1 Vasishta continued:—
The ignorant are subject to errors caused by their false fancies, from which the wise are entirely free. By imagining and attributing perishable properties to the imperishable soul, the ignorant beguile themselves like children who take their dolls to be men.
2 Rama replied, “What is this imagined perishable property that is imputed to the imperishable soul? Tell me also, O greatest of theologians, what misrepresentation misleads the mind to the false conception of the unreal world for a reality?”
3 Vasishta replied:—
The soul, by its continued association with unreal and perishable things, thinks itself to be one of them and takes the title of an unreal and perishable ego, just like a boy by association of his thoughts imagines a false apparition to be a real ghost.
4 All things being situated in one absolute reality, it is hard to account for one’s personal ego and to say how and from where this conception became established. 5 In fact, there is no ego except that of the Supreme Soul. Yet is the nature of the unwise to make a difference between a finite ego and infinite Ego, and between a mortal and immortal soul, as if we see two streams of water in the sunbeams of a hot, sandy desert.
6 The mind is a spacious mind (of richest gems) in this extensive creation and depends on the Supreme Soul for its support, just like waves depend upon the waters of the sea for their rise and existence. 7 Therefore, O Rama, give up your false view of the reality of the world and your reliance upon the baseless fabric of the universe. Rely with delight upon your judicious view of the true foundation and support of all. 8 Inquire now into the nature of Truth with a rational understanding. Being freed from all error and bias, discard all that is false and untrue.
9 Why do you think that the unconfined soul is confined in the body? It is vain to suppose the infinite soul is confined in any place. 10 To suppose one to be many is to make a division and create a variety in the nature of the Supreme Spirit. Again, the Divine Essence being diffused alike in all, it cannot be said to be confined in one thing and absent in another.
11 The body being hurt, the soul is supposed to be hurt likewise, but no pain or hurt or sickness of any kind can affect the unchanging soul. 12 The body being hurt or weakened or destroyed, there is no injury done to the soul, just like a blacksmith’s bellows being burned, the wind with which it was filled escapes unconsumed. 13 Whether the body lasts or falls is of no matter to us, like a flower being destroyed deposits its fragrance in the air. 14 Let any pain or pleasure befall on the body, like dewdrops falling on lotus leaves. It cannot affect us any more than a fading lotus affects or afflicts a flying bee in any manner. 15 Let the body rise or fall or fly in smoke and mix with the air. These changing forms can have no effect whatsoever on the soul.
16 The connection of the body with the soul is like that between the cloud and the wind, and between the lotus and the bee. 17 If the mind that forms a part of all living bodies is not affected by physical pain, then how is it possible that the primary power of consciousness that resides in the soul can be subject to death? 18 If you know, O wise Rama, that the soul is indestructible and inseparable, then what is the need to have sorrow for the supposed separation or disappearance of the all pervading spirit?
19 After the body is destroyed, the soul flies from it to live in the infinite space of empty air, like wind mixing with air after dispersing clouds, and a bee flying away after the lotus has faded away. 20 The mind is not relaxed with all its enjoyments of life unless it is burnt down by the knowledge of truth. Then why speak of the annihilation of the soul? 21 The connection between perishable body and imperishable soul is analogous to that of a vessel and the fruit it holds, and of a pot and the air in it. 22 As a plum is held in the hand or it falls into a pit, so the empty soul is reposed in or deposed from the body. 23 As a pot being broken, its empty part mixes with the air. So the body being dissolved, the soul remains unhurt in empty space.
24 The minds and bodies of living beings are apt to disappear at times from where they live and hide under the shroud of death. Why should we sorrow for such renegades? 25 Seeing the death and disappearance of others, no fool learns to think for himself but fears to die like all ignorant fools. 26 Therefore renounce, O Rama, your selfish desires and know the falsity of ego. Give up the bond of the body and fly upward, like a new fledged bird leaves its nest and flies above.
27 It is an act of the mind to lead us to good or evil. It is another function of the mind to fabricate the false fabric of the world, like appearances in a dream. 28 Our incorrigible ignorance stretches out these imageries only for our misery. Our imperfect knowledge shows these falsehoods as realities to us. 29 The mind gives us a dim sight of things, as we view the sky hidden by a mist. It is the nature of the mind to have a false view of objects. 30 The dull and unreal world appears as a reality to us. The imaginary duration of the universe is like a protracted dream in our sleep. 31 The thought or idea of the world is the cause of its physical existence, just as the blinking of the eye shows a thousand discs of the sun and moon in the clear sky.
32 Now Rama, employ your reason to annihilate the physical world from your mind, just as the sun dissolves snow by the heat of his beams. 33 As one wishing to overcome cold gets his object at sunrise, so he who wishes to demolish his mind succeeds at the rise of his reason.
34 As ignorance increases, so it introduces a train of deep seated errors and evils. It spreads a magic spell around it, just as Samvara the sorcerer showered a flux of gold dust about him. 35 The mind by its worldliness makes the way to its own destruction, and acts the part of its own self-destructive catastrophe by all its acts. 36 The mind wants only to preserve itself from destruction, but it is a fool who does not know its imminent death.
37 The mind by its restless desires hastens itself to a painful death. The reasonable try to avoid restlessness by their government of the mind. 38 The mind that is purified by reason is cleansed from its willingness and unwillingness and resigns itself to the will of the Divine Soul, which is ever present before it. 39 The curbing of the mind is the magnanimity of soul and gives rise to liberation from pain. Therefore try to restrain your mind and do not give it a loose rein.
40 The world is a vast wilderness full of the forests of our well being and sorrow and beset on all sides by the serpents of disease and death. The irrational mind is as the rampant lord of the desert land and quickly drives us into all sorts of dangers and difficulties.
41 As the sage ended his sermon, the day departed to its end and the sun declined to the west to his evening service. The assembly broke after mutual salutations and met again and greeted each other with the parting night and rising sun.