Chapter 64 — Ignorance, the Life of a Bullock; Samadhi

Vasishta resumed:—

After Suraghu and Perigha ended their discussion on the errors of this world, they honored one another with due respect and retired gladly to their respective duties of the day. Now Rama, you have heard the whole of this instructive dialogue between them. Try to profit by maturely considering its meaning.

By reasoning with the learned, wits are sharpened with intelligence and the egotism of men melts down in their minds, like rain from a thick black cloud in the sky. It spreads a clear and calm composure over the mind, as the return of cloudless autumn over the spacious sky to the delight of mankind, and by its diffusion of bounteous plenty on earth. After the region of the intellect is cleared of its darkness, the light of the Supreme Soul, which is the object of meditation and our sole refuge, becomes visible in it.

A man who is always spiritually minded with insight within himself and who is always delighted with his intellectual investigations always has his mind free from sorrow and regret. Though a spiritual man is engaged in worldly affairs and is subject to passions and affections, yet he is unstained by them in his heart, like a lotus bud that is not stained by the water in which it is submerged. A silent sage who is all-knowing, holy and calm and quiet in himself is never disturbed by his ungoverned mind. He remains as firm as the dauntless lion against the rage of an unruly elephant. The heart of a wise man is never affected by the mean pleasures of the world. It stands like the lofty tree of paradise above the surrounding bushes of thorny brambles and poisonous plants.

10 A religious recluse who is disgusted with the world has no care for his life or fear of death. In the same way, a man whose mind is filled with full knowledge is never elated or depressed by his good or bad fortune. 11 A man who knows the falseness of the mind and the panorama of the world in the soul is never soiled by the stain of sin, just as the clear sky is nowhere smudged by any dirt or dust.

12 The knowledge of one’s ignorance is the best safeguard against falling into greater ignorance, and it is the only remedy for the disease of ignorance, just as the light of the lamp is the only remedy to cure the darkness of night. 13 The knowledge of our ignorance is the best healer of ignorance, just as the knowledge of one’s dreaming removes his trust in the objects of his dream. 14 A wise man engaged in business, his mind disengaged from it and fixed on one object, is not obstructed by his business in his view of spiritual light, just as the eyesight of fish is not hindered by surrounding water.

15 As the light of intellectual day appears over the horizon of the mind, the darkness of the night of ignorance is put to flight. Then the mind enjoys its supreme bliss of knowledge like the full blaze of day. 16 After the sleep of ignorance is over, the mind is awakened by its intelligence to the bright rising sunbeams of knowledge. Then the mind is ever awake to reason, which no dullness can overpower.

17 A man is said to live until he sees the moon of his soul and the moonbeams of his intellect shining in the sphere of his mind. He is said to have lived only for those few days when he has discharged his duties with joy. 18 A man passing over the pool of his ignorance and taking himself to contemplation of his soul enjoys a coolness within him, just as the cooling moon enjoys the cold nectar juice contained in her orb. 19 Our true friends are the best scriptures. Those days are best spent with the scriptures, in discourse on dispassion, and when we feel the rise of the intellect within us.

20 How lamentable are those born to perish like ferns in their native forests, who are immersed in their sinfulness by their neglect to look into their souls. 21 Our lives are interwoven with a hundred threads of hopes and fears. We are as greedy as bulls for their fodder of straw. At last we are overtaken by old age and decrepitude and carried away with sorrow and sighs. 22 Like heavy laden bullocks, the dull headed are made to bear great loads of distress on their backs in their native soil. 23 They are bitten and disturbed by the gnats of their passions. They are made to plough the ground under the halter of their greed. They are shut in the cages of their masters and bound by the bonds of their kindred. 24 Thus we are harassed to support our wives and children. We are weakened by age and infirmity. Like beasts of burden we must wade in dirt and mire, be dragged to long journeys, and be broken under heavy loads without pause from toil and fatigue. 25 Bending under our heavy loads, we are tired from long journeys across deserts and burned under scathing sunbeams, without cool shade to shelter our heads even for a little while.

26 We are like big bodied bulls with poor souls inside. We are oppressed at every limb and labor under our destiny tied around our necks like ringing bells on bullocks, the scourge of our sins lashing us on both sides. 27 We toil like bulls laboring under the poles of the carts they pull, crossing dreary deserts without a moment’s rest. 28 We are always prone to and plunged in our own evils. We move like heavily laden bullocks, trolling and groaning all the way long.

29 Rama, try your best to understand this bullock of your living soul and take your best measures to restore it to its pristine purity. 30 The animal soul released from the ocean of this world, purified in its mind by the light of truth, is no more liable to roll in the mud like some beasts.

31 In the society of high-minded men, the living soul receives instruction for its salvation in this ocean of the world, just as a passenger easily gets a boat from the ferryman to cross a river. 32 A country is a desert without learned good people who resemble the green trees of the land. The wise must not dwell in a land where trees do not yield fruit or afford cooling shade. 33 Good men are the flowering plumeria trees of the land. Their cooling words resemble the shady leaves of the tree, and their gentle smiles its blooming flowers. Let men resort to the shade of such plumeria covered shelters. 34 For want of such men, the world is a desert burning under the darkening heat of ignorance where no wise man should allow himself to rest in peace and quiet.

35 The self is one’s true friend. Therefore support yourself by only your self. Do not obscure the brightness of your soul under darkness of bodily pride or bury your life in the skin of ignorance. 36 Let the learned ponder in themselves, “What is this body and how did it come into existence? What is its origin and what is its essence?” Thus let the wise diligently consider the miseries to which this body is subject.

37 No riches, friends, learning or relative serves to save the drowning soul. It must be one’s own mind that buys its own redemption by resigning itself to its source and cause. 38 The mind is the constant companion and true friend of the soul. Therefore one should inquire within by consultation with the mind. 39 By a constant habit of dispassion and deliberation one can cross the ocean of this world riding on the raft of true knowledge.

40 It is pitiful to see the inner torments of the evil minded who neglect to release their souls from all worldly vexations, 41 Release the elephant of your living soul (jiva) from the chains of its egoism, its bonds of greed, and the inebriation of its mind. Deliver the soul from the muddy pit of its birth place and retire to your solitude.

42 By these means, O Rama, the soul has its salvation. Therefore cast away your ignorance and wipe off your egoism. 43 This is the best way to leave the soul to its purity, making you disentangle yourself from the snare of your mind and disengaging your soul from the trap of egoism. 44 By this means we see the lord of gods, the Supreme Soul, and the physical body is regarded as no better than a clod of earth or a block of wood.

45 The sunlight of intellect comes to view after dispersion of the cloud of egoism by which it is hidden. After this you attain the state of supreme joy. 46 As the light of day is seen after the dark veil of night withdraws, so you come to see the light of the soul after removal of the curtain of your egoism. 47 That blissful state of the soul which remains after the darkness of egoism is dispersed is the state of divine fullness. It is to be adored with all diligence.

48 This state of the vast ocean-like and perfect fullness of soul, which no words can express and no eye can behold, is beyond all comparison and every color of human attribution. 49 It is only a particle of the pure intellectual light which gains its stability in the devout spirit. Then it is comparable with nothing but the light of divinity which shines before the internal sight of the holy. 50 Though it is beyond all comparison, yet we see it in our state of sound sleep (susupta). It is the state of immensity. It is as extended as the vast extent of the sky.

51 After egoism and mental powers are extinguished and all feelings in oneself subside, a transcendent ecstasy arises in the soul called divine or perfect joy and bliss. 52 This bliss is attainable only by yoga meditation and in some ways can be compared to sound sleep. But it cannot be described with words, O Rama. It must be perceived in the heart. 53 The totality of divinity is perceived only by the perception of the mind and not by any categorical distinction made about the divine essence. Without this intuitive perception, we can have no conception of the soul. 54 The knowledge of the soul comprehends in itself the whole totality and infinity together. It resides in the unchanging steadiness of the mind. By shutting out the internal and external from the senses and the mind, the lord of lords, the Divine Soul appears to our consciousness.

55 Therefore, after our desire of sensible objects is extinguished we derive the light of our supreme joy and we have an even minded composure in all circumstances which leads the souls of the great to revert to that indescribable identity.