Chapter 12 — On the Greatness of Reasoning (Self Inquiry)

Vasishta continued:—

Janaka, having earnestly reasoned with his mind in this manner, then attended to the affairs of state without shrinking from them, yet mentally detached. He was not pleased by the happy tasks and tidings but was indifferent to them, his fixed attention serving as if he were in slumber and not the actor.

From then on, he was not intense doing his duties nor did he forsake them altogether. He simply and unconcernedly attended to the business that presented itself to him. His constant habit of reasoning allowed him to understand the eternal truth and preserved his consciousness from blunders, like the sky untouched by flying dust. By his cultivation of reasoning, his mind was enlightened and filled with all knowledge. Unaccustomed to duality, his mind learned to know only the sole unity, and his intelligent soul shone within him like the fully bright sun in the sky.

He became acquainted with the Soul that is inherent in all bodies. He saw all things abiding in the omnipotence of Consciousness and identical with the infinite. He was never too joyful or exceedingly sad, but preserved his equanimity amidst the conflicts of his soul and sensible objects. Since that time, the venerable Janaka became liberated in his living state and is renowned as a veteran sage among mankind.

10 He continues to rule the land of the Videha people without being subject to feelings of joy or sorrow, not even for a moment. 11 Knowing the causes of good and evil, he is neither elated nor dejected at any favorable or unfavorable circumstance of his life, nor does he feel glad or sad at any good or bad accident relating the state. 12 He completes his duties without setting his mind to them. His mind is wholly employed in his intellectual speculations. 13 Remaining thus in his trance state of sound sleep (abstraction, samadhi), his thoughts are quite withdrawn from all objects about him. 14 He is unmindful of the past and heedless about the future. He enjoys only the present moment with a happy heart and a cheerful mind.

15 Janaka obtained the obtainable and what is worthy to be obtained by his own reasoned analysis and not, O lotus-eyed Rama, by any other desire. 16 Therefore we should reason and reflect in our minds until we succeed and arrive at the conclusion of the subject. 17 The presence of the Holy Light is not to be had by a teacher’s lectures or the teaching of scriptures. It is not the result of good acts or the company of holy men. It is the result of your own reasoning.

18 A good understanding assisted by the power of good perception leads to the knowledge of that highest state which acts of piety cannot do. 19 He who has the keen light of the lamp of his perception always before him is able to see both the past and future. No shadow of ignorance intercepts his vision. 20 Through keen perception one is able to cross the sea of dangers, like a passenger using a boat to cross a river.

21 A man without foresight is overtaken even by small mishaps, like a light straw is blown away by the slightest breeze. 22 One who is endowed with foresight passes over the eventful ocean of the world without need of the assistance of friends or the guidance of scriptures. 23 The man with foreknowledge sees the result of his actions beforehand, but one without foresight is at a loss to judge imminent events.

24 Good company and learning strengthen understanding, just as watering a plant helps it grow and bear fruit. 25 Infant understanding, like a tender shoot, takes a deep root in time and having grown up like a tree, it bears sweet fruit in its season, like cooling moonbeams at night. 26 Whatever efforts men make to acquire external property, they would be better served to devote those efforts to improve their understanding. 27 First dullness of understanding must be destroyed for it is the source of all evils, the storehouse of misery, and the root of the tree of worldliness.

28 Great minded men understand whatever good they may expect to find on this earth, in heaven above, and in the world below. 29 Only through good understanding can a man cross the ocean of the world, and not by his charities, pilgrimages or religious austerities. 30 The sweet fruit of tree of knowledge is the divine blessing for each mortal man on earth. 31 Wisdom uses its sharp nails to scratch and nip the heads of the elephantine bonds of giddiness with as much ease as a strong lion kills a deer or a weak jackal.

32 An ordinary man, by knowing more than others, is often seen to become the ruler of men. The wise and discreet are entitled to glory in both worlds. 33 (Simple) reason overcomes all its adversaries who indulge in diverse (convoluted) forms of reasoning, just as a disciplined warrior is able to overcome a host of unrestrained savages. 34 Reasoning is the philosopher’s stone that converts base metals to gold. Rational souls safeguard reasoning as the greatest treasure. It yields the desired fruits of men like the wish-fulfilling kalpa tree of paradise does with a thought.

35 He who reasons rightly crosses the wide ocean of the world with his reasoning, while the unreasonable rabble are born away by its waves, just as a skillful boatman cuts across the current while the unskilled boatman is tossed about by waves. 36 A well directed understanding leads to the success of an undertaking, but misguided intellect goes to rack and ruin. The one sails to the shore before the wind, but the other is tossed in his wrecked vessel over the wide gulf of the world. 37 The keen sighted and unbiased wise man is never overcome by evils arising from his desires, just as an enemy’s arrows do not pierce the body of a soldier in armor.

38 A man’s wisdom gives him an insight into everything in the world. The all knowing man is not subject to dangers or the reverses of his fortune. 39 The breath of intelligence drives away the dark and wide-stretching cloud of blind egoism that hides the sunlight of the Supreme Spirit within us.

40 Improvement of understanding is the first necessity towards knowledge of the Supreme Soul, just as cultivation of the ground is of primary importance to the farmer who desires reaping a rich harvest.