On Ashtavakra Gita: Choicelessness is only for those who choose rightly

Acharya Prashant
9 min readJan 12, 2022

The following excerpt is from a samvaad (dialogue) session with Acharya Prashant.

समदुःखसुखः पूर्ण आशानैराश्ययोः समः ।समजीवितमृत्युः सन्नेवमेव लयं व्रज ॥ ५-४॥

samaduḥkhasukhaḥ pūrṇa āśānairāśyayoḥ samaḥ ।samajīvitamṛtyuḥ sannevameva layaṃ vraja ॥ 5–4॥

Know yourself equal in pain and in pleasure, equal in hope and in disappointment, equal in life and in death, and complete as you are, you can go to your rest.

~ Ashtavakra Gita (Chapter 5, Verse 4)

Questioner (Q): Pranaam Acharya Ji. How can we, in daily life, practice this and go closer to the Truth? Is that through sitting, walking, working meditation? Is that through living mindfulness in the present moment?

Acharya Prashant (AP): You gave me a bad taste at the end of your question. All else was proceeding almost rightly. ‘Living mindfulness in the present moment’ — bad words! Avoid them.

You’re asking for a method. You’re asking, “How can we in daily-life practice this and go closer to the Truth? Is that through sitting, walking, working meditation?” The method is already there in the verse, in the quote. Please read carefully.

“Equal in pain and in pleasure, equal in hope and in disappointment, equal in life and in death, and complete as you are, you can go to your rest.”

What is the method? This equality is the method. But you’ll have to understand.

Equality does not mean deadness here. To a cave, to the insides of a cave, day and night are equal. We are not talking of that dark, damp, dead situation. Not that kind of equality. To the dead man, beauty and ugliness are equal. We’re not talking of that kind of equality. We are talking of remaining untouched. We are talking of remaining equally untouched by this and that. We are talking of remaining equally aloof. We are talking of remaining equally secure in ‘this’ and ‘that’.

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