1 Vasishta said:—
Consciousness, the reflections of consciousness, the desire of having them, and their imagination are the four roots of evil in this world. Though these words are meaningless, yet considerable sense is attached to them as the four sources of knowledge. 2 Know that knowledge is also their reflection which is the seat of all evils. All our disasters proceed from that, just as thickly as vegetation growing by water.
3 Men clothed in the robes of their desires walk in the dreary paths of this world with very many varieties of their actions, like circles drawn under circles. 4 But these wanderings over earth and desires cease for the wise, just as moisture in the ground dries at the end of spring season. 5 Our various desires grow the very many thorny plants and brambles in the world, just as spring sap causes thick clumps of plantain trees to grow. 6 The world appears as a dark maze to the mind sweetened in the serum of its greedy appetites, just as the ground is shaded under bushy trees growing from the water supplied by spring season.
7 There is nothing in existence except the clear and empty Consciousness, just as there is nothing in the boundless sky except the hollow emptiness of air. 8 There is no intelligent soul beside this One. All else is the everlasting reflection of this One alone. The world is called ignorance and error. 9 He is seen (in spirit) without being seen, and is lost upon being seen (by visual sight). Looking with ordinary sight one sees only what is unreal, like ghosts and demons appearing before children, and not the true Divine Spirit. 10 By rejecting all visible sights, understanding views the one essence of all. All things merge into it, just as all the rivers on earth fall into one universal ocean.
11 As an earthenware cannot be without earth, so all intelligent beings are never devoid of their consciousness or intellect. 12 Whatever is known by understanding is said to be our knowledge. But understanding has no knowledge of the unknowable, and no lack of understanding can have any knowledge, owing to their opposite natures. 13 As there is the same relation of knowledge among the looker, his seeing and the sight, so it is omniscience of Brahman which is the only essence. All else is as nothing as a flower growing in the air, which never exists. 14 Things of the same kind carry a relationship to one another and readily unite in one. So the world being alike to its idea, and all ideas being alike to the eternal ideas in the mind of God, therefore the world and the Divine Mind are certainly the same thing and no other.
15 If there be no knowledge or idea of wood and stone, then they would be the same as the nonexistent things of which we have no idea. 16 When the outer and visible features of things are so exactly similar to our ideas and knowledge of them, they appear to be no other than our ideas or knowledge of them. 17 All visible appearances in the universe are only the outstretched reflections of our inner ideas. Their fluctuation is like that of the winds and their motion is like that of the waters in the ocean.
18 All things are mixed together with the omnipresent spirit, just as a log of wood is covered by black dye. Both appear to be mixed together to the unthinking, but both are taken for the one and same thing by the thinking part of mankind. 19 The idea of reciprocity is unity, and the knowledge of mutuality is also union. Examples are the interchange of water and milk, the correlation of vision and what can be seen, and not the union of the wood and black dye with one another.
20 The knowledge of one’s egoism is his bondage. Knowledge of his lack of ego is his emancipation. Thus one’s imprisonment and freedom from the confines of his body and the world being both under his control, why should he neglect freeing himself from his perpetual bondage?
21 Like seeing two moons in the sky or water in a mirage, we believe in the reality of our egoism which is altogether an unreality. 22 The disbelief in one’s egoism removes the concept of “I” and selfishness. It is possible to everyone to get rid of these mistaken ideas. So how is it that anyone should remain ignorant?
23 Why do you maintain your egoism and remain confined in your body like a plum drowned in a cup of water, or like air confined in a pot? Your relation to God is to be nothing else but like himself and to be one with him. Have the reciprocal knowledge of yourself in the likeness of God. 24 It is said that the lack of reciprocal knowledge makes the union of two things into one, but this is wrong both ways. Neither does any dull material thing or any spiritual substance lose its own form. 25 Force is not converted to inertness from the indestructibility of their nature. Whenever the spiritual is seen or considered as the material, it becomes a duality, and there is no unity in this view of the two.
26 Thus men under the influence of their desires, harassed by their varied vanities, continue going downward like a stone torn from the head of a cliff falls from precipice to precipice headlong to the ground. 27 Men are carried here and there by the currents of their desires like bits of straw. They are overtaken and overwhelmed in an endless series of difficulties which are impossible for me to number. 28 Men, cast like a ball flung from the hand of fate, hurry onward with their ardent desires until they are hurled into the depth of hell where, worried and worn out with hell torments, they take other forms and shapes after lapses of long periods.