The Momentum of Works


 The Scripture says that even in him who has attained to meditation the conviction of the reality of outer things remains, because his former works are working themselves out.

 As long as pleasure and pain are felt, so long are former works working themselves out. The ripening of the fruit is because of former works; where there are no longer works, there is no fruit.

 From the discernment that "I am the Eternal," works heaped up through hundreds of millions of ages are dissolved, as dream- works on waking.

 Whatever be done in time of dream, whether good or manifest evil, after he is awake how can it visit him with heaven or hell?

 When he has come to know the true Self, which rises detached like the sky, he is no more entangled in future works for ever.

 As the ether enclosed in the jar is not tainted by the smell of the wine, so the true Self within the vesture is not tainted by the properties of the vesture.

 The momentum of works begun before the sunrise of wisdom does not cease without bearing fruit after wisdom is gained; it is like an arrow aimed and shot at a mark.

 The arrow shot with the thought that there is a tiger does not halt when it is seen to be a cow, but quickly pierces the mark because of its impetus.

 Works already entered on retain their energy even in the case of those who have attained wisdom; only through being experienced are they consumed. Former works, works accumulated, and future works melt away in the fire of perfect wisdom. They who perceive the oneness of the Eternal and the Self, and stand ever in the realization of that oneness, for them the three kinds of works exist no longer; they become the Eternal, free from limitations.

 For the saint who stands in the Self, through the oneness of the Self with the perfect Eternal which is free from the qualities of the vestures, the myth of the reality of former works exists no longer, as for him who is awake the myth of bondage to things seen in dream no longer exists.

 For he who has awaked no longer keeps the thought of "I" and "my" and "that" with regard to the dream body and the world belonging to it; he comes to himself simply by waking.

 He no longer wishes to gain the things of his dream, nor does he seek to grasp the dream world. But if he still pursues the things of the mirage, it is certain he has not yet awaked from sleep.

 He who dwells in the supreme Eternal stands ever in the Self, beholding nothing else; as is the memory of something seen in dream, so for the wise man are eating and other bodily acts.

 Though the body which is built up by former works continues to work out the works that are entered on, these works are not bound up with the beginningless Self, for the Self is not built up by works.

 "Unborn, eternal, everlasting," says the Scripture, which cannot speak in vain; therefore, what building of works can there be for him who stands in the Self?

 Works entered on retain their force so long as the body is held to be the Self; but to think of the body as the Self is false; therefore, let works entered on be renounced.

 Even the building of the body by former works is also an illusion; whence can come the reality of what is only imagined? How can there be the birth of what is unreal?

 How can there be the destruction of what has not been born? How can there be former works of what does not exist, if through wisdom the effects of unwisdom are dissolved, root and all?

 How does this body subsist? The Scripture declares the development of works exists, to bring growth to those who are full of doubt and inert in mind, through the perception of external things, but not to establish in the wise the belief in the reality of the body and outer things.

The Crest Jewel of Wisdom, 69-71  SHANKARACHARYA