Chapter 30 — Shiva Explains How the Consciousness Forgets Itself

Shiva said:—

Consciousness is all this fullness of space. It is the sole Supreme Soul. It is Brahman the immense and the transcendent vacuum. It is said to be the Supreme God. Therefore, its worship is of the greatest good and confers all blessings to men. It is the source of creation. All this world is situated on it. It is unmade and uncreated, without beginning or end. It is boundless and without a second. It is to be served without external service, and all joy is obtained thereby.

You are enlightened, O chief of sages. I tell you that the worship of gods is not worthy to the wise, and offering flowers and incense is of no use to them. 5 Those who are unlearned and have minds as simple as those of children are the ones mostly addicted to false worship and devoted to the adoration of gods. Such people, not having the quietness of their understandings, are led to ceremonious observances and they falsely attribute the images of their own making to the soul. It is only for children to remain content with offering flowers and incense to gods they honor and have adopted of their own choice. Men worship gods in vain to gain the objects of their desires. Nothing that is false of itself can ever give the required fruit. Adoration with flowers and incense is childish understanding.

I will tell you the worship that is worthy of men enlightened like yourself. 10 O most intelligent sage, know that the God we adore is the true God, the receptacle of the three worlds, the Supreme Spirit and no other. 11 He is Shiva, the joy, who is above the ranks of all other gods and beyond all of men’s fictions and fictitious images. He is accompanied with all desires and is the enjoyer of neither all or any part of the production of his will. He is full of imaginations of all things, but is neither the all nor any one of the objects in his mind. 12 He encompasses all space and time, and is neither divided nor circumscribed by either. He manifests all events and things, and is nothing except the image of pure Consciousness Himself. 13 He is undivided consciousness situated in the heart of everything. He produces and absorbs everything in himself.

14 Know Brahman is situated between existence and inexistence. It is He who called God the Supreme Soul, the transcendental, that which is (tat sat), and the syllable Om. 15 By his nature of immensity, he spreads alike in all space. Being the great Consciousness himself, he is said to be transcendent and the Supreme Being. 16 He remains as all in all places, just as sap circulates through the bodies of plants. The great soul of the Supreme Being similarly extends as the common entity of all things.

17 It is He who abides in the heart of your wife Arundhati, just as He does in yours. He also dwells in the heart of Parvati and in those of her attendants. 18 That reasoning which is the universal mind is one and in everyone in all the three worlds. That truly is the God of the wisest among philosophers.

19 Tell me, O brahmin, how can idols and images be called gods if they have hands and feet but are devoid of consciousness which is the core of the body? 20 Consciousness is the core and foundation of the world containing the sap which supplies everything in it. It is the One and all-ego (sarvahm) and therefore all things are obtained from it.

21 He is not situated at a distance, O brahmin, nor is He unobtainable by anybody. He resides always in all bodies and abides alike in all places, as also in all empty space and sky. 22 He does, He eats, He supports all, and He moves everywhere. He breathes and feels and knows every member of the body. 23 Know, O chief of sages, that He is seated in the city of the body, directing the various functions it manifests under his direct appointment. 24 He is the lord of the cavity of the heart and the several hidden sheaths (koshas) contained within the body which He makes and moves as he pleases.

25 The pure soul is beyond the essence and actions of the mind and the six organs of sense. It is only for our use and understanding that we apply the word consciousness (chit) to Him. 26 That intellectual Spirit is too minute, subtle, pure and all-pervading — and it is his choice and will — to manifest a visible representation of himself or not. 27 This consciousness is too fine and pure, and yet manages the whole machinery for beautifying the world, just as the subtle and intelligent season of spring beautifies the vegetable world with freshness and moisture.

28 The beautiful and wonderful properties residing in Divine Consciousness are astonishing to behold in their various displays, such as the sky. 29 Some of these take the name of “living soul” and others assume the name “mind.” Some take the general name of space and others are known as its parts and divisions. 30 Some pass under the name of substance and others of their action. Some are called the different categories of mode and condition, genus, species and adjuncts. 31 Some shine as light and others stand as mountains and hills. Some brighten as the sun and moon and the gods above, and others are like the dark yakshas below. 32 All these continue in their own states without any option on their part. They evolve of their own nature and the causation of the Divine Spirit, just as the sprouts of trees grow of their own accord under the influence of spring season.

33 It is Consciousness alone that extends over all the works of nature and fills all bodies spread over the vast ocean of the world, just as aquatic plants swim over the surface of waters. 34 The deluded mind wanders like a wandering bee, collecting the sweets of its desire from the lotus of the body. Consciousness sits as its mistress, tasting their essence from within.

35 The world with all its gods, gandharvas, seas and hills rolls about in the circuit of Consciousness just like water in a whirlpool. 36 Human minds, like the spokes of a wheel, are bound to the axles of their worldly affairs, turning around and around in the ever revolving world, all within the circumference of Consciousness.

37 It was Consciousness in the form of four-armed Vishnu who destroyed the entire host of demon asuras, just as the rainy season dispels solar heat with its thundering clouds and rainbows. 38 It is Consciousness in the form of the three-eyed Shiva, accompanied by his symbols of the bull and the crescent moon, who continues to show affection, like a fond bee, on the lovely, lotus-like face of his consort Gauri. 39 It was Consciousness that was born in the form of Brahma, like a bee in the lotus-like navel of Vishnu, and settled in his meditation upon the lotus of the triple Vedas. 40 In this manner Consciousness appears in various forms, like innumerable leaves of trees, and like different kind of ornaments made of the same gold metal.

41 Of its own pleasure, Consciousness assumes the paramount dignity of Indra, who is the crown jewel over the three worlds and whose feet are honored by the entire assembly of gods. 42 Consciousness expands, rises and falls, and circulates everywhere in the womb of the triple world, just as the waters of the deep overflow, recede and move about in itself. 43 The moonbeams of Consciousness scatter their brightness everywhere to display to full view the lotus lake of all created beings in the world. 44 The translucently bright mirror of Consciousness shows the reflections of the world and benignly receives the images of all things in its bosom, as if it were pregnant with them. 45 Consciousness gives existence to the circles of the fourteen great regions of creation above and below. It plants them in the watery expanse of the sea on earth, and in the ethereal expanse of the waters in heaven.

46 Consciousness spreads itself like a vine in the empty field of air, and becomes fruitful with multitudes of created beings. It blossoms in the varieties of different peoples and shoots forth in the leaves of their dense desires. 47 These throngs of livings beings are like its pollen flying about. Their desires are like the juice that gives the blossoms their different colors. Their understandings are their covering skins, and the efforts of their minds are buds that unfold with the flowers and fruit of their desires. 48 The graceful pistils of these small flowers are countless in the three worlds. Their constant quivering in the air express their gay dance with the sweet smiling of opening buds. 49 Consciousness stretches out all these real and unreal bodies that expand like gentle and attractive flowers for a time, but never endure forever.

50 Consciousness produces men everywhere like moon-bright flowers, and these flush and blush and sing and dance about considering themselves to be real bodies. 51 It is by the power of this great Consciousness that the sun and other luminous bodies shine in the sky, just as two lovers are attracted to each another to taste the fruit of their enjoyment as gross bodies.

52 All visible bodies seen to move about in this phenomenal world are like flakes of dust dancing in a whirling current. 53 Consciousness is like the light of the universe. It manifests all the phenomena of the three worlds to us, just as the flame of a lamp shows us the various colors of things. 54 All worldly things exhibit their beauty to our sight because they are immersed in the light of Consciousness, just as the dark spot on the moon becomes fully apparent to view by its immersion in lunar beams. 55 By receiving the gilding of Consciousness, all material bodies are shaded in their various colors, just as different trees receive their freshness, foliage and fruit from the influence of rainy weather.

56 Shadow causes the dullness of an object. All bodies are inanimate without Consciousness, just as a house becomes dark without light. 57 If the wonderful powers of Consciousness are lacking in anything, it becomes a shapeless thing and cannot possibly have any form or figure. 58 Consciousness is like light from the sky. Its active power or energy is like its consort residing with her children of desires in the abode of the body, ever restless and busy in her actions. 59 Without the presence of Consciousness, it is impossible for anyone to perceive the taste of any flavor, though it is set on the tip of his tongue.

60 Hear me and tell me. How can this tree garden of the body exist, with its branching arms and hairy filaments, without being supplied with the sap of Consciousness? 61 Know hence that Consciousness, by growing and feeding and supporting them all, is the cause of all moving and immovable things in nature. Know also that Consciousness is the only thing in existence. All else is nonexistent without it.

62 Vasishta said:—

Rama, after the moon-bright and three-eyed god had spoken to me in his clear intelligible speech, I asked the moon-bright god again in a clear and audible voice, saying, 63 “O lord, if Consciousness alone is all pervading and the soul of all, then I have not yet been able to know this visible earth in its true light. 64 Tell me. Why do people describe a living person as endued with consciousness as long as he is alive, and say he is devoid of consciousness when he is laid down as a dead and lifeless mass?”

65 The god Shiva replied:—

Hear me tell you, O brahmin, all about what you have asked me. It is a question of great importance and requires, O greatest of devotees, a long explanation.

66 Consciousness resides in everybody and all things as their inherent soul. The one is viewed as the individual and active Spirit, and the other is known as the unchanging and Universal Soul. 67 The mind misled by its desires views the inner spirit as another, just as a greedy person takes his consort for another in his dream. 68 As the same man seems to be changed to another person during his fit of anger, so sober consciousness is transformed to a changeable spirit by one’s mistake of its true nature.

69 Consciousness loses its state of purity when it is attributed with many variable qualities and desires. By thinking constantly of it gross nature, consciousness is at last converted to the very gross object of thought. 70 Then the subjective intellect (chit) becomes itself the object of thought (chetya), and having assumed the subtle form of a minute ethereal atom, it becomes the element of sound. Afterwards it is transformed into the rudimentary particle of air. 71 Then this aerial particle, qualified by time and place, becomes the vital principle, which next turns into understanding, then finally to the mind. 72 Consciousness transformed into the mind dwells on its thoughts of the world. Then it is amalgamated with it, in the same manner as a brahmin is changed into a tribal by constantly thinking himself as one.

73 Thus Divine Consciousness forgets its universality by its thoughts of particulars and assumes the gross forms of the objects of its thoughts and desires. 74 Thus Consciousness being full of endless thoughts and desires grows as dull as the gross objects it thinks upon, until at last the subtle intellect grows as stony dull as pure water frozen into massive hailstones. 75 The impassive intellect takes the names of mind and sense and becomes subject to ignorance and illusion by contracting a gross impassivity. Restrained from its flight upwards, the intellect has to grovel forever in the regions of sense.

76 First the intellect becomes subjected to ignorance, then it is fast bound to the fetters of its desires, and then pinched by its yearnings and angry sufferings, it is tormented by the pleasure of affluence and the pains of privation. 77 By forsaking the endless joy (of spirituality), the intellect is subjected to the constantly changing fortunes of mortality. It becomes dejected in despair, lamenting over its grief and sorrow, then burning amidst the fires of its sorrows and misery.

78 See how it is harassed with the vain thought of its personality that “I am such a one.” Look at the miseries to which it is exposed by its reliance on the frail and false body. 79 See how worried it is by being pushed to and fro in the alternate swinging beds of prosperity and adversity. See how it is plunged into the deep and muddy puddle of misery, like a worn out elephant sinking in the mud. 80 Look at this deep and impassable ocean of the world, all hollow within and rolling with the eventful waves of causation. It emits undersea fire from within its bosom, just as the human heart flashes forth with its hidden fire of passions and affections.

81 The human heart staggers between hope and fear like a stray dear in the forest, alternately cheered and depressed at the prospects of affluence and want. 82 The mind led by its desire is always apprehensive of disappointment. It coils back for fear of a reverse, just as a frightened girl flies away from the sight of a ghost. 83 Man encounters all kinds of pain to obtain a certain pleasure, just as a camel browses thorny shrubs in hope of honey inside. But the man slips part way and is hurled headlong to the bottom. 84 A man meeting with a reverse falls from one danger to another, so he meets with fresh disasters, as if one evil invited the other. 85 The mind, captivated by its desires and led onward by its efforts, meets with one difficulty after another and has cause to repent and grieve at every step. 86 As a man advances in life, so he improves in his learning. But alas! At best, all his worldly knowledge serves to bind his soul even more to the earth.

87 Cowards are in constant fear of everything until they die in their fear, just as little shrimp, being afraid of a waterfall, fall on dry land where they perish struggling. 88 The helplessness of childhood, the anxieties of manhood, and the misery of old age are all preliminaries to the sad deaths of men engaged in a busy life.

89 The propensities of past lives cause some to be born as celestial nymphs in heaven, and others as venomous serpents in underground holes. Some become fierce demons, and many are reborn as men and women on earth. 90 Men’s past actions make them born again as rakshasas among savages or as monkeys in forests. Some become kinnaras on mountains and many as lions on mountain tops. 91 The vidyadharas of the Devagiri Mountains, the naagas of forest caves, the birds of the air, woodland animals with four feet, forest trees and plants, bushes on hills and orchids on trees are all only reincarnations.

92 It is the same Consciousness which causes Narayana to float on the surface of the sea and makes the lotus-born Brahma remain in his meditation. It keeps Hara in the company of his consort Uma and places Hari over the gods in heaven. 93 It is this Consciousness which makes the sun make the day and the clouds give rain. It makes the sea breathe out in waves and volcanic mountains blow out in fire and flame. 94 It makes the wheel of time continually revolve in the circle of the seasons, and causes day and night to rotate in their cycles of light and darkness. 95 Here it causes seeds to sprout and grow with the juice in them, and there it makes stones and minerals lie down in mute silence. 96 Sometimes it blooms in fruit ripened by the sun’s heat, and at other times matured by burning fuel. Somewhere it gives us cold and icy water, and at other places it gives spring water that cannot be tasted. 97 Here it glows in luminous bodies, and there it shows itself as impenetrable thickets and inaccessible rocks. It shines bright and white in one place, and dark and blue in another. It sparkles in fire and dwindles in earth. It blows in air and spreads in water.

98 Being the all-pervading, omnipresent, and omnipotent power itself, Consciousness is the one in all and the whole fullness of space. Therefore, it is more subtle and transparent than the rarefied and translucent air. 99 As Consciousness spreads out and contracts itself in any manner in any place or time, so it conceives and produces the same within and without itself, just as the agitation of waters produces both little waves and huge surges of the sea.

100 Consciousness stretches itself in the various forms of ducks and geese, of cranes and crows, of storks, wolves and horses also. It becomes the heron and partridge, the parrot, the dog, the male deer, the monkey, and kinnara likewise. 101 It is the abstract qualities of understanding, beauty and modesty, and of love and affections also. It is the power of illusion and the shadow and brightness of night and moonlight. 102 It stretches itself in these and all other forms of bodies, and is born and reborn in all kinds and species of things. It wanders and rolls all about the revolving world like straw whirling in a whirlpool. 103 It is afraid of its own desires, just as the she-ass is seen to shudder at its own braying, yet it has no one like itself.

104 I have told you already, O great sage, how this principle of the living spirit becomes weakened by its animal propensities and is later debased to the nature and condition of brute creatures. 105 The Supreme Soul receiving the name of living soul, the principle of action becomes a pitiable object. It becomes subject to error and illusion and is subjected to endless pains and miseries. 106 Then the deluded soul is overpowered by its past actions which cause it to choose the wrong unreality for itself. The unreality being frail and perishable makes the active soul perish and undergo countless troubles. Just like the husk born with the rice grain, this consciousness carries its impurity with it. 107 The soul, degraded from its state of endless joy to the miserable condition of mortal life, laments over its fallen state like a widow wailing over her fate.

108 Look on the deplorable condition of consciousness (chit), which having forgotten its original state of purity, is subjected to impotent ignorance. Ignorance casts the living soul into the miseries of degradation, just like they use rope to cast a bucket in a well, lowering it lower and lower until it sinks to the bottom of the pit.