Chapter 112 — Parable of the Aerial Man Building Aerial Homes

Vasishta related:—

Kacha, son of the divine teacher Brihaspati, being thus advised by his respected father in the best kind of yoga meditation, began to meditate as one liberated from his personal ego entity, lost and absorbed in essence of the only one and self-existent deity. Kacha remained quite free from his I-ness and me-ness with the tranquility of his mind, cut off from all the ties of nature, all apart from the bonds of worldly life.

So I advise you, Rama, to remain unchanged and unmoved amidst all the changes and movements of earthly bodies and changing fortunes of a mortal life. Know all egoistic personality to be non-existent. Never hesitate to remove yourself from this asylum of unreality whose essence is like nothing at all, like the horns of a rabbit, whether you grab it or lose it. If it is impossible for your egoism to be a reality, then why talk of your birth and death or your existence and nonexistence? That is like planting a tree in the sky. You can reap neither fruit nor flower.

5 After your egoism is annihilated, pure consciousness remains. It has the form of pure intellect and not that of the unsteady mind. It is tranquil without any desire and extends through all existence. It is more minute and more subtle than the smallest atom. It is the pure power of reasoning and understanding.

As the waves are raised upon water and ornaments are made of gold, so our egoism springs from the original pure consciousness and appears to be something different from it. Only our ignorance and imperfect knowledge represent the visible world as a magic show. But the light of right knowledge brings us to see the one and identical Brahman in all forms of things.

Shun your questions of unity and duality. Remain firm in your belief of that state which lasts after the loss of both. Be happy with this belief and never trouble yourself with thinking anything else, like the false man in the tale. There is an inexplicable magic enveloping the whole. This world is an impenetrable mass of magic and sorcery which enwraps as thickly as the autumn mists obscure the sky. This is all scattered by the light of good understanding.

10 Rama said, “Sage, your learned lectures, like drinks of nectar, have given me entire satisfaction. I am as refreshed by your cooling speeches as the parching swallow is cooled by a shower of rainwater. 11 I feel as cold within myself as if I were anointed with heavenly ambrosia. I think myself raised above all beings in my possession of unequalled riches and greatness, by the grace of God. 12 I am never tired, even with the fullness of my heart, to listen to the discourses that issue from your mouth. I am like a chakora bird that is never satisfied with swallowing dewy moonbeams by night. 13 I confess to you that I am never satisfied drinking the sweet nectar of your speech. The more I listen to you, the more am I disposed to learn and listen to you. For who is there so satisfied with ambrosial honey that he declines to taste the nectarine juice again?”

14 “Tell me father, what do you mean by the false men of the tale who thought the real entity as a nonentity and looked on the unreal world as a solar and solid reality?”

15 Vasishta related:—

Now, Rama, listen as I tell you the story of the false and fanciful man. It is pleasant to hear and quite ludicrous and laughable from first to last.

16 Once, somewhere, there lived a man like a magical machine who lived like an idiot with the imbecility of his infantile simplicity, full of gross ignorance like a fool or blockhead. 17 He was born somewhere in some remote region of the sky and was doomed to wander in the ethereal sphere like a false apparition in the air or a mirage in the sandy desert. 18 There was no other person other than himself. Whatever else there was in that place, it was only his self or an exact likeness of his self. He saw nothing but himself and anything that he saw he thought to be only his self.

19 As he grew up to manhood in this lonely retreat, he reflected in himself thinking, “I am airy and belong to the aerial sphere. The air is my province. Therefore I will rule over this region as mine. 20 The air is my ownership right and therefore I must preserve it with all diligence.” Then with this thought he built an aerial house for his home in order to protect and rule his aerial dominion.

21 He placed his reliance upon that aerial castle from where he could manage to rule his aerial domain. He lived quite content amidst the sphere of his airy habitation for a long time. 22 But in course of time his air-built castle became dilapidated and at last utterly destroyed, just as the clouds of heaven are driven and blown away in autumn, and the waves of the sea are dispersed by a breeze and sink down in the calm after storms. 23 Then he cried out in sorrow, saying, “O my air-built house! Why are you broken down and blown away so soon? O my air-drawn habitation, where have you withdrawn from me?” In this manner, he wailed in his excessive grief and said, “Ah, now I see that an aerial something must be reduced to an aerial nothing.”

24 After lamenting in this manner for a long time, this simpleton dug a cave in the vacuum of the atmosphere. He continued to dwell in that hollow cavity in order to look up to his aerial kingdom from below. Thus he remained quite content in the closed air of the cave for a long period of time. 25 In process of time his cell wasted and washed away. He became immersed in deep sorrow upon the dispersion of his empty cave.

26 Then he constructed a hollow pot and took up residence deep inside it, adapting his living to its narrow limits. 27 Know that his brittle earthen pot also broke down in short time. He came to know the frailty of all his dwellings, just as an unfortunate man finds the unsteadiness of all hopes and help which he fondly lays hold upon.

28 After his pot broke, he got a tub for his residence. From there he surveyed the heavenly sphere, just as anyone beholds it from his own particular house. 29 In course of time, his tub was also broken down, this time by some wild animal. Thus he lost all his temporary residences, just as the darkness and dews of night are dispelled and sucked up by sunlight and heat.

30 After he had sorrowed in vain for the loss of his tub, he took refuge in an enclosed cottage with an open space in the middle in order to view the upper skies. 31 All devouring time also destroyed that dwelling of his, scattering it all about like the winds of heaven disperse the dried leaves of trees, leaving him to bewail the loss of his latest retreat and shelter.

32 Then he built a hut in the form of a barn house in the field. From that place he watched over his house of the air, as farmers keep watch and take care of their granaries. 33 But the driving winds of the air drove away and dispersed his shelter, just as they do the gathering clouds of heaven. The roofless man had once more to deplore the loss of his last refuge.

34 Having thus lost all his homes in the pool and pot, in the cottage and the hut, the aerial man was left to moan over his losses in his empty abode of the air. 35 Being thus situated in his helpless state, the aerial man reflected upon the narrow confines of the homes which he had chosen for himself of his own accord. He thought of the many pains and troubles that he had repeatedly undergone in the erection and destruction of all his aerial castles by his own ignorance only.