The truth and nothing but the truth
Wolter Keers (1923-1985)
Vrij Zijn ('Being Free'), is the book that Wolter Keers published himself in 1982.
Vrij Zijn is a commentary on the Ashtavakra Samhita given by Wolter during a weeklong intensive meeting in 1979.
Wolter, Amigo's spiritual father, says about the Ashtavakra Samhita in the introduction to the book:
' Ashtavakra's words often carry us 'immediately', and 'effortlessly' along to the deepest of all recognitions: namely of what we are ourselves. This book can fulfill that function for those who have seen that even once.
Ashtavakra spoke: 'If you long for liberation my child, avoid then things of the senses as if they were poison and choose for tolerance, earnestness, contentment and love of truth as if they were nectar.'
Nectar is the most desirable of all things. Here we are immediately at a crossroads. Almost always, because there are exceptions, the guru tells us that we can understand what keeps us busy. But, only very seldom can we understand immediately what he means and what the scope of his words is.
That's how it happened to the same Indra about whom I just spoke. At a certain moment, and that must have been the moment of the meeting with the Brahmin boy, he goes to an earthly guru and asks: 'I am searching for self-realization. What is the Self? Thereupon the guru answers: 'Well, that is after all very clear: the body is the Self.'
' Aha the body is the Self,' says Indra and travels back to heaven. But on the way he thinks: 'How is that possible?' The body changes but I don't change. The body is born, grows up, becomes old and dies, but I am unchanging all along. According to the tradition the Self does not change at all!' he goes back to the guru and puts this before him.
Thereupon that one said: 'Ah, but that is also not yet the whole story', whereupon Indra receives further instructions. The same thing repeats: Indra accepts, turns back to heaven, becomes doubtful and turns back again when he is half way. He remains some time by the guru and finally when he has been there for 101 days, a symbolic number for Hindus, he understands what he is: namely all things. He is the body, but he is not limited to the body, because he is the Self in all the bodies, the self in all phenomena, the Self in the whole creation.
Ashtavakra does also similarly say here, that you have to avoid all the sensory objects as if they were poison, as if they are a sickness. You can immediately draw various conclusions from that. The ascetics and the yogis are immediately tempted to say: 'You see! Don't smoke, don't drink, no sex, no money, no earthly possessions, no fixed abode. Because Ashtavakra himself says it!'
I think it is in response to this sloka that Shri Krishna Menon has written in his introduction to the Ashtavakra Samhita that although this interpretation may be traditional, it is nevertheless not just. I remember that he used to often say: 'if you try to understand or interpret a text or a sloka, it can never be in conflict with the rest of the content of the tradition. And, the rest of the tradition indicates if we look closely, that in fact no sensory objects exist. If we look, analyze, than we see that the things we could call sensory objects in our daily life are in fact not that. Everything that we know, are appearances; appearances in the consciousness that we ourselves are, in the clarity that is always there. The perceptions that we call 'the world' exist as nothing other than the Clarity that we are ourselves. Therefore, there are no 'sensory objects' there is only the one Light that we are and that takes on certain forms.
Seen in this light, Ashtavakra's declaration means something totally different. It does not mean: escape from the world, hold yourself back and live as an ascetic.
Seen in this light it means: see things for what they are. Because, if you do that you automatically avoid 'the 'sensory objects' because you discover that they don't exist. In other words: what you have to get rid of is the wrong vision through which you see the world, the sensory objects for what they are not, something outside of yourself.
A precarious position
That is also the last in the series of summaries of things to strive after: striving after the truth. If you search for the truth yourself then you will discover by yourself that considering things to be something they are not is the only great poison. You discover that you let yourself be seduced by all kinds of situations and things, because you think that they have an existence outside of you. As long as you continue to do that the whole world becomes a very riotous enemy. You could almost say that the rest of creation is your enemy. Everything, every perception and every happening can divert you from what you seek. You find your self in a terribly precarious position. Well then avoid this position, avoid the sensory ness. But, the only way you can do that is to see that the whole vision of the senses is an illusion. This conclusion comes repeatedly back further along in the text.
The truth: a requirement
In the footnotes by Swami Nityaswarupananda by the word 'truth' stands that it is a 'sine qua non' condition. An absolute requirement if we want to arrive at freedom. And, it says in the Bhagavad-Gita that Krishna loves the people who follow the path of jnana-yoga the most, even more than those who adore him with their whole heart. 'Because', he says: 'it is very exceptional to meet someone who is actually interested in the truth and nothing but the truth. You only come across those kinds of people a few times in your life.'
So then, if you want to find truth, then you have to respect and honor it above everything. As long as we try to fool ourselves with something, as long as we refuse to see anything at all as it actually is, then freedom, truth, are just not for us.
As long as we are not totally behind truth we maintain an 'I', a person who swings back and forth between fear and longing, and as long as we maintain that person freedom is unreachable. Freedom means nothing other than the disappearance of that person. Untruth, fear of the truth, means the maintaining of that person. Therefore the two are incompatible.
N.B. The whole Ashtavakra Gita or Ashtavakra Samhita is published as: 'The Heart of Awareness' by Thomas Byrom.