Chapter 80 — The Minister’s Answers

Vasishta continued:—

After the giant-like descendent of rakshasas had asked her occult questions in the deep gloom of night in that thick forest, the good and great minister began to give his replies.

The minister said:—

Hear me, you dark and cloud-like form, unravel your riddling questions with as much ease as a lion foils the fury of gigantic elephants. All your questions relate to the Supreme Spirit and are framed in enigmatic language to test the force of our penetration into their hidden meanings.

The soul is identical to consciousness which is more minute than a particle of air. That is the atomic principle that you asked about because it is a nameless atom imperceptible by the six organs of sense and unintelligible to the mind. Underlying the atomic consciousness is the minute seed that contains this universe. Whether it is a substantial or unsubstantial reality, nobody can say.

It is called a reality from our notion of it being the soul of all by itself. It is from that soul that all other existences have come in to being. It is a void from its outward emptiness, but it is no void as regards its consciousness (which is a reality). Because it cannot be perceived, it is said to be nothing, but because it is imperishable, it is a subtle something. It is not a nothing because it permeates all things. All things are only reflections of the minute Consciousness, and its unity shines forth in the plurality, all which is as unreal as the form of a bracelet made of gold substance.

This atom is the transcendental vacuum. It is imperceptible owing to its minuteness. Though it is situated in all things, it is unperceived by the mind and external senses. 10 Its universal permeation cannot make it nothing, because all that exists is not That, which alone is known as the thinking principle that makes us speak, see and act. 11 No kind of reasoning can establish the non-entity of real existence because it is not capable of being seen by anybody. Yet the Universal Soul is known in its hidden form, like the unseen camphor by its smell.

12 The unlimited soul resides in all limited bodies, and the atomic consciousness pervades the vast universe in the same manner as the mind fills all bodies in its purely subtle state unknown to the senses. 13 It is one and all, unity as well as plurality, because it is the soul of each and all, both singly as well as collectively, and because it supports and contains each and all by and within itself. 14 All these worlds are like little billows in the vast ocean of Divine Consciousness whose intelligence, like a liquid body, shows itself in the form of eddies in the water. 15 This minute intellect, being imperceptible to the senses and the mind, is said to be of the form of emptiness. But being perceived by our consciousness, it is not a nothing, although of the nature of a void in itself.

16 I am That and so are you by our conviction of the unity. But if we only believe ourselves to be composed of our bodies, then I am not That, nor you are He. 17 If we rid our sense of “I” and “you” through our knowledge of truth, we cease to be the ego, and you and all other persons lose all their properties in the sole unity.

18 This particle of consciousness is immovable, though it moves over thousands of miles. We find that in our consciousness, this particle has many a mile composed in it. 19 The mind is firmly seated in the empty intellect from which it never stirs, though it goes to all places where it is never located. 20 That which has its seat in the body can never go out of it, just like a baby hanging on the breast of its mother cannot look to another place for its rest. 21 One who is free to range over large tracts will never leave his own home where he has the liberty and power to do all he likes. 22 Wherever the mind may wander, it is never affected by the climate of that place, just like a jar taken to a distant country with its lid shut does not yield any passage to the light and air of that region into it.

23 The thinking and non-thinking of consciousness, both being perceived in our minds, is said to be the exercise of intellect and the dullness of the intellect. 24 When our exercise of intellect is assimilated into the solid substance of Divine Consciousness, then our intellect is said to become solidified as a stone.

25 The consciousness of the Supreme Being has spread worlds in the infinite space that are most wonderful as they are his uncreated creations. 26 The Divine Soul is of the essence of fire, and never forsakes its form of fire. It inheres in all bodies without burning them, and it is the enlightener and purifier of all substances. 27 The blazing intelligence of the Divine Soul, purer than the ethereal sphere, produces the elemental fire by its presence. 28 The intellect, which is the light of the soul and enlightener of the lights of the luminous sun, moon and stars, is indestructible and never fades, although the light of the luminaries is lost on the last day of universal doom.

29 There is an inextinguishable light (glory), known as ineffably transcendental which the eye cannot behold, but it is perceptible to the mind as its inner illumination and presents all things to its view. 30 From there proceeds the intellectual light which transcends the conscious and mental lights and presents before it wonderful pictures of things invisible to visual light. 31 Although plant life has no eyes, it is conscious of an inner light within that causes their growth and gives the capability of bearing fruit and flowers.

32 With regard to time, space and action and existence of the world, all are only the perceptions of sense and have no master or maker, father or supporter except the Supreme Soul in whom they exist. They are mere modifications of Himself and are nothing of themselves. 33 The atomic spirit is the casket of the bright gem of the world, without changing its minuteness. The Divine Spirit is its measure and measurer, beside which there is no separate world of itself. 34 Spirit manifests itself in everything in all these worlds. It shines as the brightest gem when all the worlds are compressed in it (at the universal dissolution).

35 Because His nature is beyond understanding, He is said to be a speck of obscurity. Because of the brightness of His intellect, He is said to be a ray of light. Because we are conscious of Him, He is known to exist. Because our sight cannot see Him, He is said to be non-existent. 36 He is said to be far away because He is invisible to our eyes, and to be near because His being is the nature of our consciousness. He is described as a mountain because He is the totality of our consciousness, although He is more minute than any perceptible particle. 37 His consciousness manifests itself in the form of the universe. Mountains are not real existences. They exist like Meru in his atomic substratum.

38 A twinkling is what appears as a short instant, and a kalpa epoch is the long duration of an age. 39 Sometimes an instant, when it is filled with acts and thoughts of an age, represents a kalpa, just like an extensive country of many miles can be pictured in miniature or in a grain of the brain. 40 The course of a long kalpa is sometimes represented in the womb of an instant, just like the time to build a great city is present in the small space of a mind’s memory, as it is in the reflection of a mirror. 41 As little moments and kalpa ages, high mountains and extensive miles may abide in a single grain of the intellect, so do all dualities and pluralities unite and meet in the unity of God.

42 That “I have done this and that before” is an impression derived from the thought of our actual actions and activity. But the truth thereof becomes as untrue as our doings in a dream. 43 It is calamity that prolongs the course of time, and our prosperity diminishes its duration, just like the short space of a single night appeared like twelve long years to King Harishchandra in his misery.

44 Anything that appears as a certain truth to the mind stamps the same impression in the soul. It is the same as the impression of a golden jewelry is deeper in the soul than the idea of its gold. 45 There is nothing like a moment or an age, or anything like near or far to the soul. It is the idea in the minute intellect that creates their length or brevity, and nearness or remoteness. 46 The opposites of light and darkness, nearness and distance, and a moment and an age, are only varied impressions on the unvaried percipient mind. There is no real difference.

47 All things or objects that are perceptible to the senses are called evident or apparent. That which lies beyond them is said to be imperceptible or unapparent. But visual sensation is not self-evident, only the vision of consciousness which is the real essence. 48 As long as there is the knowledge of the jewel, there is the knowledge of the gem also, that of the real gem being lost under the apparent form. 49 By restoring attention away from the visible form of the jewel to its real essence that one is led to the sight of the pure light of the only one Brahman.

50 Brahma is viewed as reality (sat) when He is thought of as pervading all things. He is said to be unreal (asat) because He is not the object of vision. Consciousness is said to be a reality from its faculty of exercise of intellect. Otherwise it is a stolid or dull matter. 51 Consciousness is the wonderful property of the Divine Spirit in which it is present as its object (chetya). But how can a man see Consciousness if his mind is fixed to the sight of a world that is a shadow of Consciousness and moves like a tree shaken by the wind?

52 As a mirage is the reflection of the dense light of the sun, so the world is a shadow of the solid light of Divine Consciousness. 53 That which is more refined than the rays of the sun and never decays is always as uniform as it was before creation and remains apart from it. Hence its existence is equivalent to its nonexistence.

54 Just like the accumulation of sunbeams exhibits the form of a gold mine in the sky, so the golden appearance of the world prevents the deluded from seeing the knowable object of the intellect. 55 Like the appearance of a visionary city in dream, the sight of this world is neither a reality nor altogether unreal. It is a reflection of consciousness, like the dream is a reflection of images in the memory. It is only a continued medley of errors. 56 Knowing it as such, men should consider everything by the light of reason and proceed to the knowledge of truth by their intellectual culture.

57 There is no difference between a house and a void other than that the one is the object of vision and the other of consciousness. Again, all nature teeming with life is said to live in God who is light and life of all for evermore. 58 But all these living beings have no room in the empty sphere of Divine Consciousness. They live and shine like solar rays proceeding imperceptibly from that luminous orb. 59 A difference appears in these rays, both from the original light and from one another, by a curious design of Providence. But it the same in all, like the forms of the trees growing out of the same kind of seed.

60 As the tree contained in the seed is of the same kind as the parent seed, so the innumerable worlds contained in the empty seed of Brahma are also as empty as Brahma himself. 61 As the tree which is yet undeveloped in the seed does not exist without development of its parts, so the world in the womb of Brahma was discernible only to Divine Consciousness.

62 There is only one God who is one and uncreated, calm and quiet, without beginning, middle or end, and without a body and its parts. He has no duality and is one in many. He is of the form of pure light, and shines for ever with everlasting and undiminished luster.