The thought ‘I am the doer’ is the bite of the poisonous snake.
To know ‘I do nothing’ is the wisdom of faith. Be joyful.
(Chapter 1, VERSE 8)
Acharya Prashant: Ashtavakra Gita has been quoted.
“The thought ‘I am the doer’ is the bite of the poisonous snake. To know ‘I do nothing’ is the wisdom of faith. Be joyful.”
Ashtavakra Gita (Chapter 1, VERSE 8)
The question says “The Ashtavakra here is saying that doership is sin. But Jesus says ‘Let me do it. I’m the doer’. So why is there this contradiction? ”
Obviously there can be no contradiction. If Ashtavakra is saying that doership is sin, and Jesus is saying that He’s the doer, then obviously Ashtavakra and Jesus are not talking about the same entity. When Ashtavakra says doership is sin, he’s saying let not the ego act. Only the ego is interested in claiming doership. Only the ego is interested in creating and maintaining a divide in which one part can do something to the other.
The doership of the ego is always an exercise in fear, incompleteness and exploitation. Therefore, Ashtavakra is saying that doership is sin. When Jesus says in many place, on multiple occasions that He is the doer or the knower, he’s not talking as a limited person. He is not talking because the talking would gratify him, inflate him, magnify him, or help him become something. His doing is no doership at all because the common doership that we see is always the doership of fear and faithlessness.
When Jesus is acting and he is doing, then it is not arising from a motivation to serve his own personalhood. He has already arrived. He is home. He does not want to go anywhere or reach or become better. He is now merely doing. He is not aspiring. He is the doer, not someone who wants to be transformed through the doing.
We do because we are not contented with who we are. Jesus does because he is very contented with who he is. We do in exasperation. And the doing of Jesus is merely an expression. We don’t do to merely express. The only expression that we know is the expression of grief, discontentment.
When the expression is of discontentment, all the doing is targeted at changing the doer. Jesus does not want to change. He is now situated, established in the changeless. So he has the right to say that he is the doer. And Jesus is not the only one or the first one or the last one who ever said that I am the doer. Krishna says exactly the same thing in the Bhagwat Gita. And Japuji Sahib opens with the words “Karta Purakh“. The one and only agency of real doing, Karta Purakh.
When you just do then you have the right to call yourself the doer.
The funny part is then you won’t be very interested in claiming doership. You claim doership only if there is a situational need, otherwise, you don’t have any inner need to declare yourself or glorify yourself. You don’t want to be PAU percent, blitzkrieg about your doership. And when you are not just doing but doing in order to become, doing in order to change, transform or achieve, then you are not doing at all. It’s maya at work, she’s doing. It’s your latent tendency and vritties at work, they are doing. The funny part is, in such situation though you are not doing at all, you’re very inclined to claim doership.
You are not discontented, your tendencies are discontented.
You have no need to establish, prove, reach, achieve, attain, give up, or disprove. But your mental and bodily constitution has a great need to do all these. Let them claim doership. That would be the right thing. You didn’t steal, your fears stole. How are you the doer? But that’s the thing.
Fear is subjugating you. Fear has dominated you to the extent that it has stolen your identity. So in spite of you not being the doer, fear being the doer, you identify with the doer because you’re identified with the fear. You are not getting mad in lust, it’s your deep latent sleeping tendencies that are so lustful.
But because you in your ignorance, in your childish cleverness fight the truth, so you have no option but to identify with lust. And when you identify with lust, the doing of lust becomes your doing. Now lust has done all the mischief, and like a fool, you are paying the penalty. Like, a man who keeps bad company. The friend has been caught stealing and because you have maintained a friendship with him, now you have to bail him out, now you have to appease those who have caught him, now you pay his penalties. Why did you keep friendship with him in the first place? That is the reason why Ashtavakra says that when you say I’m the doer, it is like the bite of a poisonous snake.
Lust has done something and you are claiming ownership of it. You didn’t even do anything. You were absent, blissfully asleep. Lust was awake and working. But you will be beaten up. Lust would be smiling in the corner. And you are getting thrashed and insulted, and you are feeling guilty. So Ashtavakra is so right when he says such identification, such doership is like the bite of a poisonous snake. If your pet dog goes and bites someone, who pays the penalty, the dog or the owner? Do people come to the dog and ask for ten thousand bucks? It’s the owner. If an underage boy or girl is caught driving, or caught after causing an accident, a road accident, then the parents go to jail for allowing the vehicle in the hands of an underage boy or girl.
Very often you have to pay the price in spite of you not being the culprit. Now you are not paying the price for being the culprit, now you are paying the price for unnecessary identification.
In other words, it is not merely a sin to do a theft, it is equally a sin to accompany a thief. Don’t accompany the thief. You’ll have to pay for his misdeeds. Or if you are accompanying a thief, at least don’t own up his deeds. And if you are very fond of owning up somebody’s deeds, then accompany God, like Jesus does. Accompany God and claim total identification, as Jesus does. If you’re so fond of identifying yourself with somebody, then identify yourself with God. Like the servant who is very closely identified with the master starts getting a lot of respect, you too will start getting a lot of respect.
What does it mean to identify with God? It means to identify with completeness.
Completeness too does a lot of things, and I’m repeating this, but it does not do anything to become complete. It is already complete.
Identify with God.
I understand it’s very difficult to not to be associated with anything or anybody. If you must be associated in whichever way, be associated with the highest. If you are someone who has a tendency to get attached and is finding that it is very difficult to give up attachment, then the second best thing is to get attached to God. I repeat, the best thing is to not to be attached at all. But there are so many of us who are hostage to their tendencies. They can’t give up on their tendency to be attached. Be attached to God.
The best is to not to think unnecessarily at all. But if you are fond of thinking, if you have a mind that is stubbornly trained to keep thinking, why not think about the unthinkable? Why not think about the scriptures? Why not think about the words of the teacher? The best is to give up your personality. But if you can’t give up your personality, then remain personally related to the impersonal. It would be a union of opposites. It would be a mixture of immiscible.
From your side the relationship is personal. From his side it’s totally impersonal. And his side is going to prevail. So when the personal and the impersonal will come together, ultimately only the impersonal will prevail. It will cause some conflict. It will take some time. It won’t be totally painless for you. It’s not the best method. But still, it’s a useful method.
Give yourself up, and if you cannot do that then submit yourself as you are to the truth, that’s what the devotee does.
He says accept me as I am O Lord. I’ve given myself totally to you. Good or bad I’m yours.
I’ll not even try to improve myself. I’ll not even try to correct myself.
I’ve lost all doership. Even to improve myself I must be left with a modicum of doership. I have no doership left at all.
If I am evil, cunning, ugly, deceptive, I’m giving myself to you. You take care of me. I’m nobody to improve myself.
If you have to identify, then identify with the Total. The worst thing is to keep identifying with the limited; claiming doership where really doership doesn’t exist, and then needlessly suffering.
-Excerpts from a ‘Shabd-Yoga’ session. Edited for clarity
Watch the session: On Jesus Christ and Sage Ashtavakra: Don’t accompany the thief!
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