Chapter 13 — On Equanimity (Peace & Tranquility of Mind), the Characteristics of a Saint

Vasishta speaking:—

Intelligent men who have seen the spirit fix their sight upon it and wander about in the world as persons of great and elevated souls. They do not grieve, nor do they wish or ask for anything of good or evil (in this world). They do their works with detachment. Those who rely on themselves remain quiet, unaffected by good or evil and acting their parts with a calm serenity. They take no concern for what is harmful or delectable to them. They are alike indifferent to coming or not coming, going or not going, doing or not doing, and speaking or not speaking. After having come to know their God (as the author of all good), whatever acts or sights may appear pleasant or disgusting to others cease to affect them in any way.

The mind having rid its desires feels a sweet composure associated with bliss that is like moonlight descending from the heavenly orb all about. By being unmindful of worldly affairs and regardless of all its excitements, the soul is filled with a joy resembling the ambrosial waters in the moon. He who ceases to act his magical parts (in this playground of the earth) and desists from following his inclinations and childish pranks, shines forth in his spiritual light. Such are the powers gained from spiritual knowledge, and by no other means whatever.

10 Therefore should a man should employ his reasoning powers during life to try to seek and know and adore the Supreme Soul. 11 It is the agreement of one’s belief with the teachings of the scriptures and his instructor, joined with his constant meditation, that can give him a full view of the Supreme Spirit. 12 The fool slighting the scriptures and their instructions and disregarding the counsels of great men is exposed to difficulties and dangers from which he can have no release. 13 There is no disease or poison, no trouble or affliction so painful to one in this earth as the ignorance one breeds in himself.

14 Those whose intellects are purified a little will find this work to be of greater effect to dispel their ignorance than any other scripture. 15 Everyone who is a friend to good sayings and good sense should diligently attend to this scripture with its beautiful examples, pleasing lessons and lack of inconsistencies.

16 Lack of dignity, inextricable difficulties, and baseness and degeneracy are all the offspring of ignorance, just like thorns are the offshoots of the prickly ketaki plant. 17 It is far better, O Rama, to rove about a begging with a pot in hand to the homes of vile chandalas than to lead a life deadened by ignorance. 18 Rather dwell in dark dismal cells, within dry dreary wells, in the hollows of trees, or remain like solitary blind worms than labor under the miseries of ignorance.

19 A man receiving the light leading to his liberation will never fall into the darkness of error or gloom of death. 20 As long as the clear light of reason does not shine upon the mind like the sun, so long will the chilly frost of poverty continue to contract the lotus of humanity. 21 To liberate oneself from the miseries of the world, one must know the true nature of the soul, both from his teacher and the evidence of the scriptures, and also from friends like ourselves.

22 Try, O Rama, to imitate those who are liberated in their lifetime, who are free to roam about like the gods Hari, Hara and others, and like the holy sages among brahmins. 23 Here (on earth) our miseries are as endless as atoms, and our happiness is as small as a drop of water on a piece of straw. Therefore do not fix your sight upon that little happiness which is beset by misery. 24 Let an intelligent man diligently apply himself to attain that state of endless happiness which is free from pain and constitutes his highest completion. 25 They are reckoned the best of men and deserving of completion whose minds are free from the fever (of worldly cares) and attached to the transcendental state.

26 Those base minded mortals who are satisfied with their enjoyments, eating and drinking, and the pleasures of their worldly possessions, are reckoned as stark blind frogs. 27 Those attached to the company of imposters and wicked men, or addicted to the practice of evil deeds, who are enemies in the guise of friendship, or those given up to gluttony, 28 all such foolish men of mistaken and stupid minds fall into the hardest of hardships, to the misery of miseries, to the horror of horrors, and to the hell of hells. 29 Happiness and misery destroy and succeed each other by turns. They are as fleeting as flashes of lightning. Hence it is impossible to be happy forever.

30 Those great souls who are indifferent and well judging like yourself are known as the most honorable of men, worthy of both temporal enjoyments and spiritual emancipation. 31 By reliance upon right reasoning joined with a habit of remaining dispassionate, men are able to overcome the dark and dangerous torrents of this world. 32 No man of reason who well knows how the illusions of the world derange understanding should allow himself to sleep amid these illusions. 33 Whoever remains neglectful in his worldliness is like a man negligently sleeping on a grassy bed when his house is on fire.

34 A state reached without return, attained so there is no more cause for sorrow, undoubtedly is attainable only by divine knowledge, and that is a certain truth. 35 Even if such a future state did not exist, there would be no harm to believe in it. But if such a state exists, belief in it will save you from the ocean of this world (samsara).

36 Whenever a man is inclined to think on the means of his salvation, he is sure to soon be entitled to his liberation. 37 The undecaying, unerring and fearless state of tranquility is nowhere to be had in the three worlds without union (with the Supreme). 38 Having gained that best of gains, no one is liable to the pain from which no wealth, friend or relation can save. 39 Neither the actions of one’s hands and feet in his offerings and pilgrimage to distant lands, nor the bodily pains of asceticism, nor his refuge in a holy place can serve his salvation. 40 It is only by means of one’s best exertions and the fixing of his mind to one object, and also by the subjection of his desires, that one may arrive at the ultimate state (of bliss). 41 So it is that by means of discrimination, reasoning and ultimate ascertainment of truth, a man may avoid the snares of misery and attain his best state.

42 One sitting at ease and meditating within himself attains the blissful state free from sorrow and future birth. 43 All holy men are known to be beyond the bounds of frail pleasures. They reckon their best serenity to be their ultimate bliss. 44 They have given up all thoughts of humanity and heaven, which are as devoid of true joy as a mirage is void of water. 45 Therefore should one think of subduing his mind and resort to peace and contentment as the means. These joined with an unbounded composure produce true happiness.

46 It is not to be had by sitting, or going up and down, or by wandering, or by prostrating (before the altar). It is not to be acquired by rakshasa demons, deities or ignorant men. 47 That ultimate joy is born of and obtainable from peace of mind. It is fruit from the blossom of peace of the high tree of reason.

48 Those engaged in worldliness without mixing in it are like the all-illumining sun and are known as the best of men. 49 The mind at peace and rest, clear and free from errors, and without any attempt or desire neither forsakes nor wishes for the world.

50 Hear me tell you about the orders of the guards (equanimity, inquiry, contentment, and good company) at the gate of salvation. If you know these orders, you are allowed to enter.

51 Thirsting after pleasure is a state of protracted disease, and this world is full of mirage. Only equanimity can cool this dryness like the moistening beams of the moon. 52 It is peacefulness that leads to all good and is reckoned the best state of being. Quiet is joy. It is peace and prevents error. 53 The man who lives content with his quiet and a calm clarity of his soul, with a mind filled with detachment, makes friends of his enemies. 54 Those whose minds are adorned with the moonlight of peacefulness feel within a flux of beams of purity rising in them like the whitish waves of the Milky Ocean.

55 Those holy men who have the lotus-like flower of peacefulness growing in the lotus-shaped receptacle of their hearts are said to have a secondary heart like the two hearts of the god Hari (holding Brahma in one of them). 56 They whose untainted faces shine like the moon with the luster of peacefulness are to be honored as the luminaries of their families. Others, seeing the charming beauty of their appearance, honor them as ravishers of the senses.

57 Whatever is beautiful in the three worlds, and whatever may be imperial prosperity and grandeur, nothing in them can afford a happiness equal to that of peacefulness. 58 Whatever the misery, anxiety or intolerable difficulty, they are all lost in a tranquil mind, like darkness in the sun. 59 The mind of no living being is so delighted with moonbeams as that of the peaceful man from his heart-felt joy. 60 The virtuous man who is calm and quiet and friendly to all living beings feels the benign influence of highest truths appearing of themselves in his mind.

61 Just like all children, whether good or bad, have a strict faith in their mother, so all beings here rely upon a man of an even disposition. 62 A refreshing drink of ambrosia or the kind embrace of prosperity cannot give such gratification to the soul as one’s inner satisfaction of the mind.

63 Whether afflicted by disease or disaster, or dragged by the rope of greed, bear yourself up, O Rama, by the composure of your mind. 64 Whatever you do and eat with the calm coolness of your mind, all that is far sweeter to the soul than anything sweet to taste. 65 The mind that is overpowered by the ambrosial flavor of peacefulness and desists from activity may have the body lacerated, but it will heal shortly.

66 No imp, demon or enemy, and no tiger or snake ever annoys a peaceful man. 67 He who has his mind and body well guarded by the invulnerable armor of meekness can never be pierced by the shafts of adversity. He remains like the thunder-stone that is impenetrable by arrows.

68 The king seated in his palace is not so graceful to see as a quiet peaceful man who is graced by his calm and clarity of understanding. 69 There is nothing in life so delightful to see as the satisfaction one feels at the sight of a contented and peaceful man. 70 Only he who lives a holy life with his gentle and peaceful conduct is said to be truly living in this world. 71 A sober minded, meek and honest man pleases everyone by all that he does. It is as if he captivates all beings to himself.

72 He is called the meek who neither feels pleasure nor pain at the sight, touch, sound or taste of anything good or bad. 73 He who is indifferent to all objects and neither leaves nor longs for anything, but keeps his senses and appetites under control, is called a saint. 74 Whoever knows all things, both internally and externally, with a clear understanding, and who attends and looks to his own concerns, is truly said to be a saint. 75 He whose mind remains as calm as moonbeams at the approach of either feast or violence, and even at the moment of death, is said to be a saint. 76 Who, though present, neither rejoices nor murmurs at anything but remains as if he were absent from it, and conducts himself as quietly as if he were fast asleep, such a person is called a saint.

77 He whose complaisant look casts a graceful nectar-like radiance on all around him is said to be a saint. 78 Who feels a cool calmness within himself and is not disturbed or immersed in any state of life, and who though a layman is not worldly minded, such a man is termed a saint. 79 He who does not take the difficulties of life to his mind, however long or great they may be, or who does not think his body to be himself, is known to be a saint. 80 The man of the world who has a mind clear as the sky and is not tainted (by worldliness) is said to be a saint.

81 The quiet man with tranquility of mind shines forth among sages and ascetics, among priests and princes, and among the mighty and learned. 82 Great and meritorious men whose minds are attached to peacefulness feel a rest arising in their souls like cooling moonbeams. 83 Peacefulness is the greatest of all the many virtues and the best decoration of courage. It shines resplendent among all dangers and difficulties.

84 O Rama, seek your perfection in the way in which high-minded men have sought and attained their perfect states, by holding fast onto peacefulness as an imperishable virtue, preserved by the respectable, and never to be lost or stolen.