Chapter 18 — Incarnations of the Living Spirit

Vasishta continued:—

Living souls (jivatman) residing in the seeds of material bodies in all parts of the world differ from one another according to the difference in their knowledge of themselves. As long as there is no willingness or unwillingness connected with the identity of the living soul, it reposes in a state of rest, not unlike that of sound sleep (susupti). But living souls addicted to their wishes identify with those wishes and find themselves born here below in their desired shapes.

The subtle particles of the living soul and its inclinations run in one channel to the reservoir of life and are thickened into one living being by their combinations. Some are situated apart from one another and dissolve separately. Some are joined together and are born like two gunja fruit growing together. The universe consists of thousands of orbs like gunja fruit and contains the combinations of atoms on atoms and those unconnected with one another. The totality forms the great garden of God, Brahman.

These particles of the living soul and its inclinations being joined with one another become dense and thick and remain in the same place where it has grown. As ideas in the mind fall away, the mind changes and a different succession of births follow to suit those changes. Thus every regeneration of the mind in a new life is accompanied by its particular desires and their results. The new life is attended with its proper body unless the mind has been cleared of those thoughts. 10 As pure spirit in the form of vital breath (prana) performs the functions of the body, so the mind being reborn in a new body is employed in all the functions of that body.

11 The souls of all living beings are subject to the three states of waking, dreaming and sound sleep. These states are caused by the mind and not by the body. 12 The soul in its state as an individual person does not give rise to the body and passes under the triple conditions like seawater gives rise to the waves. 13 The living soul that has attained its intellectual state, beyond the conditions of sound sleep (susupti), is awakened to the knowledge of itself and is released from its rebirth, while the ignorant soul is subject to be born again.

14 Though knowing and unknowing souls attain the state of deep sleep and resemble each other in kind, yet the unknowing deep sleep soul that is not awakened to the knowledge of its spirituality is doomed to be reborn in the mortal world. 15 Omnipresent consciousness makes it pass into the mind of its next birth and exhibit itself in different forms in all its succeeding and subordinate regenerations. 16 These repeated births and regenerations are as endless as the many layers in the trunk of a plantain tree. The spirit of Brahma is adjacent to and pervades the whole, like the lofty leaves of the same tree.

17 The influence of the Divine Spirit is as cool as the cooling shade of a plantain tree. It is of its own nature and it is as unchangeable as the core of the plantain tree, in spite of the changes in all its outer coats and coverings. 18 There is no difference or diversity in the nature of Brahma the Creator in his repeated and manifold creations of worlds. He being the seed of the world shoots forth by his moisture into the form of the expanded tree of the world and becomes the same seed again. 19 So Brahman taking the form of the mind becomes the same Brahma by the memories of his mind, just as the sap of the soil makes the seed bring forth fruit which reproduces the same seed. 20 So the productive seed proceeding from Brahma displays itself in the form of the world. But as nobody can say what is the cause of the sap in the seed, so no one can tell why the spirit of God teems with productive seed (of Brahma) in it.

21 So no one should inquire into the cause of Brahma because his nature is inscrutable and indefinable. It is improper to say he is this or the other. 22 One must not attribute causality to what is not the cause, or impute causation of material bodies to the immaterial spirit of God that is the prime and supreme cause of all. We must reason rightly regarding what is certain truth and not argue falsely about what transcends our knowledge.

23 The seed casts off its seedy form and assumes the shape of fruit, but Brahman (the seed of all) contains the fruit (of the universe) in his bosom without laying aside the seed. 24 The seed of the fruit bears a material form, but Brahman the universal seed has no form at all. Therefore it is improper to compare the visible seed with the invisible Brahman who is beyond all comparison. 25 Brahman evolves himself in his creation and does not produce the world like fruit from seed. Therefore know the world is the empty heart of Brahman and is neither born nor unborn of itself.

26 The viewer viewing the view is unable to see his inner self because his consciousness, engrossed by external objects, is disabled from looking into itself. 27 Of what use is wisdom to one whose mind labors under the error of water in a mirage? What power has a mirage over a mind that possesses wisdom? 28 As one who sees a clear sky does not see every part of it, and as the eye that looks on all others does not see itself, so we see everything about us outside ourselves. 29 As one who sees a clear sky does not see what is above the sky, so we see ourselves and others as material beings. But we cannot see the inner part of the immaterial soul, as wise men do.

30 Brahma, who is as clear as the sky, cannot be perceived despite all our efforts because the sight of the sky as a visible thing cannot be compared to the invisible Brahman. 31 Such a sight cannot present itself to us unless we can see the true form of God. But the sight of subtlest things is far from being visible to the beholder. 32 We see only the outward sight because we cannot see the beholder of the sight. The beholder (God) is the only being in existence and all that can be seen is nothing. 33 God, permeate in everything that is visible, cannot be seen as a personal God or anything visible as a distinct thing. Because whatever the almighty King proposes to do, he instantly forms their notions and becomes the same himself.

34 As the sweet saccharine juice of the sugarcane thickens itself into the form of the sugar candy, so the will of God becomes compact in the solid body of the universe. 35 As the moisture of the ground in spring becomes incorporated in plant life bringing forth flowers and fruit, so the energy of Divine Consciousness turns itself into the living spirit which soon appears in a physical form.

36 Everything we see cannot be separated from our idea of it in our mind, so the inner notion shows itself in the shape of the visible object, like a vision in a dream, which is only a representation of thoughts entertained in our minds.

37 The ideas of self and others are like granules in the mind, like grains of salt produced in salty ground from the earth’s moisture. So the multitudes of thoughts in the mind are exactly like the grains of salt on the seashore. 38 As the serum of the earth appears in various shapes, so the sap of consciousness produces an infinity of ideas and thoughts growing like trees in the wilderness of the mind. 39 These trees again shoot forth in branches and leaves, of which there is no end. So every other world is like a forest supplying its sap to innumerable plants, like thoughts in the mind.

40 Consciousness perceives in itself the existence of everything as distinctly as the inherent power of the living soul exhibits itself in creation. 41 Every one’s intellect, by virtue of its former acts and their memories impressed upon the mind, perceives the existence of the world in the same manner as his living soul happens to meet with everything as present before it. 42 There are some living souls who meet and join with others and propagate their species, then cease to exist after having lived a long time together.

43 You must observe with keen sight and a well discerning mind in order to look into the different states and thoughts of others. 44 There are thousands of worlds contained in the mind, like atoms in earth, the ample space of the sky, and in water. Worlds reside in those atoms like oil in mustard seeds.

45 When the mind becomes perfect, it comes to be a living being. Consciousness being purified becomes all pervasive. Hence consciousness becomes one with the living spirit. 46 The individual selves from the lotus-born Brahma and all other living beings are only their own self-deception. The sense of the existence of the world is like a protracted dream rising and setting in the mind.

47 Some beings pass through successive states of existence, like a man passing from one dream to another, and they think they are firmly established in them, just as one supposes to be settled in some house appearing in his dream. 48 Whatever consciousness dwells upon at any time or place, it immediately sees the same appearing before it, just like anything seen in dream appears to be true to the dreamer at that time. 49 The atom of consciousness contains the particles of all our notions, just like the seed contains the powdery particles of future leaves, branches, flowers and fruit.

50 I consider the atoms of consciousness and the mind contained within the particles of the material body to be both empty and joined in one without causing a duality in their nature. 51 Consciousness conceives many other atomic germs within itself under the influence of particular times, places, actions and circumstances that cannot be extraneous from itself. 52 It is this particle of consciousness that displays creation like the vision of a dream before it. It is this conception that led the gods Brahma and others to the idea of their visible bodies, as it makes little insects think of their own bodies. 53 All that is displayed in this (outer) world is in reality nothing at all. Yet these living beings, though possessing the particles of consciousness in them, falsely conceive the duality of an extraneous existence.

54 Some intellects (of particular persons) display themselves in their bodies and derive pleasure from their consciousness through their eyes and external organs. 55 Others look on outer objects as receptacles of consciousness from the belief that the all pervasive, inseparable and imperishable Intellect (Soul) must abide in each and every one of them. 56 Some men view the entire physical world within the body instead of the all pervading consciousness of Brahma as Vishwarupa, the Universal Form. These being hardened by long habit of thinking so are plunged in the gulf of error. 57 They wander from one error to another just like a man sees one dream after another. They roll about in the pit of their delusion, like a stone hurled down from a hill.

58 Some persons rely on the union of the body and soul. Others who rely on the soul alone are placed beyond the reach of error. Many who rely only on their consciousness shine as rational beings. 59 They who think in terms of other people’s errors are to be considered as under the influence of false dreams in their sleep.

60 God being the all-pervading spirit of nature is truly seen in the spirit of everybody. Because He is everywhere, his omnipresence is present in everything in all places. 61 God, shining as everyone’s living soul, resides as the soul of each soul and mind whether directly or indirectly created. 62 One living being is born in another, and that again within another, like the layered bark of plantain trees that grow one under the other over the inmost core.

63 By changing from thinking about phenomena to recognizing their essence in the invisible fullness, we get rid of our error of the reality of the world of form, as we do of the ornament in the material gold.

64 He who does not inquire into the questions “Who am I?” and “What is the world?” is not liberated in his inner soul and suffers under the continuous fever of a false life. 65 He is successful in his inquiry who by his good understanding comes to know how to curb his worldly greed day by day. 66 As proper routine is the best medicine to secure the body’s health, so the habit of keeping the organs of sense under control is the only way to improve understanding. 67 He who rambles with his words and does not discern with his mind is like a blazing fire in a picture. No one can be wise until he gets rid of his false wit.

68 As the perception of air comes by feeling and not by word of the mouth, so wisdom proceeds from the curtailing of desires. 69 Ambrosia in a painting is no ambrosial food, fire in a picture is not burning flame, a beauty in a drawing is no beautiful maid, and wisdom in words only is lack of wisdom. 70 At first wisdom serves to weaken our passions and enmity, then to uproot them at once, and at last it lessens our desires and endeavors and gives the appearance of holiness to its possessor.