Ribhu Gita – Chapter 23

Chapter Twenty-Three of Ribhu Gita

The Exposition of the Truth of Advaita

    1. To strengthen the knowledge of the undivided Supreme Brahman,
      I shall tell you further, noble soul!
      The conclusion that it is only Brahman,
      The mass of Existence-Consciousness-Bliss,
      That is ever changeless,
      And all this duality never exists.
      The non-dual conclusion
      Is the quintessence of the Vedas.
    2. Differences there are none – no differences, no differences.
      There is nothing that causes differences.
      There are no elements or anything composed of the elements.
      There is no world, no objects of the world,
      No cause, no qualities – nothing at all.
      There is nothing that manifests itself as ‘this’.
      The undivided expanse of Knowledge, without beginning or end,
      The Supreme Brahman, is the one Reality.
    3. There is nothing big or small or medium,
      No back, no front, nothing in between,
      Nothing difficult, nothing easy, nothing in between,
      Nothing belonging to others, nothing one’s own, nothing in between,
      Nothing singular, nothing dual – nothing in between,
      Nothing interior, nothing exterior, nothing indeed at all.
      What is completely perfectly full, the changeless Consciousness itself,
      The peaceful, is the Supreme Brahman alone.
    4. There is nothing that is ‘all’ or a little or both,
      None that are real or unreal or both,
      No happiness or sorrow or both,
      No purity or impurity or both,
      Nothing, lowly or exalted or both,
      No here or hereafter, nor anything at all.
      What is universally, perfectly full, the undivided Consciousness,
      The changeless, is only the Supreme Brahman.
    5. There is no enquiring disciple, nor is there any guru.
      There is no knowledge to impart, no ignorance,
      No sorrowful bondage or liberation,
      No duality or non-duality,
      Nothing happy and auspicious or inauspicious,
      No ‘I’, no ‘you’, nobody at all.
      What is an expanse of Knowledge, without anything apart,
      Undivided, changeless, is the Supreme Brahman alone.
    6. There is no foolishness, no mind, no intellect,
      No blinding egoity, no thought,
      No objects, no object perceiving senses,
      No karma, no individual [jiva] affected by karma,
      No body, no experiencer of the body,
      No life, nothing ever.
      What is firm and without an atom of anything to perceive,
      Itself of the nature of the perceiver, is the Supreme Brahman.
    7. There is no such thing as enjoyment, no enjoyer who enjoys,
      No object of enjoyment, no satisfaction,
      No infatuated fool, no discriminating wise man,
      None liberated, none in bondage, no seeker after liberation,
      None differentiated as a devotee, no devotion,
      No bondage, no soul, nor a Lord (Pati).
      What exists ever as the One, complete and perfectly full,
      The changeless Consciousness, is the Supreme Brahman.
    8. There is no desire, no fruits sought,
      No action indulged in with desire,
      No worship, no god to worship,
      No results of worship,
      No talking, no subject of which to talk,
      No results derived by talk.
      What exists as the permanent, perfectly full,
      Changeless, eternal, Consciousness, is the Supreme Brahman alone.
    9. There are no modes of the mind such as desire,
      No misleading sankalpas*and vikalpas**,
      No sextet of changes like birth and others,
      No triad of states like wakefulness and others,
      No fourth state transcending wakefulness and others,
      No variety of thoughts to pursue.
      What is ever without the least thing to see and is ever of the nature of the seer
      Is the Supreme Brahman alone.* Concepts, volition, fixed ideas.
      ** Doubts, notions, differentiation, imagination.
    10. There is nothing of premise or conclusion,
      Nothing of good company or bad company,
      Nothing of knowing or the knowable,
      Nothing or enquiry or practising,
      None here who are the guru or the disciple,
      Nothing of goal or reaching the goal.
      What exists as the defectless, perfectly full mass of Knowledge
      Is the Supreme Brahman alone.
    11. There is no holy bath or holy waters or holy shrines,
      No dharma, no god, no service to gods,
      No decay, no development, none experiencing these,
      No charity, no individuality – nothing –
      No knowledge, no devotion, no actions enjoined,
      Not an atom of knower and knowledge and such.
      What exists as the faultless Reality, the shining Consciousness,
      Of the nature of bliss, is the Supreme Brahman alone.
    12. There is no world with its gradations,
      No worlds such as the nether regions,
      No objects such as cloth and pot,
      Nothing such as cause and effect,
      Nothing as the manifold, cosmic conglomerate,
      No experiencer of each of these.
      What has not the least insentience, is full of consciousness,
      And without a trace of the world, jivas, and the Supreme is the Supreme Brahman alone.
    13. There is nothing that becomes depleted or becomes full,
      Nothing which stands off or fraternizes,
      Nothing which adheres or separates,
      No earning of victory or defeat,
      Nothing at all of knowing or remembering,
      No triad [of afflictions] such as adhatrnika* and such.
      What is blemishless, attributeless, the eternal,
      The ever present Consciousness, is the Supreme Brahman alone.* Intrinsic nature.
    14. There is no triad of sattva* and other qualities,
      No variety of religions like Saiva and others,
      No wondrous Vedantic religion,
      No varieties of Agama and other scriptures,
      No word to explain non-duality,
      Nor any word to explain the identity**.
      What exists as the pure, complete, perfectly full nature
      Beyond the reach of words, is only the Supreme Brahman.* Illuminating, joyful.
      ** Of the individual and the supreme Self.
    15. here is nothing as man or woman or hermaphrodite,
      Nothing non-moving or moving, nor anything as ‘all’,
      There is no sky, no wind, no fire,
      No water, no earth, no senses,
      No seeing or hearing or appearing,
      And nothing that is ever imagined as seen.
      What exists as That which is beyond the compass of speech and such
      And which is limitless is the Supreme Brahman.
    16. There is none dear, none good, none wicked,
      Nothing mundane or religious,
      Nothing short or long or stout,
      Nothing black or white or red,
      No gain, no loss or in between,
      No name or form, and nothing manifold.
      The only thing that exists, without anything to be seen,
      Is the Supreme Brahman alone.
    17. There are no divisions of castes or orders of society,
      No praiseworthy peace or self-control
      No righteousness* no unrighteousness**,
      No defect, no quality, none with qualities,
      No existence or non-existence,
      No delusion, and no consequences of delusion.
      What exists is the unfragmented and perfectly full,
      The differenceless Consciousness, is the Supreme Brahman alone.* dharma
      ** adharma
    18. There is nothing as praising or denigrating, none to do the praising,
      Nothing of encomium or impeachment,
      No defectless injunctions or prohibitions,
      No various manuals prescribing these,
      Nothing as oneself and others, nothing at all apart,
      Nothing without blemish, and nothing that is a blemish – and nothing at all.
      What always exists as the completely, perfectly full and changeless
      Consciousness is the Supreme Brahman alone.
    19. There is nothing of birth with the gross and the other bodies,
      No childhood, no youth, no senility,
      No troublesome death, no birth,
      No relative here, no non-relative,
      No friends or foes of which to speak,
      And no division such as the worlds beyond.
      What exists with not an atom apart, changeless and undivided,
      Is the Supreme Brahman alone.
    20. There are no directions or directionlessness
      Or the guardians of the directions,
      No Hara, no Hari, no Brahma*,
      No multitude of gods or demons,
      No men, no beasts,
      No reptiles or plant life such as forests.
      What exists as the infinite, supreme Consciousness-Space, the supreme Reality,
      The divisionless, is the Supreme Brahman alone.* Destroyer, Sustainer, Creator
    21. There is nothing as the experiencer of the individuals in the waking state* and such.
      There is nothing as the cosmic experiencer in the waking state** and such.
      There is no auspicious fourth state or its experiencer,
      No five sheaths such as of food [the physical body] and others,
      No mixture of wrong suppositions,
      Nothing of the world, individuals, and the Supreme that seem real.
      What exists undivided, with not an atom of it perishable,
      Is the Supreme Brahman alone.* Visvan
      ** Virat
    22. There is never anything illusory,
      No time, no space, no object,
      No contemplation that Consciousness is all Brahman,
      No bhava of thought that all is Consciousness,
      No differentiation such as Brahman is the only reality.
      No differentiation such as Brahman alone being Reality.
      What exists without a trace of difference, undivided and unwavering,
      Is the Supreme Brahman alone.
    23. There is nothing as measuring, nor anything measurable,
      Nothing gigantic, nothing atomic, nothing in between,
      No knower, nothing to be known, no knowing,
      No triads to remember,
      No delusion that makes one think of ‘me’ and ‘mine’,
      And no blemish of transmigration – none of any of these at all.
      What exists, limitless as the sky, the undivided Consciousness-space,
      Is the Supreme Brahman alone.
    24. There is nothing sentient as the knower.
      There is nothing sentient as the object of knowledge.
      There is nothing sentient as the means of valid knowledge.
      There is nothing sentient of any other kind.
      There is nothing created,
      None who creates.
      What exists indivisible, without material modification or illusory transfiguration,
      Is the Supreme Brahman alone.
    25. There are no vasanas* of the mind.
      There are no functions of the mind.
      There is no worldly existence like wakefulness and others.
      There is no worldly-minded person seeking these.
      There never is sorrowful duality,
      Not an atom of sorrow or happiness.
      What exists unwavering, undivided, completely perfectly full with nothing apart
      Is the Supreme Brahman alone.* Past impressions or tendencies.
    26. There is nothing such as the manifestations of duality that
      ‘The attached body is myself, and the world is real.’
      There is nothing such as the witness mode that [says] ‘I am the witness and all else is apart.’
      There is nothing such as the undivided mode, which has the awareness that
      ‘I indeed am the individual Supreme with nothing apart.’
      What is devoid of any divisive modes and is differenceless
      Is the Supreme Brahman alone.
    27. All modes of the mind do not arise.
      All the modes of the mind do not get destroyed.
      There is no appearance of all the modes of the mind.
      There is no disappearance of all the modes of the mind.
      There is no existence of all the modes of the mind.
      There is no non-existence of all the modes of the mind.
      What exists, without all the modes of the mind and ever peaceful,
      Is the Supreme Brahman alone.
    28. There is no ‘witness’ aspect at all of the developments of the mind.
      There is no thought of ‘all.’
      The bhava* of oneself being Brahman – such as ‘I am Brahman’ and Brahman is myself’ –
      Does not have the least existence.
      There are no divisions such as ‘all’ and ‘witness’
      And ‘Brahman’ and ‘the nature of the Self of all.’
      What exists totally unaffected by any divisions as the one undivided Consciousness
      Is the Supreme Brahman alone.* Conviction, attitude, feeling.
    29. Thee is no darkness, no light, no space,
      No sextet of samadhis at all,
      No knower of Brahman, none as a great personage
      Or the greater or the greatest or any others.
      Nothing exists ever. Never is there anything.
      One who has acquitted the undivided Knowledge
      That all that exists is Brahman, of the nature of Consciousness, and that Brahman am I
      Is the one liberated from the bondage of mundane misery.
    30. One who has not attained this undivided Knowledge of Brahman
      Is indeed the most unfortunate.
      One who has not attained this undivided Knowledge of the Supreme Knowledge of the Supreme Brahman
      Is, indeed, the intensely sick.
      One who has attained the beneficial, undivided Knowledge of the Supreme Brahman
      Is the one liberated from the cycle of birth and death.
      Hence, all seekers after liberation should, by one means or another,
      Attain the undivided Knowledge of the Supreme.
    31. One who has the conviction that all is the undivided Supreme Brahman
      And that Brahman is myself
      And attains the firm experience in himself
      Becomes of the nature of that undivided Supreme
      And rid of all the sankalpa* and vikalpas** of the faculty mind,
      Becomes liberated from the bondage of worldly misery.
      There is not an atom of doubt of what is said.
      I say this in the name of Siva. This is the greatest Truth.* Concepts, fixed ideas.
      ** Notions, doubts, imaginations, differences.
    32. Even if learned with all sorts of rare education,
      The ignoramus who has not attained
      The Knowledge of the One Supreme,
      That all is Brahman and that Brahman is myself,
      Shall never cross the formidable ocean of transmigration.
      Only he who has attained the pure, supreme Knowledge indescribable by words
      Can, easily crossing the difficult ocean of worldly existence,
      Reach the shore of the perfectly full Supreme Brahman.
    33. Only he who has attained the steadfast conviction of the undivided Supreme
      Is the sage in this world.
      Only he who has obtained the ineradicable conviction of the undivided Supreme
      Is of the nature of the Supreme Brahman.
      I have explained to you, Nidagha, this rare Truth
      As taught to me earlier by the Supreme Lord.
      Whoever hears this flawlessly and with supreme love – even once –
      Will become himself the Supreme.
    34. There is nothing singular, dual or plural,
      Nothing with form or that is formless or anything else,
      No bewilderment or clear perception, no mind at all,
      Nothing great, nothing trivial, nothing else,
      No world or individual [jiva] or Lord [Isvara],
      No cause or effect or any such thing.
      The luminous Supreme Siva, unaffected by any darkness,
      Is alone That which is ever the One.
    35. The only reality is the Supreme Siva,
      Who is in the natural state of Being without illusion like maya,
      Who is the greatest of the great, without attachment,
      Who is not capable of being measured, has none nor any instrument to measure it,
      Who is of the nature of the immensely great Self of the world,
      Who is friendly and is unsurpassed Bliss,
      And who is permanent purity and full of Consciousness,
      And who is the One, the bondageless, the eternal, and of the nature of the liberated.
    36. Only he who has known the Supreme Siva, of the nature of Knowledge
      And which is the illuminator of such luminaries as the sun,
      Will, by the words of the Vedas such as Rig and others,’
      By the words of the Guru who teaches these
      By the steady reflection of reasoning,
      And by uninterrupted meditation,
      Become himself the undivided Supreme Siva, of the nature of the seer of all
      And be rid of the ‘seen’ that is the bondage of the world.
    37. Only one who has known the nature of Siva as Consciousness
      Will attain the undivided supreme Liberation
      That consists in being established verily
      As the non-dual, perfectly full Siva,
      Being rid of all birth, senility, death and pain and disease,
      And being ever devoid of any appearance of duality.
      This is the truth.
      Thus, the great Ribhu explained to Nidagha.
    38. It is the infinite form of our God of gods, in a state of faultless, joyous dance that firmly proclaims the Truth
      That it is only the eternal, artless, delusionless
      Absolute that remains,
      After negating all things, to show
      That the elements and other manifestations are all ever unreal – non-existent, non-existent.

About Sunday morning

Sunday Morning Contemplation is informed by Eastern and Western contemplative traditions. The first, lectio divina has its origins in 6th century Europe. It unfolds in four steps or stages: reading (lectio), reflecting (meditatio), responding (oratio), and silent abiding (contemplatio). Our Eastern inspiration come from the Indian Upanishads (800-200 BCE), where contemplative practice consists of three steps or stages: listening (śravana), reflecting (manana), and meditating (nididhyāsana or dhyāna). Our contemplative practice on Sundays embraces both approaches, and each contemplation will be based on a reading from either tradition.

The texts and teachers I have chosen played a significant role in my life and I believe have much to offer. I will read presellected texts, slowly, with pauses between verses or quotes. The readings will be accompanied by soothing background music. To lessen distraction, I suggest participants close their eyes and listen. However, the screen will display the text so that people can choose to read along or mute the sound and read on their own. If there is time remaining after the contemplative period, participants can choose to either leave or stay for a short discussion.

As a preface to the reading, I will provide a 10-15 minute introduction to the text. When relevant, I’ll review facts about the author/teacher’s life. I will also present a brief explanation of the terms and language encountered in the reading.

Finally, when the contemplation is over, all texts read will be available online to read and/or download at any time on the website.

What I mean by
The Symbolic Life

This website makes liberal use of classical Indian visual art and refers mostly to traditional Indian texts (for example, the Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita and Yoga Sutras) in the courses, seminars, and discussions on offer. However, I am not presenting lessons in Hinduism; in fact, teaching mainstream Hinduism is neither my area of interest nor expertise. Rather, my interest in Yoga and Tantra is grounded in the concrete situation in which we find ourselves, in the places where we arrive and from which we depart. Beginning in the here and now, we will explore the underlying meaning of the symbols, stories, images, philosophies, and techniques found in Indian philosophical texts and practice, in light of our world and our current circumstance. We will excavate the meaning of the aphorisms and teaching stories; the symbolic figures of gods, people, and nature; and the sometimes terse, sometimes poetic, philosophy of the texts. Thus, in referring to the Symbolic Life of Yoga and Tantra, I mean not just the symbols themselves, but the rich explication of life that the symbols represent.

Our lived, concrete situation is wonderfully captured in the Sanskrit word loka, whose ancient meaning is “the world.”  The root meaning of both the Sanskrit loka and the English locate (and local, locale, and location) is identical. In the ancient Indian mind, the world is where we are located, in our current circumstance. Thus, the meaning of the symbols of Yoga and Tantra can occur only in the now, in the places where we find ourselves, and not in any imagined ancient and/or foreign world.

To emphasize our place of origin and return, I use the terms “archetypal” and “symbolic” quite frequently. Archetypal meaning is associated with the universal and collective aspects of human experience—what we intimately share with all others regardless of culture or era or epoch—while symbolic language forms a bridge between the realms of the universal with the culturally specific and local. Symbols are the scaffolding upon which human beings build a world and imbue it with meaning.

Think for a moment of pain and pleasure, sorrow and joy, hatred and love, and greed and generosity—universal experiences that ancient Indian thinkers called the dvandva-s. This Sanskrit term is a combination of two words, or rather, one word spoken twice: the word dva (meaning the same as the English “two”) duplicated. Dvandva is commonly translated as “the pair of opposites” or literally “the two-twos” (dvadva). The ancients who coined this compact symbol gave voice to an archetypal human experience that can be further unpacked to reveal deep insights into the human condition. Once we gain an understanding of the various symbols of Yoga and Tantra, we can further excavate their meaning and the archetypes they convey, and thus gain access to, in a practical and meaningful way, the vision of life experienced by the sages. These insights are available to us and are still relevant today, as are the resilient and adaptable techniques and forms of practice that can help us lead richer and more fulfilling lives