1 Rama said, “Tell me, O sage, how is it possible to convert our knowledge to ignorance? It is impossible to make a nothing of something or make anything out of a nothing.”
2 Vasishta replied:—
Truly a nothing or unreality cannot be something in reality, and a real something cannot become an unreal nothing. In any case, where both of these are possible, there perception and lack of perception of something are equally tangible of themselves.
3 Two senses of the word knowledge are apparent in the example of “a rope appearing as a snake.” Here the knowledge of the rope is certain, but that of the snake is a mistake or error. It is the same with a mirage presenting the appearance of water. 4 Therefore it is better to have no knowledge of these false appearances, whose knowledge tends to our misery only. Know the true reality alone and never think of the unreal appearance.
5 Thought confirming perceptions of the senses is the cause of sorrow for all living beings. Therefore it is better to root out the sense of what can be perceived from the mind and rely only upon knowledge of the underlying Universal Soul. 6 Leave aside the knowledge of parts and the sense of perceiving objects of the senses. Know the whole as one Infinite Soul in which you have your rest and nirvana.
7 Destroy all your acts of merit and demerit by the force of your discrimination. Your knowledge of the impermanency of your deeds, aided by your knowledge of truth, will result in your mastery (siddhi) of yoga. 8 By rooting out the memories of your acts, you put a stop to their results and your course in the world. If you succeed to gain the object of your search by means of your reason, you no longer have any need for your action.
9 Divine Consciousness, like the bael fruit, forms its core and seeds (of future worlds) within itself, lying hidden inside and never bursting out of its bosom. 10 As a thing contained in its container is not separate from the containing receptacle, so all things that lie in the womb of space are included in the infinite space of the Divine Mind which encompasses endless emptiness in it.
11 As the property of fluidity is never separated from the nature of liquids, so thoughts are never separated from the thinking principle of the Divine Mind. 12 Again, as fluidity is the inseparable property of water and light is that of fire, so thoughts and thinking intrinsically inhere in the nature of Divine Consciousness and not as its separable qualities.
13 Thoughts are the action of consciousness’ process of reasoning. Their deprivation gives rise to the imaginary fabrications of error in the mind. There is no other cause of error, nor does it last unless it rises in the absence of reason. 14 Thoughts are the action of the intellect’s process of reasoning, just as movement is that of the wind. By means of their respective actions we have our perceptions of them. But when the soul ceases action, then both of these are at a utter stop within and without us. 15 The body is the field and scope of our actions and our egoism spreads itself over the world, but our unconsciousness and lack of ego tend to put away the world from us just as lack of force puts down a breeze. 16 Unconsciousness of body and mind renders the intelligent soul as dull as a stone. Therefore root out the world from your mind like a boar uproots a plant with its tusk. 17 Only in this way, O Rama, can you get rid of the seed vessel of action in your mind. There is no other way to enjoy the lasting peace of your soul.
18 After the germinating seed of action is removed from the mind, the wise man loses sight of all temporal objects in his full view of the holy light of God. 19 Holy saints never seek to have, or dare to avoid, or leave any employment of their own choice or will. Therefore they are said to be truly saintly souls and minds who are strangers to the preference or rejection of anything. 20 Wise men sit silently wherever they sit and live, their hearts and minds as vacant as the empty sky. They take what they get and do what is destined to them as they are unconscious of doing them. 21 As sediments are swept away by the current of a stream, so saintly and meek minded men are moved to action by a power that is not their own. They act with their organs of action with as much unconcern as babies move their bodies in their half-sleep state.
22 As the sweetest things appear unsavory to those who are satisfied with them, so the delights of the world seem disgusting to those who are delighted with divine joy in themselves. They are so absorbed in their rapture that, like insane people, they are unconscious of what is passing in and about them. 23 Unconsciousness of one’s acts makes abandonment of action, and this is perfected when a person is in full possession of his understanding. It matters not whether a man does anything or nothing with his insubstantial or unconscious organs of action.
24 An action done without desire is an act of unconsciousness. They are not recognized as our actions and leave no trace in our minds. 25 An act which is not remembered, forgotten as if it buried in oblivion, is an act without a doer. This forgetfulness is equal to the abandonment of action. 26 He who pretends to have abandoned all action without abandoning them from his mind is said to be a hypocrite and is devoured by the monster of his hypocrisy. 27 They who have rooted out the prejudice of actions from their lives and taken themselves to the rest and refuge of inaction are freed from the expectation of reward from whatever they do, and also from the fear of any evil for what they avoid to perform. 28 They who have eradicated the seeds of action with their roots and germs from the ground of their minds always have an undisturbed tranquility to rest upon which is attended with a serene delight.
29 The meek are slightly moved in their bodies and minds by the current of business in which they have fallen. The reckless are carried onward, whirling in the torrent, like drunken people lying on the ground or like anything moved by a machine. 30 Those who are seated in any stage of yoga and are graced with the calmness of liberation appear as cheerful as men in a playhouse who are half asleep and half-awake over the act in this great theatre of the world.
31 We say a tree is wholly eradicated when it is drawn out by its roots. If we merely chop off its branches, it will grow again. It must be uprooted from the ground. 32 So the tree of your acts, though its branches be chopped off, will grow again if it is left rooted. 33 To abandon your acts, it is enough to remain unconscious that you are performing them.
Other recipes for the same will come to you of themselves. 34 Whoever adopts any other method to abandon his actions, other than those prescribed here, his attempts are as useless as striking the air. 35 The reasoned abandonment of a thing is true renunciation. Whatever is done without intent is like a fried grain or seed that never sprouts or brings forth fruit. 36 An act done with will and physical effort becomes productive with the moisture of desire, but all other efforts of the body without the will are entirely fruitless to their actor.
37 After one has gotten rid of his action and freed himself from further desire, he becomes liberated for life, whether he may dwell at home or in the woods or live in poverty or affluence. 38 A contented soul is as solitary at home as in the midst of the most remote forest, but a discontented mind finds the solitary forest to be as thickly crowded with irritations as much as the disturbances in a family house. 39 A quiet and calmly composed spirit finds the lonely woodland, where a human being is never to be seen even in a dream, to be as lovely as the bosom of a family dwelling. 40 A wise man who has lost the sight of visible phenomena and the endless particulars abounding in this forest of the world beholds the silent and motionless sphere of heaven spread everywhere around him.
41 A thoughtless ignorant whose unsatisfied ambition grasps the whole universe in his heart, rolls over the surface of the earth and all its loud seas with as much joy as upon a bed of flowers. 42 All these cities and towns, so tumultuous with crowds of men, appear to an ignorant, moneyless man as a garden of flowers where he picks up his worthless penny with as much delight as holy men culling fragrant blossoms to make their offerings to holy shrines. 43 The wide earth with all her cities and towns and distant districts and countries, so full of mutual strife and broil, appear to the stained soul of the ignorant and greedy as if they are reflected in their fair forms in the mirror of their minds, or painted in their bright colors upon the canvas of their hearts.