Chapter 14 — No Individual Souls, only One Brahma; Each Is Brahma; Brahma Creates the Rules and Delegates
1 Vasishta added:—
In this manner the visible world, I, you, and all other things are nothing. Being unmade and unborn, they are nonexistent. It is only the Supreme Spirit that exists of itself.
2 The primeval empty soul first is awakened of itself by its own energy from its quietness, then begins to have a motion in itself like the troubled waters of the deep. 3 Then it begins to reflect in itself, like in a dream or imagination, without changing its empty form, like a rock with an inner faculty of thought.
4 The body of the great god Viraj (“Untainted”) is also devoid of any material form, whether earthly or any other elemental shape. It is purely a spiritual, intellectual and ethereal form, as transparent as the ether itself. 5 It is without decay, steady like a rock, and as airy as a city seen in a dream. It is inert as the line of a regiment painted in a picture. 6 All other souls are like pictures of dolls and puppets painted, and not engraved, on the body of Viraj like on a huge pillar. He, standing as an uncarved column in the empty sphere of Brahma, represents all souls (and not bodies) as they are mere pictures on it.
7 The prime lord of creatures is said to be self-born. He is known as the uncreated (Brahma) for want of his prior acts to cause his birth. 8 The primeval patriarchs (progenitors) who obtain their ultimate liberation at the final dissolution of the world have no antecedent cause to be reborn as unliberated mortals. 9 Brahma, who is the reflector of all souls, is himself invisible in the inward mirror of other souls. He is neither the view nor the viewer, and neither the creation nor the creator himself.
10 Therefore, although Brahma has nothing that can be described, and has nothing that may be affirmed or denied about Him, yet He is the soul of everything that can be described. He is the source of these chains of living beings, just as light is the cause of a line of lighted lamps in illuminations.
11 The will of the gods (Brahma and Viraj), proceeding from the volition of Brahma, is of the same spiritual nature as the other; just as one dream rising in another is equally as insubstantial as the first. 12 Hence all individual souls evolved from the breathing of the Supreme Spirit are of the same nature as their origin because there is nothing else that could cause or contribute towards cause. 13 Lack of a secondary agency produces the equality of effects and their cause. Hence the uniformity of created things proves wholly false any conception of their creation by a secondary cause.
14 Brahma himself is the prime soul of Viraj and is identical with him, and Viraj is the soul of creation and identical with it. He is the empty vitality of all, and it is from Him that the unreal earth and other things have their rise. (Viraj is the spirit of God diffused in nature.)
15 Rama said, “Tell me whether the individual soul is a limited thing or an unlimited mass of life? Or does the unbounded spirit of God exist in the shape of a mountainous heap of individual souls? 16 Are these individual souls like showers of rain falling from above, or like the drizzling drops of waves in the vast ocean of creation, or like the sparks of fire struck out of a red-hot iron? From where do they flow, and by whom are they emitted? 17 Sage, tell me the truth concerning the profusion of individual souls. Though I have a partial knowledge of it, I require your more complete and clear explanation.”
18 Vasishta replied:—
There is only one individual soul of the universe so you can not call it a multitude. Therefore your question is quite out of place, like a question about the horns of rabbits.
19 There are no detached individual souls, O Rama, nor are they to be found in multitudes anywhere, nor was there a mountainous heap of souls known to have existed at anytime. 20 “Jiva”, the individual soul, is only a fictitious word with many more fictions heaped upon it, all of which, as you must know for certain, does not apply to the soul.
21 There is only one pure and immaculate Brahma who is mere Consciousness (chinmatram) and all pervasive. He assumes to himself all attributes by His almighty power. (Here Brahma is represented not only as omniscient and omnipotent, but also as saguna, with attributes, by his assumption of all attributes.)
22 Many regard the individual soul as evolving itself from Consciousness into the many visible and invisible forms (murta-mutam), just like a plant is seen to develop itself into its fruits and flowers. 23 They add the attributes of the living principle — understanding, action, motion, mind and unity and duality — to the soul as if these appertain to its nature. 24 But all this is caused by ignorance, while right understanding assigns them to Brahma. The ignorant are bewildered by these different views of the soul, and they will not be awakened to sense. 25 These different believers are lost in their various views like light is lost under darkness. They will never come to the knowledge of truth.
26 Know that Brahma himself is the individual soul without any divisibility or distinction. He is without beginning or end. He is omnipotent and is of the form of the great Consciousness which forms his essence. 27 His lack of minuteness (his fullness) in all places precludes the ability to give him any distinctive name. Whatever attributes are given to him are all to be understood to mean Brahma himself.
28 Rama asked, “How is it, O holy one, that the totality of the individual souls in the world is guided by the will of one Universal Soul that governs the whole and to which all others are subject?”
29 Vasishta replied:—
Brahma, the great individual soul and omnipotent power, remained from eternity with his will to create without partition or alteration of himself. 30 Whatever is wished by that great soul comes to take place immediately. The wish it first formed in its unity became a positive duality at last. Then its wish “to be many” became separate existences afterwards. 31 All these dualities of His self-divided powers (the different individual souls) had their several routines of action allotted to them, such as “this is for that,” meaning “this being is for that duty, and such action is for such end.” 32 Thus though there can be no act without effort (by the general rule as in the case of mortals), yet the predominant will of Brahma is always prevailing without effort to action.
33 Though living beings effect their purposes by exertion of their energies, yet they can effect nothing without acting according to the law appointed by the predominant power. 34 If the law of the predominant power is effective to attain an end, then the exertions of the subordinate powers (the individual souls) to that end must also be successful. 35 Thus Brahma alone is the great individual soul that exists forever and without end, and these millions of living beings in the world are nothing other than agents of the divine energies.
36 It is with a consciousness of the intellectual soul (the inner knowledge of God within themselves) that all individual souls are born in this world. But losing that consciousness (their knowledge of God) afterwards, they became alienated from him. 37 Hence men of inferior souls should pursue the course of conduct led by superior souls in order to regain their spiritual life (atmajivatwam), just like copper becomes transformed into gold (by chemical process). 38 Thus the whole body of living beings that had been as nonexistent as air before comes into existence and rises resplendent with wonderful intellect. 39 Whoever perceives this wonderful intellect in his mind, then gets a body and the consciousness of his egoism, is said to be an embodied individual soul.
40 The mind gratified with intellectual delights becomes as expanded as the intellect itself and thinks those pleasures constitute the sum total of worldly enjoyments. 41 Consciousness is said to remain unchanged in all its succeeding stages, and although it never changes from that state, yet it awakes (develops) by a power intrinsic in itself. 42 The uninterrupted activity of Consciousness indulges itself in the amusement of manifesting phenomena in the form of the world.
43 The extent of the intellectual faculty is wider and more rarefied than the surrounding air, yet it perceives its distinct egoism by itself and of its own nature. 44 Its knowledge of self springs of itself in itself like water in a fountain. It perceives itself (its ego) to be only an atom amidst endless worlds. 45 It also perceives in itself the beautiful and wonderful world which is amazing to understanding and which thereafter is named the universe.
46 Now Rama, our egoism, being only a conception of the intellect, is a mere fiction (kalpana). The elementary principles being only creatures of egoism, they are also fictions of the intellect. 47 Again the individual soul being only a result of our acts and desires, you have to renounce these causes in order to get rid of your knowledge of “I” and “you” and then, after discarding the fictions of the real and unreal, you attain to the knowledge of the true One.
48 As the sky looks as clear as before after the shadows of clouds are dispersed from it, so the soul, after its overshadowing fictions have been removed, looks as bright as it existed at first in Consciousness.
49 The universe is a vacuum and the world is a name for the field of our exertions. This emptiness is the abode of the gods (Vishwa and Viraj, both of whom are formless). The wonderful frame of plastic nature is only a form of the formless consciousness and nothing else.
50 One’s nature never leaves him at anytime. How then can a form or figure be given to the formless Divinity? 51 Divine Intellect is exempt from all the names and forms given to unintelligent worldly things, it pervading and enlivening all that shines in the world. (Intellect or consciousness is the power of understanding.) 52 The mind, understanding and egoism, with the five elements, hills, skies and all other things that compose and support the world, are made of essences proceeding from consciousness. (The intellect gathering information contains all things.)
53 Know that the world is the mind (chitta) of the consciousness (chit) of God because mind does not exist without the world. If the world did not exist, that would prove that the mind and consciousness, which consist of the world, do not exist. (Therefore, the intelligent world is identical to the mind and intellect of God.)
54 The intellect, like the pepper seed, possesses an exquisite property within itself. Like the flavor of pepper, the intellect has the element of the individual soul, which is the element of animated nature.
55 As the mind exerts its power and assumes its sense of egoism, it derives the principle of the individual soul from the Intellect, which with its breath of life and action is afterwards called a living being. (The mind is what thinks, moves and acts.) 56 Consciousness (chit), exhibiting itself as the mind (chitta), bears the name of the purpose it has to accomplish which, being temporary and changeable, is different from Consciousness and a non-existence. 57 The distinction of actor and act does not consist in Consciousness, it being eternal. Neither is Consciousness the author or the work itself. But the individual soul, which is active and productive of acts, is called purusha — the embodied soul residing in the body. It is action which makes a man purusha, from which is derived his manhood (paurusha).
58 Life with the action of the mind constitutes the mind of man. The mind taking a sensitive form employs the organs of sense to their different functions. 59 He, the Consciousness whose radiant light is the cause of infinite blessings to the world, is both its author and the workmanship from all eternity. There is none beside Him. 60 Hence the ego or individual soul in its essence is indivisible, uninflammable, and incapable of being soiled or dried. It is everlasting and infinite, and as immovable as a mountain.
61 There are many that dispute this point, as they in their error dispute other matters and mislead others into the same errors. But we are set free from all mistake. 62 The dualist (who makes a distinction between eternal and created souls), relying on phenomena, is deceived by their varying appearances. But the believer in the formless unity relies on the everlasting blessed Spirit.
63 Fondness for intellectual culture is attended with the spring blossoms of intellect that are as white as the clear sky and as numberless as the parts of time.
64 Consciousness exhibits itself in the form of the boundless and wonderful universal egg, and it breathes out the breath of its own spirit in the same egg. 65 Then it shows itself in the wonderful form of the primordial waters, not as they rise from springs or fall into reservoirs, but like those substances that constitute the bodies of the best of beings. 66 It next shines forth with its own intellectual light, which shines as bright as the humid beams of the full moon. 67 Then as Consciousness rises in full light with its internal knowledge, phenomena disappear from sight. In the same way, Consciousness is transformed to dullness by dwelling upon gross objects, when it is said to be lying dormant. In this state of Consciousness, it is lowered and confined to the earth.
68 The world is in motion by the force of Consciousness in whose great emptiness it is settled. The world is lighted by the light of that Consciousness, and is therefore said to both exist and not exist by itself. 69 Like the emptiness of that Intellect, the world is said now to exist and now to be nonexistent. Like the light of that Intellect, the world now appears and now disappears from view. 70 Like the fleeting wind breathed by that Intellect, the world is now in existence and now nonexistent. Like the cloudy and unclouded sphere of that Intellect, the world is now in being and now not in being. 71 Like the broad daylight of that Intellect, the world is now in existence, and like the disappearance of that light, it now becomes nothing. It is formed of the active (rajas) quality of the Intellect, like black collyrium eyeliner made from particles of oil.
72 It is Intellectual fire that gives warmth to the world. It is the alabaster of the Intellect that causes its whiteness. The rock of Intellect gives it hardness, and its water causes its fluidity. 73 The sweetness of the world is derived from the sugar of the Intellect, and its juiciness from the milk in the Divine Mind. Its coldness is from the ice, and its heat from the fire contained in the same. 74 The world is oily by the mustard seeds contained in Consciousness and billowy in the sea of the Divine Mind. It is sweet by the honey and golden by the gold contained in the same. 75 The world is a fruit of the tree of Consciousness and its fragrance is derived from the flowers growing in the tree of the mind. It is the existence of Consciousness that gives the world its being, and it is the mold of the Eternal Mind that gives its form.
76 The difference is that this world is changing while the clear atmosphere of Consciousness has no change in it. The unreal world becomes real when it is seen as full of the Divine Spirit. 77 The unchanging sameness of the Divine Spirit makes the existence and nonexistence of the world the same. The words ‘part’ and ‘whole’ are wholly meaningless because both are full with the Divine Spirit.
78 Shame on those who deride ideas as false talk because the world — with its hills, and seas, earth and rivers — is all untrue without the idea of God’s presence in it. 79 Consciousness being an unity cannot be mistaken for a part of anything. Though it may become as solid as a stone, yet it shines brightly in the sphere of its emptiness. 80 It has a clear empty space in its inside, like a transparent crystal, that reflects the images of all objects, though it is as clear as the sky. 81 As the lines on the leaves of trees are neither parts of the leaves nor distinct from them, so the world situated in Consciousness is not part of it or separate from it.
82 No detached soul is a varied growth, but retains in its nature the nature of consciousness, and Brahma is the primary cause of causes. 83 The mind is of its own nature a causal principle, by reason of its idea of the Intellect, but its existence is hard to prove when it is insensible and unconscious of the Intellect. 84 Whatever is in the root comes out in the tree, just as we see seeds shoot forth in plants of its own species.
85 All the worlds are as empty as emptiness, yet they appear otherwise because they are situated in the Great Consciousness. All this is the seat of the Supreme, and you must know it by your exercise of intellect.
86 As the sage spoke these words, the day declined to its evening twilight. The assembly broke with mutual salutations, to perform their evening rituals, and, after dispersion of the nocturnal gloom, met again at the court hall with the rising sunbeams.