Chapter 32 — Sermon Inculcating Knowledge of Truth

Vasishta continued:—

As soon as the intellect’s reasoning commences to act, it is immediately attended by the sense of individual ego, the cause of the false conception of the world. This introduces a series of unrealities, just as the stirring of air causes winds to blow. But when the intellect’s reasoning is directed by knowledge, its fallacy of the reality of the world does not affect us in any manner. We see the world as a reflection, a display of Brahman himself, but we are liable to great error by thinking the phenomenal world to be distinct from Him.

As the opening of the eyes receives the sight of external appearance, the opening of the intellect’s thought receives the false idea of the reality of the phenomenal world. What appears on the outside to be quite distinct from the nature of the inner intellect cannot be a reality. Therefore this unreal show is no more than the dancing of a barren woman’s son before one’s eyes. Consciousness is perceived by its conception of the idea of things, but when we consider the fallacy of its conceptions and its idea of the unreal as real, it appears as a delusion like the appearance of a ghost to children.

Our egoism, from the knowledge that “I am such a one,” serves to bring us misery. But by ignoring this knowledge of myself, that I am not this or that, loosens me from my bondage to it. Therefore I say that our bondage and liberation are both dependent on our own choice. Therefore, meditation which is accompanied with self-extinction and forgetfulness of one’s self in samadhi, and remaining moving and quick in the manner of the quiet and dead, is the calm tranquility of holy saints, which is ever the same, unaltered, and without decay. Therefore, O wise men, do not trouble yourself like the unwise with the discrimination of unity and duality and the propriety or impropriety of speech, all which is wholly useless and a painful frivolity.

A covetous man with his increasing desires meets with a series of ideal troubles gathering as thickly about him as the thronging dreams that assail his head at night. These proceed from his fondness of outward and visible objects and from his fond desires inwardly cherished within his heart. They grow as thickly upon him as the creations of his wild fancy. 10 But the meek man of moderate desire remains inactive in his waking state. By his freedom from desiring temporary objects, he does not feel the pain or fear the pains of his real evils. 11 Hence desire being moderated and brought under proper bounds resembles our freedom from its bonds. We get rid of our once intense thought of something by our neglect of it over the course of time and changing events. 12 The complete curtailment of desires is sure to be attended with liberation, just as the complete disappearance of frost and clouds from the sky leaves the empty vacuum to view.

13 The means of diminishing our desires is the knowledge of ego as Brahman himself. This knowledge leads to one’s liberation, just as the study of science and association with the wise serve to convert ignorant men to discernment and knowledge. 14 In my belief there is no ego other than the one Supreme Ego. This belief is enough to bring men to the right understanding of themselves and make their living souls quite calm, tranquil and dead to the sense of their personality and self-existence.

15 The world appears as a duality or something distinct from the unity of God, just as the motion of the wind seems to be something else beside the wind itself, or breathing as another thing than breath. But this fallacy of dualism will disappear upon reflection of, “how can I or anything else be something of itself?” 16 That “I am nothing” is what is meant by extinction.

Why remain ignorant? Go and associate with the wise and argue with them and you will come to learn. 17 In the company of those who are acquainted with truth you loosen the bonds of your worldly errors, just as darkness is dispelled by light and night recedes before the advance of day. 18 Make it the duty of your whole life to argue with the learned about such topics as, “What am I?” and “What are these visible objects? What is life and what this living soul? How and from where did they come into existence? 19 The world is seen to be full of animal life and I find my egoism is lost in it.” The truth of all this is learnt in a moment in the society of the learned. Therefore take yourself to the company of those inspiring men of truth.

20 Resort one by one to all those who are wiser than you in the knowledge of truth, and by investigation into their different doctrines. The demon of your controversy will disappear forever. 21 As the demon of controversy rises before the learned like a ghost appearing before children, so the error of egoism rises before the learned in their attempt to maintain their respective arguments. 22 Therefore let the diligent inquirer after truth attend separately to the teaching of every scholar of particular doctrines. Then, taking them together, let him consider in his own mind the meaning of their different teachings. 23 Let him weigh well in his own mind the meanings of their different sayings to sharpen his own reasoning and to accept the doctrine which is free from the flights of imagination and all earthly views. 24 Having sharpened your understanding by associating with the wise, cut short the growth of the plant of your ignorance by degrees, bit by bit.

25 I you to do so because I know it is possible for you to do so. We tell you people as we ourselves have well known. We never speak about what is improper or impracticable for you. 26 As the gathering or dispersion of clouds in the sky and the rising and sinking of waves in the sea is no gain or loss to either, so the attainment or deprivation of any good whatever is of no concern to the unconcerned sage or saint. 27 All this is as false as the appearance of water in a mirage, while our reliance on the everlasting and all pervading One is firm, secure and certain. By reasoning rightly in yourself, you will discover your egoism to be nowhere. Then how and from where do you create this false phantom of your imagination?