The Crest Jewel of Wisdom/The Three Kinds of Works

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The Crest Jewel of Wisdom by Adi Shankara
The Three Kinds of Works

(Verses 439--468)

HE who through wisdom discerns that there is no division between the Eternal and the manifested world, bears the mark of one who is free even in life.

Whose mind is even, when honored by the good, or persecuted by the wicked, bears the mark of one who is free even in life.

In whom all sensuous objects, put forth by the supreme, melt together like the rivers and streams that enter the ocean's treasure house, making no change at all, since he and they are but the one Being, this sage self-conquered is set free.

For him who has understood the nature of the Eternal, there is no return to birth and death as of old; if such return there be, then the nature of the Eternal was not known.

If they say he returns to birth and death through the rush of old imaginings, this is not true; for, from the knowledge of oneness, imaginings lose all their power.

As the most lustful man ceases from desire before his mother; so, when the Eternal is known, the wise cease from desire, through fullness of bliss.

The scripture says that, even for him who profoundly meditates, there is a going after outward things of sense, on account of Works already entered on.

As long as there is the taste of pain and pleasure, so long are there Works already entered on; the fruits come from the acts that went before; without these acts where would the fruits be?

From the knowledge that I am the Eternal, the accumulated Works, heaped up even through hundreds of myriads of ages, melt away like the work of dream, on awaking.

Whatever one does while dreaming, however good or bad it seems, what effect has it on him, on awaking to send him either to hell or heaven?

On knowing the Self, unattached, enthroned like the dome of heaven, the man is no longer stained at all by Works to come.

As the ether enclosed in the jar is not stained by the smell of the wine, so the Self encompassed by its vestures, is not stained by any quality of theirs. [450]

Works that have been entered on, before wisdom's sunrise, are not destroyed by wisdom, until they have reached their fruition; like an arrow aimed and sent forth at the mark.

The arrow discharged by the thought that there was a tiger, does not stop when it is seen to be a cow, but pierces the mark through its exceeding swiftness.

Verily, Works entered on are the most formidable to the wise, they disappear only through being experienced. But Works accumulated and Works to come both melt away in the fire of perfect wisdom.

When they have beheld the oneness of the Self and the Eternal, and stand ever firm in the power of that knowledge, for them those three kinds of Works exist no longer; for them there is only the Eternal, free from every change.

When the saint rests in the Self, through understanding that the Self is other than its vestures, that the Self is the pure Eternal; then the myth of the reality of Works entered on no longer holds him, just as the myth of union with things of dream no longer holds him who has awakened.

For he who is awake no longer keeps the sense of "I and mine and that," for his looking-glass body and the world that belongs to it; but comes to himself merely through waking.

Neither a desire for pursuing mythical objects, nor any grasping after even a world full of them, is seen in him who has awakened. But if the pursuit of mirages goes on, then it is seen for certain that the man has not wakened from sleep.

Thus dwelling in the supreme Eternal, through the real Self, he stands and beholds naught else. Like the memory of an object looked on in dream, so is it, for the wise, with eating or the other acts of life.

The body is built up through Works; the Works entered upon make for the building up of various forms; but the Self is not built up through works.

"Unborn, eternal, immemorial," says the Scripture, whose words are not in vain; of him who rests in that Self, what building up of Works entered on can there be?

Works entered upon flourish then, when the Self is identified with the body; but the identifying of Self with body brings no joy, therefore let Works entered upon be renounced. [460]

Even the building up of a body through Works entered on is a mirage; whence can come the reality of a mere reflected image? whence can come the birth of an unreality?

Whence can come the death of what has not even been born? Whence can come the entering on of what does not even exist?--if there be a melting away of the effects of unwisdom, root and all, through the power of wisdom.

How does this body stand? In the case of him who takes inert things to be real, Works entered on are supported by the sight of outward things--thus says the scripture; yet it does not teach the reality of the body and the like, to the wise.

One, verily, is the Eternal, without a second. There is no difference at all. Altogether perfect, without beginning or end, measureless and without change.

The home of Being, the home of Consciousness, the home of Bliss enduring, changeless; one, verily, without a second, is the Eternal. There is no difference at all.

Full of the pure essence of the unmanifested, endless, at the crown of all; one, verily, without a second, is the Eternal; there is no difference at all.

That can neither be put away, nor sought after; that can neither be taken nor approached--one, verily, without a second, is the Eternal; there is no difference at all.

Without qualities, without parts, subtle, without wavering, without stain; one, verily, without a second, is the Eternal; there is no difference at all. [468]