Chapter 90 — Explanation of the Story of the Philosopher’s Stone

Sikhidhwaja said, “O divine boy, please explain the meaning of the parables of the true and false gems, and the unchained and tied up elephant, which you just told me.”

Chudala (as Kumbha) replied:—

Listen as I expound on the meaning of my stories and their words. I have stored them in your heart and mind for the sake of enlightening your understanding.

That searcher after the philosopher’s stone undoubtedly was acquainted with science, but he had no knowledge of the truth. He searched for the gem but he did not know what it was. That man is you. You are versed in the sciences like the rich man in the story, and you shine above others like the shining sun on mountain tops. But you do not have the rest and quiet derived from the knowledge of truth. You are immersed in your errors like a block of stone in water.

5 O holy man, know that the philosopher’s stone is to give up errors. O holy man, try to get that in your possession and with that set yourself above the reach of misery. The renunciation of gross objects produces the pure joy of holiness. The abandonment of the world gives one sovereignty over his soul which is reckoned as the true philosopher’s stone. Abandonment of all is the highest perfection, which you must soon practice, because indifference towards worldly grandeur shows the greatest magnanimity of the soul.

You, O king, have forsaken your kingdom together with your queen, riches, relatives and friends. You have rested in your renunciation like Brahma, the lord of creatures, rested at night after completing his act of creation. You have gone too far from your country to this distant hermitage, like the bird of heaven, the great garuda, flew with his prey, the tortoise, to the farthest mountain of earth. 10 With your abandonment of all worldly goods, you have renounced your egotism and cleansed your nature from every stain, just as autumn winds disperse clouds from the sky. 11 Know that only by driving away the egoism of the mind and all desires from the heart does one get his perfection, the fullness of the world, and perfect bliss.

But you have been laboring under the ignorance of what is to be abandoned and what is to be retained, just as the sky labors under clouds. 12 It is not abandonment of the world which gives you that highest joy that you seek. You must seek something else.

13 When the mind is infested by its thoughts and the heart is corroded by the sores of its desire, all renunciation flies away like the stillness of a forest flies before a storm. 14 Of what use is the abandonment of the world to one whose mind is ever infested by his troublesome thoughts? It is impossible for a tree exposed to the storms of the sky to be at rest. 15 Thoughts constitute the mind, which is only another name for will or desire. So long as these are raging in a person, it is in vain to talk of controlling the mind.

16 The mind, occupied by its busy thoughts, in an instant finds the three worlds presenting themselves before it. Therefore, what is the use of abandoning this world when the infinite worlds of the universe are present before the mind? 17 Renunciation flies on swift wings as soon as the mind entertains a desire, like a bird flying away as soon as it hears a noise. 18 Detachment is the main object for abandoning the world, but when you allow a care to rankle in your breast, you bid a farewell to your renunciation, just as one bids farewell to his honored and invited guest. 19 After you have let the precious gem of renunciation slip from your hand, you have chosen the false, glossy trifle of austerity for some fond wish that is desirable in your view.

20 I see your mind is fixed upon willful pains of your austerities, just as the sight of a deluded man is fixed upon on the moon’s reflection in water. 21 Forsaking the detachment of your mind, you have followed the cravings of your heart and chosen to live like a hermit, denying bodily passions, which is full of suffering from first to last. 22 He who forsakes the easy task of devotion to God, which is filled with infinite bliss, in order to undertake painful austerities is said to make a suicide of his own soul. 23 You took a vow of self-renunciation by renouncing all your earthly possessions. But instead of observing renunciation, you attached yourself to painful asceticism in this dreary wilderness.

24 You broke the bonds of your kingdom and moved away from its boundaries thinking they were too painful for you. But tell me, are you not constrained here to the far more unbearable and strong chains of rigid imprisonment and tiresome struggles of your asceticism? 25 I think you are much more involved in the care of defending yourself from heat and cold in this forest, and that you are bound more tightly to your rigors than you had any idea of before you left your kingdom. 26 Before you vainly thought to have obtained the philosopher’s stone, but at last you must find that your gain is not worth even a glass trinket.

27 Now sage, I have given you a full interpretation of the eagerness of a man to pocket the invaluable gem. No doubt you have comprehended its right meaning. Now store its meaning in the casket of your mind.