Chapter 7 — God Is Pure Consciousness; the Phenomenal World Is Non-Existent

Rama said, “Tell me, O holy one, about this God that you have spoken of, whose knowledge, you said, leads to our liberation. Where is He situated and how can I know Him?”

Vasishta replied:—

This God of whom I spoke is not at any distance from us. He is situated within these our bodies, and He is known to us as the form of pure Consciousness. He is All in all, but all this world is not the omnipresent Himself. He is One alone, but is not all that is visible.

It is this Consciousness that is in Shiva who wears the crescent moon on his head. It is the same in Vishnu who rides on his garuda eagle, and in Brahma who is born of the lotus. The sun also is a particle of this Intelligence.

Rama replied, “So it is, and even children say that if the whole world is mere Consciousness, then why call it by another name? What is the use of teaching anyone about it (when everyone is full of Intelligence)?”

Vasishta replied:—

If you believe pure Consciousness is the same as the intelligent world, then you know nothing about how to get rid of this world. The world is truly intelligent, O Rama, but the animal soul is called a brutish (pashu, animal) observer of things because it looks only after sensual gratifications, which gives rise to only fears of disease, decay and death. The animal soul (jiva), though an incorporeal substance, is an ignorant thing and subject to pain and sorrow. The mind (manas) also, though capable of intelligence, has become the root of all evils. Intellectual liberation from thoughts of the world is one state; unintelligent gazing at it is another. He who knows the better of these two states of the soul has no cause of sorrow.

10 He who has seen the all surpassing Supreme Being, has all of his heart strings cut asunder and all the questions of his mind driven away. The effects of his acts are washed away. 11 The longing after phenomena does not cease unless the perception of phenomena is effaced from the mind.

12 How then is this perception to be effaced? How is it possible to have a longing after the unintelligible Intelligence without suppressing our longing for phenomena? It is only possible by avoiding the external perceptions of the mind.

13 Rama said, “Sage, tell me about that empty animal soul, and how the knowledge of such soul does not enable one to get rid of his reincarnation. 14 Tell me also, who is that man who by company with the good and study of good works has crossed the ocean of the world and beholds the Supreme Soul in himself?”

15 Vasishta replied:—

Whatever animal souls, having been cast into the wilderness of this life, long after this intelligent soul, they are truly wise and know Him (in themselves). 16 Whoever believes the animal soul to be the life of the world and thinks Consciousness requires pain, he can never know Him anywhere. 17 If the Supreme Soul is known to us, O Rama, the succession of our sorrows is ended, like the fatal cholera after extraction of its poison.

18 Rama said, “Tell me, O holy one, about the true form of the Supreme Soul, by light of which the mind may escape from all its errors.”

19 Vasishta replied:—

The Supreme Soul is seen in ourselves and within our bodies in the same way as we are conscious that our minds are still be within us after its flight to distant countries. 20 Our notion of the Supreme Spirit is often lost in the depth of our minds in the same way as the existence of the outer world becomes extinct in our consciousness during yoga meditation. 21 We lose our sense of seeing and the seen in the knowledge of Him who is a non-empty vacuum or a substantive emptiness. 22 He whose substance appears as a vacuum and in whom exists the empty fullness of the universe, and who appears as emptiness itself, in spite of the multitude of His creation existing in Him, is truly the form of the Supreme Soul. 23 The form of the Supreme Soul (that you want to know) is He who though full of intelligence, appears to stand before us like an unconscious huge rock, and who, though quite subtle in his nature, seems to be some gross body to our conception. 24 That which encompasses the inside and outside of everything, and assumes the name and nature of everything to itself, is truly the form of the Supreme.

25 As light is connected with sunshine, and emptiness with the sky, and as omnipresence is present with everything and everywhere, such is the form of the Supreme Spirit (that you want to know).

26 Rama asked, “But how are we to understand that He who bears the name and nature of absolute and infinite reality should yet be compressed within anything visible in the world? Such is quite impossible to believe.”

27 Vasishta replied:—

The false conception of the creation of the world resembles the false impression of colors in the clear sky. It is wrong, O Rama, to take something as real which does not exist in nature.

28 It is the knowledge of Brahman that constitutes His form, or else there is no act of His whereby He may be known to us. He is entirely devoid of any visible form, and therefore there is no better way for anyone other than to know Him as truth. 29 After all trace of phenomena is gone, there remains a pre-eminent object of conception, which is inborn and manifest of itself. 30 This concept of the Super-eminent, having no visible appearance, often has no reflection, and at other times it is reflected in the mirror of the mind.

31 Nobody has ever conceived this transcendent Truth in himself, who has not at the same time been convinced of the impossibility of the existence of the visible world.

32 Rama replied, “Tell me, O sage, how the existence of so many extensive worlds composing the visible universe can be thought of as unreal or comprised in the minutiae of the Divine Mind, like Mount Meru in a sesame seed?”

33 Vasishta replied:—

If you stay in the company of holy men a few days, and if you study sacred scriptures with a steady mind with me, 34 then I will purge this false view of phenomena from your understanding, like a delusive mirage from one’s sight. This absence of the view will extinguish your sense of being the viewer, and restore you to your intelligence alone.

35 When the viewer is united with the view, and the view with the viewer, then duality becomes unity; duality blends into an inseparable unity. 36 Without union of the two there is no success of either. When viewer and the view have disappeared, only one unity remains.

37 I will cleanse the impurity of all your sense of “I” and “you,” the world and all other things from the mirror of your mind, by bringing you to your consciousness of self and the total negation of everything else. 38 From nothing never comes a something and from something never proceeds a nothing, so there is no difficulty whatever in removing what does not exist in nature.

39 In the beginning this world which appears so very vast and extensive was not in being. It resided in the pure spirit of Brahma. It has evolved from the mind of Brahma. 40 The thing called the world was never produced, it is not in being, and it does not actually appear. It is like gold in the form of a bracelet. It is not difficult to alter and reduce to its gross metallic state.

41 I will explain it fully by other examples whereby this truth may appear of itself and impress itself irresistibly in your mind. 42 How can something be said to exist that was never brought into existence? How can there be water in the mirage, or the ring of an eclipse in the moon? 43 As a barren woman has no son and a mirage has no water, and as the sky has no plant growing in it, so there is no such thing as what we falsely call the world.

44 Whatever you see, O Rama, is the indestructible Brahma himself. I have shown you this many times with good reasoning and not just with mere words. 45 It is unreasonable, O intelligent Rama, to disregard something a learned man tells you with good reasoning. The dull-headed fellow who neglects to listen to the words of reason and wisdom is deemed as a fool and is subject to all sorts of difficulties.