Chapter 28 — The Body, like Creation, Is a Reflection of the Mind

Vasishta said:—

I have told you, O sinless Rama, the story of Bhushunda who had passed over the perilous sea of delusion by means of his intelligence and wisdom. Keeping this example in mind and following his practice of breath control (pranayama), O mighty armed Rama, you also will pass over the wide ocean of this hazardous ocean. As Bhushunda obtained the obtainable One by means of his knowledge and by virtue of his continued practice of yoga, you also strive to gain the same by imitating his example. Men of understanding may attain the stability of Bhushunda and his reliance on the transcendental truth by practicing pranayama, restraining of their breath.

5 You have heard me tell you many things about true knowledge. Now it depends on your own understanding and choice to do as you like.

Rama replied, “Sage who is the luminous sun of spiritual light on earth, at once you have dispelled the thick gloom of unspiritual knowledge from my mind. I am fully awake and joyful in my divine knowledge. I have entered into my state of spirituality. I have known the knowable and I am seated in my divine state like yourself.”

“The wonderful life of Bhushunda that you have described fills me with admiration, and it is instructive of the highest wisdom. In the account you gave of Bhushunda, you said that the body is the abode of the soul and that it is composed of flesh and blood, inner bones and outer skin. 10 Sage, please tell me who made this body and how it came to be formed? How it is made to last and who abides inside?”

11 Vasishta answered:—

Rama, now listen to what I will explain to you for the instruction of supreme knowledge, and also to remove the evils that have taken root instead of true knowledge.

12 This dwelling of the body that has bones for its posts, blood and flesh for its mortar, and the nine holes for so many windows, is built by no one. 13 It is a mere reflection. It reflects itself to our vision just as the illusion of two moons in the sky is both real and unreal. 14 It may be right to speak of two moons from their double appearance, but in reality there is only one moon and the other is its reflection.

15 Belief that the body exists makes it a reality. The unreal seems as real and therefore it is said to be both real and unreal at the same time. 16 Anything seen in a dream is true as a dream, and appears to be so in the state of dreaming, but afterwards it proves to be untrue. A bubble of water is true as a bubble, which comes to be known afterwards as false in reality. 17 The body seems to be substantial as it does its bodily actions, but proves otherwise when we see only the essentiality of the spirit. In the same way, the reflection of the sun on the sandy desert makes a mirage appear like water, whose reality proves to be unreal the next moment. 18 The body existing as a reflection disappears the next moment. It is nothing more than a reflection, and so it reflects itself.

19 It is your error to think that you are the material body made of flesh and bones. The inner thought of your mind situated in the body makes you think you are “so and so” and “such a one”. 20 Therefore forsake the body that you build for yourself at your own will. Do not be like those who transport themselves to various countries while they are sleeping in their pleasant beds.

21 O Rama, see even in your waking state how you transport yourself to the kingdom of heaven in the fanciful reverie of your mind. So tell me then, where is your body situated? 22 Tell me Rama, where is your body situated when your mind wanders on Mount Meru in your dream, and when you dream to ramble with your body about this earth? 23 Rama, think how you seem to be aimlessly walking about the rich domains in the fancied kingdom of your mind, and tell me whether you are there with your body or if is it left behind. 24 Tell me, where is that body of yours situated when you think of doing many of your bodily and worldly acts in the fancied kingdom of your mind? 25 Tell me, O strong armed Rama, where is your body located when you are thinking about flirting and caressing your loving courtesans in the court of your painful mind? 26 Where is your body with which you seem to enjoy everything?

Enjoyment belongs to the mind and not to the body. Both of them are real as well as unreal owing to their presence at one time and absence at another. 27 The body and the mind are present simultaneously with their actions when they participate with one another in their acts. Therefore it is false to say that, “I am this body situated here and these things are mine,” all of which are illusory and caused by illusion. 28 All this is the manifestation of the will or energy of the mind. You must know it either as a long dream or lengthened fallacy of the mind.

29 Know, O son of Raghu’s race, that this world is a display of the vast kingdom of your imagination. It will vanish into nothing when you come to good understanding by the grace of your god. 30 Then you will see the whole as clearly as the light of the rising sun, and you will know this would is like a creation of your dream.

31 This world is a display of the will of the lotus-born Brahma, as I have said before at length in the book of creation. 32 A willful creation arises of itself in the mind as if it were so ordained by destiny. The mind, being fully possessed of the great variety of forms, becomes lost in the error of taking them for true. 33 The world is only a creation and a display of the will just like the fancied mental fabrication of being Brahman possessed the minds of the ten sons of Indu.

34 After the soul has passed from its former form, it receives the same form that it had in the fancy of its mind, which is either what it had been long accustomed or what it fondly longed in the mind. 35 The body shows itself in the form shaped by a person’s prior acts. By the courageous efforts of some, the body can also be shaped by the intellect. 36 He who thinks he is another is transformed into that nature. The thought that you are this or that, and have this thing or others for yourself, is what actually makes you so in this world. 37 Whatever is thought upon keenly and firmly comes to take place accordingly. Whatever is thought of with intensity and great force must occur in a short time.

38 Every day we see the objects of our desire presenting their fair forms to our view like the attractive faces of our beloved ones, just like sights in a dream and distant objects are recalled in the minds of men with their closed or half-shut eyes. 39 This world is said to be a creation of the thoughts of men. It appears to sight from habitually thinking of it, just like the sights in a dream appear to the mind in daytime.

40 The temporary world appears to be as lasting as the river which appears in the sky under burning sunshine. 41 This nonexistent earth also appears as existent in our thought, just as bundles of peacock’s feathers appear in the sky to the weakened eye lacking insight. 42 Only weakened understanding dwells upon the beauties of creation, just as weakened eyesight looks upon the various colors in the sky. But to the clear sighted, understanding the beauty of creation is as fleeting as colors in the sky are to the clear sighted eye.

43 The sharp sighted man is never led away by the display of worldly grandeur, just as even the most timid man is never afraid of a tiger in his imagination. 43a This great show of worldly grandeur can never mislead the penetrating sight of the wise, just as a monstrous creature of imagination cannot terrify even the most timid. 44 The wise man is never afraid of his imaginary world which he knows to be the production of his own mind’s nature of self-evolution. 45 He who has walked in the path of this world need not fear anything in it. He who is afraid of the world for fear of falling into its errors should learn to purify his understanding.

46 Rama, know that the soul is free from the false conception of the world, and free from the errors which pervade all over it. Look well into these things and you will have a nature as pure as your inner soul. 47 The soul is not soiled by impurity, just as a pure gold is not spoiled by dirt. Though gold sometimes may appear tarnished like copper, it soon resumes its color after its dirt is cleansed or burnt away. Thus the world being a reflection of the omnipresent Brahma, it is neither an entity nor a nonentity of its own nature.

48 Thus the abandonment of all thoughts other than of the Universal Soul, Brahman, is called the true discernment of the mind. Such abandonment makes thoughts of life and death, and heaven and hell into nothing, and proves all such knowledge to be only ignorance. 49 The knowledge that everything is only the reflection of Consciousness is called the right discernment of the mind which removes the thoughts of a separate, independent existence of the ego and “you” and also of this world and its ten sides. 50 True and right discernment of the mind means knowing all things to be only reflections of the soul. This knowledge is derived from the mind’s observation of the true nature of things in this real and unreal world. 51 That nothing rises, sets, appears or disappears in this world is what the mind perceives by its right discernment of things and by its investigation into the true and apparent natures of all. 52 Right discernment gives the mind its peace and tranquility, its freedom from all desires, its indifference to joy and grief, and its indifference to all praise and criticism.

53 The mind comes to find this truth of mortality as the cooling salve of the heart: that we and all our friends and relations in this world are doomed to die one day or another. 54 So why should we lament at the death of our friends when it is certain that we must die sooner or later? 55 When we are destined to die, and we have no power to prevent it, then why should we be sorry for others for something we cannot prevent?

56 It is certain that anyone who has come to be born in this world must have some state and property for his support, but what is the cause of rejoicing about it? 57 All men dealing in worldly affairs gain wealth with labor and pain only for their trouble and danger. Therefore, what is the reason for yearning at its want or lamenting at its loss?

58 These spheres of worlds enlarge, expand and rise to our view like bubbles of seawater that swell and float and shine for a time, then burst and subside in the waters of eternity. 59 The nature of reality is real at all times. The condition of the unreal world is insubstantial forever and can never be otherwise or real, though it may appear as such for a time. Then why sorrow for what is nothing and unreal? 60 I am not of this body nor was I in it, nor shall I remain in it, nor is it anything, even at present, except a picture of the imagination. Then why lament its loss? 61 If I am something else besides this body, that is a reflection of pure consciousness. Then tell me, what use are these states of reality and unreality to me, and where shall I rejoice or regret?

62 The sage who is fully conscious in himself of the certainty of this truth does not feel any rise or fall of his spirits at his life or death, nor does he rejoice or wail at having or losing his life. 63 Because after the loss of his gross body, he gains his residence in the transcendental state of Brahman, spiritual existence, just like a little titter bird builds its new nest of tender blades after its previous grassy home is broken down or blown away. 64 Therefore we should never rely on our frail and fragile bodies, but bind our souls to the firm rock of Brahman by the strong rope of our faith, just like they use a strong rope to tie a bull to a post.

65 Having thus ascertained the certainty of this truth, place your faith in the reality of your spiritual essence. By giving up reliance on your frail body, manage yourself with detachment in this unreal world. 66 Adhere to what is your duty here and avoid whatever is prohibited to you. Proceed on your course with an even course of action your mind. 67 He who shuts out the reflections of all worldly objects from his view gets a cool composure of his mind like the coolness at the close of a hot summer day.

68 Look on this universe, O sinless Rama, as one common display of Divine light, like the appearance of daylight which is common to all. The mind colors it with various forms like sunbeams reflecting differently off of different objects. 69 Forsake all reflections. Be without any impression in your mind. Be of the form of pure intellectual light which passes through all without being contaminated by any. 70 You will be quite stainless by your dismissal of all colors and appearances from your mind, and by thinking of yourself as nothing without any true enjoyment in this world. 71 These phenomena are nothing in reality. They show themselves to us only for our delusion. You also will appear as nothing when you think everything is only a display of Divine Consciousness.

72 In addition, the understanding that these phenomena are not false, but they do not lead to our illusion because they are the manifestation of Supreme Consciousness, is also very true and leads to your enlightenment. 73 It is for your good, Rama, if you know either of these (whether the world is real or unreal, it is all a display of the mind) because both of these views will tend equally to your joy. 74 Conduct yourself in this manner, O blessed Rama, and gradually lessen all your affections and dislikes in this world for all worldly things. 75 You can obtain all that exists in this earth, sky and heaven by renouncing of your eager desires and hatreds.

76 Whatever a man endeavors to do with his mind free from his fondness or hatred for it takes place shortly, unlike the attempts of the ignorant. 77 No good quality can have its abode in a heart troubled by waves of faults, just as no male deer will set foot on burning sands or in wildfires. 78 What is there that cannot be acquired in the heart where the wish-fulfilling kalpa tree grows and which is not infested by the snakes of ardent desires or dislikes?

79 Men who are wise and discreet, learned and attentive to their duties, and at the same time influenced by feelings of love and hatred are no better than jackals in human shape. They are accursed with all their qualifications. 80 Look at the effects of these passions on men. They lament others’ use of their wealth and having to leave their hard earned money behind them. 81 All our riches, relatives and friends are as transitory as passing winds. Then why should a wise man rejoice or lament at their gain or loss? 82 All our gains and wants and enjoyments in life are mere illusion (maya) spread by divine power like a net over creation, entrapping all in it. 83 There is no wealth or any person that is real or lasting to anyone in this temporary world. It is all frail and fleeting, stretched out to sight like a fake magic show. 84 What wise man will place his attachment on anything which is an unreality both in its beginning and its end, and is quite unsteady in between? No one has any faith in the tree of his imagination or a castle built in the sky.

85 One fancies seeing a fairy in a passing cloud and is pleased with the sight of what he can never enjoy but only passes by his view to be seen by distant peoples. It is the same with this passing world which passes from the sight of some to that of others without anyone fully enjoying or possessing it for any length of time. 86 The bustle of these fleeting bodies in the world is like the commotion of a castle in the sky, or the appearance of a city in an fleeting dream and fancy. 87 I see the world as a city in my protracted dream, with all its movable and fixed objects lying as quietly and as still as in profound sleep.

88 Rama you are wandering in this world like one rolling in his bed of indolence, lulled to the long sleep of ignorance which leads you from one error to another as if dragged by a chain of continuous dreaming. 89 Rama, break off your long chain of lazy ignorance. Forsake the idol of your errors. Lay hold of the inestimable gem of your spiritual and divine knowledge. 90 Return to your right understanding and, like an unfolding lotus beholds the rising sun, behold your soul in its clear light as a manifestation of the unchangeable luminary of Consciousness.

91 I repeatedly urge you, O Rama, to wake from your drowsiness, and by remaining ever wakeful to your spiritual concerns, see the un-decaying and un-declining sun of your soul at all times. 92 I have roused you from your lazy state of rest and awakened you to the light of your understanding by the cooling breeze of spiritual knowledge and the refreshing showers of my elegant diction. 93 Rama, do not delay enlightening your understanding even now. Attain your highest wisdom in the knowledge of the Supreme Being. Come to the light of truth and shun the errors of the delusive world. 94 You will no longer be subject to any more birth or pain, nor will you be exposed to any error or evil, if you will only remain steady in your soul by forsaking all your worldly desires.

95 O high minded Rama, remain steadfast in your trust in the tranquil and all-encompassing soul of Brahman in order to attain the purity and holiness of your own soul. Thereby you will be freed from the snare of your earthly desires and get a clear sight of that true reality in which you will rest in perfect security, as if in profound sleep.