Know that He is never in anything, nor is anything in Him. He
is neither inside nor outside of anything. None can see Him,
whether with the eyes of the head or with the inner eye; nor
can any conceive Him with senses, knowledge, mind,
intelligence or imagination. Only He can see Himself; only He
can conceive Himself. None can know Him; only He can know
Himself. He sees Himself by Himself; He conceives Himself by
Himself; He knows Himself by Himself. None other than He
can see Him. None other than He can know Him. That which
hides Him is His oneness. None but Himself can hide Him. The
veil that hides Him is His own being.
He is not within you; nor are you in Him. He does not exclude
you, nor are you excluded from Him. When you are addressed
as you, do not think that you exist, with an essence and
qualities and attributes; for you never existed, nor do exist, nor
ever will exist. You have not entered into Him, nor He into
you. Without being, your essence is with Him and in Him.
Without having any identity, you are Him and He is you. If you
know yourself as nothing, then you truly know your Lord.
Otherwise, you truly know Him not.
You cannot know your Lord by making yourself nothing.
Many a wise man claims that in order to know one's Lord one
must denude oneself of the signs of one's existence, efface
one's identity, finally rid oneself of one's self. This is a mistake.
How could a thing that does not exist try to get rid of its
If you think that to know Allah depends on you ridding
yourself of yourself, then you are guilty of attributing partners
to Him, the only unforgivable sin; because you are claiming
that there is another existence besides Him, the all-existent;
that there is a you and a He.
You presume others to be other than Allah. There is nothing
other than He, but you do not know this. While you are
looking at Him you do not recognize Him. When the secret
opens to you, you will know that you are none other than He.
Then you will also know that you are the one whom He
wished, and that you are forever and will not disappear with
time, for there is no passing of time. Your attributes are His.
Without doubt, your appearance is His appearance.
Therefore, do not think anymore that you need to become
nothing, that you need to annihilate yourself in Him. If you
thought so, then you would be His veil, while a veil over Allah
is other than He. How could you be a veil that hides Him?
What hides Him is His being the One Alone.
The condition for self-knowledge is to know that if you had a
being of your own, independent of other being, then you would
neither have need to annihilate yourself in Allah nor to know
yourself. You would have been, as yourself, a God, selfexistent;
while it is Allah Most High that is free from the
existence of any other God but Himself.
And when you come to know yourself, you will be sure that
you neither exist nor do not exist, whether now, or before, or
in the future. This is the meaning of _la ilaha illa Llah_, There
is no God but Allah, there is no being but His, nor any other
except Him, and He is the only One.
Know that this existence is neither you nor other than you.
You do not exist; yet you are also not a nonexistence. Your
existence is not someone else; nor does your nonexistence
make you someone else. Without being and without not-being,
your existence and your nonexistence is Allah's being.
The void is a mirror; creation is the image in it. Man is as the
eye of the image reflected in the mirror; the One who is
reflected in the image is hidden in the pupil of that eye. Thus
He sees Himself.
Is one to consider a decaying corpse or excrement as God?
Allah most high is beyond and free from such associations. We
address those who do not see a corpse as a corpse or
excrement as excrement.
Then when you see what is around you as not other-than-you,
and all and everything as the existence of the One; when you
do not see anything else with Him or in Him; but see Him in
everything as yourself and at the same time as the nonexistence
of yourself; then what you see is the Truth.
That is why the utterance became permissible for Mansur Al-
Hallaj when the words, "I am the Truth!" came from his lips;
and for Abu Yazid Al-Bistami when he cried, "Praise be to Me,
the essence, absolved of all defect!" These are not people who have annihilated themselves in Allah; nor have they come to be
in Allah. They are eternal. They never ceased to be, for they
never were, since there is only Allah's self, Allah's essence.
So if someone says, "I am the Truth!," do not hear it from any
other than from the Truth Himself; for it is not a man who says
it, it is the word of Allah. That man who utters these words is
nothing but an image reflected in an empty mirror, one of the
infinite attributes of Allah. The reflection is the same as that
which is being reflected, and the words of the image are the
reflected words of the Real One.
THE TEN-VERSED HYMN (ATMA SHATKAM) Adi Shankara
1. I am neither earth, nor water, nor fire, nor air, nor ether, nor sensory organ, nor the
conglomeration of all these; for, all these are transient. I am He that alone remains in deep
sleep, the secondless, uncontradictable attributeless Bliss (Shiva).
2. I am neither castes, nor the rules of caste, society and custom, nor for me are concentration, meditation, Yoga and other practices; for, all this illusion of "I" and "mine" is-rooted in the not-self and is therefore dispellable by the knowledge of the self. I am therefore the secondless, uncontradictable, attributeless Bliss (Shiva).
3. I am neither mother, nor father, nor the gods, nor the worlds, nor the Vedas, nor sacrifices, nor any holy place; for, in deep sleep I am [identical with Brahman which however is] not absolute non-existence. I am therefore the secondless, uncontradictable attributeless Bliss (Shiva).
4. Neither the Sankhya doctrine, nor the Saiva, nor the Pancharatra, not the Jaina, nor the Mimamsaka, nor any other, holds good. For, by special realisation it is revealed that my nature is absolutely pure. I am therefore the secondless, uncontradictable. attributeless Bliss (Shiva).
5. I am neither above, nor below, nor inside, nor outside, nor middle, nor across, nor before, nor behind; for I am indivisible and one by nature and am all-pervading like space. I am therefore the secondless, uncontradictable, attributeless Bliss (Shiva).
6. I am neither white, nor black, nor red, nor yellow, nor bent, nor stout, nor short, nor tall, nor even formless; for, I am of the nature of self-resplendent consciousness. I am therefore the secondless, uncontradictable, attributeless Bliss (Shiva).
7. There is neither teacher, nor science, nor pupil, nor teaching, nor you (the hearer), nor I (the speaker), nor this empirical universe; for, I am the consciousness of the reality, which does not admit of differentiation. I am therefore the secondless, uncontradictable, attributeless Bliss (Shiva).
8. For me there is neither waking nor dream nor deep sleep, nor am I the self conditioned by any of these three states (visva, taijasa or prajna); for, all these are of the nature of nescience, but I am the fourth beyond these three. I am therefore the secondless, uncontradictable, attributeless Bliss (Shiva).
9. All this universe, being other than the Self, is unreal; for, the Self alone is all-inclusive, constitutes the ultimate goal and is self-established and self-dependent. I am therefore the secondless, uncontradictable, attributeless Bliss (Shiva).
10. It cannot even be said that It is One. How then can there be a second, other than That? There is neither absoluteness nor non-absoluteness, neither non-entity nor entity; for It is absolutely non-dual in Its nature. How then can I describe That which is established by all the Vedantas!