Seated already on the mountain top, why suffer dreams of climbing

Anatma-rupam cha katham samadhih 

Atma-swarupam cha katham samadhih 

Astiti nastiti katham samadhih 

Moksha-swarupam yadi sarvam ekam. 

~ The Avadhuta Gita of Dattatreya (1.23)

Translation: How can a man attain Samadhi as long as he thinks of himself as something other than the Aatman? But on the other hand, Samadhi is not possible for a man who thinks of himself as the Aatman. How can Samadhi be attained as long as a man thinks that the Aatman exists and yet does not exist, and what need is there to attain Samadhi if all are one and by nature free?

Speaker: Rohit has quoted from the Avadhuta Gita: Chapter 1, Verse 23. He has been asking this question since three weeks now, and I had been unable to take it up. But it seems his enquiry is quite insistent.

Dattatreya says that if you think of yourself as anything other than Aatman, where is the question of Samadhi for you? This first sentence is just a first sentence. It introduces the reader into thinking that probably taking oneself, thinking of oneself, as the Aatman is necessary to enter Samadhi. In the very next line, Dattatreya strings a surprise; he says, “When you think of yourself as Aatman, how is Samadhi possible for you?” He starts of by saying, “If you think of yourself as anything other than Aatman, Samadhi will elude you.” He proceeds by saying, “If you think of yourself as the Aatman, Samadhi will elude you.” He now knows, that it is evident that he is out to attack the notions of the mind, so quite brazenly, in the next line he says, “For those who think that there is, and for those who think that there is not, where is the question of Samadhi?” Till this point he has only said what will not lead to Samadhi, but in the last line, he totally destroys even the remnants of mental support. He says, “What is the need for Samadhi? Who needs Samadhi? What is the point in Samadhi if all is but one?”

Opinions and TruthLet’s take it again from the beginning. A man thinks of himself as something other than the Aatman, and another man thinks of himself as (Stressing on the ‘as’) the Aatman. What is common between these two men? They both think of themselves ‘as something’. They both have a self-concept. The mind is active in the case of both of them. The mind is looking at itself and sizing itself up. A man insists that an ultimate Truth does exist, and another man insists that nothing of that sort exists. What is common amongst them? Both are talking of the Truth within the plane of existence that the mind is familiar with. After all the word ‘existence’ whether we say Asti or whether we say Naasti, the word, ‘is’, or the word, ‘exists’, has definite meanings for us. It refers to something in the time-space plane. Somebody says, “It is there in it”, somebody says, “No! It is not there in it”, but both are referring to the same plane. It’s like two ignorant people who come across something that is beyond their knowledge, their experience and their intellect. None has any idea of what he is seeing, there can be no idea of what they are seeing. What they have come across is beyond ideation. But one of them start insisting: I know what it is. And the other one start insisting: Well, I do not think there is anything to be known and what you are insisting as existent, simply does not exist. This second one simply denies the existence of what he is seeing. Is either of them any better than the other? What is common amongst them is their ignorance. One says, “God exists”, and the other says, “God does not exist.” The question is, have you any understanding of what you are saying? What does not exist and what are you claiming as existent? What exactly? What are you affirming and what exactly are you denying? What exactly are you denying? And in confirming or denying you have stirred a mental agitation which has taken the mind away from its fundamental peace. So it doesn’t matter, whether the Truth exists or does not exist, but what is certain is that in the process of asserting your opinions about the Truth, you have entered into opinions. That much is pretty much certain, that right now it is the opinions that are ruling. And where there are opinions, there can be no Truth. Your opinions about the Truth have ironically pulled you away from the Truth, but that is mind, it is more interested in having opinions, knowledge, and experience about something, than being with the thing itself. It is more interested in talking about peace than being peaceful. It is more interested in lecturing about love than being loving. It is more interested in theories about meditation than meditativeness itself. Theories sustain the mind, knowledge inflates the mind, but the Real, about which all theories and knowledge is purportedly there, that punctures the mind. So the mind has great interest in talking about it, but great resistance to approaching it. And you will find that happening at many stages of your life. It might even be a routine experience. News about something might excite you, but closeness to the thing makes you nervous. Take for example a teacher, words from a teacher appear nice, knowledge gathered from a teacher appears valuable, but the teacher himself appears a little bit of a crackpot, a little eccentric, even a little scary. So let me read his books, let me follow his methods, but I won’t go close to him, because that’s dangerous, that threatens me. Now what is this ‘me’ that is threatened? This ‘me’ is probably what Dattatreya is referring to. This ‘me’ is the thinker. This ‘me’ is the one who likes to declare: This exists, that does not exists, I know, I do not know. This ‘me’ is that. Dattatreya is the head of Avadhutas. See how peacefully we have taken his words and are discussing them. See how composed we all look. Everything is alright as long as what we have with us the words of the Avadhuta. Now what if an Avadhuta, a real one, in all his wild, natural and beautiful nakedness, comes right over here, what would happen to your composure? And chances are, he won’t be interested in lecturing. His life is his teaching. His methods are spontaneous.

He has no great regards for etiquette or politeness. Most of us might not be comfortable. That’s actually an understatement. Most of us would actually, actively avoid him. As long as it is a cosy and convenient environment, where his words are being taken up in a setting orchestrated by you, you are alright. But when the real one enters and smashes all settings, obviously not as violence, but a statement, that real one does not appear very likeable. The words in Avadhuta Gita represent some of the purest utterings on Advait. As pure as the verses of Upanishads, if not more, and I am tempted to say, actually purer than that. Most strict and uncompromising in their rejection of duality than Ashtavakra and Krishna. Such is the worth of the Dattatreya’s words. Such is the worth of Avadhuta Gita. But please see that the Avadhuta Gita never became as famous and as popular as the Gita of Krishna or even the Gita of Ashtavakra. Much lesser scriptures have been liked much more by us. The reason is obvious. The Truth is alright for the ego only from a distance. Proximity to the Truth is life threatening for us. So all kinds of miscellaneous scriptures are all right. Those others scriptures too have their worth, some value, but none comes close to matching the naked staunchness of the Avadhuta. Nobody. And that is why we have not been able to really accept and appreciate this one.

And ultimately, Dattatreya dissolves the final concepted ‘Self’. He dissolves the very concept of dissolution. He says, “When the Truth is one, where is the question of reaching the Truth?” That is how Samadhi has been classically defined – Reaching the center, settling down into the Truth. I can actually see him laughing to a fellow Avadhuta and saying, “How will you reach that from which it is impossible to escape?” “How will you reach that which you can never leave, even if you want to?” He is saying, “What rubbish is this, all this talk of Samadhi? As if you are in any other state, at any other point of time. You are already in Samadhi. There is no other Truth. If you think you are in some other state, you are dreaming. So wake up. You do not need to reach Samadhi.” There is a difference between reaching somewhere and simply waking up. You are already there, you are just dreaming that you are somewhere else. Wake up. You are already there, nowhere else to go. You are already at the pinnacle of your life. This is the climax. It can’t get any better than this. And what are you searching for? Had you been so unfamiliar with that which you are searching for, how would you have searched for it? To make matters complicated for yourself, you say, “The Truth is distant, the Truth is unknowable, the Truth is unapproachable, mind cannot think of It, man cannot reach It.” If that is so, then how is it that you are incessantly on the lookout for the Truth?

All you want is peaceIf Truth is such an unknown entity to you, why are you so restless? One doesn’t desire for something one is very unfamiliar with. Does he? And you are desiring for that one, all the time. In your various desires, in your various movements, ultimately all you want is Peace. Whatever you may say that you are chasing, at the end of the chase lies the promise of Peace. The promise is what gives the chase its energy. Right? And you are chasing all the time. You are convinced of the promise. From where does this conviction come? This conviction comes from the fact that you know Peace. You know that the promise is real. You know that Peace is your natural state. And that is why in whatever you do every moment, and whosoever you meet, all you look for is peace.

Seen anybody who wants anything except Peace? Even when you are chasing excitement, you are chasing Peace through excitement. Even when you are being violent, you want Peace through violence. Ultimately you want nothing except Peace. Would it not be then foolish to say that you do not know peace? Had you not known it, how could it have been echoing inside you constantly? Not only do you know it, you remember it without break. It is a continuous music, an incessant resonance within you. You don’t even need reminders. If you are going in some direction, you are going in the direction of Peace. If you are trying out something, you are trying to get Peace. If you are entering something new, the objective is Peace. Even in taking a position against Peace, ultimately you want to feel Peaceful. Dare we say that we do not know Peace? That which is the central attraction of our lives, we want to fane unfamiliarity with it? Seriously? Dattatreya is saying that you are just pretending, you already are there. If you know it so clearly and intimately, it is impossible that anything can stand between you and it. You see, the first thing is to realize and see clearly, that you know it clearly. The first thing is to see that peace, which you may also call as Truth or God, is the center of all mental activity. The mind may be going in miscellaneous directions, but it wants to reach that particular center, even in going hither and thither and randomly flying around.

An Indian sage has given a very apt image for it. He says that it is just like a bird on the ship. A ship sailing in the seas, the bird is on that ship. The bird flies from the ship and goes in various directions, but ultimately it returns to the ship. The ship is where the bird starts from. The ship is where the bird has to return to. Now can the bird fane ignorance of the ship? Without the ship, there is no bird. The bird’s very own existence is a proof of the ship. Otherwise, what are you doing in the middle of the seas? The very fact that you, the bird, is to be seen here – Where? In the middle of these turbulent seas, is the proof of the ship. Had there been no ship, how would you have been here? You hence are the Truth. No need to search for it, you are it. The search assumes a separation and in assuming a separation, the search actually creates a separation. Dattatreya is saying that see that this is it and there is really nowhere to be reached. All talk of Samadhi is just talk. Stop talking and there is just Samadhi. There is just Samadhi either way, but you can either talk about it or straightaway enter it. Even in talking, you are ultimately talking about Samadhi. So it’s Samadhi either way. But it depends upon you.

Talk about it and if you are talking about it, then too, the center is Samadhi, because all talk ultimately is about Samadhi. But you have an option, you can either keep talking about it, and it’s nice to talk about it. It’s so nice to talk about it that Kabir says that he can even reject the invitation of Ram. There is a great pleasure in talking about Ram. In listening to Ram’s story. Such a great pleasure that I can even reject the invitation of Ram.

राम बुलावा भेजिया, दिया कबीरा रोए |
जो सुख साधू संग में, सो बैकुंठ न होए ||

(Ram is calling Kabir. Kabir is weeping. For he says, the Joy that I find in the company of this Truth and in the company of the seekers of the Truth. That joy is greater than the Joy of heaven.)

Do you see what this is? Samadhi runs in your veins. Just talking about it brings joy to you, does it not? That is the attraction of SatsangSamadhi is so close and so dear to you that when somebody talks about it, your heart just opens up. You feel a depth of pleasure that no other occupation can give you.

जो सुख साधू संग में |

And then there are others who say, “Well we have had enough of talking now, let me just enter it.” There is not much difference between these two. Samadhi is complete Freedom. On one hand Samadhi is choiceless-ness, because there is nothing but Samadhi. On the other hand, it is the power of absolute choice. You can decide to talk about it and that’s wonderful. In Samadhi, you can decide to sing, talk, act, run, and work. Or in Samadhi you can dissolve. In either case it is Samadhi.

Listener 1: Sir, how has Satsang become so dear?

Speaker: There is no reason. It’s just that one has unlimited freedom in Samadhi. You have never gone away from it. Your freedom is so absolute that you are free to even forget your freedom, and then start clamoring, “I am not free! I am not free!” Your freedom is so absolute that you even have the freedom to forget your freedom and then like a madman start yelling, “I am in bondage! I am in bondage!” Even in your yelling that, it is a proof of your freedom.

Listener 1: Can this become a barrier itself? The last barrier?

Speaker: A barrier towards what? You have decided something and you are not accountable to anybody for the decision that you made. You have decided something in your absolutely free will, where is the question of a barrier? The moment you will really want, you will change your decision. Where is the question of a barrier? Barriers are external. Here all decisions are internal, there is no barrier. You have made a decision to forget. It’s your decision, it’s your sovereign expression of your absolute power. Remember, you never forget anything. As long as you are, that remembrance is there. Do you ever forget yourself? So there is no question of forgetting, reminders and remembrance. You anyway always remember. You just have to decide to proclaim that you remember. You don’t have to be reminded. You have to make a decision, and that decision will be your decision, a sovereign decision. Nobody else can be a participant in it. You are the ultimate authority. Yes of course depending on the situations you have chosen, somebody might push you a little, prod you a little, nudge you a little, but all of that is of no value. What are you reminding him of? Yes? The student is sitting in front of you, what are you reminding the student of? The student already knows. When I talk to you, there are only two kinds of faces. One that are exclaiming “Yes! We know what you are saying and we’ll go with it.” And the other “Yes! We know what you are saying but we won’t go with it.”


There is no third face. There is nobody here who doesn’t understand what I am saying. Everybody does. In fact you understand what I am saying even before I say it. You already know everything, it’s just that, ‘your decision’. Nobody here is ignorant. There are only two kinds of faces. How else can you resist me? And you know how deeply you resist. How can you resist me without knowing what I stand for? Your very resistance is the proof that you understand. You very well know what I am saying and that is why you so stubbornly raise your armors and defend yourself. You know from where the arrow is coming and you know it is aimed towards your heart. That’s why you are able to place your armor so accurately. “Place it nowhere else. He aims only the heart. Defend that and you are safe.”

Listener 2: Sir you say that ‘you’ have the absolute power of freedom. Who is this ‘you’ here?

Speaker: This ‘you’ is the same Peace that we are continuously referring to. The Peace that manifests itself sometimes as itself and at other times as the mind. What is mind? Mind is the power of the Self to manifest itself, nothing else. Or do you think that the mind is something separate from the Self, from the Truth? Then mind is the Truth itself, expressed in space-time. They are one.

Listener 3: Sir, suppose there are a number of birds who have floated away from the ship, then why are only a few number of birds able to return back to the ship? Why only some of us are able to remember? To go back to the ship?

Speaker: No bird can float around in the sea for too long. It has to be perched somewhere. It has to go back to the ship. ‘ जैसे उड़े जहाज़ को पंछी, फ़िर जहाज़ पे आवे | ‘

Listener 3: Right, but that duration is too long?

Speaker: Even in the duration of the flight, where is the bird coming from? Where is the bird going to? Who brought the bird here? Are we saying that the bird has forgotten the ship? You are coming from the ship, you will go back to the ship. You have no other resting place. Yes, it is a part of your freedom to fly around a little. Go and fly around. Depends on your mood.

Listener 4: Sir you say that by our every action we are seeking Peace. But I made out that this Peace is very temporary. So do we keep on looking or is there any continuous flow of Peace which exists?

Speaker: See, you can either have Peace or you can have seeking. A child is with the mother and they decide to play hide and seek. In playing hide and seek, what have they done? They have become invisible to each other, they have become hidden from each other; but even in playing hide and seek they know very well that they are with each other. When you are so intimately with each other, you feel like playing hide and seek. That’s Maya. A loving expression of the Truth. We are so close together, we can anyway never be separated, so let’s be separated. (Chuckles) Otherwise what’s the fun in always being together? Now that we know that we are destined to be together, we are one, we may appear like infinite varieties and diversities but we know, we are one, there is only that One, let’s play a little bit of hide and seek. Deliberately we blindfold each other for the sake of some ‘divine’ entertainment. That’s it. So sometimes you have peace and other times you have the seeking. ‘Seeking peace’.

~ Excerpt from a Shabd-Yog session. Edited for clarity.

Watch the session at: Seated already on the mountain top,why suffer dreams of climbing

Read more articles on this topic: 

  1. Agree with freedom for freedom is your nature
  1. The saint is not obliged to conform to your expectations
  1. Peace is not happiness; it is freedom from both happiness and sadness

2 thoughts on “Seated already on the mountain top, why suffer dreams of climbing

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