Chapter 2 — On the Perfect Calm and Composure of the Mind

Valmiki related:—

Then the shade of night, her face as dark as the darkened moon, began to waste and wane away, just as the darkness of ignorance and the mists of human wishes vanish before the light of reason. Now the rising sun showed his crown of golden rays on the top of the eastern mountain by leaving his rival darkness to take its rest west beyond the setting Mount Astachala. Now the morning breeze began to blow, moistened by moonbeams and bearing particles of ice, as if to wash the face and eyes of the rising sun.

Now rose Rama, Lakshman and their attendants from their beds and couches. After discharging their morning services, they returned to Vasishta’s holy hermitage. 5 There they saw the sage coming out of his closet, having completed his morning devotion. They worshipped his feet with offerings of arghya. In a moment, the sage’s hermitage was crowded with munis and brahmins and the other princes and chiefs, whose vehicles, chariots, horses and elephants completely blocked the pathways. Then the sage, accompanied by these and attended by their suite and armies, followed by Rama and his brothers, was escorted to the palace of King Dasharata.

The king, who had completed his morning service, hastened to receive the sage and walked a great way to welcome, do him honor, and pay homage. They entered the court hall which was adorned with flowers and strings of gems and pearls. There they seated themselves on rich sofas and seats set in rows for their reception. 10 In a short time the entire audience from the previous day, composed of both earthly men and celestial spirits, assembled at that place seated in their respective seats of honor. 11 All who entered that graceful hall respectfully saluted one another. Then the royal court shone as brilliantly as a bed of blooming lotuses gently moved by a fanning breeze. 12 The mixed assembly of munis, rishis, saints and sages, Vipra and Raja brahmin priests, and kshatriya caste warriors sat in proper order on seats set for each. 13 The soft sounds of their mutual greetings and welcomes gradually faded away. The sweet voices of eulogists sitting in a corner of the hall were all hushed and lulled to silence.

14 Sunbeams appearing through cracks in the windows seemed to be waiting to join the audience and listen to the sage’s lectures. 15 The jingling sound of bracelets on the shaking of hands of visitors in the hall was likely to lull those hearing the sage to sleep. 16 Then, just as Kumara looks reverently on the face of his father Shiva and as Kacha looks with veneration upon the face of Brihaspati (Jupiter), the teacher of the gods, and as Prahlada gazes upon the face of Shukra (Venus), the teacher of demons, and as Garuda views the face of Vishnu, 17 so did Rama gaze upon the face of Vasishta, his eyes gazing upon it like black bees fluttering about a full blown lotus.

18 The sage resumed where he left off from his last lecture. He delivered his eloquent speech to Rama, who was also well versed in eloquence.

19 Vasishta said:—

Rama, do you remember the lecture I gave yesterday, which was filled with deep sense and knowledge of transcendental truth? 20 Now I will tell you some other things for your instruction, and you shall have to hear it with attention to complete your spiritual wisdom. 21 A habit of dispassion and the knowledge of truth enable us to cross the boisterous ocean of the world. Therefore, you must learn, O Rama, to practice and gain these in good time. 22 Your full knowledge of all truth will drive away your bias towards untruth. Riddance of all your desires will save you from all sorrow.

23 There exists only one Brahman unbounded by space and time. He is never limited by either. He is the world himself, though it appears to be a distinct duality beside Him. 24 Brahman abides in all infinity and eternity and is not limited in anything. He is tranquil and shines with equal brilliance on all bodies. He cannot be any particular thing other than his nature of universality. 25 Knowing the nature of Brahman as such, be free from the knowledge of your personal egoism. Knowing yourself to be the same with Him, think of yourself as bodiless and as great as He and thus enjoy the tranquility and joy of your soul.

26 There is neither mind nor ignorance, nor any living principle which is a distinct thing in reality. They are all words describing a fiction. 27 The same Brahman exhibits Himself in the forms of our enjoyments, in the faculties of enjoying them, in our desires and desires for the same, and also in the mind for their perception. The great Brahman that is without beginning or end underlies them all, just as the great ocean surrounds the earth.

28 The same Brahma is seen in the form of his intellect or wisdom in the heavens, on earth, in the infernal regions, and in the plant and animal creations. There is nothing else beside Him. 29 The same Brahma, who has no beginning or end, spreads himself like a boundless and unfathomable ocean under all bodies and things and in whatever we consider as favorable or unfavorable to us, such as our friends and our enemies. 30 The fiction of the mind, like that of a serpent in a rope, continues as long as we are subject to the error and ignorance of taking these words for real things and remain unacquainted with the knowledge of Brahman.

31 The error of the mind and what it perceives continue as long as one believes his personality is associated with his body, understands the world of phenomena to be a reality, and has the selfishness to think such and such a thing to be his own. 32 So long as you do not raise yourself by the counsel and company of the wise and good, and as long as you do not get rid of your ignorance, you cannot escape from the meanness of your belief in the mind. 33 So long as you do not lose your worldly thoughts and have the light of the Universal Spirit before your view, you cannot get rid of the contracted thoughts of your mind, yourself and the world. 34 As long as there is the blindness of ignorance and one remains subject to worldly desires, there is the delusion of falsehood and the fictions of the delusive mind. 35 As long as the exhalation of yearnings infest the forest of the heart, the chakora parrot of reason will never live with you but will fly far away from the infected air.

36 The errors of thought disappear from the mind that is unattached to sensual enjoyments, that is cool with its pure lack of desire, and which has broken loose from its net of greed. 37 He who has gotten rid of his thirst and delusion of wealth, who is conscious of the inner coolness of his soul, and who possesses the tranquility of his mind is said to have fled from the province of his anxious thoughts. 38 He who looks upon unsubstantial things as unworthy of his regard and reliance, and who looks upon his body as extraneous to himself, is never misled by the thoughts of his mind. 39 He who meditates on the Infinite Mind and sees all forms of things as copies of the Universal Soul, and who views the world absorbed in himself, is never misled by the false conception of the living principle.

40 The incomplete understanding of a distinct mind and a living principle serves only to mislead men. All such conceptions vanish at the sight of the rising sun of the one Universal Soul. 41 A complete understanding gives the full view of one undivided soul, a view which consumes the particulars, just as a bright fire burns the dry leaves of trees and a sacrificial fire consumes the offerings of butter.

42 Men of great souls who have known the supreme one and who are self-liberated in their lifetime have their minds without their essences, which therefore are called nonentities (asatwas). 43 The body of a living liberated man has a mind employed in its duties but free from its desires. Such minds are not active agents but merely passive objects. They are no longer self-willing free agents but are acted upon by their paramount duties.

44 They who know the truth are mindless and unmindful of everything except their duty. They wander about at pleasure and discharge their duties by memory and practice in order to gain any object. 45 They are calm and cold with all their actions and in all their dealings. They have the members of their bodies and their senses under full control, and know no desire or duality. 46 The saint has his sight fixed upon his inner soul and sees the world burnt down like straw by the fire of his intellect. His false conceptions of the mind fly far away, like flies from a fire.

47 The mind purified by reason is called the sattwa, as said before, and does not give rise to error, just as fried paddy seed cannot produce a plant. 48 The meaning of sattwa is the opposite of chitta, which latter is used in lexicons to mean the mind that has the quality of being reborn on account of its actions and desires. 49 You have to attain the attainable sattwa or true calm state of your mind, and to have the seed of your active mind, chitta, singed by the blaze of your spiritual mind, sattwa. 50 The minds of the learned, lighted by reason, immediately melt down to liquidity. Those of the ignorant, hardened by their worldly desires, will not yield to the force of fire and steel but continue to sprout like grass the more they are mowed and put on fire.

51 Brahman is vast expanse, and such being the vastness of the universe, there is no difference between them. The consciousness of Brahman is as full as the fullness of his essence. 52 Divine Consciousness contains the three worlds, as pepper has its pungency within itself. Therefore the triple world is not a distinct thing from Brahman and its existence and nonexistence. 53 Popular language speaks of existence and non-existence as different things, but they are never so in reality to right understanding because whatever is or is not in being is ever present in the Divine Mind. This emptiness contains all things in their empty state. God as the absolute, eternal, and spiritual substance is as empty as thought.

54 If you do not believe in the intellectual, then you can have no belief in your spirituality. Then why fear death or future punishment when you leave your body turning into dust? Tell me Rama. How can you imagine the existence of the world without the intellectual principle? 55 But if you find by the reasoning of your mind that all things are always merely reasoning of consciousness, then tell me. Why do you rely on the substantiality of your body?

56 Rama, remember your transparent intellectual and spiritual form which has no limit or division to it, but is an unlimited and undivided whole. Do not mistake yourself to be a limited being by forgetting your true nature. 57 Thinking yourself as such, take all the discrete parts of the universe as forming one concrete whole, and this is the substantial intellect of Brahman. 58 You abide in the womb of your consciousness. You are neither this nor that nor any of the many discrete things interspersed in the universe. You are as you are and last as the end in your obvious and yet hidden appearances. 59 You are contained within no particular category, nor is there any predicate which may be predicated of you. Yet you are the substance of every predicate in your form of the solid, heavy and calm consciousness. I salute you in that form of yours.

60 You are without beginning or end and abide with your body of solid intellect amidst the crystal sphere of your creation, shining as the pure and transparent sky. You are calm and quiet, and yet display the wonderful world as the seed vessel shows the wood of vegetation.