Chapter 29 — Bali Returns to Ordinary Consciousness

Vasishta related:—

After a thousand years passed in Bali’s unconsciousness, he was roused to consciousness by the gods beating heavenly drums above. Bali being awake, his city (Mavalipuram) was renovated with fresh beauty, as the lotus-bed is revivified by the rising sun in the eastern horizon. Bali, not seeing any demons before him, fell into reflecting upon the dreams he had seen in his state of samadhi.

He thought, “O how charming was that cooling bliss of spiritual delight in which my soul had been enraptured for a short time. O how I long to resume that state of joy! These outward enjoyments which I have tasted to my fill cease to please me anymore. Not even the delights of the full moon can compare to the waves of bliss I felt in my soul during my entranced state of unconsciousness.”

Bali was attempting to resume his state of samadhi when he was interrupted by attendant demons, as the moon is intercepted by clouds. He glanced at them and was going to close his eyes in meditation after making his prostration on the ground, but was interrupted by their gigantic statures standing around him. He then reflected, “The intellect being devoid of its option, there is nothing for me to desire. Only the mind that is fond of pleasures vainly pursues them. 10 Why should I desire my freedom when I am not confined or attached to anything here? It is childish to seek liberation when I am not bound to anything below.”

11 “I have no desire for liberation or fear of bondage since the disappearance of my ignorance. What need do I have of meditation? What good is meditation to me? 12 Meditation and lack of meditation are both mistakes of the mind. We must depend on our courage and hail all that comes to pass on us without rejoicing or shrinking. 13 I require neither thoughtfulness nor thoughtlessness, neither enjoyments nor their privation, but must remain unmoved and firm as one sane and sound. 14 I have no longing for the spiritual or craving for temporal things. I do not have to remain in a meditative mood or in the state of giddy worldliness.”

15 “I am not dead (because my soul is immortal) and I cannot be living (because the soul is not connected with life). I am neither a reality (as the body) nor an unreality (composed of spiritual essence only). I am not a material or aerial body (being neither this body nor vital air). I am not of this world or any other, but identical with the great Conscious Void.”

16 “When I am in this world, I will remain here quietly. When I am not here, I will abide calmly in the solace of my soul. 17 What shall I do with my meditation and what shall I do with all my royalty? Let anything come to pass as it may, I am nothing for this or that, nor is anything mine. 18 Though I have nothing to do (because I am not a free agent, nor master of my actions), yet I must do the duties belonging to my station in society.”

19 After reaching this determination in his mind, Bali, the wisest of the wise, looked upon the demons with detachment, like the sun looking upon lotuses. 20 With the nods and glances of his eyes, he received their homage, like passing winds bear the fragrances of flowers. 21 Then Bali, ceasing to think on the object of his meditation, approached them concerning their respective duties under him. 22 He honored the gods and his gurus with due respect and saluted his friends and officers with his best regards. 23 He honored all his servants and suitors with his largesse, and he pleased attendant maidens with various persons.

24 So he continued to prosper in every department of his government, until he made up his mind to perform a great sacrifice. 25 He satisfied all beings with his great gifts and gratified the great gods and sages with due honor and veneration. Then he commenced the ceremony of the sacrifice under the guidance of Shukra and the chief gurus and priests.

26 Then Vishnu, the lord of Lakshmi, came to know that Bali had no desire of earthly reward. Vishnu appeared at the sacrifice to crown Bali with the success of his undertaking and confer upon him his desired blessing. 27 He cunningly persuaded Bali to make a gift of the world to Indra his elder brother, who was insatiably fond of all kinds of enjoyment. 28 Having used his artifices to deceive Bali dispossess him of the three worlds, Vishnu shut him in the nether world, just as they confine a monkey in a cave under the ground.

29 Thus Bali continues to remain in his confinement to this day with his mind fixed in meditation for the purpose of again attaining the rule of Indra in a future state of life. 30 The living liberated Bali, being thus restrained in the infernal cave, looks upon his former prosperity and his present adversity in the same light. 31 There is no rising or setting of his consciousness in the states of his pleasure or pain. His intelligence remains one and the same in its full brightness, like the disc of the sun in a painting.

32 He saw the repeated ebb and flow of worldly enjoyments and settled his mind in utter indifference to them. 33 He overcame multitudes of changing fortunes for multitudes of years in all his reincarnations in the three worlds, and at last found his rest in utter disregard of all mortal things. 34 He felt thousands of comforts and disquiets and hundreds of pleasures and privations of life. After his long experience of these, he found his rest in his perfect quiescence. 35 Bali, having forsaken his desire of enjoyments, enjoyed the fullness of his mind in the absence of his desires. He rejoiced in the self-sufficiency of his soul and in the loneliness of his underground cave.

36 After a course of many years, Bali regained his sovereignty of the world and governed it for a long time to his heart’s content. 37 But he was neither elated by his elevation to the dignity of Indra, the lord of gods, nor was he depressed at this subjugation to prosperity. 38 He was one and the same person in every state of his life, and enjoyed the equanimity of his soul, resembling the serenity of the ethereal sphere.

39 O Rama, I have related to you the whole story of Bali’s attainment of true wisdom. I advise you now to imitate his example for your elevation to the same state of perfection. 40 Learn, as Bali did by his own discernment, to think of yourself as the immortal and everlasting soul. Try to reach the state of your oneness with the Supreme Unity by your courageous self-control and self-resignation.

41 Bali, the lord of demons, exercised full authority over the three worlds for more than a millennium, but at last he came to feel an utter distaste for all the enjoyments of life. 42 Therefore, O victorious Rama, forego the enjoyments of life, which are sure to be attended with a distaste and nausea at the end. Take yourself to that state of true joy which never grows tasteless. 43 These visible sights, O Rama, are as numerous as they are temptations to the soul. They appear as even and charming as a distant mountain, but proves to be rough and rugged as you approach it.

44 Restrain your mind in the cavity of your heart from its pursuit of perishable objects of enjoyment, either in this life or in the next, which are so alluring to all men of ordinary sense. 45 Know yourself to be identical with consciousness which shines like the sun throughout the universe and illuminates every object in nature without distinction or partiality. 46 Know yourself, O mighty Rama, to be infinite spirit and the transcendent soul of all bodies that has manifested itself in manifold forms that are like the bodies of the internal intellect.

47 Know your soul to be like a thread passing through and interwoven with everything in existence, like a string connecting all the links of creation, like so many gems of a necklace or the beads of a rosary. 48 Know yourself as the unborn and embodied soul of Viraj, the resplendent Brahma, which is never born and never dies. Never fall into the mistake of thinking pure consciousness is subject to birth or death.

49 Know your desires are the causes of your birth, life, death and diseases. Therefore shun your desire of enjoyments and enjoy all things in the manner of the all witnessing consciousness. 50 If you remain in the everlasting light of the sun of your consciousness, you will come to find the phenomenal world to be only a phantom of your dream. 51 Never regret or sorrow for anything. Do not think of pleasures or pains which do not affect your soul. You are pure consciousness and the all pervading soul which manifests itself in everything. 52 Know that what is desirable are your evils and the undesirable (abstinence) is for your good. Therefore shun the former by your continued practice of the latter.

53 By forsaking your ideas of desirable and undesirable, you will develop a habit of mentally ceasing desires. When the habit takes a deep root in your heart, you no longer have to be reborn in the world. 54 Retract your mind from everything to which it runs like a boy after vain bright trinkets. Settle your mind in yourself for your own good. 55 Thus by using your best efforts to restrain your mind, and also by your habit of self-control, you will subdue the rampant elephant of your mind and ultimately reach your highest bliss.

56 Do not become like ignorant fools who believe their bodies are their chief good and who are infatuated by false reasoning and infidelity, deluded by impostors to gratify their sensual desires. 57 What man is more ignorant in this world and more subject to its evils than one who derives his spiritual knowledge from one who smatters in theology and relies on the dogmas of pretenders and false philosophers? 58 Dispel the cloud of false reasoning from the atmosphere of your mind by the hurricane of right reasoning which drives all darkness before it.

59 You can not be said to have right reasoning until you come to the light and sight of the soul, both by your own efforts and by grace of the Supreme Spirit. 60 Neither the Vedas nor Vedanta, nor the science of logic or any other scripture can give you any light of the soul unless it appears of itself within you. 61 It is by cultivating yourself, aided by my instruction and divine grace, that you have gained your perfect knowledge and appear to rest yourself in the Supreme Spirit.

62 There are three ways in which you come to spiritual light. First, a lack of knowledge of duality, then the brightness of your intellectual light (the soul) by the grace of God, and third the wide extent of your knowledge derived from my instructions. 63 You are now free of your mental maladies. You have become sound by abandonment of your desires, by removal of your doubts and errors, and by forsaking the mist of your fondness for external objects.

64 O Rama, as you get rid of the errors of your understanding, so you advance by degrees in gaining your knowledge, in cherishing your resignation, in destroying your defects, in imbibing the bliss of ecstasy, in wandering with exultation, and in elevating your soul to the sixth sphere. But all this is not enough unless you attain Brahma itself.