Chapter 9 — Description of Living & Bodiless Liberation; God as the Supreme Cause of All (Parama Karana)

Vasishta continued:—

They are truly delighted and gratified who with all their hearts and minds are always devoted to holy conversation among themselves. Those devoted to the acquisition of knowledge and investigation of spiritual science enjoy the same bliss of liberation in their living state as it is said to attend disembodied souls.

Rama said, “Tell me, O holy one, the difference between liberation with and without a body, that I may try to learn with an understanding enlightened by the light of scriptures.”

Vasishta said:—

Whoever remains as he is and continues intact as emptiness amidst society is called the liberated while in the body (jivan mukta). Who remains employed only in his exercise of intellect and seems to be sleeping in his waking state, though he is conducting his worldly affairs, is called liberated while in the body. One whose countenance is neither flushed nor dejected in pleasure or pain, and who remains content with what he gets, is called liberated while living. One whose waking is like the state of sound sleep, who is not awake to the accidents of the waking state, and whose waking state does not sense the desires incident to it, is called liberated in his life.

Who, though moved by feelings of affection, enmity, fear and the like, is at rest, as clear and undisturbed as emptiness within himself, is called liberated while he is alive. Who has not an air of pride in him, and is not conceited when he does or refrains to do anything, is called self-liberated in his lifetime. 10 Who with one glance or the wink of his eye has a full view of the whole of creation and the final destruction of the world, like the Supreme Self, is said to be liberated in his lifetime.

11 Whoever is neither feared nor is afraid, and who is free from the emotions of joy, anger and fear, such a person is liberated in life. 12 Who is quiet and quietly disposes his business of this world, and who though he stands as an individual in the sight of men but attaches no individuality to himself, and who though a sentient being is unconscious to all impressions, such a person is the living liberated soul. 13 Who being full of all possessions, and having everything present before him, remains cold and apathetic to them as if they were useless to him, such a man is liberated in his life.

14 Now leaving the subject of liberated while in the body, I will describe what they call liberation without body (videhamukta) which enters the soul like a breath of wind after it has fled from the mortal body. 15 The disembodied free spirit neither rises nor sets, nor is it subject to wane. It is neither manifest nor hidden. It is not at a distance, nor is it in me, you or in any other person.

16 It shines forth in the form of the sun and preserves the world like Vishnu. It creates the world in the shape of the lotus-born Brahma, and destroys all as Rudra or Shiva. 17 It takes the form of the sky supported on the shoulders of air that supports all living beings, gods, sages and demigods in the three worlds. It takes the form of boundary mountains that separate earth from sky.

18 It becomes the earth and supports these numerous types of beings. It takes the forms of trees, plants and grass, and yields fruits and grains for nourishment. 19 It takes the forms of fire and water and burns and melts in them by itself. It sheds ambrosia in the form of the moon, and causes death in the shape of poison. 20 It becomes light with which it fills the sky, and it spreads darkness in the form of dullness (tamas). It becomes vacuum to leave empty space for all, while in the form of hills it obstructs their free passage on earth. 21 In the form of the fleet mind it moves the self-moving animals, and in the form of dull matter it fixes that which is incapable of motion. It girds the earth by its form of the ocean, just like a bracelet encircles the arm.

22 The bodiless spirit takes upon it the great body of the sun and illuminates all the worlds with their minute particles while it remains quiet in itself. 23 Whatever is shining in this universe or ever was or is to be so, in any of the three — past, present and future times — know them all, O Rama, as forms of the Divine Spirit.

24 Rama said, “Tell me, O holy one, why this view of liberation appears so very difficult to me. It makes me believe that liberation is altogether incomprehensible and unattainable by anybody.”

25 Vasishta replied:—

This liberation is called nirvana and it is also called Brahman. Attend now to the means of its attainment.

26 All such visible objects known as “I”, “you”, “this” and the like, because they are unproduced from the eternal being (sat) of God, it is impossible to have any conception of them in our minds.

27 Rama said, “I think, O best of them who know the knowable, that the bodiless souls of the liberated, when they pass through the bounds of the three worlds, have to be born again according to the course of nature.”

28 Vasishta replied:—

Those who retain a memory of the three worlds have to move about in them, but those who have lost the idea of their existence are absorbed in infinity. 29 For how can one derive knowledge of the unity of God from his belief in duality, the separate existence of the world? Therefore the figurative sense of the cosmos as God (Vishwa) can not give the spiritual and infinite idea of Brahma.

30 He is no other but himself, of the nature of pure intellect, and of the form of the clear and tranquil emptiness. Brahma is said to be the world in order to signify his manifestation of its unreality as a reality to us. 31 I have well considered a golden bracelet and found nothing as a bracelet in it except its gold. 32 I observed the billows and found nothing in them but water. Where there was no water I saw no wave to rise. 33 I see no vibration anywhere except in wind, which is the only force in motion moving all things in the world.

34 As emptiness abides in air and water appears in the burning deserts, and as there is light spread over all creation, so the spirit of Brahma manifests in the three worlds in the forms of the very worlds themselves.

35 Rama said, “Tell me, O sage, what makes this world, with its nature of absolute non-existence, exhibit such distinct appearances in its phenomena? 36 Tell me also, if the viewer and the view both become extinct, how can their nirvana or absorption in the deity remain without their personalities? 37 Again, as it is impossible to conceive the existence of phenomena, say how is it possible to conceive the existence of the invisible Brahma in his own nature? 38 By what mode of reasoning can this truth be known and ascertained and, this being accomplished, there remains nothing else to be inquired into?”

39 Vasishta replied:—

This false knowledge or predisposition towards the reality of the world has been long prevalent, like a chronic disease, and must be removed only by the specific mantra of reasoning. 40 However, it can not be expelled quickly or in a minute. That requires some time, like the ascent and descent of an even sided precipice. 41 Therefore listen to what I say in order to dispel your fallacy of the world through arguments, logical inferences, and habitual meditation.

42 Rama, listen to a tale that I am to tell for your attainment of this knowledge. By hearing it you will become intelligent, wise and liberated. 43 I will now talk about the subject of the production of the world in order to show you that all that is produced serves to bind our souls to the earth, and so that you may live quite free from such bondage. 44 I will tell you about creation and how the false conception of the world is as unsubstantial as emptiness itself.

45 This world appears to contain moving and unmoving beings and abounds in various races of gods, spirits, kinnaras (body of man and head of horse), 46 storm gods and other demigods. All these become invisible and lose themselves in nothing at the ultimate dissolution of the world. 47 Then there remains a moist and hollow deep without light and spread with a thick mist, everything undefined and undeveloped, except something that which is Real and lasts forever.

48 There was no air or form of anything, no sight or anything to be seen. There were no multitudes of created and material beings that appear to be endless and everlasting to view. 49 There was a nameless Self, the fullest of the full in its form. It was neither entity nor non-entity, neither reality nor unreality. 50 It was mere Intellect without its exercise of intellect, Infinite without decay, auspicious and full of bliss. It was without beginning, middle or end, eternal and imperishable.

51 In Him this world is manifest like a pearly goose in a painting. He is and yet is not this creation. He is the soul of both what is real and unreal. 52 He is without ears, tongue, nose, eyes or touch, yet He hears, tastes, smells, sees and feels everything in all places and at all times.

53 He is also that (intellectual) light whereby we discern the form of that real and unreal Being in his perspective of creation, as the One without beginning or end, and as presenting an image without color or shade. 54 He is that empty Soul who views the worlds as clearly as the yogi with his half closed eyes who fixes his sight between his eyebrows and beholds Him in the form of indescribable light. 55 He is the cause of all, He whose cause is as nothing as the horns of a rabbit, and whose works, like so many waves of the sea, are all these worlds.

56 His light is ever shining everywhere, and He has his seat in the human heart. It is from the candle light of His Consciousness that all the worlds derive their light. 57 It is He without whose light the sun would dwindle into darkness, and whose existence alone gives the world its appearance of a mirage. 58 It is His pulsation that vibrates throughout the universe and it is His inertia that stops the course of the whole. It is on that pivot that the world has its revolution, just like a whirling firebrand describes a circle.

59 His nature is pure and unchangeable. The works of creation and destruction are mere acts of His will in the persons of Brahma and Hara. 60 It is His inertia and force that gives rest and motion to all things, like the ubiquitous course of the winds. But this is only a common belief that He moves. In reality His nature is free from any and all change.

61 He is always awake in His ever sleeping state, and therefore cannot be said to be waking or sleeping anywhere at anytime. He is both awake and asleep everywhere and at all times. 62 His quiescence is attended with bliss and tranquility, and His agitation puts the world in motion and in its course of action, yet He is said to remain unaltered in both states which unite in Him.

63 He is inherent in all things as fragrance is innate in the flower, and He is indestructible like the fragrance remains after the flower is destroyed. He pervades all things, yet is as intangible as the whiteness of linen.

64 He, though speechless, is the author of all speech and sound. Though He appears to be as unthinking as a stone, He is full of thought. He, though fully satisfied with His bliss, enjoys all things, although He requires nothing for Himself. 65 He, though without body, moves all the members of the body and is described (in the Vedas) as having a thousand arms and eyes. He, having no support for Himself, is yet the support of all, and pervades the whole without being seated anywhere. 66 He, having no organs or organic power, is the Organ of organs and performs the functions of innumerable organs. Having no mind that senses, He exhibits endless designs of His Divine Mind in the infinity of creation.

67 It is because of our lack of knowledge of Him that we are in constant dread of this delusive world, just as we are afraid of snakes. It is at His sight that all our fears and desires fly far away from us. 68 It is in the presence of the clear light of that God of truth that all the wishes of our minds have a better play, just like actors dance best when they have light.

69 It is by Him that a hundred types of visible objects arise every moment to our view, like the ceaseless series of waves, billows and surges rising on the surface of the waters. 70 It is He who exhibits Himself other than what He is, in hundreds of different shapes to our mistaken minds, just like gold is made to appear in the various forms of bracelets, armlets and a hundred other sorts of trinkets.

71 He who manifests Himself as the soul abiding in me, you and in every other person, yet is not me, you, he or it, is the Supreme Soul or Self that is the same with and apart from all. 72 It is He and the same being, whether you view Him in one or more objects, as it is the same water that heaves itself in this or the other wave. Thus all visible phenomena have their rise from Him. 73 He from whom time has its counting and that which can be seen has its appearance, by whom the mind exercises its thinking powers, and by whose light the world is enlightened, is the Supreme. 74 Whatever forms, figures and their actions, whatsoever flavors and odors, and what sounds, touch, feelings and perceptions there are or that you can sense, know them all and their cause also to be the Supreme.

75 You will be able to know your own soul, O good Rama, if you can see with the vision that lies between the looker and the object looked upon. 76 Know it as uncreated and indestructible, without beginning or end. It is the eternal and everlasting Brahma and bliss itself. It is immaculate and infallible, highly adorable and without fault in its nature. It is beyond all description and a mere void in its form. It is the cause of causes and a notion of something that is unknowable. It is understanding and the inner faculty of the intellect or the mind.