Chapter 122 — Ascertainment of the Self or Soul

Vasishta said:—

After the birth of a man and a slight development of his understanding, he should associate with the company of good and wise men. Except by the light of scriptures and association with the good and wise, there is no way to cross the river of ignorance that runs in its constant course flowing in a thousand streams.

By reasoning man is able to discern what is good for him and what he must avoid. Then he arrives to that ground of reason which is known as good will, or a desire to do what is good and keep from what is bad and evil. Then he is led by his reason to the power of reasoning, discerning truth from untruth and right from wrong. As he improves in knowledge, he gets rid of his improper desires and purifies his mind from all worldly cares. Then he is said to have gained that stage of knowledge which is called the purity of his soul and mind, and of his heart and conduct.

When a yogi or adept attains full knowledge, he is said to have arrived at his state of goodness. By this means and the curtailing of his desires, he arrives at the state called detachment or indifference to all worldly matters and he is no more subjected to the consequence of his actions. 10 From the curtailment of desires, a yogi learns to withdraw his mind from the unrealities of the world.

11 Whether sitting inactive in samadhi meditation, or doing anything for himself or others, he must fix his mind to whatever produces real good to the world. His soul being cool by the faintness of his desires is habituated to do its duties without the knowledge of what it is doing. 12 Truly, he who has subdued his mind has reached the contemplative stage of yoga meditation.

13 Thus one who has his mind dead in himself learns by practice of years to perform his duties by refraining from his thoughts of external objects. Such a one is said to have attained turiya or the fourth stage of spiritual elevation and has become liberated in his lifetime. 14 He is not glad to get anything or sorry to miss it. He lives without fear of accidents and is content with whatever he gets.

15 O Rama, you have known whatever is to be known by man. You certainly have extinguished your desire in all your actions through life. 16 Your thoughts are all spiritual and transcend the actions of the physical body, though you are in your embodied state. Do not give yourself to joy or grief but know you are free from decay and defect. 17 Spiritually you are a pure and bright substance that is omnipresent, ubiquitous and ever in its ascendancy, devoid of pleasure and pain, and of death and disease. 18 Why do you lament at or loss of a friend when you are so friendless in yourself? Being thrown alone in this world, whom do you claim as a friend of your soul?

19 We see only the particles of matter of which this body is composed. It exists and passes away from its place in its time. But there is no rising or falling of the soul. 20 Being imperishable in yourself, why do you fear to fall into nothing? Why think of the destruction of your soul, which is never subject to death?

21 When a jar is broken in two, its emptiness is not lost but mixes with the air. The body being destroyed, the indestructible soul is not lost with it. 22 As the sunlight that causes the appearance of a river in a mirage is not lost at the disappearance of the apparent river, so the immortal soul does not perish upon dissolution of the frail body.

23 There is a certain illusion which raises false appetites within us. Otherwise, the unity of the soul requires the help of no duality or secondary substance in order to be united with the sole unity. 24 There is no object of sense — whether visible, tangible, audible or of taste or smelling — that can affect the unconnected soul. 25 All things and their powers are contained in the all-powerful and all-comprehensive soul. These powers are displayed throughout the world, but the soul is as void as the empty air.

26 O Raghava, mental deception presents the phenomena of the three worlds representing diverse forms according to the threefold nature (gunas) of man. 27 There are three methods of dispelling this delusion of the mind, namely, by the tranquility of the mind, by destroying its desires, and by abandonment of acts.

28 The world is a crushing mill with its lower and upper stones of the earth and heaven. Our desires are the cords that constantly drag us under it. Therefore Rama, break off these ropes. 29 Our ignorance of spiritual knowledge is the cause of all our errors, but our acquaintance with it leads us to endless joy and ultimately to Brahman himself. 30 A living being, having proceeded from Brahman and travelled over the earth at pleasure, in the end turns to Brahman through his knowledge of Him.

31 Rama, all things have sprung from one being who is perfect joy itself, inconceivable and without decay in its nature. All these things are like the rays of that light, or like the light of that everlasting fire. 32 These are like lines on the leaves of trees, and like the curls and waves on the surface of waters. They are like ornaments made of that gold, and like the heat and cold of fire and water. 33 Thus the three worlds exist in the thought of the Divine Mind. It has sprung from the mind of God and it rests in its same state with the all-comprehending Mind.

34 This Mind is called Brahma, who is the soul of all existence. He being known, the world is known also. As he is the knower of all, he gives us the knowledge of all things. 35 This all pervasive Being is explained to us by the learned with labels like soul, intellect and Brahma, used both in scriptures and popular language. 36 The pure notion that we have of an everlasting being, apart from all ideas from physical senses and impressions, is called Consciousness and soul. 37 This Consciousness or Intelligent Soul is much more transparent than the ethereal sky. It is the fullness that contains the plenitude of the world as a disjoined and distinct reflection of itself.

38 The knowledge that the unreal reflection of world is a separate existence is the cause of all our ignorance and error. But the view of their existence in the mirror of the Supreme Soul blends them all to myself also.

39 Now Rama, you have a bodiless soul of the form of pure consciousness. You can have no cause to fall into the error of being sorry for or afraid of the vanities of the world. 40 How can the un-embodied soul be affected by the passions and feelings of the body? It is only the ignorant and unintelligent who are subject to vain suspicions about unrealities. 41 Even the indestructible consciousness of the unintelligent is not destroyed by the destruction of their bodies. How then should the intelligent be afraid of their dissolution?

42 Consciousness is irresistible in its course and roves about the solar path. It is the intellectual part that makes the man, and not the outer body. 43 The soul called the inner person (purusha), whether it abides in the body or not, and whether it is intelligent or otherwise, never dies upon the death of the body.

44 Whatever miseries you meet with in this transient world, they all appertain to the body and not to the intangible soul or consciousness. 45 The intellectual soul is removed from the region of the mind. It is not approached by the pleasures and pains affecting the body and mind.

46 The soul that has curbed its earthly desires after the dissolution of its prison house of the body flies to its seat in the spirit of Brahman in the same manner as a bee lying hidden under the cover of lotus petals in the darkness of the night takes to its heavenward flight by the dawning light of the day.

47 If life is known to be frail and the living state to be a transient scene, then say, O Rama, what is lost by the loss of this prison-house of the body, and what is it that you mourn for? 48 Think therefore, O Rama, on the nature of truth and mind and not about the errors of ignorance. Be free from your earthly desires and know the sinless soul to be void of all desires.

49 The intellectual soul being tranquil and transparent, a mere witness of our doings without any doing or desire of its own, receives the reflection of the God without desire, just as a mirror reflects the images of things. 50 The soul being, as said before, a translucent particle, reflects the images of all worlds in itself like a polished gem reflects the rays of light in its bosom. 51 The relation between the detached soul and the world is like that of the mirror and its reflections. The difference and identity of the soul and the world are of the same kind.

52 As the activities of living beings have a free play with the rising sun, so the duties of the world are fully discharged by the rising of consciousness. 53 As soon as you get rid of your error of the substantiality of the world, you come to the consciousness of it being a vacuum resting in the spirit of God. 54 As the nature of a lighted lamp is to spread its light all around, so the nature of mental philosophy is to enlighten us with the real state of the soul.

55 The essence of the Supreme Soul at first gave rise to the mind (will) which spreads out the universe with its network of endless varieties. It was like the sky issuing out of the infinite emptiness and assuming the shape of blue atmosphere which is also a nothing. 56 Removal of desires melts down the mind and dissolves the mist of ignorance from the face of consciousness. Then appears the bright light of the one infinite and uncreated God, like the clear sky of autumn after the clouds disperse.

57 At first the mind grows out from the Supreme Soul with all its activities and takes the nature of the lotus-born Brahma by its desire of creation. It stretches out a variety of worlds by its creative will, like fancied apparitions appearing before the imaginations of deluded children. 58 Nonentity appears like an entity before us. It dies away at death and reappears with our new birth. The mind itself takes its rise from Divine Consciousness and displays itself in the substance of the Divine Soul, like waves playing on the surface of the waters of the deep.