dreamlessness?

— The sense that I perceive outwardly nothing at all, that rest is joyfully enjoyed by me, this is the Mode, Dreamlessness.

When attributing itself to the Causal Vesture, the Self is called the Intuitional.


What are the Five Veils?

— The Food-formed; the Life-formed; the Emotion-formed; the Knowledge-formed; the Bliss-formed.

What is the Food-formed?

— Coming into being through the essence of food, getting its growth through the essence of food, in the food-formed world it is again dispersed, this is the Food-formed Veil — the Physical Vesture.

What is the Life-formed?

— The Forward-life and the four other Lives, Voice and the four other powers of doing; these are the Life-formed.

What is the Emotion-formed Veil?

— Emotion, joining itself to the five powers of knowing — this is the Emotion-formed Veil.

What is the Knowledge-formed?

— The Soul, joining itself to the five powers of knowing — this is the Knowledge-formed Veil.

What is the Bliss-formed?

— This verily is the Substance not quite pure because of the unwisdom that gives birth to the Causal Vesture; in it are founded all joys; this is the Bliss-formed Veil.

Thus the Five Veils.

By saying: "Mine are the lives; mine is emotion; mine is the soul; mine is the wisdom"; these are recognized as possessions. And just as a bracelet, a necklace, a house and such things separated from one's self, are recognized as possessions, so the Five Veils and the Vestures, recognized as possessions, are not the Self (the Possessor).

What then, is the Self?

— It is that whose own-nature is Being, Consciousness, Bliss.

What is Being?

— What stands through the Three Times (Present, Past, Future) — this is Being.

What is Consciousness?

— The own-nature of Perceiving.

What is Bliss?

— The own-nature of Joy.

Thus let a man know that the own-nature of his own Self is Being, Consciousness, Bliss.

EXPLANATORY by Charles Johnston

This "Awakening to Reality" is a summary of an intuition of the world, a solution of the universe. Only those who have certain mental and moral endowments are ripe for the understanding of such a solution of the world. Briefly, these endowments are: wisdom and will. The solution reached is — the real Self of every man is the Eternal. This Self is inwardly beginningless, endless, immortal. But outwardly it becomes manifest as three lesser selves, each with its own vesture, its own world.

Lowest of these is the physical self, the "Pervading"; with its physical Vesture, in the Waking world.

Next, the emotional self, the "Radiant," with its emotional Vesture, in the Dreaming world.

Highest, the causal self, the "Intuitional," with its causal Vesture, in the Dreamless world. It has existence apart from the Eternal, owing only to the thin veil of illusion, which hides the identity of the One with the All. Thus, as to its own nature, it is unknowing; for, while believing itself One, it is really All. But for all other things it is unerring, for its close proximity to, and real oneness with, the Eternal, give it the inner sense of the trueness of things that is all wisdom. This is "the Seer who ordained all fitly through the ages."

In the Physical Vesture adheres one Veil; in the Emotional Vesture three — the vital, the emotional, the moral; — in the Causal, again one.

There is a great difficulty in finding a fit word for the term we have translated "radiation." What is meant is the power — personified, almost personal — conceived to be the "regent" or "deity" of the field in which each mode of perception and action finds its expansion. A closely analogous phrase would be, for instance, "the Prince of the Powers of the Air," who would thus be the "regent" or "deity" of the powers of touch, and, in morals, the "lusts of the flesh."

This is, of course, mythology: a mythical representation of an actual truth, very difficult to represent otherwise than mythologically.

But in the conclusion of the matter there is no difficulty. It is, that a man shall know the own-nature of his own Self to be Being, Consciousness, Bliss; or, in other words, Eternal, Wisdom, Love.


We shall speak now of the way the four-and-twenty natures are developed.


Dwelling together with the Evolver in glamor, who is the very self of the three potencies: substance, force, and space.

From this glamor, shining ether came forth.

From shining ether, breath came forth.

From breath, fire came forth.

From fire, the waters came forth.

From the waters, earth came forth.


Now, among these five natures:

From the substantial part of shining ether, the power of hearing came forth.

From the substantial part of breath, the power of touch came forth.

From the substantial part of fire, the power of seeing came forth.

From the substantial part of the waters, the power of taste came forth.

From the substantial part of earth, the power of smelling came forth.

From the united substantial parts of these five natures, the inner powers — mind, soul, self-assertion, imagination — came forth.

Mind is the very self of intending and doubting.

Soul is the very self of affirmation.

Self-assertion is the very self of attributing selfhood.

Imagination is the very self of image-making.

The regent of mind is the Moon.

The regent of soul is the Evolver.

The regent of self-assertion is the Transformer.

The regent of imagination is the Pervader.


Now, among these five natures:

From the forceful part of shining ether, the power of voice came forth.

From the forceful part of breath, the power of handling came forth.

From the forceful part of fire, the power of moving came forth.

From the forceful part of the waters, the power of engendering came forth.

From the forceful part of earth, the power of extruding came forth.

From the united forceful parts of these natures, the five lives — the upward-life, the forward-life, the uniting-life, the distributing-life, the downward-life — came forth.


Of these five natures, from their spatial parts, the five-folded five elements come forth.

What is this five-folding?

It is this: taking the spatial parts of the five primitive natures — one part of each — these parts are each first divided in two; then one half of each part is left alone, on one side, while the other halves of each are each divided into four. Then to the half of each nature, is joined the fourth of the half [the eighth] of each of the other natures. And thus five-folding is made.

From these five primitive natures, thus five-folded, the physical vesture is formed. Hence the essential unity between the clod and the Evolving Egg.


There is an image of the Eternal, which attributes itself to the vestures, and is called the Life. And this Life, through the power of Nature, regards the Lord as separate from itself.

When wearing the disguise of Unwisdom, the Self is called the Life.

When wearing the disguise of Glamor, the Self is called the Lord.

Thus, through the difference of their disguises, there is an appearance of difference between the Life and the Lord. And as long as this appearance of difference continues, so long will the revolving world of birth and death continue. For this reason the idea of the difference between the Life and the Lord is not to be admitted.

But how can the idea of unity between the self-assertive, little-knowing Life, and the selfless, all-knowing Lord, be accepted, according to the famous words, that thou art; since the genius of these two, the Life and the Lord, is so opposite?

This is not really so; for 'Life attributing itself to the physical and emotional vestures' is only the verbal meaning of thou; while the real meaning of thou is 'pure Consciousness, bare of all disguises, in dreamless life.'

And so 'the Lord full of omniscience and power' is but the verbal meaning of that; while the real meaning of that is 'pure Consciousness stripped of disguises.' Thus there is no contradiction in the unity of the Life and the Lord, since both are pure Consciousness.


And thus all beings in whom the idea of the eternal has been developed, through the words of wisdom and the true Teacher, are Free-in-life.

Who is Free-in-life?

Just as there is the firm belief that 'I am the body,' 'I am a man,' 'I am a priest,' 'I am a serf,' so he who possesses the firm conviction that 'I am neither priest nor serf nor man, but stainless Being, Consciousness, Bliss, the Shining, the inner Master, Shining Wisdom,' and knows this by direct perception, he is Free-in-life.


Thus by the direct knowledge that 'I am the Eternal,' he is freed from all the bonds of his deeds.

How many modes of these 'deeds' are there? If counted as 'deeds to come,' 'deeds accumulated,' and 'deeds entered on,' there are three modes.

The pure and impure deeds that are done by the body of the wise, after wisdom is won, are called 'deeds to come.'

And what of 'deeds accumulated'? The deeds that are waiting to be done, sprung from seeds sown in endless myriads of births, are 'deeds accumulated.'

And what are 'deeds entered on'? The deeds that give joy and sorrow here in the world, in this vesture, are 'deeds entered on.' Through experiencing them they reach cessation; for the using-up of deeds entered on comes through experiencing them. And 'deeds accumulated' reach cessation through wisdom, the very self of certainty that 'I am the Eternal.' 'Deeds to come' also reach cessation through wisdom. For, as water is not bound to the lotus-leaf, so 'deeds to come' are not bound to the wise.

For those who praise and love and honor the wise, to them come the pure 'deeds to come' of the wise. And those who blame and hate and attack the wise, to them come all the unspeakable deeds, whose very self is impurity, of the wise man's 'deeds to come.'


Then the Knower of the Self, crossing over the circling world, even here enjoys the bliss of the Eternal. As the sacred books say: The Knower of the Self crosses over sorrow.

And the sacred traditions say: Whether he leave his mortal form in Benares or in a dog-keeper's hut, if he has gained wisdom, he is free, his limitations laid aside.

Thus the Awakening to Reality is completed.


SANKARA'S CATECHISM: Explanatory by Charles Johnston

In the first part of Sankara's Catechism, previously translated, the most valuable thing is the teaching of the sevenfold man, who is really a modified unity appearing in seven modes. The only real and eternal element in the sevenfold man — for real and eternal are, for Sankara, synonymous terms — is the perfect Self, which is one with the Eternal. In manifestation this Self appears in three degrees: the intuitional self, the emotional self, the physical self; and, for each of these there is a vesture suited to its nature. Thus the divine Self, with its three degrees, and their three vestures, make up the perfect seven.

The three lesser degrees of the Self are its representatives in the three manifest worlds: the spiritual world, the middle world, the physical world. And, very naturally, the middle world partakes in some degree of the nature of the other two; so that its highest layer is touched with the nature of the spiritual world, while its lowest layer is touched with the nature of the physical world.

This threefold nature of the middle world finds its counterpart in the three veils which make up the vesture of the middle self, which we have called the emotional self as perhaps the best description of its total nature.

The three veils of the middle self are the vital veil, the sensuous veil, and the intellectual veil; and the regents of the last two are 'mind' and 'soul,' as we have translated the original terms — Manas and Buddhi.

Development takes place, therefore, by the gradually raising of the self through these vestures and veils; so that, having begun as the physical self in pure animal life, it gradually becomes the emotional and intellectual self of human life, then the intuitional self of life that is something more than human, and at last realizes itself as the eternal Self which is one with the Eternal.

To this, the first part of the Catechism, is then added the outline of Sankara's idealistic physics, the doctrine of the three potencies of substance, force, space; or, as one might call it, from a different point of view, the three modes of subject, predicate, object: of the knower, the knowing, the known. And as perception is of five types, the subject, predicate, and object are divided into the five types of sensuous perception. But as the objects of sensuous perception are not simple, but each respond to several different sensations, a description is found for this fact in the 'process of five-folding' of the object. As an example, a piece of camphor responds not only to the sense of sight but to other senses, touch, taste, smell; it is therefore conceived as made up of the five natures that are objects of sensuous perception, so mingled that one nature is dominant. The three potencies and the five natures are the three vestures and the five veils, from another point of view.

Very important are the definitions: 'mind' is the power of intending and doubting; 'soul' is the power of affirmation; the latter approaching the intuitional self which is the 'enlightened spiritual will.' To express in terms of morals this psychological analysis, we may say that at first through the power of self-assertion, the idea of selfhood is falsely attributed to the physical body and its animal nature, and then to the mental picture of the physical body, which is the emotional self or lower personality. The task of regeneration, of initiating true life, consists in first checking this false self-assertion — selfishness and sensuality — and then through the stages of 'intending and doubting' and strong 'affirmation' substituting for the lower personality the enlightened spiritual will, which is the direct expression of the real Self, re-becoming the Eternal.

Then this chapter of physics and psychology is followed by one of metaphysics. There is the real Self, which is the Eternal. But we do not realize our life as that real Self. Why do we not realize it? Because of two errors, or illusions, which make up the double 'heresy of separateness.' The first error is the error of our apartness from the Eternal. The second error is the error of our apartness from each other. The removal of these two errors constitutes 'our duty towards God' and 'our duty towards our neighbor'; in both cases the real gain is our own, is the gain of our real Self.

Sankara calls the first error glamor; the second, unwisdom. The picture of the self formed through the first is the Lord; the picture of the self formed through the second is the Life. And the real nature of both is the same — pure consciousness — though there is a verbal difference, a difference of definition, between them.

Then, in conclusion, the three forms of 'deeds' or Karma. We may compare 'accumulated deeds' to capital; 'deeds entered on,' to interest; and 'deeds to come,' to the earnings of an unselfish man for the good of others. And we must remember that each of these has a debit as well as a credit side.

The real value of this little treatise is as a key and outline of longer and more complicated works; yet it has a high excellence of its own.

The Essence of the Teaching

Vakya Sudha, or Bala Bodhani


The form is seen, the eye is seer; the mind is both seen and seer. The changing moods of mind are seen, but the witnessing Self, the seer, is never seen.

The eye, remaining one, beholds varying forms; as, blue and yellow, coarse and fine, short and long; and differences such as these.

The mind, remaining one, forms definite intentions, even while the character of the eye varies, as in blindness, dullness, or keen-sightedness; and this holds also of hearing and touch.

The conscious Self, remaining one, shines on all the moods of mind: on desire, determination, doubt, faith, unfaith, firmness and the lack of it, shame, insight, fear, and such as these.

This conscious Self rises not, nor has its setting, nor does it come to wax or wane; unhelped, it shines itself, and illumines others also. [5]


This illumining comes when the ray of consciousness enters the thinking mind; and the thinking mind itself is of twofold nature. The one part of it is the personal idea; the other part is mental action.

The ray of consciousness and the personal idea are blended together, like the heat and the hot iron ball. As the personal idea identifies itself with the body, it brings that also a sense of consciousness.

The personal idea is blended with the ray of consciousness, the body, and the witnessing Self, respectively — through the action of innate necessity, of works, and of delusion.

Since the two are bound up together, the innate blending of the personal idea with the ray of consciousness never ceases; but its blending with the body ceases, when the works wear out; and with the witnessing Self, through illumination.

When the personal idea melts away in deep sleep, the body also loses its sense of consciousness. The personal idea is only half expanded in dream, while in waking it is complete. [10]

The power of mental action, when the ray of consciousness has entered into union with it, builds up mind-images in the dream-state; and external objects, in the waking state.

The personal form, thus brought into being by the personal idea and mental action, is of itself quite lifeless. It appears in the three modes of consciousness; it is born, and so also dies.


For the world-glamor has two powers — extension and limitation, or enveloping. The power of extension brings into manifestation the whole world, from the personal form to the universal cosmos.

This manifesting is an attributing of name and form to the Reality — which is Being, Consciousness, Bliss, the Eternal; it is like foam on the water.

The inner division between the seer and the seen, and the outer division between the Eternal and the world, are concealed by the other power, limitation; and this also is the cause of the cycle of birth and death. [15]

The light of the witnessing Self is united with the personal form; from this entering in of the ray of consciousness arises the habitual life — the ordinary self.

The isolated existence of the ordinary self is attributed to the witnessing Self, and appears to belong to it; but when the power of limitation is destroyed, and the difference appears, the sense of isolation in the Self vanishes away.

It is the same power which conceals the difference between the Eternal and the visible world; and, by its power, the Eternal appears subject to change.

But when this power of limitation is destroyed, the difference between the Eternal and the visible world becomes clear; change belongs to the visible world, and by no means to the Eternal.

The five elements of existence are these: being, shining, enjoying, form and name; the three first belong to the nature of the Eternal; the last two, to the nature of the visible world. [20]

In the elements — ether, air, fire, water, earth; in creatures — gods, animals, and men, Being, Consciousness, Bliss are undivided; the division is only of name and form.


Therefore setting aside this division through name and form, and concentrating himself on Being, Consciousness, Bliss, which are undivided, let him follow after soul-vision perpetually, first inwardly in the heart, and then in outward things also.

Soul-vision is either fluctuating or unwavering; this is its two-fold division in the heart. Fluctuating soul-vision is again two-fold; it may consist either in things seen or heard.

This is the fluctuating soul-vision which consists in things seen: a meditating on consciousness as being merely the witness of the desires and passions that fill the mind.

This is the fluctuating soul-vision which consists in things heard: the constant thought that "I am the self, which is unattached, Being, Consciousness, Bliss, self-shining, secondless." [25]

The forgetting of all images and words, through entering into the bliss of direct experience — this is unwavering soul-vision, like a lamp set in a windless place.

Then, corresponding to the first, there is the soul-vision which strips off name and form from the element of pure Being, in everything whatever; now accomplished outwardly, as it was before, in the heart.

And, corresponding to the second is the soul-vision which consists in the unbroken thought, that the Real is a single undivided Essence, whose character is Being, Consciousness, Bliss.

Corresponding to the former third, is that steady being, is the tasting of this Essence for oneself. Let him fill the time by following out these, the six stages of soul-vision.

When the false conceit, that the body is the Self, falls away; when the Self supreme is known; then, whithersoever the mind is directed, there will the powers of soul-vision arise. [30]

The knot of the heart is loosed; all doubts are cut; all bondage to works wither away — when That is known, which is the first and the last.


The individual self appears in three degrees: as a limitation of the Self; as a ray of the conscious Self; and, thirdly, as the self imagined in dreams. The first alone is real.

For the limitation in the individual self is a mere imagination; and that which is supposed to be limited is the Reality. The idea of isolation in the individual self is only an error; but its identity with the Eternal is its real nature.

And that song they sang of "That thou art" is for the first of these three selves alone; it only is one with the perfect Eternal, not the other selves.

The power of world-glamor, existing in the Eternal, has two potencies: extension and limitation. Through the power of limitation, Glamor hides the undivided nature of the Eternal, and so builds up the images of the individual self and the world. [35]

The individual self which comes into being when the ray of consciousness enters the thinking mind, is the self that gains experience and performs works. The whole world, with all its elements and beings, is the object of its experience.

These two, the individual self and its world, were before time began; they last till Freedom comes, making up our habitual life. Hence they are called the habitual self and world.

In this ray of consciousness, the dream-power exists, with its two potencies of extension and limitation. Through the power of limitation, it hides the former self and world, and so builds up a new self and a new world.

As this new self and world are real only so long as their appearance lasts, they are called the imaginary self and the imaginary world. For, when one has awakened from the dream, the dream existence never comes back again.

The imaginary self believes its imaginary world to be real; but the habitual self knows that world to be only mythical, as also is the imaginary self.

The habitual self looks on its habitual world as real; but the real Self knows that the habitual world is only mythical, as also is the habitual self.

The real Self knows its real oneness with the Eternal; it sees nothing but the Eternal, yet sees that what seemed the unreal is also the Self.


As the sweetness, the flowing, and the coldness, that are the characteristics of the water, reappear in the wave, and so in the foam that crests the wave;

So, verily, the Being, Consciousness, and Bliss of the witnessing Self enter into the habitual self that is bound up with it; and, by the door of the habitual self, enter into the imaginary self also.

But when the foam melts away, its flowing, sweetness, coldness, all sink back into the wave; and when the wave itself comes to rest, they sink back to the sea.

When the imaginary self melts away, its Being, Consciousness, Bliss sink back into the habitual self; and, when the habitual self comes to rest, they return to the Self supreme, the witness of all.

The Teachings of Sankara

By Charles Johnston

Tradition, our best guide in many of the dark problems of India's past, attributes the admirable philosophical work we have just translated to Sankaracharya, the greatest name in the history of Indian Philosophy, and one of the greatest masters of pure thought the world has ever seen.

Sankara, again according to the tradition of the East, lived and taught some two thousand years ago, founding three colleges of Sanskrit learning and philosophy, the most important being at Sringeri, in southern India. He wrote Commentaries on the older Vedanta books, and many original works of great excellence, of which this is reckoned to be one.

Like all Sankara's separate works, The Essence of the Teaching is complete in itself, containing a survey of the whole of life, from a single standpoint; in the present case, from the point of view of pure intellect.

The moral problem before us, is the liberation of our souls from the idea of personality; and the opening of the door to the life of the universal Self, which will enter our hearts, and rule them, once the personal idea is put out of the way. And there is no more potent weapon for combating the personal idea than the clear and lucid understanding that what we call our personality is, in reality, only one of many pictures in the mind, a picture of the body, held before our consciousness, viewed by it, and therefore external to it. If the personality is a picture in the field of consciousness, it cannot be consciousness itself; cannot be our real self; but must necessarily be unreal and transient.

We are the ray of consciousness, and not the image of the body which it lights up, and which, thus lit up, we call our personality. And here we come to one point of the highest interest, in the present work: its central ideas anticipate, almost in the same words, the most original teachings of German philosophy. Hence a right understanding of it will bridge over one of the chasms between the East and the West, the remote past and the life of today; thus showing, once more, that the mind of man is everywhere the same; that there is but one Soul making itself manifest throughout all history.

It may be enough, here, to point out that German philosophy — the teaching of Kant, as developed by Schopenhauer — regards each individual as a manifestation of the universal Will, a ray of that Will, fallen into manifestation, under the influence of the tendency called the will-towards-life.

This individualized ray of the universal Will, falling into the intellect, becomes thereby subject to the powers which make for manifestation, and which Kant analyzed as Causality, Time, and Space. For Kant has shown, with admirable cogency and lucidity, that these so solid-seeming realities are not real at all, but were forms of our thought; mere figments of our intellects. What we call manifestation, Schopenhauer calls representation; and he has very fully developed the idea of the Universe as the resultant of the universal Will, manifested through these three forms of representation — Causality, Time, and Space.

Now it is quite clear that he calls Universal Will what Sankara, following the Upanishads, calls the Eternal; and that the forms of representation of Schopenhauer's system, correspond to the World-glamor, or Maya, of Indian thought. And it is further clear that the will-toward-life, or desire for sensuous existence, of the one system, is very close to the personal idea, or egotism, of the other.

Whoever is acquainted with the two systems, can point out a further series of analogies; we shall content ourselves with alluding to one. Schopenhauer taught that our salvation lies in denying the personal and selfish will-toward-life, within ourselves, and allowing the Universal Will to supersede it; — the very teaching which lies at the heart of Indian thought: the supersession of the individual self by the Self universal, the Self of all beings.

To turn now from the purely intellectual, to the moral side of the matter. If we consider it well, and watch the working of the powers of life we find within us, we shall see that all our misery and futility come from this very source, the personal idea — the vanity and selfishness of our own personalities, coming into strife with the equally vain and selfish personalities, of others.

There is not an evil that cannot be traced to this fertile source. Sensuality, for example, with all its attendant crime and pain, is built on two forces, both springing from the personal idea: first, the desire for the stimulus of strong sensation, to keep the sense of the separate, isolated self keen and vivid; and then the vanity and foolish admiration of our personal selves, as possessors of such abundant means of gratification. Another evil, the lust of possessions, is of the same brood; and, curiously enough, the root of it is — fear; the cowering fear of the personal self, before the menacing forces of the world; the desperate, and — infallible accompaniment of cowardice — remorselessly cruel determination to build up a triple rampart of possessions between the personality and the mutability of things. The whole cause of the race for wealth, the cursed hunger for gold, is a fearful and poltroon longing for security, protection for the personal self; which, indeed, as a mere web of dreams and fancies, is in very bad need of protection.

The last evil, ambition, which is only vanity grown up, is so manifestly of the same color with the others that no special indication of the fact is needed. Thus we see what an immense part of human life, and that, the most futile and pitiable part of it, is built up on so slight a foundation: the wholly mythical personality, the web of dreams, the mere image of a body, itself unreal, which has usurped a sort of sovereignty over all the powers of our wills and minds.

The whole problem for us is this, and it is one that recurs in every moment of life: to disperse this web of dreams which we call our personality, and so to let the pure and universal Will pour into our hearts, to follow out its own excellent purposes, and manifest its own beneficent powers. And thus we shall for the first time enter into our inheritance; no longer as shadowy and malevolent sprites, raging between earth and heaven, a sorrow to the angels, a mockery to the fiends; but rather as undivided parts of the great soul of humanity; of that universal Self, whose own nature is perfect Being, perfect Consciousness, perfect Bliss.

The Song of the Self


Nor earth nor water, fire nor liquid air,
Nor ether, nor the powers, nor these in one;
Undifferentiated, in dreamless perfect rest,
That, the One, final, blest, alone, am I.

Nor castes nor their divisions, rite nor rule,
Are mine, nor fixing mind and thought and mood;
No longer dreaming things not Self art 'I' and 'mine,'
That, the One, final, blest, alone, am I.

Nor mother, father, nor the gods and worlds,
Nor Scriptures, offerings, shrines are there, they say,
In dreamlessness abandoned by the lonely Self;
That, the One, final, blest, alone, am I.

Nor sectary of Cause or Lord or Life
Knows That, nor follower of Saint or Rite,
In perfect union, pure of all but Self,
That, the One, final, blest, alone, am I.

Nor upward, downward, nor within, without;
Nor midward, backward, That, nor east nor west;
All-present everywhere in partless unity,
That, the One, final, blest, alone, am I.

Nor white nor black nor yellow, That, nor red;
Nor small nor very great nor short nor long;
Formless, yet like a light, a star;
That, the One, final, blest, alone, am I.

Nor teacher, teaching, learner, what is learned;
Nor thou nor I nor this expanded world;
Conscious of its own form, from error free,
That, the One, final, blest, alone, am I.

Nor waking, mine, nor dream, nor dreamless sleep;
Nor fire of life or heart or seeing soul;
These three are of unwisdom; but the fourth,
That, the One, final, blest, alone, am I.

Even expanded for the sake of Self —
Self, that, still perfect, on no other rests —
All the wide world besides is little worth.
That, the One, final, blest, alone, am I.

Nor is this first with any second to it;
Nor lonely this, nor yet has it compeers;
Nor is this secondless One void or filled with aught;
How shall I tell this perfect wisdom's crowd?

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