Seated in a solitary place, free from desires and with senses controlled
one should meditate free of thought on that One Infinite Self.

Shankara was born in 788, the only child of a poor Brahmin couple in Kerala, India. His father died when he was four and his mother strongly objected to his wish to become an ascetic. He prevailed and became the disciple of Govinda Bhagavatpada. At the time, debate was a popular system of resolving differences and Shankara became a skilled debater. He also wrote brilliant commentaries on the Brahmasutras, the Gita, and the principal Upanishads which have become the standard. He went on a long pilgrimage throughout India and set up four monasteries: Kashmir in the North, Dwaraka in the West, Puri in the East, and Sringeri in the South. Shankara was foremost a reformer and a uniter. The primary idea he advanced is that God is the One Reality behind this tempory life. He integrated the teachings of Buddha with the Vedas, recognizing Buddha as a true Master. He discouraged the practice of magic, ritual sacrifice, and sexual cults that were polluting and undermining religious life. He achieved a phenomenal amount of work in his thirty-two years. He gave up his body in the year 820.

Shankara - Crest Jewel of Wisdom

translated -

To be born a human being is valuable and rare as only the human being has the discrimination and free will necessary to aspire to a higher purpose. The Supreme Reality cannot be understood by studying scriptures, once the Supreme Reality is understood, the study of scripture is meaningless. One cannot reach God by repeating the word God. No one can free another from bondage, one can only free oneself. Among all the factors of religious life, devotion to God stands supreme. The highest knowledge is knowing the unity of the individual Self (Atman) and the universal Self (Brahman). Atman is uncreated and eternal, it dwells within the body, but does not depend on the existence of a body. To know Brahman is to know the Self, and to know the Self is to know Brahman. Intellectual knowledge and direct knowledge of the Ultimate Reality are as different as the phantoms in a dream and waking reality. The True Self is the changeless reality at the center of a shifting dream, therefore, fix your mind on the True Self alone. The True Self remains always the same, despite karma and its effect, age and death, only your perception of it changes. To be born a human being, to have a longing for God, to find a true Master, and to be able to connect in meditation, are all gifts of God's grace. You are the Self, the infinite Being, the pure, unchanging Consciousness, which pervades everything. Your nature is bliss and your glory is without stain. Because you identify yourself with the ego, you are tied to birth and death. Your bondage has no other cause. The fool thinks, "I am the body"; the intelligent man thinks, "I am an individual soul united with the body." But the wise man, in the greatness of his knowledge and spiritual discrimination, sees the Self as the only reality and thinks, "I am Brahman." As the mind becomes gradually established in the Self, it proportionately gives up the desire for external objects. When all such desires have been eliminated, there is the unobstructed realization of the Self. That Reality is One; though, owing to illusion, It appears to be multiple names and forms, attributes and changes, It always remains unchanged. [It is] like gold which, while remaining one, is formed into various ornaments. You are that One, that Brahman. Meditate on this in your mind.

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