Shankara’s Nirvana Shatakam, composed over 1200 years ago, is an embodiment of the “not this, not this” (neti, neti) teaching…that can lead to the state of enlightenment, freedom and happiness. I first learned this text from a fellow traveler one dark night on Maui many years ago. When we went to India to meet his teacher, one of the best known yoga teachers in the West today, it was clear it was a special text…
These verses are a personal declaration and celebration by Shankara of his own Self Realization. They are a powerful demonstration of the breadth and range of understanding encompassed of enlightenment. Many of the verses seem evident and easy to grasp and accept. Others challenge the depths of your identity and understanding.
In this approach, every attachment, belief, experience, sensation, bodily segment or function is systematically considered and negated. Realizing that you cannot be both the subject and the object, each of these objectified elements is in turn rejected as being “not me”. After negating everything that can be found to investigate, you are left with only the observer, and the investigation refocuses on the observer. When no observer is found, the entire dualistic structure collapses and everything is found to be That, One, or Beingness.
I am not the mind that thinks or imagines, the intellect that categorizes and decides, the ego or “I” sense which springs into being as the “doer”, nor the memory.
I am not the ears that hear, the tongue that tastes, the nose that smells, the eyes that see, nor the sense of touch.
I am not composed of the classical elements of space, earth, fire, air or water.
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I am Awareness and uncaused happiness. I am everything. I am everything.