Chapter 35 — Description of Detachment & Bliss

Vasishta continued:—

Blessed are the virtuous who have cleansed their hearts from the dirt of ignorance. Victorious are those heroes who have conquered their insatiable and uncontrollable minds. It is self-control, the management of one’s own mind, that is the only means of wading through all troubles and distress amid all the dangers and difficulties of this world.

Hear the summary of all knowledge and retain and cultivate it constantly in your mind. The desire of enjoyment is our bondage in the world and its abandonment is our release from it. What need is there of many teachings? Learn this one truth as the sum and substance of all. All pleasures are poisonous and destructive. You must fly from them as from venomous snakes and a raging fire.

Consider well and repeatedly that all that can be perceived by the senses are like hydras and dragons, and their enjoyment is gall and poison. Keep them at a distance and pursue your lasting good. The mind of desires produces destructive evils, like sterile ground is fertile only for thorns and brambles. The mind devoid of desire lacks its expansion, as the heart lacking its passions and affections is curbed and contracted in itself. The well disposed mind always teems with virtues that are opposed to wrong acts and vice, just like fertile ground grows good and useful trees in spite of weeds and bushes.

When the mind gains its serenity by culture of good qualities, the mist of its errors and ignorance gradually fade and fly away like clouds before the rising sun. 10 Good qualities shining in the mind, like stars in a moonlight sky, give rise to the light of reason, like the bright sun of the day. 11 As the practice of patience grows familiar in the mind, like medicinal vamsa-lochana within bamboo, it gives rise to the quality of firmness in a man, like the moon brightens the spring sky.

12 Company of the good is a tree that gives its cooling shade of peace and yields the fruit of salvation. Its effect on righteous men is like that of the stately sarala tree distilling the juice of spiritual joy from the fruit of samadhi. 13 Thus prepared, the mind becomes devoid of its desires and enmity and is free from all troubles and anxieties. It becomes dull to the feelings of grief and joy, and also of pain and pleasure, and all its restlessness dies in itself. 14 Its doubts about the truth of scriptures die away, just as the table of values and all its curiosities for novelties are put to a stop. Its veil of myths and fictions is unveiled, and its ointment of error is rubbed out of it.

15 The mind’s attempts, efforts, malice, disdain, distress and disease are all removed. The mist of its grief and sorrow and the chain of its affections are all blown and torn away. 16 It discards the children of its doubts, repudiates the consorts of its greed, and breaks loose from the prison-house of its body. It then seeks the welfare of the soul and attains its godly state of holiness. 17 It abandons the causes of its stoutness and relinquishes its choice of this thing and that. Then remembering the dignity of the soul, it casts off the covering of its body like straw.

18 The elevation of the mind in worldly affairs tends to its destruction, and its depression in these leads to its spiritual elevation. The wise always lower their minds (pride) but fools are for elevating them. 19 The mind makes the world its own and ranges all about it. The mind raises mountains and climbs over them. The mind is like an infinite vacuum. It comprehends all emptiness in itself and it makes gods of friends and foes of others.

20 When understanding is soiled by doubts and forgets the true nature of consciousness, and when it is full of all its worldly desires, then it takes upon the name “mind.” 21 Consciousness perverted by its various desires is called the living soul or the animal soul, which is distinct from the rational soul. 22 Understanding which forgets its intellect and falls into the error of its own personality is what we call the internal principle of the mind which is all hollow within.

23 The soul is not the man of the world nor is it the body or its blood. All material bodies are only gross and dull matter, but the soul in the body is empty air and intangible. 24 The body being dissected into atoms and analyzed in all its particles presents nothing but blood and entrails, just like the plantain tree, when cut into pieces, presents nothing but its folded rinds.

25 Know that the mind and living soul make a man assume his mortal form. The mind takes its form by itself according to his own choice. 26 Man stretches his own sphere of action by his own choice only to entrap himself in it, just as the silkworm weaves its cocoon for its own imprisonment. 27 The soul lays down its error of being the body when it has to leave the body at some time or other, then the soul assumes another form as the germ sprouts forth into leaves.

28 As the desire or thought is in the mind, so is it born in its next state of transmigration. Hence the new born babe is given to sleeping because it thinks itself to be still dead, lying in the nighttime of his death. It is also given to the dreaming of those things which had been the objects of its desire or thought in its previous state or birth.

29 So sour becomes sweet by mixture with sugar, and bitter seed produces sweet fruit by being sown with honey. So on the contrary, sweet becomes bitter by mixing in gall and wormwood. 30 Aiming after goodness and greatness makes a man good and great. One wishing to be an Indra, a lord of gods, dreams of his lordliness in his sleep. 31 An inclination to meanness demeans a man and a tendency to vileness maligns his conduct in life, just like one deluded by his imagination of devils comes to see their apparitions in his nightly visions.

32 But what is naturally foul or fair can hardly turn otherwise at anytime, as a still lake never becomes muddy and a dirty pool never becomes glassy. 33 The perverted mind produces the fruits of its perversion in all its actions, while pure-mindedness is filled with the effects of its purity everywhere. 34 Good and great men never forsake their goodness and greatness, even in their fall and decline, so the glorious sun fills the vault of heaven with his glory even when he is sinking below the horizon.

35 There is no restriction or freedom of the human soul to or from any action or thing in this world. The soul is a mere passive and neutral consciousness of all that passes before it like a magic scene. 36 The world is a magical city, like a mirage appearing to sight. It is of the nature of a delusive panorama that shows many moons of the one whose unity admits of no duality. So the one Brahman is represented as many by delusion. 37 All this truly is the essence of Brahman and this is the sober reality. The material world is insubstantial and when seen truly appears as a hollow phantom.

38 The ignorant person’s misjudgment is that “I am not the infinite but an infinitesimal,” but the certainty of my infinity and supremacy is the means for my absorption into the Infinite and Supreme. 39 The belief of one’s individuality as “I am this” in his undivided, all pervasive and transparent soul is the cause of bondage to his personality. It is a web spun by his false dualism. 40 The supreme truths of true philosophy are the lack of knowledge of one’s bondage or freedom, the knowledge of his unity or duality, and his belief in the totality of Brahman.

41 The conditions for beholding Brahman in the soul are its perfect transparency amounting to its emptiness, and its lack of attachment to visible appearances, and also its indifference to all that is. There is no other way. 42 The condition for receiving the sight of Brahman is the purity of the mind produced by acts of holiness, just like the whiteness of a cloth can receive any color upon it.

43 O Rama, think that your soul is same with the souls of all other persons and abstain from all other thoughts, whether what is desirable or undesirable, what invigorates or enfeebles the body, or what brings liberation after bondage, or salvation after sinfulness. 44 The mirror of the mind, cleansed by the knowledge of the scriptures and made dispassionate through understanding, receives the reflection of Brahman like a clear crystal reflecting the images of things.

45 Sight which is familiar with visible objects, and not with images and ideas in the mind, is called false vision of what is soon lost from view. 46 When the mind is fixed upon God by abstracting its sight from all mental visions and what the eye sees, it has then the view of the Supreme before it. 47 Visible sights which are obvious to view are all only unreal phantoms. It is the absorption of the mind in the Divine that makes it identical with the Divine and no other. 48 We see something with our attention now, but it was not in our sight before or after we turn away. Therefore it must be considered absent in between before and after. Therefore one unacquainted with his mind is as ignorant as the man who is unaware of what he holds in his own hand.

49 One having no knowledge that the world is the same with the Supreme Spirit is always subject to misery, but the negation of any distinction between what can be perceived and God gives us both the pleasure of our enjoyments here and our liberation in future. 50 It is ignorance to say that water is one thing and its wave is another, but it shows intelligence to say they are the one and the same thing.

51 The vanities of the world are associated with sorrow. Therefore discard all aspects of vanity. The abandonment of extravagance ultimately will lead to your attainment of wisdom. 52 The mind composed of vain desires is an unreality in itself. Therefore, O Rama, why should you sorrow for something which in reality is nothing? 53 O Rama, look upon all things as traps set to ensnare the soul and regard them with an eye of apathy and unconcern, as an unkind kinsman looks upon his relatives. 54 As the unkind relative is unconcerned with the joys and grief of his relations, so should you remain aloof from all things by knowing the falsehood of their nature. 55 Rely on that eternal Spirit which is infinite knowledge and joy, and which is between the viewer and the view. After the swiftness of the mind’s flight is at an end, it will be fixed to the truth and adhere to it like clay. 56 The airy flight of the mind being restrained, the sluggish body must cease to run about and the dust cloud of ignorance will no more spread over the city of the world.

57 When the rains of our desires are over and the calmness of the mind is restored, when the shuddering cold of dullness has fled, when the mud of worldliness is dried up, 58 when the channel of our thirst is dried up, when drinking pots are sucked up and emptied, when the forest of the heart is cleared and its brambles are rooted out, and when the frost of false knowledge has disappeared, 59 then the mist of error vanishes from view, like the shadow of night on the approach of dawn, and the cold of dullness is put to flight, like the poison of snake-bite by the potent charm of mantras. 60 Then the streams of our desires do not run down the rock of the body, nor do the peacocks of our fleeting wishes fly and sport on its top. 61 The sphere of our consciousness becomes as the clear sky and the light of the living soul shines as brightly over the body like the midday sun. 62 The cloud of error is dispelled and succeeded by the light of reason. The longings of the soul, purified of their impurities, make it shine brilliantly amidst its sphere.

63 Then raptures of serene delight shoot forth in the soul like blooming blossoms in the open air, and a cool light is shed upon it, like the cooling beams of the autumn moon. 64 This ecstasy of the soul unfolds all prosperity before it and fructifies with abundance the well cultivated ground of the reasoning mind. 65 It sheds its clear light all over the world and shows the depths of the hills and forests and everything on earth in their clearest light.

66 This bliss expands the mind and makes it translucent. It makes the heart like a clear lake, blooming with blossoms of the lotus of truth (sattva) without the dust of ego activity (rajas). It is never infested by the swarming passions of pride or idleness (tamas). 67 The mind, cleansed of its selfishness, turns to universal benevolence and philanthropy. Being quite calm in itself without any desire of its own, the mind reigns as lord over the city of its body.

68 The man whose investigation has made him acquainted with all things, whose soul is enlightened with truth, whose mind is melted down from his pride, who is calm and quiet in his understanding, and who looks with pity at the unpleasant course of men’s births and deaths, he truly lives happily in the realm of his body without feverish anxiety about anything.