Of all the mystical treatises of ancient Indian literature, the Avadhut Gita, or "Song of The Avadhut," is one of the most eloquent and compelling. Its theme is the unitive knowledge obtained through mystical vision, the knowledge of the eternal self. This knowledge is not limited to the mystics of any one cultural tradition, but is universal among all those who have attained to mystical vision. Men and women of all lands and all religious persuasions have experienced first-hand the eternal Reality, and realized it to be their own essential identity. Some of the best known representatives of this universal knowledge are the Upanishadic rishis and Shankaracharya of the Vedantic tradition, al-Hallaj and Jalaluddin Rumi of the Sufi tradition, Shakyamuni and Ashvagosha of the Buddhist tradition, and Meister Eckhart and Juan de la Cruz of the Christian tradition. All have expressed the revealed knowledge of their identity with the one eternal Reality, and declared, in one way or another, their agreement with the words of the Christian saint, Catherine of Genoa, "My Me is God, nor do I recognize any other Me except my God Himself."Throughout history, it has been the contention of the mystics of all cultural traditions that the "vision of God" reveals man's essential oneness with Absolute Being, awakening him to his true, eternal identity. Prior to such divine illumination, say these mystics, man suffers under the mistaken illusion that he is a limited and finite being, separate and distinct from other beings, who possesses his own individual identity. The dispelling of this illusion is called in different mystical traditions by different names, such as "enlightenment," "union with God," "liberation," "salvation," etc.; it is, despite the various names, the same experience, the same knowledge that is revealed to all who have obtained the mystical vision.Previous to the revelation of our absolute identity, we live in confident certainty of our (illusory) individuality, regarding as "self" that kaleidoscope of transient mental impressions which is presented to our conscious awareness. But, say the mystics, this superficial play of thoughts, memories, sense impressions, upon the screen of awareness is but a mirage. It is the screen, the awareness itself, that is our true identity. It is that unchanging consciousness, the eternal witness of all movements of thought and appearance, which is who we really are. It is That which is our real, our only, Self.The Song of the Avadhut is one of the most sublime and uncompromising statements of this mystically perceived truth ever penned. Certainly, it is of Indian origin and is in the tradition of the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, the writings of Shankaracharya, and all those other scriptural treatises of India which may be classified as "Non-Dualistic Vedanta"; but it is an error to regard it as merely the expression of a particular philosophical school or religious faith. Its similitude to all those Non-Dualistic treatises preceding it is dependent, not upon a common learned tradition, but upon a common direct experience. The author of the Avadhut Gita was enlightened by the same direct revelation which inspired the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, and other such works. It must be read, therefore, not as the reiteration of a conceptual position, or as argument for the Vedantic viewpoint, or as an argument for the Vedantic viewpoint, but as the sharing by an illumined sage of directly revealed truth. His aim in this sharing is not to convince us, but to awaken us to the truth, and liberate us from error.The Avadhut Gita is a call to knowledge, the supreme knowledge of ultimate Truth. The Avadhut holds out no compromise with illusion, he offers no foothold on separation, he allows no semblance of duality at all to creep into our perception of reality. Perhaps his knowledge is, for mere man, too sublime, too austere, too simplistic; but it is the knowledge of the ultimate, indisputable Truth of existence; and it is this very Truth which has the power to make us free.
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