Chapter 14 — Impossibility of Curing the World; the Parade of Prey; the Thinking Principle

Vasishta said:—

Multitudes of men are carried away by the torrents and waves of the sea of worldly pursuits. They are deaf and dumb to the admonitions of their spiritual instructors. They are not fit to derive the benefit of the spiritual knowledge which I have propounded in this yoga scripture by my rational discourses. They who are born blind and can see nothing are not to be shown a painting of a garden by an intelligent artist, portrayed with blooming blossoms and beautiful flowers. There is no fool who would present fragrant odors to one whose nostrils are snorting under some nasal disease, and there is no dolt so great who would consult an ignorant man on spiritual matters.

What fool is there who would refer a question on law or religious subjects to one of ungoverned passions and organs of sense, or whose eyeballs are rolling with the intoxication of wine? Who asks of the dead the way he should go, or one in the grave about where to walk in the city? What witless man seeks the help of an idiot to clear his doubts? Of what good is it to advise a person with little wit, whose serpentine mind is coiled and creeping in the cave of his heart? Though it lies there in silence and sightless, is yet ungovernably wild.

Know there is no such a thing as a well governed mind. Though you may fling it away from you, yet it is never lost or annihilated. The simpleton who does not control his false and delusive mind is tormented to death by its venomous smart, as if stung by a deadly reptile. 10 The learned understand the vital powers. They know the operations of the organs of action and they depend on the action and force of the soul. Say then, O Rama, what is that thing which they call the mind?

11 The vital breath gives force for bodily actions and the soul produces the power of knowledge. The organs act by their own force and the Supreme Spirit is the main source of all. 12 All forces are only parts of the omnipotence of the Supreme Spirit. Their different names are only inventions of men. 13 What is it that they call the individual living soul which has blindfolded the world? What do they label as the mind? It is really an unreality without any power of its own.

14 Rama, I have seen the continued misery arising from their false conception of the unreal mind. My pity for them has caused my constant sorrow. 15 But why should I feel sorrow for the ignorant rabble who bring their sorrow by their own error? The common herd is born to their misery like beasts and brutes. 16 The ignorant rabble are born in their dull material bodies only for their destruction. They are born to die away constantly, like the waves of the ocean.

17 What pity shall I take for those who are seen every day perishing under the jaws of death, like numbers of animals immolated in the shambles? 18 For whom shall I sorrow when I see billions and trillions of gnats and moths destroyed daily by gusts of wind? 19 For whom shall I sorrow when every day throughout hills and forests I see hunters and sportsmen killing millions of deer and other game? 20 For whom shall I feel when I find innumerable schools of small fish in the waters eaten every day by bigger ones?

21 I see an infinite number of microscopic organisms eaten by flies and fleas, which in their turn are eaten by hungry spiders and scorpions. 22 The frog feeds on flies and in turn is eaten by snakes. Birds of prey swallow the snake and the weasel preys upon snakes. 23 The weasel is killed by the cat, which is killed by the dog. The bear destroys the dog and is at last destroyed by the tiger. 24 The lion overcomes the tiger, and is overcome on its turn by the sharabha. The sharabha is overthrown by its fall on rocky steeps in its attempt to jump over gathering clouds.

25 The clouds are worsted by tempests, and these again are obstructed by rising rocks and mountains. The mountains are split by thunderbolts, and the thunderbolts of heaven are broken by the thundering Indra. 26 This Indra is defeated by Vishnu, his younger brother, and Vishnu is made to undergo his incarnations in the shapes of men and beasts. He is subjected to the changing fortunes of pain and pleasure and to the conditions of disease, decay and death.

27 Big animals are fed upon by leeches and fleas that stick to their bodies and suck their blood. Men filled with knowledge and armed with weapons are infested by bloodsucking bugs and gnats. 28 Thus hosts of living bodies are continually exposed to feed upon and to be fed upon by one another with remorseless hunger. 29 There is a constant growth of leeches, fleas, ants, other small insects and worms on the one hand, and a continued dissolution of both big and puny bodies in every place on earth.

30 The womb of the waters bears breeds of fish, whales, hippopotamus and other aquatic animals, and the bowels of the earth produce multitudes of worms and reptiles to infinity. 31 The air teems with broods of birds of various kinds and the woods abound with wild beasts, lions and tigers, fleet deer and other brutes. 32 There are inborn worms growing in the intestines and upon the skin of animal bodies. Parasitical insects and microscopic organisms feed upon the bark and leaves of trees. 33 Insects are seen born in the crusts of stones, such as frogs, worms and others. Many kinds of worms and insects are found growing and feeding upon the feces and excrements of animals.

34 In this manner an endless number of living beings are being born and perishing for ever and ever. It is of no use to them whether kind hearted men are joyous or sorrowful at their births and deaths. 35 The wise can have no cause for joy or grief in this continued course of constant births and deaths of the living world. 36 Such is the nature of all the different species of animal beings. They constantly grow to fall off like the leaves of trees.

37 The kind hearted man who wishes to remove the sorrows of the ignorant by his advice, attempts an impossibility as great as that of shrouding the all pervasive sunshine by means of his umbrella. 38 It is useless to give advice to the ignorant who are no better than beasts in their understandings, just as it is fruitless to talk to a rock or a block of wood or a stone in the wilderness. 39 The dull headed ignorant, who are no better than beasts, are dragged by their willful minds like cattle by their halters. 40 To see the ignorant plunged in the skin of their perverted minds, employed in acts and rites for their own ruin, would make even stones melt into tears.

41 Men of ungoverned minds are always exposed to dangers and difficulties, but the purified minds of the wise are free from the evils and mishaps of life.

42 Now Rama, consider well the miseries of ungoverned minds and take yourself to the knowledge of the knowable one. 43 Never entertain the vain hobgoblin of a mind in your imagination. The mind has no real existence of its own. Beware of this false belief, which may betray you like the imagined ghosts of children. 44 As long as you are forgetful of the soul, you must remain in utter ignorance and remain tortured by the serpent residing in the recess of your heart.

45 Now you know the whole truth, as I have explained it to you. It is only your imagination that presents you with the idea of your mind, and you must get rid of that idea forever. 46 If you rely upon what can be perceived, you are subject to the delusion of your mind. No sooner do you shun your reliance on phenomena than you are liberated from your illusion of it.

47 The visible world is a combination of the three qualities of purity, action and passivity (sattva, rajas and tamas). It is presented before you by your illusion (maya), like a trap to capture beasts. 48 Think of the nonexistence both of the subjective-self and the objective world. Remain as firm as a fixed rock on earth, and behold the Lord only in the form of infinite space in your heart.

49 Rama, shun the false thoughts of your self-existence and those of the visible world. Forsake your belief in duality in order to settle yourself in infinite unity. 50 Continue to meditate on the soul, as it is situated between the subjective viewer and the objective view of this world, and as it exists in your vision which lies between the two. 51 Forsake your ideas about the subjects and objects of your taste, and think about their intermediate state of taste as being one with the soul. 52 Rama, place yourself in the position of your power of thinking which lies between the thinker and what can be thought of. Support your soul on the support-less soul of all, and remain steady in your meditation.

53 Forsake the cares of the world and be exempt from thoughts of existence and non-existence. Meditate on the Universal Soul and be settled with your soul in that Soul. 54 When you have learned to think on the thinkable One by renouncing the thought of your own existence, then you shall arrive to that state of unconsciousness which is free from misery.

55 Know your thoughts to be your chains and your self-consciousness to be your binding chain. Therefore, O Rama, loosen the lion of your soul from the prison house of your mind. 56 By departing from the state of the Supreme Soul and falling into the thoughts of the mind, you will be crowded by your imaginations and you will see all about you only the objects of your thoughts.

57 The knowledge that reasoning or the power of thought is distinct from the soul introduces the existence of the unhappy mind. For the sake of true happiness, you must get rid of that separation. 58 When you become conscious of the Supreme Soul in you and permeated throughout all nature, then you will find the thinker and his thinking, the thinkables and their thoughts, all vanish into nothing. 59 The thought that “I have a soul and a living soul also” brings all the miseries to which we are exposed throughout all eternity. 60 The consciousness that “I am the one soul and not a distinct living being” is called tranquility of the spirit and its true joy.

61 O Rama, when you are certain that the world is the Universal Soul itself, you will find the false distinctions of your mind and individual living soul to be nothing in reality. 62 When you perceive that all this is your very self, then your mind will melt away into the soul, as darkness dissolves in sunlight and shadows disappear in the air. 63 As long as you cherish the snake of your mind within yourself, you are in danger of catching its poison. But when the mind is removed through your yoga meditation, you escape the danger immediately.

64 Be bold, O Rama, and destroy the mighty demon of the deep rooted error of your mind by the power of the mantras of your perfect knowledge. 65 Upon disappearance of the demon of the mind from the dwelling of your body, as when a demon yaksha disappears in the air, you will be free from every disease, danger, care and fear. 66 Dispassion and detachment joined with the knowledge of unity melt down the substance of the mind and confer the best and highest state of joy and rest in the Supreme Spirit, bringing on that state of tranquility which is the main aim of everybody. May all these blessings attend upon you.