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“Sankara’s works, the manuals and catechisms for learners, are complete and perfect. They really teach, quite plainly and lucidly, the first steps on the path of wisdom; they point out, with clear insistence, the qualities that are necessary to make these first steps fruitful; qualities without which the learner may remain, hesitating and halting, on the threshold, through lack of the force and sterling moral worth which alone make any further progress possible. “The Crest-Jewel of Wisdom begins with these first steps on the path and ends with the complete teaching of Sankara’s philosophy so far as that teaching can be put into words. His teaching is, briefly stated, this: The cause of the sorrow and suffering of mankind is a belief in the reality and isolated existence of the personal life. But the personality, with the fate of which each one of us identifies himself, has no real existence; it is nothing but an image of the body in the mind, and its sufferings are imaginary. Its original cause is the “beginningless, ineffable unwisdom” of separation; and this illusion of isolated being is dispelled by an insight, which we may well call illumination, or inspiration. When the false self is dispelled, Sankara tells us, the real Self rises in the heart, as the sun shines out when the clouds are dispersed.”—Charles Johnston