Chapter 6 — Honest Effort Required to Attain Self Knowledge

Vasishta said:—

It is by the knowledge of this transcendent Supreme Spirit and God of gods that one may become an adept, and not by the rigor of religious austerities and practices. Here nothing else is needed than the culture and practice of divine knowledge, and thereby the truth being known, one views the errors of the world like a satisfied traveler looks at a mirage in a clear light.

God is not far from or too near us. He is not obtainable by what He is not (such as adoration of images and ritual acts). He is the image of light and joy and is perceivable in ourselves. Here austerities and charities, religious vows and observances are of no good whatever. It is only the calm peacefulness of one’s own nature that is of value fort a person to serve God.

The best means to attain divine knowledge are fondness for the society of the righteous and devotion to the study of good books. Ritual services and practices serve only to strengthen the trap of our inborn delusions, which only true knowledge can sever. As soon as one knows one’s own inner light to be God, one gets rid of his miseries and becomes liberated in his living state.

Rama said, “Having known the Self in himself, one is no more exposed to the evils of life or even of death itself. But say, how is this great God of gods to be attained from such great distance (as we are placed from Him), and what rigorous austerities and amount of pains are necessary for it?”

Vasishta replied:—

He is to be known through your courageous efforts (in knowledge and faith) and by the aid of clear understanding and right reasoning, and never by the practice of austerities or ablutions, or by acts attended with bodily pain of any kind. 10 For know, O Rama, that all your austerities and charities, your painstaking and mortification, are of no efficacy unless you wholly renounce your passions and enmity, your anger, pride and selfishness, and your envy and jealousy. 11 For whoever with a heart full of vile passions is liberal with money he has earned by defrauding others, the merit of such liberality accrues to the rightful owner of the property and not to its professed donor. 12 Whoever observes any vow or rite with a mind moved by passions, he passes for a hypocrite and reaps no benefit of his acts.

13 Therefore, for putting down the diseases and disturbances of the world, try your manly exertions in securing the best remedies of good precepts and good company. 14 No other course of action, except to exert one’s courage, is conducive to allaying all the miseries and troubles of this life.

15 Now learn what this courage is so that you may attain wisdom and annihilate the maladies of passions, affections and animosity in your nature. 16 True courage consists in remaining in an honest calling that conforms with the law and good customs of your country, and in a contented mind that shrinks from savoring the enjoyments of life. 17 It consists in the exertion of one’s energies to the utmost of his power, without bearing any murmur or grief in his soul, and in one’s devotion to the society of the good and perusal of good works and scriptures.

18 He is truly brave who is quite content with what he gets, and spurns at what is unlawful for him to take; who is attached to good company and eager to study faultless works. 19 They who are of great mind, and who have known their own natures and those of all others by their right reasoning, are honored by the gods Brahma, Vishnu, Indra and Shiva. 20 One should diligently turn towards he who is called righteous by a majority of good people as the best and most upright of men. 21 The best scriptures are considered to be those which deal primarily with spiritual knowledge. One who constantly meditates on them is surely liberated.

22 It is by means of right discrimination derived from keeping good company and studying holy works that our understanding is cleared of its ignorance, just like dirty water is purified by kata seeds, and as the minds of men are purified by the by philosophy of yoga.