Chapter 55 — The Pure Consciousness and Being of Uddalaka

Rama said, “Venerable sage, you are the sun of the day of spiritual knowledge and the burning fire of the night of my doubts. You are the cooling moon to the heat of my ignorance. Please explain to me, what does the state of pure existence mean?”

Vasishta answered:—

When the thinking principle, the mind, is wasted and weakened and appears to be extinct and null, the consciousness which remains in common in all beings is called the common consciousness of all, pure being. This consciousness when devoid of its reasoning and absorbed in itself becomes transparent as it is nothing of itself. Then it is called pure consciousness. Similarly, when the intellect ignores knowledge of all internal and external objects, it remains as pure consciousness and is unconscious of any personality. When all phenomena are considered to have a common existence and to be of the same nature as one’s self, this is called pure consciousness. When phenomena are all dissolved of themselves into the one common spirit and there remains nothing different from it, then it is the one consciousness, pure being.

This common view of all things as one and the same is called Self realization and it is the same for embodied and disembodied beings in both worlds. It places the liberated being above the fourth stage of consummation. It is the enlightened soul exalted by ecstasy, and not the ignorant, who can have this consciousness of all as one. This common view of all existence is known by all great and liberated beings, just like the same moisture and air is spread throughout the earth and emptiness. 10 Sages like ourselves, Narada and others, and the gods Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva have this common view of all things in existence.

11 The saintly Uddalaka entertained this view of the community of all beings and things, and having thereby attained that state of perfection, free from fear or fall, he lived as long as he liked to live in this earthly sphere. 12 After a long time, he thought of enjoying the bliss of disembodied or spiritual liberation in the next world by quitting his frail mortal frame on earth. 13 With this intention, he went into the cave of a mountain where he made a seat for himself with dried tree leaves.

He sat upon it in lotus posture, his eyes half closed under his eyelids. 14 He shut up the opening of the nine organs of sense, then having compressed their properties of the nine senses in the one single sense of consciousness, he confined them all within his intellect. 15 He compressed the vital airs in his body and kept his head erect on his neck. Then by fixing the tip of his tongue to the roof of his palate, he sat with his blooming face turned upwards to heaven. 16 He did not allow his breath to pass up or down or out or inside his body, or fly into the air. He did not let his mind or sight to be fixed on any object. He compressed them all within himself with his teeth joined together.

17 There was a complete stop of breathing his vital airs and his face was composed and clear. His body was erect with the consciousness of his intellect and his hairs stood on their ends like thorns. 18 His habitual consciousness of reasoning taught him the community of consciousness. It was by his constant communion with pure consciousness that he perceived a flood of internal bliss stirring in himself. 19 This feeling of internal bliss, resulting from his consciousness of intellectual community, led him to think himself as identical with the entity of the infinite soul and supporting the universal whole. 20 He remained in his state of stillness in pure being with an even composure. He enjoyed an even bliss in himself with a serene countenance.

21 Being unruffled by his spiritual bliss and having attained the state of divine holiness, he remained in his samadhi meditation for a long time by withdrawing his mind from all thoughts and errors of the world. 22 His great body remained as fixed as an image in painting, and shone as bright as the autumn sky illuminated by the beams of the full moon. 23 In course of some days, his soul gradually forgot its mortal state and found its rest in pure spiritual bliss, like the moisture of trees is dried by the sun at the end of autumn. 24 Being devoid of all desires, doubts and levity of his mind, and freed from all foul and pleasurable inclinations of his body, he attained that supreme bliss on the loss of his former joys, before which the prosperity of Indra appears like a straw floating on the vast expanse of the ocean.

25 The brahmin then attained that state of supreme good which is immeasurable and pervades through all space of the measureless vacuum, and which fills the universe and is felt only by the bliss of a yogi. It is called the supreme and infinite bliss, having neither beginning nor end and being a reality without any property assignable to itself.

26 While the brahmin first attained this state of samadhi and had the clearness of his understanding, during the first six months of his tapas, his body became emaciated by sunbeams and the winds of heaven whistled over his dry frame with the sound of lute strings. 27 After a long time elapsed in this manner, Parvati, the daughter of the mountain king, came to that place accompanied by other goddesses, shining like flames of fire with the grey locks of hair on their heads, as if to confer the boon to reward Uddalaka’s austere meditation. 28 Among them was the goddess Chaumundi who is adored by the gods. She took up the living skeleton of the brahmin and placed it on her crown, which added a new brightness to her body at night. 29 Thus the disgusting and dead-like body of Uddalaka was set over the many other ornaments on the goddesses’ body. She valued it as more precious than all her other jewels because of its intrinsic merit of spiritual knowledge.

30 Whoever plants this plant of life and the conduct of Uddalaka in the garden of his heart will find it always flourishing within himself with flowers of knowledge and fruit of divine bliss. Whoever walks under the shadow of this growing tree is never subject to death, but will reap the fruit of his higher progress in the path of liberation.