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Bitten by the Black Snake: The Ancient Wisdom of Ashtavakra
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on November 4, 2010
I am a longtime student of the Ashtavakra Gita. I have several translations, and a few commentaries. I bought this book to continue my studies. I was extremely disappointed when I got the book. First, it should be made clear that this book does not contain a translation of the Ashtavakra Gita. Only small portions of Thomas Byrom's excellent translation are quoted. It should be noted that while small portions of Byrom's translation are quoted verbatim, no credit nor any indication of permission is given and this may be a copyright violation. But since only a small fraction of the actual Ashtavakra Gita is actually presented here, maybe it qualifies as "fair use", as if quoting for a review. However, nowhere is Byrom credited with the translation.

The contents of this small book are simply an exposition of Manuel Schoch's own philosophy and teaching, having very little resemblance to the teachings of the Ashtavakra Gita. Schoch does try to imply that his own teachings are somehow related to Ashtavakra's, but it's a big stretch to make the connection, to say the least. Schoch not only waters down Ashtavkra's uncompromising non-dualism, he adds a lot of stuff that has nothing to do with Ashtavakra's teachings at all, and are even at odds with them.

I find Schoch's teachings to be highly idiosyncratic and personal to him, bearing no resemblance to Ashtavakra or non-dualism. Students of Schoch may like this book, but those who wish to study the Ashtavakra Gita would do well to look elsewhere.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on October 6, 2007
Swiss mystic and therapist Manuel Schoch presents Bitten by the Black Snake: The Ancient Wisdom of Ashtavakra, an interpretation of and commentary upon the timeless wisdom of the ancient Indian text of Ashtavakra, from the classic Vedanta period. Rendering the concepts into modern-day terms accessible to readers of all backgrounds, Bitten by the Black Snake reveals how to observe, rather than engage in the continual struggle created by the black snake of one's ego. Rather than identifying oneself through body, thoughts, feeling, habits, and experience, one can become connected to the everlasting consciousness that manifests these. "As Ashtavakra says, if you desire liberation, stop dealing with the mind. The Buddha said it differently - that enlightenment is the ending of identification. Only thoughts and fast and slow feelings can be identified with. You can never identify with the atmosphere; you cannot say this is my atmosphere. Climate cannot be identified with, but you can feel it even though you cannot grasp it as your own." A powerful description of how to rest in the stillness that generates the highest qualities of life, love, peace, compassion, and enlightenment.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on February 17, 2009
Bitten by the Black Snake is a wonderful commentary on The Ashtavakra Gita, which is an ancient Indian text from the classic Vedanta period. The Ashtavakra Gita has been quoted by many renowned spiritual teachers, including as Ramakrishna, Vivekananda, and Ramana Maharshi. In this small book, Manuel Schoch interprets the timeless wisdom of this Indian text for modern sensibilities, and shows very practically, step by step, how one can simply observe, instead of 'being bitten by the black snake of the ego.' In his remarkably clear and straightforward manner, Schoch describes how an individual can rest in the stillness from which emerges the qualities of life and love, peace and compassion, bliss and enlightenment.

Definitely a book to be read over and over.

By the way, Schoch passed away very unexpectedly last year. He was in his prime and is sorely missed.
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on February 25, 2013
A very good text, but got the feeling of a (well-versed) student citing very ancient Master! If "new" to Non-Dual/Advaita teachings, it is well done! but I always prefer the writer either having "achieved" that nebulous enlightenment, or at the least, speaking from the heart/experience!
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on July 9, 2009
I absolutely love vedantic philosophy and this work is exquisite!

Very concise and profoundly powerful.

Each small chapter is a meditation. In fact almost every word is a meditation; a rare string of wisdom pearls...enjoy!
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on December 22, 2014
A different take on the Ashtavakra Gita than I had ever read before. It's work reading!
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