Chapter 29 — Sermon on Holy Meditation

Vasishta continued to say:—

Always remain looking inwardly by being freed from the feelings of passion and desire. Continue in the performance of your actions everywhere, but always reflect upon the quiet and spotless consciousness within yourself. The mind which is clear like the open sky, full of knowledge and settled in the Divine Consciousness, always even, graceful and replete with joy, is said to be highly favored of heaven and expanded by Brahman. Whether overtaken by pain and grief, or exposed to dangers and difficulties, or attended by pleasure or prosperity, in a greater or less degree, in whatever place and in whatever state you are placed, bear your afflictions with a glad heart. Whether you weep or cry, or become a play of opposite circumstances, be joyful for both are meant for your good.

If you are delighted in the company of your consorts and feel happy at the approach of festivity and prosperity, it is because you are tempted by your fond desire of pleasure, like ignorant people. Fools who are allured by their greed for gain meet with their fate in hazardous exploits and warfare. It is fit that they should burn with the fire of their desire, like straw consumed in a fire.

Earn money by honest means with the caution of a crane in whatever opportunity presents itself to you. Do not run in pursuit of gain like the ignorant crowd. O you destroyer of your foes, forcefully drive away all your desires as your greatest enemies, just as the winds of heaven drive away the empty, rainless clouds of the sky.

Be tolerant, O Rama, of ignorant people who are led away by their desires and deserve your pity. Be reverent towards high minded men. Be delighted in yourself by speaking sparingly and without being misled by your desires likes the ignorant mob. 10 Congratulate with joy and sympathize with sorrow. Pity the sorrows of the poor and be valiant among the brave. 11 Turn your eyes into your heart and be always joyous by communing with your soul. Then whatever you do with a liberal mind, you are not to answer for it as its agent. 12 By remaining fixed in the meditation of your soul and by having your eyes always turned within yourself, you shall be invulnerable even at the strike of a thunderbolt of Indra.

13 He is said to be master of himself who is freed from the delusion of desire and lives retired in the cave of his consciousness, who is attached to his own soul and acts at his own will and has his delight in his very self. 14 No weapon can wound the man established in the Self, no fire can burn his soul, no water can drench the spirit, and hot winds cannot dry him up. 15 Grasp the firm pillar of your soul, which is unborn and uncreated, without decay and immortal. Adhere steadfastly to your soul just as one clings to the pillars of his house.

16 The world is a tree and all things in it are like the flowers of this tree. Our knowledge of all things is like the fragrance of these flowers, but our self-consciousness is the essence of them all. Therefore look internally to this inward essence before you mind the externals. 17 All outward affairs are brought about by their inner reflection in the mind. It is as hard to bring a desire into being as it is to raise a stone to life. 18 Get rid of your bodily exertions and lull your mind to sleep. Do all your duties like a tortoise with its contracted limbs. 19 Manage your affairs with a half-sleeping and half-awakened mind. Do your outward functions without the effort of your mental faculties.

20 As children possess their innate knowledge and dumb creatures are endowed with their instinct, without the feeling of any desire rising in them, so masters live and act with their minds unattached to anything, as vacant as the empty air. 21 Remain untroubled and free from care, with a entirely sleepy and indifferent mind within yourself, a mind devoid of all its functions and quite absorbed in itself, and slightly acting on the members of the body. 22 After your mind is cleansed from the stain of desire, you may continue to discharge or dispense with your duties by subduing your mind with knowledge and resting quietly in your pure consciousness.

23 Go on managing your outward affairs in your waking state as if your faculties were dormant in sleep. Neither desire to have anything nor let go of anything that presents itself to you. 24 If you are dormant when waking, by your inattention to all about you, so you are awake when sleeping by your trance in the heart of the Supreme Soul. And when you are in the condition of the union of the two, you attain the state of perfect enlightenment. 25 Thus by your gradual practice of this habit of mental indifference, you reach that state of unity which has no beginning or end and is beyond all other things.

26 The world certainly is neither a unity nor duality, therefore leave inquiry into its endless varieties. Resort to your supreme bliss with a mind as clear as the translucent sphere of empty air.

27 Rama asked, “If it be so, O great sage, that there is no ego or you, as you say, then tell me, why are we conscious of ourselves? How are you sitting here under the name of sage Vasishta?”

28 Valmiki said:—

Being thus questioned by Rama, Vasishta, the best of speakers, remained silent for a moment, reflecting on the answer he should make. 29 His silence created some anxiety in the royal audience. Rama, also perplexed in his mind, repeated his question to the sage saying, 30 “Sage, why are you as silent as I am? There is no argument in the world which sages like you are unable to solve and expound.”

31 Vasishta replied:—

It is not owing to my inability to speak or want of argument on my part that made me hold my tongue. It is the wide scope of your question that kept me from giving its answer.

32 Rama, there are two kinds of questioners, namely, the ignorant and the intelligent. So there are two modes of argument: the simple mode for simpletons and the rational form for intelligent and reasonable men. 33 Rama, for so long you have been ignorant of superior knowledge and fit to be taught in ordinary, ambiguous language. 34 But now you have become an expert in superior truth and found your rest in the state of supreme bliss. Therefore you no longer benefit from the ambiguous language of common speech. 35 Whenever a good speaker wishes to deliver an eloquent speech, (he must first consider) whether it be long or short or relate to some abstruse or spiritual subject.

36 There is no counterpart to the ego which lacks all representation and cannot be described by the sound of any word. Ego is beyond the attributes of number and other categories, so one cannot attribute any such fiction of fancy to it. It is the totality of all, as light is composed of innumerable particles of ray.

37 It is not right, O Rama, that one who has known the truth should give an imperfect or defective answer to a question. But what can he do when no language is perfect or free from defect, as you well know? 38 It is right, O Rama, that I who know the truth should declare it to my students. The knower of abstract truth is known to remain as silent as a block of wood. The soundness of his mind is hard to sound. 39 Lack of self-reflection causes a person to speak. They who know the supreme excellence hold their silence. This is the best answer that can be given to your question regarding this truth.

40 Every man, O Rama, speaks of himself as he is, but I am only my conscious self, which is unspeakable in its nature and appertains to the unspeakable one. 41 How can that thing be given a definite term which is inexpressible in words? Therefore I cannot express the inexpressible in words. As I have already said, all words are only fictitious signs.

42 Rama asked, “Sage, you disregard everything that is expressed by words and regard them as imperfect and defective symbols of their originals. Now you must tell me, what do you mean by your statement, ‘lacks all representation’ and what are you yourself?”

43 Vasishta replied:—

It being so, now hear me tell you, O Rama, who is the best among the enquirers of truth, what you are and what am I in truth, and what is the world in reality.

44 This ego, my boy, is empty consciousness, imperishable in its nature. It is neither conceivable nor knowable and is beyond all imagination. 45 I am the empty sky of consciousness and so you also are the empty sky. The whole world is an entire emptiness and there is nothing else except an everlasting and infinite emptiness everywhere. 46 The soul is identical with pure knowledge. It is free from the knowledge of the senses and beyond conscious knowledge. I cannot call it anything other than the Self or the Soul.

47 Yet it is the fashion of disputants, in order to maintain their own ground or for the liberation of their pupils, to multiply the egoism of the one soul and distribute it into a thousand branches.

48 When a living soul remains calm and quiet in spite of the management of its worldly affairs, when it is as motionless as an egoless corpse, it is said to have attained its perfect state. 49 This state of perfection consists in refraining from external exercise and devotion, persistence in continual meditation, feeling no sensation of pain or pleasure, and being unconscious of one’s self-existence and the coexistence of all else. 50 Freedom from egoism and the consciousness of all other existence brings on the idea of a total nonexistence and emptiness, which is altogether beyond thought and meditation. All attempts to grasp a nothing are as vain as a blind man’s desire to see a picture. 51 The posture of sitting unmoved like a stone at the shocks and turn of fortune is truly the state of nirvana or deathless trance of a conscious being. 52 This state of saintly trance is not noticeable by others or perceived by the saint himself, because the knowing sage shuns the society of men in disgust and is enlightened with the spiritual knowledge within himself. 53 In this state of spiritual light, the sage loses sight of his own ego and you and all others and beholds the only one unity in which he is extinct and absorbed in pure and spotless bliss.

54 The process of using conciousness is said to create phenomena. This is the cause of the creation of the world, which is the cause of our bondage and continual sorrows. 55 Dormancy of the intellect or unconsciousness is when the intellect is not employed with phenomena. Then it is called the supremely calm and quiet state of liberation and is free from decay. 56 When the soul is in its state of peaceful tranquility, its ideas of space and time fly away like clouds in autumn. Then it has no thought of anything else for lack of its power of thinking.

57 When the sight of the soul is turned inwards in sleep, it sees the world of its desires rising before its consciousness in their aerial forms. But soul’s sight directed to the outside in its waking state sees the inner objects of desire presented in the gross forms of the outer world. 58 The mind, understanding and other faculties depend upon the consciousness of the soul. They are of the same nature as the intellect, but being considered in their intimate relation with external objects, they are represented as grossly material. 59 The same intellect is spread over our consciousness of all internal and external feelings and perceptions. Therefore, it is vain to differentiate this one and undivided power by applying different names. 60 There is nothing set apart from the perception of the conscious intellect which is as pure and all-pervading as emptiness and which is said by the learned to be indefinable by words.

61 Being seen very acutely, the world appears hazy in the divine essence, as it were something between a reality and unreality. You also appear as something real and unreal at the same time. 62 In the same way, I am empty air, free from desire, and you also are pure consciousness if you could only restrain your desires. 63 He who is certain of this truth, knows himself in reality. Whoever thinks himself as somebody under a certain name is far from knowing the truth. Again, anyone remaining in his unreal body, but relying in his intellectuality, is sure to have his tranquility and liberation.

64 Man’s exercise of his intellect improves the love of union with the original Intellect by removing ignorance, just as heat of the fire mixes with primitive heat when wind ceases to blow. 65 Living beings converted to the state of unmoving trees and stones by mental detachment or unconsciousness of themselves, are said to have attained their liberation which is free from disturbance. They are situated in a state without decay. 66 A man having obtained his wisdom through his knowledge is said to have become a muni or sage. But a fool even with teaching, owing to his ignorance, becomes a brute creature or degraded even lower to some plant life.

67 The knowledge that “I am Brahman” and this other is the world is a gross error proceeding from gross ignorance. But all untruth flies away before investigation, just as darkness vanishes before the advance of light. 68 The wise, with the perception and actions of his outward organs, is simply devoid of inner desires. He does not think or feel about anything in his mind. He remains quite calm and composed in his outward appearance. 69 The samadhi of a wise man is like sound sleep unaffected by dream in which phenomena are buried within himself and he sees nothing but his self or soul.

70 As the blueness of the sky is a false conception of the brain, so the appearance of the world is a fallacy to the silent soul. The world is no more than a mist of error that obscures the clear and empty sphere of the soul. 71 A true sage, though surrounded by the objects of wish, still lacks desire for any. He knows them all to be mere unrealities and false vanities.

72 Know, O intelligent Rama, that all objects of desire in this world are as marvelous as those seen in our imagination, dream, and in the magic of jugglers. Such also are all the objects of our vision, on which you can place no trust or reliance. 73 Know also that there is no pain or pleasure, or any act of merit or demerit, or anything owing to the impossibility of there being any agent or passive agent. 74 The whole universe is a vacuum without any support. It appears like a secondary moon in the sky or a city in one’s imagination, none of which has reality in nature.

75 Abide only by the rules of the community or strictly observe your silence, remaining like a block of wood or stone. Be set free in the Supreme. 76 The tranquility and intellectuality of the Supreme Deity do not admit any diversity in his nature. His lack of corporeality does not admit the attribution of a body or any of its parts to him. 77 There can be no nature and no conception that can be attributed to the pure spirit. This Divine Spirit being inherent in all bodies, there can be no nature ever imputed to him.

78 Atheists reason there is no consciousness in the uncreated spirit or, in other words, the nonexistence of a self-conscious Eternal Consciousness. This is not acceptable, for though our knowledge of the container and contained is very imperfect, yet there is someone at the bottom that is ever perfect.

79 O Rama, rely upon that uncreated and indestructible Supreme Being which is ever the same and pure, irrefutable and adored by the wise and good. It is the irrefutable truth on which you should quietly depend for your liberation. Though you may eat and drink and play about like all others, yet you must know that all this is nothing.