Chapter 14 — On Rational Inquiry, the Necessity of Inquiry & Clear Reasoning

Vasishta speaking:—

It must be the duty of one whose understanding is cleared and purified by a knowledge of the scriptures to argue constantly with a guide who knows how to reason correctly. Understanding, when sharpened by reasoning, comes to see transcendence. The only best medicine for the chronic disease of worldliness is reasoning (the second gate-keeper). The world is like a forest of troubles, sprouting endless desires which, being once felled under the saw of reason, will germinate no more.

O wise Rama, our understandings are shrouded under unconsciousness at the loss of our friends, at times of danger, and even of quiet. Only reason is our companion. There is no expedient for the learned and wise except reason. It is by means of reason that the minds of good people can avoid evil and secure their good. All our strength and understanding, our valor and renown, and the ends of our actions, result from our reasoning with the intelligent.

Reason is the lamp to show us right and wrong and the instrument with which we accomplish our desires. By reliance on right reason, one easily crosses over the wide ocean of the world. Pure reasoning, like a strong lion, tears asunder the elephants of great error which ravage the lotus beds of the mind. If ignorant men have at anytime attained a better state in life, it was all owing to the light of the lamp of their reasoning.

10 Know, O Raghava, that dominion and fair prosperity, together with our enjoyments and eternal salvation, are all only fruits of the celestial, wish-fulfilling kalpa tree of reasoning. 11 The minds of great men, expanded by reasoning, are never liable to be immersed under the currents of calamity (but float above them) like gourds upon water. 12 Those who conduct themselves with their intellects shining forth with reason become the recipients of its most liberal gifts. 13 Lack of reason is like the thorny and sour karanja plant sprouting forth with blossoms of sorrow, growing in the lakes of ignorant minds in order to shut out their hopes and prospects.

14 O Raghava, shake off the lethargy caused by your neglect of reasoning. This torpor darkens your vision as if by the black, eye-liner collyrium powder and maddens your mind as if by the drunkenness of wine. 15 The man of right judgment is not liable to fall into the long and dangerous maze of error, but remains as a blaze of light amidst the gloom (of ignorance). 16 The reasoning faculties shine like a bed of lotuses in the limpid lake of the mind. Whoever has such a reasoning mind exalts his head as high as the Himalayan heights.

17 A man having a dull mind and incapable of reasoning with the sharpness of a flash of lightening is like a child who sees false apparitions about him. 18 Rama, you must shun and keep base, unreasonable men at a distance. They grow as plump as a sugar cane to cause sorrow. They resemble the spring season that grows fresh weeds of evil. 19 Whatever misdeeds, misconducts and mishaps present themselves to man, they all result from his lack of the light of reason, and they lay hold of him like ghosts appearing in the dark. 20 O support of Raghu’s race, shun the unreasonable man at a distance. He is like a solitary wild tree that comes to no good use.

21 A mind filled with reason and devoid of the impatience that attends worldly desires feels the light of transcendent quietism shining in the soul with the full luster of the moon. 22 When the light of reason shines in any person, it imparts the coolness and good grace of moonbeams to all things around him. 23 The reasoning power of man accompanied with the flag of divine knowledge and the silvery fan of good understanding shines like moonlight in the darkness of night. 24 Men with the good grace of their reason throw a sun-like radiance on all sides about them and dispel the gloom of worldliness.

25 Reasoning serves to destroy the false apparitions of errors which present themselves to the minds of children like ghosts in the night sky. 26 All things in the world appear charming, but they are only unrealities. They are like clods of earth that are broken by the hammering stone of reason. 27 Men torment themselves with the false imaginations of their own minds. Only reason can drive away this deeply rooted apparition from the mind.

28 Know that the fruit of the high tree of reason is the even, unobstructed, interminable and independent happiness called perfect detachment (kaivalya). 29 Through reason and its evident influence on the deprivation of (physical) gratifications, there rises an unshaken and exalted disinterestedness in the mind, like the cooling beams of the moon. 30 When a saint has reached his perfection by means of the elixir of judgment seated in his mind, he neither desires for more nor leaves (what he has). 31 A mind relying on that state of equanimity and perceiving the clear light has neither its fall nor elevation, but enjoys its inward expansion like that of vacuum forever.

32 One unconcerned with the world neither gives nor receives anything, nor feels himself elated or depressed at any event, but views everything as an indifferent spectator. 33 He is neither numbingly cold nor does he dwell on anything internally or externally. He is not inactive or merged in activity. 34 He slights the loss of anything and lives content with what he has. He is neither depressed nor elevated, but remains as full as the sea.

35 It is in this manner that the high-aspiring, great souls who are yogis conduct themselves in this world, with their fullness (of joy) and living as liberated in this life. 36 These saintly sages, having lived as long as they like, abandon it at last, and gain their perfect detachment and eternal unity (kaivalya).

37 A wise man should intently consider within who he is, who he belongs to, what is his family, by whom he is surrounded, and think on the remedy (of his worldliness). 38 It is a king, O Rama, who well knows the difficult and doubtful state of the business, and his success or failure depends solely on his right judgment and on nothing else. 39 It is the sayings and information established by the Vedas and the Vedanta that form the grounds of our evidence, and these are to be ascertained by our reason as by the help of a lamp in the gloom of night.

40 The bright eyesight of reason, even when it has to view things at a distance, is neither blinded by darkness nor dimmed by the full blaze of daylight. 41 He who is blind to reason is like one born blind. A demented man is an object of universal pity, but a man with a reasoning soul is said to be possessed of divine eyesight and becomes victorious in all things. 42 The miraculous power of reason is acknowledged to be a divine attribute and an instrument to highest joy. Therefore it is not to be lost sight of, even for a moment.

43 A man graced by reason is loved even by the great, just as the delicious and ripe mango fruit is delicious to all. 44 Men with their minds illuminated by the light of reason are like travelers acquainted with their way. They are not liable to pitfalls of constant danger and misery. 45 Neither a sick man nor one beset by a hundred evils wails as bitterly as an ignorant man whose soul is deprived of reason. 46 Rather leap like a frog in mud, or creep like a worm in the dirt, or lie like a snake in a dark hole or crawl on the ground than walk like a man devoid of reason.

47 Therefore get rid of unreasonableness which is the home of all your dangers, is condemned by the wise, and is the end of all your disasters. 48 Great men must always be in full possession of their reasoning, because those unsupported by their reason are liable to fall into the pits of darkness. 49 Let everyone keep his soul under the control of his own reason and by this means deliver the deer of his mind from falling into the mirage of this world.

50 It is the province of reasoning to consider logically that it is in one’s own self that the evil known as worldliness had its rise. 51 The thick mist of error is only for the continued misery of man, and it prevails on the stony minds of those who are demented by the loss of reason. 52 Even the wise who hold fast to the truth and forsake all untruth in this world are unable to discern their true nature without the aid of reason. 53 It is by means of reason that one comes to the knowledge of truth, and by means of truth that he gets peace of mind, and it is tranquility of mind that dispels the misery of men.

54 Now Rama, take delight in such acts as may be productive of utility to the world, and whereby you may arrive to perfection. Weigh all things with the clear eye of reason, which will make you blessed forever.