Chapter 1 — Immaterial Spirit Cannot Have a Material Seed to Produce any Material World
1 Vasishta said:—
Attend now Rama, to the subject of existence which follows that of production. This knowledge produces nirvana or utter annihilation of the self or soul.
2 Know that the world of phenomena that exists before you, and your knowledge of ego or self-existence are only false conceptions of the formless nonexistence or emptiness. 3 You see tints of various colors painting the empty sky without any paint or their cause. This is only a conception of the mind without its visual perception, like the vision in a dream of one who is not in a state of sound sleep. 4 It is like a city in the sky built and present in your mind, or like shivering apes warming themselves by red clay thinking it to be red hot fire. It is pursuing an unreality.
5 The world of phenomena is only a different aspect of Brahma, like that of a whirlpool in water, and like the unsubstantial sunlight appears as a real substance in the sky. 6 It is like the baseless fabric of gold of the celestials on high, and like the air-built castle of gandharvas in the midway sky. 7 It is like a false sea in a mirage, appearing true at the time, and like the celestial utopian cities of imagination in empty air that are taken for truth. 8 It is like romantic realms with their picturesque scenes in poets’ imaginations which are nowhere in nature. It seems to be solid and thick within, but it is without any pith or solidity, like a thing in an empty dream.
9 It is like the ethereal sphere full of light all around but all hollow within. It is like the blue autumn sky with its light and flimsy clouds without any rainwater. 10 It is like an unsubstantial vacuum with the cerulean blue of solid sapphire, and like mansions and women appearing in dreams, fleeting as air and intangible to touch. 11 It is like a flower garden in a picture painted with blooming blossoms and appearing as fragrant but without any fragrance. It is luminous to sight without the inherent heat of light, and resembles the orb of the sun or a flaming fire represented in a picture. 12 It is like a domain of ideas, the language of the brain, an unreal reality, or a seeming something. It is like a painting of a bed of lotus lowers without essence or fragrance. 13 It is like the variegated sky painted with colors that it does not possess. It is as un-solid as empty air and as many colored as the rainbow without any color of its own.
14 All its various colorings of materiality fade away under the right discrimination of reason, and in the end it is found to be as un-solid a substance as the stem of a plantain tree. 15 It is like the rotation of black spots before the eyes of a blind man, and like the shape of a shadowy nonexistence presented as something existent before the naked eye.
16 Like a bubble of water, the world seems like something substantial to sight, but in reality all hollow within, and though appearing as juicy, it is without any moisture at all. 17 Bubbling worlds are as wide spread as the morning dews or frost, but take them up and you will find them to be nothing. Some think it is gross matter; others a vacuum. Some believe it is a fluctuation of thought or a false vision. Many believe it to be mere compounds of atoms.
18 I am partly of a material frame, my body and mind, but spiritually I am an empty immaterial substance. Although I can be felt by the touch of the hand, yet I am as intangible as a nocturnal fiend (an empty shadow only).
19 Rama said. “Sage, it is said that at the end of a great kalpa age, the visible world remains in its seed, after which it develops again in its present form. Please fully explain this to me. 20 Are they ignorant or knowing men who think in these ways? Please sage, tell me the truth to answer my questions and tell me about the process of development.”
21 Vasishta replied:—
Those who say that the physical world existed in the form of a seed at the final sleep of Brahma are altogether ignorant of the truth and talk like children to children. 22 Hear me tell you how contrary it is to right reason and how far removed from truth. It is a false supposition leading both the preacher and hearer of such a doctrine to great error and an egregious mistake. 23 Those who attempt to show the existence of the world in the form of a germ in a physical seed maintain a very silly position, as I shall now explain unto you.
24 A seed is in itself a visible thing. It is more an object of sense than that of the mind, like seeds of rice and barley are seen to sprout forth in their germs and leaves. 25 The mind is beyond the six organs of sense and is a very minute particle. It cannot possibly be born of itself, nor become the seed of the universe. 26 The Supreme Spirit also, being more rarefied than the subtle ether and indefinable by words, cannot be of the form of a seed.
27 That which is as minute as a nothing is equivalent to nothing. It could never be a physical seed, without which there could be no germ nor sprout. 28 That which is more rare and transparent than the empty and clear sky cannot possibly contain the world with all its mountains and seas, and the heavens with all their hosts in its transcendent substratum.
29 There is nothing in any way like a substance in the substantiality of that Being. If there is anything there, why is it not visible to us? 30 There is nothing that comes of itself, and nothing material comes from immaterial spirit. Who can believe a hill proceeds from the hollowness of an earthen pot? 31 How can a thing remain with another which is opposed to it in its nature? How can there be any shadow where there is light, and how does darkness reside in the disc of the sun, or even coldness in fire? 32 How can an atom contain a hill, or anything exist in nothing? The union of a similar with its dissimilar is as impossible as that of shadow with the light of the sun.
33 It is reasonable to suppose that the material seeds of the fig and rice should bring forth their shoots in time, but it is unreasonable to believe that a large material world to be contained in an immaterial atom.
34 We see the same organs of sense and their sensations in all men in every country, but there is no uniformity in men’s understandings, nor can there be any reason assigned to this difference. 35 Those who assign a certain cause to some event betray their ignorance of the true cause. What produces the effect except the very thing by some of its accessory powers?
36 Throw far away the doctrine of cause and effect invented by the ignorant. Know the truth that there is no beginning or end and it appears as the world.