Chapter 124 — Three Bodies; Turiya; the Story of the Hunter and the Sage

Vasishta said:—

Know now that the Lord stops to take upon Himself the nature of the living or animal soul, just as a brahmin, by disregarding the purity of its original nature, assumes the character of a vile shudra for some mean purpose. There are two kinds of living beings that come into existence in the beginning of the repeated creations. One comes into existence without any causality and therefore is called the causeless or uncaused. Then the soul emanating from the Divine is subject to various reincarnations and becomes many kinds of beings according to its previous acts and propensities. All beings originally emanate without any cause from the source of the Divine Essence. Then their actions become the secondary cause of continuous reincarnations.

5 The personal acts of men cause their happiness and misery. The will produced by the conscious knowledge of one’s self becomes the cause of the action. Will or desire of any action or its result is likewise the cause of one’s bondage to this world. What they call liberation is no more than our release from the bonds of our desires. Therefore be careful to choose what is right and proper from whatever is wrong and improper, and try to reduce your wishes as much as possible. Do not let yourself possess or be possessed of anything or any person, but give up thinking on anything besides what remains after the thoughts of all other things.

Anything to which the senses are addicted serves to bind the soul the more it takes pleasure in it, and also to unbind and release the mind in proportion to the distaste which it bears to it. 10 If there is anything which is pleasing to your soul, know that is your binding string to the earth. If, on the contrary, you find nothing to your liking here, then you are free from the traps of all the valueless things on earth. 11 Therefore let nothing whatever tempt or deceive your mind to anything that exists whether living or inanimate. Regard everything from a mean bit of straw to a great idol as unworthy of your regard.

12 Think not that you are a doer or giver of anything, or a person offering anything or eating what you have offered to the gods. Be quite aloof from all your bodily actions owing to the immaterial nature of yourself or soul. 13 Do not concern yourself with past acts or cares for the future over which you have no command, but discharge well your present duties as they are and come to your hand.

14 All men’s feelings and passions, their desires and all the rest, are strung together with their hearts. Therefore it is necessary to cut these heart strings with the weapon of a brave and strong heart. 15 Now break your sensuous mind by the power of your reasoning mind and restrain its rage of running into errors as they break iron pegs using iron hammers. 16 Intelligent men rub out one dirt using another and remove one poison by another poison. Soldiers oppose a steel weapon with a weapon of the same metal.

17 All living beings have a triple form of the subtle, solid and the imperceptible spiritual bodies. Now lay hold and rely upon the last in utter disregard of the two former. 18 The solid or gross body is composed of hands, feet and other members and limbs. It exists upon its food in this lower world. 19 The living being also has an intrinsic body which is derived from within and is composed of all its wishes in the world. This body is known as the mental or intellectual part of the body. 20 The third form is the transcendental or spiritual body. It assumes all forms and is the simple intellectual soul which is without beginning or end and without any alteration in its nature. 21 This is the pure turiya state in which you must remain steadfast as your living liberation. Reject the two others in which you must place no reliance.

22 Rama said, “I have understood the three definite states of waking, dreaming, and sound sleep as they have been defined to me. But the fourth state of turiya is yet left undefined. I beg you to explain it clearly to me.”

23 Vasishta answered:—

Turiya is that state of the mind in which the feelings of one’s egoism and non-egoism, and those of existence and inexistence are utterly drowned under a total aloofness, a state in which the mind is settled in one unchangeable and uniform even course of tranquility and clearness. 24 In that state the selfish feelings of mine and yours are altogether wanting, and one remains as a mere witness of the affairs of life. This is the turiya state of living liberation.

25 This is neither the state of waking, owing to its lack of any wish or concern, nor the state of sound sleep, which is one of perfect unconsciousness. 26 It is that calmness in which the wise man sees everything going on in the world. It is like the state of unconsciousness of the ignorant in which they perceive no stir in the course of the world. 27 The evenness of the mind after the falling down of every bit of egotism, like the settling of turbulent waters underneath, is the turiya state of the detachment of the soul.

28 Hear me give you an example on this subject which will grant as clear a light to your enlightened mind as that of all seeing gods.

29 It happened once that a hunter, roaming for his prey in some part of a forest, chanced to see a sage sitting silently in his solitude. Thinking it something strange, the hunter approached him saying, 30 “O sage, have you seen a wounded stag fleeing this way with an arrow in its back?”

31 The sage replied, “You ask me where your stag has fled, but my friend, know that sages like us who live in the forest are as cool as blocks of stone. 32 We lack that egoism which enables one to conduct the transactions of the world. Know, my friend, that the mind conducts all the actions of the senses. 33 Know that long ago the feeling of my egoism has dissolved in my mind. I have no perception whatever of the three states of waking, dreaming, and sound sleep. I rest quietly in my fourth state of aloofness in which there is no vision of what can be seen.”

34 The hunter heard the sage’s words but being quite at a loss to comprehend its meaning, he departed on his own way without saying a word.

35 Therefore, O Rama, I tell you there is no other state beyond the fourth or turiya quietism. It is that unalterable aloofness of the mind which is not to be found in any other. 36 Waking, dreaming and sound sleep are the three tangible conditions of the mind. These are respectively the dark, quiet and unconscious states in which the mind situated in this world. 37 The waking state presents us the dark complexion of the mind and its susceptibility to all the passions and evils of life. The sleeping state shows us its quiet aspect, its lack of cares and anxieties. 38 The state of sound sleep is one of unconsciousness. The state beyond these three bears the feature of death in it. Yet this dead-like figure possesses the principle of life which is experienced by yogis by diligent attention and preserved from harm and decay.

39 Now Rama, the sages say that the soul which remains in its quiet rest after its renunciation of all desire is in the cool calmness of itself, the liberated state of the holy and devout yogi on earth.