1 Vasishta said:—
O Rama, listen to a pleasant story, never told before, which I will briefly narrate for your instruction and amusement.
2 There is a big and beautiful bael fruit tree, as large as the distance of many thousands of miles, and so solid that it does not ripen or rot in the course of many, many ages. 3 Its fruit has a lasting flavor like sweet honey or celestial ambrosia. Though grown old, yet the tree increases with fresh and beautiful foliage day by day like the new moon. 4 This tree is situated in the midst of the universe, just like the great Mount Meru is placed in the middle of the earth. It is as firm and fixed as Mandara Mountain, immovable even by the force of the winds of the great flood.
5 Its root is the foundation of the world and it stretches on all sides to distances of immeasurable extent. 6 There were millions of worlds within this fruit like its innumerable seeds. These worlds were minute compared to the great bulk of the fruit. They appeared like dust particles at the foot of a mountain. 7 The bael is filled with all kinds of delicacies that are tasteful and delicious to the six organs of sense. Not one of the six kinds of tasty pleasures is lacking in this fruit. 8 The fruit is never found in its green or unripe state, nor is it ever known to fall down over-ripe on the ground. It is always ripe of itself, never rotten or dried or decayed at anytime by age or accident.
9 The gods Brahma, Vishnu and Rudra are not as everlasting as this tree, nor do they know anything of the origin of this tree or anything about its extent and dimensions. 10 No one knows the germ and sprout of this tree, and its buds and flowers are invisible to all. There is no stem or trunk or bough or branch of the tree that bears this great fruit. 11 This fruit is a solid mass of great bulk. There is nobody who has seen its growth, change or fall.
12 This is the best and largest of all fruits and having no central core or seed, it is always sound and unsoiled. 13 It is as dense in its fullness as the inside of a stone, and as overflowing with bliss as the disc of the moon drizzling with its cooling beams. It is full of flavor and distils its ambrosial nectar to the conscious souls of men. 14 It is source of delight in all beings. It is the cause of the cooling moonbeams by its own brightness. It is the solid rock of all security, the stupendous body of joy. It contains the core and foundation that support and sustain all living souls, which are the fruits of the prior acts of people.
15 Therefore that transcendent central core, which is the wonder of souls, is contained in the infinite spirit of God, deposited and preserved in that auspicious fruit, the bael. 16 God is deposited with its wonderful power in that small bael fruit, which represents the human as well as the Divine Soul, without losing its properties of thinness and thickness and freshness forever.
17 The thought that “I am this” clothes unreality with a gross form. Though it is absurd to attribute differences to nullities, yet the mind makes them of itself, then believes its fictitious creatures as real ones. 18 The Divine Ego contains the essential parts of all things set in their proper order, as the emptiness of the sky is filled with minute atoms out of which the three worlds burst forth with all their varieties. 19 In this manner the power of consciousness grew in its proper form, yet the essence of the soul retains its former state without exhausting itself.
20 The power of consciousness, being thus stretched about, makes it perceive the fabric of the world and its great bustle in its tranquil self. 21 It views the great vacuum on all sides and counts the parts of time as they pass away. It conceives a destiny which directs all things and comes to know what is action by its operation. 22 It finds the world stretching as the wish of one, and the sides of heaven extending as far as the desires of men. It comes to know the feelings of love and hatred and the objects of its liking and dislike. 23 It understands its egoism and non-egoism, the subjective and the objective, and views itself in an objective light by forgetting its subjectivity. It views the worlds above and, being itself as high as any one of them, finds itself far below them. 24 It perceives one thing to be placed before and another to be situated beside it. It finds something to be behind and others to be near or far away from it. Then it comes to know some things as present and others as past or yet to come. 25 Thus the whole world is seen like a play house in the power of consciousness with various imaginary figures blooming like lotuses in a lake.
26 Our consciousness is seated in the center of the lotus of our hearts. It has knowledge of our endless desires budding about it. It sees the countless worlds turning around like a rosary of lotus seeds. 27 Its hollow, cell-like skies are filled with the great Rudras who wander about in the distant paths of the midway sky, like falling comets with flaming tails. 28 It has the great Mount Meru situated in its middle like the bright core in the middle of a lotus flower. The moon-capped summit of this mountain is visited by the immortals who wander about it like bees in quest of ambrosial honey distilled by the moonbeams on high. 29 Here is the tree of the Nandana garden of paradise with its clusters of beautiful flowers diffusing their fragrance all around. There is the deadly tree of the old world, scattering its destructive pollen that makes us chose death and hell. 30 Here the stars are shining like bright filaments of flowery trees growing on the banks of the wide ocean of Brahman. There is the pleasant lake of the Milky Way in the boundless space of emptiness.
31 Here roll the uncontrolled waves of ceremonial acts filled with frightful sharks, and there are the dreadful whirlpools of worldly acts that whirl mankind in endless births for ever more. 32 Here runs the lake of time in its meandering course forever with the broad expanse of heaven for its blooming blossom and having moments and ages for its leaves and petals, and the luminaries of sun, moon and stars for its bright pistils and filaments. 33 Here it sees the bodies of living beings filled with health and disease, teeming with old age, decay and the torments of death. There it beholds the jarring expositions of the scriptures, some delighting in their knowledge of spiritual wisdom, others rambling in the gloom of ignorance.
34 In this manner our inner consciousness represents the wonders contained in the pulp of the bael fruit which is full of the unsubstantial substance of our desires and wishes and the coreless essence of our false imagination. 35 It sees many that are tranquil, calm, cool and dispassionate, who are free from their restraints and desires. They are heedless of both their activity and inactivity. They do not care for works whether done or left undone by them.
36 Thus this single consciousness presents her various aspects, though she is neither alone nor many of herself. She is what she is. She has in reality only one form of peaceful tranquility, though she is possessed of the vast capacity of conceiving in herself all the manifold forms of things at liberty.