Chapter 4 — Nightfall; Creation of Objects

Valmiki describes:—

While Vasishta, the leading sage, was speaking without interruption, the entire assembly was intent upon listening to him with a fixed tone and tenor of their minds. The string of bells that warriors tie to their waists ceased to jingle. Everyone was motionless. Even the parrots in their cages ceased to warble or flutter. The ladies forgot their dalliance and remained quietly attentive to the lecture. Everyone in the royal hall was fixed in attention as if they were paintings and statues.

Only an hour remained before the closing of the day and the sunbeams became agreeable to all. The busy bustle of the world was dwindling away with the glimmering light of the setting sun. The beds of full-blown lotuses exhaled their fragrance all around, and soft breezes were playing about, as if to attend the audience. The sun glided away from his daily course and advanced to the top of the solitary mountain where it set, as if he meant to reflect on all that he had heard. The shades of night began to cover the landscape. Frost began to spread over forest lands as if they were cooled by the cooling lectures on philosophy.

Now people failed to gather in all directions, as if they had availed themselves of the sage’s instructions to abate the fervor of their exertions. All objects on earth cast their lengthened shadows, as if they were stretching their necks to hear Vasishta preaching. 10 Then the chamberlain humbly advanced to the monarch of the earth and begged to inform him that the time for the rituals of evening washing and service was about to expire.

11 Upon this, sage Vasishta stopped his sweet speech and said, “Let what has been said, mighty king, be all for this day. I will resume my lecture and speak of other things tomorrow.”

12 The sage held his silence, and the king responded, “Be it so as you will,” and rose from his seat. 13 For his own good he honored the godly sage and the other seers and brahmins with due respects and offerings of flowers, water, worthy honorary gift rewards, fees, gifts and homage. 14 Then rose the entire assembly with the king and the sages. The gems and jewels that decked princes and people shed their luster on the faces of all. 15 There was a commingled tinkling of bracelets and armlets as the throng mingled in their exit, mixed with the flashes of the necklaces and brocades that decorated their bodies. 16 The jewels attached to the tufts and crests of hair on the tops of their heads emitted a jingling sound resembling the humming of bees amidst their flowery braids. 17 The face of the sky, shining on all sides with a purple color reflected by the golden ornaments on their persons, seemed as if it was pleased with the wise sayings and sense of the sage.

18 Celestial visitors vanished into the air and earthly guests retired to their homes on earth where they performed their evening rituals. 19 In the meantime, black night made her appearance on earth and, like a bashful young maiden, withdrew to the closet separate from the rest of mankind. 20 The lord of the day passed to shine on other lands, for truly it is the avowed duty of every good person to give the benefit of equal light to all. 21 The shade of evening veiled all sides and uplifted the canopy of the starry sphere on high which, like the spring atmosphere, was emblazoned with star-like kinsuka flowers.

22 The birds of air took to their rest in the hollows of mango trees or on the tops of kadamba trees, like honest people of fair dealing find their rest in the purity of their minds and the contriteness of their inner hearts.

23 The skirts of the clouds tinged with red by the slanting beams of the setting sun, and with a shade of yellow color upon them, decorated the western hills with vests of yellow garb while the sky crowned their heads with gemming wreaths of starry groups. 24 The goddess of evening, having departed after receiving her homage (evening prayers), was followed by her train of dark night shades appearing as black-bodied fiends, vetalas.

25 A gentle and cooling breeze was blowing softened by the dew drops of night and opening the petals of kumuda lotus flowers, bearing their fragrance all around. 26 A thick gloom covered the face of nature and the stars were hidden under the mists of night. All the quarters of the skies, with their overhanging loose and hairy mists, seemed like the faces of widows shrouded by the dark disheveled hair of mourning.

27 Now appeared the moist orb of the moon in her ambrosial form in the Milky Ocean of the sky to moisten the mundane heat with her milk-white beams. 28 On her rising, the thick mists of darkness fled from the eastern hemisphere and became invisible in the air, just like the darkness of ignorance is put to flight from the minds of monarchs when they attend to wise sayings.

29 Then the sages and seers, the rulers and priests of the people, took their rest in their respective beds, as the words of Vasishta, full of meaning, rested in the recesses of their hearts.

30 As the thick darkness of night, resembling the dark complexion of death, receded from the arena of the skies, the dewy dawn of day with her slow moving pace followed close on its footsteps. 31 Twinkling stars disappeared from the sky, just like flowers on trees are blown away by wind and strewn on the ground like the fallen stars of heaven. 32 The sun became visible to the eyes. His rays roused them from sleep, just as the new-rising faculty of reason becomes conspicuous in the minds of enlightened great souls. 33 Fragments of clouds shining with sunlight spread a yellow covering over the eastern hills which were still decorated with strings of stars, pendant on the crests of their lofty heads.

34 After the performance of their morning services, all the terrestrial and celestial congress assembled again at the royal hall, in the order and manner of the day before. 35 The full assembly took their seats and sat without moving, like a lake covered with lotus remains calm after a storm.

36 Then Rama addressed Vasishta, the most eloquent of sages, with honey-like words about the subject under investigation. 37 He said, “Tell me plainly, O venerable sir, about the form of the mind, which developed itself in all things of the universe as they were its offshoots.”

38 Vasishta replied:—

Rama, the mind has no form that anyone can see. Other than its name, it has nothing substantial, only the formless and irremovable void. 39 The mind as an entity (sat) is not situated in any part of the outer body, nor is it within any cavity of the heart or brain. But know it, O Rama, to be situated everywhere as the all encompassing void. 40 This world is produced from it, and it is like the waters of the mirage. It manifests itself in the forms of its fleeting thoughts, which are as false as the appearance of secondary moons in mists.

41 The thinking principle is generally believed to be something between the positive and negative, or real and unreal. You must know it as such and no other. 42 That which represents of all objects is called the mind. There is nothing else to which the term mind is applicable. 43 Know that will (volition) is the same as the mind, and that the mind is no different from the will, just as fluidity is the same with water, and as there is no difference between air and its motion in wind. 44 For wherever there is any will, there also is that attribute of the mind. Nobody has ever taken will and mind to be different things.

45 The representation of any object, whether real or unreal, is mind, and that is to be known as Brahma the great father of all. 46 The incorporeal soul in the body is called the mind and it has in itself the knowledge of all senses and everlasting ideas of the physical world. (I.e., the sentient and thinking soul is the same as the mind.) 47 The learned have given different names like ignorance, intellect, mind, bondage, sin and darkness to the visible appearance of creation. 48 The mind has no form other than a receptacle and reflector of ideas about the visible world which, I repeat, is no new creation, but a reflection of the mind.

49 The visible world is situated in an atom of the great mind, just like the germ of the lotus plant is contained within its seed. 50 The visible world is as innate in the all-knowing mind as light is inherent in sunbeams, and velocity and fluidity are innate in winds and liquids. 51 But the visionary ideas of phenomena are as false and fleeting in the minds of their observers as the form of a jewel in gold, or water in a mirage, and they are as wrong as the foundation of a castle in the air, or seeing a city in a dream.

52 Because phenomena appear to be real to their observer, O Rama, I will cleanse them from your mind like dirt from a mirror. 53 Just like the disappearance of an appearance makes the observer no longer an observer, know that this is what happens when the mind is in a state of separation (detachment) from whatever is real or unreal in the world. 54 Having arrived at this state, all the passions of the soul and the desires of the mind will be at rest, like torrents of rivers at the calm that follows the stillness of the wind. 55 It is impossible that things having the forms of space, earth and air will appear the same in the clear light of reason as they do to our ordinary sight.

56 Thus when the observer comes to know the unreality of the phenomena of the three worlds, as well as of his own entity, then his pure soul attains knowledge of the solitude of divine existence (kaivalya). 57 Such a mind reflects the image of God in itself as in a mirror, while all others are like blocks of stone, incapable of receiving any reflection at all.

58 After suppression of the sense of “I” and “you” and the error of the reality of the outer world, the observer becomes withdrawn and remains in his sitting posture without seeing external things.

59 Rama replied, “If I cannot suppress my perception of entity, or an entity is unable to become a non-entity, or if I am unable to see phenomena as non-existent, 60 then tell me, O holy one, how can I to uproot this disease of our eagerness for phenomena from the mind, a disease which bewilders understanding and afflicts us with a series of troubles?”

61 Vasishta replied:—

Now hear my advice, Rama, for the suppression of this illusion of phenomena, whereby it will surely die away and become utterly extinct.

62 Know Rama, that nothing that is can ever be destroyed or become extinct. Though you remove it, yet it will leave its seed or trace in the mind. 63 This seed is the memory of such things which reopens the ideas of the phenomena in the mind, expanding themselves in the fallacious notions of the forms of big worlds and skies, mountains and oceans. 64 These fallacious notions, called faults and defects of understanding, are obstacles in the way to liberation, but they do not affect the sages who are liberated.

65 Again, if the world and all other phenomena have real existence, they cannot confer liberation on anyone because phenomena, whether they are situated within or without us, are themselves perishable. 66 Learn therefore this solemn truth, which will be fully explained to you in the subsequent parts of this work, 67 that all things appearing in the forms of emptiness, elementary forms, the world, and “I” and “you” are non-entities. They have no meaning.

68 Whatever is seen as apparent is nothing other than the un-decaying and imperishable essence of the supreme Brahma himself. 69 The abundance of creation is an expansion of his fullness, and the quiet of the universe rests in his quietude. It is his quality of sky that is the substance of emptiness, and it is his immensity that underlies the immense cosmos.

70 Nothing visible is real, and there is neither spectator nor spectacle here. There is nothing like emptiness or solidity in nature. All this is only a piece of extended Intelligence.

71 Rama replied, “The proverbs about the son of a barren woman grinding stones, the horns of a rabbit, the dancing of a hill with its arms extended, 72 oil flowing from sand, marble dolls reading books, clouds in a painting roaring, and other similar adages apply to your words (on the reality of an unreal essence of God). 73 I see this world to be full of disease, death, trouble, mountains, emptiness and other things. How is it, sage, that you tell me that they do not exist? 74 So that I may be certain of this truth, tell me sage, why you describe this world as unsubstantial, unproduced and nonexistent?”

75 Vasishta replied:—

Know Rama, that I do not speak contradictions. Hear me explain how unreality appears as real, like the proverb of the son of a barren woman.

76 All this was unproduced before and did not exist in the beginning of creation. It comes to appearance from the mind like a city in a dream. 77 The mind also was not produced in the beginning of creation and was an unreality itself. Therefore hear me tell you how we come to a notion of it.

78 This unreal mind by itself spreads the false and changing scenes of the visible world, just as in a dream we see ever changing unrealities as true. 79 Then the mind exerts its will in the fabrication of the body and spreads the magic scene of the phenomenal world far and wide. 80 The mind, by the potential of its fluctuations, has many actions of its own, such as expansion, jumping, motion, craving, wandering, diving and seizing, and many other voluntary efforts.