Chapter 110 — Description of the Mind’s Play

Vasishta said:—

In the beginning, the subjective Consciousness (chit) derived the power of knowing objective phenomena (chetyas) from the Supreme Cause. Then it went on to multiply and diversify the objects of its intelligence and thus fell from the knowledge of the one intelligent Universal Ego to the delusion of particular non-egos without end. Thus Rama, the faculties of the mind, being deluded by the unrealities of particulars and to their utter error, continue to attribute specialty and differences to the general ones.

Mental powers are ever busy multiplying unrealities to infinity, just as ignorant children are prone to create false demons of their fancy only for their terror and trouble. But reality soon disperses troublesome unrealities, and unsullied understanding drives off the errors of imagination, as sunshine dispels the darkness.

The mind brings distant objects near it and throws the nearer ones at a distance. It trots and flutters in living beings, like children leaping and jumping in bushes after little birds. The wistful mind is fearful when there is nothing to fear, like a frightened traveler takes the stump of a tree for a demon standing on his way. The suspicious mind suspects a friend for a foe, like a drunken sot thinks himself lying on the ground while he is walking along. The distracted mind sees fiery Saturn in the cooling moon, and nectar being swallowed as poison acts as poison itself. The building of a castle in the air, however untrue, is taken for truth for the time being. The mind dwelling on hopes is a dreamer in its waking state.

10 The disease of desire is the delusion of the mind. Therefore it is to be rooted out from the mind at once and with all diligence. 11 The minds of men are entangled in the net of greed like poor stags. They are rendered as helpless as beasts of prey in the forest of the world. 12 He who by his reasoning has removed the vain anxieties of his mind has displayed the light of his soul, like that of the unclouded sun to sight. 13 Therefore know that the mind makes the man, and not his body as some think. The body is dull matter, but the mind is neither a material nor immaterial substance.

14 Whatever is done with the mind by any man, know Rama, that act is actually done by him. Whatsoever is shunned by the mind, know that is kept out in actuality. 15 The mind alone makes the whole world to the utmost end of the spheres. The mind is the emptiness and the air and earth in its greatness. 16 If the mind does not join a thing with its known properties and qualities, then the sun, planets and stars would appear to be without their light. 17 The mind assumes the properties of knowledge and ignorance, from which it is called a knowing or unknowing thing. But these properties are not to be attributed to the body, for a living body is never known to be wise, or a dead carcass an ignorant person.

18 The mind becomes sight in its act of seeing and hearing when it hears anything. It is feeling when the skin touches anything and smelling when something touches the nose. 19 It becomes taste connected with the tongue and palate, and takes many other names besides according to its other faculties. Thus the mind is the chief actor on the stage of the living animal body. 20 It magnifies the minute and makes the true appear as untrue. It sweetens the bitter and sours the sweet, and turns a foe to a friend and vice-versa. 21 In whatever manner the mind represents itself in its various aspects, the same becomes evident to us both in our perceptions and conceptions of them.

22 It was by virtue of such a representation that the dreaming mind of King Harish Chandra took the course of one night for the long period of a dozen years. 23 It was owing to a similar idea of the mind that the whole creation of Brahma appeared to be situated within himself. 24 The presentation of a fair prospect before the imagination turns the present pain to pleasure, like a man bound in chains forgets his painful state in the hopes of his release the next morning.

25 The mind, being well fortified and brought under the subjection of reason, brings all the parts of the body and internal passions of the heart under our control. But a loose and ungoverned mind gives a loose rein to go astray, like the loosened thread of a string of pearls scatters the precious grains at random over the ground. 26 The mind that preserves its clear sightedness, equanimity and stability in all places and under all conditions retains its even temper and good discernment at all times under the testimony of its consciousness and approbation of its good conscience. 27 Oh Rama, you must retain your self-possession at all times, and remain like a unmoved, dumb and dull body, with your mind acquainted with the states of all things, but undisturbed by the fluctuations of the objects that come into your awareness.

28 The mind by its own nature is restless with all its vain thoughts and desires within itself. Man is carried abroad by its currents over hills and deserts and across rivers and seas to far and remote cities and countries. 29 The waking mind deems the objects of its desire to be as sweet as honey, and whatever it does not like to be as bitter as gall, even though they may be sweet to taste. 30 Some minds with too much self reliance upon themselves and without considering the true nature of things give them different forms and colors according to their own conceptions and opinions, though they are far from truth.

31 The mind is a pulsation of the power of Divine Consciousness. It ventilates in breeze and glares in luminous bodies, melts in liquids and hardens in solid substances. 32 It vanishes in emptiness and extends in space. It dwells in everything at its pleasure and flies from everywhere at its will. 33 It whitens black and blackens white, and is confined to no place or time but extends through all. 34 The mind being absent or settled elsewhere, we do not taste the sweet that we are sucking, swallowing or grinding under our teeth or licking with the tongue. 35 What is seen by the mind is seen with the eyes, and what it does not see is never seen by the visual organs, just like things lying in the dark are not perceptible to the sight.

36 The mind is embodied in the physical body accompanied by the organs of sense. But it is the mind that actuates the senses and receives the sensations. The senses are the products of the mind, but the mind is not a production of sensations. 37 Those great souls (philosophers) who have investigated the connection between the two quite different substances of body and mind, and those learned men who show us how boy and mind are mutually related, are truly worthy of our veneration.

38 A beautiful woman decorated with flowers in the braids of her hair and looking loosely with her amorous glances is like a log of wood in contact with the body of one whose mind is absent from himself. 39 The dispassionate yogi who sits reclined in his abstract meditation in the forest, owing to the absence of his mind, has no sense of his hands being bitten off by a voracious beast. 40 The mind of a sage practiced in mental abstraction may with ease be inclined to convert his pleasures to pain and his pains to pleasure.

41 The mind employed in some other thought and inattentive to the present discourse finds it like a piece of wood cut off by an axe. 42 A man sitting at home and thinking of standing on the precipice of a mountain, or falling into the hollow cave, shudders at the idea of his imminent danger. So also, one is startled at the prospect of a dreary desert even in his dream and is bewildered to imagine the vast deep under the clouds. 43 The mind feels a delight at the sight of a lovely spot in its dream, and at seeing the hills, cities and houses stretching or the clusters of stars shining in the extended plain of the sky. 44 The restless mind is busy stretching many a hill, valley, cities and houses in our dreams, like waves in the vast ocean of the soul. 45 As the waters of the sea display themselves in huge surges, billows and waves, so the mind that is in the body displays itself in the various sights exhibited in our dreams.

46 As the leaves and branches, flowers and fruits are the products of the shooting seed, so everything that is seen in our waking dreams is the creation of our minds. 47 As a golden image is no other than gold, so the creatures of our living dreams are nothing but the creations of our fanciful mind. 48 As a drop or shower of rain, and a foam or froth of the wave, are only different forms of water, so the varieties of phenomena that are sensed are only transformations of the same mind. 49 These are only the thoughts of our minds seen in our waking dreams, like the various costumes that an actor wears to represent different characters in a play. 50 As King Lavana believed himself to be a tribal for some time, so we believe ourselves to be so-and-so by the thoughts of our minds. 51 Whatever we think ourselves to be in our consciousness, the same soon comes to pass upon us. Therefore mold the thoughts of your mind in any way you like.

52 An embodied being sees many cities, towns, hills and rivers before him, all of which are only visions of waking dreams stretched out by the inner mind. 53 One sees a demon in a god and a snake where there is no snake. It is the idea that fosters the thought, as King Lavana fostered the thoughts of his ideal forms. 54 As the idea of man includes that of a woman, and the idea of father implies that of the son, so the mind includes the wish, and with every person the wish is accompanied by its action.

55 It is by its wish that the mind is subject to death to be born again in other bodies. Though the mind is a formless thing of its nature, yet by its constant habit of thinking, it contracts the notion of it being a living substance (jiva). 56 The mind is busy with thoughts of long drawn wishes that cause its repeated births and deaths, and their accompaniments of hopes and fears, and pleasure and pain.

57 Pleasure and pain are situated in the mind like oil in sesame seed. These are thickened or thinned like oil under the particular circumstances of life. Prosperity thickens our pleasure and adversity our pain; these are thinned by their reverses again. 58 Like the greater or lighter pressure of the oil-mill that thickens or thins the oil, so the deeper or lighter attention of the mind aggravates or lightens its sense of pleasure or pain. 59 As our wishes are directed by the particular circumstances of time and place, so the measurements of time and place are made according to the intensity or laxity of our thoughts.

60 It is the mind that is satisfied and delighted at the fulfillment of our wishes, and not the body which is unconscious of its enjoyments. 61 The mind is delighted with its imaginary desires within the body, like a secluded woman takes delight in the harem. 62 He who does not give indulgence to levities and fickleness in his heart is sure to subdue his mind, as one binds an elephant by its chain to the post. 63 He whose mind does not wave back and forth like a brandished sword, but remains fixed as a pillar to its best intent and object, is the best of men on earth. All others are like insects continually moving in the mind.

64 He whose mind is free from fickleness and is sedate in itself is united with his best object in his meditation of the same. 65 Steadiness of mind is attended with stillness of worldly commotions, just as the suspension of churning Mandara Mountain was attended with the calmness of the ocean of milk. 66 The thoughts of the mind embroiled in worldly cares become the sources of those turbulent passions in the heart which, like poisonous plants, fill this harmful world.

67 Foolish men, infatuated by their giddiness and ignorance, revolve round the center of their hearts like giddy bees flutter about the lotus flowers of the lake until at last, weary from their giddy circles, they fall down in the whirlpools that hurl them in irreparable ruin.