1 Rama said, “Tell me, sage, what are the connections that become the bondages of men? How are they to be avoided? What is that connection that leads to their emancipation in this life?”
2 Vasishta answered:—
The division of unity into the duality of the body and soul, and the rejection of the latter part, the soul, produce the mistaken belief in only the body. This is called the association of bondage. 3 Again, taking the infinite soul to be a finite being confined to the body leads to the bondage of the soul. 4 But the conviction that, “this whole cosmos is the identical soul, therefore we have nothing to choose or reject in it other than the soul” is termed the unrelated condition of the mind settled only in the Supreme Self. This state is known as living liberation.
5 The unattached and self-liberated man thinks, “Neither do I exist nor do these others exist. Let any good or evil, pleasure or pain befall me. I am not to be changed in any condition of life.” 6 He is undistracted and self-devoted who does not foster his desires, or hanker after things, or continues thinking he is doing actions. 7 The self-devoted man whose mind is not subject to feelings of joy or sorrow and who is indifferent to worldly matters is truly said to be liberated in his lifetime. 8 He whose mind is not concerned about the results of his actions, but takes them lightly as they come to pass upon him, such a man is said to be lacking vigor and is lukewarm in his mind. 9 All our efforts impelled by various motives are avoided by our indifference to those pursuits. This lack of concern about worldly matters produces our greatest good.
10 We load innumerable distresses upon ourselves because of our concerns with many things. All worldly cares serve only to multiply the growing ills of life, like branching thorny bushes in caves. 11 The effect of worldly attachment drives silly men to labor under their heavy burdens, just as the dastardly donkeys are dragged by their nose-strings to trudge and drudge under their loads in long and lonesome journeys. 12 One’s attachment to home and country makes him stand in one place like an immovable tree and endure all the rigors of heat, cold, winds and rains without shrinking.
13 See the reptiles confined in the caves of earth with their weak bodies and tortuous movements. They are examples of earthly attachment, passing their time in pain and agony and in continuous helplessness. 14 See the poor birds resting on the tops of trees, whining their while with cries of their empty stomachs and constant fear of predators, as examples of worldly attachment. 15 Observe the frightened fawn, grazing on tender blades of grass and dreading the darts of hunters, to serve as another example of earthly inclination. 16 The transformation of men into worms and insects in their repeated reincarnations, and the congregation of all these animals of all kinds in all places, are only examples of their earthly fondness. 17 The multitudes of animal beings that you see rising and falling like the waves of the sea are all the effects of their worldly attachment.
18 The self-moving man becomes immovable and turns into the state of fixed trees and plants growing and dying by turns because of his worldly propensities. 19 Grass, shrubs and vines that grow on earth from its moisture are all products of the cause of their addiction to the world. 20 These endless processions of beings carried away in this running stream of the world and buffeted by their ever-increasing difficulties are all the play of their earthly inclinations.
21 Worldly affections are of two kinds: the praiseworthy and the fruitless. Those of the wise and learned men belong to the former praiseworthy kind, but the tendencies of the ignorant are of the latter unfruitful kind. 22 Any tendency towards this world which springs from base bodily or mental affection, and which does not proceed from or bears any relation to spiritual motives and purposes, is said to be quite fruitless of any good result. 23 But that tendency which has its origin in spiritual knowledge and in true and right discrimination and bears no relation to anything that is of this world, but leads to one’s future and spiritual welfare, is the truly praiseworthy one.
24 The god Vishnu, holding the symbols of the conch shell, his discus and the club, had various inclinations of this better kind whereby he became the support of the three worlds. 25 By means of this good tendency, the glorious sun makes its daily course in the unsupported path of heaven for ever more. 26 The god Brahma, who now shines in his fiery form, had to foster his project of creation for an entire kalpa age. Owing to this praiseworthy purpose, be became the creator of the world. 27 It was because of this kind of praiseworthy purpose that the god Shiva acquired his half-man, half-woman body, graced by the female form of Uma linked with his as its other half.
28 The spiritual masters and other heavenly and aerial beings, and the rulers of the skies who move in their spiritual spheres of intelligence, have all attained their high positions by means of their praiseworthy tendencies. 29 They bear their bodies of heavenly growth and have set themselves beyond the reach of disease, decay and death by means of their praiseworthy inclinations.
30 Fruitless desire expects to derive pleasure from unworthy objects and causes the mind to pounce like a vulture on a bit of flesh. 31 Force of habit makes the winds to blow in their habitual course and causes the five elements to continue in their usual states in support of the order of nature. 32 This force of habit constitutes the constitution of the system of nature composed of the heavens, earth and infernal regions and peopled by gods, men, demons and other beings, all of whom are like gnats fluttering about the fruit of the mundane fig tree. 33 Numberless orders of beings are born, grow and fall and die away, like the ceaseless waves of the sea.
34 The results of worldly inclinations rise and fall by turns until they disappear all at once. They are as bitter to taste as the drops of waterfalls. 35 Mere worldliness makes these crowds of men devour one another like sharks and fishes. They are so infatuated by their ignorance that they have been flying about like stray tree leaves in the wind. 36 Worldly leanings make men wander about like revolving stars in their courses in the sky, or flutter about like flights of gnats on fig trees, or lie low like the swirling waters of whirling currents underneath the ground. 37 The hands of fate and death toss men around like a child’s play ball and wears men out like these toys by their constant rise and fall and rolling upon the ground. Yet these worrying wanderings do not abate the force of their habitual motions, like the repeated waxing and waning of the ever changing moon make no change in the blackish spot marked upon her disc.
38 The mind is hardened by seeing the miseries of repeated revolutions of ages resembling the rotations of fragments of wood in whirlpools. Yet the gods will not consent to heal the strong boiling of the mind by any operation in their power.
39 O Rama, this wonderful frame of the universe is only the product of the desire of the Divine Mind. 40 The pleasure of association presents this sight of the triple world in the empty sphere of the mind. Know this wonderful world is only a creation of the mind and nothing in reality.
41 The greed of worldly men eats up their bodies like fire feeding upon dry fuel. 42 Yet the bodies of worldly minded men are as countless as the sands of the sea, and these again are as unnumbered as the atoms of earth which nobody can count. 43 It may be possible to count the white foams of the Ganges River and the pearly froths of sea waves. It is likewise possible to measure the height of Mount Meru from its foot to the top and its peaks. But it is impossible to number the desires in the minds of worldly minded men. 44 These rows of inner apartments, built for the home of the worldly minded, are like the lines of Kala Sutra and the spires of hellfire. 45 Know these worldly men are like dry fuel heaped up to light the piles of hell-fire. 46 Know all things in this world are full of pain and misery, stored up not for enjoyment but to torment the worldly minded.
47 The minds of all worldly men are the receptacles of all sorrow and misery, just as the great sea is the recess of the outpourings of all rivers. 48 The mind attached to the world and the body bent down under its laborious loads are both fields for the exercise of ignorance which elevates and depresses them by turns.
49 Want of attachment to worldly enjoyments produces ease and prosperity. It expands the capacity of the mind like rain increases the extent of rivers. 50 Inner attachment of the mind to worldly objects is the burning flame of the outer body, but the absence of this internal attachment is the healing balm for the entire being. 51 Inner attachment burns the outer body like a hidden poisonous plant infects the vines that grow on it for support. 52 The mind unattached to everything in all places is like the lofty sky aloof from all things. By having no desire in the mind, it is always clear and bright and enjoys its joy forever. 53 As the light of knowledge rises before the sight of the mind, the darkness of ignorance which veiled all objects wastes away of itself and is put to flight. The man who is devoid of all sorts of worldly attachments and lives in communion with his own mind is truly liberated in his life.