Chapter 60 — Time & Reality Are Relative

Vasishta said:—

Prince, I have told you this story in order to remove your error of the phenomenal world. Remember this tale of Leela and renounce your misconception of the gross material world.

The substantiality of phenomena is a nothing by itself. No pains are required to invalidate it. It is hard to disprove a reality, but there is no difficulty to efface a falsehood from the mind. True knowledge consists in seeing phenomena as void and knowing the one emptiness to the sole unity and real entity. In the end, one loses himself in this infinite emptiness.

When the self-born Brahma created the world from nothing, without the aid of any material or elemental body, it is obvious that there was an eternal void and that all these are only manifestations of the empty soul. The same creative soul spread the seeds of its consciousness into the stream of creation, and these produce the images as they constantly appear to us, unless we take the pains to repress them. The appearance of the world is only a perspective of the environment that is Divine Consciousness. It is contained in the small space of human consciousness within the soul, like in a transparent particle of sand.

This being the case, then what is the essence of this false conception, and what are our desires to rely on it, and what can be the meaning of either destiny or necessity? This entire whole that is visible to the eye is only false appearance, like magic. There is no truth or substance in a magic show.

Rama said, “What a wonderful explanation of the world that you have given me! It refreshes my soul, like moonbeams revive the blades of grass that have been burnt down by a fire. 10 After so long, I have come to know the truly knowable: such as what and how it is, and the manner how, from where, and when it is to be known. 11 I have my peace and rest in pondering on this wonderful theory, and your elucidation of the doctrines of the Sruti scriptures.”

12 “But tell me this one thing to remove my doubt, as my ears are never satisfied drinking the nectar-like juice of your sweet speech. 13 How much time elapsed during the three births of Leela’s husband? Was it the duration of a day and night in one case, and of a month in another, and the period of a whole year in the case of Viduratha? 14 Or did any one of them live for many years, and whether they were of short or longer durations according to the measure of men, gods or Brahma.”

15 “Please sage, kindly tell me this, because little hearing is not sufficient for me, like a drop of water is not enough to moisten the parched ground of summer heat.”

16 Vasishta said:—

Know sinless Rama, that whoever thinks of anything in any manner at any place or time, he comes to feel the same in the same manner, and in the same place and time.

17 Take for instance a destructive poison that becomes like ambrosia to venomous insects that take it for their dainty nourishment. Similarly, an enemy turns to a friend by your friendly behavior to him. 18 The manner in which any being considers itself and all others for a length of time becomes the same they appear by its mode and habit of thinking, as if it were by an act of destiny.19 The manner in which the active intellect represents a thing in the soul is imprinted in its consciousness of its own nature.

20 When our consciousness represents a twinkling of the eye to extend over a kalpa age, we are led to believe a single moment is an age of long duration. 21 When we are conscious of or think a kalpa age to be only a twinkling, the kalpa age is thought to pass as quickly as a moment. A long night in our unconscious sleep appears as a moment upon waking. 22 The night appears to be a long age to the long suffering sick, while it seems like a moment in the nightly revels of the merry. So a moment appears as an age in the dream, and an age passes off as a moment in the state of unconsciousness.

23 The notions of the resurrection of the dead and of one’s reincarnation and being reborn in a new body, of his being a boy, youth or old man, and of his migrations to different places at the distance of hundreds of leagues are all only the phenomena of sleep and retrospective views in a dream.

24 King Harish Chandra is said to have thought a single night to be a dozen years. The prince Lavana passed his long life of a hundred years over the space of a single night. 25 What was a moment to Brahma was the entire age of the life-time of Manu. What is a day to Vishnu constitutes the long period of the lifetime of Brahma. 26 The entire lifetime of Vishnu is only one day of sedate Shiva. One whose mind is motionless in fixed meditation is unconscious of the change of days and nights and of seasons and years.

27 There is no substance and no substantive world in the mind of the meditative yogi to whom the sweet pleasures of the world appear bitter, as they are thought to be the bane of his true joy. 28 The bitter seems to be sweet by being thought to be so. What is unfavorable becomes favorable as that which is friendly comes to be unfriendly by being taken in their opposite senses.

29 Thus Rama, it is by habitual meditation that we gain the abstract knowledge of things. We forget what we learned if we do not repeat and practice. 30 By their habit of thinking, some find everything in a state of positive rest, while the unthinking fall into the errors of the ever-moving world, like a boat passenger thinks the land and objects on the shore are moving around him. 31 The unthinking part of mankind, and those wandering in their error, think the world to be moving about them. But the thinking mind sees the whole as an empty void and full of phantoms, like one sees in his dream.

32 It is false thought that shows white as black and blue. It is mistaken judgment that makes one rejoice or sorrow at the events of life. 33 The unthinking are led to imagine a house where there is none. The ignorant are infatuated with a belief in ghosts, as they are the killers of their lives. 34 It is reminiscence or memory that raises the dream as its consort and that represents things as they are presented to it by the thoughts of the waking state. 35 The dream is as unreal as the empty void abiding in the hollow receptacle of the intellectual soul. It spreads over the mind like the shadow of a cloud and fills it with images like those of a puppet-show under a magic lantern.

36 Know the phenomena of the revolving worlds to be no more in reality than mere effects of the vibrations of the mind in the empty space of the soul, like the motions and gestures of imagined hobgoblins to the sight of children. 37 All this is only a magical illusion without any substance or basis of itself. All these imposing scenes of vision are only the empty and aerial sights of dreams.

38 Just as a waking man beholds the wonderful world before him, so does a sleeping man see the same. Both of them resemble the unconscious pillar that finds images of statues engraved upon it. 39 The Divine Spirit’s great monument is the figure of the created world carved in itself, as if I see a troop of soldiers passing before me in my dream. 40 This waking world sleeps in the soul of Brahma and rises in his mind like the plant world springs from sap lying hidden in the earth that gives it its growth and spring bloom. 41 Likewise, creation lies hidden in and springs from the Supreme Spirit, like the brightness of gold ornaments is contained in and comes out of the material metal.

42 Every atom of creation is settled in the fullness of Divine Spirit, just like all the members of the body are set in the person of their possessor. 43 The visible world has the same relation to the bodiless and undivided spirit of God as one fighting in a dream bears to his enemy (both believe in their reality, while both are unreal in their bodies). 44 Thus the real and unreal, the spirit and the world, all dwindles into emptiness at the great fantasy annihilation of creation, except the consciousness of God which comprises the world in itself.

45 The causality of the One and the unreality of the world cannot both be true (since nothing unreal can come out of the real). Except Brahman, there is no other cause, whether Brahma the Creator or any other. The Divine Consciousness is the only cause and substance of its productions.

46 Rama asked, “But what caused the citizens, counselors and ministers of Viduratha’s royal house to appear in Leela’s vision in the same manner as that of her lord the king?”

47 Vasishta said:—

All other thoughts are associated with the principal one in the intellect, in the same manner as high winds accompany a storm.

48 The association of thoughts follows one another in a long and perpetual train and, one after the other, caused the succession of the sights of the ministers, citizens and subjects of the king in Leela’s vision. 49 In this way the thought that the king was born of such and such a family naturally introduced the thoughts of his palace and city and of those that dwelt in them. 50 It is vain to inquire into the cause and manner of consciousness and each combination of its thoughts. This is why it is called the gem of thoughts (chintamani, the wish-fulfilling jewel). It is always accompanied with its radiating thoughts like a brilliant gem with its rays.

51 Padma thought to become a king like Viduratha, properly discharging the duties of his royal family. This constant thought of himself as such cast the mold of the mind and manner of Viduratha upon him.

52 All animate beings of every kind are only models of their own thoughts, like looking-glasses showing their inner reflections to sight. 53 The mind fixed in meditation on God remains unshaken amidst the turmoil of the world and is filled with perfect rest and preserves the composure of the soul until its final liberation from the bondage of the body.

54 But thoughts of fluctuating enjoyments of this world alternately represented in the mirror of the mind are like the shadows of passing scenes upon a looking glass. 55 Therefore it requires a great force of mind to overcome its worldly thoughts and turn them to the channel of truth, just like the greater force of a river’s main current leads its tributaries to the ocean. 56 But when worldly and spiritual thoughts press upon the mind with equal force, the mind is greatly disturbed. Then the greater force leads it onward in one way or the other. 57 Such is the case with all the myriads of beings, whether they are living, dead or to come to life. The same accidents take place in the particles of all human minds.

58 All this is the empty sphere of Consciousness, all quiet and without any basis or substratum. It is neither peopled nor filled by anything except its own native thoughts. 59 All these appear as dreams, even in our unsleeping states, and have no form or figure in the sight of the wise. The perception of their positive existence is only a misconception of their negative nonexistence. 60 There really exists only one omnipotent and all pervasive Spirit which shows itself in diverse forms like flowers, fruits and tree leaves all appearing from the same woody trunk. 61 He who knows the uncreated Brahman to be the measurer, measure and the thing measured to be all one and himself can never forget this certain truth of unity, nor ever fall into the dualism error of cause and effect.

62 There is only one Being (sat) who is holy and without beginning and who, though he appears to have forms of light and darkness, and of space and time, never rises or sets anywhere. He is without beginning, middle or end. He remains like a vast expanse of water exhibiting itself in its waves and currents. 63 The notion of myself, yourself and the objective world are only expressions of our perverted understandings. It is only ignorance within the sheath of the mind, according as it imagines it to be, that shows the One as many.