Chapter 93 — Universal Detachment

Vasishta continued:—

Rama! He who is possessed of little reason and tries to subdue his mind as well as he can succeeds to reap the fruit (object) of his life (salvation). The small particle of reason implanted in the mind, by culture and in time, becomes a big tree projecting into a hundred branches in all departments of knowledge. A little development of reason serves to destroy the unruly passions of the human breast, then fill it with good and pure virtues, just as the roes of a fish fill a tank with fishes.

A rational man who becomes wise by his vast observation of past and present is never tempted by the influence of the ignorant who value their wealth above their knowledge. Of what good are great possessions and worldly honors to him, and of what evil are the diseases and difficulties onto the man who looks upon them with an indifferent eye?

It is impossible to stop an impetuous hurricane, or to grasp flashing lightning, or to hold rolling clouds in the hand. It is impossible to put the moon in a jewelry box like a brilliant moonstone. It is not possible for a beautiful lady to wear the crescent moon like a flower on her forehead. It is impossible for buzzing gnats to put an angry elephant to flight with a swarm of bees sucking his frontal ichor and lotus bushes gracing his forehead. It is impossible for a herd of timid male deer to withstand fighting a brave lion, bloodstained with the slaughtered elephant’s head in his bloody chase. 10 It is impossible for a young frog to devour a huge and hungry snake which, like a poisonous tree, attracts other animals by its poison and then swallows them whole. 11 So it is impossible for the robbers of outward senses to overpower the man of reason who is acquainted with the grounds of knowledge and knows the knowable Brahman.

12 But the objects and organs of sense destroy imperfect reason, just as the violence of wind breaks off the stalks of tender plants. 13 Yet wicked passions and desires have no power to destroy perfected understanding, just the lesser gales of minor deluges are not strong enough to move a mountain. 14 Unless the flowery tree of reason takes deep root in the ground of the human mind, it is liable to be shaken at every blast of conflicting thoughts. An unstable soul can have no stability. An uncertain mind can have no certainty. 15 He whose mind does not stick to strict reasoning, either when he is sitting or walking or waking or sleeping, is said to be dead to reason.

16 Therefore always contemplate, in a spiritual light and in the society of good people, what is all this, what is this world, and what is this body. 17 Reason displays the darkness of ignorance and shows the state of the Supreme as clearly as when the light of a lamp shows everything clearly in the room. 18 The light of knowledge dispels the gloom of sorrow like sunlight putting the shadow of night to flight. 19 Upon appearance of the light of knowledge, the knowable comes to appear of itself, just as the appearance of sunlight in the sky shows every object on earth below.

20 The science that brings the knowledge of Divine Truth is identical with the knowable truth itself. 21 Spiritual knowledge is the result of reason and is reckoned as the only true knowledge by the wise. It includes the knowledge of the knowable soul, just as water contains its sweetness within itself. 22 The man knowing all knowledge becomes full of knowledge, just as a heavy drinker is constantly intoxicated.

23 The wise come to know the knowable Supreme Spirit as immaculate as their own souls. Only through the knowledge of the Supreme Spirit does this bliss impart its grace to the soul. 24 The man filled with perfect knowledge is full of unfailing bliss within himself. He is liberated in his life. Being freed from all connections, he rules supreme in the empire of his mind.

25 The wise man remains indifferent to the sweet sound of songs and to the music of the lute and flute. He is not humored by songstresses or the allure of their bodies or the enticement of their foul association. 26 He sits unaffected amidst the hum of buzzing bees fluttering joyfully over spring flowers, and amidst blooming blossoms of rainy weather under the growling noise of roaring clouds. 27 He remains unexcited by the loud screams of peacocks, the joyous shrill of storks at the sight of fragments of dark clouds, or the rolling and rumbling of gloomy clouds in humid sky. 28 He is not elated by the sound of musical instruments such as the jarring cymbal or ringing hand bells. No deep bellowing drums beaten by sticks or any wind, string or skinned instruments can act upon his mind.

29 He turns his mind to nothing that is sweet or bitter to taste, but delights in his own thoughts, just as the moon sheds her light upon the spreading lotus bud in the lake. 30 The wise man is indifferent to the attractions of beauties and celestial nymphs who are as graceful in their stature and attire as the young shoot of a plantain tree with its spreading foliage. 31 His mind is attached to nothing that is his own, but remains indifferent to everything, like a swan exposed to a barren spot.

32 The wise have no taste for delicious fruits nor do they hunger after dainty food of any kind. 33 He does not thirst after delicious drinks such as milk, curd, butter, ghee and honey. He does not like to taste sweet liquors at all. He is not fond of wines or liquors of any kind, or of beverages and drinks of any sort for his sensual delight. 34 He is not fond of the four kinds of food that are either chewed or licked or sucked or drunk, nor is he fond of the six flavors of sweet, sour, bitter, pungent and the like to sharpen his appetite. He longs for no sort of vegetable or meat food.

35 Quite content in his countenance and unattached to everything in his mind, the wise brahmin does not bind his heart either to the pleasures of taste or tending to the gracefulness of his body. 36 The wise man does not observe the adoration paid to Yama, Sun, Moon, Indra, and the Rudras and Marutas (in the Vedas), nor does he observe the sanctity of Meru, Mandara and Kailasa Mountains, or of the table lands of the Sahya and Dardura hills. 37 He takes no delight in bright moonbeams that cover the earth like a silken garment. He does not like to wander about the gardens of wish-fulfilling kalpa trees to refresh his body and mind. 38 He does not resort to houses rich with jewels and gold, and with the splendor of gems and pearls, nor does he show fondness upon apsara beauties with their fairy forms of celestials nymphs, as an Urvasi, Menaka, Rambha or a Tilottama. 39 His graceful body and mind that is not enticed do not yearn for whatever is pleasant to sight, but remain indifferent about everything with his satisfaction and fullness of mind and with his stern silence and inflexibility even among his enemies.

40 His cold mind is not attracted by the beauty and fragrance of the fine flowers such as lotuses, lilies, roses and jasmine. 41 He is not tempted by the taste of luscious fruits such as apples, mango, jamb and the like, nor by the sight of asoka or kinsuka flowers. 42 He is not drawn over by the fragrance of the sweet scenting sandalwood, agulochum, camphor, clove or cardamom trees.

43 Preserving an even course of action in his mind, he does not incline his heart to anything. He holds the perfumes in loathing like a brahmin holds wine in abhorrence. His even mindedness is neither moved by pleasure nor shaken by any fear or pain. 44 His mind is not agitated by fear at hearing the hoarse sound of the ocean, a tremendous thunderclap in the sky, or roaring clouds on mountain tops. The roaring lions below does not intimidate his dauntless soul. 45 He is not terrified at the loud trumpet of warfare or the deep drum of the battlefield. Clattering arms of warriors and cracking clubs of combatants bring no terror to his mind. The most terrific of all (God) that is terrible is familiar to his soul.

46 He does not tremble at the stride of an infuriated elephant or at the loud uproar of vetala demons. His heart does not thrill at the color and cry of pisacha cannibals or at the alarm of yaksha and raksha demons. 47 The meditative mind is not moved by loud thunder or cracking rocks and mountains. The loud clanging sound of Indra and Airavana cannot stir the yogi from his intense reverie. 48 The rigid sage does not slide from his self-possession at the harsh sound of a crashing saw and or the clanking of a burnished sword striking another. He is not shaken by the twanging of a bow or deadly arrows flying and falling around him.

49 He does not rejoice in pleasant gardens or suffer in parched deserts because the fleeting joys and sorrows of life find no place in his inevitable mind. 50 He is neither intolerant of a desert’s burning sands, resembling the cinders of living fire, or charmed in shady woodlands filled with flowery and cooling trees. 51 His mind is unchanged whether when he is exposed on a bed of thorns or lying on a bed of flowers, whether he is lifted on the height of a mountain or flung to the bottom of a fountain. His mind is always meek.

52 It is all the same with him whether he wanders on rough and rugged rocks, moves under the hot sunbeams of the south, or walks in a temperate climate. He remains unchanged in prosperity and adversity and is alike under the favor or frown of fortune. 53 He is not sad in his wanderings over the world or joyous and of good cheer in his rest and quiet. He enjoys doing his duty with the lightness of his heart, like a porter bearing his light burden with an unburdened mind.

54 Whether his body is cut upon a guillotine or broken under the wheel, whether impaled in a charnel ground or exiled in a desert land, whether pierced by a spear or battered by a cudgel, the believer in the true God remain inflexible. 55 He is not afraid at any fright and does not humiliate himself or lose his usual composure in any way, but remains with his even temper and well composed mind as firm as a fixed rock.

56 He has no aversion to impure food, but takes the unpalatable, dirty and rotten food with zest. He digests poisonous substances at they were his pure and clean diet. 57 A deadly poisonous herb is tasted with as good a zest by the impassive yogi as any milky and sweet food. Hemlock juice is as harmless to him as the juice of the sugarcane. 58 Whether you give him a sparkling cup of liquor or a red hot bowl of blood, or whether you serve him a dish of flesh or dry bones, he is neither pleased with the one nor annoyed at the other.

59 He is equally complacent at the sight of his deadly enemy as his benevolent benefactor. 60 He is neither gladdened nor saddened at the sight of any lasting or perishable thing. He is neither pleased or displeased at any pleasant or unpleasant thing that is offered to his impassive nature. 61 By his knowledge of the knowable, by the dispassion of his mind, by the unconcerned nature of his soul, and by his knowledge of the unreliability of mortal things, he does not have faith in the stability of the world. 62 The wise man never fixes his eye on any object of his sight, seeing them to be momentary sights and perishable in their nature.

63 But restless people who are blind to truth and ignorant of their souls are constantly pressed upon by their sensual desires, like leaves of trees eaten by deer. 64 They are tossed about in the ocean of the world by the dashing waves of their desires. They are swallowed by the sharks of their sense, with the loss of their lives and souls.

65 The growing desires and fleeting fancies of the mind cannot overpower the reasonable soul or the orderly and mannerly man who has found his security in peace and tranquility, just as a great torrent of water has no power to flow over a mountain. 66 Those who have passed the circuit of their longings and found their rest in the Supreme Being have really come to the knowledge of their true selves. They look upon a mountain as it were a speck. 67 The vast world seems like a bit of straw to the wise. Deadly poison is taken for ambrosia and a millennium passes a moment for the man of even and expanded mind.

68 Knowing the world to consist in consciousness, the mind of the wise is enraptured with the thought of his universality. The wise man wanders freely everywhere with the consciousness of the great cosmos in himself. 69 The whole world appears in its full light in the cosmic consciousness within one’s self. There is nothing which a man may choose for or reject from his all including mind.

70 Know your consciousness to be all in all. Reject everything as false which appears to be otherwise. As everything is embodied in your consciousness, there is nothing for you to own or disown; no “us”, “yours” or “not yours”.

71 Just as the ground grows the shoots of plants and their leaves and branches, so our consciousness brings forth the shoots of all things that can be affirmed (tatwas) which are inherent in it. 72 That which is a nonentity at first and last is so even at present. By an error of our consciousness, we become conscious of existence at anytime. 73 Knowing this for certain, abandon your knowledge of reality and unreality. Transcend the knowledge of existence and transform yourself to the nature of your consciousness. Remain unconcerned with everything beside.

74 The man employed in his business with body and mind or sitting idle with himself and his limbs is not stained by anything if his soul is unattached to any object. 75 He is not stained by the action which he does with an unconcerned mind, nor is he who is neither elated nor dejected at the changing fortunes of his fortune or the success or failure of his undertakings. 76 He whose mind is heedless of the actions of his body is never stained with the taint of joy or grief at the changes of his fortune, or the speed or defeat of his attempts.

77 The heedless mind takes no notice of a thing that is set before it, but being intent on some other object within itself, is absent from the object present before its sight. This case of the absence of mind is known even to children. 78 The absent minded man does not see the objects he actually sees or hear what he hears or feel what he touches. 79 His soul and mind are quite aloof from whatever he watches as if he winks at it whatever he smells as if he has no smell of it, and while his senses are engaged with their respective objects. 80 This absence of mind is well known to persons sitting at their homes and thinking of living in another land. Such wandering attention is known even to children and ignorant people.

81 Attention causes the perception of sensible objects. Attachment of the mind causes human society. Mental concern causes our desires. This concern of ours about other things causes all our grief. 82 Abandonment of connections, which is called liberation, and forsaking earthly attachments release us from being reborn in it, but it is freedom from worldly thoughts that makes us emancipate in this life.

83 Rama said, “My lord, who like a gale blows away the mist of my doubts, tell me briefly, what are these connections that we are to get rid of in order to be freed both in this life and in the next?”

84 Vasishta answered:—

Impure desire of the pure soul for the presence or absence of something which tends to our pleasure or pain is called our attachment. 85 Those who are liberated in their lifetime foster pure desire unattended by joy or grief which is not followed by future regeneration. 86 Thus the pure desire, unconnected with any worldly object, is called unworldly and is apart from the world. It continues through life, and whatever actions it does do not tend to the bondage of the soul or lead to its future reincarnations.

87 Ignorant men who are not liberated in their present state of existence in this world entertain impure desires causing their pleasure and pain in this life, leading to their bondage to repeated reincarnations in future. 88 Impure desire is also expressed by the word attachment, which leads its captive soul to repeated births, and whatsoever actions are done by it, they tend to the faster bondage of the miserable soul.

89 Therefore abandon your desire and attachment for anything of this kind, which at best serve only to trouble the soul. Your freedom will keep your mind pure, although you may continue to discharge your duties of life with a willing mind and un-enslaved soul. 90 If you can remain unaffected by joy, grief, pleasure, pain, or passions, and not subdued by fear or anger, you become impassible and indifferent. 91 If you do not suffer in your pain or exult in your joy, and if you are not elated by hope or depressed by despair, you are truly unconcerned about them. 92 If you conduct your affairs with equanimity, both in your prosperity and adversity, and do not lose your temper in any circumstance of life, you are truly unconscious and regardless of them. 93 When you can know the soul, and by knowing it you can see it in yourself, and if you manage yourself with evenness under any circumstance that may happen, then you are unconscious of them.

94 Rama, rely on your easily obtainable detachment and stick firmly to your liberation in this life. Be passionless and even tempered and rest in your peace forever.

95 The honorable man is free from the feverish passions of pride, giddiness and envy in his mind. Possessing his liberation, he has silence and full mastery over his organs of sense. 96 So is he who retains his equanimity and meekness of mind regardless of what is presented before him. He never deviates from the duties of his caste to deal with others who bear no relation to him. 97 One who attends to his hereditary duties which are natural with him, and discharges them with a mind free from all concern and expectation, is truly happy in himself.

98 Whether under the trial of troubles and tribulations or under the temptations of rank and prosperity, the great minded man does not transgress his intrinsic nature, just as the Milky Ocean does not tarnish its whiteness though perturbed under charming Mandara Mountain. 99 Whether gaining sovereignty over the earth, elevated to the dignity of the lord of gods, degraded to grovel upon the earth, or lowered to the state of a creeping worm under the ground, the great minded man remains unchanged at his rise and fall, as the bright sun remains the same in his elevation and setting.

100 Freed from turmoil and differences of faith and exempted from pursuits for different results, employ your great mind, O Rama, to the highest duty of investigation into the nature of the soul. Secure your ultimate liberation by it. 101 Live by the clear stream of your investigation and you will come to rely on the undecaying and unstained state of the pure soul. Then by coming to the knowledge and sight of the Supreme Spirit by the light of your understanding, you will no longer be bound to future births on this earth.