1 Vasishta said:—
Rama, when the Supreme Brahman remains in his resplendent and tranquil state (before creation), there is no essence of ethereal light or heat or even darkness produced in the intellectual spirit. (But they lie hidden there as if buried in oblivion).
2 The Being (sat) that is God begins with the attribute of intellectuality (chetya). It is from the exercise of intellect (chetana, intuitive consciousness) of his intellectual part (chetyansa) that the name of mind (chitta, the memory aspect of mind) is attributed to Him. The faculties (shakti, power) of his intellect (chit, universal consciousness) are called its intelligence (chetana, life, spirit, visible, conscious).
3 Cosmic Consciousness (chit) or Intellect, from its intelligence (chetana), then has the attribute of the individual, the individual soul (jiva) and connection with the intelligible objects in nature. Then when it is subject to intelligible objects, having a subtle, elemental form of the sense of individual self (aham matra), it can be named maya or illusion. 4 Then from the excess of its egoism (ahanta) that is full with the purposes of its mind and of the elements of sound and other sense objects, it has the attribute of understanding (buddhi, individual intelligence, the intuitive, faculty of direct intelligence controlling the sense organs, the organ of mind responsible for discrimination and judgment).
5 This (living, deluded and self reflecting) ego is puffed up with thoughts of all things and looks upon the great tree of the visible world (as the great garden for its pleasure and gain). 6 Living souls, like so many impermanent objects seen in a dream, are made to rise and fall one after the other in this great forest of the world surrounded by skies and space.
7 But the world is as continuous as a grove of karajna plants that grow from unsown seeds, and its elements of water, fire, earth and air have no regard for anybody (living or dead). 8 The Consciousness that is the soul of the universe creates the earth and all other things, like one remembers his dreams. 9 Wherever there is the germ of the world, it develops itself in that place. The live elements are the five-fold seed of the world, but the un-decaying Consciousness is the seed of the five-fold elements (pancha bhoota, i.e., earth, water, fire, air and space).
10 As the seed so is its fruit. Therefore know the world is a form and full of God. Know the spacious sky is the reservoir of the five elements in the beginning of creation.
11 The soul, like the body, is composed of the powers of Consciousness and does not exist of itself, but being inflated by Consciousness, it extends its bulk. 12 But the empty form of Consciousness, seated in the spiritual body of the soul, cannot be composed of solid reality. This is not possible. Therefore nothing can come from an impossibility.
13 Again, that which is changeable in its form cannot have its sameness at all times. Therefore, if the substance of the five elements is attributed to Brahma, from an idea within the essence of His spirit, there can be no immaterial and unchanging Brahma. (I.e., Brahma would also have to be material and subject to change.) 14 Therefore know these five elements are the developed Brahma himself as he evolved them in the beginning, and he is their producer for the creation of the world. 15 He being the prime cause of their production, there is nothing that exists without him and the world is no product of itself.
16 The unreal appears as real just like a city is seen in a dream, and like a castle built in the air by our hopes. In the same way we place the individual soul in ourselves, which has its foundation in the empty spirit of God. 17 Thus the brilliant spirit, situated in the Divine Intellect, being no earthly or any other material substance, is called the individual soul and remains in emptiness like a luminous body rising in the sky.
18 Hear now how this empty individual soul, after its detachment as a spark from the totality of vital spirits, comes to be embodied in the human body within the empty sphere of Divine Consciousness.
19 At first the soul thinks it is like a minute particle of light, then it considers itself to be growing in the sphere of its consciousness. 20 The unreal appearing real in the end proves to be unreal, just like an imaginary moon becomes nothing. So the soul continues to see itself subjectively and objectively both as the viewer and the view. 21 Thus the single self becomes double, just as one sees his own death in a dream. Thus it waxes into bigness and thinks its vital spark is a star. (This is the form of the linga deha within the body, the sentient soul, the subtle or astral body.)
22 As the soul continues to think of itself as a microcosm of the universe (vishwarupa), it falsely thinks itself to be within such reality, a thought expressed by “soham” (so am I). 23 By thinking of himself this way, a man comes to believe it to be true, just like one believes himself to be a traveler in his dream. So by thinking the soul as a star (light body), he views it so within himself.
24 By continually thinking about his soul this way, he loses his external sensations and views this star in his head. 25 He sees the soul within himself as though it exists without him, just like a mirror reflects the distant hill in itself. He sees the soul confined within him like a body stuck in a well, and like a sound is confined in the hollow of a cave. 26 Consciousness of our dreams and desires is an attribute of the individual soul whose real form is that of a star keeping watch within us.
27 Now this empty life composed of the essences of the mind — understanding and knowledge — resides in the hollow sheath of the star. 28 It appears to me to take flight to the sky in order to see what is passing there. Then it enters the body by two holes which later are named the external organs (of sight). 29 The organs by which the embodied individual soul is to see are called the eyes. That by which it feels is called the skin. Those whereby it hears are ears. 30 The organ of smell is the nose, and that which conducts flavor to the spirit, the sense of taste, is the tongue. 31 Then there is breathing air — the breath of life — which moves the energies of the organs of action. It is this air which is the cause of vision and the mover of the internal organs of mind and thought. 32 Vital breath supports the body and the all supporting soul in the emptiness of the body, and fills and kindles it like air kindles a spark of fire.
33 The word jiva or the individual soul has a figurative meaning: “something real in the unreal body.” Hence Brahma is said to be the life and soul of the unreal world. 34 The gross embodied soul is in the form of emptiness, like the mind, yet it imagines itself to reside in an egg-shaped space inside the body, as Brahma is supposed to be seated in the cosmic egg. 35 Some view the spirit of God as floating on the surface of the waters (in the form of Narayana). Others view it in the person of the Lord of creatures (Pashupati, Shiva). There are others who look at the spirit of God as infused throughout the creation in the figure of Viraj (the primordial man). These are called the subtle and gross bodies of the soul (sukshma and sthula sharira ).
36 The soul or spirit is the spacious womb of production. It is the means of executing its own purposes and of knowing the proper time and place. It is the article and the manner of action. 37 The mind is the inventor of words, expressive of ideas (in the soul), and subjects itself to the arbitrary sounds of its own invention. Hence, in this world of errors, God is falsely said to be embodied in the words (shabda Brahma, the Brahma of speech, of Mimansa philosophy).
38 The unproduced and self-born Brahma that has risen of himself (and represents the mind) is as unreal as a man dreaming he is flying in the sky. 39 This all supporting and embodied soul is the creator Lord of Creatures who is said to have formed this illusory frame of the world. 40 But in reality, nothing was formed or born, nor is there any substance to be found in the world. It is still the same empty form of Brahma whose essence is known to extend as the infinite space itself.
41 Things that appear to be real are as unreal as an imaginary city. They present a variety of forms and colors to the fancy, but have not been built or painted by anybody. 42 Nothing that is unmade or un-thought of can be real, and the gods Brahma and others, being freed from their business at the universal dissolution of existence, could neither resume their functions to make or have materials with which to make. 43 The self-born Brahma, having neither memory of the past nor any material with which to work, would not be able either to form an ideal or to make anything material. Therefore, Brahma producing anything and any formation of the universe are both impossible.
44 The earth and all other existence are the eternal ideas of the Divine Mind. They appear to us to be objects in a dream that is our waking state. 45 The Divine Spirit is known only as an emptiness, therefore the world must also be emptiness because like produces like. So all waters are liquid, though they are made to pass under different names.
46 This creation is everywhere the same in the Supreme Spirit. It is only an evolution of the same and the Creator is always and everywhere unchanging in His nature. 47 The empty universe, under the name of the cosmic egg, shines as clearly as the Divine Spirit. It is calm in its appearance and becomes disturbed by causes born in itself. 48 It is supported by the unsupported Supporter of all who is one and without a second, but devoid of unity in creation. All this is born in His consciousness and therefore there is nothing new that is produced.
49 He who is of the form of unlimited space without any emptiness in it, who is transparent yet teeming with abundance, and who is the whole world without any worldliness in him, truly underlies everything. 50 He who is neither the container nor the contained, nor the appearance of the world, who is neither the world nor its creator, and about whom there can be no dispute or disputant, is truly the unknown God. 51 He who is neither the passing world nor any of its passing things, who is quite at rest yet situated in all things (whether moving or quiescent), is the only Brahma that shines of himself in himself.
52 The idea of the fluidity of water allows our minds to form an image of a whirlpool. In the same way, the sight of the world produces the false notion of its reality in the mind. 53 All unrealities become extinct at the end, as we see the death of our frail bodies in dreams. The essential part of our soul remains unscathed because of its own nature of indestructibility in the form of everlasting consciousness in the atmosphere of our intellects.
54 Brahma, the prime Lord of creatures, is ever manifest by himself in the form of emptiness in the Supreme Spirit. He being of a spiritual form, like the mind, has no material body formed of earth or any other material. Therefore He is both real and unborn.