Speaker: The yogi who finds stillness is neither distracted nor focuses. He knows neither pleasure nor pain. Ignorance is dispelled. Ashtavakra Gita, Chapter 18, specifically shloka 18.10. In this shloka, Ashtavakra is saying that he is free from knowing. So the question is- how can he be free of the knowledge that ‘nothing is’? You are saying that ultimately this much of knowledge that ‘nothing is’, will remain. No.
What is the right place of knowledge in the mind? What is the right function of knowledge? Why must one have knowledge?
Listener: May be to express.
Speaker: We are not taking of the kind of knowledge which tells you what is your house number, how the electric fan works, what is your bank account number, how does the economic system operates. No, we are not talking of that type of knowledge. We are referring to self-knowledge. We are referring to the relationship of all the knowledge with myself. Even that is the knowledge. How am I related to economics? How am I related to science? And ultimately, ‘Who Am I?’
So, what is the place of self-knowledge in the mind? What is the rightful place of self-knowledge in the mind? Why must one acquire knowledge? Why must one read the Ashtavakra Gita? Because even that is knowledge. The rightful place of knowledge is that it should not be there. Then why does one read? One reads, one acquires new knowledge so that the old knowledge can be wiped-off. That is the only good use of knowledge, that it liberates you from all the previous knowledge that you have already accumulated otherwise, knowledge has no use as far as self-awareness goes. Are you getting it?
In matters of self, if you acquire knowledge of any kind, it will be a liability. It will be a load upon the head. So, whatever new knowledge you acquire, which ever book you read, whosoever you listen to, just look at them with one distinction. Are they increasing my self-knowledge, cementing it, making me more assured about a particular identity or are they just clearing everything away? If the book is a worthy book, if the guru is a worthy guru, he will not give you more knowledge about yourself. Whatever he will give you, will only act as fire, the fire that burns away everything that already is. That fire will burn away everything including the notion that ‘nothing is’. Even this is the notion. Even this is an accumulated notion that ‘nothing is’. Even Ashtavakra will not let you with this notion.
So real knowledge is a very artful thing. It makes the old knowledge disappear, and then it disappears itself, that is its unique and defining characteristic. Not only should it wipe everything else clean, but it should also not become a substitute to the previous knowledge. It should not happen that you got rid of your previous identities, but you acquired a new one. If that is happening, then the book is dangerous. If a particular teacher is intent upon giving you a new set of beliefs, then he is not taking you beyond what you are. What are you? A mind cosseted in beliefs. He has given you another set of beliefs. So, no progress has happened. In fact, it is a regression. So watch out, be careful.
If the book is worth it, you will only feel light. Whatever is there, will go away and nothing new will come. Only lightness will come. Both these conditions must be satisfied simultaneously. First, the old must go away and second, nothing else should substitute the old. A vast emptiness, a vast silence must remain.
Listener 1: That you would not know of.
Speaker: That you won’t know of. It is not an object of knowing. It is not more knowledge. It is not knowledge at all. Having read something, just see, ‘am I feeling lighter?’ Having listened to an audio or a video, just ask yourself, ‘am I feeling relieved of something or something has been added to my mind?’
-Excerpts from clarity session held at Advait office. Edited for clarity.
Watch the session at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1sLe5sHt0-Y