Chapter 82 — Sage Vitahavya’s Self Inquiry into the Nature of His Mind

Vasishta continued:—

It was in this manner that the learned Samvarta, who had knowledge of the soul, reasoned with himself. He communicated this to me in the Vindhya Mountains. He said, “Shut out the world from your sight and employ your understanding to abstract reasoning in order to cross the vast ocean of this world.”

Rama, hear me tell you of another view of things, whereby the great sage Vitahavya gave up the practice of making offerings to fire and remained firmly established in his spiritualistic faith.

The illustrious Vitahavya wandered about the forests in former times, then resided in a cave of the Vindhya Mountains which was spacious as a cave of Meru under the sun’s passage. In course of time, he grew dissatisfied with the ritual acts which serve only to bewilder men and cause diseases and difficulties to man. He fixed his aim on the highest object of unalterable ecstasy and abandoned his cares for the rotten world in the course of his conduct in life. He built a hut of leaves with the branches of plantain trees. The floor was strewn with black stones, and he perfumed it with fragrant earth. He spread a seat of deer’s skin, which serves as a pure mattress for holy saints. He sat still upon it as a rainless cloud in the clear sky. He sat there in the lotus posture, his legs crossed upon one another. He held his heels with the fingers of both his hands and remained with his head uplifted, like the fast and fixed peak of a mountain summit. 10 He closed his eyes from looking upon surrounding objects, and confined his mind to his heart, as the descending sun confines his beams in the hollow caves of Meru. 11 Then, having stopped the course of his internal and external senses, he reasoned in his mind which was free from sin and deceit.

Vitahavya reasoning:—

12 How is it that although I have restrained my outer organs, I cannot stop the course of my mind, even with all my force. It is always as unsteady as a leaflet floating and dancing over the waves. 13 My mind impels my external organs and in turn is propelled by them to their different objects, like a juggler tosses about and flings his play balls up and down. 14 Though I refrain from exercising my external faculties, yet my mind pursues them eagerly and runs towards the objects from which I try to stop its course. 15 It turns from this object to that, as they say from the pot to the picture and from that to the chariot. And in this manner my mind wanders about the objects of sense like a monkey leaping from branch to branch.

16 Let me now consider the courses of the five external senses and their organs, which serve as so many passages for the mind. 17 My senses are wicked and wretched. How shall I bring you to your good senses when you are so senseless as to roll on restlessly like the waves of waters in the sea? 18 Do not disturb me anymore with your unsteadiness, for I well remember to what parades of difficulties I have suffered because of your inconstancy. 19 What are my organs but passages to the inner mind? My organs are dull and base of themselves, no better than the waves of the sea and water in a mirage. 20 My senses are unsubstantial in their forms and without any spiritual light. Senses, your efforts are like those of blind men only to fall into the pit.

21 It is only the intellectual soul that witnesses the objects of sense. It is in vain that mind and senses are busy without the soul. 22 It is in vain for the organs of sense to display themselves. It is like the twirling of a firebrand or the appearance of a snake in the rope. They have no essence of their own and are of no use without the soul. 23 The all knowing soul knows the eyes and ears well, though none of these organs knows the internal soul. They are as far from the soul as hell is from heaven.

24 As a traveler is afraid of snakes and twice born brahmins dread demonic savages, so consciousness fears for its safety and avoids the company of the senses. 25 Yet from a distance, unseen consciousness directs the organs of sense to their various duties like the distant sun, from his situation in heaven, directs the daily duties of men on earth.

26 My mind is wandering all about like a beggar in search of food to fill his belly. My mind acts like a Charvaka materialist making a god of my body to enslave itself to its service. Do not wander about the world like this in vain search of your harmony. 27 My mind falsely alleges that it is intelligent, an intelligence, or as consciousness itself. You two are too different in your natures and cannot agree together. 28 It is my mind’s vain boast to think itself to be living and to be life or ego. All these things belong to the soul, and my mind is entirely devoid of them.

29 Egoism produces the knowledge of “I am the Ego” which you are not. Neither are you anything except a creature of false imagination. It would be good for you to give up this imagination at once. 30 Conscious intellect exists without beginning or end. Nothing else exists. So then, what are you in this body that takes the name of the mind? 31 The impression of the activity and passivity of the mind is as wrong as the belief that poison and nectar are the one and same thing, because two opposites can never meet together. 32 Therefore, my fool mind, do not expose yourself to ridicule by thinking you are both active and passive agent, which you are not. You are only a mere dull thing, as everyone knows. 33 What is your relationship with enjoyments, or theirs with you, that you wish to have them come to you? You are a dull thing. Without your soul you can have no friend or enemy. 34 The unreal has no existence. The existence of the mind is as unreal as the redness of a crystal. Knowledge, action and passion belong only to the soul. They are not attributable to the mind.

35 If you are the Eternal Mind, then you are identical with the Eternal Soul. But the painful mutability of my mind’s nature tells me that it is not the same as the imperishable soul. 36 Now that you, my mind, have become acquainted with the falsity of your actions and passions, listen to how I am cleansed of these impressions by my own reasoning, as follows.

37 You, my mind, are an inert unreality. This is a truth beyond all doubt. The activity of an inactive nothing is as false as the dancing of imaginary demons or inert stones. 38 Therefore, you are dependent on the Supreme Spirit for your movement. You only vainly think of yourself as living or doing anything by yourself. 39 Whatever is done by the power of another is ascribed to that other, just as the harvest reaped by a farmer’s sickle is said to be the act of the farmer and not his instrument. 40 He who kills with an instrument is considered the slayer, and not the intermediate instrument of slaughter. Nobody censures the passive sword with guilt or pardons the perpetrator. 41 He who eats and drinks is said to be the eater and drinker and not the plate or cup which holds the food and drink. 42 My mind, you are entirely inactive in your nature. You are moved by the all wise Consciousness. Therefore only the soul perceives everything by itself, and not you, my ignorant mind.

43 The Supreme Soul awakens and informs the mind without intermission, just as ignorant people require to be constantly guided and admonished by their superiors. 44 The essence of the soul in its form of consciousness is obvious to everyone. It is from this consciousness that the mind derives its power, its name, and its existence. 45 Thus the ignorant mind is produced by some power of the soul and remains all along with its ignorance until it comes to melt away like snow under the sunshine of its spiritual knowledge. 46 Therefore, my ignorant mind, you are now dead under the influence of my knowledge of the soul. Do not boast anymore of being a particle of spiritual origin. Such is only for your sorrow.

47 The concept that the unreal mind is an entity is as false as the production of a plant by the light of a magic lantern. There is only that true knowledge which proceeds directly from the Great God. 48 Rama, these worlds are not manifestations of divine power. They are only illusive representations of His consciousness, like the glittering waves of waters in the sea.

49 My ignorant mind, if you are full of consciousness as Consciousness, then there would be no difference between you and the Supreme One, nor would you have any cause of sorrow. 50 The Divine Mind is all knowing, omnipresent and all forms at all times. By attaining the Divine Mind, one obtains everything. 51 There is no such thing as “you” or “he” except the great Brahman who is always manifest everywhere. we have conceptions of ourselves without any exertion on our part.

52 My ignorant mind, if you are the soul, then it is the soul that is everywhere here and nothing beside. If you are anything other than the soul, then you are nothing. All nature is the body of the Universal Soul. 53 The triple world is composed of the Divine Soul, beside which there is no existence. Therefore, if you are anything you must be the soul. Otherwise, you are nothing.

54 I am now this (as a boy) and then another (as an old man). These things are mine and those belong to someone else. These are all your vain thoughts, my mind, for you are nothing positive. Positivism is as false a theory as the horns of a rabbit. 55 We have no idea of a third thing between consciousness and body which we can refer to as the mind, just as we have no idea of an intermediate state between sunlight and shade.

56 We get something by our sight of truth after the veil of darkness has been removed from our eyes. It is our consciousness which we call the mind. 57 Hence, my foolish mind, you are no active or passive agent of action, only the calm self-consciousness of Brahman. Now therefore cast off your ignorance and know yourself to be a condition of the very soul.

58 The mind is described as an organ of the sense of perception and action, the internal instrument of knowing the soul, and not the soul itself. But this is only by way of explaining the knowable by something familiar and better known to us. It is a metaphor. 59 The mind is an unreal instrumentality. It can have no existence without support, nor can it have any action of its own without the agency of an actor. Hence it is false to attribute activity or consciousness to the mind. 60 Without the agency of an actor, the instrument of the mind has no power or activity of its own, just as the passive sickle has no power to cut the harvest without the agency of the reaper. 61 The sword has the power to slay men, but only with the agency of a swordsman. Otherwise, the dull instrument has no power in any part of its body to inflict a wound on another.

62 So my friend the mind, you have no power or agency of your own to do your actions. You trouble yourself in vain. It is unworthy of you to toil for your worldliness like the base, unless it were for your spiritual welfare.

63 The Lord is not to be pitied like you who is subject to labor, because His works are all as unaccountable as those he has not yet done. 64 Your boast that you serve the soul proceeds only from your ignorance and your friendship with the unconscious organs of sense. It is all quite unworthy of you. 65 You are wrong to pursue the objects of sense for the sake of your maker and master. The Lord is independent of all desire, being full and satisfied in himself forever.

66 It is by His self-manifestation, and not by his effort to create, that the omnipresent and omniscient God fills the whole with his unity, which admits of no duality even in imagination. 67 The one God manifests himself as many, and that is all by himself. He comprises the whole within himself. He has nothing to want or seek apart from himself.

68 All this is the magnificence of God, and yet the foolish mind craves after them in vain, just as a miserable man longs to have another’s princely pomp that is displayed before him. 69 You may try to obtain divine blessings by being intimate with the Divine Soul, but there can be no more intimacy between soul and mind than there is between a flower and its fruit. 70 An intimate relation between two things is when one agrees in all its properties with the other. This identity is lacking between soul and mind. The first is immortal, calm and quiet. The second is a mortal and restless thing.

71 My mind, you are not the same as the soul because of your changing appearances, ever changing occupations, and your promptness for various inventions. Moreover, your alternating states of happiness and misery speak plainly to be of a different nature. 72 The relationships of the homogeneous (as of the liquid and curdled milk) and the heterogeneous (as between the milk and water) are quite apparent to sight. But there is no relationship between opposites. 73 It is true that many things have the qualities of other things or a collection of properties common to others. Yet everything has a special identity of its own.

Therefore I ask you, my mind, not to lose consciousness of your identity with that of the soul or you expose yourself to misery. 74 Therefore, employ yourself with intense application to the meditation of the soul. Otherwise you are doomed to misery ruminating in your internal recesses on the objects of the visible world. 75 Sliding from consciousness of yourself and running after the imaginary objects of your desire are calculated only for your misery. Therefore man must forget associating with the mind and the bodily organs in order to find rest in the soul or samadhi.

76 From where does the mind’s activity come from? It is proved to be a nothing, like a sky-flower. The extinction of its thoughts and desires extinguishes the mind. 77 The soul also is as void of activity as the sky is devoid of its parts. It is only the Divine Spirit that exhibits itself in various shapes within itself. 78 It bursts forth in the form of oceans with its own waters and foams in froths by the waves of its own breathing. It shines in the brightness at all things by its own light in itself. 79 There is no other active principle anywhere else, just as there is no burning firebrand to be found in the sea. None of the inert body, mind and soul has any active force.

80 There is nothing essential or more obvious than what we are aware of in our consciousness. There is no such thing as “this is another” or “this no other” or “this is good or bad” besides the self-evident One. 81 The One is no unreal ideal, such as that of the Nandana pleasure gardens in the sky. It is the subjective, true consciousness (samvid) and not an objective object of consciousness (samvedya) that extends all around us. 82 Then why entertain the suppositions of “this is I and that is another” in this existence? There can be no distinction whatever of this or that in one unlimited, all extending and indefinable expanse of the soul. The ascription of any attribute to it is like the assumption of water in a mirage or a writing in the sky.

83 My honest mind, if by the purity of your nature you can free yourself from the unrealities of the world and become enlightened with the light of the soul that fills the whole with its essence and is the inbeing of all beings, then you shall truly set me at rest from the uneasiness of my ignorance and the miseries of this world and this miserable life.