Chapter 115 — Causes of Happiness & Misery

Valmiki relates:—

Being thus encouraged by the high minded Vasishta, Rama’s lotus eyes became opened like new blown flowers. He shone forth with a pure grace, his heart expanded and his face blooming like the fresh lotus reviving at the end of night under the vivifying beams of the rising sun. His smiling face shone like the moon with inward enlightenment and wonder. Then, with the nectar beams of his bright and white pearly teeth, Rama spoke out these words.

Rama said, “What a wonder that the lack of ignorance should subdue all things, as if it could tie down huge hills with the thin threads of lotus stalks. O, that this straw of the earth, which shows itself to be so dense a body in the world, is no more than the production of our ignorance which shows the unreal as a reality. Tell me more for my enlightenment regarding the true nature of this magical earth which rolls like a ceaseless stream running amidst the ethereal worlds.”

“There is another great question that worries my heart. What happened to the fortunate Lavana in the end? Also, tell me more about the embodied soul and the animated body, whether they are in concord or discord with one another, and which of them is the active agent and recipient of the rewards of acts in this earth. Tell me also who was that sorcerer and where he fled after putting the good King Lavana to all his tribulation, and then restoring him to his former exalted position.”

10 Vasishta said:—

The body is like a frame of woodwork that contains nothing. It receives the reflection of an intelligence as in a dream, and this is called the mind. 11 This mind becomes the living principle (life) and also has the power of thinking. It is as unstable as a boat on the current of world of affairs, and it plays the part of a fickle monkey amidst the busy castle of the world.

12 The active principle in the body is known under different names — the mind, life and ego — and having a body for its home, it is employed in a variety of actions. 13 This active principle is subject to endless pains and pleasures in its unenlightened or un-awakened state, and the body has no relation with them. 14 Unenlightened understanding also has received many fictitious names according to the various faculties that it exhibits in its acts. 15 As long as an un-awakened mind is in its sleeping state, it perceives the busy bustle of the world as in a dream, which is unknown to the waking or enlightened mind.

16 As long as a living being is not awakened from its sleep, it has to labor under the inseparable mist of worldly errors. 17 But the darkness hanging over the minds of the enlightened is put to flight as quickly as the shade of night spreading over the bed of lotuses is dispersed at sunrise.

18 That which the learned call the heart, the mind, the individual soul, ignorance, desire, and the principle of action is the embodied being that is subject to the feelings of both pleasure and pain. 19 The body is dull matter unconscious of pain and pleasure. Men of right reason say that the embodied being is subject to pain and pleasure because of its stubborn ignorance and irrationality. The embodied being is the cause of its own misery. 20 The individual soul is the subject of its good and bad actions. It becomes confined in its body because of its irrationality and remains trapped there like a silkworm in its cocoon.

21 The mind being tied to its ignorance exerts its faculties in various ways, and turns round like a wheel in its various pursuits and employments. 22 The mind dwelling in the body makes it rise and sit, eat and drink, walk and go, and hurt and kill, all of which are acts of the mind and not of the body. 23 As the master of the house does his many acts in it, and not the house itself, so the mind acts its different parts in the body, and not the body by itself. 24 The mind is the active and passive agent of all actions and passions, and of the pains and pleasures of the body. It is only the mind that makes the man.

25 Now hear me tell you the useful moral of the story of Lavana, and how he was transformed to a tribal (chandala, outcaste) by derangement of his mind. 26 The mind has to feel the effects of its actions whether good or evil. In order that you may understand it well, listen attentively to what I will now tell you.

27 Lavana was born of the line of King Harish Chandra. One day, as he was sitting apart from all others of his court, he was thinking to himself, 28 “My grandfather was a great king and performed the rajasuya sacrifice. I, being born of his line, must perform the same in my mind.”

29 Having determined so, and getting the things ready for the sacrifice, he entered the sacrificial hall for his initiation in the sacred rites. 30 He called the sacrificial priests and honored the holy saints. He invited the gods to it and lighted the sacrificial fire. 31 Having performed the sacrifice to his heart’s content, and having honored the gods, sages and brahmins, he went to a forest to live there for a year (all in his own mind).

32 Then, having made presents of all his wealth to brahmins and other men, he awoke from his slumber in the same forest by the evening of that day. 33 Thus King Lavana attained the merit of the sacrifice, in his internal satisfaction of having attained the merit of the sacrifice.

34 Hence learn to know that the mind is the recipient of pleasure and pain. Therefore employ your attention, Rama, to the purification of your mind. 35 Every man becomes perfect in his mind in its full time and proper place, but he is utterly lost who believes himself to be composed only of his body. 36 The mind being roused to transcendental reason, all miseries are removed from rational understanding, just like the beams of the rising sun falling upon the lotus bud dispel the darkness that had closely contracted its folded petals.