Chapter 33 — Effort Attains; Ego & Its Three Forms

Vasishta continued:—

Knowing that the complete success of every undertaking depends on your own effort at all times and places, you should never be slack in your efforts. See how Nandi gratified the wishes of all his friends and relations by his own exertions, and how he became victorious over death itself by his adoration of Mahadeva Shiva by the side of a lake. See also, how the danava demigods by their greater wealth and prowess got the better of the gods who were filled with every perfection, just like elephants destroy a lake of lotuses. See how Marutta, the king of demons, by means of his sacrifice through the great sage Samvarta (the law giver), created another world like that of Brahma.

See, how Vishwamitra the general obtained the dignity of being one with Brahman by his great energy and continued efforts. By his austerities, he obtained what is impossible for another. See how in days of yore the poor and unfortunate Upamanyu obtained his nectar-like food of cake and curdled milk from the Milky Ocean by worshipping Shiva. See how the god Vishnu devoured the demons of the triple world like a wildfire destroys the tender filaments of lotuses, and how the sage Sweta became victorious over death by means of his firm faith in Shiva. Remember, how the chaste Savitri brought back her spouse Satyavana from the realm of death by prevailing on stern Yama with the sweet politeness of her discourse.

There is no great effort of any kind that goes unrewarded in this world. All impossibility is possible by ardent pursuit. 10 So men having full knowledge of the spirit and exerting their utmost devotion are able to root out their destiny of reincarnation that is filled with so much pain and pleasure. 11 All visible things are full of danger in the sight of the intelligent. There is no pleasure to be had from anything without its accompanying pain.

12 Though it is difficult to know the Supreme Brahman and easy to attain supreme joy, yet Brahman should be sought at first as the giver of all joy. 13 Forsake your pride and rely on your unalterable peace of mind. Consider well your worthiness in your understanding and remain attentive to the wise and good. 14 In this ocean of the world, there is no way for your salvation except by your attendance on the wise. All your pilgrimages, austerities and learning of the scriptures are of no avail to your liberation.

15 He is called wise whose greediness, anger and false conceptions decline day by day and who walks in the path of righteousness, as taught in the scriptures. 16 The company of spiritual guides serves to dispel phenomena from the sight of the devout, like invisibles hidden from sight. 17 In the absence of the objects of perception, only the Supreme Spirit remains in view and the human soul, having nothing else to rest upon, rests at last only in the Supreme Soul. 18 Phenomena did not exist before nor are they produced from nothing. They are not in existence though we see them in our presence, nor will they exist in the future. The Supreme alone exists forever without change or decay.

19 I have already shown you by various examples the falsehood of phenomena. Now I will show you the falsity of existence, as it is known to the learned.

20 Now that we have our passive consciousness of the three worlds, this being the sober truth of the wise, there can be no room for the unrealities of matter and illusion to enter into our belief. 21 The world is whatever wonders are displayed by the active consciousness to the inactive soul. 22 The notion of the world is derived from the rays of the central intellect stretching to the circumference of understanding. There being no difference between the radiating point and the radiated circle, we acknowledge the identity of the radiator, the radius and the circle.

23 The opening and shutting of intellectual eye causes the notions of the appearance and disappearance of the world in continued succession. 24 One unacquainted with the true sense of ego is blind within the luminous sphere of consciousness, but he who knows its true meaning finds himself within the sphere of spiritual light and loses himself in the divine light.

25 He who understands Divine Ego no longer retains any notion of his own ego but mixes with the Supreme Soul like a drop of water lost in the waters of the ocean. 26 In reality there exists no “I” or “you” or any visible world or anything else. Upon right reasoning, all these blend in the one Ego which remains and exists after all other existences.

27 Even clear understandings are sometimes clouded by false appearances, like children seized with false fear of demons or ogres. 28 As long as the moonlight of consciousness remains hidden by the darkness of individual ego, the lotus lake of spirituality will not bloom. 29 The feeling of ego being wiped from the mind, the sense of self and selfish passions will vanish of themselves from the heart and there will be an utter end to fears of death and hell, as also to desires of heaven and liberation. 30 As long as ego feelings float like clouds over the mind, there will be no end of desires growing in the heart like weeds in the plains. 31 As long as the cloud of ego continues to overcast the mind and obscure its consciousness, the humidity of dullness will fill its sphere and prevent the light of consciousness from piercing through it.

32 Ego pride is unmannerly in men. It is taken in the light of vanity. It is the cause of sorrow and not delight. It is like imaginary ghosts to children. 33 The vain assumption of egoism produces a great many errors. It leads to the ambition of gaining an infinity of worlds, as it was in the case of the foolish demons. 34 There is no error greater than the conceit that “I am such and such a great man.” There will never be a greater error to lead us to utter darkness.

35 Whatever joy or grief falls upon us at anytime in this changing world, it is all the effect of the rotating wheels of ego turning up and down at every moment. 36 He who weeds and roots out the germs of ego from his heart truly prevents the tree of worldliness from growing out in a hundred branches. 37 Belief in the individual ego is the sprout of the trees of our lives in their endless cycles through the world. The sense that “this is mine” is the cause that makes ego expand into a thousand branches.

38 Our desires and the objects of our desires disappear as swiftly as birds in flight. Upon mature consideration, they prove to be only bubbles bursting on the fleeting, impermanent waves of our lives.

39 It is because we have no knowledge of the one Ego that we think ourselves as “I”, “you”, “this” or the other. It is by shutting out our view of the only Soul that we see the constant revolutions of this world and that. 40 As long as the darkness of egoism reigns over the wilderness of human life, the goblin of selfishness infest it with its wanton revelry. 41 The vile man seized by the avaricious demon of selfishness is at an utter loss to satisfy his needs with any moral precept or spiritual mantra.

42 Rama said, “Tell me, O venerable brahmin, how can we suppress our egoism or selfishness and evade the dangers and difficulties in our course through the world?”

43 Vasishta replied:—

It is by seeking to settle the mind in the resplendent soul that shines in the transparent mirror of consciousness. In this way it is possible for anybody to suppress his sense of personal existence.

44 A close investigation into human life proves it to be a maze full with the false shows of magic. It is not worth loving or hating and it is not capable of causing our ego pride. 45 He whose soul is free from selfishness, who is devoid of the impressions of phenomena, whose course of life runs in an even course, is the man who can have no sense of ego in him.

46 He who knows his inner self to be beyond the external world and who neither desires nor dislikes anything in the world, and who preserves the serenity of his temper at all times, is not susceptible of egoism. 47 Whoever thinks himself to be the inner ideal, distinct from outward phenomena, and keeps the calm equanimity of his mind, is not ruffled by the feeling of his egoism.

48 Rama said, “Tell me, sage, what is the form of ego? Does it exist in the body or mind or both? Is it eliminated when the body dies?”

49 Vasishta replied:—

Rama, in this triple world there are three sorts of egoism. Two are of superior nature, but the third is of a vile kind and is to be abandoned by all.

50 The first is the supreme and undivided Ego that is diffused throughout the world. It is the Supreme Soul (paramatma) beside which there is nothing in nature. 51 The feeling of this kind of Egoism leads to the liberation of men, as in the state of the living-liberated.

The next form of self-consciousness is the knowledge of ego as distinct and apart from all, and as minute as the hundredth part of a hair. This ego is good also. 52 This second form of ego also leads to the liberation of human souls, even in the state known as living-liberation.

53 The last and worst kind of ego is identification with the body and all its parts. This ego takes the body to be the soul or self. 54 This third and last kind is the popular belief of mankind who take their bodies as parts of themselves. It is the basest form of ego and must be forsaken in the same manner as we shun our inveterate enemies. 55 The man debased by this kind of ego can never come to his right sense. Under the thrall of this powerful enemy, a man remains subject to all the evils of life. 56 Possessed with this wrong notion of himself, every man is constantly troubled by various desires in his mind, and these expose him to all the evils of life.

57 By means of the better senses of ego, men transform themselves into gods, but the common form of ego debases a man to the state of a beast and its attendant evils. 58 That “I am not the body” is the certainty arrived at by the great and good who, believing themselves to be of the first two kinds of ego, are superior to the vulgar. 59 Belief in the first two kinds raises men above the common level, but the ego of lower kind brings every misery on mankind.

60 It was owing to their baser sense of ego that the demons Dama, Byala and others were reduced to that deplorable state, as was related in their story.

61 Rama said, “Sage, describe to me the state of a man who has discarded the third or popular kind of ego from his mind, a man who attains the well being of his soul in both the present and future worlds.”

62 Vasishta replied:—

Having cast off this poisonous ego, a man rests in the Supreme Spirit in the same manner as the believers in the two other sorts of ego.

63 The first two views of ego place the egotist in the Ego of Divine Unity. 64 But all these views of ego, in reality, are only different forms of dualism. When lost in the Unity, all consciousness of distinct personality is absorbed in the Supreme One. 65 Good understanding should always strive to its utmost to get rid of its common and gross sense of ego, identity with the body, in order to feel in itself the indescribable joy of the Unity. 66 The greatest good that one can attain for his highest state of joy (parama padam) is to renounce the unholy belief in one’s separate personality in his material body.

67 The man who gives up his identity as a personal ego in his body is not debased or lost, either by his indifference to or by his management of worldly affairs. 68 The man who has rid his mind of ego by reducing his selfishness is indifferent to pain and pleasure, just as the satisfied are to the taste of sweet or sour. 69 The man detesting the pleasures of life has his full bliss presented before himself. The mind is cleared of its doubts and darkness has nothing hidden from its sight. 70 By investigation into the nature of the ego and forsaking this gross selfishness, a man crosses over the ocean of the world of his own accord.

71 The man who has nothing of his own, who knows himself as nothing, and yet who has all and thinks himself as all in all, and who though possessed of wealth and properties has the generosity of his soul to disown them to himself, he truly is situated in the Supreme Soul and finds his rest in the state of Supreme bliss.