Chapter 6 — Doing One’s Duty; Merit Accrues through Lifetimes

Vasishta continued:—

In my opinion, a man is liberated who does his works from a sense of his duty and without any desire of his own or sense of his own agency.

Whoever having obtained a human form is engaged in acts out of his own choice and with a sense of his own agency, is subject to ascent and descent to heaven and hell by turns. Some people who are inclined to undutiful acts by neglecting the performance of their destined duties are doomed to descend into deeper hells and to fall into greater fears and torments from their former states. Some men who are tightly bound to the chain of their desires and have to feel the consequences of their acts are made to descend from their brutal life to the state of vegetables, or to rise from it to animal life again.

Some who are blessed with the knowledge of the Spirit from their investigation of abstruse philosophy, break through the chains of desire and rise to the state of single aloneness in divine unity (kaivalya). There are some men who, after ascending gradually in the scale of their creation in former births, have obtained liberation in the present life of active goodness (rajas-sattva). Such men, being born again on earth, assume their bright qualities like the crescent moon and are united with all prosperity like a kurchi plant covered with blossoms in its flowering time of the rainy season.

The merit of prior acts follows one in his next state and the learning of past life meets a man in his next birth, like a pearl born in a reed. The qualities of respectability and pleasantness, of affability and friendliness, and of compassion and intelligence attend upon these people like their servants at home. 10 Happy is the man who is steady in the discharge of his duties and is not overjoyed or depressed at the fruition or failure of their results. 11 The defects of the dutiful, and their pain and pleasure in the performance of duties, are all lost under the sense of their duty, just as the darkness of night is dispelled by the light of the day and the clouds of rainy season are dispersed in autumn. 12 The man of a submissive and sweet disposition is liked by everybody, just as the sweet music of reeds in the forest attracts the ears of wild antelope. 13 The qualities of the past life accompany a man in his next birth, like swallows in rainy weather.

14 Thus being qualified by his prior virtues, a good man has recourse to an instructor for the development of his understanding, who thereupon puts him in the way to truth. 15 A man with the qualities of reason and resignation of his mind beholds the Lord as one and of the same form as the imperishable soul within himself. 16 The spiritual guide awakens the dull and sleeping mind by his right reasoning, then instills into it the words of truth with a calm face and mind.

17 They are the best qualified in later births who learn first to awaken their worthless and dormant minds, just as they rouse a sleeping male deer in the forest. 18 First by diligent attendance on good and meritorious gurus, then by cleansing the gem of their minds with the help of reasoning, pure hearted men come to the light of truth and perceive the divine light shining in their souls.