Ashtavakra Samhita, Chapter 1, Verse 7

Ashtavakra and King Janaka

Translation and Commentary by Jayaram V


Index, Verse 1, Verse 2, Verse 3, Verse 4, Verse 5, Verse 6, Verse 7, Verse 8, Verse 9, Verse 10, Verse 11, Verse 12, Verse 13, Verse 14, Verse 15, Verse 16, Verse 17, Verse 18, Verse 19, Verse 20

Verse 7

eko dristasi sarvasya muktaprayo asi sarvada
ayam eva hi bandho drishtaram pashyasitaram


You are the one seer among all and you truly are always free. Seeing the seer as another this alone is your bondage


Becoming the seer in the bubble of life

Close your eyes and try to locate the seer in you. If you persist, you will eventually find him. Finding the seer and becoming a pure observer, without judgment, response, choice, and emotion is the first test to develop the witness consciousness. You will not experience it when you are engaged with the world. You will find him deep within yourself when you withdraw your mind and senses and restrain them. As your practice deepens, you will bring the seer into your outer consciousness also. Then, you will have an opportunity to see the world with purity, and without the involvement of your ego.

Know that whenever you become involved with the world or with your own emotions, you become the object. Becoming an object is bondage, since it makes you a plaything of the world, or a character in the world-drama, rather than its spectator. To be the seer you have to become established in the subjective consciousness of pure observer. Each time you are drawn into the object, you have to withdraw from it and return to your observer state.

The idea of renunciation, dispassion, detachment and indifference arise from witness Self only. You are the seer. When you think you are the body or the mind or an individual, you enter the objective state and become bound to the things that you may like or dislike. You become the enjoyed, rather than the enjoyer, the food of gods rather than the high priest (Brahman) of the ceremony. Knowing that you are consciousness, not your body, is an important step in spiritual practice. However, when you reach that stage, you must overcome the duality that exists within your own consciousness.

You are a bubble in the ocean of existence. Your individuality and subjectivity are confined to your body and to your limited field of perception and experience, whereby anything that is outside them becomes an object for you. Objectivity is the problem. Seeing things as different from you or as objects, is also a problem. It is natural to your mind, but a problem from the perspective of your eternal state and your liberation. It creates the veil or the illusion of separation and duality between you and the rest of the world.

When you see people suffering from afflictions, you may empathize with them or feel compassion for them, but you cannot feel their real pain because you cannot remove the veil of separation. In that state you may even blame God for creating that pain without realizing that the one who is experiencing the pain and suffering from all of them is but the One Person only (ekam).

Your individuality is a bubble in the universal consciousness which is eternal, indivisible, free and the same in all. You are inside that bubble which floats in the ocean of existence. In that you see everything with duality as an object, with you as the subject, the seer. The same holds true for all beings who are endowed with senses and consciousness. Everyone subjectively perceives the world from inside a bubble as an object taking the bubble and the experience for real.

That bubble is a prison, a limiting factor, and an illusion, which makes you a seer with a limited vision and individualized consciousness. Your individuality, or ego, is but limited subjectivity formed like a drop of rain between the cloud of conception and ocean of dissolution.

The limitation arises because of your association or your bondage to your name and form. If you rise above them, you will realize that the whole universe is a living entity that sees and experiences the existence through all the entities (objects) as itself.

What is common to all is the person, or the seeing and experiencing one, who is referenced in many texts as drashta, the seer. It is the seeing subject in all (ekam drashta sarvasya), whereas the world it perceives or experiences through the organs of body becomes an object inside each bubble, but subject outside.

The duality between the two arises because the seer in each is bound to the body and does not usually rise above body consciousness. This is the bondage, which creates in all the limitation as well as the illusion of separation and individuality.

Individuality is the presence of duality as a bubble in the individual, indivisible, indestructible, and infinite consciousness. Once you dissolve it, you become the person who is described in the Upanishad as the being with eyes, hands and feet everywhere and in every direction. You become the true seer when you see the world with the eyes of the universe.

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