Bondage is only Ignorance, or error in understanding. One does not attain Self-Knowledge due to Ignorance about the True Nature of the Self & adherence to false conceptions about the Self. The Ignorance makes one feel bound, & the adherence to false notions maintains the Ignorance, yielding the apparent solidity & false continuity of Illusion. Both Ignorance & the tendency to adhere to it are destroyed by Self-Inquiry to know the Truth of the Self.
Sri Shankara declares that just as trees on the bank seem to move when one is in a moving boat, so “transmigratory existence” (life in a Waking World, repeating like nightly dreams, but rather as “physical” Re-incarnation) seems to be true to one who mis–identifies the Self with the Mind.
Thus, when the Mind “moves”, one thinks that the Self (like the stationary trees) “moves”. When the Mind is still, one assumes the Self is still. Because the modifications of the Mind are pervaded by the reflected light of Consciousness, with the qualities of Reality & Identity borrowed from pure Being, one assumes that the Self is identical with the Mind & identifies oneself with those modifications. Thus one imagines, “my thoughts, my state of mind or being, my experiences, etc.” The Mind, or the Ego, is objective, appearing by the light of pure (absolute non-dual) Consciousness alone. Pure Consciousness is the Absolute & is directly realized as existing as such when the “this”, or the objective portion, falsely attributed to it is negated.
Ignorance, or Illusion, is merely a superimposition. By “superimposition” is meant the imagined placement of some attributes, that do not belong to the Self, upon the Self. The basis of the superimposition is real. That basis is pure Existence, pure Consciousness. The superimposed is not a reality in & of itself, but is only a product of Imagination, the result of Ignorance.
It is like the snake imagined to be present when there is only a discarded rope in dim light. The snake is not real & was not really born. But in Imagination, the snake seems to be there, & as long as one is convinced that the snake is there, the true rope is invisible. If one removes that Illusion with the light of Knowledge, he sees the rope alone, as it is, which has been the only reality the entire time. The snake in the analogy represents all that is attributed falsely to the Reality of the Absolute Self, such as the World, the Body, Mind & its conceptions & tendencies, as well as Ego.
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"There is no Creation, no Destruction, no Bondage, no longing to be freed from Bondage, no striving for Liberation, nor anyone who has attained Liberation. Know that this to be Ultimate Truth."
– the "no creation"
, Shankara, Ramana, school of Gaudapada Nome – Ajata Vada
for very succinct summary of the teaching & practice, see: www.ajatavada.com/