Chapter 52 — Uddalaka Meditates and Reasons

Vasishta resumed:—

The saintly Uddalaka entered that cave in Gandhamadana Mountain like a bee flying round and round enters the lotus-cell in the course of its romantic wandering. To pursue his intense meditation, he entered the cave and sat inside, just as when the lotus-born creator retires and rests in seclusion after finishing his work of creation.

He made a seat for himself by spreading fresh tree leaves on the ground, like Indra spreading his carpet of many layers of clouds. Over the leaves he spread his deerskin, as the bedding of stars is laid over by the blue clouds of heaven. He sat upon it in his meditative mood, with the watchfulness of his mind, just as when an empty and light cloud alights on the top of Rishyasringa Mountain. He sat firmly in lotus posture like Buddha, his face turned upwards, his two legs and feet covering his private parts, his palms and fingers counting the prayer of Brahma. He restrained the fleet deer of his mind from the desires to which it ran by fits and starts. Then he reflected in the following manner in order to have unaltered steadiness of mind.

Uddalaka thinking:—

O my senseless mind, why are you occupied in worldly acts to no purpose when the sensible never engage themselves in what proves to be their destruction afterwards? He who forsakes his peaceful tranquility to pursue pleasure is like one who quits a grove of mandara flowers in order to enter a forest of poisonous plants. 10 You may hide yourself in some cave of the earth, or find a place in the highest abode of Brahma, yet you can not have your quiet without the stillness of your spirit.

11 Stop seeking the objects of your desire. They are beset by difficulties and produce your grief and anxiety. Fly from these to lay hold of your chief good, which you shall find only in your solitary retirement. 12 These different objects of your fancy or liking, so temporary in their nature, are all for your misery and of no real good at anytime. 13 Why do you follow, like a fool, the hollow sound of some fancied good which has nothing substantial in it? It is like the great glee of frogs at the noise of clouds that promise them nothing.

14 All this time you have been wandering with your unsteady heart in blind pursuit after profit and pleasure. But tell me, what great boon has booted you out to all your ramblings about the earth? 15 Why do you not fix your mind to that stillness which promises to give you your self-sufficiency, and in which you may find your rest as liberated in your lifetime?

16 O my foolish heart, why are you roused at the sound of some good that reaches your ears? Why are you led by your deluded mind towards that sound and fall victim to it, like a deer deceived by the hunter’s horn and trapped in the snare? 17 Beware, O foolish man! Do not allow carnal desire to take possession of your breast and lead you to your destruction, just as the male elephant, deceived by the artful female elephant, is made to fall into a pit. 18 Do not be misled by your desire of taste to stuff yourself with bitter poison as sweets, or bite the fatal bait that hooks the foolish fish to its destruction. 19 Do not let your fondness for bright and beautiful objects bewitch you to your ruin, like a bright light inviting a silly moth to its destruction. 20 Do not let your attraction to sweet smells tempt you to your ruin, or entice you like poor bees to the flavor of the elephant’s nose secretion only to be crushed by its trunk.

21 See how deer, bees, moths, elephants and fish are destroyed by their addiction to the gratification of a single sense. Consider the great danger to which a foolish man is exposed by his desire of satisfying all his unmanageable senses and organs. 22 O my heart, it is you yourself who stretches the snare of your desires for your own entanglement, just as the silk worm weaves its own cocoon with its own saliva for its own imprisonment. 23 Be cleansed of all your impure desires and become as pure and clear as a autumn cloud. When you are fully cleansed and lifted up like a cloud, you are free from all bondage.

24 You know the course of this world is pregnant with the rise and fall of mankind and in the end produces only the pangs of disease and death, yet you are still addicted to it for your destruction. 25 But why do I vainly admonish my heart? It is only by reasoning with the mind that men are able to govern their hearts. 26 As long as gross ignorance rules the mind, the heart remains in its state of dullness. As long as the earth is covered with mist and frost, the upper skies are shrouded in rain clouds. 27 But as soon as the mind is cleared of its ignorance, the heart becomes lighter, like frost covering the earth disappears when the rain clouds disperse. 28 As the heart becomes lighter and purer through the mind’s act of reasoning, so I expect its desires to grow weaker and thinner, like the light and fleeting clouds of autumn.

29 Admonition to the unrighteous proves to be as fruitless as blowing winds against falling rain. 30 Therefore, I shall try to rid myself of this false and vacant ignorance. The scriptures admonish to use all means to get rid of ignorance.

31 I find myself to be the inextinguishable lamp of consciousness without my egoism or any desire in myself. I have no relation with false ignorance which is the root of egoism. 32 That this is “I” and that is another are the false suggestions of our delusive ignorance. Like an epidemic disease, ignorance presents us with such fallacies for our destruction. 33 It is impossible for the slender and finite mind to comprehend the nature of the infinite soul, just as it is impossible for an elephant to be contained within the shell of a bilva fruit.

34 I cannot follow the dictate of my heart which is a wide and deep cave containing the desires that cause all our miseries. 35 What is this delusive ignorance which, like the mistakes of juvenile boys, creates the blunder of viewing the self-existent one in the different lights of “I”, “you”, “he” and other personalities. 36 I have analyzed my body at each atom from head to foot, but in no part of it have I found what we call the “I” and what makes my personality. 37 That which is the “I am” fills the whole universe and is the only one in all the three worlds. It is the unknowable consciousness, omnipresent and yet apart from all. 38 Its magnitude is not to be known, nor does it have any name of its own. It is neither the one nor the other, nor an immensity nor minuteness. 39 It is unknowable by the light of the Vedas. Ignorance of it causes misery and must be destroyed by the light of reason.

40 This is the flesh of my body and this is its blood. These are the bones and this is the whole body. These are my breaths, but where is that “I” situated? 41 Its pulsation is the effect of vital breath and its sensation is the action of the heart. Decay and death also accompany the body. But where is its “I” situated? 42 Flesh is one thing and blood another, and bones are different from them. But tell me, my heart, where is the “I” said to exist? 43 These are the organs of smell and this is the tongue. This is skin and these are my ears. These are the eyes and this is touch. But what is the soul and where is it situated?

44 I am none of the elements of the body, nor the mind nor its desires. I am only the pure intellectual soul, a manifestation of Divine Consciousness. 45 The only knowledge of the true reality that we can have is that I am everywhere, and yet nothing whatever that is anywhere. There is no other way to it.

46 For a long time I have been deceived by my ignorance and misled from the right path, just as the young of a beast is carried away by a fierce tiger to the woods. 47 Now by my good fortune I have come to detect this thievish ignorance. No longer shall I trust this robber of truth. 48 I am beyond the reach of affliction. I have no concern with misery, nor has it anything to do with me. This union of mine with these is as temporary as that of a cloud with a mountain.

49 Being subject to my individual ego, I say, I speak, I know, I stay, I go, and the like. But on looking at the soul, I lose my ego in the Universal Soul. 50 I truly believe my eyes and the other parts of my body to belong to me, but if they are something other than me, then let them remain or perish with the body, with which I have no concern.

51 Fie for shame! What is this word “I” and who first invented it? This is nothing but the childish blunder of some demonic child of earth. 52 For such a long time have I been groveling in this dusty den, wandering at large like a stray deer on a sterile rock without any grass or vegetation. 53 If we inquire into the true nature of things, we are at a loss to find the true meaning of the word “I” which is the cause of all our grief on earth.

54 If you want to feel your inner self by the sense of touch, then tell me how do you find what you call “I” other than it being a ghost of your own imagination. 55 You set your “I” on your tongue and utter it as an object of that organ. You have no taste whatever of that empty word which you so often utter. 56 You often hear that word ringing in your ears, though you feel it to be an empty sound like air, and you cannot account from where this rootless word had its rise. 57 Our sense of smell, which brings the fragrance of objects to the inner soul, conveys no scent of this word into our brain. 58 It is like a mirage, a false idea of something we know not what. What can it be other than an error of which we have no idea or sense whatever?

59 I also see that my will is not always the cause of my actions because I find my eyes and other sense organs are employed in their respective functions without the direction of my will. 60 The difference between our bodily and willful acts is this. The actions of the body done without the will of the mind are unattended with feelings of pain or pleasure. 61 Therefore let your sense organs perform their several actions without your will and by this means you will evade all pleasure and pain.

62 It is in vain that you blend your will with your actions when the act of your will is attended with a grief similar to that of children who break dolls while playing. 63 Your desires and their productions are the facsimiles of your minds and not different from them, just as waves are composed of the same water from which they rise. Such is the case with the acts of will. 64 Your own will guides your hand to construct a prison for your confinement, just as the silly silkworm is confined in the cocoon of its own making.

65 Because of your desires you are exposed to the perils of death and disease, just as the dim vision of a traveler over mountainous areas hurls him headlong into a deep cavern below. 66 Only your desires are the chief cause of you being attached to one another in one place, like a thread passing through the holes of pearls ties them together in a long strand around the neck.

67 What is this desire but the creation of your false imagination? Whatever you think is good for yourself, as soon as you cease to take a fancy for it, your desire is cut off like by a knife. 68 This desire, the creature of your imagination, is the cause of all your errors and your ruin, just as the breath of air causes both burning and extinction of lamps, lightening, and fiery furnaces. 69 Therefore, O my heart that is the source and spring of your senses, join with all your consciousness to look into the nature of your unreality, and feel in yourself the state of your utter annihilation (nirvana). 70 Give up your sense of ego and your desire of worldliness that are interminable and inherent to you in this life. Put on the amulet of the abandonment of your desires and earthliness and resign yourself to your God to be free from all fears on earth.