Chapter 31 — Shiva on Consciousness, Living Soul, Understanding, Mind, Vital Air and the Body

Shiva continued:—

When Consciousness takes the vanities of the world to itself and thinks itself to be a miserable being, it is said to have fallen into error. Then it resembles a dreaming or intoxicated man who is deluded to think he is someone else. Though immortal, yet Consciousness is deceived to believe itself to be mortal by its infatuated understanding, just as a sick man weeps to think he is dead when he is still alive. As an ignorant man sees the revolving spheres to be at a standstill, so the deluded intellect sees the world and thinks its personality as sober realities.

The mind alone is said to cause the perception of the exterior world, but the mind cannot be the cause because it is impossible for the mind to have a separate existence independent of consciousness. 5 Thus, it being impossible for the mind to cause, whatever phenomena the mind appears to cause also cannot exist. Therefore consciousness is the only cause of thought, and not the mind or phenomena. There is no spectacle or spectator of anything anywhere other than a delusion, like that which makes oiliness appear on a rock. There is no matter, making or work of any kind unless it is a mistake like darkness in the moon.

The terms measure, measurer, and measurable are as non-existent in nature as a forest of plants in the sky. The words consciousness, intellect, reasoning and intelligible are as meaningless in themselves as the absence of thorns and thistles in the Nandana garden of paradise. The personalities of “I”, “you”, and “it” are as false as mountains in the sky. Differences among persons are as untrue as whiteness in ink. The Divine Spirit is neither the same nor different in all bodies because it is as impossible for the Universal Soul to be confined in anybody as it is impracticable for Mount Meru to be contained in an atom of dust. It is impossible to express the Divine Spirit using words and their meanings, just as sandy soil is incapable of growing tender herbs.

10 The saying, “Not this, not that,” is as untrue as the belief that the darkness of night exists in company with daylight. Substantiality and insubstantiality are both as lacking in the Supreme Spirit as heat is lacking in ice. 11 It is as wrong to call the Supreme Spirit empty or solid, just as it is wrong to say a tree is growing in the womb of a stone. To call Spirit either the one or the other is to describe it as the infinite vacuum or the full existence.

12 The sole Unity remains in its state of pure transparency forever. Being unborn from anyone’s thought or mind, it is not subject to misrepresentation by anyone. 13 However, the thoughts of men attribute many faults and failings to Spirit, but all these imputations and false attributes vanish before the person knowing its true nature.

14 The learned, devoid of detachment, are employed in many thoughts and things though not even a straw in all this vast world is under anyone’s command. 15 It is in everyone’s power to get rid of his thoughts, but it is very difficult to get the object of his thought. Then how is it possible for one to have that which is impracticable for him to seek?

16 The one sole and immutable Consciousness that pervades all nature is the supreme One without equal. It is more transparent than the translucent light of a lamp and all other lights. 17 It is this intellectual light that enlightens everything. It is everywhere and ever translucent. It is ever shining without shade and immutable in its nature and mind. 18 It is situated everywhere and in all things, such as pots and pictures, trees and huts, houses, four-footed animals, demons, devils, men, beasts, the sea, earth and air. 19 It remains as the all witnessing Spirit without any vibration or motion of its own to any place. It enlightens all objects without flickering or doing any action by itself. 20 It remains without stained by any connection with an impure body. It continues unchangeable in its relation with the changeful mind. It does not become dull by being joined with the dull body, and it is never changed to anything by its extension over all things.

21 The extremely minute and immutable Consciousness retains its consciousness in itself. By rolling itself like a spool of thread, it enters the body in the form of a particle of air. 22 Then it is accompanied by the powers of vision and reflection, which are wakeful in the waking state and lie dormant in sleep, which is why these are said to be existent and nonexistent by turns. 23 Then the clear and pure consciousness comes to think of many things in its waking state. Thus it is perverted from its purity, just as an honest man who keeps company with the dishonest ends up turning to dishonesty. 24 The intellect contracting and distracting itself with vicious thoughts is like pure gold alloyed with copper that is restored to purity by removing the copper. 25 A good mirror cleaned of its dirt shows a face in clear light. In the same way, the intellect born in a human body attains its divine nature through its good understanding. 26 If the intellect lacks knowledge of itself as the All, it presents a false world as a true reality. But upon coming to know its true nature, it attains the divine state.

27 When the mind thinks it is different from Consciousness and separate from the unrealities in nature, it gets the sense of its egoism, then it perishes though originally it is imperishable in its nature. 28 As a slight wind scatters the fruit of trees growing on the sides of a mountain, so the consciousness of self drops down at the gust of a slight disease. 29 The existence of form, color and other qualities is due to consciousness, just as the position of inferiors depends upon the station of the superior. Through lack of understanding the pure consciousness, infinite and indefinite in itself, is described as a unity, duality or plurality.

30 It is only because of Consciousness that the mind and senses derive their faculties of thinking and perception, just as daylight gives rise to the daily routines of business. 31 The action of vital energy gives pulsation to the pupils of the eye whose light is called sight and which is the instrument of perceiving the forms and colors of things placed outside it. But perception is the power and action of Consciousness. 32 Air and skin are both contemptible and unconscious things, yet their union gives the perception of touch and feeling. The mind becomes conscious of that feeling, but its awareness depends upon and is caused by Consciousness. 33 The particles of scent carried by air to the nostrils give the sense of smell to the mind, but it is Consciousness which perceives the smell. 34 The particles of sound are conveyed by the fluctuations of air to the organ of hearing for the mind to perceive, and the Intellect is conscious of this as in its sleep.

35 The mind is the principle of willing action from some desire or to some end and aim of its own. The thoughts of the mind are mixed with foulness, while the nature of the intellectual soul is quite pure and simple. 36 Consciousness is manifest by itself and is situated of itself in itself. It contains the world within itself like a crystal stone retains the images of all things in its bosom. 37 It is the single and sole Consciousness which contains the whole, without dividing or transforming itself into parts or forms other than itself. It neither rises nor sets, nor moves nor grows at any place or time. 38 It becomes the living soul by fostering its desires, and remains as pure Consciousness by forsaking them forever. Seated in itself, it reflects on its two gross and pure states.

39 Consciousness has the living soul for its vehicle, and the individual ego is the vehicle of the living soul. Understanding is the vehicle of the individual ego, and the mind is the seat of the understanding. 40 The mind has vital breath for its vehicle, and the senses are the vehicles of the vital airs. The body is the carriage of the senses, and the organs of action are the wheels of the body. 41 The motion of these vehicles forms the course of this world and the continued rotation of the body until old age and death, which is the dispensation of the almighty power.

42 The world is shown to us as an optical illusion of the Supreme Soul, like a scene in our dream. It is a reflection and completely untrue, like water in a mirage.

43 Know, O sage, that the vital breath is called the vehicle of the mind only by fiction because wherever there is the vital breath, there is also the process of thinking going on with it. 44 Wherever the vital breath circulates like a thread, acting like a spring, the body is made to shake with it, just as the forms and colors of bodies present themselves to view in light. 45 The mind employed with its desires moves the vital breath and the body like a storm shakes a forest. But when the mind is confined within the cavity of the heart, it stops their motion like winds confined in the upper skies. 46 Confinement of the vital breath in the emptiness of the heart stops the course of the thoughts just as hiding a light removes the visibility of objects. 47 As dust ceases to fly after winds are over, so the thoughts in the mind cease to move when the breath is pent up in the heart.

48 As a carriage is driven wherever the driver wishes to drive it, so the mind driven by the vital breath runs from country to country in a moment. 49 As a stone flung from a sling is lost forever, so the thoughts of the mind are dispersed in the air unless they are fixed upon some object. Thoughts are inherent in the mind and vitality just like fragrance is inherent in flowers and heat in fire. 50 Wherever there is vital breath breathing, there is the principle of the mind with its trains of thoughts, just as whenever the moon appears it is accompanied by its beams. Our consciousness is the result of the vibrations of vital air, like our perception of phenomena. This air sustains the body by supplying juice from food to all the nerves and arteries.

51 Mind and intellect both belong to the body, the one residing in the hollow of vital air, and the other is as clear as consciousness and resides in all gross and subtle bodies, like the all pervading and transparent emptiness. 52 Consciousness remains in the form of conscious self-existence in dull inanimate bodies and appears to be afraid of the vibrations of animal life. 53 The mind recognizes the dull body, enlivened by vital breath, as belonging to itself, and plays many parts and sports with it, just like in its prior state of existence.

54 The mind no longer vibrates after breathing ceases, then, O sage, pure Consciousness is reflected in the eightfold receptacle of vacuum. [The eight basic elements are earth, water, fire, air, space, mind, intellect and identity.] 55 As only a mirror can reflect an image and not a rock, so only the mind serves as the eightfold receptacle, the agent of all actions, and is called by different names according to the views of different spiritual teachers.

56 That which gives rise to the network of our imaginary visible world, and that in which it appears to be situated, and that whereby the mind is made to revolve in various bodies, know that supreme substance to be the Immensity of Brahman, the source of all this world.