Chapter 26 — Vasishta’s Teaching Continued; Manki Attains Self Realization

Vasishta said:—

Thus the living soul, having fallen into the maze of this world, is subject to disasters and accidents as countless as the microscopic organisms generated in rainy season. All these accidents, though unconnected with one another, follow as closely upon each other as stones lying scattered together in the rocky desert, linked in a lengthening chain of thoughts in the mind of man. The mind blinded of its reason becomes a wilderness overgrown with the tree of its disasters, yet the mind by its pretended merriment and good humor appears to men to be smiling like a spring grove. O how pitiable are all those beings! Bound to their subjection to hope, they are subject to diverse states of pain and pleasure in their repeated births in various forms on earth. Alas for those strange and abnormal desires which subject the minds of men to the triple error of taking the nonexistent to be actually present before them.

Those who know the truth are delighted in themselves. They are immortal in their mortal life. They are diffusers of pure light all about them. What is the difference between the wise sage who is coldly detached in all respects and the cooling moon? What is the difference between a whimsical boy and a covetous fool who desires anything without consideration of past or future? What is the difference between the greedy fool and voracious fish that devour the alluring bait of pleasure or pain and will not give up the bait until they are sure to give up their lives? All our earthly possessions, whether our bodies, lives, wives, friends or properties, are as frail as a brittle plate made of sand. As soon as it dries, it crumbles and breaks to pieces.

10 O my soul, you may forever wander in hundreds of bodies of various forms in repeated births and pass from the heaven of Brahma to the highest sphere of Brahma, yet you can never have tranquility unless you attain the steady detachment of your mind. 11 Bondage to the world is dispersed by mature introspection into the nature of things, just as an uneven, rugged road does not stop a wayfarer from walking with his open eyes. 12 The negligent soul becomes prey to desire and unruly passions, just as a heedless traveler is caught in the clutches of demons. But the well-guarded spirit is free of fear of any demon.

13 As opening one’s eyes presents what can be seen to sight, so waking consciousness introduces ego and the phenomenal world into the mind. 14 As closing one’ eyes shuts out visible objects from sight, so the closing of consciousness puts out the appearance of all sights and thoughts from your eyes and mind. 15 The sense that the external world exists, together with that of one’s individual ego, is all unreal and empty. It is consciousness alone that shows everything in itself by the fluctuation of its mistaken wanderings, just as the motion of wind displays the varieties of clouds in empty air.

16 It is only Divine Consciousness which exhibits unreal phenomena as real in itself, without creating anything apart or separate from its own essence. It is similar to how clay or metal produces a pot or a jar out of itself, which is not distinct or separate from its substance. 17 As sky is only an emptiness and wind is a mere fluctuation of air, and as waves are composed of nothing but water, so the world is nothing other than a phenomenon of consciousness. 18 The world exists undivided in the bas-relief of consciousness. The world has no existence separate from its substance of the conscious soul, which is as calm and clear as the empty air. The world resembles the shadow of a mountain on the surface of water, or a surging wave rising on the surface of the sea.

19 The wise and unexcitable sages have a calm coolness in their souls. To them the shining worlds appear like cooling moonbeams falling on the internal mirror of their minds. 20 How is this invisible supreme light produced in the calm, quiet and all-pervading auspicious soul in the empty expanse of the universe? 21 That essence called Brahman forms the essential nature and form of everything. Brahman permeates throughout all nature, except where it appears to be obstructed by some preventive cause or other. 22 Anything which presents a hindrance to the permeation of divine essence, like a flower growing in the air, is a nothing in nature.

23 The wise man sits quietly like a stone without the action of even his inner mental faculties, because the Lord is without reflection or sensation of anything and without birth or decay at anytime. 24 He who by constant practice remains unconscious of everything, like the empty state of the open sky, arrives at a state of sound sleep or trance without the disturbance of dreams.

25 But how do we know that the world is the mere thought or will of the Divine Mind? Where is it said that the creative power of Brahman’s thought forms the wonderful world in his mind without the aid of any tool or instrument or means or ground for its construction? Hence the world is merely an ideal and nothing real. There is no cause or creator of it whatsoever. 26 As the Lord stretches out the world in his thought, he or it instantly becomes the same. As the Lord is without any visible form, so this seeming world has no visible or material form whatsoever, nor is there any framer of what is simply an ideal.

27 So all men are as happy or unhappy as they think themselves to be in their minds. They all abide in the same Universal Soul which is common to all. Yet everyone in his own mind believes himself to be of his own kind. 28 Therefore it is vain to regard anything or any intellectual being as a material substance, just as it is false to regard the imaginary hills of one’s dream as being real rocks situated on earth. 29 By assigning egoism to one’s self, one becomes subject to error and change. Lack of egoism places the soul in unchanging identity and tranquility.

30 As the meaning of bracelet is no different from the gold of which it is made, so the sense of your false egoism is no different than the tranquil soul. 31 The tranquil sage, calm and sober minded like a silent muni, is no voluntary actor of any act, although he may be physically employed in his active duties. The quiet saint carries with him an empty and careless mind, although it may be full of learning and wisdom. 32 The wise man manages himself like a mechanical figure or puppet, never moving of its own motion but moving as it is moved. Having no impulse of his own desire within him, he sits as quietly as an immobile doll. 33 The wise man who knows the soul is as quiet as a baby sleeping in a swinging cradle, moved without moving itself. The wise man moves his body like a baby, without having any cause for doing so.

34 The soul that is intent on the thought of the One only, calm and quiet as the infinite spirit of God, becomes unconscious of itself and all other things, together with all objects of desire and expectations of good or bliss. 35 He who is not the viewer himself, who does not have the view before him, and who is exempt from the triple condition of subjective, objective and action, such a person can have no other object in his view that is concentrated on the vision of the invisible One. 36 Our sight of the world is our bondage. Our disregard of it is our perfect freedom. Therefore, he who rests in his disregard of whatever is expressed by words has nothing to look after or desire.

37 Say, what is ever worth looking after or worthy of our regard when our material bodies are as evanescent as our dreams and our individual existence is a mere delusion? 38 Therefore a wise man rests only in his knowledge of the true One by subjecting all his efforts and desires and suppressing all his curiosity, being devoid of all knowledge save that of the knowable One.

39 Hearing all this, Manki was released from his great error, just like a snake sloughs of its skin to which it had been tightly bound. 40 He retired to a mountain where he remained in deep meditation for a hundred years. He discharged the duties that occurred to him of their own accord, without retaining any desire of anything. 41 He still resides there, unmoved and unconscious like a stone, quite detached in all his senses and feelings, and wakeful with his internal consciousness by the light of his yoga contemplation.

42 Now Rama, enjoy your peace of mind by relying upon your habit of reasoning and discrimination. Do not corrupt your understanding under fits of passion. Do not let your mind be fickle like a fleeting cloud in the dry season of autumn.