1 Vasishta asked, “Tell me Lord, what happens to the living soul after its situation in the open air, and after it observes the vanity of the elemental and material body on its first creation?”
2 Shiva replied:—
The living soul, having sprung from the Supreme and being situated in the open firmament, views the body formed in the manner I have described, just as a man sees a vision in his dream. 3 The living soul, being everywhere, enters and acts in every part of this body according to the command of the embodied intellect, just as a sleeping man acts his parts in a dream yet still bearing his body.
4 Before it was the indiscrete infinite soul. Then it became the discrete spirit called the first male. This spirit was the primary cause of creation in itself. 5 Thus this animated spirit became like Shiva at the beginning of the first creation. It was called Vishnu in another. It became the lotus-born Brahma or the great patriarch in others. 6 The great progenitor of one creation becomes the intellect in another, then the male agent of will to create afterwards, and at last it looks upon itself as a male form according to its will. 7 The primary will of ideal creation becoming compact in time, it takes the form of the mind which feels itself able to bring about whatever it wills in itself.
8 This creation of the world by Brahma is mere imagination, like the sight of an apparition in the air or in a dream. But it appears as a positive reality to the false sight of one who believes it is real. 9 The prime male agent who becomes the beholder of his creation retains the power of exhibiting himself in the empty air every moment, or to retract them into himself. 10 To him, a kalpa or great kalpa age is a mere twinkling of his eye. By his own expansion or contraction the world makes its appearance or disappearance. 11 Worlds appear and disappear at his will at each moment of time, in each particle of matter, and in every pore of space. There is no end to these successions in all eternity.
12 Many things are seen to occur one after another in conformity with the course of our desires. But with our sight of the Divine Spirit, we never find anything taking place. 13 All created things do not occur to the unchanging Shiva. They are like shadowy appearances in empty air that rise of themselves and disappear in air. 14 All real and unreal appearances vanish of themselves, like mountains appearing in dreams. All these creations have no command over their own causation or space or time. 15 Therefore all these phenomena are not real, potential, imaginary or temporary appearances. There is nothing produced or destroyed at anytime. 16 All these are the wonderful phenomena of our ideas and wishes exhibited by the intellect in itself. This world is like the appearance of a castle in the sky in a dream, and subject to its rise and fall by turns.
17 Visible forms that appear to be moving about in time and space actually have no motion whatever in either. They remain as fixed as an ideal rock in the mind forever. 18 So also, the extension of the unreal world is no extension at all, just as the magnitude of an ideal rock has no dimension. 19 The situation and duration of the unreal world conform exactly to the ideas of its time and place that exist in the mind of the Maker of all. 20 In this manner he is instantly changed to a worm from his idea of it, and so are all the four orders of living beings born in this world. 21 Thus, from his ideas of them, the creative Power becomes all things in an instant, from the great Rudras down to mean bits of straw and the most minute atoms and particles of matter.
22 This is how past and present creations are produced from the memories of the past, which is the cause of the delusion of taking the world for a real existence. 23 After giving up the thought of any difference between the creator and the created, and by the habit of thinking all as unity, one becomes Shiva in a minute, and by thinking so for a longer period, one is assimilated into the nature of Supreme Consciousness.
24 Individual consciousness proceeds from the original Consciousness and rises without occupying any place. It is of the nature of understanding or the intellect and it resides in the soul like empty air in the middle of a stone. 25 The soul, which is like eternal light, is known under the name of Brahma. The intellect seated in this soul becomes weakened as the creative power increases and strengthens in it. 26 Next the particles of time and place join together to form minute atoms which, by forming the elementary bodies, have the living principle added to them. 27 These then become plants, insects, beasts, brutes and the forms of gods and demigods. These being stretched out in endless series remain like a long chain of being connected by the strong and lengthening line of the soul (sutratma, spiritual cord). 28 Thus the great God who pervades all his works in the world connects all things in being and not in being like pearls in a necklace by the thread of his soul.
He is neither near us nor far from us, nor is he above or below anything whatever. He is neither the first nor last but everlasting. He is neither the reality nor unreality, nor is he in the midst of these. 29 He is beyond all alternatives and antitheses. He is not to be known beyond our imaginary ideas of him. He has no measure or dimension or any likeness or form to represent him. Whatever greatness and majesty men attribute to him, they are all extinguished in his glory like fire cooled in water.
30 I have answered all your questions. Now I shall proceed to my desired place. Be happy, O sage, and go your way. Rise, O Parvati, and let us make our way.
31 Vasishta said:—
When the god with his blue throat had spoken in this manner, I honored him by throwing handfuls of flowers upon him. Then he rose with his attendants and pierced the emptiness of heaven. 32 For some time after the lord of Uma and master of the three worlds had departed, I remained reflecting on all I had heard from the god. Then having received the new doctrine with the purity of my heart, I gave up the my external forms of worshipping God.