Chapter 39 — Vasishta Postpones the Question of Impurity from Purity; the Unity of All Things

Rama replied, “Tell me, O high-minded sage, how could creation proceed from the Supreme Brahma, whom you describe as remaining as still as a painting in the canvas of emptiness?”

Vasishta replied:—

O prince, such is the nature of Brahman that all power constantly flows from him, therefore every power is said to reside in him. In him resides entity and non-entity. In him there is unity, duality and plurality, and the beginning and end of all things. This is one and nothing else. It is like the sea whose waters have endless varieties of shapes. It represents the images of myriads of stars in its bosom, rising spontaneously of themselves.

As Consciousness becomes dense, it makes the mind and the mind brings forth all the powers of thinking, willing and acting. These it produces, accumulates, contains, shows and then absorbs in itself.

Brahman is the source of all living beings, and of all things seen all around us. His power is the cause that exhibits all things in their constant course or quiescence. All things spring from the Supreme Spirit and they reside in his all comprehensive mind. They are of the same nature as that of their source, like the water of the sweet and salt lakes.

Rama interrupted and said, “Sage, your discourse is very dark, and I cannot understand the meaning of what you are saying. There is the nature of Brahman, which you said to be beyond the perception of the mind and senses. Then what are these perishable things which you say have proceeded from him? If your reasoning comes to this conclusion, then I cannot rely upon it.”

10 “It is the law of production that anything produced from something is invariably of the same nature with that of its producer. 11 As light is produced from light, grain comes from grain, and man is born of man, and all kinds come out of their own kind. 12 Therefore the productions of the immutable Spirit must also be unchangeable and spiritual in their nature.”

13 “Beside all this, the Intellectual Spirit of God is pure and immaculate. This creation is all impure and gross matter.”

14 Upon hearing these words, the great sage said:—

Brahman is all purity and there is no impurity in him. The waves moving on the surface of the sea may be foul, but they do not soil the waters of the deep. 15 Rama, you cannot conceive of there being a second person or thing beside the one Brahman, just as you can have no conception of fire beside its heat.”

16 Rama replied, “Sage, Brahman is devoid of sorrow, while the world is full of sorrows. Therefore I cannot clearly understand your words when you say this to be the offspring of that.”

17 Valmiki said to Bharadwaja:—

At these words of Rama, the great sage Vasishta remained silent. He stopped his lecture and contemplated. 18 His mind lost its accustomed clarity, then recovering its clear vision, he pondered within himself in the following manner.

19 The educated and intelligent mind that has known the knowable One has reached the end of the subject of liberation by its own reasoning and intuition, as that of Rama. 20 It is no fault of the educated to have questions until it is explained to them to their full satisfaction, as in the case of Rama.

21 The half-educated are not fit to receive spiritual instruction because their view of phenomena, which dwells on obvious objects, proves to be the cause of their ruin. 22 But he who has come to understand in a transcendental light, and who has a clear insight of spiritual truths, feels no desire for sensual enjoyments and instead advances in course of time to the conclusion that Brahman is all in all things. (If the mind is pure, it instantly comprehends the truth.)

23 First the disciple has to be prepared and purified with the teachings and practice of stillness and self-control. Then he is to be initiated in the creed that “All this is Brahman and you are that pure Spirit.” 24 But who so teaches the faith of “all is Brahman” to the half taught and ignorant truly entangles him in the strong snare of hell.

25 The well discerning sage should tell only those who are enlightened in their understanding, whose desire of sensual gratifications has abated, who are free from their worldly desires, who are cleansed of the dirt of their ignorance, and who are prepared to receive religious and spiritual instruction. 26 The spiritual guide who instructs his student without weighing well his habits and conduct is a silly teacher and sinks into hell and has to dwell there until the last day of judgment.

27 The venerable Vasishta, who was the chief of sages and like the bright sun on earth, having considered these things, spoke to Rama as follows.

28 Vasishta said:—

I will tell you Rama, at the conclusion of this lecture, whether the attribution of the impurity of gross bodies is applicable to Brahman or not.

29 For now, know that Brahma is almighty, all pervading, omnipresent and is all himself. Because of his omnipotence, he can do and become all and everything of itself. 30 You see various practices of magicians and tricks of jugglers in producing, presenting, and hiding many things in the sight of men. These are all only unreal shows. In the same way Brahman produces, presents and removes all things from and into himself.

31 The world is filled with gardens like those in fairylands, and the sky is full with the airy castles of gandharvas and the abodes of gods. Men are seen to descend from the cloudless sky to the surface of the earth, and rise upwards to heaven (in vimanas, flying chariots). 32 Fairy cities, like the palaces of the gandharvas of the ethereal regions, are shown on earth and filled with the fairies of fairyland. 33 Whatever there is or has been or is to be in this world are all like reflections of the revolving sky and heavenly bodies, or of a brass ball affixed to the top of a tower and darting its golden light below. 34 All these are only exhibitions of the various forms of manifestations of the selfsame God.

35 Whatever takes place at anytime or in any place and in any form is only a variety of the One Self-existent reality. Therefore why, O Rama, should you give vent to your sorrow or joy, or wonder at any change of time or place or nature and form of things? They are all full of the spirit of God and exhibit the endless aspects of the Infinite Mood.

36 Let the intelligent preserve the sameness of their minds and dispositions amidst all changes, knowing them to be the varying conditions of the same unvarying Mind. 37 He who sees his God in all and is filled with equanimity has no cause for surprise, grief or delight or any other fluctuation of his mind in response to any change in nature or the ups and downs of his fortune. 38 In all the variations of time and place, and in all external circumstances, the unaltered mind continues to see the varieties of the power of his Maker.

39 The Lord proposes these plans in the formation of his creation and exhibits as the sea does its waves in endless varieties and successions from the fullness of his mind. 40 So the Lord manifests the powers situated in himself, as the sea does its waves in itself, as milk forms butter, as earth produces earthenware, or thread is woven into cloth. The fig tree brings forth its fruit and all other varied forms are contained in their sources. But these changes in form are phenomena and not real. They are mere appearances of the spectrum, like those of apparitions and phantoms.

41 There is no agent or object, no actor or act, or anything which is acted upon, nor is there anything that becomes nothing except by the variety of the one unity. 42 The mind that witnesses spiritual truths and retains its calmness unimpaired and unaffected by external accidents comes to see the light of truth by itself. 43 If there is a lamp, there is light also. The sun shining brings the day with him. Where there is a flower, there is its fragrance. So where there is a living soul, there is the knowledge of the world.

44 The world appearing all around is like the light of the soul. It appears like the motion of the wind of which we have no notion of its reality or unreality.

45 The immaculate Soul is the prime power of the appearance and disappearance of the myriads of gross bodies which, like the revolving stars of the sky and the seasonal flowers of spring, appear and reappear to us by turns, like the ups and downs of wheels in motion. 46 All things die away when our souls are without us, but how can anything be nothing when we are in possession of our souls?

47 All things appear before us in the presence of our souls and they vanish from before us in their absence from the body. 48 Everything is born with us with our souls and is lost with loss of them. The living have all, but the dead are lost to view. (The human soul, when joined with the Divine, has a clear view of everything.)

51 The minds of men are endowed with their knowledge at their very birth. Then growing bigger by degrees in course of time, they expand themselves into the form of this spacious forest of the world. 52 The woods of the world are the fastening post of the soul where our blooming desires are filled with fruits of poignant grief. It branches out with gratifications, blossoms with old age, and is breaking its good post and wandering at large of its free will. Therefore Rama, cut off the tree of worldly existence (samsara) with the sword of discrimination.