1 Rama said, “Tell me, O chief of sages, the story of the boy that illustrates the Mind.”
2 Vasishta replied:—
Hear me Rama, tell you the tale of a silly and stupid boy who once asked his nurse to recite some pretty story for his amusement. 3 With a pleased face and with an accent sweet as honey, the nurse began to relate her fine wrought story for the pleasure of the boy.
4 Once upon a time in a desolate country, there were three high minded and fortunate young princes noted for their virtues and valor. 5 They shone in that vast desolate land resembling the spacious sky, like stars reflected in the expanse of waters below. Two of them were un-begotten and uncreated, and the third was not born of a mother’s womb.
6 Once it happened that these three went out together from their dreary abode to find a better place to live. They had no other companion with them, and they were sad in their minds and long faces as if they were exiled from their native country. 7 Having left that desert land, they set out with their faces looking forward and proceeded onward like the three planets Mercury, Venus and Jupiter in their conjunction.
8 Their bodies, delicate as sirisha flowers, were scorched by the powerful sun shining on their backs. On their way they were dried by the heat of the summer day, like wilted leaves on trees. 9 Their lotus-like feet were singed by the burning sands of their desert path, and they cried aloud like some tender fawns straying from their herd crying, “O Father save us.” 10 The soles of their feet were bruised by the blades of grass, and the joints of their bodies were weakened by the heat of the sun. Their fair forms were covered with dust flying from the ground on their lonely journey.
11 They saw a clump of three trees by the wayside, braided with tufts of spikes upon them and loaded with fruit and flowers hanging down. They were a refuge for birds and desert animals resting above and around them. 12 The first two of these trees did not grow wild, and the third, which was easy to climb, bore no seeds to produce other plants in future. 13 Under the shade of these trees, the three princes were refreshed from the fatigue of their journey. They halted there like the three gods Indra, Vayu and Yama under the thick shady branches of the parijata tree of Paradise. 14 They ate the ambrosial fruits of these trees. They drank their nectar juice to their fill and, after decorating themselves with guluncha garlands, they resumed their journey.
15 Having gone a long way, around midday they came to a confluence of three rivers flowing with rapid currents and swelling waves. 16 One of these was a dry channel and the other two were shallow with little water in them. They looked like the blinded eyeballs of blind men. 17 The princes, wet with perspiration, bathed joyfully in the almost dried up channel, just like the three gods Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva wash their sweating limbs in the clear stream of the Ganges. 18 They played a long while in the water and drank it, which was as sweet as milk and cheered their spirits with full satisfaction of their hearts.
19 They resumed their journey and at the end of the day, about sunset, they arrived at their future home, a newly built city standing far away on the height of a hill. 20 There were rows of flags fluttering like lotuses in the clear lake of the blue sky. The loud noise of the songs of the citizens was heard at a distance. 21 Here they saw three beautiful and good looking houses with turrets of gold and gems shining afar, like the peaks of Mount Meru under the blazing sun. 22 Two of these were not the works of art, and the third was without foundation. At last the three princes entered the last of these.
23 They entered this house and sat and walked about with happy faces. Inside, they chanced upon three pots as bright as gold. 24 The first two broke into pieces upon their lifting, and the third was reduced to dust at its touch. The far sighted princes, however, took up the dust and made a new pot with it. It means that though these sheaths are as volatile as air, yet it is possible to employ the vital principle to action. 25 Then these gluttonous princes used the pot to cook a large quantity of rice for their food, amounting to a hundred bushels minus one, enough to live on for their whole lifetime.
26 The princes then invited three brahmins (childhood, youth and age) to the food prepared by them, two of whom (childhood and youth) were bodiless and the third (old age) had no mouth with which to eat. 27 The mouth-less brahmin took a hundred bushels of the rice and ate it up because he had devoured the child and the youth. The princes took the remainder of the brahmin’s food for their meal (which was nothing). 28 The three princes having refreshed themselves with the traces of the brahmin’s food, took their rest in the same house of their next home, then went out on their journey to hunt for new homes (or repeated reincarnations).
29 Thus I have related to you, O Rama, the entire story of the boy and princes. Now consider its significance well in your mind and you will become wise thereby. 30 After the nurse finished telling her pretty parable, the boy seemed happy with what he had heard. 31 I have told you this story, O Rama, in connection with my lecture on the subject of the mind. The story serves to explain how the mind fabricates this imaginary being of the world.
32 This air-built castle of the world which has come to be taken for a reality is like the story of the body, only a false fabrication from the old nurse’s imagination. 33 It is the representation of the various thoughts and ideas of our minds that exhibit themselves to view according to our notions of them in our states of bondage and liberation. 34 Nothing really exists except the creations of our imagination. It is our fancy that fashions all the objects in their peculiar fantastic forms. 35 The heavens, earth, sky and air, and also the rivers, mountains and the sides and quarters of the sky, are all creations of our fancy, like the visions in our dreams that join and disjoin and fashion scenes in their fantastic forms.
36 Like the princes, the rivers and the future city were mere creations of the nurse’s imagination. In the same way, the existence of the visible world is only the product of man’s imaginative power. 37 Imaginative power manifests all things all around, like moving waters show the rise and fall of waves in the sea. “It gives a shape of airy nothing.” “It is the power of apprehending ideas and combining them into new forms and combinations.”
38 The imaginative power of God raised the ideas of things in his omniscient and all comprehensive soul. These ideals afterwards manifested as real by his omnipotence, just like things lying in the dark are brought to view by daylight.
39 Know from here on, O Rama, that the whole universe is the network of imagination, and your imagination is the most active power of the mind. Therefore repress the thickening phantoms of your fleeting fancy and obtain your tranquility by relying solely upon the certainty of the immutable Soul of souls.