Chapter 10 — The Emptiness upon Universal Dissolution Is Not Empty; Description of God

Rama said, “That which remains after the universal dissolution is commonly designated by the term ‘formless void.’ Then how can you say that there was no void, light or darkness? How could it be without the intellect and the living principle? How could the entities of the mind and understanding be lacking in it? How could there be nothing and not all things? You have used other similar paradoxical expressions that have created much confusion in me.”

Vasishta said:—

You have raised a difficult additional question, Rama, but I shall have no difficulty to solve it, just like the sun is at no pains to dispel the darkness of night. At the end of a great kalpa age when there remains that entity of God, it cannot be said to be a void, as I will now explain to you. Attend Rama and hear.

Like images carved in bas-relief upon a pillar, this world was made in relief upon that Entity. It cannot be said to have been a void. Again, when there was the appearance of abundance under the name of the world, and be it real or unreal, it could not have been a void and empty.

As a pillar with carved or painted figures cannot be said to be devoid of them, so Brahma exhibiting the worlds contained in him can not become a void. 10 But the world contained in Brahma becomes both something and nothing, just like billows in calm waters may either exist or not exist. 11 Again it happens that the hand of time marks certain figures in some places on some unconscious trees, and these marks are mistaken by people for images. So it comes to pass that certain figures of impermanent matter occur in the eternal mind which men mistake for the real world.

12 This comparison of the carved pillar, the tree and the world, is a partial and not complete simile. The similarity refers only to the impression of the transient world on the substance of the permanent Brahma. 13 But this appearance of the world is not caused by another. It rises, lasts and sets spontaneously and of itself in the same essence of Brahma. It is the nature of the Divine Soul and the mind to raise and set such images in them, like the creations of our imagination.

14 The meaning of the word void (shunya) instead of no void (ashunya) or existence is a fiction. It is as false as emptiness is a none-existence in nature. Something must come out of something, and never from a void nothing. How can nothing be reduced to nothing in the end?

15 In answer to your second question, it has been said “and there was no darkness.” Because the divine light of Brahma (which existed before creation) is not like the light of a material luminary (which is followed by darkness). The everlasting light cannot be hidden by darkness, like sunshine or moonlight or the blazing of fire or the twinkling of stars or our eyes. 16 What we call darkness is the absence of light from the great celestial suns. God having no material property in his immaterial essence, there could be no such light or darkness with Him before creation.

17 The light of the empty Brahma is an internal perception of the soul and is only felt and perceived within one’s self, and never externally by anybody. This spiritual light is never clouded by any mist or darkness of temporal objects. 18 The indestructible Brahma is beyond and free from external and visible light and darkness. He is above the region of emptiness that is contained, as it were, within his bosom, and contains the universe sheathed within His hollow womb.

19 As there is no difference between the outside and inside of a fruit, so there is no shade of difference between Brahma and the universe. 20 As a wave is contained in and composed of water, and a clay pot of the earth, so the world being contained in Brahma, it can not be said to be null and void but is full of the spirit of God. 21 The comparison of earth and water does not agree physically with the spiritual essence of God, whose empty spirit contains and comprises the whole (vishwa, universe) within itself, as those elements have their component parts and productions. 22 Now, as the sphere of the intellect is far clearer and brighter than the spheres of air and empty space, so the sense and idea of the word “world” in the Divine Mind is clearer in a far greater degree than this visible world appears to us.

23 (In answer to the third question with regard to the lack of intellect), it is said that like the pungency of pepper is perceived by one who tastes it and not by him who has never tasted it, so the minutiae of the Intellect are known in the intellectual sphere by a cultivated intelligence, and not by one who is without it.

24 Thus the Intellect appears as no intellect to one who is devoid of Intelligence in himself. So this world is seen in the spirit of God or otherwise according to whether one has cultivated or neglected his spiritual knowledge. 25 The world can be seen either in its outward form as other than Brahma or in a spiritual light as the same with Brahma. The yogi views it in its fourth (turiya) state of utter extinction (susupta, deep sleep) in his unconscious soul. 26 Therefore the yogi, though leading a secular life, remains in deep sleep in his soul, and tranquil (shanta) in his mind. He lives like Brahma unknown to and unnoticed by others, and though knowing all and full of thoughts in himself, he is like a treasury of Knowledge, unknown to the rest of mankind.

27 (In answer to the question how corporeal beings could proceed from incorporeal Brahma,) as waves of various shapes rise and fall in the still and shapeless breast of the sea, so innumerable worlds of various forms float about in the unaltered and formless emptiness of Brahma’s bosom. 28 From the fullness of the Divine Soul (Brahmatma) proceeds the fullness of the individual soul (jivatma) that also is formless (nirakriti). This aspect of Brahma is said to be owing to the purpose of manifesting himself (as living in all living beings). 29 So the totality of worlds proceed from the fullness of Brahma, yet the same totality remains as Brahma himself.

30 Considering the world in our minds as synonymous with Brahma, we find their identity like one finds by taste that pepper and its pungency are the same thing. 31 Such being the state of the unreality of the mind and what it can perceive, their reflections upon each other are as untrue as the shadow of a shadow.

32 Know Brahma is smaller than the smallest atom and the minutest of minutest particles. He is purer than air and more tranquil than the subtle ether that is enclosed in him. 33 Unbounded by space or time, his form is the most extensive of all. He is without beginning or end, an indescribable light without brightness. 34 He is of the form of cosmic consciousness (chit) and eternal life, without the conditions and accidents of life. The Divine Mind has its will eternal and it is devoid of the desires of finite minds.

35 Without consciousness there is no life or understanding, no exercise of intellect, no organic action or sensation, and no mental desire or feeling whatever. 36 Hence the Being that is full of these powers, and who is without decline or decay, is seen by us to be seated in His state of tranquil emptiness, and is more subtle than the rarefied vacuum of the ethereal regions.

37 Rama said, “Tell me again and more precisely about the form of this transcendental Being who is of the nature of infinite intelligence so that I may have more light in my understanding.”

38 Vasishta said:—

I have told you repeatedly that there is one supreme Brahma, the cause of causes, who remains alone by Himself when the universe is finally dissolved or absorbed in Him. Listen to me describe Him fully to you.

39 That which the yogi sees within himself in his samadhi meditation, after forgetting his personality and repressing the faculties and functions of his mind, is truly the form of the unspeakable Being. 40 The yogi absorbed in meditation without awareness of the visible world or any sense of the viewer or the viewed, and who sees the light shining in himself, is the form of that Being. 41 He who has forgotten the nature of the individual soul (jiva) and his tendencies towards phenomena remains in the pure light and tranquil state of his consciousness and is the form of the Supreme Spirit. 42 He who does not feel wind or the touch of anything upon his body, but lives as a mass of intelligence in this life, is truly the form of the Supreme.

43 Again, that state of the mind which a man of sense enjoys in his long and deep sleep, undisturbed by dreams or gnats, is truly the form of the Supreme. 44 That which abides in the hearts of emptiness, air and stone, and is the intellect of all inanimate beings, is the form of the Supreme. 45 Again, whatever irrational and unconscious beings live by nature without soul or mind, the tranquil state of their existence is the nature of the Supreme Lord. 46 That which is seated in the midst of the intellectual light of the soul, and what is situated in the midst of the ethereal light of the sun, and that which is in the midst of light that we can see is truly the form of the Supreme.

47 The soul that is the witness to our knowledge of solar and visual lights and darkness, and is without beginning or end, is the form of the Supreme. 48 He who manifests this world to us and keeps Himself hidden from view, be He the same or distinct from the world, is the form of the Supreme. 49 He, though full of activity, is as sedate as a rock and who though not emptiness appears to be empty, such is the form of the Supreme.

50 He who is the source and end of our triple consciousness of the knower, known and knowledge, is most difficult of attainment. 51 He who shines forth with the luster of the triple conditions of the knowable, knower and their knowledge, and shows them to us as a large unconscious mirror, is truly the form of the Supreme who is not the cause but the source of the triple category.

52 The mind liberated from bodily activities and its dreaming, remaining concentrated in the consciousness abiding alike in all living as well as inert bodies, is said to remain in the end of our being. 53 The intelligent mind that is as fixed as an immovable body and is freed from the exercise of its faculties can be compared to the Divine Mind.