Chapter 18 — Living Liberation or True Joy of Man; Everything Is Connected

Vasishta continued:—

Rama, I will now describe the nature of those great men who conduct themselves in this world with their desires under their control and whose minds are not blemished by evil inclinations.

The sage whose mind is freed in his lifetime conducts himself unconcerned in this world. He smiles secure at its occurrences and is regardless of the first, last and middle stages of his life. He is attentive to his present business and unmindful of every other object about him. He is devoid of cares and desires and his thought is only of his internal reflections. He is free from anxiety in all places who tolerates whatever he happens to meet. He sees the light of reason in his soul and walks in the romantic gardens of his thoughts. He who is neither elated nor depressed in any state of his life, who does not fall down under any circumstance, rests in transcendental bliss with prospects as bright as the cooling beams of the full moon.

Whose generosity and courage do not forsake him, even when he is troubled by his bitterest enemies, and who is observant of his duties to his superiors, such a man is not dejected in this world. Who neither rejoices nor laments at his lot, who neither envies nor yearns after the fortune of another, but pursues his own business in quiet silence, is the man that is never downcast in this world. Who, when asked, says what he is doing, but unasked remains like a dead block, and who is free from desire and disgust, he is never depressed in his heart and mind.

He speaks agreeably to every one and gently utters what he is required to say. He who understands the intentions of others is never put out. 10 He sees the right and wrong dealings of men and the acts of the depraved desires of their minds. Knowing all human affairs as clearly as looking in a mirror in his hand, he holds his peace with every one. 11 Standing on his firm footing (detachment) and knowing the frailty of worldly things, he smiles at the changing fortunes of nature with the cold frigidity of his heart.

12 Rama, such is the nature of the great souls who have subdued their minds and know the course of nature, as I have described to you. 13 I am unable to describe the fond beliefs of the minds of the ignorant populace who are plunged in the mud of their sensual enjoyments.

14 Women, devoid of understanding and graced with their personal charms, are the idols of these people who are fond of their golden forms without knowing them to be the flames of hellfire. 15 Wealth, the fond object of foolish people, is filled with every ill and evil desire. Its pleasure is poison and produces misery. Prosperity is full with danger. 16 Use of wealth to do meritorious deeds and various acts of piety is also filled with a great many evils, which I do not have the power to recount.

17 Therefore Rama, keep your sight on the full view of your spirit by retracting it from external phenomena and internal thoughts. Conduct yourself in this world as one liberated in his lifetime. 18 Being free from all your inner passions and feelings of affection. Having given up all your desires and expectations, continue performing your outward duties in this world. 19 Follow all your duties in life with a noble flexibility of your disposition, but preserve the philosophic renunciation of everything in your mind and conduct yourself accordingly in this world.

20 Think well on the fleeting states of all earthly things and fix your mind upon the lasting nature of your soul. Thus conduct yourself in this transitory stage with thoughts of eternity in your mind. 21 Rama, conduct yourself with inner detachment and lack of all desire, but show your outward desire for whatever is good and great. Be detached within yourself but full of effort in your external behavior. 22 O Rama, conduct yourself among men with a pretended activity in your outward appearance, but with real inaction in your mind. Show yourself as the doer of your deeds, but know in your mind that you are no actor at all.

23 O Rama, conduct yourself with full knowledge of this world as if you are acquainted with the natures of all beings. Go wherever you please with your intimate acquaintance of everything here. 24 Behave yourself with mankind with a pretended appearance of joy and grief, and of condolence and congratulation with others, and an assumed shape of activity and action among mankind. 25 Manage yourself, O Rama, with full possession of your mind, unaffected by pride or vanity, as if it were as clear as the spotless sky. 26 Go through your life unshackled by the bonds of desire. Join in all the outward acts of life with an unaltered evenness of mind under every circumstance.

27 Do not give room to thoughts of your bondage or liberation in this world, or of the embodiment or release of your soul here. Think the revolving worlds to be a magic scene and preserve perfect tranquility of your mind. 28 Know all this as an illusion. Only ignorance presents the false appearance of the world to sight. Yet we take them for true, as you see water in the burning sunbeams in a desert.

29 The unobstructed, uniform and all pervading soul can have no restriction or bondage. What is unrestricted in itself cannot have its release. 30 Lack of true knowledge presents the false view of the world before us. Knowledge of truth disperses the view, just as the knowledge of the rope dispels the false appearance of the snake in it.

31 You have known the true essence of your being by your right discernment. Thereby you are free from the sense of your personality and are set free as the subtle air. 32 You have known the truth and must give up your knowledge of untruth, together with the thoughts of your friends and relatives, all which are unreal in their natures. 33 Such being the case, you must consider your soul as something other than those, and that you have received your soul from the supreme source of all. 34 This soul bears no relation to your friends or possession, to your good or evil actions, or to anything whatsoever in this world. 35 When you are convinced that this very soul constitutes your essence, you have nothing to fear from the false appearance of the world which is no more than a misconception.

36 You can have no concern for the well-being or grief of a friend or foe who is not born so to you. For every one being born for himself, you have no cause for joy or grief for anybody. 37 If you know that you had been before (creation) and that you shall be so forever afterwards (to eternity), you are truly wise. 38 If you are troubled so much with concern for friends in this life, then why not mourn those who are dead and gone in your present and past lives? 39 If you were something other than what you are now, and if you have to be something different in the future, why then should you sorrow for what does not have its self-identity?

40 If you are to be born no more, after your past and present births, then you have no cause for sorrow, being extinct yourself in the Supreme Spirit. 41 Therefore there is no cause for sorrow in anything that occurs according to the course of nature. Instead be joyful pursuing the duties of your present life.

42 But do not indulge the excess of your joy or grief, but preserve your equanimity everywhere by knowing the Supreme Spirit pervades all. 43 Know yourself to be the form of infinite spirit stretching wide like the extended vacuum, and that you are the pure eternal light, the focus of full brightness. 44 Know your eternal and invisible soul is distinct from all worldly substances, a particle of that Universal Soul which dwells in and stretches through the hearts of all bodies, like the unseen thread running through the holes and connecting the links of a necklace.

45 You learn from the unlearned that the continuation of the world is caused by the reproduction of what has been before; not so from the learned (who know the world to be nothing). Know this and not that, and be happy in this life.

46 The course of the world and this life is ever tending to decay and disease. Ignorance represents them to be progressing to perfection. But you who are intelligent know their real natures (of frailty and unreality). 47 What else can be the nature of error but falsehood, and what may the state of sleep be except dream and drowsiness? 48 Who do you call your good friend, and who do you say is your great enemy? They all belong to the sole One and proceed alike from the Divine Will.

49 Everything is frail and unsteady and has its rise and fall from and into the Supreme Spirit. It is like the wave of the sea, rising and falling from and into the same water. 50 Worlds are rolling upward and going down again, like the axis and spokes of a wheel. 51 The celestials sometimes fall into hell, and the denizens of hell are sometimes raised to heaven. Animals of one kind are regenerated in another form, and the people of one continent and island are reborn on another. 52 The wealthy are reduced to poverty, and the poor are raised to wealth. All beings are seen to be rising and falling in a hundred ways.

53 Who has seen the wheel of fortune move slowly in one straight forward course forever, not tumbling in its ups and downs or turning to this side and that in its winding and uneven route? Fixedness of fortune is a fiction, like finding frost in fire. 54 Those who are called wealthy, with all fortune, position, friends and relations, are seen flying away in a few days of this transient life.

55 The thought of something as one’s own or another’s, and of this and that as mine, yours, his or someone else’s, are as false as the appearance of double suns and moons in the sky. 56 That this is a friend and this other a foe, and that this is myself and that one is another, are all only false ego conceptions of your mind and must be wiped away.

57 However, make it your pleasure to mix with the blinded populace and those who are lost to reason. Deal with them in your usual unaltered way. 58 In your journey through this world, conduct yourself in such a manner that you do not sink under the burden of your cares of it. 59 When you come to your reason, lay down your earthly cares and desires. Then shall you have that composure of mind that will exonerate you from all your duties and dealings in life.

60 It is the part of low-minded men to reckon one as a friend and another as no friend. Noble minded men do not observe such distinctions between man and man. 61 There is nothing where I am not and nothing which is not mine. 62 The intellects of the wise are as clear as the spacious sky. There is no rising or setting of their intellectual light which views everything as serenely as in the serenity of the atmosphere and as plainly as the plain surface of the earth.

63 Know Rama that all created beings are friendly and useful to you, and there is no person or thing in the world with which you are not related in some way. 64 It is false to look anyone as a friend or foe among the various orders of created beings in the universe. In reality, each may be of help to you, however unfriendly they may appear at first.