To Him I make obeisance, who is the end of all wisdom the goal of all attainment, the unseen Lord of the flock the supreme bliss, the good Master.

   For living beings, human birth is hard to gain, then manhood then holiness; harder is perfection in the path of the law of wisdom; hardest to gain is illumination. Discernment between the Divine Self and that which is not the Self, fully realized union with the Eternal Self, liberation -- this is not to be attained without holiness perfected through a hundred myriad lives.

   These three things, hard to gain, come only through divine grace: manhood, desire for liberation, access to Masters.

   Gaining at length human life, hard to win, and manhood, and an understanding of the revealed teachings, he who strives not for 1iberation in the Divine Self, deluded in heart, self- destroying slays himself through grasping at the unreal.

   Who, then, is the very self of folly but he who, deluded, follows selfish purposes, after he has gained a human body and manhood hard to win?

   Even though they recite the scriptures, and sacrifice to the gods, and fulfil all works, and worship the divinities -- without awakening to the unity of the Divine Self, liberation is not attained even in a hundred aeons.

   For the scripture says that there is no hope of immortality through riches, therefore it is clear that ritual works are not the cause of liberation.

   Therefore let the wise man strive hard for liberation, renouncing the lure of happiness in external things. Let him draw near to a Master, good and great, fixing his whole soul on the purpose of the Master's teaching.

   Let him through the Divine Self raise up that self of his which is sunk in the ocean of recurring life and death, firmly practising uplifting through union, with steadfast vision of the One.

   Seeking freedom from bondage to the world through renunciation in all works, let the wise strive who have learnt the teaching, pressing towards the Divine Self.

   Works make for the cleansing of the heart; but not for the attaining of the Real; the gaining of the Real comes through discernment -- not even by myriads of works is it gained.

  Through discernment of the Real it is perceived that the imagined serpent is only a rope; and thus the painful fear of the great serpent, conjured up by illusion, is finally destroyed.

  The certain knowledge of the goal comes only through discernment awakened by right teaching, not through ablutions or gifts or a myriad retentions of the breath.

  The gaining of the fruit is the reward only of him who possesses the qualifications; circumstances, such as place and time, merely cooperate in the result.

  Therefore, let him who would know the Real practise discernment, finding a Master who is a river of compassion, an excellent knower of the Eternal.

  He who is full of intelligence, illuminated, skilled in knowledge and wisdom, is fitted to teach the wisdom of the Divine Self; he wears the immemorial hallmark.

  And he is fitted to seek the Eternal who has discernment, freedom from self-indulgence, quietude and the other virtues, and who ardently desires liberation.

  Here four qualifications are enumerated by those possessing wisdom. Where they are present, there is a firm foothold in the Real; where they are absent, there is failure.

The Four Qualifications

 First is counted Discernment between the Eternal and the non-eternal. This is followed by freedom from self-indulgence in the fruits of works. Then come the six virtues beginning with quietude. Then the ardent desire for liberation.

  The Divine Eternal is real, the world is illusion: a complete certainty of this is declared to be Discernment between the Eternal and the non-eternal.

  Freedom from self-indulgence is a surrender of the allurement of the eyes, the ears, and all the senses;

  A surrender of the allurement of all non-eternal things from the body up to the Formative Power, continually made through a realization of the faultiness of all objective things.

  Quietude is the holding of mind and heart steadily on the goal. Control is the mastering of the powers of perception and action stopping each in its runaway course.

  The excellent Cessation is the condition of refusing to lean on external things.

  Endurance is the bearing of all pains without rebelling against them, unconcerned and unlamenting.

  Faith is the firm conviction of the truth of the teaching and the word of the Master. Through this faith the righteous say that the Real is won.

  Concentration is the continual staying of the soul in the pure Eternal at all times, and not the caressing of imaginations.

  The ardent Desire for Liberation is the will to be rid of all the fetters forged by unwisdom, beginning with self-reference and ending with the body, through the discernment of the real nature of the Divine Self.

  Where this is present even in a weak or moderate degree, increasing through ceasing from self-indulgence, through quietude and the other virtues, and through the grace of the Master, it will bear fruit.

  In him who has conquered self-indulgence, in whom the desire for liberation is full of fire, quietude and the other virtues are fruitful and attain the goal.

  Where self-indulgence is unconquered, and the desire for liberation is weak, quietude and the other virtues are an illusion like the mirage in the desert.

  Among all means of liberation, devotion, verily, is the most potent. The fixing of the heart on the true being of the Divine Self is declared to be devotion.

  Others say that devotion is the fixing of the heart on one's own real Self. He who has attained to the qualifications already described is fitted to discern the real being of the Self.

Seeking The Master

 Let him draw near to a Teacher who has attained to wisdom, from whom liberation from bondage may be learnt, one who knows the holy teaching, who is perfect in purity, who is not moved by desire, who is wise in the wisdom of the Eternal;

  Who has entered into rest in the Eternal, who has won the great peace, like the flame when the fuel is consumed, who is an ocean of compassion that seeks no return, the friend of all who appeal for help.

  Drawing near to the Teacher in reverent devotion, with the loving service of one who seeks the Eternal, and thus winning his good will, let him ask what he seeks to know concerning the true Self:

  Master, obeisance to thee, friend of the world bowed down, ocean of compassion, save me, sunk in the sea of life, bending on me thy steadfast glance, which rains down righteousness and compassion;

  For I am burnt by the flaming fire of passional life, hard to quench, I am driven to and fro by the storms of contrary fate, I am full of fear, I come to thee for refuge; save me from death, for I know no other safety!

  The mighty ones who have attained to peace dwell in righteousness, bringing life to the world like the coming of spring; they, who have themselves crossed the dread sea of passional life, aid others to cross it through compassion that seeks no return.

  It is the essence of the very being of those of mighty soul to seek to heal the sorrows of others, as the nectar-rayed moon of itself cools the earth, scorched by the fierce fire of the sun.

  Pour out upon me thy words of immortal life, which bring the happiness of the sacred teaching, as they issue from the vessel of thy voice, clear, restoring, purifying, inspired by thine own experience of the essence of the joy of the Eternal; Master, I am consumed by the fiery flames, the scorching heat of this passional life! Happy are they on whom thine eyes rest even for a moment; they are thereby made acceptable and become thine own.

The Crest Jewel of Wisdom, 1-41 Shri Shankaracharya