Chapter 57 — The Question of Duality again Deferred; First Avoid Desire

Rama said, “Your words, O brahmin, are true and well spoken. I find the soul to be the inactive agent of actions, the impassive recipient of their effects, and the spiritual cause of the corporeal. I find the soul to be the sole lord of all and omnipresent in its course. It has the nature of consciousness and the form of transparency. It resides in all bodies, as the five elements compose the bodies of land and sea. Now I come to understand the nature of Brahman. I am as pacified by your speech as the heated mountain is cooled by rainwater.”

“From its seclusion and unwillingness, the soul neither does nor receives anything, but its universal action of pervading makes it both the actor and sufferer. But sage, there is a question too vivid and irritating in my mind. I pray you remove it by your enlightened speech, as moonbeams dispel the darkness of the night. Tell me sage, where do these dualities come from? There is the reality of one and the unreality of the other, and that this is “I” and that is not me. If the soul is one and indivisible, how is this one thing and that another? There being but one self-existent and self-evident soul from the beginning, how does it become subject to these opposites, like the bright disc of sun comes to be hidden under clouds?”

Vasishta answered:—

Rama, I will give the correct answer to this question of yours when I come to my conclusion. Then you will learn the cause of these dualities. Rama, you will not be able to comprehend my answers to these questions until you become acquainted with my solution to the question of liberation.

10 Only an adult youth can appreciate the beauty of a love song. So it is that only a holy man can grasp the sense of what I say about these abstruse subjects. 11 Sayings of such great importance are as fruitless with ignorant people as a work on erotic subjects is useless to children. 12 There is a time and a season for every subject for men, just as autumn produces the harvest and not spring. 13 The preaching of a sermon is selectable for old men like fine colorings are suitable for clean canvas. So a spiritual discourse of deep sense suits one who has known the Spirit.

14 A little earlier I mentioned something which may serve to answer your question, although you have not fully comprehended its meaning. 15 When you come to know the Spirit in your own spirit, you will doubtlessly come to find the answer to your question by yourself. 16 I will fully expound on the subject of your question at the conclusion of my argument when you have arrived at a better knowledge of these things. 17 The spiritual man knows the spirit in his own spirit, and it is the good grace of the Supreme Spirit to manifest itself to the spirit of the spiritual man.

18 Rama, I have already described the argument concerning the agency and inertness of the soul, yet it is your ignorance of this doctrine that makes you foster doubts. 19 The man bound to his desires is a bondsman, and one freed from them is said to be set free from his slavery. Cast away your desires and you will have no cause to seek freedom. 20 First forsake your foul desires, then be free from your desire of worldly possessions. Then foster your better wishes, and at last incline to your pure and holy leanings. 21 After having conducted yourself with pure desires, get rid of even these at the end. Then being freed from all desires, be inclined towards and united with your intellect. 22 Then renounce your intellectual propensity, together with your mental and conscious inclinations, and finally having reached the state of settled tranquility, get rid of your mind also in order to set yourself free from all other desires.

23 Be an intellectual being and continue to breathe your vital breath. But keep your imagination under control and take no account of the course of time or the revolution of days and nights. 24 Forsake your desire for the objects of sense and root out your sense of individual ego which is the root of desire. Let your understanding be calm and quiet and you will be honored by all. 25 Drive away all feelings and thoughts from your heart and mind, for he who is free from anxieties is superior to all.

26 Let a man practice his samadhi trance or other sorts of intense meditation or not, he is reckoned to have obtained his liberation whose elevated mind has lost its reliance on worldly things. 27 The man devoid of desires has no need to observe or avoid pious acts. The freedom of his mind from dependence on anything is sufficient for his liberation.

28 A man may have well studied the scriptures, and discussed about them in conversation, yet he is far from perfection without perfect renunciation and silence. 29 There are men who have examined everything and wandered in all parts of the world, but there are few who have known the truth. 30 Of all things observed in the world, there is nothing that may be truly desirable and is sought after by the wise. 31 All this excitement of the world and all the pursuits of men tend only towards the support of the animal body. There is nothing in the world that leads to the edification of the rational soul.

32 Search all over this earth, in heaven above and in the infernal regions below, and you will find only few people who have known what is worth knowing. 33 It is rare to find a wise man whose mind is devoid of its firm reliance on the vanities of the world, whose mind is freed from its desire or disgust of something or another as agreeable or disagreeable.

34 A man may be lord of the world or he may pierce through the clouds and search heaven (by yoga), yet he cannot enjoy the solace of his soul without his knowledge of it. 35 I admire those high minded men who have bravely subdued their senses. It is from them that we have the remedy to remove the curse of our repeated births. 36 I see every place filled by the five elements, and a sixth is not to be seen anywhere in the world. Such being the case everywhere, what else can I expect to find in earth or heaven or in the regions below?

37 A wise man, relying on his own reason and judgment, steps out from the abyss of this world as easily as he leaps over a ditch. But he who has cast aside his reason finds the world as wide as the broad ocean. 38 The man of enlightened understanding looks upon this globe of the earth like the bulb of a kadamba flower, round as an apple or a ball. He neither gives nor receives nor wants anything in this world. 39 Shame on the foolish who fight for this tiny piece of earth and wage warfare destroying millions of their fellow creatures.

40 How can anyone live and enjoy the blessings of this world for a whole kalpa when he can not escape the sorrow consequent on the loss of all his friends during that period? 41 He who has known the self has no craving for heavenly bliss within himself because he knows his gain of all the three worlds can never lead to the strengthening of his soul. 42 But the avaricious are not content with all they have and like the body of this earth, is not full with all its hills and mountains and surrounding seas. 43 There is nothing in this earth or in the upper and lower worlds which is of any use to the sage acquainted with spiritual knowledge.

44 The mind of the self-knowing sage is one vast expanse like the spacious sky. It is tranquil and sedate and unconscious of itself. 45 It views the body as a network of veins and arteries, pale and white as frost and all cellular within. 46 It sees the mountains floating like foam on the surface of the transparent ocean of Brahman. It looks upon consciousness as blazing brightly like the sun over the mirage of existence. 47 It finds the nature of the soul to be as extensive as the ocean containing creation as its waves. It considers the all-pervasive soul to be like a big cloud raining down in showers of scriptures and knowledge. 48 Fire, moon and sun, as every opaque atom in nature, appear as fuel in a furnace that needs to be lit by the blaze of the intellect.

49 All embodied souls of men, gods and demigods rove in the wilderness of the world, feeding upon their fodder of food like deer grazing in their pasture. 50 The world is a prison house in which everyone is a prisoner with his wearisome body. The bones are the latches of this dungeon, the head its roof, the skin its leather, and the blood and flesh of the body are like the drink and food of the imprisoned. 51 Men are like dolls covered with skin for the amusement of children. They are continually wandering in quest of food, like cattle running towards their pasture grounds.

52 But the high-minded man is not of this kind. He is not moved by worldly temptations, just as a mountain is not shaken by a gentle breeze. 53 The truly great and wise man rests in that highest state of eminence in which the stations of the sun and moon are seen as the lower regions. 54 It is by the light of the Supreme Spirit that all the worlds are lit and the minds of all are enlightened. But the ignorant are immersed in the ocean of ignorance and nourish only their bodies in disregard of their souls.

55 No worldly good can allure the heart of the wise who have tested the vanity of temporal things. No earthly evil can obscure their souls which are as bright as the clear sky which no cloud can darken. 56 No worldly pleasure can gladden the soul of the wise man, just as the dance of monkeys can give no joy to the heart of Shiva which delights in the dancing of Parvati. 57 No earthly delight can have its seat in the heart of the wise, as sunlight is never reflected in a gem hidden under a bushel.

58 The material world appears to be a solid rock to the unmoved ignorant, but it seems like a fleeting wave to the wise. The ignorant take great pleasure in the transitory enjoyments of the world, but the wise take them to no account, as a swan despises to look upon the moss of a lake.