Chapter 97 — Three Spheres: Pure Consciousness, Mental & Physical

Rama said, “O venerable sage, from all you have explained, I come to understand that this grandeur of the universe, being the work of the Divine Mind, is all derived from the same.”

Vasishta answered:—

As already said, the Mind having assumed a substantial form manifested itself like water in a mirage raised by the shining blaze of its own light. The mind within the Spirit of Brahma became one with the contents of the world, now showing itself in the form of man, and now appearing as a god. Somewhere he shows himself as a demon and at another place like a yaksha. Here he was as a gandharva, and there in the form of a kinnara. The vast expanse of the Mind includes the many countries and pictures of many cities and habitable places. Such being the capacity of the mind, there is no counting the millions of bodies contained within it, like the trees and plants in a forest. All those are not worth our consideration in our inquiry about the mind.

It was this mind that spread out the world with all its contents. Other than the mind, there exists nothing but the Supreme Spirit. The soul is beyond every category. It is omnipresent and the substratum of all existence. It is by the power of this soul that the mind moves and manifests itself.

The mind is known as the cause of the body. The body is work of the mind. The mind is born and becomes extinct with the body, which the soul does not. The soul has no quality that belongs to the mind. 10 By right reasoning, the mind is found to be a perishable object. When the mind perishes, the individual soul attains final liberation. The desires of the mind are the bondage of its reincarnation, but the dissolution of the mind and its desires secures its liberation. 11 After mental desires cease there is no more exertion for acts. This state is called liberation of individual souls from trouble and care. The mind thus released, never comes to be born and die again.

12 Rama said, “Sage, you have said before that human nature is principally of three kinds: the good, the gentle and the base (satva, rajas and tamas), and it is owing to the good or bad nature of their minds that men differ from one another. 13 Now please tell me, how could the wonderful mind with its good or bad propensities that are lacking in Divine Consciousness originate from pure Consciousness?”

14 Vasishta replied:—

Rama, know that there are three spheres of infinite emptiness that are at immense distances from one another. These are the intellectual, mental and physical spheres. 15 These environments are common to all mankind and they are spread out everywhere. They have all sprung and come to being from the essence of Divine Consciousness (chit).

16 Space is both inside and outside of everything, pervading throughout all nature. Space implies being occupied by something or its absence. Space is called the empty sphere of Consciousness. 17 Space is called the sphere of Consciousness which embraces all space and time and which has spread out the other spheres or environments. Consciousness is the highest and best of all.

18 The physical sphere (bhutakasha, element-space) contains all created beings and extends to all ten directions about, above and below us. It is a space filled with air that supports the clouds and waters above the sky. 19 Then the emptiness of the mental sphere (chittakasha, mind-space), which has also sprung from the sphere of consciousness (chidakasha, consciousness-space), likewise has consciousness for its cause like the others, as the day is the source of all works and animal activities. 20 What we call the mind is the spoiled intellect that views itself as a dull thing amidst the gross material objects of the physical sphere. It thinks of both spheres from where it is born and where it is placed.

21 I have made use of the metaphor of spheres for the understanding of the unenlightened. Figures are used to instruct the unenlightened and not to lighten the enlightened. 22 In the consciousness sphere, you will see one Supreme Brahma filling its whole space, without parts or attributes, and intelligible only to the enlightened. 23 The ignorant need to be instructed with appropriate words and precise language showing the distinction between monotheism and belief in two gods, which is unnecessary for the instruction of the enlightened. 24 I have contrived to explain to you the nature of divine knowledge, by the parable of the three spheres, which will enlighten you as long as you are in dark on the subject.

25 The consciousness sphere is hidden by ignorance, so we are led to look into the mental and physical spheres. They are as delusive as sunbeams in a mirage, and as destructive as the flames of fire.

26 Pure consciousness, being changed to the state of the changeful mind, takes a debased figure. Then being confounded in itself, the mind weaves the magic web of the world in which it becomes entangled. 27 The ignorant guided by the dictates of their perverted minds know nothing about the nature of consciousness, which is identical with the Supreme. So the witless who unwittingly mistake white shells for bright silver are seen to labor under their delusion, until they are freed from it by the clear light of their understanding.