Chapter 18 — All Memories Remain in Bits in the Air; Each Sees Only His Own

Vasishta related:—

There is never and nowhere an absolute death or total dissolution of the body, mind, soul or egoism. The final release is the creation of the inner imagination of the mind.

Look at these flying sights of Meru and Mandara Mountains displayed before you. They are not carried to and fro to everybody, but are reflected in everyone’s minds like the flying clouds of autumn in the water of a river. These creations are placed over, above, below and under one another like the coatings of a plantain tree. Creations are either in contact or detached from one another like clouds in the sky.

Rama said, “Sage, I do not fully understand the sound sense of what you say by the words, ‘look at these flying sights.’ Therefore I ask you to explain this clearly to me.”

Vasishta replied:—

Know Rama, that life contains the mind and the mind contains the worlds within it, just as there are various kinds of trees with their various parts contained in the core of a small berry.

After a man is dead, his vital energies fly and unite with the ethereal air, like the waters of streams flow into the ocean. Then the winds of heaven disperse his vital energies and the imaginary worlds of his lifetime which existed in the particles of his vital breath. I see the winds of heaven carrying away the vital energies together with their contents of imaginary worlds and filling the whole space of air with vital breath on all sides. I see Meru and Mandara Mountains drifting with imaginary worlds before me. You also will observe the same before the sight of your understanding.

10 The ethereal airs are full with the vital energies of the dead which contain the minute particles of mind. These minds contain the various types of the worlds in them, just as sesame seeds contain oil inside. 11 As the ethereal airs carry the vital energies, which are of the same kind, so the vital breaths carry particles of the mind. These again bear pictures of the worlds in them, as if they were grafted upon them. 12 The same emptiness contains the entire creation and the three worlds with the earth and ocean, all of which are carried in emptiness like different odors are carried by the winds. 13 All these are seen in the sight of understanding and not by the sight of the visual organs. They are the portrayals of our imagination, like the fairylands we see in our dreams. 14 There are many other things more subtle than the visible atmosphere and which, owing to their existence only in our desire or fancy, are not carried upon the wings of the winds as the former ones.

15 There are some certain truths derived from intellect called intellectual principles. They have the power to cause our pleasure and pain and lead us to heaven or hell. 16 Again our desires are like the shadows of cities floating on the stream of life. Though the current of life is continually gliding away, yet the shadowy desires, whether successful or not, ever remain the same. 17 The vital breath carries its burden of the world along its course to the stillness of endless emptiness, just as breezes carry away the fragrance of flowers to the dreary desert where they are lost forever.

18 Though the mind is ever fickle, changeable and forgetful in its nature, yet it never loses the false idea of the world which is inherent in it, just as a pot removed to any place and placed in any state never gets rid of its inner emptiness. 19 So when the fallacy of the false world has taken possession of the deluded mind, it is equally impossible either to realize the form of the formless Brahman or to set the false world at nothing.

20 This world is a revolving body carried about by the force of the winds, yet we have no knowledge of its motion. It is like sitting quietly in a boat that is carried miles away by the tide and winds. 21 As men sitting in a boat have no knowledge of the force which carries the boat forward, so we earthly beings have no idea of the power associated with its rotating motion. 22 As a wide extending city is represented in miniature in a painting at the foot of a column, so this world is contained in the core of the minute atom of the mind.

23 A thing however little or insignificant is given much too great importance by the low and mean, just as a handful of paddy rice is of greater value to a little mouse than gems, and a particle of mud to a contemptible frog than the pearls under the water. 24 A trifle is taken as too much by those who are ignorant of its insignificance, just as the learned in the error of their judgment mistake this imaginary world as a preparation for their future happiness or misery. 25 The inner belief of something as really good and of another as positive evil is a mistake common to the majority of mankind, and to which the learned also are liable in their conduct in this world.

26 As the intelligent and embodied soul is conscious of every part of the body in which it is confined, so the enlightened living soul (jiva) beholds all the three worlds displayed within itself. 27 The unborn and ever lasting God, who is of the form of conscious soul extending over the infinity of space, has all these worlds as parts of his all pervading empty body (as in the god Viraj).

28 The intelligent and ever living soul sees the uncreated worlds deeply impressed in itself, just as a rod of iron, were it endowed with intelligence, would see future knives and needles in itself. 29 A clod of earth, whether endowed with intelligence or not, knows the seed hidden in it which later sprouts. In the same way, the ever living soul knows the world contained in it. 30 As the sensitive or insensitive seed knows the germ, plant and tree within its core, so the spirit of God perceives the great tree of the world conceived in its deepest womb. 31 As a man with eyesight sees the image of something reflected in a mirror which a blind man does not, so a wise man sees the world in Brahman, which the ignorant does not perceive. 32 The world is nothing except the union of the four categories of time, space, action and substance. Egoism, being indistinct from the attributes of the world, exists in God who contains the whole in Himself.

33 Whatever lesson is taught to anybody by means of a parable, know that the simile relates to some particular property of the compared object and not in all respects.

34 Whatever is seen moving or unmoving here in this world is the expanded body of the living soul, without any alteration in its atomic minuteness. 35 Leaving intelligence aside and taking force only, we find no difference between this physical force and the giver of the force. 36 Again, whatever alteration is produced in the motion or choice of any thing or person at any time or place or in any manner, it is all the act of Divine Consciousness.

37 Consciousness infuses the mind with its power of choice, volition, imagination and the like because none of these can sprout in the mind without consciousness and without a conscious cause. 38 Whatever desires and fancies arise in the minds of the unenlightened, they are not like the positive will or decree of the Divine Mind owing to the endless varieties and inconsistencies of human wishes. 39 The desires arising in the minds of the enlightened are like no desires and as if they never arose because 40 all thoughts and desires being groundless, they are as false as children’s idle wishes. For who has ever held the objects of his dream? 41 Intention (sankalpa), with its triple sense of thought, desire and imagination, is impressed by consciousness on the living soul from its past memory. Though we have a notion of this idea of the individual soul, yet it is as untrue and insubstantial as a shadow, but not so original Consciousness which is both real and substantial.

42 He who is free from the error of taking the unreal world for real becomes as free as the god Shiva himself and, having gotten rid of the physical body, becomes manifest in his spiritual form.

43 The imagination of the ignorant whirls about the worlds like cottonseed flying in the wind. But they appear to be as unmoved as stones to the wise who are not led away by their imagination. 44 So there are multitudes of worlds amidst many other things in the vast womb of emptiness which nobody can count. Some are united with one another in groups, and others that have no connection with another. 45 Supreme Consciousness, being all in all, manifests itself in endless forms and actions filling the vast space of infinity. Some are as transient as raindrops or bubbles in air and water that quickly burst and disappear. Others appear as great cities situated in the heart of the Infinite One. 46 Some of these are as durable as rocks, and others are continually breaking and wearing out. Some appear bright as if with open eyes and others dark as if with closed eyelids. Some are luminous to sight and others hidden under impenetrable darkness. Thus the heart of Consciousness resembles a vast expanse of ocean with the waves of creation rolling through all eternity. 47 Some, though set apart, continually tend towards another, like the waters of distant rivers run to mix with those of seas and ocean, and like the luminous bodies of heaven appear together to brighten its sphere.