1 Rama said, “Please sage, please interpret your parable of the false man. Tell me the allusion it bears to the fanciful man whose business it was to watch the air.”
2 Vasishta replied:—
Rama, listen as I expound to you the meaning of my parable of the false man and the allusion which it bears to every fanciful man in this world.
3 The man that I have described as a magical engine means the egoistic man who is led by the magic of his egoism to look upon the empty air of his personality as a real entity. 4 The dome of the sky, which contains all these orbs of worlds, is only an infinite space of empty void, just as it was before this creation came into existence, before it became manifest to view.
5 The spirit of the inscrutable and impersonal Brahman is immanent in this emptiness and becomes apparent in the personality of Brahman, like an audible sound issuing out of the empty air which is its receptacle and support. 6 From this arises the subtle individual soul with the sense of its egoism, just as the vibration of winds springs from motionless air. Then, as the subtle individual soul grows up in time in the same element, it comes to believe it has an individual soul and a personality of its own.
7 Thus the impersonal soul, assimilated with the idea of its personality, tries to preserve its egoism forever. It enters into many bodies of different kinds and creates new ones for its home upon the loss of the former ones. 8 This egoistic soul is called the false and magical man because it is a false creation of unreality, a production of vain ignorance and imagination. 9 The pit and the pot, the cottage and the hut, represent the different bodies, their empty void supplying the egoistic soul with a temporary home.
10 Now listen as I tell you the different names under which our ignorant spirit passes in this world, and begins itself under one or other of these names. 11 It takes the various names of the living soul, understanding, mind, heart, and ignorance and nature also. It is known among men by the words imagination, fancy and time, which are also applied to it. 12 In these and a thousand other names and forms, this vain egoism appears to us in this world. But all these powers and faculties are mere attributes of the true Self which is imperceptible to us.
13 The world is truly known to rest without basis in the extended and empty womb of the visible sky. The imaginary soul of the egoist is supposed to dwell in it and feel all its pain and pleasure in vain. 14 Therefore O Rama, do not be like the imaginary man in the fable. Do not place any reliance upon your false personality or subject yourself, like the egoistic man, to the fancied pleasure and misery of this world. 15 Do not trouble yourself, like the false man, with the vain care of preserving your empty soul or suffer like him from the pain of your confinement in the hollow of a pit, pot or other forms.
16 How is it possible for anybody to preserve or confine empty spirit within the narrow limit of a pot or the like when it is more extended than the boundless sky and more subtle and more pure than the all pervading air? 17 The soul is supposed to dwell in the cavity of the human heart. It is thought to perish with the decay and destruction of the body. Hence people are seen to lament the loss of their frail bodies as if it caused the destruction of their indestructible soul. 18 As the destruction of the pot or any other hollow vessel does not destroy the subtle air which is contained within, so the dissolution of the body does not dissolve the embodied and intangible soul.
19 Know Rama, that the nature of the soul is that of the pure conscious intellect. It is more subtle than the encompassing air and far more minute than the smallest atom. It is only a particle of our consciousness, as indestructible as the all pervasive air which is never to be nullified. 20 The soul is never born nor does it die as any other thing at any place or time. It extends over the whole universe as the Universal Soul of Brahman which encompasses and comprehends all space and manifests itself in all things.
21 Know this spirit as one entire unit, the only real entity. It is always calm and quiet without beginning, middle or end. Know it as beyond positive and negative and be happy with your knowledge of its transcendental nature. 22 Now free your mind from the false thoughts of your egoism which is the home of all evils and dangers and is an unstable thing depending on the life of a man. It is full of ignorance and vanity and its own destruction and final destruction. Therefore get rid of your egoistic feeling and rely only upon the ultimate and supreme state of the one everlasting God.