Chapter 56 — Krishna’s Description of the Mind

Lord Krishna continued:—

Arjuna, forsake your sympathy for your friends using the cold detachment that you have acquired from the abandonment of your desires and cares, and using the liberation that you have attained to in this your living state. Be dispassionate, O sinless Arjuna, by forsaking your fear of death and decay of the body. Be as clear in your mind as the clear sky by driving away the clouds of your cares and dispelling all your aims and attempts of either good or evil for yourself or others. Discharge your duties as they come to you in the course of your life. Do well whatever is proper to be done so that no action of yours may go to waste. Whoever in the course of his life does work that comes to him of itself, that man is called liberated in his lifetime. The discharge of such deeds belongs to the condition of living liberation.

5 That I will do this and not that, or accept of this one and refuse the other, are the conceits of foolishness. They are all alike to the wise. Those who do works that occur to them with the cool calmness of their minds are said to be the living liberated. They continue in their living state as if in profound sleep. He who has contracted the members of his body and curbed the organs of his senses from their outward objects resembles a tortoise that rests quietly by contracting its limbs within itself.

The universe resides and continues in the Universal Soul in all three times, present, past and future, just as the mind, like a master painter, draws the picture of the world on the aerial canvas. The multicolored picture of the world, drawn by the painter of the mind in empty air, is as void as empty air, yet it appears as prominent as a figure in relief and as plain as a pike staff. 10 Though the formless world rests on the plane of emptiness, yet the wonderful error of our imagination shows it to be conspicuous to view, just as a magician shows his aerial cottage to our deluded sight. 11 As there is no difference in the flat surface of the canvas which shows the swelling and depression of figures in the picture to our sight, so there is no convexity or concavity in the dead flat of the spirit which presents the uneven world to view.

12 O lotus-eyed Arjuna, know that the picture of the world in the empty vacuum is as void as emptiness itself. It rises and sets in the mind just like temporary scenes that appear in the imagination of a mentally disturbed person. 13 Though it appears as real as a city in the air drawn by our imagination because of our long habit of thinking it so, this world is all hollow inside and outside. 14 Without self reflection, truth appears as false and false as true, as in a delirium. By mental analysis, truth comes to light and the error of untruth vanishes into nothing. 15 The autumn sky, appearing bright and clear to the naked eye, still has flimsy clouds. The picture drawn over the plane of the empty mind presents the figures of our fancied objects in it.

16 The baseless and unsubstantial world appearing on the outside is only a fantasy without reality. When there is nothing such as you or I or anyone in real existence, then tell me, who can destroy or be destroyed? 17 Drive away the false ideas of slayer and slain from your mind. Rest in the pure and bright sphere of the Divine Spirit. There is no movement in the intellectual sphere of God which is ever calm and quiet. All activity belongs to the mental sphere and the action of the restless mind.

18 Know that the mind contains everything in its clear sphere, such as time and space, the clear sky, and all actions and motions and positions of things, just like a map of an area presents the sites of all places upon its surface. 19 Know that the mind is more empty and rarified than empty air, and Consciousness has painted the picture of this immense universe upon this canvas of the mind. 20 But infinite vacuum being wholly empty, it does not have diversity or divisibility in it as they are exhibited in the mind as it creates and destroys its castles in the sky. 21 Earthly mortals seem to be born and die every moment, just as the changeful thoughts of the all-engrossing mind are ever rising and existing in it.

22 The false thoughts of the mind, so instantaneous and temporary, have the power to stretch out ideas of length and duration of the world, as they have of producing a new idea of all things from nothing. 23 Moreover, the mind has power to prolong a moment into a kalpa age, as it does of enlarging a minute speck into a mountain and of increasing a little to a multitude. 24 It also has the power to produce a thing from nothing, and of converting one to another in a trice. This capacity gives rise to the false conception of the world, just like it is the nature of the mind to create castles in the air and fairylands in a moment. 25 Likewise, the mind has brought this wonderful world into existence, which arose in the twinkling of an eye, as a reflection and not a creation of the mind. 26 All these are only ideal forms and shadowy shapes of imagination, though they appear hard and solid as a diamond. They are the mistaken ideas of some unknown form and substance.

27 Whether you desire or dislike your worldly interests, whether you have concern or indifference for the world, show me. Where is its solidity? The mind itself being located in the intellect of the divine contriver, the picture of the world cannot be located anywhere else.

28 O how very wonderfully bright is this prominent picture, drawn without base or coating, so conspicuous before us in various pieces without any paint or color with which it is made. 29 O how pleasant is this transparent picture of the world, and how very attractive to our sight. It was drawn on the inky coating of chaotic darkness and exhibited to the full blaze of various lights. 30 It is decorated with diverse colors and filled with various objects of our desire in all its different parts. It exhibits many shows pleasant to sight and presents all things to view of which we have notions in our minds. 31 It presents many planets and stars before us, shining all about with their different shapes and spheres. The blue dome of heaven resembles a blue lake brightened with the shining sun, moon and stars like blooming lotuses. 32 There are multicolored clouds, hanging like many colored leaves of trees on the blue sky, appearing like pictures of men, gods and demons, drawn over the domes of the three regions (earth, heaven and hell).

33 The unsteady and playful painter that is the mind has sketched and stretched out the picture of the sky as a theater to exhibit the three worlds as its three different stages, where all deluded peoples are portrayed as joyful players, acting their parts under the encircling light of Supreme Consciousness. 34 Here is an actress with her calm body of golden color, her thick braids of hair, and her eyes glancing on the people with flashes of sunshine and moonbeams. The rising ground is her back and her feet reach the infernal regions. Clothed with the robe of the scriptures, she acts the plays of morality, opulence and the farce of enjoyments. 35 The gods Brahma, Indra, Hari and Hara form her four arms of action. The property of goodness is her bodice, and the two virtues of discretion and apathy are her prominent breasts. The earth resting on the head of Adisesha, the serpent of the underworld, is her lotus-like footstool held up by its stalk. Her face and forehead are decorated with the paints of mineral mountains whose valleys and caves form her belly and bowels. 36 The fleeting glances of her eyes dispel the gloom of night, and the twinkling of stars are like the erection of hairs on her body. The two rows of her teeth emit the rays of flashing lightning, and all earthly beings are like the hairs on her body, rising like piles about the bulb of a kadamba flower.

37 This earth is filled with living souls that exist in the spacious vacuum of the Universal Soul, appearing like figures painted in it. This skillful artist of the mind has displayed this illusive actress of the universe to show her various features as in a puppet show.