Chapter 67 — Lecture on Creation: Still Consciousness & Moving Thoughts
1 Rama said, “Leaving the mind, please tell me more about the nature of the individual soul. What relation does it have to the Supreme Soul? How did the individual soul spring from the Supreme Soul and what is its essence?”
2 Vasishta replied:—
Know that Brahma is omnipresent and is the Lord of all at all times. He manifests himself in whatever attribute he assumes to himself of his free will. 3 The attribute which the Universal Soul assumes to itself in the form of perception (chetana) is known by the term “individual soul”, which possesses the power of volition in itself.
4 There are two causal principles combined with the individual soul, namely its predestination resulting from its prior acts and volitions and its later free will. These branch forth severally into the various causes of birth, death and existence of beings.
5 Rama said, “Such being the case, tell me, O greatest of sages, what does this predestination mean? What are these acts and how do they become the causal agents of subsequent events?”
6 Vasishta replied:—
Consciousness (chit) has its own nature or properties of vibration and rest, like the movement and stillness of wind in the air. Its agitation is the cause of its action. Otherwise it is calm and quiet as a dead block of stone. 7 Its vibration appears in the fluctuations of the mind and its calmness in the lack of mental activity and exertions, as in the detachment of the stillness of yoga meditation.
8 The vibrations of consciousness, which are the movements of thoughts, lead to its continual rebirths; its quietness settles it in the state of the immovable Brahma. The movement of thought is known to be the cause of the living state and all its actions. 9 This vibrating intellect is the thinking Soul, and it is known as the living agent of actions, the primary seed of the universe. 10 This secondary soul then assumes a luminous form according to the light of its thoughts, and afterwards becomes many and diverse at its will and through the pulsations of the primary consciousness all over the creation. 11 The pulsating intellect or soul, having passed through many transformations, is at last freed from its motion and migration. Some souls pass through a thousand births and forms while others obtain their liberation in a single birth. 12 The human soul, being a pulsating intellect, is of its own nature prone to assume dualism. So it becomes its own cause of its reincarnations and sufferings, as also of its transient bliss or misery in heaven or hell.
13 As the same gold is changed into the forms of bracelets and other things, and as the same gross matter appears in the different forms of wood and stone, so the uniform soul of God appears as multiform according to his various modes and attributes. 14 An error of the human mind makes it view the forms as realities. It is a fallacy that causes one to think his soul, which is free from birth and form, is born, lives and dies, just like a man sees a city rise and fall in his delirium.
15 The moving, varying intellect, ignorant of its unity with the unchangeable reality of God, and also desiring its enjoyment peculiar to its varied state, falsely conceives its unreal ego-identity as reality. 16 As Lavana, the King of Mathura, falsely thought he was an outcaste tribal, so consciousness thinks on its own different states of existence and that of the world. 17 All this world is the phantom of an false imagination, O Rama! It is no more than the swelling of the waters of the deep. 18 Consciousness is always busy exercising the intellect of its own intelligences and the innate principles of its action. It is like the sea seen swelling with its waters moving of themselves in waves. 19 The intellect is like the water in the wide expanse of Brahma. Its movement raises the waving thoughts in the mind, resembling the bubbles of water, and produces the revolutions of individual souls like eddies in the sea of this world. 20 Know your soul, O gentle Rama, to be a phenomenon of the all pervading Brahma who is both the subject and object of his consciousness, and who has placed a particle of himself in you, like the breath of a mighty lion.
21 The intellect with its consciousness constitutes the individual soul, and the soul with the will forms the mind. Its knowing power is understanding and its retentiveness is called its memory. Its subjectivity of selfishness is called egoism, and its error is called illusion (maya).
22 The mind by its imagination stretches out this world which is as false as the phantom of paradise or a city drawn in air. 23 The objective knowledge of the world in the mind is as false as the appearance of chains of pearls in the sky, or like visionary scenes in a dream. 24 The soul, ever pure and self sufficient in its nature, remaining in its own state of tranquility, is not perceived by the misdirected mind dwelling on its delusive dreams.
25 The objective world is called waking (jagata) because it is perceived in the waking state of the soul. The subjective mind is allied to sleep (swapna) because the mind is active during sleeping and dreaming states. Ego is related to deep sleep (susupta) when we are unconscious of ourselves. The fourth state or pure Consciousness (turiya or turya) is the trance or hibernation of the soul.
26 That which is above these four conditions is the state of ultimate bliss: ecstasy. It is by reliance on that supremely pure essence of God that one is exempt from all his causes of grief and sorrow. 27 Everything is displayed in Him and all things are absorbed in Him. This world is neither a reality here nor there. It presents only the false appearance of strings of pearls in the sky.
28 And yet God is said to be the cause and substratum of all these unobstructed phantoms rising to view, just as empty air is said to be the receptacle for rising trees. Thus the non-causing God is said to be the cause of this uncaused world which only exists in our illusive conceptions and presents itself to our delusive sensations of it. 29 As a polished piece of iron reflects a grosser piece, so do our finer or inner sensations take the representations of the gross forms of their particular objects. 30 These sensations are conveyed to the mind, then to the individual soul and intellect in the same manner as the roots supply sap to the stem, then to the branches, and lastly to the fruits of trees. 31 As a seed produces fruit and the fruit contains the seed in itself, so the intellect producing the mind and its thoughts can not get rid of them, but is contained in and is reproduced by them in successive reincarnations.
32 There is some difference between the comparison of the unconscious seed and tree with the conscious intellect and mind, but the thoughts of the creator and creation, like the seed and tree, reproduce one another without end. 33 There is this difference between the unconscious seed and conscious intellect: the former continually reproduces itself, while the latter ceases its process upon attainment of liberation. Yet the ideas of creator and creation reproduce each other without end.
34 Yet our understanding shows it as clearly as sunlight reveals forms and colors of objects: that there is one eternal God of truth who is of the form of intellectual light and who shows the forms of all things that proceed from him.
35 As a hole dug in the ground presents a hollow, so the reasoning of every system of sound philosophy establishes the existence of the transcendental void as the cause of all. 36 As a prismatic crystal represents various colors in its prisms, without being tinged by them, so the transparent essence of Brahma shows the groups of worlds in its hollow bosom without its connection with them.
37 The Universal Soul is the source, and not the substance of all these vast masses of worlds, just as the seed is the embryo and not the matter of the trees and plants and their fruits and flowers that grow from them.
38 Rama said, “O how wonderful is this world which presents its unreality as a reality to us in all its endless forms! Though situated in the Divine Self, it appears to be quite apart from it. O how it makes its minuteness seem so very immense to us! 39 I see how this shadowy scene of the world appearing in the Divine Soul and becoming like an orb by virtue of the ideal particles (tanmatras) of the divine essence in it. I find it like a snow ball or icicle made of frozen frost.”
40 “Now tell me sage, how do the spiritual particles increase in bulk? How was the body of the self-born Brahma produced from Brahman? Tell me also how these objects in nature come into existence in their material forms?”
41 Vasishta replied:—
This form which sprang of itself from its own essence is too incredible and is without parallel. It is altogether inconceivable how something is produced of its own conception.
42 Just imagine, O Rama, how the unexpanded phantom of a vetala ghost swells huge in the sight of fearful children. Then in the same manner imagine the appearance of the living spirit from the entity of Brahma. 43 This living spirit is a development of Brahma, the Universal Soul. It is holy and a commensurable and finite being. Having a personality of its own, it remains as an impersonal unreality in the essence of the self-existent God. Afterwards, being separated from its source, it has a different name given to it.
44 As Brahma, the all extended and infinite soul, wills and becomes the definite individual soul, so the living spirit, by its volition, afterwards becomes the mind. 45 The mind, which is the principle of exercise of intellect, takes a form of its own. Likewise, life assumes an airy form in the midst of emptiness. 46 The wakeful living god, without anything whereby we measure time, is yet conscious of its course by means of his thoughts. He has the notion of a brilliant icicle of the form of the future cosmic egg in his mind. 47 Then the individual soul feels in itself the sense of its consciousness and by thinking “What am I?” is conscious of its egoism.
48 Next this god finds in his understanding knowledge of the word “taste” and gets the notion of it becoming the object of a particular organ of sense, to be hereafter called “the tongue.” 49 The individual soul then finds out in his mind the meaning of the word “light,” which was afterwards to sparkle in the eye, the particular organ of sight. 50 Next the god comes to know in his mind the property of smell and the organ of smelling, and also the substance of earth to which it appertains as its inseparable property. 51 In this manner the individual soul becomes acquainted with the other sensations and the organs to which they appertain as their inseparable properties and objects.
52 The unsubstantial living spirit which derives its being from the essence of the substantial Brahma, comes next to acquire the knowledge of sound, the object of the organ of hearing, and the property of air. 53a It then comes to understand the meaning of the word touch as the medium of feeling, and also to know the tongue as the only organ of taste. 53b It finds the property of color to be the peculiar object of the eye, the organ of sight, and that smell is an object peculiar to the nose, the organ of the sense of smelling. 54 The individual soul is thus the common receptacle of the sensations, and source of the senses, which it develops afterwards in the organs of sense in the body. It perceives the sensation of sensible objects through the perceptive holes that convey their perceptions into the sensorium of the mind.
55 Such, O Rama, is how it was with the first animated being. It remains like this with all living animals. All sensations are represented in the Soul of the world in its spiritual form (ativahika) called the subtle body or astral body (sukshma or lingadeha). 56 The nature of this abstruse essence is as indefinable as that of the spirit. It appears to be in motion when it really is at rest, as in our idea of the soul. 57 As measure and dimensions are foreign to our notion of Brahma, the all conscious Soul, so they are quite foreign to spirit also, which is no more than the motive power of the soul. 58 As the notion of the spiritual is distinct from material and corporeal, so the notion of Brahma is quite apart from everything, except that of his self-consciousness.
59 Rama said, “If consciousness is identical with Brahma, and our consciousness of ourselves as Brahma, make us identical with Brahma Himself, then what is the use of devising a duality of the soul, or of talking of the liberation and final absorption of the one in the other?”
60 Vasishta replied:—
Rama, your question is irrelevant at this time when I was going to prove another thing. Nothing can be appropriate out of its proper time and place, as the untimely offering of flowers is not acceptable to the gods. 61 A word full of meaning becomes meaningless out of its proper place, just like the offering of flowers to gods and guests out of their proper time. 62 There is a time to introduce a subject and another to hold silence over it. Everything becomes fruitful in its proper season. 63 But to resume our subject.
The individual soul afterwards appears from Him like the human soul appears in dreaming, and the individual soul thought in himself that he was the great father of created beings in time to come. 64 He uttered the syllable Om and was conscious of its meaning in his mind, which soon displayed all forms of beings to his mental vision. 65 All these were unrealities displayed in the empty sphere of the Divine Mind. The shadowy world seemed like a huge mountain floating in the air before him.
66 It was neither born of itself nor was it made by Brahma. It is not destroyed at anytime by any other power. It was Brahma himself, appearing like the phantom of city in the sky. 67 As the living Brahma and other spiritual beings are unreal in their nature, so also the essences of other beings, from the big giant to the little ant, are only mere unrealities in their substance. 68 It is our false understanding that represents these unrealities as real ones to us. Clear understanding will find all things, from the great Brahma down to the minutest insect, to vanish entirely from its sight.
69 The same cause that produces Brahma also produces insects. It is the greater depravity of the mind that causes its rebirth in the contemptible forms of worms. 70 The living being possessed of a rational soul and devoted to the cultivation of the mind attains to the state of man. He then acts righteously for attaining a better state in after life.
71 It is wrong to suppose that one’s elevation is the result of the merit of his acts, and his degradation to the condition of worms to result from his former acts of demerit, because there is the same particle of consciousness in both. This being known will destroy the mistaken difference between the great and small. 72 The notions of the measurer, measure and measurable are not separate from consciousness (or mind). Therefore the controversy between unity and duality is as futile as the horns of a rabbit or a lake of lotuses in the air.
73 It is our misconception of blissful Brahma that produces the wrong notion of solid substances in us. This imagination of our own making binds us like silk-worms are bound in cocoons formed by their own saliva fluid.
74 The knower perceives everything in his mind as revealed by Brahma. The knower meets with everything as allotted by God for his share. 75 It is the immutable law of nature that nothing can be otherwise than what it is ordained to be. There is nothing in nature that can change its nature for a minute in a whole kalpa age. 76 And yet this creation is a false phantom, and so is the growth and dissolution of all created beings, as is also our enjoyment of them.
77 Brahma is pure, all pervading, infinite and absolute. It is only for our misery that we take him for impure matter and unreal substance, and as definite and limited pluralities. 78 It is the spoiled imagination of children that fancies water and its waves to be different things and makes a false distinction between those which really are the same thing. 79 It is His undivided self that expands itself in visible nature, and which appears like a duality, like waves and the sea, and bracelets and gold. Thus He of himself appears as other than himself.
80 We are led to imagine the visible and changing world as having sprung from the invisible and immutable spirit which manifests itself in the form of the mind that produced the ego. Thus we have the visible from the invisible, and the mind and the ego from the same source. 81 Mind joined with ego produces notions of elementary principles or elemental particles that the individual soul, combined with its intellect, derives from the main source of Brahma, and of which it formed the phenomenal world.
82 Thus the mind being realized from Brahma sees before it whatever it imagines. Whatever consciousness thinks upon, whether it is a reality or unreality, the same comes to take place. The reflection truly passes into reality.