Chapter 13 — Government of the Mind: Consciousness Is Real, Mind (Imagination and Will) Is Not

Vasishta continued:—

Now Rama, like King Janaka and without any difficulty or failing, reflect on the Supreme Spirit in your own spirit and know what the wise meditate upon.

The wise men of the active-pure (rajasa-satvika) variety, like Janaka and other holy sages, obtain their desired objects by themselves. As long as you continue to restrain your organs of sense from their objects, Divine Soul will grace your inner soul with its presence. When the Lord God and Supreme Soul is gracious to you, you will see a halo of light cast over all things dispersing all grief from your sight. The sight of the Supreme Spirit will remove the plentiful seeds of bias from your mind, and it will drive away the sorrowful sights of misery pouring upon your view in copious showers.

Continue like Janaka in the willful discharge of your duties, and prosper by placing your intellectual sight on the divine light shining in your inner spirit. It was by reflecting inwards that Janaka found the impermanence of the world. By placing his faith in the unchangeable Spirit, in time he found its grace. 8 Hence the pious acts of men, their riches and their friends are of no use for their salvation from the miseries of life. Only their own efforts are of use for the enlightenment of their soul. They who place their reliance upon faith in gods and depend upon them to fulfill their desires and future rewards are perverted in their understanding and cannot be heirs to immortality. 10 He is saved from misery in this ocean of the world by reliance on his own reasoning and resignation, and by his spiritual vision of the Supreme Spirit.

11 Attaining this blessed knowledge of intuition which removes our ignorance is what they call getting fruit fallen from heaven.

12 The intelligence which looks into itself, as Janaka did, finds the soul developing of itself inside, just as the lotus bud opens of itself in the morning. 13 The firm conviction of the material world melts into nothing under the light of perception, just as thick and hard ice dissolves to liquid under the sun’s heat. 14 The consciousness that “this is I” is like the shade of night, and it is dispelled at the rise of the sun of intellect when the omnipresent light appears vividly to sight. 15 As soon as one loses his self-consciousness that “this is me”, the all-pervading Soul opens fully to his view.

16 As Janaka abandoned consciousness of his personality together with his desire, so you, O intelligent Rama, forsake them by your acute understanding and the discernment of your mind. 17 After the cloud of egoism is dispersed and the sphere is cleared all around, the divine light shall shine as brightly as a second sun. 18 It is the greatest ignorance to think of one’s own personality. When this thought is relaxed by the sense of our nothingness, we give room to the manifestation of holy light in the soul. 19 Do not think of the entity or non-entity of yourself or others, but preserve the tranquility of your mind from thoughts of both positive and negative existences in order to get rid of your sense of distinction between producer and the produced.

20 Again, fostering a fondness for something as good and a hatred for others as bad is only a disease of your mind that serves only to make you uneasy. 21 Do not be fond of what you think to be beautiful or be disgusted at what appears hateful to you. Get rid of these opposite feelings and be even minded by fixing it on the One before whom all things are alike and equally good. 22 They who view the desirable and the detestable in the same light are neither fond of the one nor adverse to the other. 23 Until the fancy of the desirability of one thing and the dislike of the other is effaced from the mind, it is as hard to have the good grace of equanimity, just as it is difficult for moonlight to pierce a cloudy sky.

24 The mind that considers one thing to be appropriate and another as inappropriate is deprived of the blessing of detachment, just as the sakota plant is despised because it has no flowers or fruit. 25 Where there is a craving for the desirable and an aversion to what is unseemly, and when there is a cry for gain and an outcry at one’s loss, it is impossible for even mindedness, dispassion or tranquility to abide in the mind.

26 There being only the essence of one pure Brahman diffused throughout the universe, it is very improper to take the one as many, and among them something as good or bad. 27 Our desires and dislikes are the two apes living on the tree of our hearts. While they continue shaking and swinging that tree with their jogging and jolting, there can be no rest.

28 Freedom from fear and desire, from exertions and action, together with wisdom and equanimity are the inseparable accompaniments of ease and rest. 29 The qualities of forbearance and feeling for our fellows, accompanied with contentment and good understanding, and joined with a mild disposition and gentle speech, are the indispensable companions of a wise man who rid himself of desires and his feelings of liking or dislike.

30 The mind running to meanness is to be repressed by restraining passions and desires, just like the current of water is stopped by its valve. 31 Shun the sight of external things. They are the roots of error and fallacy. Always consider their internal properties, both when you are awake and asleep, and also when you are walking about or sitting down. 32 Greedy men are caught like greedy fish in the hidden net of desires that are incapable of being satisfied. That net is woven with the threads of worldly cares, and it is under the waters of worldly affairs.

33 Now Rama, cut the meshes of this net with the knife of your good understanding and throw it in the water, like a tempest tearing thick clouds apart and scattering them in the air. 34 Try, O gentle Rama, to uproot the root of worldliness that sprouts forth in the weeds of vice. Use the hatchet of your perseverance and the eliminating shovel of your penetration. 35 Employ your mind to cut down the cravings of your mind, like using an axe to cut down a tree, then you will rest quietly as you arrive at the state of holiness.

36 Having destroyed the former state of your mind by its present state, try to forget them both in future by your heedless mind and manage yourself unmindful of the world. 37 Your utter oblivion of the world will prevent the revival of your mind and stop the reappearance of ignorance which accompanies the mind. 38 Whether you are waking or sleeping or in any other state of your life, you must remember the nothingness of the world and give up your reliance on it. 39 Leave off your selfishness, O Rama, and rely upon the detachment of your soul.

Lay hold of what ever offers itself to you and without seeking for it. 40 As the Lord God does everything and yet is aloof from everything, so must you do all acts outwardly without you mixing in anything. 41 Knowing the knowable, one finds himself like the uncreated soul and a great lord of all. But being apart from that soul, he sees only the material world spread before him. 42 He who has the sight of the inner spirit is free from thoughts of the external world and is not subjected to joy or grief or sorrow or any other evil of his life.

43 He is called a yogi who is free from passions and hatred, and looks on gold and rubbish in the same light. He is joined with his joy in his yoga and disjoined from all worldly desires. 44 He enjoys the fruit of his own acts and minds not what he wastes or gives away. He has the evenness of his mind in every condition and is unaltered by pain or pleasure.

45 He is not plunged into any difficulty who receives what he gets and is employed with whatever offers of itself to him without considering the good or evil that he is to gain by it. 46 He who is certain of the truth of the spiritual essence of the world, yearns not for its physical enjoyments but remains even-minded at all times.

47 The dull mind follows the active intellect in accomplishing its objects, just as the carnivorous cat or fox follows a lion in search of meat scraps. 48 As the servile band feeds on the flesh acquired by the lion’s prowess, so the mind dwells upon visible and sensible objects which it perceives by power of the intellect. 49 Thus the unsubstantial mind lives upon the outer world with the help of the intellect. But as it comes to remember its origin from consciousness, it recoils back to its original state.

50 The mind, moved and lit by the heat and light of the lamp of consciousness, becomes extinct without its physical force and grows as motionless as a dead body. 51 The nature of consciousness is known to exclude the idea of motion or pulsation from it. The scriptures call the power that has vibration reasoning or the mind. 52 The breathing (or vibration) of the mind, like the hissing of a snake, is called its imagination, but by knowing consciousness as the self, the mind comes to the true knowledge of the inner soul. 53 Consciousness free from thoughts is the ever lasting Brahman, but being joined with thought, it is called the imaginative principle or the mind. 54 This power of imagination, having assumed a definite form, is called the mind. The mind with its will and its choices is situated in the heart of living beings.

55 With its two distinct powers of imagination and will, the mind is employed in the acts of discriminating and choosing the agreeable from what is disagreeable to it. 56 Consciousness, being seated in the heart with its thoughts and wills, forgets its spiritual nature and remains as a dull material substance. 57 The intellect being this confined in the hearts of all animals in this world, continues in utter oblivion of its nature until it is awakened of itself, either by its intuition or the instruction of teachers or otherwise.

58 Intellect is awakened by instruction from the scriptures and teachers, by the practice of dispassion, and by subjugation of the organs of sense and action. 59 When the minds of living beings are awakened by learning and self-control, they tend towards the knowledge of the great Brahman, or else they wander at random about the wide world. 60 We must therefore awaken our minds that are dormant to divine knowledge, rolling in the pit of worldliness from intoxication of the wine of error. 61 As long as the mind is not awakened, it is unconscious of everything. Though it perceives what can be perceived, yet this perception is as false as the sight of a city in our fancy. 62 But when the mind is awakened by divine knowledge to the sight of the Supreme Being, it presents everything in itself, just as the inner fragrance of flowers also pervades the outer petals.

63 Though consciousness has the quality of knowing everything contained in all the three worlds, yet it has only little knowledge of them because of its insufficient desire to know them. 64 The mind without intellect is a dull block of stone, but it is opened by divine light, like the lotus bud opening under sunlight. 65 The mind that imagines is as devoid of understanding as a statue made of marble is unable to move about by itself. 66 How can regiments drawn in a painting wage a war? How can moonbeams make the medicinal plants emit their light? 67 Who has seen dead bodies smeared with blood running about on the ground? Who has witnessed stone fragments singing musical choruses in the woods? 68 Where does the stone idol of the sun dispel the darkness of the night? Where does an imaginary forest of the sky spread its shade on the ground?

69 Of what good are the efforts of men who are as ignorant as blocks of stones and who are led by their error in many ways, other than to endanger themselves by the mirage of their minds? 70 Imagination displays the non-existent as existent in the soul, just as sunbeams show clear oceans in desert sands.

71 The learned sages call the moving principle in the body the mind. They know it as a mere force of the winds, like the vital breath of living beings. 72 Those whose self-consciousness is not disturbed by the currents of their passions and desires have their spiritual souls like an unperturbed stream. 73 But when this pure consciousness is fouled by false fancies of this and that, and that “this is I” and “that is mine”, then the soul and the vital principle are both taken together to form a living being.

74 The mind, the living soul and understanding are all only fictitious names of an unreality according to the conceptions of false thinkers, and not of them who know the true spirit. 75 In reality there is no mind, no understanding, no thinking principle, and no body. There is only the reality of the one Universal Spirit which is ever existent everywhere. 76 The one Universal Spirit is the soul which is all this world. It is time and all its fluctuations. It is more transparent than the atmosphere, and it is clear because it is nothing at all. 77 It is not always apparent, owing to its transparency, yet it is ever existent because of our consciousness of it. The spirit is beyond all things and is perceived by our inner perception.

78 The mind vanishes into nothing before our consciousness of the Supreme Soul, just as darkness is dispelled from where the sun shines. 79 When the transparent and self-conscious soul raises other figures of its own will, then the presence of the soul is forgotten and lays hidden under the grosser creations of the mind. 80 The faculty of the Supreme Spirit that wills is labeled the mind. It is detachment and lack of our own will that produces our liberation.

81 Such is the origin of the mind which is the root of creation. Will is a faculty of our consciousness, otherwise called the soul. 82 The intellectual essence, after falling from its state of detachment and being defiled by its desires, becomes the principle of production or producing desired objects. 83 The mind becomes extinct through loss of vital power, just as the shadow of a thing disappears by removing the substance.

84 The living body perceives in its heart the notion of a distant place that exists in the mind. This proves the identity of the vital breath and the thinking mind. 85 Therefore, by repressing the mind the vital breath is also repressed, which produces longevity and health.

86 Stone has the capability of mobility, and fuel of inflammability, but vital breath and mind do not have powers of vibration or thinking (without the force of the intellect and the spirit). 87 The breath of life by itself is inert, and its pulsation is the effect and composed of the surrounding air. So the action of the mind is due to the force of consciousness whose transparency pervades all nature.

88 The mind is the union of intellectual and vibrating powers. Its production is as false as the falsity of its knowledge. 89 Mental power is called error and also illusion, and these in ignorance of the Supreme Brahman produce the knowledge of this poisonous world.

90 The powers of the intellect and vibration, combined with those of imagination and will which constitute the mind, produce all worldly evils unless they are weakened and kept under restraint. 91 When intellect thinks or has perception by the pulsation caused by the air, the wind of breath gives pulsation to the intellect and causes its power of reasoning. This intellectual power gives rise to all the thoughts and desires of the mind.

92 The vibrating intellect extending over the undivided sphere of the universe is truly thinking power. The mind is a false imagination like the ghost of infants. 93 The intellect is the power of reasoning, which cannot be thwarted anywhere by anything else, like the mind, just as there is no power to contest the almighty Indra. 94 Thus, as there no relation between reasoning and the mind, it is wrong to attribute the mind with the power of thinking. The two are unrelated.

95 How can this union of consciousness with only its vibration be called the mind with its multifarious functions? The commander alone, without the component parts of cavalry, elephants and others, cannot be called an army. 96 Therefore there is no such thing as a good or bad mind in any of the three worlds. The bias of its existence will be utterly removed by full knowledge of spirituality.

97 It is in vain and to no purpose that people imagine the existence of the mind. It is proved to be an unreality and has no substantiality of its own. 98 Therefore, O magnanimous Rama, never give rise to false imaginations of any kind, and particularly that of the mind which never exists anywhere.

99 False fantasies arise like a mirage from the lack of full knowledge of things. They spring in the heart, which is as barren as a desert, for want of the rain of full knowledge. 100 The mind is a dead thing owing to its lack of form or action, and yet, as it is idolized in the circles of common people, it is a wonder. 101 It is a wonder that the mind, having no soul or essence, no body or size or support of its own, should spread its net over all ignorant minds.

102 One who falls victim to his unarmed and impotent mind is like a man who says his body has been injured by a lotus flower falling upon it. 103 The man who is undone by his inert, dumb and blinded mind is like one who complains of being burned by the cool beams of the full moon. 104 People are truly killed by an antagonist who is present before them, but it is a wonder that the ignorant are foiled by the non-existent mind of their own making. 105 What is the power of that which is a creation of mere fancy, an unreal presentation of ignorance, and which being sought after is nowhere to be found?

106 It is a great wonder that men should be overcome by their impotent minds that deal only in delusions. 107 Ignorance is ever exposed to dangers and the ignorant are always the victims of error. Know the unreal world is the creation of only ignorance and of the ignorant. 108 O, the misery of miseries that the ignorant make this creation of ignorance for themselves, and that they fabricate a living soul for the sole purpose of their sufferings.

109 I know this frail world is a creation of the false imagination of the ignorant, and that this earth is as fragile as to be broken and carried away by the waves of the ocean. 110 It is like black eye-liner that is broken down by surrounding waters or seas serving as its grinding mill. Yet men are maddened with it, like those struck by moonbeams. 111 The visible world disappears at the sight of reason, just as a man flies from the sight of his foe. The mind’s streams of imaginary creations flee like hosts of demons defeated by the gods. 112 Thus this world, which is a false creation of fancy and exists nowhere except in the idle brains of the ignorant, is lost into nothing at the sight of reason.

113 He who is not able to govern his mind and efface the thoughts of this false world that only arise in the minds of the ignorant, is not worthy of being advised in the abstruse doctrines of spirituality. 114 Those who are confirmed and self-sufficient in their belief of what can be perceived by the physical senses are unable to grasp the subtle science of abstract philosophy, and therefore are unfit to receive spiritual instruction. 115 Men accustomed to the loud beatings of drum are as unconscious to the soft tunes of the lute as they are startled at seeing the face of a sleeping friend. 116 They who fly with fear away from the loud preaching of false preachers cannot have the patience to listen to the silent lesson of their inner guide. They who are deluded by their own minds can hardly be reclaimed by any other. 117 Those who are tempted to taste the bitterness of worldly pleasures as being sweet, are so subdued by its effects on their understanding that they altogether lose the power of discerning the truth. Therefore it is useless to reason with them.