Chapter 53 — Explanation of the City

Vasishta continued:—

Then the boy asked his holy father, who was sitting reclined on his sacred kadamba tree in the midst of the forest of great Asia in the gloom of night. The son said, “Tell me sage, who is this air-born king of supernatural form who you described just now? I do not fully comprehend its meaning, and I want it to be explained to me clearly. Sage, you said that this king constructs a new home for himself while residing in his present body, and leaves for it after he leaves the old frame. This seems impossible to me, as the joining of one tense with another, the present with the future.”

Dasura replied:—

My son, hear me tell you the meaning of this parable, which will explain to you the nature of this revolving world in its true light.

First I told you that in the beginning, a non-entity sprang from the entity of God, and this non-entity being stretched out afterwards gave rise to this illusory world called the cosmos. The empty spirit of the Supreme Deity gives rise to his formless will, which therefore is called air-born (or mind-born). It is born of itself in its formless state from the formless Spirit, and dissolves itself into the same, just like a wave rising from and falling in the bosom of the sea. Will produces everything, and there is nothing produced except by the Will. The Will is the same as its object, which constitutes and exists in it, and it lives and dies along with its object.

Know the gods Brahma, Vishnu, Indra, Shiva and the Rudras are offspring of the willful Mind, just like branches are the offshoots of the main tree and summits are projections of the principal mountain. This Mind, in its form of Virinchi, the first manifestation as Brahma, builds the city of the three worlds in the vacuum of Brahman by reason of it being endowed with intelligence from Omniscience. 10 This city is composed of fourteen worlds (planetary spheres) containing all their peoples, together with chains of their hills and forests and those of gardens and groves. 11 It is furnished with the two lights of the sun and moon, and adorned with many mountains for human sport.

12 Here pearly rivers flow in their winding courses and bear their swelling waves and rippling waves, shining like chains of pearls under sunbeams and moonlight. 13 The seven oceans appear like so many lakes of bright waters and, shining with their undersea fires, they resemble the lotus beds and mines of gems beneath the blue sky.

14 It is a distinguished place where gods, men and savages make their commerce with commodities leading either to heaven above or to hell below. 15 The self-willed king (the mind) has employed many persons to act their several parts before him for his pleasure. 16 Some are placed high above this stage to act as gods and deities. Others are set in lower pits of this earth and infernal regions to act their miserable parts as men and naaga serpents. 17 Their bodies are made of clay and their frame work is of white bones. Their plastering is the flesh under the skin like an air-powered machine. 18 Some of these bodies have to act their parts for a long while, while others make their exits in a short time. Some are covered with caps of black hair, and others with white and grey on their heads.

19 All these bodies are furnished with nine crevices, consisting of the two ear holes, two sockets of the eyes, and two nostrils with the opening of the mouth, which are continually employed in inhaling and exhaling cold and hot air by their breathing. 20 The ear holes, nostrils and palate serve as windows to the abode of the body. The hands and feet are the gate ways, and the five inner organs are like the lights of these homes.

21 Then the mind creates of its own will the delusion of egoism, which like a yaksha demon takes possession of the whole body, but flies before the light of knowledge. 22 The mind, accompanied by this delusive demon, takes great pleasure in diverting itself with unrealities. 23 Egoism resides in the body like a rat in a barn or a snake in hollow ground. Upon advance of the sunlight of reason, ego falls down like a dew drop from the blade of grass. 24 It rises and falls like the flame of a lamp in the home of the body. With all its desires, it is as noisy as the sea with its ceaseless waves.

25 The mind constructs a new house for its future home by virtue of its interminable desires in its present house, and which are expected to be realized and enjoyed in its future state. 26 But no sooner does it cease to foster its desires than it ceases to exist and loses itself in that state of supreme bliss of which there can be no end. 27 But it is born and reborn by its repeated desires, just as a child sees a ghost by its constant fear of it. 28 Ego spreads the view of this miserable world before him. Absence of self knowledge blocks the sight of all objects from view, like a veil of thick darkness that hides all things from sight. 29 In this way, one’s own attempt exposes himself to the miseries of the world, then he wails at his fate like a foolish monkey that brought on its own destruction by pulling out the peg from the chink in the timber.

30 The mind remains in eager expectation of the enjoyment of its desired objects, like a stag standing with its mouth lifted waiting for a drop of honey to fall from a honeycomb hanging on high. 31 The wistful mind now pursues its desired objects, then forsakes them in disgust. Now it longs for joy, then it grows sulky at its failure like a fretful child.

32 Now try diligently, my boy, to extricate your mind from all outward objects and fix your attention to the inner object of this meditation. 33 The willful mind takes at its pleasure its good, bad and moderate or sober forms, known under the names of sattva, rajas and tamas. 34 The bad or weakened form of the mind delights in worldliness and by debasing itself with all its greedy desires, reduces itself to the state of worms and insects in future births.

35 The good disposition of the mind is inclined towards virtuous deeds and the acquisition of knowledge. By these means the mind advances both to its solitude and self enjoyment. 36 In its form of moderation, the mind observes the rules and laws of society and conducts itself in the world in the company of friends and members of the family. 37 After renunciation of all these three forms, sattva, rajas and tamas (purity, action and laziness) and abdication of egoism and desires, it reaches to the state of the absolute Supreme Being.

38 Therefore shun the sight of what can be seen and repress your fleeting mind by your sober intellect. Diminish your desires for all internal as well as external goods. 39 For though you may practice your austerities for a thousand years and crush your body by falling from a precipice upon stones, 40 and although you burn your body alive on a flaming pyre or plunge yourself into the undersea fire, or if you fall in a deep and dark pit or well or rush upon the edge of a drawn and sharp sword, 41 or if you have Brahma himself or even Shiva for your teacher, or get a very kind and tender hearted ascetic for your religious guide, 42 or whether you are situated in heaven or on earth or in the hell regions of Patala below, you have no way of liberation except by keeping your desires under control.

43 Therefore, exert your courage and dominate your irresistible, violent desires and passions, which will secure your pure and transcendent joy of peace and holiness.

44 All things are linked together under the bondage of desire. This bond being broken asunder makes desired objects vanish into nothing. 45 The real is unreal and the unreal is real, just as the mind may make it appear to be. All reality and unreality consists in our conception of them, and in nothing else. 46 As the mind conceives a thing to be, so it perceives the same in actuality. Therefore, if you want to know the truth of it have no conception of anything.

47 Act as the world goes, without liking or disliking anything. Thus, desires being at an end, consciousness will rise to the unfathomable beyond the knowledge of the mind. 48 The mind, having sprung from the Supreme Soul in the form of goodness, afterwards is inclined towards the unrealities of the world and surely alienates itself from the Supreme and exposes itself to all sorts of misery.

49 We are born to the doom of death, but let us not die to be reborn to the miseries of life and death again. It is for the wise and learned to take themselves to that state which is free from these pains. 50 First learn the truth and attain the true knowledge of your soul. Then abandon all your desires and dislikes of the world. Being thus prepared with a dead-like unconsciousness of your internal feelings, you will be able to come to the knowledge of that transcendental state which is full of perfect bliss and blessedness.