Chapter 38 — The Same Stillness of Spirit; the Mind as the Agent

Vasishta resumed:—

Such being the state of the wise, the actions they are seen to do, whether of goodness or otherwise or pleasurable or painful, and regardless of what they are engaged in, are false and as nothing and do not affect them as they do other worldly mortals. For what is a person’s action other than the exertion of mental and voluntary energies, with a fixed determination and desire of performing some physical acts?

The action of a man is defined to be the production of an act by appliance of the proper means, the exertion and action of the body in conformity with one’s ability, and the completion of the effect compatible with one’s intention, together with the enjoyment of the result of such agency. Moreover, whether a man is agent or no agent of an action and whether he goes to heaven or dwells in hell, his mind is subject to the same feelings as the desires he has in his heart. Hence the agency of the ignorant arises from their wishing to do a thing, whether they do it or not. But not so of the wise, who having no will, are not culpable even for their involuntary actions. Untutored minds are full with the weeds of vice, but well cultivated souls are quite devoid of them.

He who has the knowledge of truth becomes relaxed in his earthly desires. Though he acts his part well, he does not long eagerly for its result like others do. He acts with his body but with a quiet unconcerned mind. When successful, he attributes the gain to the will of God, but the worldly minded arrogate the result to themselves, though they could not bring it about.

Whatever the mind intends truly comes to pass, and nothing is achieved without the application of the mind. Therefore, agency belongs to the mind and not to the body. The world proceeds from the Divine Mind. The world is a development of the mind and it is situated in the (infinite and eternal) mind. Knowing all things to be manifestations of the powers of consciousness, the wise man remains cool to his desires.

The minds of those who know the soul come to the state of perfect detachment from their desires, just as when a false mirage of water is set down by raining clouds, and particles of morning dews are dried up by the raging sun. It is then that the soul is said to rest in its perfect bliss (turiya). 10 This is not the joy of the gusto of pleasure or the pain of sorrow or discontent. It does not consist of the liveliness of living beings or the inertness of stones. It is not situated in the midst of these opposites but in the knowing mind which is all rapture and ecstasy, infinite bliss (bhumananda).

11 But the thirst of an ignorant mind leads it to the moving waters of earthly pleasures, just like an elephant is misled to a foul pool where he is plunged in its mud and mire without finding anything that is really good.

12 Here is another example based upon a stanza in the scriptures which says, “A man dreaming himself to be falling into a pit, feels the fear of his fall in his imagination even when he has been sleeping in his bed; but another who actually falls in a pit when he is fast asleep, is quite unconscious of his fall. Thus it is the mind which paints its own pleasure and pains, and not the bodily action or its inactivity.”

13 Hence whether a man is the doer of an action or not, he perceives nothing of it when his mind is engrossed in some other thought or action. But he sees everything within himself who beholds everything in the abstract meditation of his mind. The thinking mind sees outward objects as reflections that are cast out from his pure consciousness.

14 Thus the man knowing the knowable soul, knows himself to be inaccessible to the feelings of pleasure and pain. Knowing this as a certainty, he finds that nothing exists apart from what is within the container of his soul, which is as minute as a thousandth part of a hair. This being ascertained, he views everything in himself. With this certainty of knowledge, he comes to know his self as a reflection of all things, present in all of them. After these determinations, he comes to the conclusion that he is not subject to pain or pleasure. Thus freed from anxieties, the mind freely exercises its powers over all customary duties without being concerned about them.

15 He who knows the self remains joyous even in his calamity and shines like the moonlight which enlightens the world. He knows that it is his mind and not his self that is the agent of his actions, although he is the doer of them. Knowing that the mind is the agent in all his actions, he does not assume to himself the merit of the exercise of his limbs, hands and feet, nor does he expect to reap the rewards of all his constant labors and acts.

16 Unrestrained minds become unrestrained agents, their mental actions (thoughts) become habits, and their endurance brings about the consequences. Thus the mind is the root of all efforts and exertions, of all acts and actions, of all their results and productions, and the source of suffering the consequences of actions. By doing away with your mind, you make a clean sweep of all your actions and thereby avoid all your miseries resulting from your acts. All these are at an end with the trance of the mind is at an end. It is a practice in yoga to relieve the excitement of the mind from its ever varying purposes.

17 See how a boy is led by the fancy of his mind to build his toy or hobby-horse, which he dresses and paints in his willful play without showing any concern or feeling of pleasure or pain in its making or its breaking, however he pleases. So does man build his aerial castle and level it without any sense of gain or loss. It is by his acting in this manner in all worldly matters that no man is spiritually entangled to them.

18 Amidst the dangers and delights of this world, what cause can there be for your sorrow other than you have the one and not the other? But what is there so delectable and delightful to be desired in this world that at the same time is not impermanent and perishable? Only your self, your soul which is neither the active nor the passive agent of your actions and enjoyments, although people attribute actions and their fruitions to it by their error.

19 The importance of actions and emotions to living beings is a mistake and not veritable truth. If we consider things correctly, we find no action or emotion having any relationship to the soul. Only the sensualist feels attachment or aversion to the senses and conscious actions and enjoyments, and not those who are detached from sensuous affections. 20 There is no liberation in this world for the worldly minded, while liberation is fully realized by the yogi whose mind, in its state of living liberation (jivan-mukta), is free from attachments to the world.

21 Though the sage is established in the light of his self-consciousness, yet he is aware of the distinctions between unity and duality, the true entity from the non-entities, and he sees the omnipotence in all powers that are displayed in nature. 22 To him there is no bond or freedom, no liberation or bondage whatever, and the miseries of ignorance are all lost in the light of his enlightenment.

23 It is in vain to wish for liberation when the mind is tied down to the earth. So it is redundant to talk of bondage when the mind is already fastened to it. Shun them both by ignoring your individual ego and remain fixed to the true Ego. Continue in this way to manage yourself with an unruffled mind on this earth.