Chapter 21 — Philosophy of the Mind Creating Its Own Reality; Different Schools of Thought

Rama said, “Venerable sage who is acquainted with the mysteries of all things, I have a great question swelling in my heart like a huge surge of the sea. How is it, sage, that any foulness could attach to the mind when it is situated in the eternal purity of the infinite Spirit unbounded by time and space? Again, as there is nothing, there never was anything, and there never will be anything other than the entity of the Holy One, how and from where could this foulness come in Him?”

Vasishta answered:—

Well said Rama! I see that your understanding is approaching the way to your liberation and exhaling the sweetness of the blossoms of the Nandana garden of paradise. I see your understanding is capable of judging both deductively (reason) and inductively (observation) and is likely to attain that acme which was gained by the gods Shankara (Shiva) and others. However, it is not yet the proper time and place for you to ask this question. It should be asked when I come to the conclusion of the subject. You should ask this question when I come to the conclusion, and it will be demonstrated to you as clearly as the location of a place on a map placed in the palm of your hand.

Your question will be most suitable at the end, just as the sounds of the peacock and swan are best suited to the rainy season and autumn. The blueness of the sky is pleasant to look upon at the end of the rainy weather, but it is odd to speak of it during rain.

10 It is best to investigate into the mind by the nature of its acts and operations that tend to be the causes of the repeated births of mankind. 11 The mind by its nature has the power of thinking and, as determined by the seekers of salvation, the mind leads all the organs and body part to their several actions. 12 Men learned in scriptures and eloquent in speech have given various names to the mind in different systems of philosophy according to the mind’s various perceptive faculties and different functions and operations in the body. 13 Whatever nature the mind assumes by the fickleness of its thoughts, it receives the same name and nature for itself, just like the same fleeting air receives from blowing different smells.

14 The mind delights itself with thoughts of its desired objects and assimilating itself into their natures. 15 It receives the same form in which it delights and which it assumes to itself in its imagination. 16 The body, being subject to the mind, is molded in the same form as the mind, just as wind is perfumed by the fragrance of the flower bed through which it passes. 17 The inner senses being excited actuate the outward organs of sense in their own ways, just as the exciting motion of winds drives the dust of the earth before their course. 18 The mind exerts its powers to make the external organs perform their several functions, just as flying winds drive dust in different directions.

19 Such are the acts of the mind which is said to be the root of action, and these combine together as inseparably as the flower and its fragrance. 20 Whatever nature the mind adopts to itself by its accustomed habit, the same shoots forth in the form of the mind’s two kinds of movement: will and action. 21 The mind does its action and brings about the result by its diligent application. In the same way, the mind enjoys the results and enslaves itself to the enjoyment.

22 The mind understands what is its right course, which is whatever agrees with its temperament, and the mind knows for certain that there is no other way to its real good other than its accustomed course. 23 Minds of different casts follow different pursuits according to their particular inclinations. Minds employ themselves in the acquisition of wealth and virtues, desired objects and liberation according to whatever they think is their best choice.

24 Kapila (Samkhya) philosophers say the mind is a pure substance, like immaterial consciousness, and this view is adopted in their philosophy and scriptures. 25 These men, relying on the error of their own hypothesis, teach their supposed view of the mind to others as the only light to guide them in the way of their salvation.

26 But the teachers of Vedanta doctrines acknowledge the mind as Brahma himself and preach peace and self-control as the only means to attain liberation. 27 The authoritative assertion of Vedanta is that there is no other way to the salvation of the supposed mind, and it is an assumed dogma in other schools also. 28 The Vijnanavada philosophers also have ascertained and upheld peace and self-government as the leaders to liberation, but this too is an expression of their false understandings.

29 Thus all sects give out their own views in the false rules they have adopted for the salvation of their supposed minds. Each school asserts that there is no other way to salvation except what they lay down. 30 So Buddhists and the other sectarians propose a variety of fictitious methods for the liberation of the mind out of their arbitrary will in their respective scriptures. 31 The arbitrary rules of the learned, and those unsupported by the Sruti scriptures, are as numerous and varying from one another as bubbles in clear water.

32 Mighty Rama, know that the mind is the source of all these rules and methods, just as the sea is the source of every kind of gem. 33 There is no innate sweetness in sugarcane or bitterness in the neem leaf, both of which are sucked by insects. There no heat or cold inherent in the sun or moon. It is the intrinsic habit of the mind that makes the difference. 34 Thus those who want to enjoy the unadulterated happiness of their souls should habituate their minds to assimilate themselves to that happy state, and they are sure to have the same. 35 The mind having fled from the sphere of the phenomenal world becomes exempt from all its pleasure and pain, like a young bird with feathers flying in the air by casting off its eggshell and leaving its cage below.

36 O sinless Rama, cherish no fondness for the phenomenal world, which is an unreal illusion full of fear and un-holiness stretched out to catch the mind. 37 The wise describe our consciousness of the world as a magic scene (maya), an appearance of ignorance (avidya), a mere thought, and the cause and effect of our acts. 38 Know that the delusive mind stretches the visible world before you. Therefore rub it off from the mind like dirty mud.

39 This visible appearance that naturally appears before you in the form of the world is called a product of ignorance by the wise. 40 Men being deluded by it are at a loss to know their real good, like the blinded eye is incapable of seeing the brightness of the day. 41 Contemplation of objects presents phenomena to our view, like trees in the empty sky. Being without thought of objects removes their images from inner and outer sights.

42 The abstract meditation of the thoughtful yogi weakens the outward impressions, and by dissociating the soul from all external things, keeps it steady and calm in itself. 43 The mind, by removing its attention from unreal sights, is inclined to the right view of things and produces clarity of understanding and a detached tranquility of the soul. 44 The mind that regards neither realities nor unrealities and is unconscious to pleasure and plain feels in itself the delight of its singleness or unity.

45 Application of the mind to unworthy thoughts and to the internal or external sights of things blocks the soul from tasting the sweets of its unity. 46 The mind that is subject to endless desires is like the clear sky hidden by clouds. Such a mind wanders in the maze of doubt between truth and untruth, such as supposing the rope to be the serpent.

47 Man, by the mist of his doubts, obstructs his own sight of the clear sky of his consciousness. But he is unaware of his error’s obstruction and indulges the fancies of his imagination that adds to his error. 48 He takes the true, incorruptible and supreme Brahma in a different light, as one mistakes one thing for another in the dark or in his error. 49 When man is rid of his false imagination, he comes to the knowledge of true God and his happiness, like one freed from his false apprehension of a tiger in a thicket is set at rest with himself. 50 The imaginary monster of one’s imprisonment in the emptiness of the body is dispersed by his insight into it, just as the fear of a lion lurking in the jungle is removed upon finding no such thing. 51 So when you look deeply, you will find no bondage in the world. The notions that this is the world and this is myself are only errors of the mind. 52 Flight of fancy fills the mind with illusions of good and evil, just as the shade of evening presents apparitions of vetala ghosts to little children.

53 Our fancies alight on us at one time and depart at another. They assume different forms at will, just like our consorts act the part of wives in our youth and nurses in our old age. 54 She acts the part of a housewife in her management of household affairs, and she is taken as a mistress when she embraces us in her bosom. 55 Like an actress, the mind forgets to display its parts when it plays another, so everybody is absorbed in the thoughts he has in his head and neglects other thoughts which are absent.

56 The ignorant do not perceive the selfsame unity in all the things he sees in the world. They see everything in the light of the ideas they have imprinted in their minds. 57 They also meet with results in the forms they have in mind, even though in reality they are not what they seem to be, nor are they entirely false. 58 Man sees everything in the same manner in which he thinks it in himself. If his fancy is an elephant in the sky, he sees elephants in clouds. 59 In his thought he believes these elephants are pursuing their mates, so it is the thought that gives the outward forms of things.

60 Rama, repel your drowsiness and behold the Supreme Soul in your soul. Be like a bright jewel by repelling the shadows of all external things. 61 It is impossible, O Rama, that one so enlightened as you will receive the reflection of the world as dull matter, like others do. 62 Being certain of its immateriality. Never taint your mind with its outward coloring or the knowledge of its reality, but know the reflection of the world is in no way distinct from the Supreme Spirit. 63 Keep in your mind that Being who is without beginning or end, and meditate on the spirit in Spirit. Do not let the reflections of your mind stain the pure crystal of your soul. 64 Be on your guard so you never allow the reflections of your mind to taint the clear crystal of your soul. Remain unmindful of phenomena and do not regard any worldly desire.