Chapter 92 — Means to Obtain Divine Presence: Knowledge of Truth, Subjection of the Mind, and Abandonment of Desires

Rama said, “Of all of the seeds that you have described, tell me sage, which is the most essential to lead us to the attainment of the supreme Brahman?”

Vasishta replied:—

One can attain his consummation in a short time by the gradual demolition of the seeds and sources of grief, which I have described one after the other. By your courageous fortitude, you can renounce your desire for temporal objects. Seek that which is the first and best of beings. If you remain in your exclusive and intense meditation on the Supreme Being, then in that very moment you are sure to see the divine light shining in full blaze in and before you. If it is possible for you to think of all things in general in your well developed understanding, then you can have no difficulty elevating your mind a little higher and think of the Universal Soul of all. O sinless Rama, if you can remain quietly meditating on your conscious soul, then by a little more exertion of your intellect, you can find no difficulty contemplating the Supreme Soul.

It is not possible, O Rama, to know the knowable Spirit at once in your understanding unless you think of it continually in your consciousness. Whatever you think and wherever you go and do are all known to you in your consciousness. So the conscious soul is the seat of God where He is to be sought and seen.

Rama, if you will only strive to renounce your earthly desires, you will loosen yourself from all its bonds and diseases and dangers. 10 Of everything I have said before, the most difficult task is to rid oneself earthly desires. It is as impossible to root them out of the mind as it is to uproot Mount Meru. 11 As long as you do not subdue the mind, you cannot get rid of your desires. Unless you suppress your desires, you can not control your restless mind. 12 Until you know the truth, you cannot have peace of mind. As long as you are a stranger to your mental tranquility, you are barred from knowing the truth. 13 As long as you do not shun your desires, you cannot come to the light of truth. You cannot know the truth unless you disown your earthly desires.

14 Hence the knowledge of truth, subjection of the mind, and abandonment of desires are the joint causes of spiritual bliss, which is otherwise unattainable by the practice of any one of them singly. 15 Therefore, O Rama, the wise man practices of all these triple virtues at once and abandons his desire of worldly enjoyments with the utmost of his courageous efforts. 16 Unless you become a complete yogi in the practice of this triple morality, it is impossible for you to attain the state of divine perfection, even if you were to practice tapas for a whole century.

17 Know you, O high-minded muni, that simultaneous attainment of divine knowledge and the subjection of the mind and its desires brings about realization of the divine presence. 18 The practice of anyone of these separately from the others is as fruitless as curses of one’s death or derangement of understanding. 19 Though a yogi may be long accustomed in the practice of these virtues, yet none of them by itself will help him approach the Supreme, just as no single soldier or regiment can dare advance before an enemy host. 20 These virtues practiced by the undivided attention and vigilance of a wise man will break down every obstacle in his way, like the current of a confluence of three streams carrying away a rock from the banks.

21 Accustom yourself with diligence to destroy the force of your mind and its desires and feelings. Habituate your intellect to the acquisition of knowledge with equal ardor, and you will escape from every evil and error of the world. 22 Having mastered these triple virtues, you will cut asunder your heartstrings of worldly affections, just as the breaking of the lotus-stalk severs its interior fibers.

23 Even with the constant practice of these triple virtues, it is hard to remove the memories of worldliness inherited and strengthened over the long course of hundreds of lives. 24 Continue to practice these at all times, whether sitting quietly or moving about, talking or listening, or awake or asleep, and it will contribute to your greatest good.

25 Also, controlling breathing is equivalent to controlling desires. You must practice this likewise, according to the directions of the wise. 26 By renunciation of desire, the mind is reduced to an unconscious and dead block. By restraining your breathing, you can do whatever you like. By the practice of breath control (pranayama), the yogi identifies himself with the Supreme, and can do all things as God. 27 By the protracted practice of restraining the breathing, according to the directions given by the guru, and by keeping an erect posture, and observing the rules of diet and the like, one restrains his respiration.

28 By right observation of the nature of things, we can have no desires for anything. There is nothing which is the same or remains unchanged from first to last except the unchangeable nature of God, which must be the only desirable object. 29 The sight and knowledge of God serve to weaken our worldly desires. So will our avoidance of society and worldly thoughts. 30 Seeing the dissolution of human bodies, we cease to desire our worldly goods. Seeing the loss of desired objects puts a check to our desiring them anymore. 31 As flying dust sets on the ground after a gust of wind passes, so the flying thoughts of the mind are stopped when our breathings are put to a stop, they being the one and the same thing. 32 From this correspondence of the motion of thoughts with the vibrations of breath, there is thrown up a large mass of worldly thoughts resembling heaps of dust on earth. Therefore let intelligent men try their utmost to suppress their breath.

33 Or do away with this process of hatha yoga (if it be hard for you) and sit quietly to suppress your fleeting thoughts at all times. 34 If you want to keep control over the mind, you will be able to do so in the course of a long time, because it is not possible to subdue the mind without the discipline of strict reason. 35 As it is impossible to restrain an infuriated elephant without goading it, so it is not possible for you to curb your unmanageable mind without the help of spiritual knowledge and association with the wise and good.

36 The abandonment of desires and the suppression of breathing, in the manner as will later be taught, are the most efficient means to subdue the mind. 37 There are milder means of pacifying the mind, as the cooling rain showers can also settle the dust of the earth, yet hatha yoga (pranayama) attempts to restrain the mind by stopping the breath, as it were to prevent the rising of dust by means of a breathless calm.

38 Ignorant men who want to subdue the mind by hatha yoga (physical exercises) or bodily restraints are like those silly folks who want to dispel darkness by black ink instead of a lighted lamp. 39 Those who attempt to subdue the mind by bodily contortions strive as vainly as those who wish to bind a mad elephant with a rope of grass or straw. 40 Those rules which prescribe bodily practices instead of mental reasoning and precepts are known as the methods of hatha yoga. They mislead men to dangers and difficulties.

41 Wretched men like beasts have no rest from their labor, but wander in valleys and woods in quest of herbs and fruits for their food. 42 Ignorant men, infatuated in their understandings, are timid cowards like frightened male deer. They are both dull-headed and weak-bodied and weak in their limbs. 43 They have no place of confidence anywhere, but stagger like a distrustful deer in the village. Their minds are ever wavering between hopes and fears, like seawater rising and falling in waves. 44 They are carried away like leaves falling from a tree and like the current of the cascade gliding below a waterfall. They pass their time in the errors of sacrificial rites and religious gifts and austerities and in pilgrimages and adoration of idols. 45 They are subject to continued fears, like timid deer in the forest, and there are few among them who happen by chance to come to the knowledge of the soul. 46 Being scorched by outward misery and internal passions, they are rarely conscious of their real state. They are subjected to repeated births and deaths and their temporary lives in heaven or hell. 47 They are tossed up and down in this world like play balls, some rising up to heaven and others falling to hellish torments even while they are here. 48 These men roll on like the constant waves of the sea.

Therefore leave off the exterior view of the exoteric and sink deep into the spiritual knowledge for your everlasting rest. 49 Remain quiet and calm with your firm faith in your inward consciousness and know that knowledge is power. The knowing man is the strongest being on earth. Therefore be wise in all respects.

50 Rama, renounce the perception of the knowable objects and depend upon the abstract knowledge of all things in your subjective consciousness. Remain firm in full possession of your inner soul and think yourself as no actor of your acts. Then forsaking all inventions of men as falsehoods (kalana and kalpana), shine with the brightness of your spiritual light.