Chapter 6 — Excellent Sayings to Edify the Audience: Disparagement of the Ignorant

Vasishta continued:—

My dear Rama, let me tell you some excellent sayings for your good, and also for the benefit of everyone here in my audience. Though you are unlike others in the greater enlightenment of your understanding, yet my lecture will equally edify your knowledge and that of less enlightened men.

He who is so senseless as to take his body for the soul is soon found to be upset by his unruly senses, like a charioteer thrown down by headstrong and restless horses. But the wise man who knows and relies on the soul without body has all his senses subject to his soul. They do not overthrow him, as obstinate horses do their riders. 5 He who praises no object of enjoyment, but rather finds fault with all of them and discerns well their evils, enjoys the health of his body without any complaint. The soul has no relationship to the body, nor is the body related to the soul. They are as unrelated to each other as the light and shade.

The distinct soul is different from concrete matter and free from material properties. The soul is ever shining and does not rise or set like the physical sun and moon. The body is a dull mass of vile matter. It is ignorant of itself and its own welfare. It is quite ungrateful to the soul that makes it conscious. Therefore it well deserves its fate of diseases and final dissolution.

How can the body be considered an intelligent thing when the knowledge of the one (soul) as consciousness proves the other (body) to be only dull mass? 10 But then, how is it that they reciprocate their feelings of pain and pleasure to one another, unless they are the one and the same thing and have same properties? 11 Rama, it is impossible for feelings that never agree in their natures to reciprocate. The gross body has no connection with the subtle soul, nor has the rarefied soul any relationship to the solid body. 12 The presence of one nullifies the existence of the other, as in the cases of day and night, of darkness and light, and of knowledge and ignorance.

13 The soul without body presides over all bodies without its adherence to any, just as the omnipresent spirit of Brahman pervades throughout all nature without uniting with any visible object. 14 The embodied soul is as unattached to the body as a dew drop on a lotus leaf remains separate from the leaf. The Divine Spirit is quite unconnected with everything it fills and supports. 15 The Soul residing in the body is as unaffected by the body’s affections as the sky remains unmoved by the motion of winds raging in its bosom.

16 Knowing that your soul is no part of your body, rest quietly in your soul to eternity. But if you believe you are the body, be subject to repeated reincarnations of it in endless forms. 17 All that is visible is seen like rising and falling waves in the boundless ocean of the Divine Soul. Reliance on the Supreme Soul will show only the light of the soul. 18 This bodily frame is the product of the Divine Soul, just as the wave is produced of the water of the sea. Though bodies are seen to move about like waves, yet their receptacle the soul is ever as steady as the sea, the reservoir of all moving waves.

19 The body is the image of the soul, just as the sun seen in the waves is a reflection of that luminary. Though the body, like the reflected sun, is seen to be moving and waving, yet its archetype the soul is ever as steady as the fixed and un-fluctuating sun in the sky. 20 The error of the substantiality and stability of the body is put to flight as soon as the light of the permanent and spiritual substratum of the soul comes to shine over our inner sight.

21 To the partial and unspiritual observers of materialism, the body appears to be in constant motion like a wheel. They believe it is perpetually subject to birth and death, like the succession of light and darkness. 22 These unspiritual men who are unconscious of their souls are as shallow and empty minded as arjuna trees that grow without any pulp or core inside. 23 Dull headed men devoid of intelligence are as contemptible as grass on the ground. They move their limbs like blades of grass moved by the force of passing winds. Those unacquainted with the conscious soul resemble senseless and hollow bamboos that shake and whistle by breath of the winds.

24 The unconscious body and its limbs are actuated to perform their acts by the vital breath, just as the movement of trees and leaves is caused by the breeze. Both bodies and trees cease to move when the currents of airs cease agitating them. 25 Dull bodies are like the boisterous waves of the sea, heaving with huge shapes and tremendous noise. They look like drunken men staggering with drinks of luscious juice of the vine. 26 Foolish men resemble the rapid currents of rivers which, without a jot of sense in them, keep up their continual motion to no good to themselves or others. 27 Their lack of wit reduces them to the utmost meanness and misery, which make them groan and sigh like a blacksmith’s blowing bellows. 28 Their continuous motion is of no real good to themselves, but brings on their death like the calm after a storm. They clash and clang like the twang of a bowstring without an arrow to hit the mark.

29 The life of an unintelligent man serves only for his death. His desires of fruition are as false as the fruit of an unfruitful tree in a woody forest. 30 Seeking friendliness in men is like wishing to sleep on a burning mountain. The society of the unintelligent is like associating with the headless trunks of trees in a forest. 31 Doing any service for ignorant and foolish men goes for nothing, as worthless as beating a bush or empty air with a stick. Anything given to the senseless is like throwing it in the mud. 32 Talking with the ignorant is like calling dogs from a distance. Ignorance is the seat of evils which never befall the conscious and the wise.

33 The wise pass over all errors in their course amidst the world, but the ignorant are exposed to constant troubles in their ceaseless intense efforts to thrive in the pleasures of life. 34 As the carriage wheel revolves constantly about the axle to which it is fixed, so the body of man turns continually about the wealthy family to which the foolish mind is fixed for gain. 35 The ignorant fool can never get rid of his misery as long as he is bound to the belief that his body is his soul, and knowing no spiritual soul besides. 36 How is it possible for the infatuated to be freed from their delusion when their minds are darkened by illusion and their eyes are blind-folded by unreal appearance? 37 The man who sees things that entertain his eyes with unrealities is finally deluded by them, like a man moonstruck by fixing his eyes on the moon, or becoming giddy with the profuse fragrance of flowers.

38 As watering the ground favors the growth of grass, thorns and thistles, so fostering the body breeds desires in the heart as thick as reptiles growing in the hollow of trees. They strengthen the mind in the form of a rampant lion or elephant. 39 The ignorant nourish their hopes of heaven on the death of their bodies, just as the farmer expects a bountiful harvest from his well cultivated fields. 40 Greedy hell-hounds are glad to look upon the ignorant who are bound in the coils of their serpentine desires, just as thirsty peacocks are pleased to gaze on the black clouds that form in the rainy season.

41 Beautiful women with their glancing eyes resembling the fluttering bees of summer, lips blooming like new leaves of flowers, make a showy appearance to catch hold of ignorant men, like poisonous plants displaying themselves to catch ignorant flies. 42 The plant of desire which shoots out of the good soil of ignorant minds shelters flying passions under its shady foliage, just as coral plants shelter the coral animals in them.

43 Hatred is like a wildfire. It consumes the tree of the body and lets out the smoke through the orifice of the mouth in the desert land of the heart, exhibits the flower of heat like burning cinders.

44 The mind of the ignorant is like a lake of envy covered with the leaves of spite and calumny. Jealousy is its lotus-bed and anxious thoughts are like bees continually fluttering over the lotuses. 45 The ignorant man who is subject to repeated births, rising and falling like waves in the tumultuous ocean of this world, is also exposed to repeated deaths. The burning fire that engulfs his dead body is like an undersea fire. 46 The ignorant are exposed to repeated births accompanied by the changing fortunes of childhood, youth, manhood and old age, and followed at last by a painful death and cremation of the beloved body on the funeral pyre.

47 The ignorant body is like a bucket in a well tied by the rope of reincarnation to the winch of acts, to be plunged and lifted over again in and over the dirty pool of this world. 48 This world is a plain pavement or a narrow hole to the wise because they are unconsciousness of it. However, this world appears like a boundless and unfathomable sea to the ignorant owing to their great concern about it. 49 The ignorant are unable to see beyond their limited circle, just as birds long confined in their cages have no mind to fly out. 50 The revolution of repeated births is like the constant rotation of a chariot wheel. There is nobody able to stop the motion of rebirths by restraining his earthly desires, ever turning like spokes affixed to the center of the heart.

51 The ignorant wander at large about the wide extended earth like hunters roving the forest in search of their prey, until they become a prey at the hand of death and make their bodies as morsels for the vultures of their sensual desires. 52 The ignorant mistake the sights of these mountainous bodies, these material forms made of earthly flesh, for realities, just as they mistake figures in painting for real persons.

53 How flourishing is the tree of this delusion, filled with the endless objects of our false imagination, which has stretched out these innumerable worlds because of our ignorance of them. 54 How flourishing is the wish-fulfilling kalpa tree, the all fruitful tree of delusion, which is ever filled with endless objects of our imaginary desires and stretches out infinite worlds as its leaves for our false conception. 55 Here our restless craving minds, like birds of variegated colors, rest and remain and sit and sport in and all about this tree. 56 Our acts are the roots of our repeated births, just as the trunk of the tree is of its shoots. Our posterity and properties are the flowers of this tree, and our virtues and vices are its fruits of good and evil. 57 Our wives are like tender plants that thrive best under the moonlight of delusion and are the most beautiful things to behold in this desert land of the earth.

58 As the darkness of ignorance prevails over the mind soon after the setting of the sunlight of reason, there rises the full moon of errors in the empty mind, with all her changing phases of repeated births. 59 Under the influence of the cooling moonlight of ignorance, our minds foster fond desires of worldly enjoyments and, like the chakora birds of night, drink their fill of delight as ambrosial moonbeams. 60 Under this delusion men view their beloved ones as buds of roses and lotuses, and their loose glancing eyes as the black bees fluttering at random. They see black clouds in the braids and locks of their hair, and a glistening fire in their glowing bosoms and breasts.

61 It is delusion, O Rama, that depicts damsels with the beams of fair moonlight nights. The wise view them in their true light as being as foul as the darkest midnight. 62 Rama, know the pleasures of the world are like the destructive fruits of ignorance: at first pleasant to taste, but prove to be full of bitter gall at last. It is therefore better to destroy this harmful tree than to lose life and soul by the mortal taste of its fruits.