Chapter 20 — Punya Reasons with Pavana

Punya said:—

Who is our father and who our mother? Who are our friends and relatives, except our notion of them as such? Friends and relatives are like dust raised by the gusts of our airy fancy. The conceptions of friends and enemies and our sons and relatives are the products of our affection and hatred of them. These being the effects of our ignorance are soon made to disappear into airy nothing upon enlightenment of understanding.

The thought of one as a friend makes him a friend. Thinking one as an enemy makes him an enemy. The knowledge of a thing as honey and of another as poison is owing to our opinions of them. There being only one Universal Soul equally pervading the whole, there can be no reason to conceive of one as a friend and another as an enemy.

My boy, of what you are? What makes your identity when your body is only a composition of bones, ribs, flesh and blood, and not yourself? Being viewed in its true light, there is nothing as “myself” or “yourself.” A fallacy of our understanding makes me think of me as Punya and you as Pavana. Who is your father and who is the son? Who is your mother and who your friend? One Supreme Self pervades all infinity. Who do you call the self and who the not self?

If you are a spiritual substance and have undergone many births, then you have had many friends and properties in your past lives. Why do you not think of them also? You had many friends in flowery fields where you pastured in your former form of a stag. Why do you not think of those deer who were once your dear companions? 10 Why do you not lament for your lost swan companions in the pleasant pool of lotuses where you did dive and swim about in the form of a gander? 11 Why not lament your fellow trees in the forest where you once stood as a stately tree? 12 You had lion comrades on the rugged mountain crags. Why do you not lament them also? 13 You had many mates among the fish in clear lakes decked with lotuses. Why not lament your separation from them?

14 You were a monkey in the grey and green woods of the country of Dasarna. You were a prince in land of frost and a raven in the woods of Pundra. 15 You were an elephant in the land of Haihayas and an ass in that of Trigarta. You became a dog in the country of Salya and a bird in the woods of sarala trees. 16 You have been a pipal tree in the Vindhyan Mountains and a wood insect in a large oak tree. You were a cock on Mandara Mountain, then born as a brahmin in one of its caves. 17 You were a brahmin in Kosala and a partridge in Bengal. You were a horse in the snowy land and a beast in the sacred ground of Brahma at Pushkara. 18 You were an insect in the trunk of a palm tree, a gnat in a big tree, and a crane in the woods of Vindhya. Now you are my younger brother.

19 You have been an ant for six months and lain within the thin bark of a bhugpetera tree in a glen of the Himalayan hills. Now you are born as my younger brother. 20 You have been a centipede in a dunghill at a distant village where you lived for a year and half. Now you have become my younger brother. 21 Once you were the child of a Pulinda tribal woman and you lived on her breasts like the honey sucking bee on the core of a lotus. That same person is now my younger brother. 22 In this manner, my boy, you were born in many other shapes and had to wander all about Asia for numberless of years. And now are you my younger brother.

23 Thus I see the past states of your existence caused by the prior desires of your soul. I see all this by my clear discernment and all-viewing sight. 24 I also remember several births that I had to undergo in my state of ignorance, which I see clearly before my enlightened sight.

25 I was a parrot in the land of Trigarta and a frog at the beach of a river. I became a small bird in a forest and was then born in these woods. 26 Having been a Pulinda hunter in Vindhya, then a tree in Bengal, and afterwards a camel in the Vindhya range. I am at last born in this forest. 27 I, who have been a chataka cuckoo in the Himalayas and a prince in Paundra province, then a mighty tiger in the forests of Sahya Hill, am now become your elder brother. 28 He who had been a vulture for ten years, a shark for five months, and a lion for a full century is now your elder brother in this place. 29 I was a chakora wood in the village of Andhara, a ruler in the snowy regions, then a proud son of a priest named Sailacharya in a hilly region.

30 I remember the various customs and pursuits of different peoples on earth that I had to observe and follow in my repeated reincarnations among them. 31 In those different lives, I had many fathers and mothers and many more brothers and sisters, and also friends and relatives numbering hundreds and thousands. 32 For whom shall I lament and which shall I forget among this number? Shall I wail only for those I lose in this life? But these also are to be buried in oblivion like the rest, and such is the course of the world. 33 Numberless fathers have gone by, and unnumbered mothers also have passed away and died. Innumerable generations of men have perished and disappeared, like withered leaves falling off.

34 There are no bounds, my boy, to our pleasures and pains in this terrestrial world. Lay them all aside and let us remain unmindful of all existence. 35 Forsake your thoughts of false appearances, relinquish your firm conviction of your own ego, and look to that ultimate course which has led the learned to their final blessing. 36 For what is this commotion of people except a struggle to rise and fall? Therefore strive for neither, but live regardless of both like an indifferent sage. 37 Live free from your cares of existence and nonexistence. Then you shall be free from your fears of decay and death. Remember calmly your self alone. Do not be like the ignorant. Do not allow anything or any accident to move you from your self possession.

38 Know that you have no birth nor death, no fortune or sorrow of any kind, no father or mother, and no friend or foe anywhere. You are only your pure spirit. You have nothing of an unspiritual nature.

39 The world is a stage that presents many acts and scenes. Only those play their parts well who are excited neither by its passions and feelings. 40 Those who are indifferent in their views have their quietude amidst all the occurrences of life. Those who have known the true One remain only to witness the course of nature. 41 Those who know God do their acts without thinking themselves their actors, just as the lamps of night witness the objects around without their consciousness of them. 42 The wise witness the objects as they are reflected in the mirror of their minds, just as a mirror and gems receive the images of things.

43 Now my boy, rub out all your wishes and visible signs of memories from your mind and see the image of the serene spirit of God in your innermost soul. Learn to live like the great sages, with the sight of your spiritual light and by effacing all false impressions from your mind.