Chapter 95 — Identity of Mind & Action

Vasishta said:—

There is no difference between acts and agent. They have sprung together from the same source of their creator. They are the simultaneous growth of nature like flowers and their fragrance.

When human souls are freed from their desires, they are united with the Supreme Soul of Brahma, just like the blueness of the sky, which appears distinct to the eyes of the ignorant, is found to be joined with the clear firmament.

Know, O Rama, that it is for the understanding of the ignorant that we say that individual souls have sprung from Brahma. In reality, they are only shadows of the same. Therefore it is not right for the enlightened to say that such and such things are produced from Brahma when there is nothing that exists apart or separate from him. It is a mere fiction of speech to speak of the world as creation or production, but it is difficult to explain the subject and object of the lecture without the use of such fictitious language. Hence the language of dualists and pluralists is adopted in monotheistic doctrines as figures of speech, just as they are in use in the popular language: this one is Brahma or Divine Soul, and those others are the individual souls.

It has been explained that the concrete world springs from the discrete Brahma because the production of something is the same as its material cause, though it seems different from it to common understanding. Multitudes of living beings, rising like the rocks of Meru and Mandara Mountains, are joined with the main range from which they jut out. Thousands and thousands of living beings are constantly produced from their common source, like the innumerable offshoots of forest trees filling the woodland sky with their variegated foliage. 10 An infinity of living beings will continue to spring from Brahma, like blades of grass sprouting from the earth below. They will likewise be reduced to Brahma, like the seasonal plants of spring that die in the hot weather of summer. 11 There is no counting the living creatures that exist at anytime, and what numbers are being born and are dying at any moment.

12 Men with their duties proceed from the same divine source, like flowers growing with their fragrance from the same stem. All these subside in the same receptacle from where they arise. 13 We see different tribes of demons, brutes, men and gods in this world coming into existence from non-existence, and this is repeated without end. 14 We see no other cause for their continuous revolution in this manner, except the forgetfulness of their reminiscence, which makes them oblivious of their original state and makes them conform with every mode of their reincarnation into new forms.

15 Rama said, “For lack of such memory, I think that obeying the dictates of the infallible scriptures promulgated by the sages, and based on the authority of the Vedas, is the surest way for the salvation of mankind. 16 And I reckon those men as holy and perfect who are possessed of the virtues of the great, have magnanimity and equanimity of their souls, and have received the light of the unknowable Brahma in them. 17 I reckon two things to be the two eyes of the ignorant that allow them to discern the path of salvation. One is their good conduct and the other their knowledge of the scriptures, which follows the former. 18 Because one who is righteous only in his conduct but is without knowledge is never taken into account and is slighted by all to be plunged into insignificance and misery.”

19 “Again sage, both men and the Vedas agree that acts and their actors come one after the other, and not as you said both arising simultaneously from their divine origin. 20 Act makes the actor, and the actor does the work. Thus they follow one another like the seed and tree which produce one another. This mutuality of both is seen in the practice of men and ordinances of the Vedas. 21 Acts are the causes of animal births, as the seed gives birth to the sprouts of plants. In turn, works proceed from living beings like the sprouts produce the seeds. 22 The desire that prompts a person to his particular pursuit in his prison house of this world, the same yields him like fruits and no other.”

23 “Such being the case, sage, why did you say that animals are produced from the seed of Brahma without causation from their prior acts? You also said that prior acts cause the birth of animal beings. 24 On one hand, by your position of their simultaneity, you ignored the law of antecedence and sequence of birth and action to one another. 25 Then to say that Brahma is not the origin of actions, and that Brahma and other living beings are subject to their several actions, are self contradictory propositions and opposed to common sense. This question upsets the doctrine of Free Will. 26 Also to say that living beings are born together with their actions (by predestination) and are bound to them to no purpose, is like saying that fish are caught by bait they cannot eat but cause their death.”

27 “Therefore sage, please tell me about the nature of acts, for you are best acquainted with the secrets of things and can well answer my questions on the subject.”

28 Vasishta replied:—

My good Rama, you have asked well about this intricate subject. I will now explain to you in a manner that will enlighten your understanding.

29 It is the activity of the mind that forms its thoughts and intentions and which are the roots or seed of actions. It is its passivity that is the recipient of their results. 30 Therefore no sooner did the principle of the mind spring from the essence of Brahma than it was accompanied by its thoughts and actions in the bodies which the living beings assumed according to their prior deserts and inborn desires. 31 As there is no difference between the flower and its fragrance, there is no distinction between the mind and its actions, which are one and the same thing.

32 The exertion of bodily activity is called an action, but the wise well know that action is preceded by a mental action which is called its thought in the mind. 33 It is possible to deny the existence of material objects like air, water, hill and others, but it is impossible to deny the operations of our mental faculties, of which we have subjective evidence in ourselves. 34 No deliberate action of the present or past life goes for nothing. All human actions and efforts are attended with their just results, to which they are properly directed.

35 As ink ceases to be ink without its inky blackness, so the mind ceases to exist without the action of its mental operations. 36 Cessation of mental activity is attended with cessation of thought, and stillness of the mind is accompanied with a cessation of actions. The liberated are free from both of these, but those who are not liberated from neither. 37 The mind is ever united with its activity as fire with its heat, and the lack of either mind or action means the extinction of both. 38 The mind, ever restless in itself, becomes identified with the actions proceeding from its activity. In turn, the actions, whether good or bad, become identified with the mind which feels their just rewards and punishments.

Hence Rama, you see the inseparable connection between mind and acts. They reciprocate their actions and reactions upon each other.