Chapter 84 — Imperfect Words Used to Guide to Understanding; the Power of the Mind

Vasishta said:—

Rama, I have told you the worthy legend of Karkati, the rakshasi of Imaus, from beginning to end.

Rama replied, “But how could one born in a cave of the Himalayas become a black rakshasi, and why was she called Karkati? These I want clearly explained.”

Vasishta replied:—

Rakshasa cannibals originally are of many races. Some are of dark and others of fair complexions, while many have a yellowish appearance and some of a greenish shade. As for Karkati, you must know that there was a rakshasa named Karkata because of his exact resemblance to a crab. I only told you the story of Karkati because of her questions which I remembered and thought would serve well to explain the omniform God in our discourse into spiritual knowledge.

It is evident that the pure and perfect unity is the source of the impure and imperfect duality of phenomena, and this finite world has sprung from its supreme cause who is without beginning or end. These float like the waves upon waters, which apparently are of different forms, and yet essentially the same with the element on which they seem to move. So creations whether present, past or future, are all situated in the Supreme Spirit.

As wet wood when ignited serves to provide heat and invites the apes of the forest to warm themselves in cold weather, so the externally shining appearance of the world invites the ignorant to rely upon it. Such is the temporary glow of the ever cool spirit of God in the works of creation which shows itself in many forms without changing its essence. 10 The absent world appeared and its unreality appears to consciousness as a reality, like figures carved in wood.

11 As the products of the seed, from its sprout to the fruit, are all of the same species, so the thoughts (chetyas) of the mind (chitta) are of the same nature as those originally implanted in it. 12 According to the law of the continuity of the same essence, there is no difference in the nature of the seed and its fruit. So consciousness (chit) and the thoughts (chetyas) differ in nothing except in their forms, like the waves and water differ in external appearance and not in their intrinsic substance (vastu). 13 No demonstration can show any difference between thoughts, mind and consciousness. Whatever distinction our judgment may make, it is easily refuted by right reasoning.

14 Let this error therefore vanish. It has come from nothing to nothing and like all causeless falsities, it fails of itself. You will know more of this, Rama, when you are awakened to divine knowledge. In the meantime, do away with the error of seeing duality that is different from the only existent unity. 15 After your attention to my lectures cuts the knot of your error, you yourself will come to know the significance and substance of what is called the true knowledge that is taken in different senses by various schools of philosophy. That which comes of itself in the mind is the intuitive knowledge of divine truth.

16 You have a mind like that of the common people, full of mistakes and blunders. All this will undoubtedly subside in your mind through your attention to my lectures. 17 You will be awakened by my sermons to know this certain truth, that all things proceed from Brahma into whom they ultimately return.

18 Rama replied, “Sage, you state the first cause in the ablative case indicating causation: ‘That all things proceed from Brahma.’ This contradicts the opposite passage in the Sruti scriptures in the same case, that ‘Nothing is distinct from Him.” It is inconsistent in itself.”

19 Vasishta answered:—

Words are used in the scriptures to instruct others. Where any inconsistency appears, they are explained. 20 Hence, although not strictly true, we use a difference between visible phenomena and the invisible Brahma, just like we speak of ghosts appearing to children, though there are no such things in reality. 21 In reality there is no duality connected with the unity of Brahma, just as there is no dualism between a city and the sleep dream in which it appears. Again, God being immutable in his nature and eternal in decree, it is wrong to apply the mutations of nature and the mutability of will to Him. 22 The Lord is free from the states of causality and the caused, of instrumentality and instruments, of a whole and its part, and those of proprietorship and property. 23 He is beyond all affirmative and negative propositions, and their legitimate conclusions or false deductions and refutations. 24 So it is equally false to attribute the original will to God. Yet it is usual to say so for the instruction of the ignorant. There is no change in His nature from its nothing to slight wish.

25 These conscious terms and figurative expressions are used to guide the ignorant. The knowing few are far from falling into the fallacy of dualism. All intellectual conceptions cease upon the spiritual perception of God. There ensues an utter and dumb silence. 26 When in time you come to know these things better, you shall arrive at the conclusion that all this is only one thing, an undivided whole without parts and having no beginning or end.

27 The unlearned dispute among themselves from their uncertainty of truth. Their differences and dualisms all end when they understand true unity by instructions of the wise. 28 Without knowledge of the agreement of significant words with their meanings, it is impossible to know the unity, for so long as a word is taken in different senses, there will be no end of disputes and difference of opinions. Dualisms being done away, all disputes are hushed up in the belief of unity.

29 O support of Raghu’s race, place your reliance upon the sense of the great sayings of the Vedas. Do not pay any regard to conflicting passages. Attend to what I will now tell you. 30 From whatever cause it may have sprung, the world resembles a city rising to view in a vision, just like thoughts and ideas appear before the mirror of the mind from some source of which we know nothing. 31 Listen Rama, and I will relate an example of visible evidence for you how the mind (chitta) spins out the magical world from itself. 32 Having known this, O Rama, you will be able to cast away all your false conceptions. Being certain of certainty, you will resign your attachments and desires in this enchanted and bewitching world.

33 All these prospective worlds are machinations and the workings of the mind. Having forsaken these false fabrications of fancy, you will have tranquility of your soul and abide in peace with yourself forever. 34 By paying your attention to the drift of my preaching, you from your own reasoning will be able to find a mite of the medicine that cures all the illnesses of your deluded mind.

35 If you sit in silent meditation, you will see the whole world in your mind. All outward bodies will disappear like drops of oil in sand. 36 The mind is the seat of the universe as long as it is not weakened by passions and affections and afflictions of life. When the mind is rid of the turmoil of its present state, it is set beyond the world (in heavenly bliss). 37 The mind is the means to accomplish anything. It is the store-keeper to preserve all things in the warehouse of its memory. It is the faculty of reasoning, and the power to act like a respectable person. Therefore the mind is to be treated with respect as it recalls, restrains and guides us in our pursuits and duties.

38 The mind contains within it the three worlds with all their contents and the surrounding air. It exhibits itself as the fullness of ego and the cornucopia of all in its microcosm. 39 The intellectual part of the mind contains the subjective self-consciousness of ego, which is the seed of all its powers. The other part, its objective part, bears in itself the false forms of the dull material world.

40 The self-born Brahma saw the yet uncreated and formless world as already present before his mind in its ideal state, like a dream at its first creation. He saw it (mentally) without seeing it (actually). 41 He saw the whole creation in the self-consciousness of his vast mind, and he saw all material objects, the hills and all, in the knowledge (samvid) of his gross personal consciousness. At last by his subtle sightedness (sukshma vid, subtle knowledge or clairvoyance) he perceived that all gross bodies were as empty as air and not solid substances. 42 The mind with its embodying thoughts is pervaded by the omnipresent soul that is spread out as transparently as sunbeams upon clear water.

43 Otherwise, the mind is like an infant who views the appearance of the world in its unconscious sleep of ignorance. But being awakened by consciousness (chit), it sees the transcendent form of the self or soul without the mist of delusion. The delusion is caused by the part of the mind that is aware of physical senses, and it is removed by the reasoning faculties of consciousness.

44 Hear now Rama, what I am going to say about how the soul is to be seen in this world of phenomena that is the cause of misleading the mind from its knowledge of the unity to the false notion of the duality. 45 What I will say, by opposite similes, right reasoning, graceful style, and good sense of the words in which they shall be conveyed to you, cannot fail to come to your heart. By listening, your heart will be filled with a delight that will pervade your senses like the oil upon the water.

46 Speech which is without suitable comparisons and graceful phraseology, which is inaudible or clamorous, or has inappropriate words and harsh sounding letters, cannot take possession of the heart. It is thrown away for nothing, like butter poured upon the burnt ashes of an offering that has no power to rekindle the flame. 47 Whatever stories there are in any language on earth, and whatever compositions are adorned with measured sentences and graceful diction, all these are rendered acutely insightful through conspicuous comparisons, as the world is enlightened by cooling moonbeams. Therefore almost every verse in this work is embellished with a suitable comparison.