The Purpose of Life is Enlightenment
Last Revised: 10 February 2005
Details of bibliographic acronyms are available here .
Subject: Shankara (Shanakarcharya)
Dates: circa 788-820 A.D.
Tradition: Advaita Vedanta.
If but once, only,
A man will open
His mind to receive you
Seek neither peace nor strife
With kith or kin, with friend or foe.
O beloved, if thou wouldst attain freedom,
Be equal unto all. (CJD, 3.)
Once we become conscious, even dimly, of the Atman, the Reality within us, the world takes on a very different aspect. It is no longer a court of justice but a kind of gymnasium. Good and evil, pain and pleasure, still exist, but they seem more like the ropes and vaulting-horses and parallel bars which can be used to make our bodies strong. Maya is no longer an endlessly revolving wheel of pain and pleasure but a ladder which can be climbed to consciousness of the Reality. From this standpoint, fortune and misfortune are both "mercies" -- that is to say, opportunities. Every experience offers us the chance of making a constructive reaction to it -- a reaction which helps to break some chain of our bondage to Maya and bring us that much nearer to spiritual freedom. (CJD, 24.)
Until a man wakes to knowledge of his identity with the Atman, liberation can never be obtained; no, not even at the end of many hundreds of ages. (CJD, 33.)
To detach the mind from all objective things by continually seeing their imperfection, and to direct it steadfastly toward Brahman, its goal -- this is called tranquillity. (CJD, 35.)
[God] is real; the universe is unreal. A firm conviction that this is so is called discrimination between the eternal and non-eternal. (CJD, 35.)
If you realize [Brahman], you will be freed from the bonds of ignorance, and attain liberation. (CJD, 52.)
When, in the enlightenment of the Atman, a man transcends the mind, the phenomenal universe disappears from him. When a man lives in the domain of mental ignorance, the phenomenal universe exists for him. (CJD, 60.)
[The Self] is realized within one's own heart as existence, knowledge and bliss absolute. Realize this Atman within the shrine of your own heart. (CJD, 68.)
[God] alone is real. There is none but He. When He is known as the supreme reality there is no other existence but [God]. (CJD, 69.)
Know the Atman, transcend all sorrows, and reach the fountain of joy. Be illumined by this knowledge, and you have nothing to fear. If you wish to find liberation, there is no other way of breaking the bonds of rebirth. (CJD, 69.)
Realize Brahman, and there will be no more returning to this world -- the home of all sorrows. You must realize absolutely that the Atman is Brahman.
Then you will win Brahman for ever. He is the truth. He is existence and knowledge. He is absolute. He is pure and self-existent. He is eternal, unending joy. He is none other than the Atman. (CJD, 69.)
Brahman is ... tranquillity itself. ... He is joy for ever. (CJD, 71.)
No matter what a deluded man may think he is perceiving he is really seeing [God] and nothing else but [God]. (CJD, 71.)
The wise men of true discrimination understand that the essence of both Brahman and Atman is Pure Consciousness, and thus realize their absolute identity. (CJD, 74.)
[Brahman] is beyond the grasp of the senses. (CJD, 75.)
The intellect cannot understand [Brahman]. It is out of the reach of thought. (CJD, 75.)
It is the cause of the evolution of the universe, its preservation and its dissolution. (CJD, 75-6.)
There is a continuous consciousness of the unity of Atman and Brahman. There is no longer any identification of the Atman with its coverings. All sense of duality is obliterated. There is pure, unified consciousness. The man who is well established in this consciousness is said to be illumined.
A man is said to be free even in this life when he is established in illumination. His bliss is unending. He almost forgets this world of appearancees.
Even though his mind is dissolved in Brahman, he is fully awake, free from the ignorance of waking life. He is fully conscious, but free from any craving. Such a man is said to be free even in this life.
For him, the sorrows of this world are over. Though he possesses a finite body, he remains united with the Infinite. His heart knows no anxiety. (Quoted in HTKG, 64.)
Subject: Bayzid of Bistun (Bayazid Bistami, Abu Yazid of Bistami)
Dates: d. c. 877.
I went from God to God, until they cried from me in me, "O thou I!" (PP, 12.)
I drank glass after glass of love;
Neither did the wine finish, nor my thirst. (KK, 16.)
If the Throne and all that is there had been increased one million times and put into the corner of the heart of the gnostic, he would not even feel their existence. (KK, 16.)
I came forth from Bayazid-ness as a snake from its skin. (http://www.oneummah.net/tasawwuf/scholars.htm, downloaded 2 January 2005.)
The Purpose of Life is Enlightenment
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