Chapter 72 — A Lecture on the Nature of Liberation

Vasishta continued:—

You are not born with the birth of your body and you are not dead with its death. You are the immaculate spirit in your soul and your body is nobody to you.

The metaphors of the plum on a plate and of vacuum in a pot which are offered to prove that the loss of the one means the loss of the other are false reasoning. Neither the plum nor the vacuum is lost by breaking the plate or the pot. Whoever thinks that he will perish with his perishable body and is sorry for it is truly blinded in his mind. He is to be pitied for his mental blindness.

As there is no relationship between the reins of a horse and the chariot, so there is no relationship between the organs of the body and the intellect. As there is no relationship between the mud and clear water of a reservoir, so O Raghava, there is no correlation between the body parts and the soul. As the traveler retains no love or sorrow for the path he has passed and the journey he has already made, so the soul bears no affection or dislike towards the body with which it sojourned and which it has left behind.

As imaginary ghosts and fairies strike fear and love in some persons, so the ideal world inspires pleasure and pain in the mind of the idealist. The assemblage of the five elements has framed all these different forms of beings in the world, just as various images are carved from the same wood. You see nothing but woody substance in all timber, so you find nothing except a collection of the five elements in all tangible bodies.

10 Therefore, O Rama, why should you rejoice or regret at anything, seeing that the five elements have their own course, joining and disjoining themselves, in the formation and dissolution of bodies? 11 Why should one be so fond of female forms, or the forms of other beautiful things on earth? Men run after them like flies, falling in fire only to consume themselves. 12 Good features and good shapes are delightful to the ignorant, but to the wise they present their real figures of combinations of the five elements and no more.

13 Two statues cut from the same stone and two figures carved of the same wood bear no affection or relationship to one another, however close they may be placed to each other. It is the same with the body and mind. 14 Dolls made of clay and placed together in a basket do not form any friendship by their long association with one another, so understanding, the organs of sense, the soul and mind, though so closely united in the same body, bear no relation with one another. 15 Marble statues, though so fair and closely kept in the sculptor’s house, contract no acquaintance or friendship with one another. In the same way the organs of sense, life, the soul and the mind, though they reside in the same body, have no alliance with one another.

16 As things growing apart from one another come to be joined together for an instant by some accident, like reeds and rushes carried by the waves of the sea. So all beings, such as men and their bodily senses and mind and the soul, are brought to meet together only for a time in order to be separated forever. 17 As reeds and rushes are joined in heaps, and again separated from one another by the current of the river, so the course of time joins the elements, the mind and soul in gross bodies only for their separation. 18 The soul in the form of the mind unites the component parts of the body like the whirling currents of the sea swirls reeds and rushes.

19 The soul, awakened to its knowledge of itself, relinquishes its knowledge of objects and becomes purely subjective in itself, like water by its own motion throws away its dirt and becomes as pure as crystal. 20 The soul, released of its objective knowledge of the world, looks upon its own body like the gods look upon this speck of earth below the region of air. 21 The soul, seeing itself quite unconnected to the elemental particles quite, becomes disembodied as a pure spirit, then shines forth in full brightness like the blazing sun at midday. 22 Then it comes to itself by itself, as it were without any check or bounds set to it. Then being set free from the giddiness of the objective, it sees itself subjectively in its own consciousness.

23 It is the soul which agitates the world rising of its own essence, just as the agitation of water particles raises the waves all over the wide extent of the sea. 24 Thus dispassionate and sinless men of great understanding who have obtained their self-liberation in this life move about as freely as the waves in the great ocean of the all-comprehending soul. 25 As the waves move freely in the sea and pour the gems and pearls which they bear over distant shores, so the best of men wander everywhere free of all desire, enriching mankind with the treasure of their knowledge.

26 As the sea is not soiled by the floating wood it carries from the shore, and the face of the sky is not soiled by the flying dust of the earth, so men of great minds and souls are not perverted by their conduct with the world. 27 Those who are masters of themselves are not moved to love or hatred in their behavior with others, or with those who are steady or unsteady in their friendship, or with those who are vicious and ignorant, 28 because they know that whatever passes in the mind relating to worldly matters are all its vagaries and reveries of thought, which are only airy nothings.

29 The knowledge of one’s self and of other things belonging to the past, present and future, and the relation of visible phenomena with the sense of vision, are all workings of the mind. 30 Phenomena depending only upon sight may be false from the deception of our vision, like an apparition in darkness. In vain we are glad or sorry at their sight or disappearance. 31 What is unreal is always unreal and what is real is ever the same. But that which is real and unreal at the same or different times must be a false appearance and does not merit our rejoicing or sorrow at their presence or absence. 32 Refrain from a partial view of things and employ yourself to the full knowledge of objects. Know that a learned man of vast knowledge never falls into the false conceptions of things.

33 I have fully expounded the relation of visible phenomena and their vision, and shown the spiritual pleasure which is derivable from contemplation of the abstract relation existing between them. 34 The abstract meditation of things is said to be a divine attribute, and our consciousness of the relations of vision and visible phenomena afford the highest delight to the soul. 35 The consideration of the relationship between visible phenomena and vision affords the physical delight of knowing the material world to the ignorant. It gives the spiritual joy of liberation to the wise.

36 Hence the attachment of our mind to visible phenomena is called its bondage. Its detachment from them is said to be its freedom. The former is pleasant to the sensuous body and the latter is delightful to the conscious soul. 37 The mind understanding the relationships among things before it and freed from thoughts of its loss or gain in this world is said to enjoy its freedom. 38 Abstaining from the sight of visible phenomena constitutes the trance (deep sleep perception) vision of the soul, which is enlarged and illuminated by its inner vision within itself. 39 Release from the bondage of phenomena and restraining the mind to its inner workings constitute fourth stage of perfection (turiya) which is also called its liberation.

40 Knowledge in the conscious soul of the relationships of phenomena does not make it stout or lean, or more manifest or obscure in its nature. 41 The soul is not intelligent or inert, not a being or a not being. It is not the ego or non-ego, not a unit or many in one. 42 It is not near or far away from us, nor is it an entity or nonentity either. It is not within or beyond our reach. It is in all yet not the all and nothing at all. 43 It is none of the categories or no category. It is not the fivefold elements or composed of any of them. It is not the well known mind which is reckoned as the sixth organ of sense. 44 That which is beyond all things is nothing at all of this world, but it is something known and seen in the hearts of the wise.

45 All the world is full of the soul and there is nothing beyond it. It is in all that is solid or soft or liquid, and in all motions that proceed from it. 46 The soul is all in all things composed of the five elements of earth, water, air, fire and ether. There is nothing, O Rama, that has its existence without the essence of the soul. 47 This single soul is diffused in all the worlds and throughout all space and time. There is no fragment of anything without the soul. Therefore, if you will have a great soul in you, keep your mind fixed in the Universal Soul.