Chapter 56 — The Paradox of the Soul as Passive Cause; Spirit & Corporeality Do Not Mix

Vasishta continued:—

Knowing the world to be a nothingness, you must cease to take any delight in it. For what reasonable being is there who would delight in its unreality? If you take the phenomenal world for a reality, you may continue to enslave yourself to the unreal material and lose the spiritual nature of your soul. If you know it to be a temporary existence, why should you take any interest in what is so frail and unstable, rather than care for your immortal soul?

The world is no substantial existence, nor are you a being of its emptiness. The world is only a clear reflection of the Divine Mind extending over all infinity. The world is neither an agent nor is it the act of any agent. It simply is the reflection of the ideal without any agency of its own.

Whether the world is with or without an agent, or has a maker or not, still you cannot determine whether it is a real substance except that it appears so to your mind. The soul is devoid of all organs of action and with all its activity, it remains motionless and without action, as anything that is inactive and immovable. The world is the production of a fortuitous chance, and none but children place any reliance on it. The world is neither stable nor fragile, but it is mutable from one state to another. It is known to us by its repeated reproductions and visibility. 10 It is neither everlasting nor a momentous thing. Its constant mutability contradicts its firmness, and its nothingness is opposed to its temporariness.

11 If the soul is the active power without its organs of action, it must be unfailing and entire because the continuance of its inorganic operations cannot weaken its powers. 12 Therefore there is an irresistible destiny which is absolutely overruling. The soul is existence and nonexistence itself. It is sedate and continuous, and all visible disturbances are only false appearances.

13 The limit of a hundred years for human life is only a very small portion of unlimited duration. Therefore it is very astonishing that anyone should be concerned with this small portion of his existence (in disregard of his eternal life).

14 If we grant that worldly affairs are durable, yet still they are not deserving of your reliance, because what faith can you rely on the union of two opposites such as the mind and matter? 15 And if the state of worldly things is unsteady and uncertain, it can not be deserving of your confidence. Say, can you be sorry at the dissolving of the foam and froth on milk or water? Then why should you lament at the loss of the perishable?

16 Know, O strong armed Rama, that reliance on the world is the fetter of the soul to it. It does not behoove anybody to join the perishable and imperishable together like water and its froth.

17 Although the soul is the agent (or source) of all actions, yet it remains as no agent at all. It is unconnected with its actions, as the lamp with its light. 18 Doing all it does nothing, like the sun directing the business of the day without doing anything by itself. It moves like the sun without moving from its place, but retains its station in its own orbit.

19 There is some hidden cause guiding the course of the world other than the soul and body, just as there is an unknown cause of the course of the Aruna River in spite of its being blocked by stones.

20 When you have known this for certain by your own proficiency, O Rama, and when you have well ascertained this truth by its clearest evidence, 21 you ought no more place any reliance on material things, which are as false as an ambient flame, or a vision in dream, or as any falsehood whatever. 22 As a stranger is not to be taken into your friendship on his first appearance, so you must never trust or rely on anything of this world through your ignorance. 23 Never place your reliance on anything of this world with the fond desire of an over-heated man looking towards the moon, or a cold-stricken man towards the sun, or a parched man does towards water in a mirage.

24 Look upon this ideal world (which is born of your brain) as you look upon a creature of your conception, a vision in your dream, an apparition, or the appearance of two moons in the sky by your visual deception. 25 Shun your reliance on the fair creation of your imagination and without minding what you are, conduct yourself cheerfully in your sphere. 26 Shun your desires and the thoughts of your agency, even when you are doing anything at all.

27 It is a general law that the proximity of the cause causes the act, even without the will of the actor, just as the presence of a lamp enlightens the room without the will of the lamp. 28 Look at the kurchi tree blooming and blossoming under the influence of heavy clouds, and not of its own accord. So it is destined for the three worlds to appear to sight under the influence of the Supreme Being. 29 As the appearance of the sun in the sky employs all beings to their daily duties without his will or command, so the omnipresence of God causes the actions of all beings of their own spontaneity and without his will, act or fiat. 30 And as a bright gem reflects its light without any will on its part, so the mere existence of God causes the existence of all worlds.

31 Thus are causality and its lack both situated in your soul, which therefore is called the cause of your actions because of its presence in the body, but in no way its cause owing to its lack of will. 32 The entity of the soul being beyond the perception of sense, it is neither the agent nor recipient of any action. But being confined in the conscious body, it is thought to be both an active and passive agent. 33 Thus the properties of both causality and its lack reside in the soul. You may take it in any light you want for your purpose and rest content with your belief. 34 But firmly believing yourself to be situated in the body doing actions without thinking of yourself as their author will save you from the guilt of all your acts.

35 The man who does not employ his mind to his actions becomes indifferent (vairagya) to the world. He is free from the world who is certain that he is no agent of his actions. 36 Whether a man is fond of his enjoyments or forsakes them in disgust, it is all the same to he who thinks himself to be no actor of them.

37 But if you wish to remain Rama with your high ambition of doing everything in the world, that is also good, and you may try to do that. 38 But if I do not fall into such a great error as to have this high aspiration of yours, then I am never liable to the passions of anger, enmity, and other violent emotions in this world.

39 The bodies that we bear are nourished by some and burned by others. Such being the state of our own being, we have no cause for our joy or sorrow in it. 40 Knowing ourselves to be the authors of our own happiness and misery, and knowing that we are the causes for the rise and dissolution of the world in our view, we have no reason to be joyful or sorry about it. 41 When we have that sweet composure which is a balm to all the diseases in our soul, then there is an end of the joys and sorrows of our own making. 42 Fellow feeling for all living beings makes the best state of the mind. The soul that is so disposed is not subject to reincarnation.

43 Rama, make this the best lesson for your conduct in life, that with all your activities you continue to think yourself as no actor at all. 44 Remain quiet and steady as you are by resigning all things to themselves. Never think that it is you who does or undoes anything. 45 But if you look to the different ways in which you do one thing or the other, then you can have no rest or quiet but must run in the way that leads to the trap of perpetual struggle and misery.

46 The belief of a man’s corporeality, that he is a destructible body and not a spiritual being, is only a bed of thorns to him. Therefore it must be avoided by all means in order to evade the danger of his imminent destruction. 47 Corporeality is to be shunned as a hell-hound feeding on dog meat. After the cloud of corporeality disappears from view, the light of spirituality will appear. 48 After the clouds of corporeal desires disperse, the pure light of spirituality presents the appearance of bright moonbeams of holiness. It is by the help of this light that the spiritual person is able to steer across the ocean of this world.

49 Rama, remain in that best and blessed state in which the wisest, best and holiest of men have found their rest. It is the constant habit of thinking yourself as nothing and not doing anything, or that you are all things and are doing everything as the Supreme Soul knows itself to be, or that you are some person having a personality of your own, and yet nobody.