Chapter 16 — Two Ways to Abandon Greed: Reason and Insight

Rama said, “Sage, what you are saying, about me abandoning my egoism and greed, is too deep for me to understand. Sage, how is it possible to give up my ego without giving up this body and everything that is related to it? Egoism is the chief support of the body, like a post supports a thatched house. The body will surely perish without its egoism. Its durability will be cut short, like a tree is felled by sawing on its trunk. Now tell me, O most eloquent sage, how can I live by giving up my egoism (which is myself)? Answer me according to your right judgment.

Vasishta replied:—

O lotus-eyed and respectful Rama, the wise, who are well acquainted with the subject, say there are two ways to abandon desires. One is called the knowable (based on knowledge or direct realization) and the other they call the thinkable (based on contemplation, reasoning).

There is a knowledge that I am the life of my body and its powers, and these are the supports of my life, and that I am something. But weighing this internal conviction by the light of reason proves that I am not related to the external body and the body does not bear any relation to my internal soul. Therefore, one performs one’s duties with calmness and coolness of understanding without any desire for results. This is called abandonment of desire through reasoning.

10 The understanding that views things in an equal light and, by forsaking its desires, relinquishes the body without taking any concern for it, is called the knowing abandonment of desires.

11 He who foregoes with ease the desires arising from his egoism is called the thinking renouncer of his desires and is liberated in his lifetime. 12 He who is calm and even-minded by his abandonment of vain and imaginary desires is a knowing deserter of his desires and is also liberated in this world. 13 Those who abandon the desires in their thoughts and remain with listless indifference to everything are like those who are liberated in their lifetime. 14 They are also called liberated who have their composure (detachment) after abandonment of their desires and who rest in the Supreme Spirit with their souls disentangled from their bodies. 15 Both these sorts of renunciation are equally entitled to liberation. Both are extricated from pain and both lead liberated souls to the state of Brahma.

16 The mind, whether engaged in acts or disengaged from them, rests in the pure spirit of God by forsaking its desires. 17 The former kind of yogi is liberated in his embodied state and free from pain throughout his lifetime. But the latter who has obtained his liberation in his bodiless state after his death, remains quite unconscious of his desires.

18 He who feels no joy or sorrow at the good or evil which befalls him in his lifetime, as it is the course of nature, is called the living liberated man. 19 He who neither desires nor dreads the casualties of good or evil that are incidental to human life, but remains quiet regardless of them as in his dead sleep, is known as the truly liberated man. 20 He whose mind is free from thoughts of what is desirable or undesirable to him, and free from differentiation of “mine,” “yours” and “his” is called the truly liberated. 21 He whose mind is not subject to excess joy or grief, hope or fear, anger, boasting or miserliness, is said to have his liberation. 22 He whose feelings are all dulled within himself as in his sleep, and whose mind enjoys its joy like the beams of the full moon, is said to be a liberated man in this world.

23 Valmiki says:—

After the sage had said so far, the day departed to its evening service with the setting sun. The assembled audience retired to their evening ceremonial washings, and with the rising sun on the next day, returned to the assembly.