Chapter 5 — Lecture on Tranquility of the Soul and Mind

Vasishta said:—

Now listen with attention to the subject of tranquility for your own good. In it you will find the best answers.

Rama, know that this world is a continuous illusion upheld by men of active (rajas) and passive (tamas) natures. The properties of action and passions (rajas) and ignorance (tamas) support this illusory fabric, like pillars supporting a building. Men born with the sattvic nature of goodness, like yourself, easily lay aside this deep-rooted illusion like a snake sluffing off its time-worn skin. But wise men of good (sattvic) dispositions, and those of the mixed natures of goodness and action (rajas-sattva) always think about the structure of the world and its prior and future states.

The understanding of the sinless, enlightened by the light of the scriptures or improved in the society of men or by good conduct, become as far sighted as the blazing light of a torch. By one’s own analysis one should try to know the soul in himself. He who does not know the knowable soul in himself is no way intelligent. Intelligent, polite, wise and noble men are said to have a mixed nature of goodness and action (rajas-sattva) in them. The best example of such a nature is found, O Rama, in your admirable disposition.

Let the intelligent look into the phenomena of the work, and by observing what is true and untrue in it, attach themselves only to the truth. That which was not before and will not be at the end is no reality at all. But what continues in being both at first and last is true existence and nothing else. 10 He whose mind is attached to what is not truth, what is unreal both at first and at last, is either an infatuated fool or a brute animal that can never be brought to reason.

11 The mind makes and stretches out the world in its imagination. Upon a closer investigation, the mind is in nothingness.

12 Rama said, “I am fully persuaded to believe, sage, that the mind is the active agent in this world and is subject to decay and death. 13 But tell me sage, what are the surest means of guarding the mind from illusion, because only you are the sun to remove the darkness of Raghu’s race.”

14 Vasishta replied:—

The best way to guard the mind from delusion is first the knowledge of the scriptures. Next is the exercise of dispassion, then the company of the good, all of which lead the mind towards its purity. 15 The mind filled with humility and holiness should have recourse to teachers who are learned in philosophy. 16 The instruction of such teachers makes a man practice first his rituals, then leads the mind gradually to abstract meditation of the most holy. 17 When the mind comes to perceive by its own thoughts the presence of the Supreme Spirit in itself, it sees the universe spread before it like cooling moonbeams.

18 A man is tossed about like straw floating on the wide ocean of the world, until he finds his rest in the still waters under the coast of reason. 19 Human understanding comes to know the truth when it puts down all its difficulties by means of its reasoning, just as pure water passes over its sandy bed. 20 The reasonable man distinguishes truth from untruth like a goldsmith separating gold from ashes. But the unreasonable are like the ignorant, incapable of distinguishing one from the other.

21 The Divine Spirit is imperishable once it is known to the human soul. Error can have no access to the soul as long as it is enlightened by the light of the Divine Spirit. 22 The mind ignorant of truth is ever liable to error, but when acquainted with truth, it becomes free from its doubts and is set beyond the reach of error.

23 O you men who are not acquainted with the Divine Spirit, you bear your souls only for your own misery, but knowing the spirit, you become entitled to eternal happiness and tranquility. 24 How you are lost to your souls by blending with your bodies! Expand the soul from under the earthly frame and you will be quite at rest with yourselves.

25 Your immortal soul has no relation to your mortal bodies, just as pure gold bears no relation to the earthen crucible in which it is contained. 26 The Divine Spirit is distinct from the living soul, just as the lotus flower is separate from the water which upholds it, and like a drop of water is unattached to the lotus leaf on which it rests. My living soul is crying to that Spirit with my arms uplifted, but it pays no heed to my cries.

27 The mind is of a gross nature and resides in the shell of the body like a tortoise dwelling in its hole. It is illogically intent upon its sensual enjoyments and is quite neglectful about the welfare of the soul. 28 It is so shrouded by the impenetrable darkness of the world that neither the light of reason nor the flame of fire, nor the beams of the moon, nor the gleams of a dozen of zodiacal suns have the power to penetrate into it. 29 But the mind being awakened from its dormancy begins to reflect on its own state. Then the mist of its ignorance flies off like the darkness of the night at sunrise. 30 As the mind reclines itself constantly on the downy bed of its meditation for the sake of its enlightenment, its eye perceives this world to be only a valley of misery.

31 Rama, know that the soul is not stained by its outer covering of the body, just like the sky is unsoiled by the clouds of dust that hide its face, and like the petals of the lotus are untainted by the dew-drops falling upon them at night. 32 As dirt and clay cling to the outside of a gold ornament but cannot pierce inside, so the gross material body is attached outside the soul without touching its inside.

33 Men commonly attribute pleasure and pain to the soul, but they are as separate from it as raindrops and flying dust in the sky are different from each other. 34 Neither the body nor the soul is subject to pain or pleasure, all of which relate to the ignorance of the mind. This ignorance being removed, it will be found that they belong to neither.

35 O Rama, do not take pain or pleasure to your mind, but view them in an equal light, as you view things in the tranquility of your soul. 36 All the outspreading phenomena of the world that are seen all about us are like the waves of the boundless ocean of Divine Spirit, or like the gaudy tail of the peacock displayed in the sphere of our own souls. 37 The bright substance of our soul presents the picture of creation to us, just as a bright gem casts its glare to no purpose but by its own nature.

38 The spirit and the material world are not the same thing. The spirit is the true reality, and the duality of the world is only a representation or counterpart of the Spirit. 39 But Brahman is the whole totality of existence, and know that the universe is the expansion of the Universal Soul. Therefore, O Rama, give up your error of distinguishing one thing from another.

40 Rama, there can be no distinction in the everlasting and all extensive fullness of Brahman, just as there is no difference in the water of the wide extended ocean. 41 All things being one and alike in the identical substratum of the Supreme Soul, you cannot conceive of there being any other thing in it, just as you cannot imagine a particle of frost to abide in fire. 42 By meditating on the Supreme Soul in yourself and by contemplation of the intelligent Spirit in your own intellect, you will find the glory of the Supreme Spirit shining brightly in your pure spirit.

43 Therefore ease your mind, O Rama, and know that there is no mistake or error in believing the all as one and that there is no new birth or new born being. All is ever existent in the Supreme. 44 Ease yourself, O Rama, by knowing that there is no duality and that there is no opposite of things, except their oneness in the Divine unity. Then knowing yourself as a spiritual being situated in the purity of Divine essence, you shall have no need of meditation or adoration. Knowing that you are not separated from God, forsake all your sorrow.

45 Be tolerant, composed and even-minded. Remain tranquil, silent and meek in your mind. Be as a rich jewel, shining with your internal light. Thus you will be freed from the feverish vexations of this worldly life. 46 Be rational, dispassionate and calm in your desire. Remain sober minded and free from ardent expectations. Rest satisfied with what you get of your own lot in order to be free from the feverish heat of worldliness. 47 Be unimpassioned and unperturbed with earthly cares. If you will be free from the fever heat of this world, be pure and sinless, and neither be stingy nor extravagant. 48 Be free from all anxiety, O Rama, by obtaining that good which the world cannot give, and which satisfies all our earthly wants. Have this super-mundane bliss, O Rama, and be as full as the ocean and free from the feverish cares of this world.

49 Be loosened from the net of your loose desires and wipe off the ointment of delusive affections from your eyes. Let your soul rest satisfied with yourself and be free from the feverish anxieties of the world. 50 With your spiritual body reaching beyond unbounded space and rising above the height of the highest mountain, be free from the feverish and petty cares of life. 51 You must be free from the fever of life by enjoying what you get and asking nothing of anybody anywhere, and by your charity rather than your lack and asking. 52 Enjoy the fullness of your soul in yourself like the sea, and contain the fullness of your joy in your own soul like the full moon. Be self-sufficient with the fullness of your knowledge and inner bliss.

53 Knowing this world as unreal as an optical illusion, no wise man is misled to rely on its untruthful scenes. So you Rama, who is knowing and not deluded and is sane, sound headed and of enlightened understanding, must always be charming with your perfect ease from sorrow and care.

54 Now Rama, rule over this unrivalled kingdom as directed by your sovereign father and manage well everything under your own inspection. This kingdom is filled with every blessing and the rulers are all loyal to their king. Therefore you must not omit doing what is your duty or be elated with your happy lot of royalty.